Thursday, January 18, 2007
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Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
Responding to Condoleezza Rice's recent comment that his government is on "borrowed time," Maliki "humorously" suggested "that it might be the Bush administration that is on borrowed time," the Los Angeles Times reports.
"I understand and realize that inside the American administration there is some kind of a crisis situation, especially after the results of the last election," Maliki said.
"Even so, there was little appetite for directly cutting funds for the buildup of forces as a means of thwarting the president's plan," Bloomberg reports.
"According to [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi's count, it has taken just over 34 hours to pass the first five bills."
Also on the Political Radar:
From Boehner's prepared remarks: "Democrats didn't win this election. Republicans lost... Over time, we became less interested in developing new, innovative, conservative solutions to America's problems. The Republican brand became diluted and voters went the other way."
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
"SURPRISE REVERSAL" ON WIRETAPS: The Bush administration, in a surprise reversal, said on Wednesday that it had agreed to give a secret court jurisdiction over the National Security Agency's wiretapping program and would end its practice of eavesdropping without warrants on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists. The Justice Department said it had worked out an "innovative" arrangement with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that provided the "necessary speed and agility" to provide court approval to monitor international communications of people inside the United States without jeopardizing national security. The decision capped 13 months of bruising national debate over the reach of the president's wartime authorities and his claims of executive power, and it came as the administration faced legal and political hurdles in its effort to continue the surveillance program. New York Times: Court to Oversee U.S. Wiretapping in Terror Cases
U.S. TROOPS COULD LEAVE IN 3-6 MONTHS, SAYS IRAQI PM: The Iraqi government's need for American troops would "dramatically go down" in three to six months if the United States accelerated the process of equipping and arming Iraq's security forces, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday. The head of Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led government defended his country's independence and sovereignty and called on U.S. leaders to show faith in his ability to lead... Speaking through an interpreter to a group of reporters for an hour in his offices in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, Maliki found several ways to say that Iraq is beholden to no country. Washington Post: Maliki Stresses Urgency In Arming Iraqi Forces
MALIKI SAYS U.S. STATEMENTS PLAY INTO HANDS OF INSURGENTS: Commenting on a recent statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he said, "Rice is expressing her own point of view if she thinks that the [Iraqi] government is on borrowed time," humorously suggesting that it might be the Bush administration that is on borrowed time. "I understand and realize that inside the American administration there is some kind of a crisis situation, especially after the results of the last election," he said. Maliki said suggestions by Bush officials that the U.S. did not fully support his government played into the hands of insurgents. "I believe such statements give a morale boost to the terrorists and push them toward making an extra effort, making them believe they have defeated the American administration," Maliki said. "But I can tell you, they haven't defeated the Iraqi government." Los Angeles Times: Iraqi premier pledges firm hand with militants
PUBLIC OPPOSES BUSH PLAN 60-36 PERCENT: President George W. Bush failed to rally public support with his nationally televised speech announcing plans to send more soldiers to Iraq, as most Americans say they want Congress to find a way to stop the troop increase. A new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows the public opposes Bush's decision to dispatch 21,500 additional troops by a margin of 60 percent to 36 percent. Even so, there was little appetite for directly cutting funds for the buildup of forces as a means of thwarting the president's plan. The poll, conducted days after Bush's Jan. 10 announcement, contains little good news for the president's war policy, which is under attack from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, some of whom are exploring ways to block the latest deployment. Bloomberg: Bush Faces Deepening War Opposition, Demand for Congress to Act
FULL POLL RESULTS (pdf via LATimes.com)
SENATORS WANT TO PROVE LACK OF SUPPORT FOR TROOP SURGE: Senators introduced a resolution yesterday disapproving of President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, setting up a confrontation with the White House, which warned that those who vote for it will face charges that they don't support the troops. The resolution -- written by the top Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- has no binding effect on Mr. Bush, but the authors said they hope an overwhelming vote will prove the president lacks the support to move forward. "This resolution will give every senator a chance to say where he or she stands on the president's plan," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and Foreign Relations chairman. "The single and most effective way to get him to change course is to demonstrate that his policy has waning or no support from both parties." Washington Times: Senate plans vote against troop surge
RESOLUTION "THREATENS TO EXPOSE FISSURES" IN GOP: A Democrat-driven resolution on Iraq that has attracted the support of at least two Republicans threatens to expose fissures within the GOP over the unpopular war. Republicans are deeply divided on the war in Iraq and how Congress should react to President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to join the estimated 130,000 already there. Ten Republicans met behind closed doors late Wednesday with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a bid to generate consensus on Iraq. The senators emerged from the meeting to announce that no deal had been reached. "This is a very fluid situation," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. AP via Yahoo! News: Iraq resolution may expose GOP divide
WH CONCERNED CASEY HEARING WILL BECOME "LONG AND DIVISIVE FIGHT": In a setback for the White House, the Senate Armed Services Committee has agreed to hold a hearing Tuesday on the nomination of Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus as the next military commander in Iraq - a move that could set the stage for a potentially bitter battle over the future of the current top general in the war, congressional officials said Wednesday. White House officials are concerned that Congress may try to "scapegoat" Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has overseen the Iraq war since 2004 and has been nominated as Army chief of staff, the service's highest post. Army and administration officials had planned for Casey to be considered first, in the belief that the urgency of appointing Petraeus as his successor would dissuade lawmakers from engaging in a long and divisive fight over his handling of the war. Los Angeles Times: Timing of hearing is blow to the White House
D.C.'S "SHALLOW POOL" MAKES LIBBY JURY SELECTION DIFFICULT: To see how small a town Washington really is, drop in on jury selection at the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, where so far nearly every juror candidate seems to have a connection to the players or events surrounding the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity. There is the software database manager whose wife works as a prosecutor for the Justice Department, and who counts the local U.S. attorney and a top official in Justice's criminal division as neighbors and friends. A housecleaner who works at the Watergate and knows Condoleezza Rice, not by her title of secretary of state, but as the "lady who lives up on the fifth floor." And a former Washington Post reporter whose editor was now-Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward; he went to barbecues at the house of NBC's Tim Russert, a neighbor, and just published a book on the CIA and spying. Washington Post: In Libby Trial, Big Names Make Jury Picks a Tall Order
100 HOURS AGENDA... ONLY RENEWABLE ENERGY BILL REMAINS: Five down, one more on tap as House Democrats sprint through their list of promises, not even in sight of the 100 hours set aside for that goal. About seven more hours ticked away Wednesday on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 100-hour clock for passing each item on an agenda that Democrats told voters they would enact after sweeping to victory in November. The final piece was on deck for a vote Thursday: energy legislation that imposes billions in fees, taxes and royalties on oil and gas companies and uses the money to promote renewable fuels. According to Pelosi's count, it has taken just over 34 hours to pass the first five bills, including a measure approved Wednesday to lower interest rates on some student loans. The House actually has been in session for more than 72 hours since the 110th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 4. But the clock on Pelosi's Web site suggested that 34 hours, 5 minutes had elapsed by the close of House business Wednesday. AP via Yahoo! News: 5 down, 1 to go on Dems' House agenda
WATCH THE CLOCK
SENATE REPUBLICANS WANT LINE-ITEM VETO IN ETHICS BILL: Republican Senators threatened Wednesday to derail a lobbying and ethics overhaul package if Democrats block consideration of a presidential line-item veto the GOP wants added to the bill. The blow-up brought consideration of other proposed amendments to a halt Wednesday afternoon and threw into uncertainty the prospects for a measure invested with so much importance that Senate Democrats tagged it S.1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to avert a showdown by guaranteeing he would provide floor time before the Easter recess for a stand-alone bill granting the president rescission authority, and, if it passed, would send it to conference negotiations with the House. But in a floor debate with Reid, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who offered the amendment, appeared to reject the offer. "Why not do it now?" he asked. Roll Call: Line-Item Veto Stalls Ethics Bill
CLIMATE LEGISLATION NOW "SERIOUS BUSINESS" ON THE HILL: The climate here has definitely changed. Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate but quixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats are increasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White House and impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that most smokestack industries have long opposed. Four major Democratic bills have been announced, with more expected. One of these measures, or a blend of them, stands an excellent chance of passage in this Congress or the next, industry and environmental lobbyists said in interviews. New York Times: Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress
NEW DCCC CHAIR AND DEAN PLEDGE TO WORK TOGETHER: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the new chief election strategist for the House Democrats, welcomed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to his office Tuesday for a "jovial" meeting in which the two pledged to work together during the 2008 election cycle. Such amity contrasts with the contentious relationship between Dean and former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). They clashed last year over how much money Dean would commit to get-out-the-vote efforts and television advertising campaigns in individual congressional races... "I’m not looking in the rearview mirror," Van Hollen said in an interview last week. The Hill: Van Hollen and Dean bury hatchet
WHY "EXPLORE?" It's this season's must-have political entity: the presidential exploratory committee. The legal equivalent of sticking one toe in the campaign waters, an exploratory committee allows prospective candidates to begin raising money for a campaign while they are still deciding whether to take the plunge... The word "exploratory" is not in any FEC regulations. Instead, the phase is referred to as "testing the waters," and an exploratory committee is legally just a campaign committee with "exploratory" in its name. When a formal campaign is announced, the candidate usually changes the name of the committee -- for instance, from "Obama Exploratory Committee," as the senator named his new entity, to something like "Obama for President." "If you want to just test the waters, assess your viability, you don't necessarily have to register a committee with us," said FEC spokesman Robert W. Biersack. "But in exchange, you cannot do certain things: create a war chest, actively campaign, generate material that says 'Vote for me.'" Washington Post: Before Running, Candidates Must Explore
CLINTON TALKS IRAQ AT CROWDED PRESSER... "SLY DIG" AT OBAMA: Sen. Hillary Clinton went on the offensive on Iraq yesterday and ignored the surging candidacy of presidential rival Barack Obama except to give him a sly dig. During a round of TV appearances on every network and NPR, Clinton deflected questions about their rivalry. She did, however, venture a list of criteria she thought voters would want to know about candidates, including experience - which some see as Obama's weak point because his national experience consists of two years as an Illinois senator. "I'm looking forward to a spirited and substantive debate about issues, about goals, about aspirations, about experience, about the kind of things voters will be interested in," Clinton said on CBS' "Early Show." Clinton, just back from Iraq and Afghanistan, told an overflow crowd of reporters in the Senate she would introduce a bill to cap troop strength in Iraq and eventually use the power of Congress' purse to force President Bush to withdraw. New York Daily News: Hil: Are you experienced?
FIRST "TRULY SERIOUS" BLACK WH CANDIDATE GENERATES EXCITEMENT: The first black presidential candidate with a real shot at the White House is generating excitement and early support among blacks who see a chance to help make history. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is all but certain to compete for the Democratic nomination and win a large share of black votes. That creates challenges for New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other hopefuls. Obama is by no means the first black candidate for president. Other contenders have included Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Roger Wilkins, a race and politics expert at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., calls him the first "truly serious" prospect. USA Today: Obama thrills blacks who see shot at history
MOBBED: A photographer or two on the beach in Hawaii is nothing compared to the Capitol Hill swarm that greeted the newest presidential hopeful - Sen. Barack Obama. Emerging from a lunch with colleagues Wednesday, reporters pressed the Illinois Democrat, who gave away little about his budding campaign. His appearance at a routine committee hearing drew every camera in the room, while the more senior senators who are thinking of running were ignored. "Is there something rare at this table among competitors?" a smiling Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., remarked as he sat with Obama on his left and two other potential 2008 candidates - Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Biden of Delaware - on his right. AP via Yahoo! News: Reporters swarm Obama after announcement
"SPORTSMEN FOR OBAMA": In southern Illinois, one gun-rights advocate is recommending Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to his hunting friends and talking about forming a group with the working title "Sportsmen for Obama." "I don't agree with everything he says about guns, but he gets the sportsman's point of view on it," said state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Norris City), who served with Obama in the state legislature. "He would never do anything to hurt hunters, because he has bothered to get to know us and listen to us." Support from a group like the one Phelps is proposing, even an ad hoc one, could help ingratiate Obama with more conservative voters, either in rural areas or even among union members with strong pro-gun views. Chicago Tribune: Splinter groups line up behind Obama
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