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April 30, 2013

Senate Homeland Security leaders looking at federal handling of Boston bombing

Leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Committee from both political parties joined Tuesday to pledge cooperation in looking into federal authorities' handling of the April 15 Boston bombing.

Here's the joint statement from Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., and top Republican Tom Coburn, R-Okla.:'

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those in Boston and around the world who have been affected by this tragedy.  As part of the Committee’s responsibility to oversee the Department of Homeland Security and interagency coordination in protecting the United States from terrorist attacks, we need to understand more fully how the federal government carried out its responsibilities before and after the Boston bombings.

Continue reading "Senate Homeland Security leaders looking at federal handling of Boston bombing" »

Much of public "remains confused" about health care law, survey finds

Much of the American public "remains confused about the status" of the new law overhauling the nation's health care system, according to a new kaiser Family foundation survey.

Kaiser found that 42 percent were "unaware" that the 2010 law, which will require nearly everyone get health care coverage next year or face penalties, "is still the law of the land." Twelve percent thought it had been repealed--even though dozens of efforts by congressional Republicans have failed.

The survey also found that about half the people say "they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family." And, Kaiser said, "the share of the public who says they lack enough information to understand how the (law) will affect their family is higher among two groups the law is likely to benefit most – the uninsured and low-income households."

To read more: http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/8439.cfm


President Obama to hold 100 day presser, GOP slams him ahead of it

President Obama will hold a press conference today -- 100 days into his second term -- and Republicans aren't waiting for him to take the lectern to begin slamming him.

The Republican National Committee charges in an email that Obama is wrapping up the first 100 days of his second term "and it hasn't been going so well." It notes Democrats aren't happy about his offer to trim Social Security, his health care plan is dropping in popularity and "polls show Americans are unhappy with him on key issues from jobs to the economy to healthcare."

The 10:30 a.m. event will be Obama's second solo press conference of his second term.

April 29, 2013

Pew poll: Modest support for military support if Syria used chemical weapons

A new poll finds that by a 45 percent to 31 percent margin, more Americans favor than oppose the U.S. and allies taking military action against Syria, if it is confirmed that the government used chemical weapons.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center found that public attention to the Syrian conflict remains low and nearly a quarter of Americans -- 23 percent -- have no opinion about the use of military force.

 Republicans were more supportive of military action in the survey, conducted April 25-28 among 1,003 adults. By a 56 percent to 24 percent margin, Republicans favored the use of military force if the charges that it used chemical weapons are proven. Democrats were less supportive at 46 percent in favor vs. 34 percent opposed.

Top Commerce committee senators react politely to Foxx

Not many clues from top senators Monday as they reacted to the nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and transportation secretary.

The Senate Commerce Committee will review the nomination. Here's the statement of Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.:

"Our country faces daunting transportation challenges. We must make critical investments in our transportation network to remain economically competitive in the 21st Century. Mayor Anthony Foxx has established himself as a strong transportation advocate and shown the ability to move transportation infrastructure projects in Charlotte.

"He can be a driving force in the federal effort to take advantage of transportation opportunities. I look forward to meeting Mayor Foxx and discussing his vision for the Department and our transportation needs. I will move his nomination in the Commerce Committee as soon as possible."

And here's the statement from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., top Republican on the Commerce Committee:

"I want to thank Secretary LaHood for his years of service at both the Department of Transportation and before that in Congress. He is a dedicated public servant and I wish Ray and Kathy the best.

"I look forward to reviewing Mayor Foxx's record and working with Chairman Rockefeller to ensure the confirmation process is fair and thorough. Without question, our nation faces a number of transportation challenges that will require strong leadership and effective communication with Congress to keep our nation moving."

LegiStorm: Most new lawmakers want D.C. experience

Looks like new members of Congress figured they better get to know the Capitol fast.

LegiStorm, a research site that studies Congress, reported Monday that of 100 freshmen members, "Prior tenure as a chief or in another staff role was the most common thread. 55 of 85 House chiefs and 12 of 15 Senate chiefs have Capitol Hill experience. 26 chiefs in the House and Senate combined held positions on a congressional staff immediately prior to their current post."

It also found "Campaign ties were another strong predictor of new chiefs.  22 House chiefs and 6 Senate chiefs either ran or worked on the campaigns of their future boss. 6 chiefs worked on other campaigns during the fall."

Legistorm reported that income in such positoins must be listed in the financial disclosures of any House or Senate staffer whose paid more than $120,000 annually

"Every Senate chief who worked on a campaign reported earnings of over $100,000, with several individuals posting combined income from all sources closer to a quarter million dollars. Where reported, House campaign salaries were on average less lucrative than Senate salaries, but still pushed up against low six-figure, upper five-figure earnings," the group found. 

To read more:http://www.legistorm.com/blog/freshmen-chiefs-largely-hill-vets-and-campaign-gurus-survey-reveals.html

Obama, Putin talk Syria, Boston bombing

President Obama today called Russian President Vladmir Putin to thank him for cooperating in the investigation into the Boston bombing suspects -- despite reports over the weekend that Russian authorities didn't disclose a secretly record telephone conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother.

The statement from the White House says Obama conveyed condolences for a hospital fire outside of Moscow that killed dozens last week and "reiterated his appreciation for the close cooperation that the United States has received from Russia on the Boston marathon attack."

The White House said the two discussed cooperation on counterterrorism and security going forward, including at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

They also talked about Syria, the White House said, with Obama "underscoring concern over Syrian chemical weapons." The two presidents "agreed to stay in close consultation," the White House said, and instructed Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to continue discussions on Syria.

Public blames Obama administration, Congressional GOP equally for air traffic chaos

The public blames the Obama administration and congressional Republicans equally for the air traffic mess last week, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The survey, taken April 25-28, found 34 percent thought the GOP was more to blame, while 32 percent blamed the White House. Ten percent blamed both.

Independents were split 31-31 percent on GOP-Obama blame.

Announced furloughs were said to be the reason for air traffic delays. Congress last week approved legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration more flexibility, easing the trouble.

To read more: http://www.people-press.org/2013/04/29/political-blame-for-flight-delays-spread-evenly

White House says it's working with Russia on Boston bombing suspects

Amid reports that Russia didn't share all its intelligence with the U.S. on Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the White House insists it has a cooperative relationship when it comes to counterterrorism.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. has an ongoing conversation with Russian officials on the Boston bombing and has been cooperating with the Russian government to help a team of Americans in Dagestan investigation a trip that Tamerlan Tsarnaev took there.

But authorities said Saturday that the mother of the accused Boston Marathon bombers was secretly recorded discussing jihad in a telephone conversation with Tamerlan. The call between Zubeidat Tsarnaev and 26-year-old Tamerlan was intercepted by Russian wiretaps in early 2011 -- but wasn't shared with American authorities at the time.

Carney said he didn't have "specific details" about information shared and wouldn't characterize Obama's level of comfort with the information the Russians provided to the U.S. before the bombings.

But, he added, "I think the president hopes and expects that we are able to share information back and forth with governments on a variety of counterterrorism subjects, and this is the kind of thing that it's obviously very important that we have that kind of cooperation from other governments on."

White House hails NBA player's announcement that he's gay

The White House today hailed NBA center Jason Collins for his public declaration that that he's gay, calling his decision an "example of the progress that has been made" in the U.S.

Collins made the announcement in a Sports Illustrated column, writing that he didn't set out to become the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport: "If I had my way, someone else would have already done this," he wrote. "Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he hadn't talked with President Obama about the development, but said the White House views it "as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country."

Carney said the White House would "commend him for his courage and support him in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward."

Collins cited Obama in the column, writing that "the more people who speak out, the better, gay or straight. It starts with President Obama's mentioning the 1969 Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement, during his second inaugural address."

First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted congrats Monday afternoon: "So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo"


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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