In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The Waxman-Markey climate change bill will come to the floor of the House at the end of this week after a weeks-long dispute between the bill's chief author, Henry Waxman, and House Agriculture Committee chairman Colin Peterson.

Peterson had been threatening to whip farm-state Democrats to vote against--and therefore kill--the bill unless Waxman agreed to significant changes (subscription required).

Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told reporters today he would vote for the House climate bill -- and bring dozens of rural lawmakers with him -- after Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) agreed to make a number of concessions that had drawn the ire of farm state members.

Waxman agreed to put the Agriculture Department -- rather than U.S. EPA -- in the lead for management of the offset program that pays farmers and other landowners to conduct environmentally friendly projects. Congress will turn to the Obama administration for guidance on how to fold in EPA.

Waxman also consented to block EPA from calculating "indirect" greenhouse gas emissions from land-use changes when implementing the federal biofuels mandate. The Democrats will impose a five-year moratorium to allow further study of the issue, with consultation from Congress, EPA, the Energy Department and USDA instrumental in restarting the measurements in the biofuels rules.

No word yet on if or when the Senate plans to take its own chainsaws to the bill.

Check out this line from Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) second inaugural address in 2007, paying tribute to the march of technological progress and South Carolina's part in it:

Think for one second about the rate of change in the world around us.

The Pan Am Clipper Class used to be the envy of airline travel. One of their planes would fly 32 passengers at 150 miles per hour from point A to point B. The Miami to Buenos Aires flight took 6 days with numerous crew stops along the way.

The new Boeing 787, being in large part produced here in South Carolina, will soon take 300 passengers at 560 miles an hour on a 9 hour trip straight from Miami to Buenos Aires.

Apparently he's been thinking about traveling to Buenos Aires for quite a while.

Also, Stephen Colbert last night flashed back to an interview he did a year ago with Sanford, asking the governor to tell him about the Mark Sanford nobody knows about. "Well, I guess it would be the degree to which I love solitude," said Sanford. "I love to be out in the woods with my boys."

After being pressed twice yesterday (once by USA Today's David Jackson, then again by ABC's Jake Tapper) at yesterday's press conference, President Obama declined to insist upon a public option. "[W]e are still early in this process," Obama said, "so we have not drawn lines in the sand other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don't have health insurance or are underinsured."

There are a whole host of other issues where ultimately I may have a strong opinion, and I will express those to members of Congress as this is shaping up. It's too early to say that. Right now I will say that our position is that a public plan makes sense.

Well, some key senators are saying that Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has already reached out to them--and not to express a "strong opinion" about the public option.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met last night at the U.S. Capitol with Senate Democrats and told them Obama is "open to alternatives" to a new government insurance program in order to get legislation overhauling the health-care system to his desk, said Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

"His message was, it's critical that you do this," Conrad said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana said Emanuel urged the senators to seek Republican support and didn't discourage them from pursuing the use of non-profit cooperatives, an idea Conrad has proposed.

Conrad says that, unlike the public option, his co-op proposal can attract Republican support, but at this point the evidence suggests that it's been a good tool for attracting conservative Democrat support and that Republicans remain broadly opposed to several aspects of the reform proposals on the table.

Sanford: I Was In Argentina Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) has now resurfaced at the Atlanta airport, telling The State that he was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking a break after a busy legislative session -- not hiking the Appalachian Trail, as his staff had claimed. Sanford said he'd considered hiking the Trail, "But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic." When asked why his staff had said he was hiking the Trail, he said, "I don't know," but then later added that "in fairness" to his staff, he'd previously told them he might go hiking there.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 2 p.m. ET today with Govs. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Christine Gregoire (D-WA) to discuss health care. At 8 p.m. ET, he will hold a town hall from the White House on health care, which will be broadcast on ABC.

Read More →

Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, email's over the following statement in response to inquiries about her support for broad health reform.

I support:

1) Reducing costs and expanding coverage

2) Prohibiting the denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions

3) Moving toward either a non-profit model of medical insurance or to one where premium costs can be controlled, either through competition in a public or cooperative model or through a regulated authority.

4) Assuring the financial survival of Medicare, because it is slated to run out of money in 2017.

5) Preventing the transfer of Medicaid costs to states, which could result in billions of dollars of additional loss to the State of California.

6) Establishing means testing for programs like Medicare Part D, which pays for prescription drugs

Clearly, the individual mandate - and how it is funded - is the critical, and as yet unanswered, question.

Though Democrats don't bandy about the term too often, the mandate is a provision that will require uninsured people to buy health insurance--private or public--on the individual market. Because many can't afford their own plans, though, it will require a great deal of subsidy and could, in the short term, impose a significant cost. Without the mandate, health care won't be universal. But supporters of the public plan note that without a government run option to root out waste and inefficiency, the choices available to consumers will suffer, and private insurance companies will reap windfall profits on the consumer dime.

As I noted earlier, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appeared on CNN over the weekend and tried to pour some cold water on the idea that a systemic health care overhaul is in the country's future. In response, MoveOn is pouring some cold water on Feinstein.

The group is calling on its California members to pressure the senior Democrat to get on board with the President's agenda, and threatening to run an ad singling her out.

A slightly abbreviated version of the letter appears below the fold.

Read More →

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has done a lot recently to help Norm Coleman's legal fight against Al Franken's super-narrow victory in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race, the Associated Press reports -- chipping in $938,000 in the last month alone.

The latest federal filings show that roughly $600,000 was spent directly by the NRSC on Coleman's legal bills, with $300,000 transferred to the state Republican Party for the same effort.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did not itemize spending that might have gone to the Minnesota race, but it did raise $282,000 that was specifically earmarked for it.

The Democratic National Committee is now getting in on the jokes about Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) mysterious disappearance, with this new Web video, "Where's Sanford?":

Interestingly, among all the news footage that was collected to make this video, the official explanation that Sanford has gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail isn't even mentioned at all verbally -- it only makes a brief appearance in some of the on-screen news text.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) apologized to his Republican colleagues at a caucus lunch today, the Politico reports, in the wake of his admission of an extramarital affair that took place in late 2007 and early 2008.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) said Ensign "apologized to everyone who had been hurt, indicated that he had certain deficiencies in his own character and outlook and was going to make substantial improvements."

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is likely to take over Ensign's former leadership position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee -- a post that Ensign has resigned -- said that "He basically told us that he was sorry, and he's going to continue to do his job as a senator from Nevada."

The Republican National Committee has this new ad going after President Obama on health care, ahead of tomorrow's TV special on ABC News, to run on select national cable channels tomorrow. The ad attacks Obama -- and without naming them, ABC -- for wanting a government takeover:

"Today a national TV network turns its airwaves over to President Obama's pitch for government-run health care," the announcer says. "Shouldn't this be a bipartisan discussion?"

"Tell President Obama to work with Republicans," the announcer concludes later, "and to stop rushing into another government takeover."