In it, but not of it. TPM DC

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will in all likelihood advance their health care reform bill--public option and all--after Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) drops her opposition.


  • Nominations: In a holiday-Friday news dump, the Senate Judiciary Committee has released hundreds-more pages of documents dating back to Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor's tenure on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

The Republican Governors Association released this statement on Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) resignation:

Republican Governors Association Executive Director Nick Ayers issued the following statement in regards to Sarah Palin's announcement today that she will not seek reelection in 2010 and will step down from the governorship on July 25th.

"While we regret the news announced by Governor Palin today, Alaska will continue to have a Republican governor through 2010 and we are confident the state will elect a Republican in next year's election.

The RGA's focus remains firmly on the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia this year, and the 37 gubernatorial elections that will take place in 2010. We know that winning these races is the most important task facing our Party over the next two years."

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse has put out this statement about Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) resignation -- taking what might just be the final opportunity to rip into her:

"Either Sarah Palin is leaving the people of Alaska high and dry to pursue her long shot national political ambitions or she simply can't handle the job now that her popularity has dimmed and oil revenues are down. Either way - her decision to abandon her post and the people of Alaska who elected her continues a pattern of bizarre behavior that more than anything else may explain the decision she made today."

Here's Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) rather...interesting resignation speech:





Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), the unsuccessful 2008 nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President, has announced that will resign her office, effective at the end of the month.

Initial reports had been that she simply wasn't going to run for a second term in 2010, seemingly setting up a 2012 campaign for the White House. But this sure is something...

Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), the unsuccessful 2008 nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President, has resigned her office, effective at the end of the month.

Initial reports had been that she simply wasn't going to run for a second term in 2010, seemingly setting up a 2012 campaign for the White House. But this sure is something...

Late Update: Reporter Andrew Wellner from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman just appeared on CNN after attending Palin's press conference. She said, Wellner reported, that she could be more effective outside of government.

And she wholly blamed the national press, saying they were creating national distractions that cost the state money. Palin said: "You are naive if you don't see a full-court press on the national level, picking apart a good point guard."

Late Late Update: Here's the video. Part 1:



And Part 2:

CNN reports that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is set to announce soon that she will not run for a second term as Governor in 2010.

There are any number of reasons she might not be running again -- but it's worth pointing out that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) also recently announced his retirement, which most people see as a step towards a potential run for President in 2012.

And given the huge distances involved, it's hard to travel all around the Lower 48 while also being an actual Governor of Alaska. Palin had to essentially leave the state during the two months that she ran for Vice President back in 2008.

Could we be seeing a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012?

Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50), whose fundraising house party last Friday night ended disastrously with a now-infamous raid by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, met yesterday with the county's new Sheriff William D. Gore, who was just sworn in yesterday, and she told me today that it was a constructive meeting.

The incident began after an unnamed person, believed to have been a heckler who reportedly shouted obscenities and anti-gay slurs at the event, phoned in a noise complaint.

"I congratulated him on being sworn in. We had a conversation about this incident. I told him that I'm going to be completely cooperative with him, because I think it's going to be so important that we find out how this happened, and why this happened, and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Busby. "And I told him that it's very important to me to find out that if there was political motivation behind the phone call, for two reasons. One, is these types of political meetings occur all the time for all candidates. It's important that people feel safe when they attend one of these, and it should be a protected right in our democratic process. And two, law enforcement should never be put in a position to be used in a political way."

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Did Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) sick the cops on a group of health care reform organizers? That's what the Service Employees International Union is claiming. The group had received permission to gather at the Nebraska Medical Center to meet Johanns who was scheduled to appear at a roundtable discussion on health care--but Johanns apparently wasn't interested.

"SEIU along with teachers and members of the military set up a table with apple pie and signs welcoming the Senator and urging him to support an American solution to healthcare reform," noted Jane Kleeb, SEIU State Director. "Instead of coming by and saying hello, the Senator walked right by us as we were surrounded by police and said 'good luck with that.'"

Johann's staff, however, portrays things rather differently. They contend that the organizers were confronted by hospital security and asked to move their protest off hospital grounds. They also deny complaining--either to the police, or to hospital security--about the protesters' presence, and say the roundtable proceeded, with Kleeb's participation, after the controversy was resolved.

Those are two very different versions of events, obviously. We'll try to tease out exactly what went down.

Late update: It's certainly worth pointing out that Jane Kleeb is the wife of Scott Kleeb, who was Johanns' opponent in the 2008 election for Chuck Hagel's old Senate seat.

Late, late update: I just got off the phone with Jane Kleeb who stuck to her version of events and provided more details. According to Kleeb, she and about 10 other advocates set up out front with two home made signs--one which read 'Sen. Johanns, we can't wait' and one which read 'Health care '09, we can't wait'. She says that soon thereafter four cars rolled up--both medical center security and Omaha police. According to Kleeb, the police waited in their cars while she spoke with hospital security officers, who told her that Johanns' staff had indeed called to complain about the protest.

According to an email Kleeb provided from the hospital, "[e]xternal groups can distribute literature on public sidewalks, so long as they are not obstructing pedestrian or vehicle traffic, and do not interfere with those entering and exiting the buildings." Kleeb says she and the group gathered on a walkway several feet from the medical center's doors, but that security moved them to the other side of a barrier about several feet further from the entrance.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) gave what he perhaps hopes can be a final comment on the 2008 Minnesota Senate race: That he's glad it's over, and let's stop talking about it.

"I think we're all relieved the Senate race is over," Pawlenty said on his weekly radio show. "There's been some frustration over how long it took."

Pawlenty, of course, did add that "I wish it had come out the other way," but he respects the process.

Interestingly, as the Star Tribune points out, Pawlenty declared that it was "time to move on" -- the exact same turn of phrase he used to describe the media coverage of Michael Jackson.

One of the biggest developments on the health care front this week was Wal-Mart's decision to back an employer mandate as a major provision of reform legislation. The move rankled the Chamber of Commerce, which accused the retail giant of using the government to build competitive advantage against its competitors--all despite the fact that Wal-Mart is the Chamber's largest member. But liberals were by and large pretty happy with the development.

At least as far as health reform goes.

But Wal-Mart is a major stakeholder on a number of key issues, and some wonder whether the Arkansas-based behemoth will try to cash in their support for health reform with the White House when the focus in Washington eventually turns to employee free choice.

Labor sources, well-acquainted with Wal-Mart's anti-EFCA tactics, have suggested or acknowledged this concern to me in the days since the administration announced the deal--and as hard as it is to imagine Wal-Mart fighting that legislation harder than they already do, the sources say both sides may turn up the temperature in the fight over employee rights in the weeks and months ahead.

It's unclear where the basis of this concern lies--whether it comes from internal knowledge of Wal-Mart's negotiations with key health care players in Washington; or from an understanding of the company's incentives; or whether some in the labor movement are using this moment to launch a pre-emptive strike against their main EFCA opponent.

But either way, it's clear that the uneasy alliance between labor and Wal-Mart on the question of health reform does not translate into rapprochement on the issue of unionization. If anything, it makes the fight over that issue bloodier.

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