TPM News

President Obama gave remarks at a fundraiser for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) today in Philadelphia -- the first of two he's speaking at today. The White House released the transcript of his speech:

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Philadelphia! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Philly with a man who's always put his state before politics, before party -- your senator, Arlen Specter. (Applause.)


Now, I want to say a few things about Arlen Specter. Arlen is not someone who came to Washington to fight for a particular ideology. He came to fight for the working men and women of Pennsylvania. And he has a long and successful record of doing just that. This is a man who has voted to raise the minimum wage 20 times -- (applause) -- because he understands if you work in this society, you shouldn't be in poverty. This is a man who's fought for workplace safety and mine safety, who stood up for the American steelworker and American manufacturer; who has voted to extend unemployment benefits time and time again.

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The motion to disapprove of Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) outburst of "You lie!" during President Obama's speech to Congress last week has now passed in the House.

The numbers: 240 Yes, 179 No, and 5 Present.

Late Update: In terms of party breakdown, 12 Democrats voted No, and five Dems voted Present. In addition, seven Republicans voted Yes.

Late Late Update: The roll call vote is available here. The listing of crossover votes is available after the jump.

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In a clear sign that Republicans intend to turn the disapproval vote against Joe Wilson into a rallying cry for their own base, far more Republicans than Democrats have been speaking during the floor debate on the resolution.

The subject of their talk: That the American people are done with this and don't want to talk about it anymore. The message here is that the Dems are wasting time with the proceeding, and abusing their power to persecute Wilson.

"There is definitely a sense that House Republicans aren't dealing with the same hot potato they were dealing with on Thursday morning after the president's speech," a GOP leadership aide just told me. "The president's acceptance of Joe Wilson's apology has left the Democrats looking petty and possibly on the verge of overreach. The fact that White House has now adopted some of Wilson's policy proposals is evidence that this is no longer the political loser Democrats once thought it would be just a few days ago."

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Billionaire banker Allen Stanford will have to settle for a public defender to represent him on charges that he orchestrated a massive financial fraud.

Stanford's assets have been frozen, leaving him with no money to pay Dick DeGuerin, the high-powered defense attorney he's been working with of late. With no guarantee of payment, DeGuerin formally withdrew, and U.S. District Judge David Hittner asked the head of the federal public defender office in Houston to take over, reports the Houston Chronicle.

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) just took to the House floor -- and did not apologize again for his "You lie!" outburst.

"Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing this nation than what we're addressing right now," said Wilson. "The President said the time for games is over. I agree with the President. He graciously accepted my apology, and the issue is over."

"However, this action today will have done nothing for the taxpayers, to rein in the growing cost and size of the federal government. It will not help more Americans secure jobs, promote better education, ensure retirement, or reform health insurance," he continued "It is the Democrat leadership, in their rush to pass a very bad government health care plan, that is bad medicine for America. It has muzzled the voices we represent and provoked partisanship.

"When we are done here today, we will not have taken any steps closer to helping more American families afford health insurance, or helping small businesses create new jobs. The challenges our nations (sic) faces are far bigger than any one member of this house. It is time that we move forward and get to work for the American people."

Former House majority leader and current Dancing With The Stars contestant Tom DeLay tweeted today that he may have a stress fracture -- but that won't stop him from tearing up the floor.

Old age is catching up to me, may have a stress fracture in my foot. no worries, it'll take more than that to keep me off the dance floor!

DeLay is performing with two-time Dancing With The Stars champ Cheryl Burke, who told TPM the indicted former congressman is a "gentleman" and an "interesting conversationalist."

Also check out our photos and video of DeLay's dance moves, plus his recent loony appearance on Hardball.

Late Update: "No stress fracture! It is a pre-stress fracture. I live for another day," DeLay tweets.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is perhaps the most liberal member of the Senate Finance Committee when it comes to health care reform, and today, he went on the record in opposition to the proposal offered by chairman Max Baucus.

"There is no way in present form I will vote for it," Rockefeller told reporters on a conference call. "Therefore, I will not vote for it unless it changes during the amendment process by vast amounts."

Rockefeller has a number of objections to the proposal including, but not limited, to the fact that it lacks a public option.

The math on the Senate Finance Committee (13 Democrats, 10 Republicans) is such that Rockefeller could vote no from the left, and all Republicans--including Olympia Snowe--could vote no from the right, and the bill could still pass. So this may not be an idle threat. However, numerous aides have told me that moving the process forward is the top priority for Democratic leaders at this point, and that it's extremely unlikely that Democratic opposition will stall the bill on the committee, so any Democratic opposition would likely be limited to Rockefeller. Nonetheless, this is an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on.

Who're you gonna believe, Mitch McConnell, or Max Baucus?

Today, the Senate Minority Leader and the Senate Finance Committee chair offered mutually exclusive prognoses on the fate of health care reform.

Baucus says there's a "very good chance" that a significant number of Republicans will ultimately support the compromise legislation he's spent months writing, and which he finally plans to unveil either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

But, based on what he's read of the plan so far, the Republican Senate leader is doubtful.

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The Boston Globe reports that both houses of the Massachusetts legislature plan to vote Thursday on the bill to empower Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to make a temporary appointment to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. This would return the Senate Democrats to their full strength of 60 seats, which could be crucial in the debate on health care.

The law before 2004 provided for a gubernatorial appointee, who would serve until the next regular Congressional election. That year, however, the Dems in the legislature passed a bill for a special election, with no appointment, at a time when John Kerry was running for president and Republican Mitt Romney was governor.

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