TPM News

Senate Republicans Thursday blocked debate on yet another portion of President Obama's jobs bill -- one that would have provided $60 billion for funding transportation projects, and seeded a new infrastructure bank.

The vote was 51 - 49 with only 2 members of the Dem caucus -- Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- joining the GOP.

It was the third test vote on jobs measures Republicans have stymied. In recent weeks they filibustered debate on the whole American Jobs Act, and on legislation that would have provided states $35 billion to hire and retain teachers and emergency responders. All the bills are paid for with tiny surtaxes on income over $1 million.

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AT&T suffered a minor blow it its defense against two antitrust lawsuits filed by competitors Sprint and C Spire Wireless when a federal judge on Wednesday ruled that those cases - filed to stop AT&T's planned $39 billion merger with T-Mobile - should be allowed to proceed.

AT&T had attempted to argue that Sprint's and C Spire's claims should be thrown out because antitrust laws are chiefly in place for the protection of consumers, not competing companies.

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The Wisconsin State Assembly Thursday passed a new policy on concealed weapons, allowing for both concealed weapons on the floor, and for members of the public to have concealed guns in the viewing gallery.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Assembly's organization committee approved the policy on a party-line vote of 5-3. At the same time, the committee amended the proposed language to disallow any open carrying of weapons such as rifles.

The Assembly policy differs from that of the state Senate, passed earlier this week in its respective committee. The other chamber allowed lawmakers and others to have guns on the floor, but not visitors in the public gallery.

For both chambers, individual lawmakers who do not want guns in their own offices will be able to post signs notifying citizens that weapons will not be allowed. Elsewhere in the state Capitol, guns will not be allowed in the state Supreme Court hearing room or the Capitol Police station.

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In an effort to stomp out anti-Muslim counterterrorism training at the the FBI, the bureau is calling in reinforcements.

Spencer Ackerman reports over at Wired that the FBI is turning to the Army's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, a request that "represents a frank admission from the FBI that it requires outside help to reform."

The bureau, Ackerman reports, reached out to Bill Braniff, a retired Army captain who directs Practitioner Education at West Point. He "spent much of October in meetings at Bureau Headquarters in Washington D.C. designing what a source familiar with the process describes as 'guidelines for objectionable material' to exclude from agent training." He continues:

In its eight-year history, the CTC has built a reputation as a non-ideological haven for rigorous, data-driven counterterrorism research. It compiled perhaps the most thorough profile ever of the foreign fighters that flocked to Iraq, based on captured military documents. Its monthly newsletter, the CTC Sentinel, is widely read in counterterrorism circles. Not only does CTC teach the Army's cadets at West Point, who will have to distinguish between Muslim civilians and insurgents in warzones, it consults for state and local police -- and the FBI.

An FBI official told TPM that the Army's role in the review is a bit "overstated." In a statement provided by the bureau, the FBI said a "core review team included FBI and non-FBI personnel with academic training in areas of Islamic studies and Arab history" which "established guidelines to provide concrete enterprise-wide guidance on the training of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism topics."

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Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his wife, Diana, sat down for dinner together last night. The meeting was described as a “personal” event. Biden’s office released the following photo from the evening:

One of the two women who filed sexual harassment complaints against Herman Cain received $45,000 from the National Restaurant Association over her claim, according to a Politico report.

This is separate from a $35,000 settlement -- one year's pay -- that the New York Times reported was handed out to a different woman whose complaint Cain has not publicly acknowledged exists.

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A new national poll from Gallup shows former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney with a one point lead on President Obama in a survey of voters in twelve swing states, while leading businessman Herman Cain by three points and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by five. A broader nationwide poll shows Obama and Romney tied at 47 percent. The intent of the poll was to measure how voters in the most important Electoral College states are stacking up the current field in the general election.

From USA Today:

The underlying perils for the president are particularly pronounced in these battlegrounds, presumably because they are in parts of the country that have been hit hardest by the nation's economic troubles. Four of the states have unemployment rates in double digits, well above the national average of 9.1%. Rust Belt states such as Michigan continue to struggle with the exodus of heavy manufacturing industries. Those in the Sun Belt, including Florida and Nevada, have been at the center of the home mortgage boom-and-bust.

Herman Cain’s wife, Gloria, will not appear on Fox News on Friday, the New York Times reports. As the scandal surrounding Cain has unfolded, the Republican presidential contender promised that the public would soon meet his wife.

Herman Cain's staff spent the better part of Wednesday afternoon accusing Perry campaign aide Curt Anderson -- by name -- of tipping off Politico on their report that Cain had been accused of sexual harassment. But on Thursday, Cain aide Mark Block reversed himself on FOX News and said that he no longer believes Anderson was involved.

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Relying on Herman Cain's Chief Of Staff Mark Block to investigate his own financial dealings is "like asking Willie Sutton to hire an independent counsel," a former Cain regional field staffer told TPM in an interview this week.

The staffer, who worked with Block and implemented his campaign strategy, said the famous smoker is not to be trusted to get to the bottom of whether, as documents appear to show, his company Prosperity USA footed the bill "for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses for such items as iPads, chartered flights and travel to Iowa and Las Vegas" to get the Cain campaign off the ground.

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