TPM News

Congressional Republicans haven't gotten over the last government shutdown fight -- perhaps because it wasn't a clear win. They're probing FEMA's accounting practices in the last week of September, suggesting the agency manipulated its disaster relief fund to help Democrats avoid a political fight with Republicans. But FEMA officials were on the record, both publicly and in private briefings with members of both parties, about the tools they were using to keep themselves in the black through the fiscal year. So what's this really all about?

Recall that the September government shutdown fight centered on the GOP's demand that there should be matching budget cuts to make up for funneling emergency money to FEMA's disaster relief fund.

FEMA originally expected the account to be drained a few days before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. To keep its operations across the country in motion Congress was prepared to appropriate the agency $1 billion in bridge money to carry it into October...except for that pesky disagreement about offsets! Republicans insisted on paying for it by nixing a popular and effective hybrid vehicle incentive. Democrats refused, both on principle and because the specific manufacturing program on the chopping block was a successful one. Neither party was prepared to cave. But with the deadline only days away, FEMA moved aggressively to shore up its fund and announced it could get by without any emergency help from Congress and the shutdown was averted.

Republicans say something fishy was going on.

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Mount Everest is just another hill of beans compared to a mountain on the south pole of the asteroid Vesta, now visible in glorious 3D thanks to NASA's DAWN spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around the asteroid.

Vesta's south polar peak (shown just off to the left of the center of the image above) rises up 13 miles over its surrounding terrain, compared to Everest's height of about five and a half-miles. It's also just underneath the height of the largest currently known mountain in the solar system, the volcano Olympus Mons on Mars, which towers above them all at 16 miles.

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A new Reuters/Ipsos national poll of the Republican race shows a familiar trend: former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney back in front with businessman Herman Cain surging and Texas Gov. Rick Perry falling off. Way off. The new survey has Romney in front with 21 percent, Cain with 19, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) with 13 and Perry back in fourth with ten.

The poll also shows the the Occupy Wall Street Movement has more support than not: 38 of those Americans surveyed said they had a favorable view of the protests, versus 24 percent who viewed them negatively. There was a partisan belt to the finding too, a trend that’s emerging in the polling around the movement. Democrats were much more likely to have a favorable opinion, with Republicans the opposite.

A U.S. military official tells Reuters on Wednesday that the United States has finished its investigation into a deadly August helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The crash killed 30 American troops, the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in the war.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will host a new prime-time show starting January 2012 on the expanding Current TV network.

"The War Room will be a nightly show for political junkies like me and anyone who cares about the future of our country, focusing on the 2012 election from all angles," Granholm said in a statement on Wednesday. "We will actively engage viewers with a blend of smart analysis and relevant commentary from guests on the cutting edge of politics, business and entertainment."

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Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) says he didn't pay tens of thousands of dollars in child support payments to his ex-wife because he was under the impression they had an informal agreement that he'd keep the money.

"He reasonably relied on [ex-wife Laura Walsh's] representations and conduct, to his detriment," Walsh's lawyer said in a court filing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Through his attorney, Walsh claimed he had a "verbal agreement" with his wife on child support because "Joe and his former wife were both tired of court appearances and the resulting emotional and financial impact on the family. Neither party had the financial or emotional wherewithal to continue the battle."

Ms. Walsh, who is suing the Congressman for over $100,000 in missed child support payments, sees things differently, however. Her attorney denied the claim, as well as Mr. Walsh's office's claim that the suit is "an attempt to tarnish the Congressman's reputation" timed to his emergence as a public figure. According to her attorney, she only launched the latest effort to collect the money after the then-candidate lent his campaign $34,000, indicating that he had significantly more cash than he had let on.

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CNN reports that the Republican National Committee raised $9.1 million in September, the group’s highest one-month yield in a non-election year.

The campaign in Ohio for this November's referendum, on whether to sustain or repeal Gov. John Kasich's new law SB 5 -- getting rid of most collective bargaining rights for public unions -- just got a lot uglier.

Now, the Dayton Daily News reports, some TV stations are pulling an ad from the pro-bill campaign -- and splicing it into an ad for the anti-bill campaign, and making it look like the woman in the earlier spot favored the bill.

Last week, the progressive group We Are Ohio released an ad starring a senior citizen, Marlene Quinn, talking about how firefighters saved the life of her grand-daughter.

"I don't want the politicians in Columbus making decisions for the firefighters, the police, teachers, nurses, or any organization that's helping people," Quinn declares in the ad. "Fewer firefighters could mean the different between life or death -- and that's why I'm voting 'No' on Issue 2."

In response, the pro-SB 5 group Building A Better Ohio has a new spot up, sampling from We Are Ohio.

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