TPM News

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has released a statement confirming that former Congressman Eric Massa took a member of his staff to dinner, following a Washington Post report on the "date."

Frank says that a member of his personal staff believed that, "although this was not an ethical violation," she thought "it should be called to the attention of former Congressman Massa's Chief of Staff, Joe Racalto, a former colleague."

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Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), chairman of the House Republican Conference, dodged a question this afternoon about whether Republicans would try to repeal health care reform after it passes.

"If they do indeed pass this, will you then work to repeal it?" asked Fox News anchor Jane Skinner.

"I've been being asked that question over the last couple days, and to be honest with you, I don't think they can pass the bill," Pence said.

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Senate Democrats are trying to reassure progressives and House members that voting for the more conservative Senate health care bill doesn't mean things can't be improved later. They point to major historic policy changes such as Social Security and Medicare when the bills were passed with their most watered-down provisions and later bolstered, drawing parallels between those battles and the health care fight.

The public option is the most frequently cited regret for many senators, some who continue to press for it to be included in a final package. But Democrats acknowledge that while they might not get it this go-around, they aren't giving up. Several progressives in recent days have cited the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who said the battle for health care reform "never ends."

"We're not done," Sen. Sherrod Brown told reporters, pundits and bloggers at the Progressive Media Summit yesterday.

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White House health care adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle gave House Democrats a complete walk through of the President's proposed fixes to the Senate health care bill at a caucus meeting this morning, fielding questions, particularly from progressives upset about the White House's failure to endorse a public option. But the Congressional Budget Office has yet to weigh in on the plan, so the waiting game continues. And some members, eager to get health care off their plates and out of the headlines, are getting nervous.

"It wasn't the big moment that I think when the all points bulletin went out last night that I think some people thought it was going to be," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told reporters as the meeting let out.

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Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA) told a local newspaper yesterday that he plans to vote against the Senate health care reform bill if it comes to the House for a vote.

"I will not vote for the Senate bill," Holden told the Republican Herald. "It makes significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid ... and the restrictions on (federal funding for) abortion are not as strong."

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The Daily Caller reports that House Minority Leader John Boehner will offer a resolution that calls for an investigation of Democratic leaders' handling of the case of former Rep. Eric Massa.

The Caller suggests that Republicans want the ethics committee to look at how Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- whose staff was reportedly told in October that Massa lived with staffers and used sexually explicit language -- handled the Massa case.

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In a speech at Tel Aviv University today, Vice President Joe Biden underscored the "unbreakable bond" between the United States and Israel. Here are his complete remarks:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. President, thank you for that lovely introduction. And thank you for hosting me at such a world-class center for higher learning. It's been a long time since I've been back on campus. I was a mere child, a 31-year-old Senator when I was here the first time. But it's a privilege to be back.

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A prominent friend and supporter of James Dobson believes Dobson was pushed aside by the new leadership of Focus on the Family, who want the powerhouse evangelical ministry to project a softer image on issues ranging from abortion to gay marriage to relations with President Obama.

Dobson founded Focus on the Family in 1977 and spent the next 25 years building it into the influential Christian conservative group it is today.

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Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who is retiring this year, has sent out a fundraising letter to promote the new Democratic candidate to succeed him, Rep. Brad Ellsworth.

"Brad is an independent voice and a fiscal conservative who shares the fierce dedication to public service that you and I value. He has my complete confidence, and I hope you will support him as vigorously as you have supported me," Bayh writes in the e-mail. "But with only eight short months to go until Election Day, your immediate support is critical."

As we have reported, the state Democratic Party's central committee will formally select the new candidate -- who will in all likelihood be Ellsworth -- some time after the May 4 primary, and before a June 30 deadline. This is because Bayh announced his retirement the day before the signatures were due, and nobody filed the petitions necessary to appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

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