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Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent his colleagues a letter on Wednesday confirming that he is seeking the post of ranking member of the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform.

Also in the running for the ranking member position is current House Oversight Committee Chairman Ed Towns (D-NY). Towns has faced criticism from fellow Democrats who don't think he would be a strong enough counterweight to Issa. The White House, however, has said they expect their relationship with Towns to continue. The Congressional Black Caucus would likely resist efforts to oust Towns, who is a member of the caucus.

Kucinich criticized Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman-in-waiting of the Oversight Committee, for making what he called unsubstantiated claims about the Obama administration.

"Mr. Issa, through his eagerness to make unsubstantiated charges and to draw conclusions in advance of evidence, reveals a lack of restraint and basic fairness," Kucinich wrote. "This conduct in the Chairman of the Committee will degrade Congress' oversight credibility and undermine the institution of the House through a lack of restraint in the use of subpoena power."

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Write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is now leading Republican nominee Joe Miller by 10,400 votes in the Alaska Senate race. Though the Miller campaign has challenged a portion of those votes, Murkowski is still leading by 2,247 uncontested ballots, giving her what seems to be an insurmountable lead over Miller.

But Miller is not done yet -- his campaign is now calling for the Division of Elections to recount all of the ballots, not just the write-ins, by hand, citing "past problems with machine counting" that give Murkowski an edge over Miller since her votes were all counted by hand.

Murkowski launched her write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary to the tea party-backed Miller. Write-in candidates received 41% of the vote in the general election, which forced a count of the ballots to see how many were for Murkowski.

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A growing number of Republicans want to tie the hands of the Federal Reserve, choking off perhaps the last best hope for a speedier economic recovery.

In a sluggish economy like this one, policy makers have a handful of powerful tools at their disposal. The most conventional tool -- fiscal stimulus -- is politically out of reach. Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have vowed to block any more deficit spending bills aimed at injecting demand into the economy.

"[W]e will loudly oppose future stimulus bills that only stimulate the deficit," McConnell said at a recent Heritage Foundation speech.

That leaves monetary stimulus. Under its mandate to promote full employment, the Fed is supposed to use tools at its disposal to spur economic growth. Republicans want to stop that too.

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In the wake of Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins' spectacular departure from the RNC yesterday, chairman Michael Steele has tapped two veterans of the last two presidential cycles to replace him.

Collins left in a very public huff, dropping a letter on the RNC's executive committee that all but declared Steele incompetent to run the committee heading into the 2012 cycle. The RNC reacted by defending Steele's results and pulling in two new people to take over where Collins left off.

Jon Seaton, former John McCain campaign director in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and John Peschong, a former official in the Reagan administration and Senior Strategist for both McCain and George W. Bush, will be joining Steele's team at the RNC as Senior Political Advisors.

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The House ethics committee will hold a hearing at noon Thursday on whether, and how, the House should punish Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) after he was found to have committed 11 ethics violations.

An adjudicatory subcommittee found Rangel guilty of the violations yesterday. Now, the full committee will vote on a recommendation for punishment. The committee's recommendation will then be forwarded to the full House for a vote.

Punishments range from a reprimand or admonishment to expulsion. Rangel, who won re-election this month to his 21st term with 80 percent of the vote, is not expected to be expelled.

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DOJ investigators have found that two prosecutors in the corruption trial of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), as well as an FBI agent, did engage in misconduct during the trial, according to the AP. But the prosecutors will not face criminal charges, according to NPR.

Stevens was found guilty on corruption charges in 2008, but Attorney General Eric Holder asked the judge to throw out his conviction over concerns of misconduct by the prosecutors.

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1||Newly elected legislators descended on Washington D.C. this week, fresh off their victories in the November 2 midterm elections.

Here, Sen.-elect Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) with his wife Cynthia during a break in orientation for new senators on Monday. ||Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

2||Newly elected representatives during an orientation session. ||Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

3||Rep.-elect Joe Heck (R-NV) || Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

4||Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on Monday. || Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI/Newscom&&

5||Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) was also sworn in on Monday. ||Tom Williams/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

6||From left, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), and outgoing Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) ||Tom Williams/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

7||Rep.-elect David McKinley (R-WV), left, prepares to have his ID photo taken. ||Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

8||Rep.-elect Kristi Noem (R-SD). ||Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

9||Rep.-elect Steve Chabot (R-OH).||(Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

10||Sen-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL). ||Tom Williams/Roll Call Photos/Newscom&&

11||Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) during a break in orientation. ||Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom

Is Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gearing up be the Democratic answer to Republican Oversight Committee Chairman-in-waiting Darrell Issa?

Kucinich wouldn't tell TPM if he planned to make a run for ranking member as he dashed out of a Democratic House caucus meeting on Tuesday. His spokesman did not return phone calls. But a senior House Democrat told Politico that Kucinich was in the running.

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Remember when people thought it might a good idea to nuke the well at the height of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico this summer?

Yeah, that was never gonna happen. But not for lack of interest.

So says retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the man who ran the government response to the devastating spill. Allen addressed an audience at the Center For Strategic and International Studies in Washington Tuesday evening, where he laid out the trials and tribulations of being the public face of the efforts to clean up the largest ecological disaster in US history. One of those trials, Allen said, was trying to explain why a military designed to fight wars didn't have the right equipment to stop an oil spill.

"I had many, many conversations about why the Department of Defense wasn't brought in to solve this problem," he said. "I got asked at least on five occasions throughout the course of this thing why we didn't think about using a nuclear weapon on the well, ok?"

The uncomfortable truth, Allen said, was that the only people who had the equipment to stop the oil spill were the companies that pull the oil out of the ground in the first place.

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