TPM News

Freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) told reporters today she will be "looking very closely" at the health care bill as proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

On a conference call with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about rural health care, Hagan reiterated she supports "a backstop option for people that don't have access to employer-sponsored health care."

"I'm going to definitely be looking very closely at this bill to see exactly what's in it," Hagan said. "I am committed to working with my colleagues on a final reform bill that hopefully is going to bring stability and security to American families and is not going to add one dime to our federal deficit."

Reporters also asked about the TPMMuckraker scoop yesterday about Blue Cross mailers asking customers to lobby Hagan to oppose the public option.

Transcript after the jump.

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October 25: Students in Kabul protest over allegations that Western soldiers burned a Koran. The protests, which lasted two days, spread to the southern city of Kandahar and the eastern city of Jalalabad. The riots erupted even though a coalition spokeswoman claimed an investigation had dismissed the claims.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zabi Tamanna




The Afghan police march to meet protesters. When police arrived, the protesters threw stones and injured 10 to 15 police officers.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zabi Tamanna




More than a 1,000 Kabul University students took to the streets.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zabi Tamanna




Protesters shout slogans while marching, including "Death to America, death to Jews and Christians!" according to news reports.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zabi Tamanna




Demonstrators throw the clothes from an effigy of Obama.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zabi Tamanna




The Afghan police attempt to protect the parliament building in Kabul as protesters gather.

Newscom/UPI Photos/Hossein Fatemi




Demonstrators burn the American flag. At a protest on Sunday, President Obama was burned in effigy.

Newscom/UPI Photos/Hossein Fatemi




Many protesters called for jihad, according to reports.

Newscom/UPI Photos/Hossein Fatemi






Newscom/UPI Photos/Hossein Fatemi




Tensions come to a head as riot police charge demonstrators in front of the parliament building.

Newscom/UPI Photos/Hossein Fatemi




October 26: Some were beaten after the clash with police.

Newscom/Zuma Wire




October 26: "Police have been extra tolerant trying to avoid any scuffle with the protesters," said a spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry.

Newscom/Zuma Wire




October 26: Dozens were arrested.

Newscom/Zuma Wire






Newscom/Zuma Wire




October 26: A mullah attached to an Afghan army unit alleged that "The enemies of Afghanistan are trying to make people go against the government in order to start riots."

Newscom/Zuma Wire

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) appeared on the Neil Cavuto show, and was asked for his take on the NY-23 special election, which has seen a split in Republican ranks between supporters of moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava, against Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.

"Well, there's no question that New York-23 is a bit of a mess," Boehner admitted bluntly.

He attributed Scozzafava's nomination to the local GOP county chairmen -- as if to say it wasn't in his hands -- and then defended her conservative credentials on such issues as signing a no-tax pledge, opposing cap-and-trade, and opposing the Democrats on health care.

Boehner also prepared the Republican spin on this race, no matter who win, banking on Scozzafava and Hoffman getting more than 50% of the vote in total: "What is clear here, Neil, is that a majority of people in this district, that was won by Barack Obama a year ago, a majority of the people in this district have rejected the Obama-Pelosi agenda here in Washington."

After a meeting of Senate Finance Committee Democrats in his office this afternoon, chairman Max Baucus sought to contain the fallout from Sen. Joe Lieberman's statement today that he'd be inclined to filibuster a health care bill with a public option in it.

"A lot of this now is in Sen. Reid's hands--I certainly would expect [for the bill to proceed to debate]," Baucus said.

I think he's quite close, and there's time yet. I think some senators are not definitely decided because they want to see the CBO report. They want to look at CBO's cost estimates, coverage estimates, effect on premiums, etc., before they make up their minds. Once the CBO report comes out--at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later--it's going to be positive. And once it's positive, I think we'll find a lot more senators inclined to get on the bill.


For a time line of conflicting Lieberman statements on the public option, see here. For a rundown of his previous willingness not to obstruct legislation, see here.

Neil Cavuto was interviewing House Minority Leader John Boehner on Fox News this afternoon when he showed some video from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's press conference today. Reid compared his attempts to get Republicans to work with him on health care reform to the plight of a boy at a high school dance who can't get a girl to stand up and boogie with him.

"When I came here we had -- Republicans and Democrats worked together," Reid said. "But we can't dance if your partner is unwilling to get off the chair. It's like when I was in high school. Um, I wanted to dance but she wouldn't get up, okay?"

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Former Sen. Al D'Amato (R-NY) appeared on Neil Cavuto's TV show, and said that he'll likely be making an endorsement soon in the NY-23 special election -- and that he's leaning heavily towards backing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava.

"I will say to you that I am leaning heavily towards the Conservative," said D'Amato, citing Scozzafava's support for the Employee Free Choice Act as major point against her.

D'Amato was first elected in 1980, defeating liberal Republican incumbent Sen. Jacob Javits in the GOP primary. He was re-elected in 1986 and 1992, and then defeated in 1998 by Chuck Schumer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear today what the GOP has been suggesting for months: moderate Democratic senators fearful that voting for health care reform will cost them their seats (think Blanche Lincoln) can't get away with voting for cloture and against a bill on the floor.

At a press conference this afternoon, McDonnell compared the idea to another tortured line that cost a Democrat an election. "We all recall Senator Kerry's strained way in the 2004 campaign of explaining why he voted for it before he voted against it," McConnell said. "And I think it is perfectly clear that most Americans will treat the vote to get on the bill as a vote on the substance of the bill."

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The spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington tells TPMmuckraker that it is watching the espionage case of Stewart Nozette closely following a report that the high-level U.S. government scientist traveled to India with two computer thumb drives in January.

"Definitely we have interest in the news," said spokesman Nadeen Kiani. "The concerned desk officer is watching [developments]."

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I've been after the White House for several hours for a response to Sen. Joe Lieberman saying he'd back a filibuster on health care.

This just in, from spokeswoman Linda Douglass:

"We're pleased the process is moving forward. The Majority Leader has spoken with all of the members of his caucus and will continue to work with them to address their concerns as the bill is refined and he prepares to take it to the floor."


Coupled with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying constituents will hold lawmakers accountable, it is clear there's no hard line yet from the White House.

Lots of readers are writing in to ask about President Obama's support for Lieberman during his 2006 primary when he was booted from the Democratic party, and about when Obama urged Senate leadership to let the independent retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. The White House hasn't mentioned it.

Meanwhile, if you call Lieberman's Senate office and try to leave him a message, "The mailbox belonging to Senator Lieberman's office is full. To disconnect press one."

An internal review by the Coast Guard has found that a training exercise conducted on the Potomac on Sept. 11 was "ill-advised," although no policies were violated.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the review, which said the commander of the Coast Guard unit that performed the exercise "considered the significance of 9/11 before approving response readiness training on that date and determined it was an opportunity to pay respect to those tragically lost."

The commander and others will receive "appropriate administrative counseling," according to the review.

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