TPM News

Of the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said it best on Tuesday: "In the Bush administration, these were the guys that were having sex orgies and pot parties and weren't showing up for work."

As the government agency that regulates offshore drilling, MMS is already under scrutiny for its handling of the rig that exploded and caused the oil spill. It's not yet clear whether there were missteps by the agency, though the Washington Post reported earlier this week that MMS' environmental impact assessments of the Deepwater Horizon rig had not considered the possibility of a major spill.

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In a letter released today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to wait a year before implementing the state's recently-passed immigration law, saying he wants to give Congress a chance to enact comprehensive legislation of its own.

In the letter, Schumer calls into question the constitutionality of the law -- which some argue will encourage racial profiling -- and doubts its effectiveness as a tool to reduce illegal immigration.

"I cannot agree more that urgent federal action is necessary this year to address our broken immigration system," he writes. "But I simply do not believe the remedy Arizona has enacted will succeed in resolving the problem it is designed to address. I oppose SB 1070, not only because it is wrong-hearted and is likely unconstitutional, but also because it will almost certainly fail to reduce illegal immigration into Arizona."

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The Democrat who's challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this fall, Attorney General Terry Goddard, has been vocal in his opposition to Brewer's immigration law, calling it "a tragic mistake." It made us wonder -- where are the calls for repeal?

Neither Goddard nor his campaign manager have returned repeated calls for comment on whether the attorney general would, as governor, to try to repeal the law.

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With Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI) retiring after over 40 years in Congress, a whole lot of Democratic names are being floated for his northern Wisconsin seat.

Democratic sources say the list of candidates includes as many as nine names: State Sen. Julie Lassa, state Sen. Pat Kreitlow, state Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, state Rep. Donna Seidel, state Rep. Ann Hraychuck, state Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, Judge Greg Huber, attorney Christine Bremer, and former state Superintendent Libby Burmaster.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) keeps hearing from Rahm Emanuel about his proposal to force a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve. But the White House isn't calling to tell him about new plans to kill his amendment.

The White House is hoping to cobble together a separate proposal, to be offered as an alternative to Sanders' backers. The so called "side-by-side" would give them cover to vote down the Fed audit amendment, by offering them them a weaker plan to support.

But Sanders had to read about this plan in the newspaper.

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The SEIU announced today that it will join a growing number of civil and labor groups in a boycott of Arizona, as a protest of the state's recent passage of a controversial new immigration law.

"By issuing an extensive boycott of meetings and conventions in Arizona, we are sending a clear message that working families want serious solutions to our immigration problems--not frivolous policies that undermine public safety, waste millions of taxpayer funds, and imperil our most basic civil rights," said SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina in a statement released this morning.

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The first public poll released since May 4 North Carolina Democratic Senate primary shows the top vote-getter in that contest, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, leading Iraq War vet Cal Cunningham in the June 22 runoff race. The Rasmussen poll shows Marshall in the lead by a margin of 42-37.

Marshall and Cunningham are battling it out for the right to face Sen. Richard Burr (R) in the fall. The runoff was declared when none of the Democratic candidates in the low-turnout primary reached 40% of the vote on May 4.

The poll was taken yesterday among 522 likely Democratic primary voters. The margin of error is 4.5%.

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President Obama released a statement today about a GOP amendment to financial reform that "will gut consumer protections and is worse than the status quo." Here's the full text:

Nearly two years after the collapse on Wall Street that cost over 8 million jobs on Main Street, the American people deserve strong, tough reform that will help prevent another financial crisis. The bill before the Senate demands accountability from Wall Street and includes the strongest consumer protections ever.

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Right-wing extremists who question the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency tried to take on local law enforcement recently -- and they seem to have come out on the losing end.

First, a Tennessee man was arrested after walking into his local county courthouse to try to effect a citizen's arrest of a grand jury foreman who had refused to investigate President Obama's legitimacy to serve -- an encounter partially caught on video. That enraged one Georgia-based member of the far-right OathKeepers group. Responding to a call from an extremist leader, he drove to Tennessee with an AK-47 in a bid to get his comrade released -- only to wind up getting arrested himself.

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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who has taken a firm stance against any legislation that creates or gives incentives for new oil drilling programs off of the Florida coast, thinks he'll get his way. Nelson has been in regular conversation with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the principal author of a soon-to-be-unveiled climate and energy bill, and he believes, based on those discussions, that Kerry is moving in his direction.

Today, Kerry, who has been tight-lipped in recent days about the fragile state of his flagship legislation, acknowledged to reporters this morning that he sympathizes with Nelson and other senators who oppose new drilling, calling their concerns "very legitimate."

"He knows my position," Nelson said of Kerry, standing outside the Senate chamber this morning. "There's just not going to be any oil drilling off of Florida."

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