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Not much more to say beyond the headline. On hand to field questions will be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leaders, along with the chairmen of the relevant committees of jurisdiction: Charlie Rangel of Ways and Means; Henry Waxman of Energy and Commerce; and George Miller of Education and Labor.

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that two Republican congressmen, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Mike Pence of Indiana, could be looking to make a presidential run.

One of our favorite Cantor memories was when he missed one of President Obama's prime time press conferences on the economy. Where was the House minority whip? At a Britney Spears concert.

But Cantor's apparently fueling speculation by scheduling listening tours and raising money. He's added $637,000 to his PAC -- called Every Republican Is Crucial (or ERIC).

Just goes to show: In the new Republican Party, no one's too obscure or too weird to be considered presidential material.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor affirmed her belief in the right to privacy during hearings on Tuesday, when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) questioned her views on Griswold v. Connecticut.

"There is a right to privacy," she said. "The Court has found it in various places in the Constitution and has recognized rights under those various provisions of the Constitution."

Griswold is the landmark Supreme Court case decided in 1965 in which the Court ruled that the right to privacy exists and is constitutionally protected. Citing the opinions in that case, Sotomayor said the right to privacy is "founded in the Fourth Amendment's rights" and is "also found in the Fourteenth Amendment."

She said "that is the precedent of the court, so it is settled law," which seems to be her theme in the hearings so far. Kohl also questioned her on Bush v. Gore, Roe v. Wade, and Kelo v. City of New London, among others, and each time Sotomayor has answered that the court's precedent is "settled law."

In the second day of confirmation hearings, Judge Sonia Sotomayor addressed the controversy surrounding her now-infamous "wise Latina" remarks.

"Never have any words I have spoken or written gotten so much attention...The words I spoke have created a misunderstanding," she said during opening questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy, who has praised Sotomayor's qualifications as "outstanding," gave the judge an opportunity for clarification on the main Republican line of attack. "I was trying to inspire [young Latinos] to believe their life experiences would enrich the legal system," she said.

Watch the video:



The original comment that has drawn so much conservative ire was repeated in almost exact form during multiple speeches over Sotomayor's career: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion."

Republicans and conservative talking heads have seized on Sotomayor's past comments as their main talking point for opposition, Newt Gingrich even going so far as to call her a racist (which he later walked back).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), another member of the commitee, said in his opening statements on Monday that Sotomayor's statements were troubling to him. Under questioning from Sessions on Tuesday morning, she also acknowledged that while life experiences influence judges, "personal biases" must not affect the outcome of cases.

Despite admitting to having an affair and having his parents pay off his mistress, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) yesterday said he plans to stay in office -- and run for re-election in 2012.

Ensign told the Las Vegas Sun he's been getting emails and phone calls from supporters urging him to stay put. Those supporters, he said, include senators on both sides of Senate leadership.

"I fully plan on running for reelection," Ensign said. "I'm going to work to earn their respect back."

He quoted his supporters as saying, "Keep your head up. This thing will pass."

Under increasing pressure from the White House, and to meet their self-imposed deadlines, leaders in both the House and the Senate recommitted yesterday to meeting their goal of passing separate health care bills before the looming August recess.

At an event anticipating today's release of House reform legislation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed, "We will be on schedule to do as we have planned to vote for this legislation before we leave for the August recess."

Later in the day, after a long meeting with President Obama, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed the same sentiment. "We are going to do health care before we leave," Reid said.

Because of the peculiarities of the Senate, Reid will have a harder time matching word to deed than will Pelosi, despite the fact that the Senate isn't scheduled to adjourn until a week after the House does. For its part, the White House suggested yesterday for the first time that it would consider asking either or both houses of Congress to delay their recesses if they haven't prepared legislation for a conference committee by the time they're set to depart.

In a meeting that lasted slightly over an hour yesterday, President Obama upped the pressure on congressional leaders--but particularly on the Senate, and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)--to move a health care bill forward so that both chambers can individually complete work on legislation before the August recess.

Obama met with Baucus and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY)--chairman of the Ways and Means Committee--along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer yesterday afternoon, two days after returning from a long trip abroad. Specific details are scarce, but this account, provided by a knowledgeable official, dovetails well with better known facts, including that the Senate--particularly the Finance Committee--is significantly behind schedule, and that the White House appears to be turning up the temperature on Congress more generally as August recess approaches.

Obama also met yesterday with Blue Dog Democrats, who have successfully delayed the introduction of House health care reform legislation. More details on that meeting if and when they become available.


President Obama, along with his wife and two daughters, arrives for his first official visit in Africa at Ghana's Accra airport on July 10, 2009.
Newscom / Isaac Yeboah / Panapress




President Obama is greeted at Ghana's Accra airport.
Newscom / Isaac Yeboah / Panapress




A young child looks on as President Obama visits a former slave fort in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Newscom /The Times




Posters of Ghanain President John Atta Mills pictured alongside President Obama lined the streets of Accra ahead of Obama's visit.
Newscom /The Times




Women wear dresses printed with images of President Obama and Ghana's President Mills.
Newscom /The Times




A woman holds a bottle of water commemorating President Obama's visit to the town of Cape Coast, Ghana.
Newscom /The Times




President Obama addresses the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra, Ghana on July 11, 2009.
Chuck Kennedy / White House Photo





Chuck Kennedy / White House Photo




President Obama and the first family return home to the White House in the early morning after a trip overseas to Russia, Europe, and Africa.
Newscom / Brendan Smialowski / POOL-CNP-PHOTOlink





Newscom / Brendan Smialowski / POOL-CNP-PHOTOlink

TPMDC's round up of the biggest initiatives on Capitol Hill:

  • Health Care: House leaders delayed the release of their health care legislation for yet another day as they paper over differences with more conservative members of the Democratic party. Meanwhile, with President Obama back from abroad, the White House is wading in to the debate on the Hill like never before.


  • Nominations: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the first day of her week-long confirmation hearing. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said her nomination could send the court down a "dangerous path". And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) lashed out at those who would dare criticize one of the New Haven firefighter's who's been recruited to testify against her. Read TPM's live blog of the hearings, where Andrew Pincus is cataloging and analyzing just about every key moment.

The drip-drip of the John Ensign sex scandal continues...

Today the Washington Post editorial board calls, in its well-mannered way, for investigations by the Senate Ethnics committee and the Federal Election Committee into the payments, totaling $96,000, that, according to a statement from Ensign's lawyer, were made last year by the Nevada senator's parents to the Hampton family.

Read More →

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