TPM News

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) released the following statement today in response to President Obama and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar's announcement to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas:

I commend Secretary Salazar for proposing a plan that makes available for leasing much of the potential offshore oil and gas resources that the Federal government owns. I also commend him for indicating that additional studies will be undertaken before making a final decision on leasing in areas that might be environmentally sensitive.

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) officially announced this morning that she will not resign her seat in the United States Senate, reversing her earlier plans to leave office before the end of her term in 2012.

Hutchison had previously challenged incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary, and had planned to resign during the primary itself. She later changed her mind about resigning during the primary, but had kept the door open to resigning afterward. Perry ultimately won the March 2 primary. Hutchison's new decision comes after many Republicans, including the Republican leadership and the state's 20 GOP House members, had asked her to stay.

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The White House released the following statement outlining key details of the Administration's energy strategy following President Obama's announcement to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas:

More Domestic Production - Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing: The Administration's strategy calls for developing oil and gas resources in new areas, such as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico; increasing oil and gas exploration in frontier areas, such as parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans; and protecting ocean areas that are simply too special to drill, such as Alaska's Bristol Bay. The strategy will guide the current 2007-2012 offshore oil and gas leasing program, as well as the new 2012-2017 program that this administration will propose.

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following statement following President Obama's announcement to permit offshore drilling off the coast of Virginia:

This is good news and a positive step forward as we work to expand our nation's domestic energy production. Moving forward on the mid-Atlantic off-shore proposal will provide an opportunity to determine the scope of our region's off-shore energy resources, the economic viability of accessing those resources, and the potential impacts on our environmental and national security priorities.

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Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) released the following statement today following President Obama's announcement to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas:

My views opposing the new offshore oil and gas drilling have not changed.

Eighty percent of our country's recoverable natural gas has yet to be tapped in areas where drilling is currently allowed. Enabling more drilling, when these sources have yet to be exhausted, only feeds our economic dependence on fossil fuels when we should be moving more aggressively to cleaner, sustainable sources of energy. Drilling risks harm to our environment and injury to our coastal communities that rely on fishing and tourism to sustain their livelihoods.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement by e-mail today on President Obama's announcement to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas:

The Obama Administration continues to defy the will of the American people who strongly supported the bipartisan decision of Congress in 2008 to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling not just off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, but off the Pacific Coast and Alaskan shores as well. Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking 'Where are the jobs?'

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President Obama spoke today at Andrews Air Force Base announcing a decision to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas. Here are his complete prepared remarks:

Thank you, Secretary Salazar. Ken and I were colleagues in the Senate, and I appointed him because I knew he'd be a faithful and pragmatic steward of our natural resources. As Secretary, he's changing the way the Interior Department does business so that we are responsibly developing traditional sources of energy and renewable sources of energy, from the wind on the high plains to the sun in the deserts to the waves off our coasts.

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The new Quinnipiac poll of Ohio shows the Democratic candidates leading in the gubernatorial race, plus the election for the open Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich -- with the potential for a Democratic turnaround in the wake of the health care bill's passage.

In the Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner were each tested against Republican Rob Portman, a former Congressman and former Bush administration official. Fisher leads Portman by 41%-37%, and Brunner has an edge of 38%-37%. In February, Portman led Fisher by 40%-37%, and led Brunner by 40%-35%. The margin of error is ±2.5%. The TPM Poll Average gives Portman an edge of 39.6%-38.6% over Fisher, and a 39.4%-38.1% edge over Brunner, with recent movement in the Democrats' direction.

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Democrats in Washington have popped the champagne and are basking in the political victory of passing health care reform. But back in the states, government officials are starting the real work of implementing the plan. And it's more chaotic than celebratory.

Health care reform is barely one week old, and state health officials are scrambling to inform their citizens about what it actually means. It's a task that's not so easy when it's preceded by a yearlong political fight and comes against a backdrop of more than a dozen lawsuits across the country challenging the legitimacy of reform. Not that a massive overhaul of the health care system would ever be easy to explain.

TPMDC has been checking in with state health offices from the Mountain West to the Sunshine State to find out how officials are handling the major question of what the states must do under the new law. President Obama's administration is helping state officials learn what's in the law, and the various dates its provisions take effect. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with state health officials at a conference Monday to outline the law. Insurance commissioners gathered to talk about new regulations on insurers over the weekend. Top Congressional staffers are huddling today with aides representing state and county governments.

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