TPM News

It's been in the works for over a week now, but it's now official. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and his Republican counterpart Richard Shelby have agreed to final language on a section of financial reform legislation regarding the unwinding of failed firms. The development could speed up progress on financial reform legislation, which had slowed to a crawl as Republicans awaited a final announcement.

The deal does away with a proposed $50 billion fund, raised by assessing a fee on big financial institutions, which would have been used to help liquidate systemically significant, insolvent firms.

That fund, as Dodd said on the floor this afternoon, "was opposed by the Obama Administration."

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As the oil industry went into full damage control mode following the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, their corporate public relations went into overdrive too, with firms across Washington jumping in to help British Petroleum and BP firing up its Facebook page and Twitter feed. The universe of flacks Americans might be seeing on television and quoted in news stories has widened, with BP executives making the rounds, hosting journalists for explainer sessions and corporate PR folks helping craft an image of a company doing everything it can to help.

The industry already had an army of lobbyists and PR hands deployed in Washington to influence the negotiations over climate change legislation (which may be in dire straits thanks to the spill), and BP brought in the international consulting firm the Brunswick Group.

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After the Washington State Democratic party unleashed a barrage of e-mail and website attacks trying to scare potential GOP challenger Dino Rossi from getting into the Senate race, Rossi has started pushing back.

In an interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Rossi avoided personally attacking Sen. Patty Murray (D), but questioned her tactics. "She could stop this with one phone call. After 18 years, is this all she has to run on?" he asked.

The this he is referring to is a series of e-mails and a website designed by the Democratic party attacking Rossi for, in their words, "committing assault on Washington's families."

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Drop this one in the "people say the darndest things" file. A clearly frustrated Harry Reid said today that Republican delays on financial are rooted in their desire to "continue making love to Wall Street." Metaphorically speaking.

"Republicans are having difficulty determining how they can continue making love to Wall Street," Reid said at a press conference this morning. "It's obvious that they do not want to put any decent restrictions on what Wall Street has done or [is] doing."

To provide some meaningful context, last Wednesday, Democrats broke a nearly week-long Republican filibuster of financial reform. The GOP had been refusing to allow debate on the Democrats' bill. But after relenting, they resumed a de facto filibuster, by refusing to allow swift votes on amendments until the principal negotiators of the bill finalize a compromise on how best to liquidate failed financial firms.

Rep. Dave Obey, the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee, will be announcing his retirement, multiple news outlets are reporting. Obey (D-WI), has served in the U.S. House since 1969 and he is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Politico is reporting that Obey will announce his decision today. His office announced a 1 p.m. press conference for a "major announcement."

The retirement comes as Democrats are facing a potentially bruising fall midterm election cycle where they could lose 20 or more seats, and as Republicans say they believe they have a fighting chance to recapture the House. Obey's district went for Barack Obama in 2008 by 14 points, but was much closer in 2004 and 2000. John Kerry and Al Gore each won it by one point in those years.

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One of the Republican candidates seeking to run against Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Navy veteran and former airline pilot Dan Fanelli, has a new ad openly advocating the use of racial profiling at airports.

"Does this look like a terrorist?" Fanelli says, pointing to an elderly white man. "Or this?" he asks, turning to a burly tan-skinned man with facial hair.

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Halliburton is back.

The Houston energy services giant once led by Dick Cheney became the corporate bête noire of the Bush years as one of the biggest (and most troubled) Iraq War contractors. But the company had largely faded from public view since President Obama entered office -- until now.

As the provider of crucial cementing services on the oil rig that exploded and set off the massive spill in the Gulf, Halliburton finds itself under scrutiny once again.

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