TPM News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just moved the final vote on the Senate health care bill one hour earlier, to 7 a.m. Thursday.

He made the request for unanimous consent for the change -- citing forecasts for major ice storms in the MidWest -- and no one objected.

During the debate today on the health care bill, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) declared that Congress is not empowered by the Constitution to reform health care at all -- and that Senators are violating a "solemn oath" by passing such a bill.

"When each one of us comes to this floor after we're elected, we raise our right hand, put our hand on the Bible, and take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. We in no way take an oath to reform health care, or do anything else that we think is good to do," said Ensign. "Anything on health care or any other good provision that we want to do around here has to fit within the powers that are listed within the constitution of the United States. That's the oath, the solemn oath that each and every Senator takes. And that's what each and every one of us needs to think about when we're voting on this constitutional point of order."

Ensign, whose presidential aspirations were derailed earlier this year due to an extra-marital affair, does appear to have a point on this one. After they are elected, Senators walk down the aisle of the chamber and perform a serious ceremony, committing themselves to the bonds of their office. And breaking those vows is not to be taken lightly.

Yesterday we told you about tea party activist-cum-neurosurgeon David McKalip's new attempt to convince progressives to unite with the Right to kill health care reform. Last night, Rachel Maddow examined the question of where exactly McKalip, who famously mass-emailed a picture of President Obama as a witch doctor, fits in the ever-changing anti-reform bill caucus.

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Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, wrote in a CNN op-ed today that the health care bill should be scrapped entirely.

"The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago," Slaughter wrote.

She listed her problems with the Senate bill: an individual mandate, no public option, no antitrust exemption and the Nelson abortion language, among other things.

"Supporters of the weak Senate bill say "just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill. I strongly disagree," she wrote. "It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that."

(H/T The Hill)

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It's a classic story of you-don't-scratch-my-back-I-don't-scratch-yours: According to the developing narrative of yesterday's decision by the Diaz-Balart brothers to withdraw their endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate, the southern Florida representatives were miffed that Crist didn't appoint who they wanted for a state judgeship.

Crist claims he never saw a letter from Lincoln Diaz-Balart calling on him to nominate a friend of Diaz-Balart's son to the Gasden County bench. In October, Crist appointed someone else. Though no one is admitting directly that the political slight is what caused the brothers, important backers for the embattled Crist, local political reporters report all signs point to the judicial nomination as the moment things went sour.

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Governor Howard Dean raised the ire of the White House and Democratic leaders last week when he publicly denounced the Senate health care bill, and urged liberal members to kill it. Dean's influence with progressive reformers goes without saying, so members weren't shy about dismissing his proclamation.

But he seems to have changed his tune.

Here he is on the Rachel Maddow show last night.

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Sarah Palin's war on the media continues?

The woman who once called on the press to "quit makin' things up" took it a step further yesterday by allegedly banning four members of the media from a book event in Wasilla, Alaska.

On a four-person "banned list" -- yes, that term was actually used by police -- were a blogger, a videographer, a local radio host, and another person who hasn't been identified. TPMmuckraker reached two of the four by phone in Alaska this morning. Here's what happened.

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