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An amendment to the Senate health care bill, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), became the first amendment voted on in the Senate.

Mikulski's amendment requires insurers to cover preventive care and screenings for women, at no cost to the patient. The amendment passed 60 to 39.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attached a secondary amendment to Mikulski's last night, which states that new mammogram guidelines released this year by the U.S Preventive Service Task Force cannot prevent women from receiving mammograms.

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Brian Beutler reports in from Capitol Hill:

Sen. Ben Nelson told reporters today he will filibuster the health care bill if it doesn't contain an abortion amendment similar to Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment that passed attached to the House health care bill last month.

"I will not vote to take it off the floor," said Nelson (D-NE).

"Now I don't know that it's going to come down to that, because I don't know that Stupak's not going to pass, number one," he said. "Number two I don't know what kind of alternative legislation may be offered as an alternative bill. I don't know what the next steps are, but I've made it clear that whatever is finally considered has to have that language in it."

We'll update as senators react to this latest.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters this morning she wants more information on President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan. Though she said "the president has spoken," when asked if Democrats in the House would attempt to stand in the way of Obama's new plan, she said there are still questions about the strategy Congress needs answers to "so we can make some judgment about the nature of the threat" in Afghanistan.

Pelosi called on Obama's war council to come to Congress and brief all members on the details of the strategy. The Secretaries of State and Defense as well as other Pentagon leaders have come to the Hill this week to take questions on the strategy, but Pelosi said those committee appearances were not enough.

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The secret service agents that allowed the now-infamous party crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi into the White House state dinner last week are now on administrative leave. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan announced this today at a House Homeland Security Department hearing, where he did not rule out firing the agents.

House members commended Sullivan and his agency for taking full responsibility for the security breach, but drilled him repeatedly on the threat posed to the President and Indian Prime Minister.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, testifying today about the state dinner security breach, refuted stories that President Obama has received more threats than previous presidents.

"The threats are not up," Sullivan said, adding that they receive about the same amount of threats against Obama as they did for presidents Clinton and Bush.

There have been a few reports this year claiming that threats are up drastically, which the Secret Service has disputed. Ronald Kessler, published a book this year claiming threats were up by 400 percent. The Boston Globe, in a story on a Congressional Research Service report, said Obama was receiving an "unprecedented" number of threats, stretching the Secret Service's resources.

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In the years spent living off the profits of his alleged $1 billion Ponzi scheme, Florida attorney Scott Rothstein went on a Mike Tysonesque buying spree that's likely to make even the denizens of money-drenched Fort Lauderdale blush.

We already knew about the $52,000 birthday cake for Gov. Charlie Crist, and the special performance of Life in the Fast Lane for Rothstein's wife at an Eagles concert, but court papers filed earlier this week show the disgraced attorney also indulged his taste for gaudy jewelry, luxury automobiles, and real estate, even buying a 10% stake in the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach.

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The Justice Department's number 2 is stepping aside.

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden will leave DOJ in February 2010 to return to private practice at Wilmer Hale, the department has announced.

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The new survey of Delaware by Public Policy Polling (D) shows Republican Congressman Mike Castle ahead in the 2010 race for Vice President Biden's former Senate seat, against likely Dem candidate (and Biden son) state Attorney General Beau Biden -- but not by much.

The numbers: Castle 45%, Biden 39%, with a ±4.1% margin of error. This is nearly the same as the last PPP survey of this race from way back in March, which put Castle ahead by 44%-36%.

From the pollster's analysis: "There had been some speculation about whether Castle's vote against the health care bill in the House last month would hurt his prospects but 46% of voters say they're opposed to the plan with only 43% in support, an indication that Castle may have actually been on the right side of public opinion on that particular issue."

Interestingly a poll from a few weeks ago by Republican firm Susquehanna put Biden ahead by 45%-40%. So we have the novel situation of a Dem pollster saying the Republican candidate is ahead, and a GOP pollster saying the Dem is ahead.

Last night, Stephen Colbert took President Obama to task for not showing enough pizazz in his big Afghanistan strategy speech on Tuesday night. Watch the video below.

"It's almost as if he's not super pumped to put 30,000 more young Americans in harm's way," Colbert said.

Colbert also picked up on a theme being spread by conservative pundits -- that Obama didn't use the word "victory" or "win" in his speech. "How will the troops know what to do if Obama doesn't say win? They might think we should lose or draw!"

Watch the video:

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took direct aim at Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)--ranking member on the Budget Committee--for authoring a detailed memo advising Republicans on the procedural tricks they can use to delay health care legislation.

"[T]he Republican plan we've waited weeks and months to see [is] not even about health care at all," Reid said on the Senate floor this morning. "The first and only plan Senate Republicans could be bothered to draft is an instruction manual on how to bring the Senate to a screeching halt."

"The Senate might be interested to learn that the architect behind this blueprint is none other than the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, the senior Senator from New Hampshire," Reid said. "It's worth noting that this Senator - who, more than any other, often speaks publicly about how to properly use citizens' tax dollars - has now signed his name to a plan with the explicit goal of wasting the taxpayer's time and money."

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