TPM News

ACORN has been investigated 46 times by federal, state, and local agencies as of October 2009, and 11 of those probes are still pending, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service released today. But the report finds no cases in which ACORN violated the terms of federal funding in the last five years.

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Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) campaign has released an internal poll, saying that the endangered incumbent's chances for re-election in 2010 aren't so bad as people think.

The poll, conducted by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, has Dodd trailing Republican former Rep. Rob Simmons by 51%-46%, and in a 46%-46% tie with former Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon. That might sound unimpressive for an incumbent, but consider that other recent polls have Dodd behind Simmons by around ten points. Then again, this is an internal poll that the campaign chose to release, so the obvious caveats apply.

"Once voters hear both positive and negative information about all three candidates, Dodd gains ground and leads McMahon by 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, and is in a statistical dead heat with Simmons, 49 to 48 percent," the polling memo says, though it's not immediately clear just what all of these pieces of information were. "Furthermore, voters respond positively to Dodd's work in the Senate, particularly on health care reform, the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, and Dodd's economic plan to help small businesses and create jobs."

With the public option dead, progressives are looking for something else to get out of negotiations and moving up the list is the possibility of speeding up implementation.

When the two chambers meet in conference, House leaders will have a prioritized package of goodies in mind, and they'll be pushing hard for them. On the list will likely be familiar issues like financing--should wealthy Americans pay for reform, or should a tax on high-end health insurance policies cover the cost, or should it be a mix of the two?

But a separate issue is beginning to come into focus.

"I think one other one, is starting date," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) told reporters today.

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When Rep. Parker Griffith (the brand-new R-AL) switched parties today, he increased the number of candidates he has to face before getting reelected by a factor of three.

Both Republicans who were already vying for the chance to face Griffith in the general election next year say they'll stay in, eager to square off against Griffith sooner rather than later. And in a fiery statement this afternoon, the state Democratic party promised to find a new candidate to run for the seat.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just triggered a sigh of relief among the hallowed population of members, staffers and reporters on Capitol Hill.

"I ask unanimous consent that all post cloture time be expired at 8 am Thursday," Reid said.

That may sound like gobbledeegook, but in Senate-ese, it means that the final vote on health care will be held at 8 a.m. on Christmas day. You can follow all the action here at TPMDC.

Rep. Parker Griffith (D-AL R-AL) might be facing some opposition on right after his party switch, but he is being welcomed to the GOP by one top name: Sarah Palin.

Palin posted this on her Twitter account: "Congratulations Alabama!And all Americans concerned about Capitol Hill's current agenda;Rep Parker Griffith just did the right thing.Welcome"

Other big right-wing names, such as the Club For Growth and Erick Erickson, are already laying the groundwork for a primary challenge against Griffith by what they would think of as a truly loyal conservative. But so far at least, Palin is greeting the new GOP Congressman with open arms.

Sen. Judd Gregg said RNC Chairman Mike Steele was using "foolish" language when he said Congress was "flipping the bird" at the American people.

Interviewed today on MSNBC Gregg (R-NH) called it "foolish language" and said "people are getting a little frayed down here and there has been a lot of foolish language on both sides of the aisle."

He also was asked about a Washington Times report that Steele is raking in speaking fees. He said he wasn't familiar with the issue but added a joke, "He shouldn't charge Republcian groups for it that's for sure."

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