Senate Democrats are riven, in a way, over the question of whether the 60-member caucus ought to stick together on procedural motions, to block the Republican minority from preventing key legislation from receiving an up or down vote. With a floor debate on health care reform around the corner, liberals are insisting that Democrats not kill their own bill by supporting an expected Republican filibuster. But moderate and conservative Senate Democrats tend to demure. Case in point, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA).
Speaking to constituents, Webb said that, while he's inclined to let a health care bill have a debate on the Senate floor, he's making no promises regarding his willingness to kill the bill in the end.
Loosely translated, Webb is saying he won't block Senate health care legislation from having a debate on the floor. But as for when it comes time end debate and give the bill an up or down vote? Webb isn't making any promises just yet. That doesn't mean he's a potential liability for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But yet another sign that Democrats are split over whether to give their own agenda a majority vote.
A federal judge in Georgia has ordered the US Attorney to collect a $20,000 judgment against Orly Taitz after the Birther attorney failed to pay the fine -- which she appealed -- within 30 days.
Here's the full order from Judge Clay Land, of the US District Court in the Middle District Of Georgia:
"Orly Taitz has failed to pay the $20,000.00 sanction ordered by the Court on October 13, 2009. Accordingly, the Clerk is ordered to enter final judgment in favor of the United States of America and against Orly Taitz in the principal amount of $20,000.00. The United States Attorney is authorized and directed to collect the judgment as provided by law.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 13th day of November, 2009. "
After Sean Hannity apologized to Jon Stewart on air for using misleading footage to beef up attendance numbers at Rep. Michele Bachmann's Capitol Hill tea party, Stewart played footage of himself watching the apology.
The apology came at the very end of Hannity's show.
"It wasn't worth it," Stewart sobs dramatically. "Nothing's worth sitting through this!"
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)--the highest ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee--is unclear about the Constitutionality of current health care legislation, and he's turning for clarity to the Federalist Society.
"I think that's a good question," Sessions said on a panel at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers' Convention. "Matter of fact I met with my staff...we were talking about, and you know what I said Leonard? I said we ought to ask Federalist society folks what they think too. I said let's begin to think about that question and what's the constitutional thing...can the government require to do what we think is in your best interest if you don't think it's in your best interest?"
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, once said there was a bipartisan consensus in favor of individual mandates. But he too seems to have joined the tenther fringe.
You can see the video here. The exchange occurs about 27 minutes in.
RNC Ends Coverage Of Abortion In Its Employee Health Plans
The Republican National Committee has told its insurance company to remove coverage of abortion from the RNC's standard health insurance policy for its employees, following a Politico story revealing the policy that has existed since 1991. "Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."
Obama's Day In Japan
President Obama arrived in Tokyo, Japan, at 4:15 p.m. ET local time (2:15 a.m. ET). He held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama at 6:50 p.m. local time, an expanded meeting at 7:10 p.m. They held a joint press conference at 8:20 p.m., and dinner at 8:45 p.m.
President Obama has made official what broke late last night - White House counsel Greg Craig is leaving and being replaced by longtime D.C. lawyer Bob Bauer.
"Greg Craig is a close friend and trusted advisor who tackled many tough challenges as White House Counsel," Obama said in a statement announcing the move, effective Jan. 3.
"Because of Greg's leadership, we have confirmed the first Latina justice on the Supreme Court, set the toughest ethics standards for any administration in history, and ensured that we are keeping the nation secure in a manner that is consistent with our laws and our values," Obama said. "I'm indebted to Greg not only for leading the Counsel's office but for his many decades of service to this country as well. He has been a huge asset in the White House, and he will be missed. I will continue to call on him for advice in the years ahead."
The move had been expected - and written about - for more than a month as details leaked out there was inner-White House tension over Guantanamo Bay. Today White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in Asia that had nothing to do with the departure.
President Obama arrived in Tokyo about six hours ago for the start of his 8-day Asia trip and the White House has announced he's secured agreements on both climate change and nuclear weapons.
In a joint statement with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama the leaders said they aim to reduce carbon emissions in Japan and the U.S. by 80 percent by 2050. They also said they "endorse a global goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by that year."
The U.S. and Japan also issued a joint statement complimenting "renewed international attention and commitment to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" and said they are determined "to realize such a world."
The start of the trip is marked with big news back home - Attorney General Eric Holder will be announcing today that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison will face trial in New York. Also, White House counsel Greg Craig is leaving and being replaced with longtime Obama friend Bob Bauer.
The White House laid out more climate change details which you can read after the jump.