TPM News

Top Senate Democrats took a break from their annual retreat Thursday afternoon to criticize Republicans for going spending-cut crazy.

"The House Republican proposal is not responsible," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a conference call with reporters.

Last week, Reid called the House Republicans' plan to slash $34 billion from current spending levels over the next six months "unworkable." Just today, under pressure from their right flank, GOP leaders increased that number to about $58 billion.

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On the 17th day of protests that have gripped his country and commanded the attention of the world, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak made a televised speech in which he repeated his pledge not to seek re-election, announced proposed amendments to the constitution, but did not -- as many had expected -- leave office.

"Day after day we will continue the transfer of power from now until September," he said.

Mubarak did say that he had delegated some powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

In an interview with CNN after Mubarak's speech, the Egyptian ambassador to the U.S., Sameh Shoukry, said that Mubarak had transferred all presidential powers to the Vice President, saying the "de jure head of state" of Egypt is Mubarak, while the "de facto head" is now Suleiman.

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There won't be an orange baseball bat knocking around Capitol Hill any time soon -- or at least, Carl Paladino won't be wielding it.

Paladino will not be running for Congress in the special election for New York's 26th District, his home district. Republican Congressman Chris Lee resigned yesterday after a report in Gawker that the married politician had been seeking dates on Craigslist while falsely representing himself as a divorced lobbyist, and sending photos of himself sans shirt, in order to demonstrate that he was a "fun fit classy guy."

Paladino made headlines in 2010, as the Republican nominee for governor. Democrat Andrew Cuomo won the race statewide by a landslide margin of 61%-34% -- but not in this district. In fact, Paladino won double-digit victories in all but two of the counties that include this district.

Paladino told the New York Times: "I'm not a compromising type of a person."

He also didn't seem to even like the fact that people were asking him to run: "Would a real friend urge me to run?"

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LiveAction, the anti-abortion group currently waging an all-out assault on Planned Parenthood, released a new audio file today. This one was allegedly recorded in a clinic in Washington, D.C.

In it, a woman pretending to manage an underage sex ring is heard asking about getting her workers STD testing and abortion services. This tape is the fourth release from the group this month.

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After catching heat from rank and file conservative members for not proposing enough spending cuts, Republican leaders want a do-over.

House appropriators have delayed until at least Friday the introduction of new spending legislation, to cut deeper than they'd originally planned.

"After meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the [spending resolution] can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President's request immediately -- fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican 'Pledge to America' in one fell swoop," said Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) in a statement to reporters Thursday. "Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation."

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As reports of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's imminent departure from office were breaking on Thursday, concern about the Muslim Brotherhood, and the perceived threat it poses, was dominating the discussion at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Egypt.

"Engaging the Muslim Brotherhood must not be on the table," Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said.

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There could be a significant delay before any Democratic candidates declare for the Senate seat of Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who has announced his retirement. As TPMDC has learned, for some time one of the top possible Dem candidates for the seat has been Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is in physical therapy after she was shot in the head during a constituent event last month.

A Democratic source in Arizona told us that possible candidates for the seat include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick (who were defeated in the 2010 Republican wave), and 2010 candidate for attorney general Felecia Rotellini. Interestingly, the source said there had not been indications that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was previously the state's two-term governor, might run.

However, the source said, Giffords had long been viewed as a top-tier candidate to either challenge Kyl or run for an open seat, before the events in January. "In our view, she ought to have the right of first refusal," the source said, "and hopefully others will allow her the space and time to recover and make that decision."

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The Obama administration announced on Tuesday a six-year, $53-billion-dollar project to expand high-speed rail service in the United States -- promising trains reaching 250mph. The budget request is in addition to $8 billion already allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Even so, those billions are a drop in the bucket compared to the investment European and Asian countries have been making to their rail networks for decades.

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