TPM News

Seeking to breathe new life into its prospects, on Tuesday Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired the first-ever Senate hearing on the DREAM Act. The bill, which was initially proposed in different form in 2001, would grant citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants who "have maintained good moral character since entering the U.S.," and who either attend college or serve in the U.S. armed forces.

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) ground the Senate to a halt on Tuesday, threatening to block "business as usual" until Democrats submit a budget.

Johnson began his broadside by objecting to a quorum call, blocking the Senate from proceeding with a vote. Quorum calls, like many basic Senate procedures, are approved by unanimous consent and Johnson threatened in a floor speech to wreak havoc on these uncontroversial motions.

"Business as usual is bankrupting America," he said in a floor speech. "It must stop."

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The House Ethics Committee has hired six new staffers, ending a nearly seven-month period when the panel suffered an exodus of aides and investigative functions were at a standstill, the House Ethics Committee said in a statement Tuesday.

The hirings complete the staff roster and come one month after the committee unanimously tapped Daniel Schwager, a former counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee, as its staff director.

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Senate Republicans are threatening openly to throw up their hands and let Democrats vote to raise the debt limit on their own if President Obama doesn't cave and agree to trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and zero tax increases. Here's how NRSC chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) put it, speaking to reporters Tuesday:

"I am wondering if as the deadline approaches, whether our Democratic colleagues in the Senate have realized that unless the President's willing to do a grand bargain that's good for the American people how much he's opening his own political party -- candidates running for 2012 in the United States Senate -- to a referendum on his failure to reach a grand bargain," Cornyn said. "Obviously if it's possible to deal with the spending problem and the entitlement reforms, that's our first choice. But if the President and his party refuse to do the right thing, then in the Senate they're going to be required to vote to raise the debt limit and we'll have a referendum in 2012 on that decision. I don't think if I were a senator on the other side of the aisle I would view that prospect with a lot of pleasure."

Translation: give us what we want, or we'll leave it to you to avoid default, then spend the next year and a half running against you on the grounds that you voted to give President Obama a blank check for massive government spending.

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Gov. Bev Perdue (D-NC) on Monday vetoed a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to wait for 24 hours and receive ultrasound images of the fetus along with descriptions of what they are seeing before having the procedure.

"This bill is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors. The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with that relationship," Perdue said in a statement to the Raleigh News & Observer.

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Tim Pawlenty went full climate denier on Tuesday, embracing fringe claims that the vast international consensus on the issue is "bad science."

"So there is climate change, but the reality is the science of it indicates that most of it, if not all of it, is caused by natural causes," Pawlenty told FOX News. "And as to the potential human contribution to that, there's a great scientific dispute about that very issue."

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A ethics watchdog is asking the FBI to investigate whether Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) was misusing her congressional staffers to by forcing them to work at campaign events and run personal errands, a violation of federal law.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a letter to the FBI's Washington field office that "requiring staff members to engage in campaign-related activities undermines the basic principle that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain re-election."

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By Nicki Gordon-Bloomfield

For the past week or so the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado has rung with the sound of cars and motorcycles climbing the 12.42 mile course to its 14,110 foot summit.

But yesterday for a few minutes, the mountain was a little quieter as an electric car climbed the summit, completing the would-renowned hill-climb course in a breathtaking 12 minutes and 20 seconds breaking the course record for an electric car which it set the previous year.

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Legal experts say that whether Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-WI) $10 million parting gift from his company potentially violates campaign laws depends on when it was negotiated. But asked by TPM to directly address the timing, Johnson repeatedly ducked the question.

Johnson's collected $10 million in deferred compensation from his former company, Pacur, a figure that Wisconsin papers have noted lines up conveniently with the $9 million he spent on his Senate campaign in 2010 against incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold. The freshman lawmaker has offered few details on how or when the company worked out the $10 million number, but legal experts told TPM that if the package was negotiated after his Senate run it could potentially count as an illegal corporate donation to his campaign.

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