TPM News

President Obama told the advisers he met with today that the Flight 253 incident "was a screw up that could have been disastrous."

An administration official told TPMDC that Obama expressed his frustration in the Situation Room meeting with key Cabinet members who briefed him on the ongoing review into the Christmas day attempted terror attack.

"We dodged a bullet but just barely," Obama said, according to the official.

"It was averted by brave individuals not because the system worked and that is not acceptable," Obama said. "While there will be a tendency for finger pointing, I will not tolerate it."

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House Democrats have reacted to C-SPAN's request to film health care negotiations today, contending that the debate has been extremely open thus far. House Minority Leader John Boehner has also responded, embracing the request and using it to attack the Dems.

Asked about the letter at a press conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "There has never been a more open process for any piece of legislation."

She also took a shot at President Obama when asked about his campaign promise to conduct a more transparent government.

"There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail," she said to laughter.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi had little to say this afternoon at a press conference following a meeting between House leaders and health care principals. She and other members acknowledged that a number of differences must be resolved between House and Senate bills before a final reform package can be signed in to law--and all are aware that too much tinkering could upset a delicate balance in the Senate, where legislation often must meet a supermajority threshold.

But Pelosi did toss a jab President Obama's way.

Referring explicitly to one of Obama's campaign pledges, a reporter asked Pelosi whether C-SPAN cameras would be allowed to film the House-Senate negotiations.

"There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail," she said, without addressing the question.

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), the fiery liberal best known for his frequent insults against the Republicans, has just attracted another GOP opponent, with state Rep. Kurt Kelly getting into the race this morning.

Republicans have had some problems finding a candidate to run against a high-profile liberal in what is very much a swing seat, with previous top prospects ultimately deciding not to run. One possible factor could be the need to raise a lot of money against Grayson, who self-financed with $2.6 million of his own money in 2008, and on top of his own wealth has been able to raise quite a bit of money from liberals across the country.

The only significant candidate so far has been real estate developer Armando Gutierrez, who moved from Miami to Orlando just to run against Grayson and is opposed by many in the GOP. With Kelly, however, Republicans could finally have what they want -- a credible candidate from the local area.

The St. Petersburg Times points out that Kelly comes in with high name recognition in Ocala, but most of the district is in Orlando -- so he still has a lot of work to do.

The New Jersey state senate will vote on whether to legalize gay marriage this Thursday, Senate President Richard Codey announced today.

If the bill passes the senate -- something that is far from certain -- it must still pass the state assembly. Both houses only have two voting sessions left, scheduled for Thursday and the following Monday, before Gov-elect Chris Christie takes office on Jan. 19.

Christie opposes gay marriage while the current governor, Jon Corzine, has promised to sign such a bill.

Although Democrats hold a majority in both houses, not all support gay marriage. But supporters don't have time to wait for more votes.

One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Ray Lesniak (D), told TPM that if the bill fails, he would try to legalize gay marriage by taking it to the state supreme court.

Thursday's voting session begins at 2 p.m.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that the U.S. will not transfer anymore Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen for the time being, following an attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day.

"We are not going to make decisions about transfers to a country like Yemen that they're not capable of handling. And I think that, while we remain committed to closing the facility, the determination has been made that right now any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea," Gibbs said.

Administration officials have anonymously said the U.S. would stop sending detainees to the unstable country. From the New York Times:

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On a conference call with reporters just now, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer officially announced his resignation, effective on February 20. He took the opportunity to tear into his right-wing critics for wanting a smaller party and accused them of pulling apart the GOP itself in order to take him out.

Greer is an ally of Gov. Charlie Crist, a relative GOP moderate who is being vigorously challenged in this year's Senate primary by the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. Supporters of Rubio had been accusing Greer of mismanaging party funds and of being biased in Crist's favor, all of which Greer has strongly denied. In his resignation, Greer said he could no longer put the party through this divisive process -- but he clearly didn't mind taking some parting shots on the way out.

"As you know, there is a great debate in our party on the direction, moderates vs. conservatives, whether we should have a big tent or a small tent," said Greer. "And while I have made it my utmost concern to try and keep those arguments and discontents out of the Republican Party of Florida, over the last six months there has been a very vocal group within our party that has become very active in seeking an effort to oust me as chairman. They have distorted facts, they have talked about misspending of money, when the facts have been shown over and over and over that that's not true. They have talked about my support of Gov. Crist for the U.S. Senate race. They have, as they say, thrown everything up against the wall as they possibly can, to either embarrass me or embarrass the Republican Party of Florida."

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