TPM News

Labor activists are preparing to step up their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill ahead of a key vote on a union-busting measure later this week, according to sources familiar with their campaign.

The stepped up effort comes as anti-union activists are preparing efforts of their own, in order to make it harder for aviation and rail workers to unionize.

At issue is House legislation to renew FAA programs, which includes a provision that would reinstitute old rules governing how the National Mediation Board counts workers' votes. Under the current system, a simple majority of those voting wins, just like in, say, the House of Representatives. If Republicans get their way, those rules will change, and workers who don't vote will be tallied as having voted "no."

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Obama Faces Challenge Of Defining Libya Strategy Reuters reports: "President Barack Obama faces the challenge on Monday of convincing Americans he has clear military aims and a U.S. exit strategy in the Libya conflict as he seeks to counter growing congressional criticism. In a high-stakes televised address, Obama -- accused by many lawmakers of failing to explain the U.S. role in the Western air campaign against Libya's Muammar Qaddafi -- will try to define the mission's purpose and scope."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will participate in a 10:30 a.m. ET town hall on education, hosted by Univision. He will deliver an address on Libya 7:30 p.m. ET, from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

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Hillary Clinton: Libya Mission's Progress 'Demonstrates Really Remarkable Leadership' Appearing on This Week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of the mission in Libya: "But what is quite remarkable here is that NATO assuming the responsibility for the entire mission means that the United States will move to a supporting role. Just as our allies are helping us in Afghanistan where we bear the disproportionate amount of sacrifice and the cost, we are supporting a mission through NATO that was very much initiated by European requests joined by Arab requests. I think this is a watershed moment in international decision making. We learned a lot in the 1990s. We saw what happened in Rwanda. It took a long time in the Balkans, in Kosovo to deal with a tyrant. But I think in -- what has happened since March 1st and we're not even done with the month demonstrates really remarkable leadership."

Gates: 'No, No,' Libya Did Not Pose Threat -- 'But It Was An Interest' Appearing on This Week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was asked whether Libya posed an actual threat to the United States. "No, no. It was not -- it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about," said Gates. "The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake. There was another piece of this though that certainly was a consideration. You've had revolutions on both the East and the West of Libya...Egypt and Tunisia. So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt. And that was another consideration I think we took into account."

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After weeks of withering criticism of the White House's delayed response in Libya, as well as his decision to authorize air strikes, President Obama is beginning to articulate his philosophy for the use of military force overseas.

The President plans to lay out the strategy behind his foreign policy decisions in Libya in a prime-time address to the nation Monday night at 7:30 ET, something his critics say he should have done before missile launches began in the North African country last Friday.

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Former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY), who in 1984 became the first woman on a major party national ticket as the Democratic nominee for vice president, has died at age 75 from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years, her family announced in a statement.

"Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice," her family said. "To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed."

Ferraro was first elected to the House in 1978, after having served as a prosecutor. In 1984, she became the first woman on a national ticket when former Vice President Walter Mondale (D) selected her as his running mate. President Ronald Reagan, however, won re-election in a 59%-41% national landslide, and the Mondale-Ferraro Democratic ticket only carried the District of Columbia and a narrow win in Mondale's home state of Minnesota. After leaving Congress, she served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

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Yet another shoe has dropped in the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-public employee union law -- with state Republican leaders now apparently defying or attempting to circumvent a court order that temporarily blocked implementation of the law.

Last week, a judge in Dane County (Madison) blocked the law on procedural grounds, ruling that a key conference committee used to advance the bill -- and to get around the state Senate Dems' walkout from the state -- had violated the state open-meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice.

The judge's order "restrain[ed] and enjoin[ed] the further implementation" of the law, including the prevention of Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D) from publishing the act in the Wisconsin State Journal, which acts as the state's official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws -- the final step for the law to take effect. That decision is now going through an appeals process, which remains up in the air.

But now, state Republicans have had the bill published through a different office -- the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature -- according to the LRB's statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment. Interestingly, the LRB itself says that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But the state's Republican leaders disagree. Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald (R) says the LRB publication constitutes official publication and the insists the law will take effect Saturday.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who is in the early stages of exploring a run for president, is addressing one possible barrier to him winning: Whether he's likeable. And while Gingrich won't concede that he isn't likeable, he also says he doesn't have to be -- invoking none other than Richard Nixon's victory in 1968, and Ronald Reagan's initial defeat in 1976.

As Kathie Obradovich at the Des Moines Register reports:

Gingrich, asked whether he's likeable enough to be elected president, said that's up to the American people to decide. But, he added, as a historian he disagrees that a candidate has to be likeable. "Richard Nixon didn't get elected because he was likeable. Ronald Reagan didn't lose to Gerry Ford in 1976 because he was unlikeable," Gingrich said.

He said he thinks Reagan would have said he ultimately was elected not because people liked him but because he stood for a set of values and principles.

Bachmann has said that the first thing she'd do as a presidential candidate is present her birth certificate. So it's fitting that her reported first campaign hire would be an Iowa birther.

Earlier this week, reports came out that Bachmann was planning to set up an exploratory committee in June or earlier. CNN also reported yesterday that according to one source, if she runs, "Iowa Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson will likely be hired to be Bachmann's political director for the state -- and that Bachmann aides hope to have a complete team together for Iowa by this weekend."

Sorenson (R) introduced a bill this month that would require any presidential candidate to present a birth certificate for public inspection before getting on the Iowa ballot.

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