TPM News

President Obama will delay his trip to Indonesia and Australia by several days to see health care reform over the finish line, the White House announced today. An aide confirmed the president won't leave March 18 as planned and instead will stay with the expectation the House will be voting on the Senate health care bill.

Obama will leave March 21 and return March 26, the aide said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who for days has insisted the schedule would not change, detailed the news on his Twitter feed this morning. "The President will delay leaving for Indonesia and Australia - will now leave Sunday - the First Lady and the girls will not be on the trip," Gibbs wrote.

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Report: Obama To Appoint Yellen For Fed Vice Chair President Obama will reportedly appoint Janet Yellen, current president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, as vice chair of the Federal Reserve. Yellen is considered to be a "dovish" Fed policymaker, meaning that she is seen as leaning towards policies that promote employment rather than those that restrain inflation.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. He will meet at 11 a.m. ET with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He will meet at 4 p.m. ET with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

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The Los Angeles Times is reporting tonight that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will announce a bid to be California's lieutenant governor on Friday. It seems all but certain since he took out papers to file for the No. 2 statewide position and paid the fee to get the ball rolling.

Newsom dropped his bid for governor last October, citing unspecified family reasons. California Democrats said at the time he wasn't earning enough support or donations. Since then, former governor and former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has taken the lead. Republican candidates eBay founder Meg Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner are facing off for the Republican nomination. (Our coverage of the race is here.)

The current TPM Poll Average of this race shows Brown with 44.4 percent and Whitman with 40.9 percent.

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The Associated Press raised a lot of eyebrows today with this piece, implying that negotiations over the abortion provision in the Senate health care bill had fallen apart.

"House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama's health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats," they reported.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the leadership will press ahead without reworking the abortion provision, which opponents say falls short in restricting taxpayer dollars for abortion coverage. He predicted some of the anti-abortion lawmakers in the party will end up voting for the overhaul anyway.

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A campaign to rally 50 senators to publicly declare that they support using reconciliation to pass a public option seems to be losing momentum -- even as the group behind the campaign insists it's getting more commitments from senators every day.

That group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, says it has 41 senators on the record. But a closer look suggests some of the latest additions are senators who only conditionally support a public option being passed through reconciliation. And the staff of one senator on this list tells TPMDC he can't commit to it.

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Since the House vote today to refer to the ethics committee the question of what Democratic leaders knew about former Rep. Eric Massa before news of harassment allegations broke publicly, it's worth looking at the timeline of what we know so far.

At some point in or before October 2009, Massa took out to dinner a member of Rep. Barney Frank's committee staff, Frank said in a statement today. The staffer told another Frank staffer, who in turn told Frank's co-chief of staff, Maria Giesta.

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Government watchdog groups who draw a link between corruption and the special project budget requests known as earmarks say Congress "must do more." House Democrats announced yesterday a ban on directing budget funds to for-profit companies. House Republicans followed up with a decision they wouldn't request any earmarks at all, for one year.

The Democratic proposal would strike about $1.7 billion in requests, the House Appropriations committee estimates. The move has potentially large budget implications but hasn't been met with a partner promise in the Senate.

"It's a positive step forward in both cases. Those earmarks are ground zero for pay to play, and is clearly one of the major areas people are trying to turn thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into millions of dollars in taxpayer money in the form of earmarks," Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense said in an interview today.

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Less than two months after Gov. David Paterson selected a politically connected group of investors, including rapper Jay-Z, to build a casino at a Queens race track, the governor's office today canceled the deal, reportedly because the investors didn't release sufficient financial information.

The Times reports:

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