TPM News

A planned Republican-led inquiry into the "radicalization" of Muslim-Americans could "chill" relations between the U.S. government and its Muslim citizens, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told TPM today.

As we reported earlier, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the soon-to-be chairman of the committee is planning hearings on Muslim-Americans and terrorism next year.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the current chairman who will be ranking member once Republicans take over in January, thinks that might not be a great idea.

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If this report is true, you can count on the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers to be repealed by the end of this year, barring no major complications. CNN is reporting Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will vote for cloture on Saturday, bringing the total number of pro-repeal votes over the magic 60 mark -- even without the waffling Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who voted to move repeal to a full vote last week but is so far unwilling to say he'd do it again.

In addition to Snowe, Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Scott Brown (MA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have committed to voting for cloture on the standalone DADT repeal bill passed by the House this week. With their votes added to the vast majority of Democratic caucus (minus Joe Manchin [D-WV] and maybe Conrad), the total vote for repeal is now above the 60 vote mark needed to deny opponents of repeal the chance to filibuster.

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A spokesman for U.S. Customs & Border Patrol, the agency which found a small Mexican drone after it crashed in an El Paso neighborhood, told CNN today that it's the first time a Mexican drone has crashed on U.S. soil.

Officials confirm the drone, which crashed in residential yard Tuesday, was an unmanned, radio-controlled craft called an Orbiter Mini UAV owned by the Mexican government. Border Patrol was the first to respond to the crash, and has since turned the investigation over the the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane crashes.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell approached the microphones for his weekly press conference on Tuesday with more sense of purpose than he's had since he tried -- but failed -- to derail the health care law in March. His goal this time was to kill the Omnibus spending bill, which his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid had just unveiled. Just as earlier this year, though, he didn't sound like a party leader who was certain he had the votes to kill it.

"I am actively working to defeat it," he said.

At that point, it looked like the package would sneak by with the help of a half-dozen or more Senate Republicans who don't have a religious aversion to earmarking. On Thursday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a statement describing it as "on a glide path to passage." But as the week dragged on, more and more of those members started inching away from the spending bill.

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Outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who many see as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, is already nostalgic for the office he's about to leave.

He told the Duluth News Tribune editorial board that now that Republicans control the Minnesota Legislature, he regrets not seeking reelection.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who has emerged as the Senate's pointman on ending the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers, told reporters today that he's "very optimistic" repeal will be voted into law as soon as this weekend.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a cloture vote on Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal for tomorrow morning. Lieberman said today he's "confident" he has the 60 votes (and then some) necessary to get cloture on the DADT repeal bill and move it to a final vote.

But Lieberman -- who would only confirm Republican yes votes from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) -- is not popping the champagne corks yet.

"We know that it ain't over till it's over," Lieberman said, "and until all the votes are counted."

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Sen. Jim DeMint and Jon Kyl would have you believe that its "sacrilegious" to hold so many votes around Christmas time. Not according to a number of Christian leaders, who harshly criticized the Republicans for invoking Christmas as an excuse to avoid votes.

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In what promises to be a bizarre pairing, CNN and the Tea Party Express are joining forces to co-host a Republican presidential primary debate in September 2011.

The Tea Party Express' hits have been no stranger to TPM's pages. Over the summer, for example, Tea Party Express' Mark Williams said the NAACP's use of the word "colored'" makes the organization racist. Williams, who was an occasional guest on CNN, was eventually forced to resign from the Tea Part Express.

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is planning to hold hearings on the "radicalization" of American Muslims when he takes over the chair of the Homeland Security Committee next year, the New York Times reports.

King told the Times he's concerned that Muslim-American leaders are increasingly reluctant to help out with the government's terror investigations.

"When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders," King said.

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