TPM News

It is now evident to House leadership that their plan to amend the Senate health care bill and toss it back over to the upper chamber for final passage has been scuttled. Members of the House Democratic caucus are wandering far off the reservation, and the longer that persists, the more difficult it will be for leadership to pull them back into the corral.

In an attempt to regain control over an increasingly chaotic situation, leadership will hold a caucus meeting this afternoon*, and at stake could be the fate of the reform drive that has eaten most of the first year of Barack Obama's presidency.

To right the course, they'll have to convince rank and file members--but particularly progressives, who are now in full revolt--that success is still possible, half measures won't do, and failure is not an option. Given what members are saying, though, that won't be easy.

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Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) said today that he plans to go to Washington, D.C., this Thursday.

In a press conference today, he said he hoped Senate leadership would seat him right away. But leaders have said they will wait until they get official certification from Massachusetts, which could take around 15 days.

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The one-way ticket meme lives!

Quizzing an administration official at the Homeland Security Committee Flight 253 hearing today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pointed to a missed red flag: the fact that accused Christmas bomber Umar Abdulmutallab bought a one-way ticket with cash to travel from Lagos, Nigeria, to Detroit.

The only problem with that, of course, is that it's simply not true. As TPMmuckraker has documented, Abdulmutallab flew to Detroit on a round-trip ticket purchased in Ghana, according to the Nigerian government.

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President Obama met with retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) yesterday and, according to the New York Times, pushed Dodd on the creation of a consumer protection agency.

Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, has reportedly been discussing dropping the agency in order to get Republican support on other financial regulatory reforms. Dodd recently announced that he will retire after this term.

But aides told the Times that for Obama, the agency is "non-negotiable."

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Earlier today, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) said that Congress should carve up the health care bill and vote on the pieces. Apparently he's not the only one.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) said on Fox News this morning that the health care bill should be divvied up into digestible bites what would each be voted on individually.

What probably would be the best, at least from my perspective, for us to do, the best thing on health care, would be send pieces of the program -- pass them here, send them to the senate. Let the American people digest this bit by bit, bite by bite, because it is a very full plate and it's very complicated.

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An NRSC memo released today points to the voters' "utter dissatisfaction with the status quo" as the reason behind the results of the Massachusetts senate race, and that they "realize that there is only one party who bailed out the automakers and insurance companies." By one, of course, the NRSC actually means two, with both former President Bush and President Obama presiding over bailouts.

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Joe Arpaio has said he'll cooperate with the federal investigation into whether he used his law enforcement powers to pursue political vendettas.

"I look forward to giving (investigators) everything that we have," the controversial Maricopa County sheriff said over the weekend, according to a Phoenix TV station. "Everything on all of the investigations, then I'm going to shut this off."

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Here's an interesting finding. A survey yesterday of pro-Obama voters in Massachusetts who didn't support Democrat Martha Coakley (either they stayed home, or they voted for Scott Brown) say their disenchantment has much to do with the fact that Democrats haven't done enough to challenge Republican policies of the Bush years.

A Research 2000 poll commissioned by Democracy for America, MoveOn, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee asked 500 Obama voters who supported Republican Scott Brown "Generally speaking do you think Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington, DC are delivering enough on the change Obama promised to bring to America during the campaign?"

Overall, 49 percent of respondents said "no," 37 percent said "yes," with 14 percent unsure.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today urged her fellow senators to listen to Massachusetts voters, who she said "believe that we are going too far, too fast."

"Everybody needs to get the Washington wax out of their ears and listen and pay attention that people out there believe that we are going too far, too fast," McCaskill said.

In an interview with Politico, she warned against trying to pass a merged health care bill through the Senate before Sen.-elect Scott Brown is sworn in.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential presidential candidate, is campaigning today in his home state of Minnesota in a state Senate special election -- for a candidate who recently apologized for posting on Twitter last spring that President Obama is a "Power Hungry Arrogant Black Man."

Pawlenty said that he accepts Republican candidate Mike Parry's apology, Minnesota Public Radio reports. "He recognizes those comments were unwise and improper," said Pawlenty. "He's apologized and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and campaign for him because I think the rest of his record and the rest of his perspective is worth supporting."

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