TPM News

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

"While holds are frequent," CongressDaily's Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal." The magazine reported aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were the source of the news about Shelby's blanket hold.

The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid's account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson "did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator's action or his reason for doing so."

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Scott Lee Cohen, a businessman who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Illinois in Tuesday's primary, is insisting that he will not drop out of the race. Cohen has come under fire for allegations of domestic violence, involving a 2005 arrest for allegedly holding a knife to a then-girlfriend's throat.

"I have no intention of stepping down or stepping aside," Cohen said in a statement. "When the facts come to light, after my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend speak, the people of Illinois can decide, and I will listen to them directly. I am asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media.

"There are questions, and I will provide all answers honestly and openly. I only ask for time to do the interviews. 2005 was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I started running with a fast group. I was in a tumultuous relationship with the woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her. She called the police, however, she never came to court, and the charges were dismissed. I realized this relationship was not healthy, I ended it, and we parted amicably."

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In a Q&A at Harvard Wednesday night, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele took a question about "rhetoric dishonesty" in the GOP's framing of health care reform.

"I'm thinking in particular of this charge that the bill represented a form of socialism or government takeover of the entire health care industry. So I'm wondering if you're willing to -- " the student asked.

"That's not socialism?" Steele asked.

"That wasn't what was being proposed," said the questioner.

"Really? OK," Steele said. A few moments later, he said:

"While I appreciate what you're saying about folks on my side or Republicans who sorta characterize this as socialism, any time the government looks to take over the means of production -- health care -- you gotta raise the question of where's the government going to go."

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) appears to be walking back his statement from yesterday that he is open to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Today, The Desert News quoted the Senator as saying that "it's deeply regrettable that liberal groups are misconstruing my position on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for activist purposes. I certainly do not support repealing this policy."

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Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was sworn into the U.S. Senate this afternoon by Vice President Biden.

Brown becomes the 41st Republican in the Senate, ending the Democrats' filibuster-proof supermajority.

He was sworn in earlier than expected after sending a letter to the Massachusetts governor yesterday demanding the election be certified right away. The results were certified this morning.

At a press conference after the swearing-in, Brown told reporters he looks forward to working with the Democrats, but he did not specify which issues he wanted to work with them on.

He also denied rumors today that he rushed his move to Washington in order to block the confirmation of Craig Becker, a former union lawyer, to the National Labor Relations Board.

"I haven't spoken to the leadership since the last time I was here," he said.

You loved Demon Sheep. So did the Carly Fiorina campaign -- it says today that, due the overwhelming success of yesterday's web ad, the voting public can expect even more gems from its web video department.

The world "can expect to see equally if not more shocking web-based ads or videos," a Fiorina spokeswoman tells the Daily Beast's Benjy Sarlin. (Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is running for Senate from California.)

"It's been touted as the most genius ad ever all the way down to the worst, but no matter what, people are talking about it and it generates views," said the spokeswoman, Julie Soderlund, saying the video has been a "great success."

If you haven't seen the video, watch:

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If you listen carefully, you can hear it: the a low rumble of excitement at Republican gatherings and executive suites across New York. A growing number of conservatives say that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) is vulnerable this year, and they know the man that can beat him -- CNBC host and supply-side economics uebermensch Larry Kudlow.

Kudlow has expressed some interest in mounting a bid. One of the men who's urging him to run, self-proclaimed "Wall St. guy" and Kudlow friend John Lakian, told me today that Kudlow is at "the 70 or 80 or 90% tipping point" toward throwing his hat in the ring. According to Lakian, one of the men behind the Draft Kudlow movement on Facebook and the web, the time is right for a man with Kudlow's extensive Wall St. connections to make a run for office.

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Scott Brown may boast about driving a truck -- but it took YouTube to make those boasts go viral. And of the many lessons being drawn from Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special election last month, here's one being kicked around the tech world: Brown closed the GOP's online strategy gap.

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You thought Republicans were going to be able to wiggle away from their historic support for privatizing Medicare and Social Security? Think again.

Leading Democrats aren't letting the GOP put much distance between themselves and a new, long-term budget proposal written by their top budget guy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

"That's their budget plan," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)--chair of the House Democrats' reelection committee--told me in a brief interview. "He's the ranking Republican member on the Budget Committee. That is their so-called roadmap. And it's a roadmap right into the economic ditch that we got ourselves to begin with.... Put it this way. For seniors on Medicare, it's a dead end."

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