TPM News

Anti-abortion groups regularly station morning protesters at the Capitol South Metro stop on the House side of the Capitol building as staffers head into work. Today they went with a Halloween theme, dressed as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Harry Reid covered in blood and chained together.

TPMDC was on the scene and captured some video of the group as they orchestrated a scene of Pelosi and Reid being tortured by demons thanks to (presumably) supporting abortion. They also were opposed to the health care bill revealed today.

"Staffers, Hill rats, join Nancy Pelosi in hell!" they shouted as Metro riders walked by. They also shouted they wanted to "Kill the bill, not babies."

I took a few photos and shot the video you can watch after the jump.

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Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has a new ad in the NY-23 special election, attacking Democrat Bill Owens for being supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- and presenting himself as the alternative to the Democrats.

The on-screen text declares that "Bill owes Nancy," and the announcer asks: "So when Pelosi wants Owens' vote for her massive energy taxes, government-run medicine, and a trillion-dollar deficit, where would Bill Owens stand -- with you, or with her?"

It's interesting to see Hoffman going after Owens now, and not the moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava that he's been focusing on for most of this race but isn't even mentioned in this ad. With polling data increasingly showing Scozzafava in third place, Hoffman is now acting less like a third-party candidate and more like a conventional Republican nominee, sticking it to the Democrats.

The health insurance lobby says it's worried about the health care bill proposed by Nancy Pelosi this morning, but says it's willing to work with Democrats to find a solution the industry says "will cover all Americans, make coverage more affordable, and improve quality."

AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni offered the industry's take on the House bill shortly after it was announced by Pelosi on the steps of the Capitol.

"The promise of health care reform has been that if you like your current coverage, you can keep it," she said. "We are concerned that this proposal will break this promise by increasing health care costs for families and employers across the country and significantly disrupting the quality coverage on which millions of Americans rely today."

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The candidates met last night for a debate in the NY-23 special election -- two of the candidates anyway. Only Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava were there for the public radio debate, with Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman skipping the event.

Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan told the Plattsburgh Press Republican that the radio station's involvement was the reason for the refusal: "North Country Public Radio is the perfect venue to decide who is the most liberal candidate in the race."

At the beginning of the debate (audio here), the moderator said that multiple invitations were extended to Hoffman, and that as far as they knew he would have been available.

All three candidates, however, are meeting today for one debate, hosted by the local ABC affiliate. The debate is being taped at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast and streamed online at 7 p.m.

Did Steve Miller of ACCCE just mislead Congress for the second time this morning?

Miller just told Rep. Ed Markey's committee that his group did not lobby the federal government until April 2008.

But online records show lobby spending by Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) -- the name that ACCCE previously used -- going back to 2001.

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House Minority Whip Eric Cantor claimed on Fox this afternoon that the House Democrats' press conference, which was broadcast on several cable news channels, proves a lack of transparency.

Cantor (and others) are saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff blocked people from attending to presser, where Democrats unveiled the House version of the health care reform bill.

Pelosi unveiled her bill "on public grounds, on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and frankly denied access to the public," Cantor said. "You know, I think that says a lot about what's going on behind closed doors and the process through which the Democrats are going about crafting this legislation. The people in this country need to know exactly what's at stake."

Video after the jump.

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Rep. Ed Markey is putting blame for the forged letters episode where it ultimately belongs: on the coal lobby.

"You're responsbility was to ensure that the members of Congress knew that this information was fraudulent," Markey tells ACCCE chief Steve Miller.

Miller had just said he assumed that Bonner himself would have notified the affected lawmakers. But Markey adds that Bonner was very far down the food chain.

Before House Democrats unveiled their health care bill, the caucus huddled in the basement of the Capitol to get fired up. As the meeting broke, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) darted down the hall and a reporter asked him how many votes he had.

"All we need," Clyburn shouted back, cheekily.

Inside the caucus room, members broke into applause.

Unsurprisingly, optimism was the theme of the morning among House Democrats, though some progressives aren't completely pleased with the outcome.

Rep Lynne Woolsey (D-CA)--co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus--said, emphatically, that when she and other liberal leaders meet with the President tonight, she wants to hear him say "that he supports a strong public option and he will take that over to the Senate." As for whether she can support the bill in the House with a somewhat weakened public option, Woolsey told me she needs to learn more.

"We're looking at what they've put in the bill to make up for it not being Medicare-plus-five, to see if it covers...our same goals," she said.

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