TPM News

Maryland physician Andy Harris (R) just soundly defeated Frank Kratovil, one of the most endangered Democrats on Capitol Hill going into the November election. And he did it in large part by railing against 'Obamacare' and pledging to repeal Health Care Reform. But when he showed on Capitol Hill today for an orientation for incoming members of Congress and their staffs, he had a different question: Where's my government health care?

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An associate of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was found guilty in federal court on five counts related to a scheme to corrupt public officials.

Kevin Ring was found guilty on one count of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by providing things of value; one count of paying a gratuity to a public official and three counts of honest services wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to deprive U.S. citizens of their right to the honest services of certain public officials, the Justice Department said in a statement. Ring was acquitted on three counts of honest services fraud, said DOJ.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will run, likely uncontested, to head the Senate Republicans' campaign committee next year.

According to CNN, Cornyn has already secured the support of incoming, Tea Party-backed GOP senators, despite facing criticism from conservatives that he did not do enough to promote the candidacies of several losing Republican nominees.

The GOP will hold their leadership elections, including their new NRSC chairman, behind closed doors tomorrow.

Eight members of the House Ethics Committee have packed it in for the night after meeting in executive session to discuss the alleged ethics violations against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

They will reconvene in executive session Tuesday morning, committee spokesman Sam Harvey told TPM. Harvey did not know whether the committee planned to meet at length again or simply issue a statement with their decision.

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Who said bipartisanship was hard? President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have already found something to agree on in the next Congress, weeks before it convenes for the first time. In a statement released by the White House afternoon, Obama praised McConnell's decision to cave to tea party demands and back an earmark ban in the Republican Senate caucus next year.

"I welcome Senator McConnell's decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can't afford during these tough economic times," Obama said.

The president has been trying to tamp down the use of earmarks for awhile now, and he used the occasion of the Republican Senate leader and noted earmarker McConnell's change of heart on the topic to call on members of his own party to give up earmarking, too.

"In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to not only end earmark spending, but to find other ways to bring down our deficits for our children," Obama said.

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In a sign that Democrats hope to do a better job claiming credit for their accomplishments, and emphasizing the differences between themselves and the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has merged the Senate Dems' policy and communications shops, and tasked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with chairing the new office as a member of party leadership.

Schumer has developed a reputation among his colleagues, and across Washington, as a shrewd political strategist and a master of message control.

In a letter to colleagues today, Reid cited those skills as the reason he's giving Schumer the job.

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The conservative-controlled U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Monday accused the Justice Department of "delaying and smothering" the agency's investigation into the handling of a voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party.

Late last month, commissioners subpoenaed four Justice Department staff members as part of their probe into DOJ's handling of the voter intimidation case which stemmed from an incident in Philadelphia on Election Day in 2008. In a letter sent last week, the Justice Department agreed to allow the testimony of three Justice Department officials, so long as their testimony would be reflected in the Commission's report.

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