TPM News

Senate Majority Leader's deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), says his boss has been holding one-on-one meetings with centrists in order to ensure a 60 vote majority for the health care reform package he announced yesterday.

The Hill reports:

"Harry has been literally sitting down face to face with senator after senator, working through these differences," [Durbin] said.

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Washington lobbyist Robert Cabelly was charged today with a range of violations involving work he allegedly did for the government of Sudan and that country's oil industry, as well as lying about and trying to hide the work.

Cabelly, who worked for the State Department on Africa issues during the Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton administrations, is the principal of DC consulting firm C/R International LLC.

The Justice Department press release outlines the charges in the indictment:

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact filibuster any health care bill he doesn't agree with--and right now, he doesn't agree with the public option proposal making its way through the Senate.

"I told Senator Reid that I'm strongly inclined--i haven't totally decided, but I'm strongly inclined--to vote to proceed to the health care debate, even though I don't support the bill that he's bringing together because it's important that we start the debate on health care reform because I want to vote for health care reform this year. But I also told him that if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage. Therefore I will try to stop the passage of the bill."

There are two procedural issues at play here. Most people think of a filibuster as a minority blocking passage of a bill that's already been debated ad nauseum on the Senate floor. That's the most standard filibuster. But on major legislation, it's become more common for the minority--in this case the Republicans--to object to the majority getting a chance to debate legislation in the first place. If any one of them objects to the so-called motion to proceed, it will take 60 votes just to start the amendment and debate process. That's a less-discussed filibuster, but it's quite plausible that this health care bill will have to contend with it.

Lieberman is saying that he's pretty much OK with letting senators offer amendments--try to change the legislation, move it in any direction they deem necessary. But when that process is all over, and Harry Reid wants to hold an up or down vote on the final product, Lieberman's saying he'll join that filibuster, if he's not happy with the finished product. Point blank.

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We now know that the Senate is making an end run for a public option that gives states a chance to opt out. We also know that Majority Leader Harry Reid is still a handful of votes shy of the 60 he will likely need to pass the overall bill, if it contains the opt out plan.

But how exactly does the opt out work? Senate leaders are mum about the policy details, as they await the CBO to report back a cost estimate. But, after conversations with experts and lawmakers over the past several days, we can take a look at some of the key variables, about which we'll have more information in the coming days.

Yesterday, Reid suggested--though without elaborating, and with substantial lack of clarity--that states will be allowed to opt out starting in 2014.

At a news conference, a reporter asked Reid, "Can states opt out immediately or is there a period of time where they have to," participate in the public plan? He responded, but his answer may have obscured more than it elucidated. "They'll have until 2014," Reid said.

Reid's staff was not forthcoming with clarification, but there are two possible interpretations to this answer.

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Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) office is making clear that when he referred to a female lobbyist a "K Street whore" during a radio interview, he was only referring to her professional career, not her personal life.

CBS News reports that Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski told them:

"Let's be clear about the context," he said. "The attack was on her professional career, not her personal life."

"She attacked the Congressman and his efforts to promote a Republican bill to audit the Federal Reserve," Jurkowski said. "She actually questioned his understanding of the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. She had the audacity to attack a Congressman who used to be an economist. She's a career lobbyist who used to work for Enron and advocates for whatever she gets paid to promote."

Yesterday, President Obama toured Florida, greeting thousands at stops across the state. One man who wasn't there, however, was Gov. Charlie Crist (R). He's been facing increasing criticism from Florida's GOP base over Obama's February visit to Florida, when Crist joined the president on stage at a rally in support of the stimulus package.

The Palm Beach Post reports on how much things have changed between Crist and Obama since then:

"First I've known of it," Gov. Charlie Crist said this morning in response to a reporter's question about why he didn't join President Obama in Jacksonville. ... "I didn't know his itinerary. That's all," Crist said.

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One of Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) Republican opponents is seizing on his newly-unearthed comment, in which he called a female lobbyist a "K Street whore."

Armando Gutierrez, a real estate developer who moved from Miami to Orlando in order to run against Grayson, has a new press release:

The tragedy of this is that the gross recklessness of statements such as this seems to be lost on Grayson.

From accusing Republicans of murder on the scale of Holocaust to labeling an honorable public servant a "whore," Grayson has once again shown America that he is, to borrow the words of his fellow Democrat, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, "one fry short of a happy meal."


Grayson seems to be giving Republicans no shortage of opposition-research material against him for 2010, and this latest episode is no exception. The full press release is available after the jump.

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