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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

The Obama administration determined this month that married same-sex couples are entitled to spousal military benefits, but three GOP-controlled states -- Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi -- have refused to grant them to members of their National Guards. Now advocates are urging the federal government to push back.

The leaders of OutServe-SLDN, an LGBT advocacy group composed of active and former military, sent a letter last week to Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, laying out the options for confronting those states. The authors argued that it was the U.S. Defense Department's responsibility to make things right.

"You, as the responsible official for these activities, have authority to ensure systems are properly used to enroll all eligible applicants and ensure access to federal entitlements," the letter, which was copied to Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey, said.

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The Florida Department of Health took a big step toward obstructing Obamacare outreach this week -- then almost immediately walked it back Thursday, at least in one of the state's biggest counties.

The state health department quietly sent a directive Monday to local county health departments, telling them that Obamacare's so-called navigators -- federally funded groups that are charged with helping people sign up for coverage under the law -- would not be allowed to do outreach in their offices.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) will relent and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to a local report, extending health coverage to more than 400,000 people.

LancasterOnline cites "sources close to the governor" in its report. An announcement is expected next week.

Corbett had previously balked at accepting federal money to expand the program. He cited concerns about the federal government's funding committment and demanded that the Obama administration allow Medicaid reforms before he would aggree to the expansion.

The news site noted it was "not immediately clear" what changed Corbett's mind.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist threw his weight Thursday behind a congressional effort to allow legal marijuana business to get federal tax breaks.

Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, the group that pressed congressional Republicans to sign a strict anti-tax pledge, stood alongside Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a tea party favorite, at a Thursday press conference to advocate for the change.

At issue is a section of the federal tax code that prohibits business considered drug traffickers from taking basic tax deductions from business expenses. It was added to the tax code back in the 1980s to target large-scale drug cartels, but hasn't been changed even though 20-plus states have legalized marijuana in some form.

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Asked about Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the opportunity Thursday to criticize the Russian president's gay rights record.

Putin, Pelosi pointed out, ended his piece with these words: "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

"I hope that applies to gays and lesbians, too," Pelosi quipped, likely referencing a new Russian law that bans the promotion of "non-traditional" sexual relationships and has stirred up considerable controversy.

Saying the House had too much to do, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday urged Speaker John Boehner to keep the House in session as the chamber works to avoid a government shutdown and address other issues.

The House had recessed by Pelosi's 1 p.m. press conference, and Pelosi said it was her understanding that the House would reconvene on the week of Sept. 23. She repeatedly noted that the House had only been back from its summer recess for four days and listed the issues that the chamber needed to address: the continuing resolution to fund the government, the farm bill and immigration reform among them.

"I'm calling upon Republican leadership to keep House in session," Pelosi said.

As TPM has reported, the frenzy over what to do about Syria has complicated the already limited timetable to pass a bill to keep the government running.

Pelosi also sniped at the House GOP's latest gambits to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act through brinksmanship on government spending or the debt ceiling..

"They are proposals to shut down government. They know that. They know their proposals are not going to pass the Senate or be signed by the president," she said. "Just because you're an anti-government ideologue who has landed in Congress doesn't mean you can shut down the government."

A Massachusetts college student will be annonced Thursday as the first winner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's Obamacare outreach contest.

Jason Girouard, an 18-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, will be the early bird winner for the contest, started last month by HHS as a way of promoting the health care reform law to young adults. He will be awarded $1,500 in prize money, which HHS says he plans to use to pay for college.

As the contest requires, Girouard explains in his video why young, healthy adults -- 2.7 million of whom the White House hopes to sign up for health coverage in 2014 -- still need insurance.

The deadline for early bird submissions was Sept. 2. The final deadline for the contest is Sept. 23.

Girouard's video is below.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have put federal prosecutors in quite a bind after they made public comments about the use of secret NSA surveillance in terrorism investigations.

Now defense attorneys in a Florida case are turning the words of those top officials against prosecutors, urging a federal court to force the federal government to disclose whether it obtained evidence against their client through a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FAA, which has been at the center of the Edward Snowden leaks.

In a Tuesday filing (see below), attorneys for Sheheryar Alam Qazi -- who was charged with planning to blow up a bomb in New York City last December -- argued that federal prosecutors were obligated to disclose to them if secret surveillance had been used in the investigation.

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Conservative lawmakers seized on the first anniversary of the embassy assault in Benghazi that killed four Americans as a new opportunity to advance their assertion that the White House is hiding something about the 2012 attack.

In a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told the gathered reporters that the Obama administration's unwillingness to provide evidence or witnesses about the Benghazi attacks suggested there was evidence that the White House didn't want the public to see.

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In a Wednesday editorial, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) berated the White House for its failure to follow up on the Sept. 11, 2012 embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

The Fox News editorial, penned under Rubio's name, is titled: "Many questions, scant justice from Obama White House one year after Benghazi attacks."

Rubio criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for absolving terminated State Department employees of any responsibility for any security failures prior to the attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens among others, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for failing to schedule hearings to investigate the attack.

"Those who would threaten Americans and our interests are watching this failure to respond to the first murder of an American ambassador in the line of duty in decades closely," Rubio wrote. The Obama administration continues to show no interest in learning from the mistakes that led to this tragic event. The administration’s unwillingness to take this attack seriously will have implications for our national security for years to come."

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