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Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at kay@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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A Tennessee Republican introduced a bill on Tuesday that would limit the kinds of food that food stamp recipients can buy, according to The Hill.

Rep. Phil Roe said he wants the national food stamp program to have same standards as state-level programs started in Wisconsin and South Carolina that aims to stop an estimated $2 billion of unhealthy food purchases made with funds provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

"By giving SNAP recipients more nutritious choices, we can take a meaningful step towards ending hunger in America," he told The Hill.

Roe's bill would make the SNAP program adhere to the same standards that the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program puts on food purchases. Critics have alleged that the WIC program's food choices aren't necessarily based on science and need to better adhere to nutrional guidelines. 

The Environtmental Protection Agency is expected to issue regulations later this month blocking the construction of new coal plants unless they include what lobbyists contest are expensive carbon capture controls.

The restrictions on carbon emissions, reported Bloomberg News, are under review by White House officials and are scheduled to be released on Sept. 20. The regulations have already been revised after plants insisted that the new regualtions would shut down existing plants, and the new proposal is said to include a gradual phase-in of carbon capture technology over time for already-existing plants. 

EPA Spokeswoman Alisha Johnson declined to comment about the upcoming regulations. 

Coal is the largest contributor of greenhouse gasses in the United States, and the regulations are believed to be part of the White House's plan to tackle climate change with regulatory authority, as President Barack Obama announced in his June 25 speech on climate change.

President Barack Obama's push to get congressional approval may be doomed in the House of Representatives, according to TPM's assessment of member's public statements on a resolution backing military action against Syria.

Over the last week, TPM has tracked how senators and representative have said they would vote on the proposed measure to approve limited military action in Syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

In that week, far more have moved in to the "no" column than those coming out in support of the measure. As of Monday's tally, the House of Representatives tally has a solid majority of "no" or votes thanks to a large contingent of Republican isolationists and Democrats opposing all military action. Votes are expected in both chambers this week, but have not yet been scheduled.

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The freshman senator from New Mexico has become yet another member of Congress to back away from seemingly supportive statements on military action in Syria as the vote approaches this week.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)'s spokeswoman said in an email on Monday that he is "undecided" at this point, but a statement released last week seemed generally supportive of a strike in Syria. 

Though he initially said the draft resolution submitted by Obama was "overly broad and open-ended," he also said "I welcome the new draft resolution written by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee leadership to ensure any military action taken is both limited in scope and duration, and prevents the use of any U.S. ground forces inside Syria."

"I have reviewed a substantial amount of intelligence and it is clear that President Assad's regime used chemical weapons on a broad scale against civilian non-combatants -- even children," Heinrich said, according to the Sept. 4 statement. "Assad has willfully committed war crimes against his own people. This is unacceptable and in direct conflict with the United Nations Charter, Geneva Conventions, and other legal obligations prohibiting the use of chemical weapons."

"We must hold the Assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons while ensuring the United States does not get involved in a protracted conflict," Heinrich said last week. "I welcome the steps taken in this draft resolution to do so, and I look forward to reviewing the resolution further before voting on it next week."

In another example of the pressures facing Republican congressmen, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is backing off an earlier public statement of support for limited military action in Syria. Coffman's initial support for the plan, which came before President Barack Obama asked for congressional approval, unequivocally supported a limited military strike in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, but now Coffman says he's undecided as the vote approaches.

A staffer with Coffman's office emailed TPM on Thursday that the congressman is now undecided on the upcoming vote to authorize limited military action against Syria.

"I'm undecided at this point," Coffman said in the statement emailed by spokesman Drew Kerin. "There are three questions that I will be asking during the debate on Syria before making my decision. The first is how strong is the evidence that the Assad regime directed a chemical attack against civilians? The second is whether a limited strike would be effective in deterring Assad from the further use of chemical weapons? My third question will be whether a limited strike could ultimately drag the United States into an intractable sectarian civil war in Syria?"

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Vote count update: Sept. 6 at 1:23 p.m.

In the 48 hours since President Barack Obama said he wanted Congress to authorize a limited military intervention to Syria, members of Congress have been lining up to say they will or won't back such action.

"I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress," Obama said on Saturday. "I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session."

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