National Journal Online

Deal Struck on Short-Term Payroll-Tax Cut Package

The Senate will approve a two-month extension of a payroll-tax holiday for workers Saturday after talks of a longer extension collapsed Friday night.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 9:40pm

Perry Defends Retiring Early to Claim Pension

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday defended a decision to begin collecting his pension early in addition to drawing a $150,000 salary as governor as nothing “out of the ordinary” since they are funds he accrued through his military and public service.

“I think it would be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned,” Perry told reporters at a media gathering in Cherokee, Iowa.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 9:40pm

Progress Toward Payroll Extension, Keystone Deal

Senate Democrats on Friday were finalizing a bill that would extend a reduced employee tax rate for 11 months. The measure will extend federal unemployment benefits and include a one-year “doc fix” preventing Medicare physicians from facing a pay cut, Senate leadership aides said.

Democrats expect Senate Republicans, who were meeting Friday evening, to accept the proposal, allowing Senate passage of the measure Saturday afternoon, along with expected approval of a fiscal 2012 omnibus spending bill.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 7:40pm

Bachmann Keeps Up Attacks on Gingrich

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -– Rep. Michele Bachmann, seeking to gain traction from her performance in Thursday’s GOP debate, on Friday kept up her criticisms of GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich while expressing frustration at his accusations that she is factually challenged.   

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 7:40pm

Previewing the Sunday Shows

Coming out of the last debate before the Iowa Caucuses, the presidential race will again dominate the Sunday shows this weekend.

Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney will make his first Sunday show appearance in almost two years as he appears on Fox News Sunday. Romney is beginning a much more aggressive media campaign, and also has planned appearances on Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe and CBS's Late Show with David Letterman.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm

Pro-Choice Groups Rally Grassroots Against Plan B Decision

Disappointed by the administration's decision last week to stop a morning-after birth-control pill from being available to girls under the age of 17 without a prescription, NARAL Pro-Choice America sent a letter to the White House today signed by 35,000 activists saying the administration missed the chance "to improve young women's access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce unintended abortions and thus the need for abortion." 

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm

Lobbying Follows Health Care Law to Court

Dozens of trade associations, nonprofits and lawmakers are preparing to file amicus briefs ahead of the Supreme Court's hearing on the health care reform law next year. But those briefs are designed to do much more than influence the court's decision.

Filing a brief is another way for organizations and lawmakers to demonstrate that they are actively fighting for the interests of their members and constituencies. And, especially with a prominent case like health care reform, they can be a powerful fundraising tool.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm

Romney Clarifies Medicaid Remark After Democrats Attack

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Mitt Romney on Friday sought to clarify comments he made about Medicaid after Democrats seized on an earlier comment of his that he didn’t understand what the program was until he started working in government.

At a campaign event in Sioux Falls, Iowa, Romney told an audience in a discussion about Medicare and Medicaid: “I have to admit I didn’t know all the differences between these things before I got into government. And then I got into it and understood that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large."

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm

QUICK TAKE: White House: Year-End Bill ‘Will Be Resolved’

White House press secretary Jay Carney was hesitant to give details to reporters inquiring about the negotiations over the yearend extender bill and appropriations omnibus Friday. The negotiations are “quite fluid,” according to Carney, but it is not clear whether or not Republicans will remove a provision on the Keystone pipeline from the yearend bill. In recent days, the White House has shifted its focus away from pay-fors for the extensions or opposition to the oil pipeline project, and is now focused heavily on seeing that payroll tax cuts are extended.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm

Moves: Buchanan to Earth Day Network

Bryan Buchanan is leaving his post as press officer at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch to take over as communications director at Earth Day Network, a group that works to spread the environmental movement. His last day at Public Citizen is today and he starts at Earth Day on Jan. 9.
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Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:40pm