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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Secretary of State John Kerry
Kerry Announces $60 Million Aid To Syrian Rebels - The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, announcing a cautious U.S. foray into front-line battlefield support that falls far short of the heavy weapons or high-tech gear the rebels seek.
“The stakes are really high, and we can’t risk letting this country — in the heart of the Middle East — be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists,” Kerry said following discussions among a group of Western and Arab nations that are funding, and in some cases arming, the fighters.  The Washington Post has more here.


Coping With The Sequester - With time running short and little real effort under way to avert automatic budget cuts that take effect Friday, substantial and growing wings of both parties are learning to live with — if not love — the so-called sequester.

“It’s going to happen,” said Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and a leading conservative voice in the House. “It’s not the end of the world.”

Some of the most liberal members of Congress see the cuts as a rare opportunity to whittle down Pentagon spending. The poor are already shielded from the worst of the cuts, and the process could take pressure off the Democratic Party, at least in the short run, to tamper with Social Security and Medicare.  The NY Times has more here.


Harkin Calls For $10.10 Minimum Wage - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argues President Obama “missed the mark” in calling to raise the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address, and he met with White House staff last week to argue for a higher number.

The veteran senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is working with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation. has more here.


House to Vote on Violence Against Women Act - Today, Republican House leaders are expected to first try to pass a House-drafted version of the bill. If that measure fails, they will allow a vote on a Senate-passed version of the bill, a five-year reauthorization approved by the upper chamber by an overwhelming majority in February.

Democrats are optimistic that the latter version of the bill will see a vote and pass today.
The reauthorization of the law -– first sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1994 –- has languished for months as the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House wrangled over details of the legislation. has more here.


Lew Confirmed as Treasury Secretary - Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Jack Lew, a former budget director and chief of staff to the president, as the next secretary of the treasury.

The vote was 71 to 26.


First Lady Writes Op-Ed Promoting Healthier Foods - "Every day, great American companies are achieving greater and greater success by creating and selling healthy products," the First Lady writes in an op-ed, citing examples from Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Disney. "In doing so, they are showing that what's good for kids and good for family budgets can also be good for business."

Healthy eating and exercise are the most prominent causes Michelle Obama has taken on as First Lady.  The Wall Street Journal has more here.


Caroline Kennedy Under Consideration for U.S. Ambassador to Japan - Caroline Kennedy is the top candidate to head to Tokyo as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, to replace John Roos, a lawyer and former Obama fundraiser. The 55-year-old daughter of former President John F. Kennedy served as a co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, and was a key backer of his 2008 campaign. has more here.


Himes To Chair DCCC Finance Committee - Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut will be the new national finance chairman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2014 cycle, according to two well-placed Democratic sources on Capitol Hill.

Officials announced the new position for Himes, a three-term Democrat from Connecticut, at a morning meeting for members.

The committee previously named Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz of Pennsylvania as its finance chairwoman, but in recent weeks, she has indicated she plans to run for governor in 2014. has more here.


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