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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama continues cautious approach to Syria - The White House insisted Monday that it would not be thrown off its cautious approach to Syria, despite Israeli military strikes near Damascus and new questions about the use of chemical weapons in the civil war there.

The administration cast doubt on an assertion by a United Nations official that the Syrian rebels, not the government of President Bashar al-Assad, had used the nerve agent sarin. And it backed Israel’s right to strike Syrian targets to disrupt shipments of weapons from Iran to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

For President Obama, both developments muddied a crisis that is already rife with complexity. But there was little evidence that they did anything to affect what his aides say is a deep reluctance to be drawn further into a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people.  The NY Times has more here. 


Will Sanford's comeback bid be successful? - Voters in South Carolina’s first congressional district head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to offer former Gov. Mark Sanford a chance at political redemption, or instead send the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert to Congress.

Sanford, the Republican former governor whose time in office ended in a scandal triggered by a nationally-publicized extramarital affair and subsequent divorce, is seeking to once again win the district that elected him to Congress for three terms. A special election was called for this solidly Republican seat following GOP Rep. Tim Scott’s resignation to become the state’s next senator. 

But while Sanford entered the special election as a modest favorite, he’s run into stiff opposition from Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a Clemson University administrator whose famous sibling has helped elevate what might otherwise be a mundane congressional race into a national media spectacle. NBC News has more here.


Emily's Lists endorses Hanabusa in Hawaii senate race - EMILY’s List announced on Tuesday its support for Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in next year’s Democratic Senate primary in the Aloha State.
Hanabusa, who officially entered the race last week, will face appointed Sen. Brian Schatz in the special election to fill the remaining two years of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s term.

The endorsement is not a surprise. The group, which backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, has supported Hanabusa for years. It also comes on the heels of an endorsement from Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye. has more here.


What to look for in the latest debt showdown - The 2013 debt-limit fight has begun.

Powerful policymakers on both sides of the aisle are jockeying for position in what will be a defining moment for the 113th Congress.

Economic experts have recently said the debt-limit hike could wait until the fall, though the Treasury Department has not committed to a specific date.

But if a bill doesn’t need to be passed until after the August recess, that would benefit the GOP, which is trying to tie tax reform to the debt limit.

The following is a list of 10 players to watch on the debt-limit battle. has more here.


Internet sales tax bill passes senate, doubtful in House - Traditional retailers and cash-strapped states face a tough sell in the House as they lobby Congress to limit tax-free shopping on the Internet.

The Senate voted 69 to 27 Monday to pass a bill that empowers states to collect sales taxes from Internet purchases. Under the bill, states can require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes when they sell products over the Internet, in catalogs, and through radio and TV ads. The sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives.

Current law says states can only require retailers to collect sales taxes if the merchant has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are tax-free.

The bill faces opposition in the House, where some lawmakers regard it as a tax increase. has more here.


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