Democrats, infuriated by what they see as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama’s nominees, expect to trigger the showdown by bringing up one of the recent judicial nominees whom Republicans blocked by a filibuster.
According to senior Democratic aides, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will set in motion a complicated parliamentary process that ends with a simple-majority vote setting a new rule that will allow for swift confirmation of executive branch nominees and most selections for the federal judiciary without having to clear a 60-vote hurdle. The Washington Post has more here.
Obama Says U.S. Will Respect Afghan Sovereignty - President Obama wrote in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday that the U.S. will continue to respect “Afghan sovereignty” under a new security agreement.
Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a deal Wednesday that outlines how the U.S. military forces remaining in Afghanistan will proceed after the Obama administration’s 2014 withdrawal deadline.
The U.S. is considering maintaining 9,000 to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the withdrawal. The agreement needs to be approved by Afghanistan’s parliament and the Jirga, a group of 2,500 Afghan elders.
While the Obama administration wants it to be finalized as soon as possible, it could be delayed from being implemented. Karzai announced Thursday that he wouldn’t want the agreement to be signed until after Afghan elections in spring 2014.
“We look forward to completing this agreement promptly,” Obama wrote in the letter. The U.S. had wanted to reach an agreement by Oct. 31.
Obama assured Karzai Americans will not conduct raids on Afghan homes unless there are “extraordinary circumstances," according to the letter. TheHill.com has more here.
Global Economy Stumbles as China, Europe Falter - The fragile global economic recovery took a step backwards this month as businesses across the euro zone and China's vast factory sector grew at a milder pace, business surveys showed on Thursday.
While growth in Germany was resurgent, French business activity took a tumble and contracted, underlining how lopsided the euro zone's recovery from recession is.
Patchy recoveries in developed countries meant demand for China's manufactured goods from abroad fell to a three-month low in November, bolstering expectations that the world's second largest economy could lose some vigor this quarter.
"This is evidence to suggest the European economy is struggling to gain momentum and the Chinese numbers certainly were not great," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank. Reuters.com has more here.
Rep. Radel Takes Leave of Absense from Congress - Hours after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine, freshman Florida GOP Rep. Trey Radel said he is taking a leave of absence from Congress and will donate his salary to charity while he undergoes rehabilitation for addiction.
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