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Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

As Congress Stalls, States and Municipalities Raise Minimum Wage - States and municipalities across the country are leading a localized push to raise the minimum wage, driven largely by Democrats, who see an opening to appeal to working-class Americans at a time of growing inequity.

Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers.  The Washington Post has more here.
Farm Bill Moves Closer to Passage - Supporters of the $1 trillion farm bill say they are redoubling their efforts to get a bill over the finish line after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The top leaders of the House-Senate farm bill have come close to a framework during several tense negotiating sessions in the past two weeks, raising hopes on K Street that legislation could squeak through Congress by the end of the year. The four negotiators spoke via conference call Tuesday and reported no new developments. has more here.


"Blue Slip" Custom will Allow Republicans to Block Judicial Nominations - The decision by Senate Democrats to eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominations only marginally enhanced President Obama’s power to reshape the judiciary, according to court watchers from across the political spectrum, because Republican senators can still veto his nominees to most currently vacant appeals court seats.

The new Senate rule clears the way for eight appeals court nominees who have already had confirmation hearings to win approval with simple majority votes, including three on the powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reviews federal policies and regulations. But it left unchanged the Senate’s “blue slip” custom, which allows senators to block nominees to judgeships associated with their states.  The NY Times has more here.


UN Reports N. Korea May Be Restarting Reactor - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Thursday that its observations of a North Korean nuclear complex revealed possible preparations for a reactor restart that could provide the country with weapons-grade plutonium, according to multiple reports.

“Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor,” the IAEA's director general, Yukiya Amano, told the organization's board, Reuters reported, adding that without direct access to the site it was not possible to obtain conclusive evidence.
IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009, but monitoring of the country has continued at a distance through satellite surveillance and other methods.  You can read more here.
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