The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
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CNN: House ethics committee votes for censure of N.Y. Democrat
The House ethics committee voted 9-1 on Thursday to recommend censure for Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, in response to multiple rules violations committed by the 20-term congressman. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and the committee's co-chairwoman, announced the recommendation around 6 p.m. Thursday, after a day of sometimes charged and emotional comments regarding how to penalize Rangel. She said that, in addition to the censure, Rangel would have to pay restitution for any unpaid taxes and report back to the committee.
CNN: Rangel issues apology
New York Rep. Charlie Rangel issued an apology Thursday after the House ethics committee's chief counsel recommended the 20-term Democratic congressman be censured by the House of Representatives for multiple rules violations. Rangel, who was found guilty of the violations on Tuesday, said in the statement, "To my beloved Colleagues, my constituents and the American people, I am sorry."
CNN: House and Senate Democrats plan tax cut votes after Thanksgiving
Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate have decided to move ahead with votes after Thanksgiving to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. These decisions come hours after Democratic leaders met at the White House with President Obama, where several sources say they talked extensively about the tax cuts. Until now, how or whether Democrats would proceed on the thorny issue of extending the Bush era tax cuts was unresolved.
Christian Science Monitor: Poison vote looms for tea party freshmen: Raise the national debt limit?
Even though a vote to raise the national debt limit – now just under $14.3 trillion – is months away, House Republican leaders are already preparing their caucus for what could be the toughest vote for a bumper freshman class. About half of the 85-member Republican House freshman class ran with backing from tea party groups – all of them on a platform to curb or cap government spending. Many of these candidates slammed Democrats they defeated for previous votes to increase the debt limit – votes, they said, that enabled big government spending. Now, they face the other side of the issue: A vote against raising the debt limit means the government could run out of money. Will fiscal responsibility look so appealing if the government essentially shuts down?
NPR: Health Industry Coo lTo Complete Repeal Of New Law
Republicans made major gains in the midterm election, running vowing to "repeal and replace" the health law passed with solely Democratic votes earlier this year. But while a large majority of GOP voters told exit pollsters they strongly support the idea of starting from scratch on the health overhaul issue, major players in the health care industry — usually strong Republican allies — are a lot less enthused about the idea.
Boston Globe: Brown treads a fine line in push to alter health law
Senator Scott Brown teamed up with a Democrat yesterday to file legislation allowing states to more quickly opt out of certain portions of President Obama’s health care plan — the Massachusetts Republican’s latest move to alter the controversial measure. The move illustrates Brown’s attempt to work with Democrats to make targeted changes to the overhaul, even while top Republicans stirred by Tea Party fervor are largely focused only on repealing the entire law. “We’re just going through it, trying to make it better. Trying to fix the problems,’’ Brown said in a brief interview. Asked about the contrast between his effort and that of many GOP colleagues who want to repeal the law, he said, “You should probably talk to them on that. Nice try.’’
Des Moines Register: Farms can skip FDA regs under Senate deal
Senate negotiators have reached a deal that would exempt small farms and processors from food-safety regulations that would be imposed by the Food and Drug Administration under a bill nearing a final vote in the chamber The exemption would apply to food producers that do less than $500,000 in sales annually and sell their products in-state or within a 257-mile radius. The deal also would allow the FDA to revoke the exemption for producers that are linked to contaminated foods.
CNN: Top Dem: Elections could have been worse
Rep. Chris Van Hollen predicted Thursday that the Democratic Party would have lost between 15 and 20 more House seats in the midterm election had money and resources not been diverted away from some candidates in the closing days to help bolster other endangered incumbents. "To provide flexibility, the DCCC made some very wrenching and tough decisions regarding resource allocation," Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a five page memo to House Democrats. "While painful, these decisions ensured we had finances available to defend many members from the onslaught of outside spending in the final weeks of the election."
CNN: Biden weighs in on Pelosi
Vice President Joe Biden is weighing in on the controversy surrounding the soon-to-be former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who was elected minority leader for the next Congress on Wednesday. "I think she's a very, very effective and competent person. She gets things done. And it's easy to – you know, in this environment, to characterize someone," Biden said of Pelosi, in an interview with CNN anchor Larry King on Larry King Live. Pelosi faced opposition from moderate Democrats who blamed her for the party's losses in the midterm elections.
Politics Daily: Sen. Roland Burris Deplores Lack of Blacks in Senate in Farewell Speech
In his farewell Senate speech, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) on Thursday deplored the fact that he is the only African-American in the Senate, and when he leaves on Nov. 29 there will be none. That's the day Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who won the Nov. 2 election, is sworn in to fill the remainder of President Obama's original term. For Burris, serving in the Senate was the "opportunity of a lifetime," he said from the Senate floor, making no mention that he arrived cloaked in controversy because he was appointed by a governor accused of trying to sell Obama's old seat. "When the 112th Congress is sworn in this coming January, there will not be a single black American who takes the oath of office in this chamber," Burris said to a nearly empty Senate. "This is simply unacceptable. We can, and we will, and we must do better.
Washington Post: Foreign-policy setbacks deepen Obama's election wounds
Presidents have often turned to foreign policy after domestic setbacks – from Ronald Reagan's Latin American tour and speech calling the Soviet Union the "focus of evil in the modern world" in the months after his party's 1982 congressional losses to Bill Clinton's escape to Indonesia and the Philippines following his own midterm trouncing a dozen years later. Both found redemption at the polls. President Obama has followed suit. But since his midterm shellacking this month, he has suffered a series of foreign policy setbacks, in Congress and abroad, that have put his agenda for improving America's standing and strength overseas at risk. From failing to secure a free-trade agreement in South Korea to struggling to win Senate ratification of an arms-control treaty with Russia, Obama has bumped up against the boundaries of his power at a defining moment of his presidency.
CNN: Obama: GM's stock sale shows 'tough decisions' paid off
President Barack Obama trumpeted Thursday's highly anticipated sale of General Motors stock, saying its success proved the wisdom of the automaker's federal bailout last year that he claimed saved over a million jobs. "Today, one of the toughest tales of the recession took another big step toward becoming a success story," Obama told reporters Thursday afternoon. The Detroit, Michigan-based automaker filed for bankruptcy 17 months ago, then - after receiving money and guidelines from the federal government - undertook a series of measures to get its finances in order. Last week, GM posted its best financial quarter in 11 years.
CNN: Carville defiant on Obama comment
Democratic strategist James Carville compared President Barack Obama to his democratic primary rival and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday, implying Obama needs to toughen-up. "If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he'd have two," Carville said at a "Christian Science Monitor" breakfast discussion.
CNN: New face of GOP: Diversity
At the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association, a diverse new group of governors announced they will redefine the image and message of the Grand Old Party. "They're all kind of Americans, they're all kind of races, creeds, colors, religions, who understand that a free market economy, smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, rational regulation – that's the way to grow the economy," Mississippi governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Haley Barbour told CNN.
CNN: Barbour to Bloomberg: Don't run for prez
Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour may or may not run for president in 2012, but he has an opinion about a possible presidential bid by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I hope Mayor Bloomberg won't even consider that," Barbour told CNN. "But if there were a strong third party candidate there's no question in my mind, that candidate would draw votes away from the Republican." He added a third party bid by Bloomberg would be "the best thing that can happen to President Obama."
Los Angeles Times: Republican governors target public employee unions
The main opponent mentioned at the Republican Governors Assn. conference here — described in terms ranging from misguided to downright evil — is the other party, the Democrats. But running a close second are the public employee unions, particularly the teachers unions. "Frankly," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, "the public employee unions would stick a shiv in all of us if they could."
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CNN: Bedbug forum draws crowd to Capitol
Lawmakers, government officials and industry leaders filled a room at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, not to talk about tax cuts or election results, but bedbugs, something many in the audience felt was just as important. "They are virtually unstoppable," Michael Potter, a bedbug expert from the University of Kentucky, told an auditorium full of people concerned about the resurgent tiny bloodsucker.
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CNN: US, allies look to take NATO from Cold War relic to relevance now
With the Cold War behind them, NATO members meeting this week in Lisbon, Portugal, will seek to assert their continued relevance. At the Lisbon summit, NATO members will also adopt a new mission statement, or "strategic concept." The strategic concept will aim to reinvigorate the NATO alliance 20 years after the end of the Cold War. Calling Lisbon, "one of the most important summits in the history of our alliance," NATO Secretary General Angers Fogh Rasmussen hopes the new global outlook will prove the organization is still relevant.
CNN: VP Joe Biden: 'Take the training wheels off' in Afghanistan
While defending the military surge in Afghanistan after eight years of what he termed "neglect," Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Afghan leaders could soon be left on their own, whether they're ready or not. "We had to say, 'Look, you've got to step up, man,'" Biden said Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live." "Let me tell you, we're going to start - Daddy is going to start to take the training wheels off ... next July, so you'd better practice riding."
Washington Post: U.S. deploying heavily armored battle tanks for first time in Afghan war
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban. The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country's southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance – and with more of a lethal punch – than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.
CNN: Anti-U.N. protests erupt in Haitian capital
Like cholera itself, Haiti's protests against the United Nations spread Thursday to the capital, Port-au-Prince, as angry people took to the streets demanding the global body get out of their country. Similar demonstrations erupted earlier this week in the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien after assertions that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal were responsible for starting the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 1,100 lives and spread to eight of the nation's 10 departments. The United Nations has denied that its forces were responsible for the outbreak.
CNN: 27 miners missing after New Zealand explosion
Twenty-seven miners were missing hours after an underground explosion on New Zealand's west coast, company officials said Friday. Two other miners had emerged from the the Pike River coal mine in Atarau, authorities said. About three hours after the blast, police said no fatalities had been reported. Emergency workers were going into the mine, TV New Zealand said.
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CNN Money: Stocks finish higher after GM debut
U.S. stocks surged more than 1% Thursday as an early rally gained steam, following a strong debut by General Motors' stock. Overnight talk that the Irish government was close to accepting a bailout loan eased eurozone worries and sent global stocks soaring. That momentum spilled over to U.S. markets.
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