(CNN)–It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your coffee.
On our radar this morning: The flurry of Senate activity this weekend, including the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and the latest on the war strategy in Afghanistan.
Check out what we're reading, and watch the show today to see our exclusive interview with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at 9 a.m./12 p.m. ET.
They will do what is asked of them," McCain said of the troops. "But don't think there won't be a great cost."
Popularity of ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal May Have Drawn Republican Votes
There are, in the lame duck session, 11 Republican senators from states that President Obama carried in 2008. Of these, 7 voted with the Democrats to repeal the policy, while 3 voted against it. (One other — the retiring Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire — did not vote at all.)
By contrast, right there are now 31 Republican senators from states that Senator John McCain won in 2008. Just one of these — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted to repeal the ban on gay servicemembers. Another 28 voted against it, and two did not vote.
Deficit Dilemma: Can Washington Tackle Its Sacred Cows?
"We are accumulating debt burdens that will rival a third-world nation within 10 years," says David Walker, former chairman of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. "Once you end up losing the confidence of the markets, things happen very suddenly and very dramatically. We've seen that in Greece, we've seen it in Ireland, and we must not see it happen in the United States."
Senate Rejects Amendment Blocking New Start Treaty
“Regardless of Russia’s actions in this regard, as long as I am president, and as long as the Congress provides the necessary funding, the United States will continue to develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies and partners,” Mr. Obama said in the letter.
Mr. Obama’s letter, according to one official, was privately requested by Mr. McCain, among others, to provide assurances to Republicans who want to vote for the treaty without undermining missile defense.
Immigration Vote Leaves Obama’s Policy in Disarray
The result, although not unexpected, was still a rebuff to President Obama by newly empowered Republicans in Congress on an issue he has called one of his priorities. Supporters believed that the bill — tailored to benefit only immigrants who were brought here illegally when they were children and hoped to attend college or enlist in the military — was the easiest piece to pass out of a larger overhaul of immigration laws that Mr. Obama supports.
The Tax-Cut Deal
New stimulus spending is undermined if it is offset by cuts in existing spending — and, in the next Congress, Republicans will clamor for immediate budget cuts. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, praised the tax-cut deal last week, precisely because he believes it will begin to force spending cuts. John Boehner, the incoming House speaker, has called for a spending level in 2011 that is more than $100 billion lower than President Obama wanted, though he has not said which programs he would cut to achieve those savings.
So the fight has just begun, and only one thing is sure. Unless Mr. Obama finds his voice and develops a plan to rebut calls for premature spending cuts, the tax-cut deal will not do as much good as he says it will.
9/11 Health Bill Wins Support From G.O.P.
“We have the votes we need,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill.”
The $7.4 billion measure is intended to provide medical care to workers and others who had become ill as a result of being exposed to toxic debris and fumes at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
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