POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, January 31, 2011
January 31st, 2011
05:46 AM ET
12 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, January 31, 2011

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.

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Clinton calls for a peaceful transition to democracy in Egypt
The "complex, very difficult" situation in Egypt requires careful progress toward a peaceful transition to democracy, rather than any sudden or violent change that could undermine the aspirations of the Egyptian people, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday. In separate interviews with five Sunday talk shows, Clinton made clear the United States believes that stability in the region is the top immediate priority. Otherwise, she warned, protesters seeking better opportunity and a stronger political voice might end up facing further repression from new leaders instead of the democratic reforms they seek. "There's no easy answer," Clinton told CNN's "State of the Union. "And, clearly, increasing chaos or even violence in the streets, prison breaks, which we've had reports about - that is not the way to go.”

CNN: Senators see opportunity in Egypt
McCain, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak knows what's going on in his own country, and that it is up to the United States to be a "helpful, assisting but insisting partner" to the country. McCain, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak knows what's going on in his own country, and that it is up to the United States to be a "helpful, assisting but insisting partner" to the country.

CNN: Daley says Obama ready to revise health care
New White House Chief of Staff William Daley said President Barack Obama is willing to tweak parts of the health care law. "The president has said he's open to changes to this," Daley said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But he's not in favor of refighting this fight." The former commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton also clarified his earlier criticism of the president's handling of the health care law. Last year he told The New York Times that the administration "miscalculated on health care."

CNN: GOP 'playing with fire,' Schumer says
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize the importance of fixing the country's fiscal house, but deep divides remain over the two major economic issues currently before Congress, a new budget and the debt ceiling. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Republicans are "playing with fire" by threatening to shut down the government and warned of dangerous consequences if Congress allows the spending bill that is currently funding the government to expire. "To just stay in your corner and say it's my way or I'm shutting down the government, that could lead to terrible, terrible problems," Schumer said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

The Hill: GOP sees looming 2012 elections as key to blocking climate rules
Republicans are banking on the looming 2012 election to provide a political boost for their efforts to undercut the Environmental Protection Agency's pending climate change rules this year. While a bill blocking EPA’s climate authority is likely to pass the House, the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate, as well as a potential veto from President Obama. Still, Republicans are planning to push forward with the legislation, hoping that the threat of the 2012 elections will yield support from vulnerable Democrats in states that will be most affected by EPA rules. Even if the bill ultimately fails to become law, Republicans will attempt to force a vote on the issue in order to get Democrats on the record in anticipation of next year’s election.

Roll Call: Democrats Force Votes With Eye on Campaigns
House Democrats have launched a floor strategy aimed at forcing freshman Republicans to take tough votes on politically sensitive topics, mirroring a tactic that the GOP deployed when it was in the minority. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is consulting with her leadership team, including Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.), on how to use a procedural tool known as a motion to recommit to force Republicans to take politically challenging votes. Under House rules, the minority party is allowed to offer one motion to recommit, which functions much like an amendment, for each piece of legislation as the last step before final passage. With their return to the minority, Pelosi and her leadership team are trying to be more savvy about using the motions to put Republicans on the politically unpopular side of issues that Democrats want to champion ahead of the next election.

Washington Post: ATF fears budget cuts would imperil gun-trafficking fight at Mexico border
About three weeks before the deadly shootings in Tucson renewed a national debate about gun control, the White House budget office proposed steep cuts for the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws. When officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives saw the proposal, they concluded it would effectively eliminate a major initiative in the fight against firearms trafficking on the Mexican border, according to people familiar with the budget process but not authorized to speak on the record.

ABC News: House Republicans Plan to Redefine Rape
Rape is only really rape if it involves force, according to the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law. For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, with another exemption covering pregnancies that could endanger the life of the mother. But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to drastically limit the definition of rape and incest in these cases. The bill, with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors, has been dubbed a top priority in the new Congress by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible.

Detroit News: Conyers will run for 25th congressional term in 2012
U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest serving African-American member of Congress and a storied Detroit politician, will seek another two-year term in 2012, saying he's not ready to retire. While Conyers, 81, hasn't had a tough challenge for his seat that covers parts of Detroit and Downriver, the next election could prove more difficult because of his age and redistricting of Michigan's congressional seats that could further expand Conyers' district into the suburbs, experts say. If successful, Conyers would extend his tenure to nearly five decades and retain his title of the second-longest serving current member in the House of Representatives behind fellow Michiganian John Dingell, D-Dearborn. "It's understood that I'm going to be running again," Conyers told The Detroit News. "I mean I always have."

For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

CNN: This week's winter storm could be one for record books
Chicago was under a blizzard watch late Sunday as portions of the Midwest and Northeast braced for a major storm system that will bring bitter cold and a "long duration" of snow, according to forecasters. Some of the coldest air of the season will plummet southward and combine with another storm developing over the southern Plains, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. An intense surface low will develop over north Texas and pull abundant warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into the frigid Arctic air diving southward into the Plains. The result: blizzard conditions, heavy snow, ice storms and tornadoes.

USA Today: Guidelines urge Americans to clean up their diets
Many Americans' diets are a train wreck loaded with junk food, fast food, sugary beverages and too few healthful foods. So it's no surprise that the federal government's new dietary guidelines, being released today, recommend people get back on track and eat healthier by slashing sugar, salt and solid fats such as butter and stick margarine from their diets and eating more seafood, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, are designed to help people reach a healthy weight and reduce their risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: Egypt's Mubarak opens door to talks with rival political parties
After 30 years of mostly unchallenged rule, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak opened the door Sunday to talks with rival political parties while calling out those who, he claimed, used religion to "spread fear" through rampant hooliganism. According to a transcript of his comments to leaders of his new government read on state-run Nile TV, Mubarak acknowledged what he called "peaceful demonstrations" as well as grievances about the economy. Thousands of protesters have hit the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and beyond calling for the president's ouster as well as substantial reforms. "The current stage requires us to reorganize the country's priorities in a way that acknowledges the legitimate demands of the people," he said.

CNN: Egypt's protesters defy curfew, surround opposition Figure
The U.S. plans to begin flying thousands of Americans out of the country on Monday, a day after the government's call for protesters to obey a curfew, plus low-flying fighter jets overhead did nothing to deter thousands of Egyptians from continuing their protests into Sunday night. Crowds surrounded Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, as he walked into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday. Throngs of people cheered his arrival. Sunday's protests appeared to be mostly peaceful, with signs of increasing cooperation between the army and civilians in the face of looting and threats of violence from criminal elements.

CNN: Food staples starting to run out in Egypt
While discontent, resentment and nationalism continue to fuel demonstrations, one vital staple is in short supply: food. Many families in Egypt are fast running out of staples such as bread, beans and rice and are often unable or unwilling to shop for groceries. "Everything is running out. I have three children, and I only have enough to feed them for maybe two more days. After that I do not know what we will do." school administrator Gamalat Gadalla told CNN. The unrest has paralyzed daily life in Egypt with many grocers closing shop and spotty food shipments.

CNN: Clinton vows to pressure Haiti on election, but not cut off aid
On her way to Haiti, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the United States wouldn't cut aid to the economically and politically unsettled Caribbean nation - despite major concerns about its recent and upcoming presidential elections. Clinton said she planned to keep up pressure on the Port-au-Prince government, headed by President Rene Preval, to honor recommendations from the Organization of American States related to who is on the ballot for its pivotal upcoming presidential runoff. Still, she said that any political differences would not affect U.S. support for Haiti, an already impoverished country before a devastating earthquake last year followed months later by a deadly cholera outbreak. More than 200,000 people have been sickened and 4,030 have died as of January 24, according to the latest report posted by the ministry.

CNN: Parliament opens in Myanmar after 20 year lapse
Myanmar convened its first parliament in more than two decades on Monday in the capital, Naypitaw. Members are expected to vote for chairman and vice chairman during the session. Parliament began a day after opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy launched its first official website. "A good communication system is essential to our endeavour to set up a people's network for democracy that will span the whole world," Suu Kyi said in a message on the site, which went live Sunday.

For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Corporate Profits Surge
With about 50% of companies already reporting, fourth-quarter profits for the biggest U.S. corporations have been exceptionally strong and 2010 is poised to deliver the third-best full-year gain since 1998—with sharp advances in the telecommunications and energy sectors and a rebound in financial services. Excluding financial companies, whose losses in 2009 skewed results, weighted earnings for the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index are up 17% on an as-reported basis for companies representing 54% of the group's market value. Unlike the initial period of the recovery, when cost cutting strongly boosted profits, the results suggest a solid pickup in spending by businesses and consumers. Sales for the group rose about 9% from a year ago, according to S&P. Job cuts continue to be critical under tight expense controls.

In Case You Missed It

Sen. John McCain tells CNN, "We need to be on the right side of history... an assisting but insisting partner."

CNN's Michael Holmes profiles Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and some of the events that continue to shape his presidency.

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