- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

Mrs. Obama calls Bo ‘a crazy dog’

First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday offered insight into the new family dog’s behavior while celebrating Bring Your Child to Work Day with the children of 100 administration staffers and the vice president’s grandchildren.

The first lady told the children that Bo had awakened the family Wednesday night with his barking and jumping around, but excused the behavior because he’s “still a puppy.”

“He is a crazy dog. He loves to chew on people’s feet,” she said.

Mrs. Obama thanked the staffers for their hard work during the president’s first 100 days, saying she appreciates their sacrifice and knows “they take a lot of time away from home.”

Mrs. Obama said she sometimes escapes the White House for a secret burger at a Five Guys restaurant. “Every now and then I have this thing that I like to do with some of my staff members, and we sneak out, without telling anybody, and we go and test out all the fun places to eat in D.C.,” she said.

WHITE HOUSE

News conference to mark 100 days

President Obama will hold his third prime-time televised news conference Wednesday to mark his first 100 days in the White House.

“Next Wednesday evening at 8 o’clock, the president will hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The scheduling of the news conference appeared to be a bid by the White House to mold news coverage of the symbolic milestone, despite dismissing it as a “Hallmark” holiday, in a reference to events that greeting card companies supposedly promote to make profits.

“I think the president believes … I actually think a huge majority of the American people believe that the day is not a ton different than the 99th, the 101st or the 123rd,” Mr. Gibbs said.

“It’s an arbitrary day in which presidents are measured. We get that. We’re playing along.”

NOMINATION

Sebelius vetoes bill on abortions

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill Thursday that would have rewritten the state’s restrictions on late-term abortions, questioning whether it was constitutional and suggesting it would cause “intimidation” of doctors.

Pro-life groups backed the bill and were watching Mrs. Sebelius’ action closely as she awaits U.S. Senate confirmation as federal health and human services secretary. Abortion opponents have been the most vocal critics of her appointment by President Obama. A vote is expected Tuesday.

Mrs. Sebelius’ veto came as pro-life and other conservative groups have stepped up their pressure on senators to reject her nomination.

Before the veto, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele issued a statement saying “significant questions” remained about Mrs. Sebelius’ stance on late-term abortions. “The Senate should not vote, nor should Gov. Sebelius be confirmed, until these questions are answered fully and completely,” Mr. Steele said.

SUPREME COURT

Thomas explains 2006 absence

Justice Clarence Thomas’ vote was not seriously in doubt when the Supreme Court took up the constitutionality of a ban on an abortion procedure in 2006. But Justice Thomas did not attend the arguments on the issue and, other than a brief announcement that he was sick, his absence has not been explained until now.

Justice Thomas said Thursday that his chair was empty that day in November 2006 because he took a spill the night before.

“I had the wonderful opportunity to fall on my face one night and was not able to make oral argument the following day as a result of it,” he said at a hearing of a House appropriations subcommittee on the court’s budget for the next year.

Justice Thomas didn’t identify the arguments he missed, but court officials said later he was referring to the abortion case. Justice Thomas voted to uphold the federal ban.

The accident came up Thursday as part of an account about how well the court’s Web site works and a plea for an extra $800,000 for the site.

Since October 2006, the court has been making argument transcripts available the same day a case is argued.

“In order to stay up to speed on the case and what occurred at oral argument, I simply went to our Web site later that day and it was there,” Justice Thomas said.

LEGISLATION

House OKs cash for 50,000 police

The House approved money Thursday to help local police departments hire and retain 50,000 officers over the next five years, expanding a Clinton-era community policing program that struggled to survive under the Bush administration.

The House legislation authorizes spending of $1.8 billion a year over the next five years for the Community Oriented Policing Services grant program, signed into law in 1994 in a drive by President Clinton to put 100,000 new police officers on the streets of the nation’s towns and cities.

The measure, which now goes to the Senate, is the second thrust this year by President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress to revive what is known as the COPS program.

The economic stimulus package Mr. Obama signed into law in February included $1 billion for COPS.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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