- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

CONGRESS

Skeptics speak out against carbon cap

A bipartisan group of coal- and oil-state lawmakers said Wednesday they would vote against any climate-protection plan that results in a massive loss of jobs, though it was unclear if there are enough of them to stop President Obama’s cap-and-trade greenhouse-gas proposal from becoming law.

Rep. Gene Green, Texas Democrat, told a panel of economists that any sort of carbon-reduction proposal that fails to protect American jobs will find little support in the House.

“I can’t vote for it,” said Mr. Green, who represents an oil-producing district in Houston.

“What happens to these coal miner jobs?” asked Illinois Republican John Shimkus, as he held up a large, black-and-white picture of blue-collar workers.

“I challenge the Democrats to move this bill, because we will defeat them at the polls,” Mr. Shimkus said during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on energy and environment.

PENTAGON

Missile shield under microscope

A plan to expand a U.S. ballistic-missile shield into Eastern Europe is being scrutinized as part of a 2010 budget request to be sent to Congress next month, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer told Congress on Wednesday.

“I can tell you that issue is under intense review,” Robert Hale, the Defense Department’s comptroller, told the House Budget Committee.

In addition, he said, “nothing is off the table” as a candidate for cuts or cancellation among major arms programs in the spending plan for fiscal 2010, which starts Oct. 1. “But no final decisions have been made.”

CDC

Teen birthrate goes up again

The U.S. teen birthrate rose for a second straight year in 2007 after a long decline, and more babies were born than even at the peak of the baby boom after World War II, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

A record 39.7 percent of babies in 2007 were born to unmarried women, including 71.6 percent of black babies and 51.3 percent of Hispanic babies, the report found.

The birthrate for teenage girls rose 5 percent between 2005 and 2007, according to the report.

The previously reported increase in 2006 ended 14 straight years of declines. The rate rose again in 2007 by 1 percent over the prior year to 42.5 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.

POLITICS

Obama appeals for help in video

In a new Web video, President Obama is asking Americans to help him pass his $3.6 trillion budget.

“I’m asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future,” he said in the video.

Mr. Obama said his budget will “lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity” by investing in health care, education and renewable energy. The spending plan projects a federal deficit of $1.75 trillion this year, by far the largest in history. But Mr. Obama says he can get it down to $533 billion by 2013.

The four-minute video was sent in an e-mail by David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s former campaign manager. Mr. Plouffe is an adviser for Organizing for America, whose almost 14 million-person e-mail list is drawn from voters who supported Mr. Obama last November.

PENTAGON

Gates aims to curb extended service

The Army this summer will start cutting back on the use of the unpopular practice of holding troops beyond their enlistment dates and hopes to almost eliminate it in two years.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said, though, that it may never be possible to completely get rid of the policy called “stop-loss,” under which some 13,000 soldiers whose enlistments are already up are being forced to continue serving.

“I believe that when somebody’s end date of service comes, to hold them against their will, if you will, is just not the right thing to do,” he said, noting that officials will still retain the legal power to involuntarily extend soldiers’ service if needed.

COMMERCE

Locke to rely on Census Bureau

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke told senators considering his nomination for commerce secretary Wednesday that he would closely oversee the 2010 census and run the enumeration from the department’s Census Bureau.

Some GOP lawmakers have been critical of Obama administration comments indicating that the White House might seek greater control over the census.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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