Political Scene

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What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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SENATE

Snowe, Brown back regulation overhaul

Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Scott Brown pushed sweeping financial legislation to the edge of final passage Monday, both announcing that they intend to support the regulatory overhaul despite initial misgivings.

Mrs. Snowe of Maine and Mr. Brown of Massachusetts joined Susan Collins of Maine as three crucial Republican votes for the legislation.

“While not perfect, the legislation takes necessary steps to implement meaningful regulatory reforms, create strong consumer protections and restore confidence in the American financial system,” Mrs. Snowe said in a statement Monday evening.

In breaking with the rest of the Republican Party, the three lawmakers appeared to give Democratic leaders the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles facing the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, hopes to finish the bill by the end of the week, spokesman Jim Manley said late Monday.

NASA

White House denies order for outreach

The White House is contradicting the NASA administrator’s claim that President Obama assigned him to reach out to Muslims on science matters.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently told Al Jazeera network that one of the charges Mr. Obama gave him was “to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering.”

Some conservative activists criticized the remarks.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that such activities are not among Mr. Bolden’s assigned tasks. He said administration officials have spoken with NASA about the matter.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Unlikely candidate to make first speech

COLUMBIA | U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene is making his first public speaking appearance in South Carolina since his unexpected Democratic nomination a month ago.

Mr. Greene said Monday that he was invited by a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to speak at the group’s monthly meeting Sunday in his hometown of Manning in the central part of the state.

Mr. Greene won unexpectedly by defeating a former state lawmaker in the June 8 primary. Mr. Greene will face Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican.

State police last week cleared Mr. Greene of wrongdoing related to his campaign finances. Some had questioned how the unemployed veteran paid a $10,440 candidate filing fee.

BANKING

FDIC gains full inquiry authority

Federal bank regulators have agreed to give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. unlimited authority to fully investigate banks, clarifying the agency’s power that was in question during the financial crisis.

The FDIC’s board on Monday approved the agreement between the insurance agency and regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. It clearly spells out the FDIC’s authority to make special examinations of banks. It was approved by a vote of 5-0.

Federal bank regulators were widely criticized during the financial crisis for failing to signal high-risk practices before the institutions failed.

The FDIC, which takes over failed banks, has said it lacked access to needed information to evaluate banks’ risk.

SUPREME COURT

Sotomayor writing her life story

NEW YORK | The newest Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, is writing a memoir.

Ms. Sotomayor is working with a collaborator on her life story, from her childhood in the South Bronx to her appointment to the court last year.

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group said Monday that the book has not been titled and has no release date set.

The book will come out simultaneously in English and in Spanish.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Senators urge probe of Lockerbie bomber

TRENTON, N.J. | Their own request denied, four U.S. senators are pressuring the State Department to push Britain to investigate the circumstances of last year’s release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie airliner bombing.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in September after doctors said the cancer-stricken man had only three months to live. However, a doctor now says al-Megrahi could live for another decade.

Al-Megrahi had served eight years of a life sentence for the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew from London to New York. The bombing killed 270 people, most of them American.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer of New York and Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey requested the investigation in a July 7 letter to the British ambassador to the U.S.

In his response to the senators, Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald said due process was followed.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley could not say whether Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received the letter from the senators seeking the investigation but that the U.S. continues to watch the situation with al-Megrahi closely.

WHITE HOUSE

No public comment on Reid’s remark

The White House isn’t saying anything, at least publicly, about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s criticism that President Obama isn’t forceful enough in dealing with Republicans.

Last week, shortly after Mr. Obama appeared at a fundraiser for the Nevada Democrat, Mr. Reid appeared on a Las Vegas TV program and remarked that Mr. Obama at times should have been more firm with Republicans.

On Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that he had nothing to say about Mr. Reid’s remarks.

In the TV interview, Mr. Reid called Mr. Obama “a person who doesn’t like confrontation” and “a peacemaker.” But Mr. Reid added that at times Mr. Obama needed to be “a little more forceful.” One issue he cited in particular was health care.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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