Top aide for panel has Solyndra ties
Gary Andres, staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was a vice chairman at Dutko Worldwide until December, when he was appointed to his current post by GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the energy panel. The committee is investigating Solyndra, which received a $528 million Energy Department loan in 2009. The company later went bankrupt and laid off 1,100 workers.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday that Solyndra paid Dutko $30,000 in 2008 to handle its application for the federal loan. Alexa Marrero, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Mr. Andres never worked on behalf of Solyndra.
Texas asks justices to stop redistricting
The Supreme Court has been asked to stop a federal court from implementing a congressional redistricting map in Texas that increases the number of minority-majority districts.
The state’s attorney general, Greg Abbott, filed the request with the high court on Monday. The court-drawn map was drafted after minority groups challenged the original plan passed by the Republican-dominated state Legislature.
The map drawn by the San Antonio-based federal court would ensure minorities made up the majority in three additional Texas congressional districts. If the 2012 elections were held under the court’s map, Democrats would have an advantage as they try to win back the U.S. House and try to claim more seats in the GOP-controlled state Legislature.
The court-ordered map will remain in place until the legal disputes are resolved.
Democrats to back Obama payroll tax cut
Senate Democrats are advancing President Obama’s plan to cut every worker’s payroll taxes in half next year paid for by a 3.25 percent tax surcharge on the very wealthy.
The $248 billion plan would cut Social Security payroll taxes from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent in hopes of propping up the still-weak economy. It would also cut the portion of the tax paid by employers on the first $5 million of their payroll.