- - Thursday, October 20, 2011

SENATE

Pentagon, Justice reject GOP move on terrorism

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. are opposing a Senate Republican effort that would prohibit the United States from prosecuting terrorism suspects in federal court.

Mr. Panetta and Mr. Holder sent a letter to Senate leaders saying the measure would deprive them of a potent weapon in the fight against terrorism and increase the risk of terrorists escaping justice and putting innocent lives in danger.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has offered an amendment to a spending bill for the Justice Department and several other Cabinet agencies. Her amendment would prohibit the use of funds for trying enemy combatants in federal courts.

It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the amendment. Lawmakers hope to complete the bill by week’s end.

HOUSE

California congressman won’t seek re-election

Five-term Rep. Dennis A. Cardoza, California Democrat, says he won’t seek re-election next year, and he’s blasting what he calls “the increasingly harsh tone in American politics.”

Mr. Cardoza is the 13th Democrat in the House to announce retirement plans, though many of them are running for the Senate or governor in 2012.

Seven House Republicans have announced they will step down.

Mr. Cardoza, representing the agriculturally rich area around Merced, says he has no immediate plans to run for another office.

Mr. Cardoza has been active in the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats. In a written statement announcing his retirement plans, he said he was dismayed by the Obama administration’s failure to understand and address the current housing-foreclosure crisis.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama awarding civilian honor to 13 recipients

President Obama is bestowing the nation’s second-highest civilian honor on 13 people for their exemplary service, including helping the needy, fighting illiteracy and supporting veterans, service members and their families.

One woman was chosen to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously for speaking out against domestic abuse.

Other honorees are being recognized at a White House ceremony Thursday for their efforts helping victims of conflict and mass violence, teaching women self-defense techniques, and replacing the violence in children’s lives with music.

President Richard M. Nixon created the honor in 1969 as a way to recognize exemplary service by a citizen.

NEVADA

Governor sees compromise for upcoming caucus date

LAS VEGAS | Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is working on a compromise deal with national Republican leaders over the state’s mid-January caucus date.

Several Republican presidential candidates and the state of New Hampshire are furious over Nevada having scheduled its contest for Jan. 14. They argue that would wedge New Hampshire’s primary too close to Nevada’s voting and Iowa’s caucuses, which are slated for Jan. 3.

Party leaders in Nevada are considering changing the date.

Mr. Sandoval told reporters in Nevada on Thursday that he hopes GOP leaders can find a solution that will equally benefit Nevada, the candidates and the Republican Party.

New Hampshire officials have said they will hold the nation’s first primary in December if Nevada doesn’t delay its contest.

HOUSE

Lawmaker urges hearings regarding college sports

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee wants hearings on antitrust and other issues surrounding college sports, including the recent series of conference realignments.

Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. told the committee chairman, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, that recent developments in college sports have reached a “tipping point” that justifies congressional review.

Several major colleges have switched conferences, raising new questions about the role of money in college sports.

Mr. Conyers also wants to look into other issues. They include due process for athletes, the NCAA’s use of athletes’ images in video games without compensation, limitations of athletic scholarships, and the costs to players for injuries sustained during games.

Mr. Smith’s office did not immediately return an email seeking comment on Mr. Conyers’ letter.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Biden says nation needs stronger GOP

PLYMOUTH | Vice President Joseph R. Biden says the nation needs a stronger Republican Party.

The Delaware Democrat says that an apparent identity crisis within the GOP, fueled by tea party pressure, is complicating efforts to pass critical legislation.

Mr. Biden visited New Hampshire on Thursday in part to push President Obama’s jobs bill, which has stalled in Congress.

Speaking to students at Plymouth State University, the vice president warns that kindergarten classes and public safety are at risk unless Mr. Obama’s jobs bill becomes law.

The proposal would cut payroll taxes and send billions of dollars to local schools, state governments and infrastructure projects. It depends on a new tax on millionaires.

Mr. Biden says that making deals with Republican lawmakers is more difficult because of disagreement within the GOP.

PENNSYLVANIA

Governor signs Harrisburg takeover bill

HARRISBURG | Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed a new law Thursday giving him unprecedented power to force Pennsylvania’s capital into a state-sanctioned financial-recovery plan.

The bill opens the door to what observers say is the most aggressive intervention by the state government into the affairs of a Pennsylvania municipality.

It lets Mr. Corbett order a financially troubled city to obey financial plans drawn up by his appointees, including a receiver who would have the power to sell city assets, approve contracts and file for federal bankruptcy protection, but not raise taxes.

The Republican signed the legislation less than a day after the House voted, without debate and by a large margin, to approve the plan to deal with Harrisburg’s staggering debt, brought on by $300 million in debt largely tied to the city’s trash incinerator.

The debt dwarfs Harrisburg’s $55 million annual operating budget, while the incinerator does not generate enough of a profit to pay off the debt.

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