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Inside Politics

- - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

SUPREME COURT

Justice Ginsburg slides to safety off airplane

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was forced to slide down an emergency chute to evacuate a flight at Washington Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, a court spokeswoman said.

Justice Ginsburg was on her way from Washington to San Francisco and was not injured, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe Estrada said.

A pilot noticed a problem with the engine on the United Airlines Flight 586 and ordered 179 passengers and six crew members to exit, airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said.

United spokesman Mike Trevino said one person was injured but he didn't have other details.

Justice Ginsburg, at 78 the high court's oldest justice, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009.

She underwent surgery and chemotherapy and was hospitalized on two other occasions last year but is maintaining an active travel schedule that is taking her across the country at least twice this summer.

SENATE

Partial shutdown possible once again for FAA

A procedural snarl and a single senator's objections could force another partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said Wednesday that Senate rules don't allow lawmakers to drop their current consideration of a disaster aid bill and shift to a stopgap funding measure for FAA and highway programs without the consent of all lawmakers.

But Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, is refusing to give his consent. Mr. Coburn wants to change the stopgap bill that passed the House on Tuesday by eliminating highway program spending on bike paths, beautification projects and other so-called transportation enhancements.

Republicans say the Senate could have passed the transportation bill in time if Mr. Reid hadn't brought up the disaster bill first.

An FAA shutdown could occur at midnight Friday.

CONGRESS

Liberals would raise Social Security tax

Liberals in Congress are proposing raising the payroll tax that funds Social Security, but only for people earning more than $250,000 a year.

The legislation is designed to keep the pension program solvent for the next 75 years, which is the standard used by government actuaries. The plan would put an additional $6.5 trillion into the Social Security Trust Fund over that period.

It also is intended to head off other efforts to overhaul Social Security or trim benefits, or to use its funds to help pay for debt reduction.

But with Republicans opposing tax increases, the measure seems to have little chance of passing. Still it does give liberals a chance to show their support for Social Security at a time when it seems under attack.

WHITE HOUSE

Black Caucus conference to feature Obama speech

The White House says President Obama plans to attend a Sept. 24 awards dinner at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual legislative conference.

The awards dinner will honor Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat; and former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, among others.

The speech adds to the list of appearances before black and Hispanic groups by the president. In July, he spoke at the National Council of La Raza conference, and he was to attend the Congressional Hispanic Caucus gala Wednesday night in Washington.

HOUSE

GOP lawmakers oppose $500 billion in new borrowing

The Republican-controlled House has weighed in against raising the government's borrowing limit by $500 billion, but the vote was really just a political show.

Legislation that President Obama signed last month raised the debt limit by $400 billion immediately. A second increase, this time by $500 billion, was to take effect this month unless both the House and Senate voted to block it.

Last week, senators defeated efforts to stop the $500 billion increase. So even though the House went on record Wednesday with a 232-186 vote against the second increase, the action had no real consequence.

Rep. Tom Reed, New York Republican, says the GOP still wanted to make the point that they're serious about the issue. Democrats said it was a waste of time.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama chooses adviser as Russian ambassador

President Obama has nominated his top Russia adviser as the next U.S. ambassador to that country. Michael McFaul helped the administration's work to "reset" the two countries' relationship.

Mr. McFaul is considered one of the nation's foremost specialists on U.S.-Russia relations and has become a trusted policy adviser as the president has sought to ease long-standing tensions with Russia. Among the recent moves to begin the relationship anew was the signing of the New START pact to reduce strategic warheads.

Mr. McFaul's nomination has been expected since May.

He was a campaign adviser to Mr. Obama on Russia and Eurasia before moving to the National Security Council to become the president's chief Russia adviser.