President Obama has signed into law a bill granting lifetime Secret Service protection to former presidents and their wives.
The measure Mr. Obama signed Thursday applies to presidents elected after Jan. 1, 1997, specifically Mr. Obama and former President George W. Bush. It reverses a 1994 law that ended Secret Service protection 10 years after a president leaves office. Under that law, the Homeland Security secretary could extend such protection on a temporary basis.
A sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, says increased terrorist threats and the greater mobility and youth of former presidents made the change necessary.
The new law also authorizes Secret Service protection for the children of former presidents until they turn 16.
The bill is H.R. 6620.
Perry calls out Cuomo for having state envy
AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry concedes he can’t get the nation’s 49 other governors “to admit they’d want to be Texans.”
But he says many would love to create as many jobs as his state does — including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Addressing an annual policy orientation in Austin on Thursday, Mr. Perry referenced Mr. Cuomo’s support for gun control and said his New York counterpart probably wouldn’t want to move to Texas.
Mr. Perry added, though, that in a candid moment, Mr. Cuomo likely envies Texas’ growing economy. Mr. Perry said: “He’d dearly love to be able to stand up and say, ‘We did this in New York,’ but he can’t.”
Mr. Perry also said that some on the East Coast believe “people in the west are different than them and they’re right. And that’s OK.”
Federal judge lets roundup of wild horses go ahead
RENO — The Bureau of Land Management can resume its roundup of dozens of wild mustangs in northern Nevada, but wranglers must limit their use of electric cattle prods and take other steps to ensure the animals are treated humanely, a federal judge said Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du’s formal order lifted an injunction she issued last week blocking the roundup of 50 horses near the Idaho-Nevada line.
Although disappointed that the roundup was set to resume Friday, horse-protection advocates were pleased that Judge Du’s order outlined specific conduct for the BLM.
“The judge has begun what the BLM has failed to do, and that is to establish humane standards for roundups,” said Deniz Bolbol, spokeswoman for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
Obama supporters to ponder ways to support his agenda
President Obama’s supporters plan to gather during the weekend of his inauguration to discuss the future of his campaign operation — and how it could support his second-term agenda.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says in an email to supporters that volunteers and staff will hold an “Obama Campaign Legacy Conference” in Washington that will talk about the structure and leadership of his campaign operation going forward.
Mr. Obama has called 2012 his last campaign. But his aides hope to use his campaign structure to promote his legislative agenda on issues like immigration reform, climate change and gun violence.
Mr. Messina says the campaign operation is “an advantage that no previous president has enjoyed and one that has the potential to reshape our politics for years to come.”
Quinn: Pension problems most important of issues
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn singled out Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension problem as the most important issue of his governorship. Then he has watched deadline after self-imposed deadline evaporate with almost no progress.
The Chicago Democrat suffered perhaps the worst fallout from this week’s lame-duck session which ended with no action on the $96 billion problem. That includes his last-ditch plan for a pension commission that wasn’t called for a vote.
Now he must recover from the failure of not meeting his latest deadline while pensions remain on his plate and as Republicans angle for the 2014 governor’s race. And there are rumblings of a Democratic primary.
Mr. Quinn appeared to shrug it off.
He says deadlines are necessary but it’s the long distance run that matters.
Santorum calls Hagel unqualified for Cabinet post
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is launching an effort to defeat the nomination of Chuck Hagel to head the Defense Department.
Mr. Santorum is a former Senate colleague of Mr. Hagel’s and a fellow Republican. He says in a statement that Mr. Hagel’s “anti-Israel, pro-Iran mindset” makes him unqualified for the Pentagon job.
President Obama nominated Hagel on Monday, but he has faced strong opposition from Senate Republicans.
Mr. Santorum recently led a successful fight to defeat a U.N. treaty on the disabled, convincing several Senate Republicans to oppose ratification.
Supporters of Mr. Hagel’s nomination are also lobbying on his behalf. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell will appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday to argue for the nominee.
Governor’s ex-aide fined but avoids prison time
MILWAUKEE — A former aide to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker has been sentenced to a year of probation after she was convicted of doing campaign work on county time.
Darlene J. Wink was also ordered Thursday to pay a fine and courts costs of $2,000. She pleaded guilty last year to two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee.
Ms. Wink worked for Mr. Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive.
She faced up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Prosecutors, however, agreed not to recommend prison because the 62-year-old had a clean record and she cooperated with the prosecution of other cases.
Before sentencing, Ms. Wink offered a tearful apology and said she recognizes what she did was wrong.
Mr. Walker has not been charged with wrongdoing.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports