News June 10

Senator Sanders


Oil Prices As oil prices soared above $71 a barrel Wednesday to reach a 2009 high, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee adopted a measure that would require the 50 biggest traders of oil contracts to report any oil reserves they are storing offshore in tankers. Senator Bernie Sanders offered the amendment that he said is aimed at preventing traders from distorting supply records and artificially driving up prices, Reuters, Fox 44 and the Brattleboro Reformer reported. LINK, LINK and VIDEO


Swindlers and Cheats “It is important that Congress and the Obama administration…put in place tough regulations of the financial industry...Sen. Sanders must keep the heat on so that the swindlers and the cheats are not allowed to regain the upper hand,” a Rutland Herald editorial concluded. LINK


Coastal Drilling The energy committee voted to expand offshore drilling into the last remaining off-limits areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Byron Dorgan, who offered the amendment to lift restrictions, said more domestic energy production is needed. Four Democrats voted against it: Landrieu, who wanted revenue sharing; and Sens. Wyden, Cantwell and Menendez, who oppose expanding coastal drilling. Sen. Bernie Sanders also voted no, the Bureau of National Affairs reported.


Credit Cards “The new regulations are progress, but they don't go far enough….The new law says card companies can no longer raise your rate on existing balances if you pay within 60 days. But there's nothing to stop them from sending it to the moon on newly accrued debt. According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, one-third of cardholders pay interest rates of between 20 percent and 41 percent. Sanders' proposal to cap interest rates at 15 percent was defeated,” according to Money.


Health Care A House panel this morning will hold a public hearing on single-payer health care, according to a DailyKos blog that cited Sanders support. The lone single-payer supporter in the Senate, Sanders on Tuesday told DemocracyNow! and Politico that “insurance companies are the basic cause of the problem.”  A blogger for The Atlantic said Sanders told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” the Senate wouldn’t be open to a single-payer plan “in a million years.” LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK and VIDEO


Conyers and Sanders “There are only two members of Congress that I consider relatively untainted by their years in the American testosterone jungle, [Rep. John] Conyers [Jr.] and Sen. Bernard Sanders…It amazes me that these two people have been able to spend so many years in Washington and still be able to continue to fight for the same principles of justice that must have inspired them to pursue political careers,” Richard Davis wrote in a Brattleboro Reformer column. LINK



Detainee Brought to U.S. The Obama administration pressed ahead yesterday with its plans to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, flying a detainee to New York to face federal trial despite bipartisan opposition in Congress to bringing such prisoners to the United States for trial, resettlement or continued detention. Ahmed Ghailani was transferred to face capital charges in the 1998 East Africa bombings, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Swine Flu The World Health Organization is inching closer to raising the infectious disease alert level for the novel H1N1 influenza outbreak to its highest level, indicating that a pandemic has arrived, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Vermont Department Health reported 17 more cases of the swine flu, bringing to 31 the total number people have tested positive for the virus in Vermont, AP reported. LINK and LINK




Kennedy Health Plan Includes Long-Term Care Americans would be able to buy long-term care insurance from the government for $65 a month under a provision tucked into sweeping health care legislation that senators will begin considering next week. The 651-page bill, released Tuesday by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, would revamp the way health insurance works, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Financial Regulation Retreat The Obama administration is pulling back from some of its most ambitious ideas for overhauling the financial system, after determining that the consolidation of power under fewer federal agencies would face grave opposition by lawmakers and regulators, sources told The Washington Post. LINK


Large Banks Allowed to Exit U.S. Aid Program The Obama administration marked with little fanfare a major milestone in its bank rescue effort — its decision on Tuesday to let 10 big banks repay federal aid that had sustained them through the worst of the crisis — as policy makers and industry executives focused on the challenges still before them, according to The New York Times. “This is not a sign that our troubles are over,” President Obama said. “Far from it.” LINK

Salaries Safe, Bonuses Hit The Obama administration is dropping its plan to cap salaries at firms receiving government bailout money, leaving them subject to congressionally imposed limits on bonuses, according to The Wall Street Journal. LINK


Left, Right Press Obama on War Funds A bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has turned into a major legislative challenge on Capitol Hill, as members press President Obama from the left and the right on a number of fronts: the logistics of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the release of photos showing abuse of detainees and a proposed loan to the International Monetary Fund, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Fight Over Tobacco Law in Final Round After 11 years, three presidents and millions of dollars in lobbying by worried cigarette makers, Congress is poised to put the tobacco industry under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Red Ink President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying. But Obama does not have a realistic plan for eliminating the deficit, despite what his advisers have suggested, according to The New York Times. LINK


Chrysler Poised to Close Sale Late on Tuesday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the sale of the bulk of Chrysler’s assets to Fiat rejecting an appeal by a trio of Indiana pension and construction funds, consumer groups and others to block the transaction, according to The Associated Press. Chrysler released a statement late Tuesday saying it expects the sale to close "very shortly." LINK


Stimulus Sen. Bob Bennett voted against the $787 billion economic stimulus package but wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department seeking stimulus money for Utah, according to copies of the letters released to USA Today under the Freedom of Information Act. Dozens of members of Congress from both parties have called, written or e-mailed agencies urging them to fund projects, including $116 million for a federal courthouse in Austin; $35 million to $60 million for toxic waste cleanups in Massachusetts and Colorado. LINK and LINK




Stimulus Delays Economic recovery director Tom Evslin says he's disappointed that the Obama administration has been slow to establish rules for key broadband and energy grant projects. Vermont's congressional delegation is trying to break this regulatory logjam. They've written to federal regulators urging them to streamline the grant process, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK


Welch Backs Spending Bill U.S. Rep. Peter Welch says pay-as-you-go is the rule in Vermont state government, and it ought to be in Washington as well. Welch and a dozen other lawmakers were at the White House on Tuesday to join President Barack Obama in promoting legislation calling on the Congress to spend money only when it finds an equal amount to cut elsewhere, AP reported. LINK