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Interior Dept. Changes Rule to Remove Congress Veto

In another regulatory action in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Interior Department on Thursday unveiled a new rule that challenges Congress’s authority to prevent mining planned on public lands.

Congress has emergency power to stop mineral development, and has used it six times in the last 32 years. The most recent was in June, when it put a three-year moratorium on uranium mining on one million acres near the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has ignored that Congressional directive, saying it was procedurally flawed.

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Lieberman Contributed to GOP Senate, House Candidates

When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.

But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley's opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith's reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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Franken camp finds 6,400 uncounted absentee ballots

With the recount in the razor-thin Minnesota U.S. Senate race continuing into its second week, Democratic candidate Al Franken's campaign says it has uncovered 6,400 rejected absentee ballots and will ask a state board to count at least some of those votes.

Franken's campaign also says several dozen ballots have gone missing. 

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Pelosi Announces New Majority Leadership Team

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today the new Majority Leadership team for the 111th Congress, elected today by members of the Democratic Caucus:

  • Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi of California
  • Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer of Maryland
  • Majoriy Whip: James E. Clyburn of South Carolina
  • Democratic Caucus Chairman: John B. Larson of Connecticut
  • Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman: Xavier Becerra of California
  • Assistant to the Speaker and Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
Leadership will take office on the first day of the new Congress, January 6, 2009.
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Bush, Out of Office, Could Oppose Inquiries

“If the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the presidency is to have any validity at all, it must be equally applicable to a president after his term of office has expired,” Truman wrote to the committee.

Congress backed down, establishing a precedent suggesting that former presidents wield lingering powers to keep matters from their administration secret. Now, as Congressional Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration, they wonder whether that claim may be invoked again.

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Could Allegations Invalidate Senate Results?

Allegations have surfaced of voter irregularities involving a paid staffer of Sen. Norm Coleman, and the ramifications could have a profound effect on the outcome of Coleman's race against Al Franken.

A reporter for the Minnesota Independent, a progressive online publication, was working on a story about voter turnout when she overheard that Republican poll challengers monitoring voting at the precinct had brought in Mahamoud Wardere to help voters translate.

The Coleman campaign confirmed that Wardere is a paid member of their staff.

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E-Voting Machines Used in Disputed Franken, Coleman Race Failed Tests

Electronic voting machines that a Michigan election official said last week incorrectly tabulated vote counts during testing in the state were used in Minnesota where the senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken is in dispute.

According to an Oct. 24 letter sent to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Ruth Johnson, the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, warned that tabulating software in Election Systems & Software M-100 voting machines recorded “conflicting” vote counts during testing in her state.

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