In the very early hours this morning there was news from Capitol Hill that the bill of so-called "fixes" to the health care overhaul law will need to back to the House for another vote.
The Associated Press writes that:
"Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told reporters that Republicans consulting with the chamber's parliamentarian had found 'two minor provisions' that violate Congress' budget rules. The provisions deal with Pell grants for low-income students. ...
"The two provisions are expected to be formally removed from the bill on Thursday. Manley said he expected the Senate to approve the measure without them and send it to the House. He said Senate leaders, after conversations with top House Democrats, expect the House to approve the revised measure."
On Morning Edition, NPR's David Welna told guest host Linda Wertheimer that the re-do is happening because "everything in this 150-page corrections bill has to have a direct impact on the budget" and the provisions involving the Pell grants will have to be taken out. It is not unusual for legislation with such "fixes" to be sent back to the House for another vote, David added, and Democrats believe they have a "comfortable margin" that will mean passage in the House:
Health Care 'Fixes' Go Back To House; Dem Lawmakers Face Threats
Meanwhile, the other major story involving the new health care law concerns the threats and acts of vandalism aimed at Democratic lawmakers who supported the legislation. According to Politico:
"One Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Phil Hare of Illinois, said he knows several Democrats who have told their spouses to move out of the home districts while the lawmakers are in Washington. 'If this doesn't get under control in short time, heaven forbid, someone will get hurt,' Hare said."
The Washington Post has put online two of the threatening voicemail messages left for Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who voted "yes" on the legislation after President Barack Obama agreed to sign an executive order continuing the ban on federal funding of most abortions:
The president is due in Iowa City, Iowa, today to deliver an address about health care. It's supposed to begin at 2 p.m. ET and the White House will webcast it here.
Update at 8:23 a.m. ET. On CBS News' The Early Show, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said lawmakers are taking the threats seriously and that all politicians need to be "very careful" not to let their rhetoric "turn to incitement of violence":
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Other stories making headlines this morning include:
— The New York Times — "Social Security To See Payout Exceed Pay-In This Year": The Social Security system this year "will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office. ... Payments have risen more than expected during the downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. At the same time, the program's revenue has fallen sharply, because there are fewer paychecks to tax."
— The Washington Post — U.S. And Russia Reach Nuclear-Arms Deal; Most Important Pact In Decades: "The United States and Russia have reached a deal on their most extensive nuclear arms-control agreement in nearly two decades, the Kremlin announced Wednesday. The pact appeared to represent President Obama's first victory in his ambitious agenda to move toward a nuclear-free world. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would replace a 1991 pact that expired in December. Experts called the new agreement the most significant arms-control accord since the 1993 signing of START II, which the Russians never ratified."
From a related report by NPR's David Greene In Moscow — Two Leaders Must Still Sign Off: "Presidents Obama and Medvedev need to talk by phone and sign off, yet planning is already underway for the leaders to meet in person to sign the treaty," most likely in Prague next month.
— The Associated Press — No Accord, But Netanyahu Sees Progress In Reducing U.S.-Israel Tensions: "The U.S. and Israel failed to heal their deepest dispute in decades as a two-day visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended late Wednesday without resolving a rift over new Israeli housing planned in East Jerusalem. Before departing the U.S., Netanyahu said he thought some progress had been made in defusing what has become an unusually public spat between close allies. 'I think we have found the golden path between Israel's traditional policies and our desire to move forward toward peace,' the Israeli leader said as he boarded his plane for the trip back home."