By Tracy Bloom
Senate Settles: Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement to avert the “nuclear option” that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to use if conservatives continued to block seven of President Obama’s nominations. Under the agreement, Obama will have to replace two of his picks for the National Labor Relations Board—recess-appointed Sharon Block and Richard Griffin—with Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa, both labor lawyers. In exchange, Republicans will not filibuster President Obama’s other executive nominations. Among that group is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director nominee Richard Cordray, whose long-stalled nomination finally moved forward in the Senate on Tuesday by a 71-29 vote. (Read more)
Confirmation Coup: The Senate’s move on Cordray was an especially big victory for Elizabeth Warren, who had long battled Republicans over his nomination to head the bureau she helped to create. The Massachusetts senator applauded the progress, writing in a statement after the vote: “With Director Cordray’s confirmation, we will be able to say loudly, clearly, and with confidence: the consumer agency is the law of the land and is here to stay. We fought hard for the agency, and we proved that big change is still possible in Washington. Now we have the watchdog that the American people deserve—a watchdog looking out for middle class families, getting rid of tricks, traps, and fine print, and holding financial institutions accountable when they break the law.” (Read more)
Grounds for Dismissal: Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech to the NAACP on Tuesday in which he strongly criticized “Stand Your Ground” laws, saying they allow “violent situations to escalate” and “undermine public safety.” One such law figured prominently in George Zimmerman’s trial, which ended Saturday with his acquittal in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Although Zimmerman didn’t cite the law in his defense, police officers in Sanford, Fla., said they didn’t arrest him immediately after the shooting because of it, and the measure was included in instructions given to jurors in the case. “These laws try to fix something that was never broken,” Holder said. “The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.” The Justice Department is investigating whether to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. (Read more)
Offspring Into Action: Liz Cheney, daughter of ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, tossed her hat into the Wyoming Senate race Tuesday, announcing her intention to “primary” Republican Sen. Mike Enzi next year. “I am running for the United States Senate because I believe deeply in the values that have made our state and our nation great. I’m running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate,” the Fox News commentator said. Cheney’s campaign, however, is already being met with resistance. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has declared that it will back Enzi in the GOP primary. And even before her announcement, an editorial in the state’s Cody Enterprise newspaper urged Cheney, who only recently moved back to Wyoming, not to run. (Read more)
Olympics-Sized Threat: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is urging President Obama to consider a U.S. boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if the country grants NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden asylum. Snowden, who has been charged with espionage by the U.S. for leaking top-secret documents about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program to the press, officially requested temporary asylum from Russia on Tuesday. Graham is the first U.S. senator to suggest boycotting the next Olympic Games. “It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous,” he told the publication The Hill. “We certainly haven’t reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States.” (Read more)
Video of the Day: Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill appeared on “The Colbert Report” on Monday night to discuss the U.S. policy on unmanned drone strikes. At one point, Scahill made Stephen Colbert pause for a moment by suggesting the host himself may not be exempt from such targeting.