Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) announced that he was stepping aside from his post as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Saying the American people and the American economy could not afford to wait another decade or more to pass a meaningful overhaul of the health care system, President Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to "finish its work" and get a bill to his desk, NBC's Athena Jones reports. and

Later this afternoon, President Obama hosts a reception at the White House thanking members of Congress for their efforts to pass pay-as-go (PAYGO) legislation -- something congressional Blue Dogs have championed. And as we mentioned earlier this morning, don't be surprised if the president tries to twist some arms on health care.

New York Rep. Eric Massa is not running for re-election. He cited a reoccurrence of cancer as the reason. He also denied allegations of sexual harassment of a male staffer. "Do I use salty language?" he said. "Yes." Massa's retirement gives Republicans yet another House target. He is 16th Democrat not running for re-election to their House seat this cycle.

There is now more clarity on how Congressional Democrats plan to use reconciliation (recon) to push the comprehensive health care bill across the finish line. There are three steps, NBC's Ken Strickland reports: The House must pass the Senate's version of the bill; the House must pass a reconciliation bill that makes "fixes" and any other ideas from the president's proposal; and the Senate must pass the same reconciliation bill as the House.

Democratic senators announced they plan to offer legislation to prevent Recovery Act funds from going to a create jobs outside of the U.S. -- namely in China.

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, National Security Advisor James Jones, and House and Senate leaders and members gathered at the Capitol to remember the late Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) who died Feb. 8 at the age of 77, NBC's Kelly Paice reports. Biden opened his remarks with, "To the Murtha clan, your dad was one hell of a guy."

Earlier today in First Thoughts, we noted the role that process has played in the health-care debate -- and how the GOP has been able to use it as a weapon. But in her piece on the health debate in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, journalist Elizabeth Drew criticizes the media's role in amplifying the process over the substance.

These haven't been the best of times for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Despite the bad news, the DSCC has enjoyed a pretty good last couple of weeks. First, about two weeks ago, Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) entered the race to replace Bayh, giving Dems a solid chance at holding on to that seat. Then, on Monday night, Harold Ford Jr. opted not to challenge New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a Democratic primary. And last night, wealthy publisher Mort Zuckerman said he wouldn't take on Gillibrand, either -- which likely means November will be a cakewalk for her.

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

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