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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
— The House is expected to vote today on a resolution authorizing force against Islamic State militants. The resolution explicitly says the House does not support U.S. forces taking an active role on the ground. (Washington Post) Iraqi politicians are still debating who should become the next ministers of defense and interior. On Tuesday, Parliament rejected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s two choices for the prominent positions. (Washington Post)
— Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said U.S. troops might need to become involved in ground operations against Islamic State militants by embedding with Iraqi or Kurdish troops. U.S. commanders have already sought permission to deploy military advisers alongside Iraqi troops; in August, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin wanted to send U.S. troops with Iraqis fighting for control of the Mosul dam, in order to call in airstrikes. (Washington Post)
— The Pentagon said Tuesday it will dispatch Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams to oversee and coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Williams will be based in Monrovia, Liberia, with a separate regional staging base in Senegal, which hasn’t been seriously impacted by the crisis. The White House notified Congress on Tuesday that the Pentagon would redirect $500 million in unobligated funds to support the mission; on top of a request to repurpose another $500 million, the Pentagon said it could spend up to $1 billion fighting the disease. (Washington Post)
— The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped dramatically, according to the National Health Interview Survey, the first formal measure of those covered by health insurance since HealthCare.gov launched last year. About 41 million people remain uninsured, an 8 percent decline since last year. The most significant declines came among 19-25 year olds. (New York Times)
— NASA has awarded contracts worth a total of $6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX to develop a new manned spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. The companies are aiming to perform a manned test flight to the space station by 2017. The U.S. has been paying Russia about $70 million a seat to transport American astronauts to space since retiring the shuttle program in 2011. (Los Angeles Times)
— A New York Times/CBS News survey shows President Obama’s approval rating heading into his second midterm election is almost as bad as George W. Bush’s was heading into the 2006 midterms. The poll shows voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle the economy, foreign policy and terrorism, and Republicans lead the generic Congressional ballot by 6 points. Democrats have only a one-point edge among women, and they’re losing suburban voters by 11 points. (New York Times) This is close to wipe-out territory for Democrats.
— Front Pages: WaPo, NYT, WSJ and LA Times all lead with Dempsey’s testimony on Tuesday. WaPo two-column lead: “Combat role is not off the table” for U.S. troops. WSJ: “General Opens Door to Ground Troops.” USA Today leads with the Pentagon-led fight against Ebola, with Dempsey at the fold.
— Kansas: The state Supreme Court on Tuesday sharply questioned an attorney representing Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) over whether Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) should remain on the Senate ballot. Kobach’s office submitted letters showing every candidate since 2006 who has dropped out of a race either declared they were incapable of serving or explained why they needed to withdraw. The letter Taylor wrote did not contain any reasons for his quitting the race. The court has to act quickly, because ballots must be mailed by Saturday. (Wichita Eagle)
— Illinois: A federal grand jury in Chicago has issued a subpoena seeking records of a 2010 anti-violence program spearheaded by Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) office. The $54.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative is already under investigation by a federal grand jury in Springfield, which has subpoenaed records and emails from Quinn’s former chief of staff. Republicans have criticized the anti-violence program as a slush fund aimed at ginning up Democratic turnout in 2010. It’s not clear if the two federal prosecutors are working together. (Chicago Tribune)
— Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he supports a proposal from Fairfax Delegate Thomas Rust (R) to use federal funds to expand health care coverage for the uninsured through private insurance purchased through employer group plans, Medicaid managed-care policies or the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace. The legislature meets Thursday for a special session to consider Medicaid expansion. House Speaker William Howell (R) said he still does not support accepting the $26 billion available to Virginia to expand coverage. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
— Nevada: Success has a thousand fathers: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday claimed credit for helping bring a lithium battery factory run by Tesla to Northern Nevada, after Congress passed a 2007 energy bill that gave the electric car manufacturer a $465 million loan guarantee to build their first plant in California. Reid gave credit to Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who led negotiations with the company. Sandoval asked Reid to call the company during those negotiations. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
— President Obama wakes up in Tampa this morning, where he’ll visit U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base for briefings on the Islamic State. Obama will tour the Joint Operations Center and address troops. This afternoon, Obama heads back to D.C., and this evening he hosts a picnic for members of Congress at the White House.
— Vice President Biden heads to Des Moines today to help kick off a voter registration drive led by Nuns on the Bus. Biden will make remarks at the Iowa Capitol. We’re guessing it’s not the last time Biden will travel to Des Moines in the next few years.
— The House meets at 10 a.m., with legislative business beginning at noon. They are expected to complete consideration of House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon’s (R-Calif.) amendment authorizing the use of force against Islamic State militants. Once that passes, the House is expected to easily pass the continuing resolution that will keep the government funded.
— The House Select Committee on Benghazi holds its first public hearing today, four months after it was created. The panel will use today’s hearing to discuss steps the Obama administration has taken to improve security at U.S. embassies in the two years since the attack took place. The State Department’s chief of diplomatic security is expected to testify. (Associated Press)
— The Senate meets at 10 a.m. for morning business, followed by action on a handful of nominations. Leaders expect a roll call vote on the nomination of John Bass to become the next U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, and voice votes confirming ambassadors to Zambia and Namibia, a U.N. official, an Assistant Secretary of the Army, an Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Authority and the Chief Financial Officer of HUD.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who’s advertising, and where.
— The Big Picture: Democratic Senate candidates and their outside allies have run more advertisements in the last two weeks than Republican Senate candidates and their independent friends. About 30 percent of the total number of ads run were paid for by interest groups. TV advertising is up 27.5 percent over the same two-week period in 2010. (Wesleyan Media Project)
— More Big Picture: Democrats have run more ads than Republicans in Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia and Virginia. Republicans have only run more ads than Democrats in Alaska over the last two weeks. Just over a quarter of all ads run in Senate races were positive, while 55 percent were purely negative. More than 70 percent of ads run by House candidates were positive. Only about 46 percent of ads run by Senate candidates were positive. (Wesleyan Media Project)
— Kentucky: NFIB is the latest group to get involved on behalf of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). They’ll spend $30,000 on radio ads and another $35,000 on digital ads, according to new FEC filings. That’s not much, but it’s another voice for McConnell, who’s swamped former Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) on TV and radio of late. (FEC)
— House Speaker John Boehner makes sure his staff is exercising. Boehner’s staff holds meetings walking around the Capitol Rotunda. Sen. John Boozman (R) can send happy faces or sad faces to other users on his network, which keeps track of how many steps his staffers have taken. And Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) compares his step counts with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. They’re all using FitBits, or similar wristbands that keep track of just how far a wearer has walked. (Washington Post) And further proof that we all need to get a life?
— What Koch brothers advantage? Senate Majority PAC and Patriot Majority, the two Democratic outside groups tied to strategists close to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have spent at least $36 million on voter outreach and TV ads backing Democratic candidates. Susan McCue, a former Reid chief of staff, and J.B. Poersch, who ran the DSCC for three cycles, run the Senate Majority PAC. Craig Varoga, Reid’s old communications director, runs Patriot Majority.
— Their big strategic decision this year: Lay down air cover early, to keep Democratic candidates in the game as long as possible. Senate Majority PAC started running ads in Arkansas as early as June 2013. But the bigger groups have come at the expense of individual super PACs aimed at backing specific candidates. PACs set up for Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) all died before they got off the ground. (Washington Post)
C1: The long reads you’ll need to check out before tonight’s cocktail party.
— The Defense Department program that ships military equipment to local law enforcement has handed over grenade launchers, rifles and mine-resistant vehicles to agencies affiliated with at least 120 schools, universities and colleges. The 1033 Program has transferred almost 900 assault rifles to school police; the Los Angeles School Police Department has even received three grenade launchers and an MRAP vehicle. In just the past few weeks, the police department attached to Pinellas County Schools in Florida received 22 M16 rifles. (Washington Post)
— New House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is winning praise from rank-and-file Republicans who say his early actions show he’s reaching out beyond leadership’s inner circle. He has built a members-only lounge on the first floor of his Capitol office suite, stocked with soda and snacks, and he’s relying on the personal relationships that have helped him advance up the Republican ladder to make him a successful whip. (Washington Post)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you’re bored at work
— If your significant other smells good, it might be because he or she votes the same way you do. A study published this month in the American Journal of Political Science, authored by researchers at Brown University, found people prefer the body odors of those who share an ideology, at least to a small degree. The study involved 125 participants who sniffed stinky armpit pads and rated the smells on a 1 to 5 scale. (Washington Post) Gross.
— A report issued by the Government Accountability Office on Monday found insurance companies are ignoring a provision in the Affordable Care Act that governs paying for elective abortions. The report found 17 of 18 insurers reviewed did not separately itemize a charge for coverage of abortions as required by the ACA. The provision was inserted to win votes from pro-life Democrats who opposed federal subsidies for abortions. (Tennessean)
— Climate change could dramatically boost the amount of money federal and state governments spend to fight wildfires, a new report by several environmental groups finds. The cost of fighting wildfires could jump from $125 billion a year today to $185 billion a year by 2050, because so much more of the American West will be susceptible to burning. Areas susceptible to wildfires are expected to increase by 50 to 100 percent in the next 35 years. (Los Angeles Times)
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