Jay Rockefeller

When West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller announced this morning that he won't seek reelection to the Senate in 2014, political commentators immediately downgraded Democrats' chances of holding his Senate seat. Politico wrote that Rockefeller’s retirement put the seat in deeply conservative “in play,” while The Fix’s Sean Sullivan said that Rockefeller’s retirement "boosted" Republican hopes.

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It may be a long time before West Virginia votes to send another Democrat to Washington.

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Another controversial, but important, provision of the Affordable Care Act is under attack in Congress. Whether it survives will tell us a lot about whether lawmakers who talk about controlling the cost of health care actually mean it. The provision in question is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB.

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Enviro-types don't have much to be cheery about these days. Climate legislation has sputtered out. Jay Rockefeller is trying to delay the federal government's ability to rein in greenhouse gases. And the party of climate denialism is poised to grab a bunch of seats in Congress next year. So that means carbon emissions are just going to keep rising without end, right? Well, not necessarily.

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So it looks like Lisa Murkowski's resolution to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases got shot down. The final vote was 47 to 53, with every Republican and six Dems voting in favor, including Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, and Jay Rockefeller. The line from most of these folks is that they want Congress, rather than the EPA, to take the lead on global warming. Trouble is, many of them won't vote for a climate bill, either.

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This is the fourth of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read parts one, two, and three.) Be sure to come back tomorrow for the final installment, which reveals how the White House decided not to drop health care reform in the wake of Scott Brown's victory, and what Nancy Pelosi did to broker the final deal.   Reset Barack Obama, the law professor, was acting like a prosecutor. He’d invited Grassley to the Oval Office, to talk about the senator’s concerns.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just declared that the public option is dead. Again. And she's right. Again. For the last few weeks, public option advocates have waged a heroic campaign to revive the public option by getting individual Senators to endorse it. The idea was to take advantage of the reconciliation process, in which fifty-plus-one senators can pass legislation without getting filibustered. The public option never got 60 votes in the Senate; that's why it didn't end up in the final Senate bill. But it got a lot more than 50. But things are not so simple.

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West Virginia is a heavy coal state. So it's not a shock to see one of its senators, Jay Rockefeller, introducing a bill that would freeze EPA regulations over greenhouse gases for a few years, since those rules could well make it impossible to build new dirty coal plants anywhere in the country.

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Be There and Be Square

The White House has released some more details about Thursday's Blair House meeting: Who will be there and the shape of the table where they'll all be sitting: The President will be seated in the middle of one side of the hollow square, with the Vice President, Secretary Sebelius, and congressional Leadership seated alongside him.

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