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President Obama announced his administration will expand offshore oil and natural gas development off the East Coast, in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and along parts of the Alaskan coast.
"For decades, we've talked about the risks to our security created by our dependence on foreign oil -- even as that dependence has grown year after year after year," Obama said when announcing the new plans at Andrews Air Force Base.
The Energy Department will use $18 million from the stimulus package to build an advanced biofuels process development facility.
Following the announcement of Secretary Robert Gates that enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell" would be less strict, the Army's top official said he'd follow suit.
"Army Secretary John McHugh today said he has spoken with gay soldiers about their experience in the military and has no plans to initiate disciplinary action against them for disclosing their sexual orientation," reports CongressDaily (subscription).
The military is formally surveying its ranks about soldiers' opinions of gays serving openly, but McHugh sought to do some interviewing on his own. Debate continues about how to appropriately research the issue.
The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Services completed its first round of stimulus funding, "awarding $22 million in loans and grants" to bring broadband services to an area in North Dakota.
A brief filed by the Justice Department in defense of "don't ask, don't tell" is "angering gay activists," according to Politico. The activists were offended by "arguments that the presence of gays increases sexual tension in military units and invades the privacy of other service members," and they complained that the brief cites outdated views from former Gen. Colin Powell, who was once in support of the policy.
“The Department does not pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration’s policy preferences,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokesman, told Politico.
The Log Cabin Republicans filed a response to the DOJ that will be considered by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips as she decides whether to dismiss the original lawsuit or send it to trial, which would open the possibility that the policy is tossed out by the judicial system.
The Energy Department made available almost $40 million in funding over the next five years to support the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which Obama formally announced on a trip to Beijing in November.
Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to a new treaty on March 26 which would replace the recently expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and reduce American and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1,550 warheads. The two leaders will meet in Prague on April 8 to sign the accord.
A new treaty to reduce American and Russan nuclear arsenals to 1,550 warheads was announced by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and will be signed on April 8 in Prague. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, D-Calif., said in a statement that it could strengthen resolve to expand the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at a May conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced today that a review of "don't ask, don't tell" will coincide with temporary rules restricting the use of the policy. Any open cases would have to be re-examined under the new rules, he said. The New York Times summarized the rules this way:
"The new rules require that only an officer with the rank of at least a one-star general or admiral can initiate a fact-finding inquiry or other proceeding, or order any discharge under 'don’t ask, don’t tell.'
"The guidelines raise the standard for evidence, an effort to prevent 'malicious outing' by a third party or a jilted partner. Information provided by a third party must be given under oath.
"Also prohibited would be information provided to lawyers, clergy members or psychotherapists, as well as to doctors involved in the person’s medical treatment or gathered in a security clearance investigation, in accordance with current policies."
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions barring health insurance providers from denying coverage on the basis of salary, pre-existing conditions, or age.
Section 2716 of the bill prevents group health plan sponsors from basing eligibility on employees’ total hourly or annual salary, while Section 2704 prohibits health insurance providers from excluding coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Section 2705 lists a number of health status-related factors that cannot be used to deny coverage, including claims experience, medical history, genetic information and evidence of insurability.
Section 1557 stipulates that individuals cannot be denied benefits through any program receiving federal funding on grounds established by a variety of anti-discrimination laws.