In a video address to the executive board meeting of the AFL-CIO, Obama blamed the Bush administration for attempting to undermine organized labor, reassuring union leaders that they will always have a "seat at the table" under his presidency.
Obama is supporting a bill in Congress that would triple the amount of non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year. The State Department, meanwhile, intends to establish "benchmarks" for progress on security, despite a Pakistani warning that attaching strings to the aid will not engender much goodwill in Islamabad. Obama has said that Pakistan should focus more on tracking down al-Qaida extremists in its border region with Afghanistan.
The expanded EITC remains intact in the final stimulus bill.
The Environmental Protection Agency solicited public comment on enforcement priorities for fiscal 2011 to 2013, a list that includes CAFOs.
Obama's fiscal 2011 budget says VA will help administer the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program with the Defense Department. The budget also includes $200 million to automate processing of veterans benefits.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is confident that the drawdown of 65,000 troops will begin in March after scheduled elections.
A House bill that would lay down strict new trade standards now has the support of more than half the Democratic caucus, reports CongressDaily (subscription). California Democrat George Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee and one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's top lieutenants, endorsed the bill after a Jan. 8 speech in which he criticized violence against union workers in Colombia and reaffirmed his stance against the U.S.' major trade deals dating back to NAFTA. The bill's sponsor, Democrat Michael Michaud of Maine, said, "I remain hopeful that the administration will embrace a new trade agenda that is forward-thinking and that protects U.S. jobs and businesses."
Middle East envoy George Mitchell called for a "comprehensive peace" in the region Sunday, one that includes a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. The former Senate majority leader's comments follow Obama's Mideast junket last week, where he was blunt about the need for concessions from both sides to jumpstart the peace process.
At the G-20 summit, President Obama pushed for and won $1.1 trillion for the International Monetary Fund.
As part of defense appropriations bill, the House approved a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy largely along party lines. The vote was 229-186, with nine Republicans joining the majority and 26 Democrats voting against.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates endorsed the change when it became clear that Congress would not wait for the completion of a policy review being conducted by the military. The repeal's sudden move up the schedule was reportedly the work of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the repeal as part of the appropriations bill as well. But the legislation has not yet headed to the floor.