Washington Extra – Obama has left the building
A very non-lame Lame Duck is just about done and President Barack Obama is off to his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Aloha, Mr. President, and congratulations on December. Let’s take a moment to recap.
The Senate approved START today. It’s a big deal for U.S.-Russian relations and sends a clear message to Moscow: Work with us, not against us. The president killed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. It was a priority for Obama who promised on the campaign trail to end the ban on gays openly serving in the military. Democrats caved on taxes and approved Obama’s compromise with Republicans — giving the president a chance to take credit, whether it was an optical win or something more substantial notwithstanding.
Now, some of my colleagues in the media biz think all of this adds up to a Comeback Kid moment for Obama. They see this as a great showing for a man who had the cards stacked against him after Democrats’ November drubbing. It’s not a completely off-base analysis, but it is a bit too dramatic for Extra.
Instead, we’ll just go with what the president himself had to say: “If there’s any lesson to draw from these past few weeks, it’s that we are not doomed to endless gridlock. We’ve shown in the wake of the November elections that we have the capacity not only to make progress, but to make progress together.”
With that, Reuters Washington Extra will close out 2010. Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. Happy long weekend to those of you who do not. And Happy New Year to us all. Talk with you again in 2011.
Here are our top stories from Washington today…
U.S. challenges China wind power aid at WTO
The United States on Wednesday accused China of illegally subsidizing the production of wind power equipment and asked for talks at the World Trade Organization, the first step in filing a trade case. USTR estimated Chinese manufacturers of wind turbines and related parts and components could have received several hundred million dollars in questionable government grants in 2008 under China’s “Special Fund for Wind Power Manufacturing.”
For more of this story by Doug Palmer, read here.
U.S. military to allow gays, but rules will take time
President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a landmark law to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military for the first time, but it could be many months before a move some top officers warn may endanger troops will finally take effect. The Pentagon is drafting new rules following the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which Congress passed this month, to cheers from opponents of a long-standing policy that forced gay service members to hide their sexuality.
For more of this story by Missy Ryan, read here.
U.S. Senate ratifies nuclear arms treaty with Russia
The U.S. Senate approved a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia on Wednesday, handing President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory in his drive to improve ties with Moscow and curb the spread of atomic weapons to other nations. The Senate voted 71-26 in favor of the treaty after a contentious debate with Republican leaders that threatened traditional bipartisanship on national security affairs.
For more of this story by David Alexander and Thomas Ferraro, read here.
Republican calls for pause on Dodd-Frank rules
Implementation of the new U.S. financial reform law should be delayed for a year so regulators have more time to understand the impact of rules they are writing, a key House Republican said in an interview with Reuters. Representative Randy Neugebauer of Texas, who will head the House of Representatives Financial Services oversight subcommittee next year, said the “pause” would allow regulators to study whether a rule required by the law would do more harm than good.
For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.
What we are blogging…
CIA on WikiLeaks — WTF
The CIA gets the prize for the most entertaining acronym in Washington, a city that cannot speak without using at least one in every sentence. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has formed the WikiLeaks Task Force which is being referred to in-house as WTF.
For Toby Zakaria’s full post, click here.
Traffic tip for Santa: reflective reindeer collars
Norwegian reindeer owners have a Christmas safety tip for Santa — put reflectors on his fleet-footed animals so they won’t get hit by cars. About 2,000 reindeer have been fitted this month with reflective yellow collars or small antler tags to cut down on the car crashes that now kill 500 reindeer a year and pose a danger to motorists across Arctic Norway.
For the full story, click here.
For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jim Young (Obama arrives at Interior Department to sign Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal)