"Abramoff's old friends, including DeLay, were often the beneficiaries of Coushatta money. For instance, the tribe sent $20,000 to one DeLay political committee and $10,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a DeLay-run state political committee whose activities are now under investigation. Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform received $25,000 from the tribe to co-sponsor an antitax event at the White House attended by the president himself. Coushatta money also went to Ralph Reed's Atlanta-based political consulting firm. That firm took more than $4 million from Abramoff to rally religious opposition to a casino Abramoff was trying to shut down on the Coushatta's behalf. (Reed, who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, has insisted he was 'deceived' by Abramoff. Others on the Christian right aren't so sure. 'I think it's a hard sell that he didn't know any of this,' says Paul Weyrich, a dean of Washington social conservatives.)"
Big casino budget politics:
Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon is hesitant about signing on to a compromise that would allow passage of a budget resolution that trims the growth of Medicaid; it still will be brought to the floor, Bob Stevenson tells the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg, but ultimate passage appears uncertain. LINK
The Washington Post's Chuck Babington writes that the vote on changing filibuster rules on judicial nominations hangs in the balance of two or three Republican Senators who haven't yet publicly declared what they're going to do, and is, among other things, a test of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's arm-twisting ability. Note that Sen. Lott predicts it'll come down to Vice President Cheney's tie-breaking vote, and that the support will be there because of Frist's "restraint." And the pressure remains on Sens. Hagel, Specter, and Warner. LINK
John Harris of the Washington Post was at former Vice President Gore's speech yesterday condemning the filibuster fight and accusing Republicans of using and abusing "absolute power." Gore also got particularly indignant about the influence of conservative religious leaders in the GOP, saying that "right-wing religious zealotry is a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place." Harris also throws in a little bit of nice backstage color, Noting that Gore sought the opportunity to speak and consulted with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid before working on his remarks Tuesday. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds has the angry response from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. LINK
"'Al Gore and some of the Democratic senators made this debate about religion; we didn't,' he said in a written statement. 'Unfortunately, it is clear from Al Gore's comments that he is the one that wants to exclude people from the public square based upon some religious litmus test. All Americans have a voice in our system of government. We are supporting the American way -- discuss, debate and decide, not flip-flop and filibuster.'"
"Republican lawmakers are considering bringing John Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador to a full Senate vote whether or not the Foreign Relations Committee approves him -- another sign of White House determination to fight for the controversial nominee," the Wall Street Journal reports.