The Night Beat: Mullen 'Genuinely Concerned' About China

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Good evening.

1. Both sides predict that the vote on Sen. Lisa Murkowski's amendment "disapproving" of the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon-as-pollutant finding -- thus knee-capping the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emission -- is likely to be close. At this point, Republican aides concede that it might not receive the 51 votes it needs to move forward, but they do expect to drag enough Democrats across the line to send a message to the White House.


There's no chance it becomes law, as the House isn't likely to pass it and President Obama would never sign it. But it's a stalking-horse of sorts for the Senate's growing anxiety with climate change legislation, and if it passes, the chances of anything climate-related passing this session is Kate Moss-slim.

Majority Leader Reid plans to meet with committee chairs to discuss next steps on climate change legislation regardless of the outcome of the vote. In his floor remarks, he'll call the amendment a "frontal attack on science" and say it will create no jobs for Nevada or anywhere else, and will be a setback for businesses who want certainty. ... Sen. Lindsey Graham now counts himself among the ranks of (dare I say) climate change denalists, believing that the science is more in question than it was a year ago.

2. President Obama hosts congressional leaders at the White House tomorrow. Topping the agenda: jobs and the BP spill. He meets with the families of the DH explosion victims later in the day, and also with Arlen Specter in the Oval.

3. Expect to see and hear House Democrats tout the early start of checks being issued to close the (Republican-created) Medicare donut hole. Throughout the day, Dems will be doing a variety of events and activities to remind seniors that when House Republicans were in power "they twisted arms and cut deals to pass an unpaid for $400b prescription drug plan that added to the deficit," an aide says. They'll say: Republicans have an agenda for seniors -- keeping open the donut hole, dismantling Medicare, and making it harder for seniors to have access to the doctors they know and trust. Not to mention privatizing Social Security.

4. The key parts of C/JCS Mike Mullen's address to the Asia Society dinner tonight, as prepared for delivery:

"The North Korean attack on a South Korean warship this spring was not only an egregious breach of the fragile peace on that peninsula, but also yet another example of the sort of provocation and pre-meditation with which the North's regime continues to isolate itself and threaten its neighbors.

We in the United States military stand firmly by our allies in the Republic of Korea and will move forward, in keeping with international agreements, to demonstrate that solidarity in coming weeks.

I think it's of no surprise to anyone that we are planning maritime exercises to sharpen skills and strengthen collective defenses.

I would offer that South Korea's neighbors and friends can assist as well, in whatever manner best suits their sovereign needs.

I have been encouraged by public statements made recently by Chinese leaders as to the seriousness of this incident and the need for accountability, and yet dismayed by a fairly tepid response to calls by the international community for support.

China is a leader in the region, a rising leader.  We welcome its considerable strength and its potential. 

The question is -- should China and the U.S. work together -- lead together -- to promote regional stability? 

Washington's answer is and has been an unequivocal yes. 

Beijing's answer has been sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Their recent rejection of military-to-military contact is particularly disappointing, because it removes the opportunity to listen and to learn from and about each other. 

And their heavy investments of late in modern, expeditionary maritime and air capabilities seems oddly out of step with their stated goal of territorial defense. 

Every nation has a right to defend itself, and to spend as it sees fit for that purpose.  But a gap as wide as what seems to be forming between China's stated intent and its military programs leaves me more than curious about the end result.

Indeed, I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned."

5. Josh Rogin obtained the information paper sent by USDI James Clapper opposing provisions that would strengthen the DNI.

6. Two big homeland security bills drop tomorrow: Reps. Pascrell and King introduce The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010, and Sens. Lieberman and Collins introduce their cybersecurity bill. What you need to know: it provides wide latitude to the executive branch to act in the event of a cyber emergency, more so than the competing Rockefeller/Snowe bill.

7. Ponderable for the White House: Why is the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board still vacant? Even the U.S. Cyber Command wants this body up and running before it gets into the nitty gritty of implementing policy. Who are the nominees? Who is being vetted?

8. "Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender," says the State Department.

9. Hot mic alert! Here's the Carly Fiorina that Republicans know and love: "God, what is that hair?" she quoted a friend's snark on Barbara Boxer. But more importantly, her criticism of Meg Whitman for going on Fox News ... Of Sean Hannity, she said: "You know how he is. ... So yesterday."

10. Rep. Gresham Barrett is NOT getting out of the gubernatorial race in South Carolina. Tomorrow, he airs his first post-primary statewide advertisement. ... Nikki Haley sent out a fundraising solicitation. CNN reports that Mitt Romney will campaign for Haley on June 18.

11. Labor is still feeling raw after last night's attack quotes from "senior administration officials" published here and by Politico's Ben Smith. Former SEIU President Andrew Stern called the White House today and told officials to knock it off. And a senior labor official said that Robert Gibbs's remarks from the podium today, appearing to endorse the premise that labor wasted $10 million, "did NOT help anything in the slightest. Saying we have an obligation to support someone because they have a D next to their name is seen as a repetition the WH last night, albeit in less atrocious language. Makes us feel like there is now no excuse of a rogue staffer on election night, seems like concerted effort." ... Greg Sargent of the Washington Post offers this point: "If labor had never entered this race at all, they'd still be in a losing position with Lincoln in the Senate. This is an unbearably simple and obvious point, but the only way for labor to reverse this situation was to try to replace her with someone better on their issues."

12. Tonight's Joshua Green post at TheAtlantic.com contains this analytical nugget: "The Tea Party movement, animated by intense disapproval of government activism, has smacked up against an unprecedented environmental disaster that is providing a vivid daily illustration of why an activist government is sometimes necessary."
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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