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Afternoon Read: Virginia Senate at Standstill Over Judge Appointments

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Va. Senate Standstill Over Judge Appointments

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The Virginia Senate is at a standstill today as both parties battle over judicial appointments -- a matter that is required to be resolved before any other voting or committee meetings take place.

Both sides were heated, according to The Washington Post, as Republicans and Democrats called each other “obstructionists” on the floor.

The Washington Post writes:

It was just the sort of deadlock political observers had feared when the Senate split evenly, with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, in November’s elections. The legislative dysfunction and heated rhetoric have emerged at a time when Democrats are still angry with the GOP, which used Bolling’s disputed authority to break tie votes on organizational matters to take control of crucial Senate committee this month. Democrats had sought a power-sharing agreement.

Bolling can not vote on judicial appointments, meaning the Democrats still have power in this procedure. If the issue is not resolved, the Senate could recess for up to three days before being required to come back to session.

Read more about the partisan battle here.

* Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine raised $1.65 million in the fourth quarter of last year for his bid for U.S. Senate, $500,000 more than his main rival, former Virginia Gov. George Allen.

Kaine now has $3.3 million in his campaign funds entering 2012. Since his campaign kicked-off in April, the Democrat has raised more than $5.2 million from more than 12,000 supporters, according to his campaign.

Kaine said in a statement:

“Secret money from outside groups running negative, misleading advertisements has already began to pour into Virginia. All signs point to a record-breaking year of spending by outside groups, which makes it even more gratifying that we’ve been able to attract so much grassroots enthusiasm and financial support for our campaign. Smart spending will ensure we have the resources we need to compete in the home stretch of this campaign.”

Allen, a former Virginia senator and governor, raised $1.1 million in the fourth quarter and finished 2011 with more than $2 million in the bank.

“Chairman Kaine has said himself that he is unabashed supporter of President Obama and, as expected, his support is being rewarded," said Allen campaign spokesman Bill Riggs. "We know national Democrats will pour millions of dollars into Virginia to help Tim Kaine continue President Obama’s agenda of higher taxes and more government spending. Virginians aren’t looking for a senator who will serve as a reliable vote for the Washington Democrats’ agenda. Virginians want a senator who will bring their voices to Washington.”

* Republicans will start airing anti-Obama ads today during the president’s State of the Union address in Virginia and other swing states, The Washington Post reports.

Tonight's ad, called "State of Our Union,” focuses on the American economy, highlighting the 13 million unemployed Americans and 49 million living in poverty.

Watch the ad here.

When Obama aired his first campaign ad in Virginia and other swing states last week, Republicans said that airing campaign ads so early in the election made the president look desperate.

Obama's ad highlights his clean energy accomplishments and says the president has kept his promise to “to strengthen America’s energy economy.”

Watch the ad here.

* The head of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, testified at a hearing of a House oversight subcommittee today, saying the U.S. Park Police will begin arresting protesters camping illegally in McPherson Square “very soon,” the AP reports.

But, he added, the protesters’ First Amendment rights allow them to hold vigil there. He said camping regulations can only be enforced against individuals.

The Washington Post writes:

Republicans on the subcommittee often seemed exasperated as they pressed the Park Service for its legal reasoning allowing the protesters to stay in violation of its own no-camping regulations. The Park Service has said decades of case law supports protesters’ right to operate a 24-hour vigil on parkland; Republicans cited a Supreme Court opinion that says protesters can stay — but not sleep — in public parks.

* A new bill in the Virginia General Assembly would allow advertising along the privately-owned Greenway.

The bill would hopefully offset the high toll costs on the road, the AP reports.

The cost of traveling on the Greenway is a $4 flat fee and $4.80 during rush hour.

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