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Special Report

Could There Be a Senate Shut-Down?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Senate Shut-Down

Congressional Republicans are quietly planning what they will do to counter Democrats' threatened obstruction of Congress if the filibuster against judges is broken by a rule change. Democrats have threatened to shut down all but the most essential Senate business if Republicans go ahead with a plan to change the rules to guarantee that higher court judicial nominees receive an up or down vote.

House Republicans are coordinating an effort to pump out legislation at a brisk pace in the event that the Senate is shut down giving them a longer list of bills to blame the Democrats for obstructing.

Okrent's Most Important Column

Outgoing New York Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent says his column addressing bias at the paper was the most important one he wrote during his 18-month tenure. In the column, Okrent asked, "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" — answering, "of course it is." Okrent says the Times needed to recognize that its liberal bias on social issues stems from being based in New York City, and from the backgrounds of its employees. But he regrets writing as vividly as he did because he says he gave the paper's critics further ammunition, adding, "I made it too quotable."

A House Divided?

The leaders of four major labor unions have given the AFL-CIO five days to remove their members' names from a master mailing list of 13 million union households — a move that could severely weaken the political clout of organized labor. The heads of the Service Employees International Union, Teamsters, Laborers, and Unite Here have been locked in a policy struggle with AFL-CIO president John Sweeny.

Insiders tell The Washington Post that withdrawing more than 4 million names from the list used to mobilize members during elections is a response to the AFL-CIO's refusal to share all of its member information with the smaller unions.

Influx of Immigrants

While the U.S. is struggling to stem the tide of Mexican immigrants across its southern border, Canada is advertising to let them into that country. Not only that, the Canadian government has been relaxing its immigration rules to fill its growing need for skilled labor. Mexican workers can currently enter Canada just by showing a passport and Canada has pledged $58 million to speed up the citizenship process.

The number of Mexicans working legally in the country is up 68 percent since 1998. One potential immigrant in Mexico City explains, "Canada has its arms open to immigrants, and the United States has its arms closed. It's as simple as that."

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report