Politics News Alert
Congressional negotiators late Monday unveiled a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year and end the lingering threat of another government shutdown.
The spending bill puts flesh on the bones of a bipartisan budget deal struck in December, when Republicans and Democrats agreed to partially repeal sharp spending cuts known as the sequester.
By Manu Raju and Jake Sherman
House GOP leaders have been eager to lock down support from their party to back the bipartisan budget deal and avoid yet another round of fiscal crises.
That message appears to have gotten lost in the Capitol Rotunda.
In the Senate, Republican leaders and senior GOP senators are balking at the budget deal, arguing that it hikes spending too high without demanding more immediate cuts in return. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is widely expected to oppose the proposal, and his top GOP leadership lieutenants also raised deep concerns Wednesday, highlighting the party’s continued divide over fiscal strategy, which has only intensified since the October government shutdown.
The Democratic-controlled Senate today voted to invoke the so-called nuclear option out of frustration over Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama’s nominees.
The controversial move is a rules change that could make a partisan environment even more divisive because it takes away the right for the Senate’s minority party to filibuster.
Under the old rules it took 60 votes to break a filibuster. The change now allows most filibusters of Obama nominees to be stopped with 51 votes — a simple Senate majority.
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TALKING POINTS MEMO
By Sahil Kapur
The Senate minority leader urged GOP members, including committee chairmen, who arevoicing strong concerns with the painful military cuts under sequestration to hang tough and stand by the austerity spending level of $967 billion.
“I wish the budget conference well, but I do hope that at the end of the day we’ll support the Budget Control Act. It’s the law of the land,” McConnell told reporters afterward. “It sets out [spending] caps to be achieved. We know that it’s been highly successful. We’ve reduced for two years in a row for the first time since the Korean War. I think it’s a bad idea to revisit a law that is actually working and reducing spending for the government. Within those constraints, I wish them well. … I hope they will comply with the law.”
By Burgess Everett
If everything goes as planned, gay rights history will be made on Thursday in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday set up the the final series of votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — culminating in a vote final passage on Thursday afternoon if the bill passes a key, 60-vote threshold procedural test in the morning.
Senate passage of ENDA seemed more and more likely Wednesday after the Senate unanimously accepted an amendment by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) protecting religious groups exempted under the legislation from government retaliation. That amendment likely secured the vote of several other Republicans pushing for that language, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
By Bengy Sarlin
On Monday night, the Senate voted to open debate on The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, overcoming a filibuster with 61 votes thanks to support from a handful of Republicans. Not a single Republican Senator delivered a speech opposing its passage. President Obama is campaigning for the bill in the run up to the final vote, which is expected later this week.
Politically, voting “yes” should be a no-brainer. While support for gay marriage only recently crossed into majority backing, the margin is overwhelming for workplace protection. Republican pollster Alex Lundry found 68% of respondents supported its passage in September. Not only that, about to 8 in 10 respondents assumed incorrectly that such anti-discrimination measures were already in place. Both these results track closely with an earlier poll by the liberal Center for American Progress in 2011.
But majority support, even overwhelming majority support, isn’t good enough for the House GOP on ENDA. Just as it isn’t good enough on immigration or keeping the government funded without incident.
While not an entirely new position for Boehner, who has claimed in the past that existing employment laws provide sufficient protection for LGBT Americans, his renewed criticism means ENDA will likely not get a vote in the House this year.
By EMILY SCHULTHEIS | 10/22/13 5:01 AM EDT
2012 was a banner year for women in Congress, ushering in a record-high number of women to the House and Senate.
Next year may be an equally good year for female governors.
Thirty-six states will hold governor’s elections next year, and Democrats have top female recruits in at least five states who are poised to be their party’s nominee and competitive in the general election. Coupled with the four female governors who are running for reelection – three Republicans and one Democrat – observers say 2014 could see gains for women as states’ top executives.
“This is a year of opportunity at the gubernatorial level,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. “I think that there has been increasingly more and more attention paid to the issue of women in politics … there is some real potential here for growth.”
Whatever deal Senate leaders come up with to solve the fiscal crisis had better work, because President Barack Obama has no Plan B if it doesn’t.
The Treasury is set to hit its credit limit Thursday.
Washington is deadlocked as it enters the 14th day of a partial government shutdown that has already led to furloughs of 350,000 federal workers, canceled military training missions and slowed economic growth. Now, the United States is just days away from losing its ability to borrow money and faces the prospect of defaulting on its bonds.
Following multiple talks between Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama over the past two weeks, the negotiations are now focused on Senate leadership from both sides of the aisle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched last-ditch negotiations over the weekend to end the spending and debt stalemate, but they may not be able to reach an agreement that can pass both the House and Senate.