“Why some lawmakers voted against 7-day Homeland Security extension”



“Rand Paul Sabotages Mitch McConnell By Glowing About His Friendly Relations With Harry Reid”



“Boehner to conservative groups: ‘Are you kidding me?’


By Emma Margolin


John Boehner has had enough.

In his strongest rebuke yet, the Republican House leader on Thursday blasted tea party-aligned conservative groups for repeatedly pulling GOP

Boehner Discusses GOP Jobs Plans
Boehner Discusses GOP Jobs Plans (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

lawmakers into unwinnable situations that have only damaged the party brand. The groups’ criticism of a bipartisan budget deal before it was even released was a step too far for Boehner.

“I think they’ve lost all credibility,” Boehner said at his weekly briefing on Capitol Hill. “They pushed us into the fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government…And the day before the government reopened, one of these groups said, ‘Well, we never thought it would work.’”

“Are you kidding me?” he shouted.


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“Republicans tussle over gay candidates”


By Austin Wright and Jake Sherman

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates.

Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/gay-republican-candidates-100686.html#ixzz2mapPpIT6

“Unproductive Congress: How stalemates became the norm in Washington DC”



By Mark Murray, Senior Political Editor, NBC News

A Congress already setting records for futility, a nation trying to absorb rapid transformation and a political system designed to slow the pace of change have led Washington D.C. into a gridlock.

The much-criticized 112th Congress – from 2011 to 2012 – was the least productive and least popular Congress on record, according to the available statistics.

Now six months in – highlighted by a string of legislative stalemates – the 113th Congress (2013-2014) is on track to match or even surpass those dubious distinctions.

After the last Congress saw its approval ratings drop to their lowest levels, aJune Gallup survey found that just 10 percent of Americans have confidence in the institution. That’s the lowest percentage Gallup ever measured for Congress on this question – or, for that matter, any other American institution, including the presidency, big business, the medical profession and public schools.

When it comes to productivity, only 15 legislative items have become law under the current Congress. That’s fewer than the 23 items that became law at this same point in the 112th Congress, which passed a historically low number of bills that were signed into law.

To many observers, these are signs of broken government, gerrymandered congressional districts and out-of-control partisanship on Capitol Hill.

But they’re also a reflection of divided government, especially during a time of profound and rapid social change.

“The country is pretty divided in a lot of different ways, and [Congress] not doing things reflects those divisions,” said John Samples, a political scholar at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.


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“US Debt-Ceiling Fight Could Complicate ‘Grand Bargain’ Talks”



WASHINGTON — The White House and senior Republican lawmakers acknowledge they remain far apart on a “grand bargain” fiscal deal to address the defense sequester cuts. But a recurring Washington issue could further complicate striking such a deal: a pending partisan fight over the nation’s borrowing limit.

Some on Capitol Hill expect both chambers will enter contentious talks about whether to raise — or perhaps again temporarily suspend — the nation’s borrowing limit in late summer.

Some analysts say the nation will hit its borrowing limit in August or September.

That would force lawmakers to battle over the debt limit before its annual August recess, set to run from Aug. 3 until after the Labor Day holiday in early September.

That timing could coincide with talks between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans about the kind of grand bargain needed to lessen or replace the last nine years of the national defense and domestic sequestration cuts.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, one of more than a dozen Senate Republicans Obama has been courting in pursuit of a grand bargain, told Defense News in late March that whatever solution the two sides come up with needs to be in place by the time Congress leaves for its August recess.


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“Senators hope to approve bipartisan immigration reform within months”


A bipartisan group of senators formally unveiled an immigration reform framework that they hope the Senate could pass “in overwhelming and bipartisan fashion” by late spring or early summer.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday on Capitol Hill, five of the eight members of a bipartisan working group announced the contours of their agreement, which would shore up America‘s borders and provide an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican John McCain, have reached agreement on a framework to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

“We still have a long way to go, but this bipartisan grouping is a major breakthrough,” New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democratic member of the group of eight, said Monday afternoon.

Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, set an ambitious goal of translating the statement of principles released Sunday evening by the senators into legislation by March. He said the Senate would try to approve the legislation for consideration in the House by the end of spring, or early summer.  FULL  ARTICLE

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“Why Joe Biden needs the NRA”


The news that Vice President Joe Biden would huddle with executives from the National Rifle Association on Thursday came as unwelcome news to many gun control advocates who view the NRA as an organization to be ignored, not invited in.

But, the meeting is smart politics by Biden — and the White House more broadly. It’s a recognition that, to pass something on guns through Congress, they need the NRA either on board or not totally in opposition to the proposal.

Why? Like them or hate them — and there are lots of people who feel both ways — the NRA has proven to be among the best-funded and most effective groups when it comes to swaying the sentiments of members of Congress.

And while groups like Mayors Against illegal Guns and the newly-formed Americans for Responsible Solutions are being built to match (or at least approximate) the political power of the NRA, neither group is close to there yet — and likely won’t be for some time, if ever.

Biden, as he has shown both in cutting the debt ceiling deal of 2011 and the fiscal cliff compromise of 2012, understands how legislation makes and breaks in Congress, and he gets that, at least for now, the NRA is an unchallenged force on Capitol Hill when it comes to gun issues.

And remember that while the broad sentiment about what gun violence says about our society has shifted since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., last month, public opinion on specific proposals has changed far less.  FULL ARTICLE

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White House officials said Thursday that President Barack Obama will not send a fiscal cliff measure to Capitol Hill, while Republicans insisted they were expecting more details on the president’s proposal.

An aide to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the senator expected further details soon on what Obama and Democrats were proposing.

A Senate Democratic leadership member also said that more details would be provided. Both sources spoke to CNN on condition of not being identified further.

However, two White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president was not sending a proposal to Congress.

Such parsing of words and interpretations showed the high political sensitivity over how the fiscal cliff negotiations are being portrayed to the public.

House leaders announced the chamber would reconvene on Sunday and could stay in session through January 2, before a new Congress gets sworn in on January 3.

“Fiscal Cliff Talks: Wheels Closer To Coming Off Deal Bus”


By Sam Stein and Sabrina Siddiqui

WASHINGTON — Negotiations to resolve forthcoming tax hikes and spending cuts had their bleakest day in weeks on Tuesday, aides from both sides told The Huffington Post. Still, those involved in talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said they held hope that the snag was simply the usual negotiation histrionics and won’t prevent a deal before the so-called fiscal cliff.

Boehner and Obama remain in talks, aides in the House and in the Obama administration said. But bickering and acrimony was on the rise. A flurry of new proposals, hastily offered press releases, and emotional caucus meetings on Tuesday had folks on Capitol Hill legitimately worried that they will burn through Congress’s traditional Christmas deadline for resolving legislative standoffs without reaching an agreement.

“Today was a step back,” said one top Senate Democratic aide. “There are two schools of thought. Either the wheels are totally coming off or one wheel has come off and can still be put back on. I’m more towards the former.”  FULL  ARTICLE

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