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Posts tagged ‘Hal Rogers’

Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote.


Image: Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote

 

By Todd Beamon

Rep. Doc Hastings on Thursday became the latest House Republican to announce his retirement — two days after he was part of a critical coalition of House leaders, made up of retiring GOP members and representatives primarily from Northeastern states, that backed a controversial bill to raise America’s debt ceiling without restrictions.

“Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rd birthday, and while I have the ability and seniority to continue serving central Washington, it is time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to represent them in the people’s House,” Hastings said in a statement.

First elected in 1995, Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and recently called for overhauling the Endangered Species Act, charging that the 40-year-old law has been abused by environmental groups seeking to restrict development in the name of species protection.

The announcement came a day after GOP Rep. Gary Miller, 66, of California said that he was retiring after more than 15 years in the House because of family issues.

Hastings is now the 24th member of Congress to say that this year would be his last. He joins 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats to disclose their impending departures from Capitol Hill.

In the House, he is the 11th Republican and 18th member overall to announce his retirement.

But on Tuesday, Hastings and Miller joined with Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and 23 other House Republicans to support a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing authority — agreeing to President Barack Obama’s demands for a debt-limit increase without any conditions.

Boehner backed the legislation, which won on a 221-201 vote. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

Besides splitting the House leadership — the No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking House GOP woman, was among the leaders to vote “no” — the vote rankled conservatives, tea party supporters and rank-and-file Republicans.

The Senate Conservatives Fund even charged that Boehner should be replaced as speaker.

These groups were further outraged the next day when the Senate voted — after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, led an assault on a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz — to pass a similar debt bill on a straight 55-43 party-line vote.

In the House, the 28 Republicans voting for the measure included six who are retiring at the end of the year. Besides Hastings and Miller, they are Howard Coble, N.C.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; and Frank Wolf, Va.

“You’ve got retirees, the leadership and Republicans in safe districts with a Northeastern bias,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen explained to Newsmax on Thursday.

“Basically, the votes they gave were enough to get it passed — and they didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” he added. “It was retirees, leadership, and Northeastern moderate Republicans who could take the vote without a problem.”

Others in the top House leadership who supported the debt ceiling bill included Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Mich.; Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Calif.; Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Ky.; and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Calif.

Those Northeastern Republicans on board included four from New York — Reps. Chris Collins, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna, Peter King — as well as three each from neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Seven California House members backed the measure.

“Put it another way: For the Republican base, this is toxic — and the way the process was organized was to insulate the party and its grass-roots as much as possible to avoid any political problems,” Schoen told Newsmax.

The primary problem was avoiding another federal government shutdown, similar to the partial one that lasted 16 days in October and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion — especially when the GOP could possibly retake the Senate in this fall’s congressional elections.

“It goes back to their basis thesis: We get through this. We don’t fight on an issue we can’t win because, ultimately, this election is moving in our direction — and we don’t need to have a problem like the problem we had with the government shutdown.”

Political strategist Dick Morris described the House skirmishing on Thursday as “phony” and “fraudulent.”

“Boehner went to his caucus and said: ‘Hey guys, let’s approve the debt limit in return for pretty-good spending cuts or other restorations,'” Morris told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “The House Republicans said, or enough of them said: ‘We’re not going to vote for a debt-limit increase under any circumstance. You could balance the whole budget and we’re not going to go for it.’

“He didn’t have his 218 votes to pass it — and he couldn’t get any Democratic votes if there were cuts,” Morris said of Boehner.

The Ohio Republican then put together the GOP coalition to support the clean bill.

“All of these Republican congressmen can now go to their primary opponents from the tea party and say, ‘Hey, I voted against raising the debt limit’ — knowing darn well that they were willing to vote for it if they needed it,” Morris said.

Schoen saw it another way.

“The Republican Party did not want to vote to increase the debt ceiling,” he said. “Because they are in the majority, they had to provide some votes — in this case, 28 — to go along with near-unanimous Democratic support to get it done.

“The leadership understood that it was in their interest, long-term, to increase the debt ceiling without any riders or any possibility of paralyzing the government,” Schoen added. “The vast majority of Republicans, for a variety of reasons, disagree.

“For John Boehner, this became a practical step to avoid more political harakiri.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Report: Debt Ceiling Deal Could Come Today.


Image: Report: Debt Ceiling Deal Could Come Today

President Barack Obama and Republican leaders appeared ready to end a political crisis that has shuttered much of the U.S. government and pushed the country dangerously close to default after meeting at the White House on Thursday.No deal emerged from the 90-minute meeting, but talks continued into the night in an effort to re-open the government and extend the government’s borrowing authority beyond an Oct. 17 deadline. One senior Republican said an agreement could come on Friday, though hurdles remain.

The plummeting standing of congressional Republicans in public opinion polls helped spur a move toward ending the standoff, Oklahoma Republican Representative James Lankford said on CNN Thursday night. The latest, an NBCWall Street Journal survey published on Thursday, showed the public blaming Republicans by a 22-point margin – 53 to 31 percent.

The President’s meeting with Republican leaders was the first sign of a thaw in a 10-day standoff that has weighed on financial markets and knocked hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here. 
“It was a very adult conversation,” said Republican Representative Hal Rogers, who attended the meeting. “Both sides said they were there in good faith.”

Republicans in the meeting offered to extend the government’s borrowing authority for several weeks, temporarily putting off a default that otherwise could come as soon as next week. Obama pushed to also reopen government operations that have been closed since Oct. 1.

Significantly, Republicans seemed to be steering clear of the restrictions on Obama’s healthcare reforms and spending that prompted the crisis in the first place. Instead, negotiations centered on how far to extend the debt limit and how much funding they would provide the government when it opens, according to Republicans.

The two sides are working on “defining parameters to see if we can make progress,” said Republican Representative Pete Sessions, a member of the leadership.

“The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle,” the White House said in a statement.

The proposal is a significant shift for Republicans, who had hoped to use the threat of a shutdown and a default to undermine Obama’s healthcare law.

But they have been hammered in opinion polls and pressured by allies in the business community who worry the brinkmanship is killing jobs and slowing the economy. Republicans worry that the standoff could imperil lawmakers in competitive districts, giving Democrats an increased chance of winning control of the House next year.

Now Republicans hope a short-term debt-limit extension, perhaps until the middle or end of November, will buy time to seek spending cuts, a repeal of a medical-device tax, or other measures they say are needed to keep the national debt at a manageable level.

Conflicting reports of the outcome of the meeting sent immediate ripples through financial markets. U.S. equity index futures tracking the S&P 500 index dropped after a report that Obama had rejected the Republican offer, but rose when details of the meeting trickled out. Major U.S. equity indexes closed 2 percent higher earlier on Thursday on hopes of a deal.

DIDN’T STOP OBAMACARE

The crisis began in late September when Republicans tied continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

The gambit didn’t work, as “Obamacare” unveiled its online health-insurance exchanges on Oct. 1 even as much of the rest of the government shut down. Even so, the exchanges have been plagued by serious technical problems unrelated to the shutdown.

In recent days, Republican leaders have emphasized other goals, such as reining in the retirement and health benefit programs that pose a long-term threat to the country’s fiscal health.

For the first time in weeks, lawmakers from both parties predicted they would be able to resolve their differences.

“Both sides will be able to claim victory,” said Democratic Representative Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania.

Many hurdles remain. Obama has said he will not negotiate on anything until Republicans agree to reopen the government and remove the threat of immediate default.

Rank-and-file Republican conservatives who remain focused on defeating “Obamacare” also could reject the deal. Even if disaster is averted for now, the entire dispute could come to the fore again when the temporary agreement expires.

House Speaker John Boehner‘s grip over his troops has been tenuous this year and many of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers have defied him repeatedly on other crucial votes.

Boehner has taken pains to show his party’s most rebellious members that he listens to their concerns. He took a different approach when he told them of his plan to extend the debt ceiling.

“He put his best Coach Boehner voice and demeanor on and said, ‘Guys, this is what we are going to do. The play has been called. I’m happy to answer questions,'” said Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

The Obama administration says it will be unable to pay all of its bills if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by Oct. 17. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said he would be unable to prioritize some payments over others among the 30 million transactions his department handles each week.

“It would be chaos,” Lew told the Senate Finance Committee.

But Lew and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told their counterparts of the G20 group of economies on Thursday that the standoff over the debt ceiling will be resolved by Oct. 17, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.

“Colleagues from the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve have said that they hope to solve the issue soon. They said that the problem will be solved by the 17th,” Siluanov told reporters after a dinner with G20 counterparts gathering on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank meetings.

“It’s an important issue for everyone. Both Lew and Bernanke believe that these difficulties can be overcome soon,” Siluanov added.

Democrats who control the Senate are readying a vote, possibly on Saturday, that would extend government borrowing authority for more than a year, rather than the weeks-long time frame Republicans have proposed. Still, they did not entirely dismiss the Republican plan.

“Let’s see what they have offered,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

House leaders canceled a recess planned for next week and said they would remain in Washington instead.

Opinion polls indicate that Republicans appear to be getting more of the blame for the standoff. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday found approval of the Republican Party at 24 percent, a record low. Democrats won the approval of 39 percent of the U.S. public.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here. 
Business groups that have close ties to the Republican Party have pressed for an end to the brinkmanship and some are laying plans to mount primary challenges next year to lawmakers who refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been thrown out of work by the shutdown and individual businesses, from arms makers to motels, have begun to lay off workers as well.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that 15,000 private-sector workers have filed for unemployment benefits due to the shutdown.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

DEFEATED! House Passes Bill To Defund Obamacare.


House Republicans passed their stopgap funding bill Friday to keep government open while terminating the new health care law, setting up a final showdown next week with Senate Democrats and President Obama who have firmly rejected that.

house-votes-to-defund-obamacare-socialized-medicine-stop-obamaThe 230-189 vote, which split almost exclusively along party lines, is the precursor to the big action next week, when the Senate is expected to strip out the health care provisions and send the bill back to the House — where Republicans will have to decide whether they can accept it at that point.

All sides are racing a Sept. 30 deadline, which is when current government funding runs out. The new measure would fund the government through Dec. 15, essentially at last year’s levels, and would leave the budget sequesters in place.

But Republicans also attached two amendments — one to direct how government spending is prioritized in the event the Treasury Department bumps up against its debt limit, and another that strips out funding for the health care law, which would effectively stop it.

“The evidence is very clear that Obamacare is actively hurting,” said Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican. Democrats said the bill was an outrage that exposed Republicans’ true intention of trying to force a government shutdown.

“It is a wolf in wolf’s clothing,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “Either you don’t know what you’re doing or this is one of the most intentional acts of brutality you’ve cooked up.”

Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House spending committee, said limiting government funding now would prevent federal authorities from being able to help out as Colorado recovers from devastating floods.

They urged the GOP to negotiate with Democrats to raise taxes in order to spend more.

Republicans countered that if they’d wanted to shut down government they wouldn’t have brought any bill to the floor. “We are pragmatists. We know we have to pass bills to fund government. Thus this bill,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogerssource – Washington Times.

by Geoffrey Grider.

Werfel Pledges to Fix IRS Before Congressional Panel.


Image: Werfel Pledges to Fix IRS Before Congressional Panel

Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Danny Werfel told a congressional committee he is working to restore trust in the beleaguered U.S. tax agency.

Werfel today made his first appearance before a congressional panel since President Barack Obama appointed him to the post May 22. Werfel is charged with fixing damage caused by the revelation that the IRS applied tougher scrutiny to small-government groups applying for tax-exempt status.

“The agency stands ready to confront the problems that occurred, hold accountable those who acted inappropriately, be open about what happened and permanently fix these problems so that such missteps do not occur again,” he said at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Lawmakers of both parties criticized the treatment of tax- exempt groups and an inspector general’s report about spending on IRS conferences, which will be released tomorrow and is expected to focus on a 2010 conference in California that included parody videos and expensive hotel suites.

“It seems we have a new misstep every day at the IRS,” said Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the full appropriations committee. “I’m very troubled at what may come to light next.”

Rogers said Congress may further restrict the IRS’s funding.

Six congressional committees have opened inquiries and the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal probe.

Werfel said he plans to produce a report by the end of the month detailing his progress. He has replaced several top managers at the agency.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

House passes spending bill to avoid government shutdown.


House Republican Leaders (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Returning to Washington for a brief session between their summer recess and fall campaign season, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a spending bill funding the government into the next year.

The funding extension, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), keeps to the $1.047 trillion spending agreement reached between the parties and avoids a government shutdown until March 27, 2013, nearly five months after the November election. The federal government has continually relied on short-term funding extensions since 2009, the last time the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a traditional budget plan that set spending levels.

“This bill is very restricted in its scope, does not contain extensive or controversial policy riders or funding levels that dramatically differ from current levels, and protects critical funding for our national defense,” said House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, Republican of Kentucky. “The legislation reflects the bipartisan agreement made by the House and Senate leadership and the White House to prevent a government shutdown, maintain the programs and services critical to the American people, and provide certainty and stability to ensure our continued economic recovery.”

The bill, which passed 329-91, survived a challenge among the chamber’s more conservative members, who requested even lower spending levels. Right-of-center groups like the Club for Growthurged members not to comply with Republican House leadership in supporting the bill because it funds the federal health care law, continues current levels of spending and approves of President Barack Obama’s recent overhaul of national welfare programs.

(The House is expected to pass an additional bill in order to show disapproval of the welfare change. Like the repeated votes to repeal the health care law, that bill is not expected to pass the Senate, but will act as a protest vote.)

On hand Thursday was Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who took a brief hiatus from the campaign trail to vote in favor of the spending continuation.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.
By  | The Ticket

House votes to appropriate $606 billion for defense.


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (2nd R) speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker (R) and General John Allen (3rd R), head of the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan, upon his arrival at Kabul International Airport June 7, 2012. Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday for talks with military leaders amid rising violence in the war against the Taliban and a spate of deadly incidents, including a NATO air strike said to have killed 18 villagers. REUTERS/Jim Watson/Pool (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives approved on Thursday $606 billion in defense spending for next year after two days of debate that saw lawmakers from both parties line up to condemn the ongoing war in Afghanistan as a waste of lives and money.

       The Republican-dominated House voted 326-90 to approve the annual defense appropriations bill, which includes a Pentagon base budget of $518 billion plus $87.7 billion in spending for the Afghanistan war and other overseas operations, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers proposed dozens of bills over two days of debate seeking to reduce spending by cutting war funding or trimming programs, but the measure remained relatively unchanged until the final moments of voting.

In a last series of amendments, lawmakers agreed to freeze Pentagon spending at 2012 levels, effectively cutting $1 billion from the base budget appropriation. They also approved an amendment switching $5.6 billion between accounts for technical reasons.

Even with the spending freeze, the House measure is $2 billion more than requested by President Barack Obama, whose administration issued a veto threat against the bill because it exceeds budget caps imposed last year.

The president and Congress agreed last autumn to cut projected Pentagon spending by $487 billion over 10 years as part of a budget deal aimed at reducing the government’s trillion-dollar annual deficits.

The budget proposed by the Pentagon would have cut defense spending for the first time in more than a decade.

The House appropriations bill, which covers the 2013 fiscal year beginning in October, will have to be reconciled with the Senate’s version of the measure before it can be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. The Senate is not expected to debate its bill until August.

“This bill supports and takes care of our troops at the highest possible level, keeps America at the forefront of defense technologies and boosts key training and readiness programs to prepare our troops for combat and peace-time missions,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said.

       War-weary lawmakers from both parties voiced frustration during debate with the Afghanistan war and submitted a series of amendments trying to reduce war spending to speed the return of U.S. forces.

       They also expressed anger over corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, skepticism about any lasting progress toward resolving the conflict and exhaustion over the unending cost in lives and treasure. But the bill easily passed the House.

       (Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Jackie Frank and Philip Barbara)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

ReutersBy David Alexander | Reuters 

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