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Posts tagged ‘Steny Hoyer’

Democrats Plan New End Run Around GOP House on Minimum Wage.


House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.

To try to accomplish that in the GOP-controlled House, Democrats are planning to rely on an infrequently used, rarely successful tactic known as a “discharge petition.”

It requires the minority party — in this case, Democrats, who are unable to dictate the House agenda — to persuade some two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership, join Democrats and force a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from its break Feb. 24. Forcing a vote on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws could occur in a few months.

Democratic leaders argue that a majority of Americans favor both steps, which are priorities for President Barack Obama, and say the House GOP is the obstacle. Republicans say Democrats are embarking on an approach that they know has little chance of success in an attempt to circumvent the will of the GOP-led House.

The odds are daunting for Democrats in what clearly is political maneuvering ahead of the elections this fall.

Some questions and answers on how it works.

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Q: What does a discharge petition do?

A: It allows the minority or opposition party to bypass the House speaker and get a vote.

First, 217 members — one more than half the House’s current membership of 432 — have to sign a petition. A motion to consider the wage issue would then be placed on the legislative calendar, but it can’t be acted on for at least seven days. Any lawmaker can then call it up but only on the second or fourth Monday of the month. The motion is debated and if the House passes it, then lawmakers would consider and vote on the bill.

Currently there are 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats and three vacancies in the House. All 200 Democrats would have to sign the petition, but Democrats would have a tough time getting 17 Republicans to join them.

Signing a discharge petition would be a breach of loyalty for Republicans, certain to draw the wrath of the caucus, and a rebuke of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Republicans largely oppose any increase in the minimum wage. They say it’s an issue left to the states and that it could slow hiring in a struggling economy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, acknowledged that Democrats are unlikely to sway Republicans. Yet he also provided a preview of one of his party’s arguments on this issue.

“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition, but we apparently have 30 or 40 that are known over here,” Hoyer said at a news conference this past week at the party’s retreat in Cambridge, Md. “Our expectation is if they want to make sure that working people have an incentive to work, they will pay them to do so a wage that does not leave them in poverty.”

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Q: What about immigration? A number of House Republicans back a comprehensive approach. Would they sign a discharge petition?

A: Highly unlikely. Republicans still are unwilling to break ranks with the party and Boehner, despite the distinctly different political forces on the issue.

Immigration overhaul has the support of an unusual coalition that includes some traditional backers of the GOP. They include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business groups, religious organizations such as the U.S. Catholic Bishops, evangelicals and labor unions.

A few Republicans have expressed support for a comprehensive bill similar to the Senate-passed measure and have pleaded for the House to act this year. They worry about the political implications in their swing districts back home. Yet it would be a remarkable step for some of the more moderate lawmakers from California and Florida to abandon Boehner.

Boehner has come out with principles on immigration that call for legal status for some of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and has expressed support for a piecemeal approach to the issue. Last week, however, the speaker all but ruled out the House acting on legislation this year, blaming GOP distrust of Obama to enforce any new law.

On the notion of a discharge petition, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “This scheme has zero chance of success. A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a major player on the bipartisan Senate measure, recently pushed the idea of a discharge petition, but the New York Democrat is unlikely to sway the nearly two dozen House Republicans necessary to sign on.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., made clear how Democrats will frame the issue for the Republicans who want immigration overhaul.

“Talk is one thing; actually doing something is another. And I’m sure they’ll have a chance between now and November to let their constituents know whether they’re serious on immigration reform, the comprehensive one, or not,” Van Hollen said.

___

Q: A discharge petition sounds like a tough sell. Has it worked recently?

The discharge petition worked in 1986, forcing a vote on a gun rights bill, and in 2002, ensuring a vote on campaign finance legislation.

The difficulty for a discharge petition in the current political climate was never more evident than last fall in the midst of the 16-day partial government shutdown. Even though several Republicans said they wanted to vote on a spending bill with no strings attached, they rejected the idea that they would join forces with the Democrats.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Dems Hope to Force House Vote on Minimum Wage Hike.


House Democrats said Thursday they will try to highlight GOP resistance to a higher minimum wage with a tactical maneuver meant to bring new attention to an issue they consider a political winner.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her party will push a “discharge petition” when Congress returns from its recess on Feb. 24. If Democrats can persuade roughly two dozen Republicans to sign the petition, it would force GOP leaders to allow a House vote on the wage issue.

Most Republican lawmakers oppose a higher minimum wage. They say it prompts employers to cut down on hiring, a claim Democrats dispute.

It’s by no means clear Democrats can collect enough signatures in the House, where they hold 200 seats to the Republicans’ 232. Three seats are vacant.

Pelosi’s announcement, at a House Democratic retreat in rural Maryland, might displease immigration reform advocates who want priority given to a discharge petition on that subject. Pelosi said a discharge effort may come later for immigration, but “right now we’re starting with the minimum wage.”

Democrats say most Americans favor both a higher minimum wage and sweeping changes to immigration laws. They say Republican leaders thwart the public’s will by refusing to allow House votes on these topics.

President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

An AP-GfK Poll in January found 55 percent of U.S. adults favor an increase in the minimum wage. Just 21 percent oppose it, and 23 percent are neutral.

Democrats say it’s frustrating to see polls show widespread support for their proposals — including a higher minimum wage and an immigration overhaul — even as Republicans appear likely to retain their House majority and possibly gain control of the Senate in this year’s elections.

Some strategists want congressional Democrats to find new ways to underscore their differences with Republicans, and paint Republicans as obstructionists.

“The minimum wage is one of the illuminating contrasts we have,” Rep. Steve Israel, of New York, told reporters at the party’s retreat. He chairs the committee overseeing Democrats’ House races.

Earlier, Republicans dismissed the idea of Democrats getting enough petition signatures to force a House vote on a Senate immigration bill that would grant new pathways to legal status for millions of immigrants.

“This scheme has zero chance of success,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he believes nearly all House Democrats would sign a petition seeking a vote on a higher minimum wage. If all 200 Democrats did so, they would need 17 Republicans to join them.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Small Pay Raise Marks Another Hit to Military Personnel.


Image: Small Pay Raise Marks Another Hit to Military PersonnelU.S. soldiers keep a watch over Shamirkot Bridge near forward base Honaker Miracle in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Military and civilian federal workers will receive a one percent pay raise over the next year, following an executive order issued by President Barack Obama on Monday.

The raise, however, represents another hit for military families who are more accustomed to a slightly higher annual pay increase. Last year, the rate was 1.8 percent, according to Fox News.

But for civilian workers, the president’s order marked their first pay increase in four years.

The smaller increase for military personnel is expected to make it even more difficult for active duty families and veterans to make ends meet.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit think tank, estimates that 340,000 veterans already receive public money for housing, while nearly a million veterans live on food stamps. In addition, 5,000 active-duty troops currently receive food stamps to help their families get by. According to the Pentagon, most of them are younger service members who have large families. They represent about .01 percent out of the 44 million Americans who qualify for assistance.

Active duty personnel are paid according to rank, and many earn just $18,194 a year, far below the federal poverty line, reports Fox. But the Defense Department says the dollar figure is deceiving, and that an Army private with less than two years of service and no dependents earns around $40,400 annually when base housing and food allowances are considered.

But Operation Homefront, which helps military families and veterans living in Washington, D.C. area with food, rent, and utility bills, said it expects even more requests for assistance next year because of the bipartisan budget deal passed by Congress that cuts future military retirement benefits for personnel under the age of 62.

“We’ve really been shocked since 2008 to see the growth in the number of requests for food assistance,” said Operation Homefront’s Jim Knotts. “Since 2008, when the economy really started going south, we’ve had a 400 percent increase in the number of requests for food assistance alone.”

While the pay increase for the military won’t help much, the raise for civilian federal workers was being praised Monday night as something long overdue, reports Reuters.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland called the move a “modest but important step.”

“In the case of federal civilian employees … given that these hardworking public servants have already contributed nearly $114 billion toward deficit reduction and some were furloughed as a result of the shutdown and the sequester, it is long overdue,” Hoyer said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Jailed Pastor’s Wife to Democrats: Don’t Abandon My Husband.


The wife of an Iranian-American pastor jailed in Iran is devastated that Democrats have abandoned a resolution demanding more sanctions against Iran as well as the release of her husband.

“The government has abandoned my husband and me and the kids,” Naghmen Abedini told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“I had hoped … our government would put this in the center stage and would not marginalize it.”

Story continues below video.

Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran since the summer of 2012 on charges of endangering national security through his Christian evangelical activities — charges he denies.

His supporters say he was in Iran working to build an orphanage with permission of the Iranian government.

On Thursday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer withdrew his support for the resolution at the last minute at the request of the Obama administration.

Hoyer was pushing a non-binding House resolution calling on the Islamic nation to allow no-notice inspections of suspect nuclear sites, access to top scientists and the freeing of U.S. citizens “held unjustly.”

But the White House put the kibosh on it, citing Secretary of State John Kerry‘s attempts to hammer out a deal end Iran’s nuclear research program.

“I’m very disappointed. This issue should cross political barriers and I would expect my government, including the Democrats, which also represent my government, they would not abandon their citizens at the time, at a crucial time, and it’s heartbreaking,” Abedini said.

“I know there [are] other issues that I’m not an expert to speak on, but it’s heartbreaking that it’s becoming a political issue.”

Abedini said Iran, by its own admission, has never officially stated her husband broke any law.
“So Iran’s actually holding him illegally for 444 days and silence from our government is actually approval … Silence, knowing that an American citizen’s being held simply because of his Christian faith, he has not broken any of the Iranian law, is just not acceptable,” she said.

“It’s something we should be very passionate about because we would expect our government to protect our fundamental rights … We’re sending a very dangerous message. I don’t understand, I honestly do not understand.”

Saaed Abedini was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 and had been living with his wife in Boise, Idaho, before the trip to Iran during which he was seized.

Last month, he was moved from Evin Prison to the more dangerous and brutal Rajai Shahr Prison.

Hoyer, with help from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Reps. Ed Royce of California and Elliot Engel of New York had hoped to draw up a nonbinding House resolution to put additional pressure on Iran.

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Bill Hoffmann

House Minority Whip Hoyer: ‘I Wish I Hadn’t Called It Obamacare’.


Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House Minority Whip, regrets he has used the moniker “Obamacare” to reference President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare program, according to McClatchy Newspapers.
“Yeah, I wish I hadn’t called it ‘Obamacare’ before, because that has politicized it and has been used by Republicans as a pejorative term,” Hoyer said.Story continues below video.

The White House decided to embrace ‘Obamacare’ rather than fight it even encouraging supporters to use the Twitter hashtag “#ilikeobamacare.”
“You want to call it ‘Obamacare’ — that’s okay, because I do care,” the president declared at an Atlanta fundraiser in 2012. He also told a University of Denver audience that same year, “I actually like the name. Because I do care — that’s why we fought so hard to make it happen.”
According to the Washington Times, Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday, “The Affordable Care Act is the Affordable Care Act” and a fundamentally positive development for Americans.
“You know what Obama says, though, which I think is correct?” Hoyer remarked. “He says it’s going to be called by the Republicans — Obamacare — right up until the time it works.”
The term “Obamacare” was probably first used publicly in March 2007 by Jeanne Schulte Scott in the trade magazine Healthcare Financial Management, according to The Wire.
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Elliot Jager

Congress Plans Tough Iran Sanctions If Deal Fails.


Lawmakers from both parties said Sunday they are skeptical that Iran will stick to a new nuclear deal and want Congress to prepare beefed up economic penalties to hit Tehran if the accord falls apart.

In an early morning announcement, Tehran agreed Sunday to a six-month pause of its nuclear program while diplomats continue talks aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. International observers are set to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites and ease about $7 billion of the crippling economic sanctions.

But the announcement, after months of secret face-to-face talks between the United States and Iran, left many U.S. lawmakers deeply doubtful of the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, said Sunday he would work with colleagues to have sanctions against Iran ready “should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement.”

Such distrust that Iran was negotiating in good faith ran across political parties that are otherwise deeply divided. And ready-to-go sanctions seemed to have rare bipartisan support across both of Congress’ chambers.

The House in July passed its latest round of sanctions against Iran with backing from both parties but the measure stalled in the Senate.

President Barack Obama convinced Senate leadership to hold off consideration of the measure while negotiators pursued an agreement. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada agreed to the request but said his chamber would take up new sanctions in December — with or without an agreement with Iran.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of his party’s leadership team, said he was “disappointed” by the deal, which he called disproportional. The New York Democrat said sanctions forced Iran to negotiate and said he plans further discussions with colleagues.

“This agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December,” Schumer said.

The Senate returns to session on Dec. 9 and lawmakers already were talking about sanctions designed to caution Iran that failure to use the six-month window to reach a deal would only leave Iranians in worse economic straits.

“Congress, I think, will want to make it clear that if Iran does not live up to these commitments, we will not only insist that the sanctions be reapplied, but we will have stronger sanctions against Iran,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: “There is now an even more urgent need for Congress to increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.”

In the House, the No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said the threat of even tougher sanctions could help keep Iranian diplomats at the negotiating table for talks designed to prevent Tehran from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Hoyer said he supports having the sanctions ready to go in case Iran proves an unreliable negotiating partner.

“It is appropriate that we wait six months to implement those, which will say to the Iranians: ‘We need a final deal, and if not a final deal, these tougher sanctions are going to go into place,'” Hoyer said.

Congress has been layering sanctions against Iran for years, crippling its economy and putting pressure on the nation’s middle class. Many of the economic penalties would remain in place during the six-month negotiating window, but lawmakers seemed to expect talks to collapse warrant new sanctions.

“If Iran does not consent to a comprehensive agreement that ensures it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, there is a broad consensus in Congress to impose even tougher sanctions,” said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A deep distrust of Iran pervaded Sunday’s discussion of the deal.

“We need to be very, very careful with the Iranians,” said Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I don’t trust them, I don’t think we should trust them. …. Sanctions should always be hanging there because that’s what brought Iran to the table in the first place.”

Rep. Ed Royce, the California Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Iranians “are capable of cheating.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner, too, said the six-month pause deserves healthy skepticism.

“Iran has a history of obfuscation that demands verification of its activities and places the burden on the regime to prove it is upholding its obligations in good faith while a final deal is pursued,” he said.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House intelligence panel, was more critical of a deal he said aids “the leading nation state of terror.”

“We have just rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior,” he said.

During interviews on Sunday, some lawmakers compared the current deal with the 1990s pact that gave North Korea a respite from sanctions if they promised to stop work on their nuclear program.

“We’ve seen what’s happened in North Korea; they now have nuclear weapons. And I don’t want to see that happen in Iran,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Added Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.: “We’ve trusted the Iranians before, just like the North Koreans, on nuclear issues, and what have we gotten for it?”

Cardin and Corker spoke with “Fox News Sunday.” Hoyer was on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Engel, Royce and Rogers appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Chambliss joined ABC’s “This Week.”

 

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Rep. McCarthy: Obama Should Not ‘Oversell’ Iran Deal.


House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is cautioning President Barack Obama from “overselling” the deal reached with Iran over its nuclear program.

“It is not a full dismantling of the program,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told CBS’Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer Sunday. “When you have friends and allies inside the region strongly opposed to it, I would caution.”

McCarthy, appearing on the show along with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., both agreed that the nation should still move ahead with sanctions in the Senate, but warned that the United States needs to “remember who we’re dealing with.”

“We’re dealing with Iran, one of the top supporters of terrorism around the world,” McCarthy said. “We are providing them resources and money and we should not take this lightly. We have to have a full dismantling if we want the world to be safer.”

McCarthy, also said it would be a “mistake” for any administration to make decisions like the Iran deal on a “political basis” when it comes to dealing with “lives around the world. I would hope that would never be the case.”

Hoyer, meanwhile, noted that the policy continues to be that Iran not have a nuclear arms capability, and the military option “needs to be on the table” to “make sure that Iran does not move forward.”

He called the treaty a “marginal improvement” that freezes some of Iran’s activities and continues major sanctions against the country.

“It’s going to be costly on a continuing basis to them,” said Hoyer. Further, he said the Senate should continue with its sanctions bill, but not implement it for six months while assuming Iran will keep up its end of the deal.

“I think Secretary of State [John Kerry] is absolutely correct, and verification is correct,” said Hoyer.

Hoyer noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the agreement was reached that he would move forward with sanctions after Thanksgiving.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Tea Party Republicans Stand Firm Against Washington ‘Pigsty’ as Shutdown Widens.


Image: Tea Party Republicans Stand Firm Against Washington 'Pigsty' as Shutdown Widens

By Newsmax Wires

Even as conservative Republicans vowed not to yield to their Obamacare demands for delay, President Barack Obama announced he will meet the four top leaders of Congress at the White House on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to reopen the government and raise the U.S. debt ceiling.Obama will meet at 5:30 p.m. EDT with Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Boehner’s office said the meeting would be the start of serious talks to bridge differences that led to government agencies closing down.

But tea party-backed House Republicans showed no sign of backing down Wednesday as the effects of the shutdown rippled out across the nation.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a tea party favorite, said there would be no solution until President Obama and Democrats who control the Senate agree to discuss problems with the nation’s unfolding health care overhaul.

“The pigsty that is Washington, D.C., gets mud on a lot of people and the question is what are you going to do moving forward,” Chaffetz, R-Utah, said on CBS’ “This Morning.”

Nearly all of the lawmakers who spoke to Newsmax insisted that, after the House took three votes on continuing resolutions in 10 days, their constituents were rallying to their side in the ongoing duel with Senate and White House.

“Our e-mails and calls since the vote last night were running 60-to-40 in favor of our position on Obamacare…,” Republican Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana told a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “And in recent weeks, I’ve held 12 town-hall meetings and heard from more than 2,500 Hoosiers. Almost all of them are asking us in Congress to take a stand against a very bad law and against big government.”

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas told Newsmax that “99 out of 100” calls and e-mails to his office are running in favor of stopping Obamacare.

“That’s really impressive when you consider that in our district [east of Houston], we have about 9,000 government employees and their families.”

Stockman, who served a term in Congress during the last government shutdown in 1995, said “there is far more desire among House Republicans today to tough it out and stand firm than there was 17 years ago.”

Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, told The New York Times that  “we’ve passed the witching hour of midnight, and the sky didn’t fall, nothing caved in.” He said he still believes Republicans can achieve “the end of Obamacare.” “Now the pressure will build on both sides, and the American people will weigh in.”

Meanwhile, another financial showdown even more critical to the economy was looming. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress that unless lawmakers act in time, he will run out of money to pay the nation’s bills by Oct. 17. Congress must periodically raise the limit on government borrowing to keep U.S. funds flowing, a once-routine matter that has become locked in battles over the federal budget deficit.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat, said Democrats would overwhelmingly accept a short-term spending measure to reopen the government and increase the nation’s debt limit while other political differences are worked out. “That would be a responsible way to go,” Hoyer told CNN.

At issue is the need to pass a temporary funding bill to keep the government open since the start of the new budget year on Tuesday.

Congress has passed 87 temporary funding bills since 1999, virtually all of them without controversy. Now, conservative Republicans have held up the measure in the longshot hope of derailing or delaying Obamacare.

Fed-up Americans took to Facebook and Twitter to call members of Congress “stupid” or “idiots.” Some blamed Republicans while others blasted Obama or Democrats “who spend our tax dollars like crack addicts.”

Bruce Swedal, a 46-year-old Denver real estate agent, tweeted to Congress members: “You should not be getting paid. In fact, you all should be fired!”

Some 800,000 federal workers deemed nonessential were staying home again Wednesday in the first partial shutdown since the winter of 1995-96.

Across the nation, America roped off its most hallowed symbols: the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Statue of Liberty in New York, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, the Washington Monument.

Its natural wonders — the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Smoky Mountains and more — put up “Closed” signs and shooed campers away.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said he was getting pleas from businesses that rely on tourists. “The restaurants, the hotels, the grocery stores, the gasoline stations, they’re all very devastated with the closing of the parks,” he said.

The Defense Department said it wasn’t clear that service academies would be able to participate in sports, putting Saturday’s Army vs. Boston College and Air Force vs. Navy football games on hold, with a decision to be made Thursday.

The most obvious ways out of the government shutdown crisis are non-starters,according to Politico. Democrats want to see the House pass a “clean” continuing resolution that makes no reference to Obamacare. Republicans – including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah – propose funding the government piecemeal to take the sting of out the shutdown. Lee would pass agency-by-agency temporary budgets, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

This tactic would fund national parks, veterans benefits and the local D.C. government, ostensibly embarrassing Democrats into voting up and down on programs popular among their constituents, The Washington Post reported reported.

The piecemeal funding idea doesn’t sit well with some conservatives. Andrew Stiles, blogging in National Review, wonders: “Did Mike Lee Just Cave?”

Both sides may be using the words “compromise” and “middle ground” but what they apparently have in mind is continued political warfare without incurring the wrath of the American people.

Liberals, meanwhile, are denigrating the very notion that a middle ground exists. Columnist William Saletan complains in Slate that Republicans were “planting the assumption that the reasonable, moderate, even-handed thing to do is to ‘negotiate’ a ‘compromise'” on Obamacare. Not a chance, says Saletan: “Nothing in the Constitution authorizes a single house of Congress to retroactively veto U.S. law by refusing to fund the rest of the government.”

Liberal blogger Eric Boehlert in Media Matters is no less strident: “Middle ground? Doesn’t it seem [that] the Republican strategy is designed specifically so there is no middle-ground option for Obama to take, making compromise impossible?”

None of this is keeping politicians and political operatives from making noises about supposed give and take from both sides. Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Democrat, told oregonlive.com that he wants to find a “middle ground” and is willing to forgo his salary until one is achieved. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican, who opposed the shutdown strategy, says “compromise” requires delaying implementation of Obamacare, the Houston CBS affiliate reported. And Tea Party Express strategist Sal Russo, told McClatchy, “We have to find some middle ground to postpone the [Obamacare’s] individual mandate.”

The sheer absence of a middle ground possibility is riling citizens across the political spectrum. In Claremont, VT Abbie Williams, who describes herself as a staunch Republican conservative, told The Valley News that she was angry about the GOP’s shutdown strategy. Yet she, too, couldn’t identify any middle ground.

“You can’t get blood from a rock,” she said. “We can’t be instituting this socialist type of health care program when we don’t have the funds to support it, and not only that, the vast majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare.”

No “easy solution” is how Bloomberg chief Washington correspondent Peter Cook describes the situation. He thinks the shutdown could run on for at least two weeks – smack into the Oct 17 deadline when the country exhausts its borrowing authority.

Says Cook: There is no “easy compromise.”

Ironically, as Politico noted, while the government is partially shutdown funding to implement Obamacare is mandatory and continuing. Health insurance exchanges that are at the core of President Barack Obama’s health care law were up and running, taking applications for coverage that would start Jan. 1.

“Shutting down our government doesn’t accomplish their stated goal,” Obama said of his Republican opponents at a Rose Garden event hailing implementation of the law. “The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was a central issue in last year’s election. It is settled, and it is here to stay. And because of its funding sources, it’s not impacted by a government shutdown.”

GOP leaders faulted the Senate for killing a House request to open official negotiations on the temporary spending bill. Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada insist that Republicans give in and pass their simple, straightforward temporary funding bill, known as a continuing resolution.

“None of us want to be in a shutdown. And we’re here to say to the Senate Democrats, ‘Come and talk to us,'” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said as GOP lawmakers designated to negotiate the shutdown legislation met among themselves before cameras and reporters on Tuesday. “At each and every turn, the Senate Democrats refused to even discuss these proposals.”

Since the GOP piecemeal measures were brought before the House under expedited procedures requiring a two-thirds vote to pass, House Democrats scuttled them, despite an impassioned plea by Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who recalled that in the last shutdown 17 years ago she prevailed on House Speaker Newt Gingrich to win an exemption to keep the D.C. government running.”I must support this piecemeal approach,” Norton said. “What would you do if your local budget was here?”

But other Democrats said Republicans shouldn’t be permitted to choose which agencies should open and which remain shut.

“This piecemeal approach will only prolong a shutdown,” Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said.

Republicans said there could be more votes Wednesday, perhaps to allow the National Institutes of Health to continue pediatric cancer research. The NIH’s famed hospital of last resort wasn’t admitting new patients because of the shutdown. Dr. Francis Collins, agency director, estimated that each week the shutdown lasts would force the facility to turn away about 200 patients, 30 of them children, who want to enroll in studies of experimental treatments. Patients already at the hospital are permitted to stay.

Republicans also said the House may vote anew on the three measures that failed Tuesday, this time under normal rules requiring a simple majority to pass.

Republicans hoped such votes would create pressure on Democrats to drop their insistence that they won’t negotiate on the spending bill or an even more important subsequent measure, required in a couple of weeks or so, to increase the government’s borrowing limit.

There were suggestions from leaders in both parties that the shutdown could last for weeks and grow to encompass the measure to increase the debt limit. “This is now all together,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.

“It’s untenable not to negotiate,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said. “I’ve always believed it was the debt limit that would be the forcing action.”

While GOP leaders seemed determined to press on, some Republicans conceded they might bear the brunt of any public anger over the shutdown — and seemed resigned to an eventual surrender in their latest bruising struggle with Obama.

Democrats have “all the leverage and we’ve got none,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said.

Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said it was time to pass legislation reopening the government without any health care impediments.

“The shutdown is hurting my district — including the military and the hardworking men and women who have been furloughed due to the defense sequester,” he said.

But that was far from the majority view among House Republicans, where tea party-aligned lawmakers prevailed more than a week ago on a reluctant leadership to link federal funding legislation to the health care law. In fact, some conservatives fretted the GOP had already given in too much.

“It’s getting better for us,” said Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho, told The New York Times. “The moment where Republicans are least popular is right when the government shuts down. But when the president continues to say he’s unwilling to negotiate with the American people, when Harry Reid says he won’t even take things to conference, I don’t think the American people are going to take that too kindly.”

Related stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Tea Party House Republicans Push ‘Plan B’ to Defund Obamacare.


Moving on to Plan B, House GOP leaders appear likely to give tea party lawmakers a chance to use a routine temporary government funding bill to try to muscle the Democratic-controlled Senate into derailing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

It’s a strategy fraught with political risk for Republicans, who could find themselves bearing the blame for any partial government shutdown that results from an impasse with the Senate.

The Senate seems poised to reject the GOP move, strip the “defund Obamacare” idea from the legislation and send a straightforward stopgap spending bill right back into the laps of House conservatives frustrated by their inability to unravel the health care bill.

GOP aides said the latest strategy was to be presented to rank-and-file Republicans at a closed-door meeting Wednesday. They required anonymity to discuss the strategy because it had not been announced.

It’s a reversal from an earlier strategy, rejected last week by angry conservatives, that would have sent the measure to the Senate as two bills to ensure that the Democratic-controlled chamber would be able to ship the spending measure straight to the White House and more easily avert a government shutdown after the Sept. 30 end of the budget year.

The idea then was to avoid a subsequent vote on a “clean” stopgap spending bill in the House after Senate Democrats voted to strip out the provision. Stopgap funding bills are typically routine, with neither House nor Senate looking to use them to pick a fight.

The flaw in the fallback strategy is that if the Senate were to send the measure back, angry GOP conservatives might be looking for a fight and could withhold their votes rather than surrender to the Senate and its top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

House Republicans are also looking at a vote soon to raise the government’s $16.7 trillion borrowing cap on their own terms by pairing it with a roster of conservative priorities, including a renewed assault on the health care law and a mandate to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Conservatives want to take a must-pass bill hostage and add the assault on the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to force Obama and congressional Democrats to make concessions. GOP leaders have viewed the effort with skepticism since Democrats would never go along.

The idea of defunding Obama’s health care law has been a goal of tea party conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and outside groups like the Heritage Foundation.

Meanwhile, a large group of House conservatives intends to unveil legislation providing an expanded tax break for consumers who purchase their own health coverage and increasing the government funding for high-risk pools, according to lawmakers who said the plan marked the Republicans’ first comprehensive alternative to Obama’s health care overhaul.

Conservatives are frustrated that Republicans control only one chamber of Congress and have little chance to enact their agenda over the opposition of Obama and Senate Democrats.

On the record, GOP aides said no final decision has been made — “or will be made, until House Republican members meet and talk tomorrow,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday.

A shutdown impasse would leave the government without funding authority to pay its workers, including the military, or enter into new contracts until a bill is passed. But essential programs like the military, air traffic control, food inspection, disaster relief and firefighting would continue to function since they’re related to protecting life and property. So-called mandatory programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are funded as if on autopilot, would also continue.

National parks would mostly close, most passport applications could not be processed and the space program would largely be put on hold, among other results.

A top House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said Tuesday he would not support the stopgap funding bill under any circumstance since it would fund programs at an annualized funding rate of $986 billion, a level consistent with automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration that Democrats are trying to reverse.

But if the Democratic Senate goes along with that funding level, as insiders have signaled, and if Obama endorses the straightforward funding measure, House Democrats likely could be counted upon to provide the votes. The question is whether GOP leaders would want to pass the measure with help from Democrats, which Boehner did on several occasions earlier this year to the consternation of conservatives.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Tuesday that the GOP move was a nonstarter.

“The president’s been clear. I’ve been clear. Efforts to either defund or delay the Affordable Care Act are unacceptable,” Lew told the Economic Club of Washington. “That is not a path towards something that can ultimately be signed into law.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Boehner Pressed to Delay, Defund Obamacare.


Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives faced increasing pressure on Tuesday from their restive caucus for a stop-gap government funding plan that defunds or delays “Obamacare” health reforms.

An aide to House Speaker John Boehner denied a report by the conservative National Review magazine that Boehner had decided to allow a vote on a funding measure that avoids a Oct. 1 government shutdown but defunds President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance reform law.

House Republicans were set to discuss their options for the funding deadline in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning in the Capitol.

“No decisions have been made, or will be made, until House Republican members meet and talk tomorrow,” said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman.

After House conservatives rejected a plan put forth by Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week as not strong enough, an alternative measure to delay Obamacare reforms for a year coupled to a year’s worth of temporary funding has been gaining steam.

However, one House Republican aide thought the measure most likely would provide government funding through mid-December instead of for the full fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.

On Tuesday, the plan’s author, Representative Tom Graves of Georgia, said that some 70 House Republicans had signed on as cosponsors to the measure, a substantial bloc among the 233 House Republicans.

One of Graves’ co-sponsors, Representative Steve Southerland of Florida, said the Obamacare delay plan would be discussed prominently in Wednesday’s closed-door meeting.

“We want to protect the American people from a bad law and we want to make sure that the government is funded to provide services that the American people deserve and expect,” Southerland told reporters. “It’s the Republican party that’s trying to figure out as hard as we can to do both of those things.”

 

TOUGH FIGHT SEEN

If the House were to include a provision hobbling Obamacare, the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to strip it out and simply approve the government program funding, sending it back to the House for final approval. Many House Democratic votes could be needed to win passage of the bill in the Republican-controlled House.

Some Republicans said that they also view a fight over the raising the $16.7 trillion federal debt ceiling as a “fallback” position on delaying Obamacare. The U.S. Treasury has said an increase in federal borrowing capacity is needed by mid-October in order to ensure that payment obligations can be met.

“I think the play is on the debt ceiling. That’s where I want to attach the full delay of Obamacare for a year,” said Representative John Fleming of Louisiana, adding that he believed the Treasury can continue to pay interest on its debt while cutting back other services.

Some Democrats on Tuesday predicted a tough battle over a potential government shutdown on Oct. 1 as they seek to defend Obamacare and restore spending levels sharply reduced by “sequester” automatic spending cuts.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said the atmosphere in Congress is worse than it was in 1995-96 when a similar funding impasse closed federal agencies.

“I think we’re going to have a fight,” Representative Steny Hoyer told reporters, adding that 18 years ago there were significantly more moderate Republicans willing to seek compromises with Democrats and still there were shutdowns.

Now, Hoyer said, Republicans “terrified of the Tea Party,” are hurting prospects for a deal on government spending.

House Republicans backed by the smaller-government Tea Party movement want to use the spending bill and upcoming legislation to raise U.S. borrowing authority as battlegrounds for both paring back the size of government and stopping or delaying a new national healthcare law.

Unless the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama reach an agreement on funding levels for Congress in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, most government activities will grind to a halt for lack of money.

While Senate Democrats are certain to reject any House passed measure to defund or delay Obamacare, which aims to extend healthcare coverage to millions more Americans, taking that step could help revive long-dormant bipartisan negotiations on a broader fiscal solution.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not offer any help to House Republicans in their dilemma on Tuesday, saying the Senate would simply wait and see what the House passes.

“It’s up to the House. We’re waiting for them to act. Until they act, we’re going to do nothing,” said Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat.

Hoyer laid down a tough marker, however, saying that he would vote against a stopgap spending bill – even one without attacks on Obamacare – if that measure aimed to spend only $988 billion for the full fiscal year.

“$1.058 trillion I think is the right number,” Hoyer said, explaining that it would fund government at the levels called for in a 2011 budget law, but without the additional across-the-board spending cuts that began earlier this year.

Many Republicans want to maintain the tougher deficit-reduction discipline that the automatic spending cuts provide and they argue that Obamacare, over the long-run, will hurt the economy and add to budget deficits.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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