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Posts by Jonathan Strong
April 26, 2013
Despite a vigorous debate on the House floor prior to the vote, a bill to prevent flight delays from sequestration-related budget cuts passed the House with a large bipartisan majority.
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., decried the bill and voted against it “because it fails to address the whole impact of sequester.”
He was one of only 29 Democrats to vote against the bill, which passed 361-41 and secured the necessary two-thirds majority it needed under suspension of the rules.
During the House debate, Republicans mocked the protestations on Twitter, with David Popp — a spokesman for Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas — likening Democratic dissenting voices to indiscriminate “loud noises,” a reference to a recent comedic movie.
The bill will explicitly allow the Federal Aviation Administration to shift funds from other areas to avoid furloughs for air traffic controllers, preventing further flight delays.
Earlier Friday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., sought to build support for the measure by saying that Senate Democrats “caved” to public pressure when that chamber passed its bill by unanimous consent with no debate on Thursday evening.
April 25, 2013
Following a successful bid to ban the naming of facilities authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act after sitting members of Congress, Ohio Republican Rep. Michael R. Turner is broadening his push to ban the practice across the federal government.
Turner introduced a bill Tuesday to ban “monuments to me” and may seek to include language in individual appropriations bills, he said in an interview. He has been leading the charge for several years.
“We all understand acknowledging the service of those members who are retired or have, perhaps, passed on. But sitting members of Congress — it’s a clear conflict of interest for a facility to be named after them,” Turner said. “These are not member of Congress dollars that build these facilities, they’re the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, have had dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new buildings, roads and other projects named after themselves in past years. In many cases, those things are private institutions. But in other cases, they are government-funded projects authorized in legislation the lawmakers help enact.
For example, a 2000 bill named a federal courthouse after Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey. Full story
April 24, 2013
After a hiatus that coincided with a tough re-election campaign for Rep. Michele Bachmann, the House Tea Party Caucus is launching anew with a reception Thursday.
About a dozen representatives and several senators are expected to attend the event in the Rayburn House Office Building at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, organizers said. Co-hosting the event is TheTeaParty.net and helping organize it is consulting firm kellenPROJECTS.
Also, a competing tea party caucus founded this Congress by South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney was abandoned when the lawmaker realized Bachmann would be restarting her caucus after all.
“I was unsure if Congresswoman Bachmann was planning to chair a Tea Party Caucus in the 113th Congress, so my office filed paperwork with the House Administration Committee to establish a caucus by that name. I’m happy to have learned Congresswoman Bachmann plans to continue her own caucus, and I look forward to working with her on a range of Tea Party issues,” Mulvaney said in a written statement. Full story
April 10, 2013
The House approved a bill Tuesday without the support of a majority of the Republican Conference, about one month after Speaker John A. Boehner sought to assure his conference that he intended to observe the “Hastert rule.”
The bill, which expands the government’s ability to buy land to protect historical battlefields at a projected cost of $50 million, passed under suspension of the rules, 283-122, with 101 Republicans supporting the bill and 122 voting against it. The Hastert rule, named for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., calls for GOP leadership to only allow bills to pass that have secured “a majority of the majority” of the House Republican conference.
Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America, which issued a “key vote” against the bill, said, “Americans of all political stripes agree something has to change, and that Republicans can lead that change if they are willing to reject status quo in Washington. Violating the Hastert Rule to pass $46 million in battlefield pork won’t get the job done, though,” he said. “Last night’s vote was a missed opportunity.”
Although the top members of House GOP leadership voted for the bill, including Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, several of the lower tier members of leadership, including Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, and Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford, the Policy Committee chairman, voted “no.”
April 7, 2013
Ask the modern day “Mad Men” on New York’s Madison Avenue about the GOP’s efforts to rebrand and they point to the recent episode involving Rep. Don Young’s use of the term “wetback” as a missed opportunity.
Speaker John A. Boehner quickly demanded that the Alaska Republican apologize, but in the following days, his spokesmen did not even respond to emailed questions about whether Young would face any concrete punishment for using the racially offensive term in a radio interview.
“When someone does something like that, it should have been a clear censure,” said Peter Hempel, CEO of DDB New York. “There has to be consequences because otherwise people don’t know what Boehner stands for.”
“You need a high-powered Republican to step forward, authoritatively, and say, ‘That is not me.’ And they really need to throw Don Young over the side. They need to throw him under the bus,” branding consultant Rob Frankel said. “He would be the representative of the old guard. That’s the beauty of this whole thing.” Full story
March 27, 2013
It’s only been about three months, but the tentative truce between House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., is already facing its first big test.
At issue is whether Issa will provide copies of whistle-blower documents to Cummings. According to Issa, the person who provided the material to the committee is that afraid Cummings’ staff will give the Obama administration a heads up on what’s been shared and leave the whistle-blower open to retaliation.
In a March 21 letter, Cummings asked for copies of documents provided to the committee by Time Wise Management Systems CEO Rod Rodrigue relating to contracting irregularities at the Commerce Department. The letter included an attached email from Rodrigue’s lawyer that seemed to indicate he was open to letting the Democratic staff view the documents.
Issa, in a March 26 reply obtained by CQ Roll Call, said, “while Rodrigue’s identity is known, he reasonably believes information contained in the documents may expose him to retaliation for blowing the whistle on waste and mismanagement at” Commerce. Full story
March 21, 2013
We explained earlier this week why most conservatives would vote for the Ryan budget despite their complaints that it largely obtained balance in a relatively brief 10 years by including past tax increases.
That proved true Thursday, when only 10 Republicans voted “no” on the plan and decided against joining their party on one of its most unified votes. Here’s why they voted against House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s blueprint.
Six of the 10 said the Wisconsin Republican’s budget didn’t cut spending fast enough, while four said it cut spending too steeply or in the wrong areas.
Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina — all “no” votes — are in the same ideological camp of libertarian-leaning Republicans urging far bolder spending cuts. Amash and Jones, who were thrown off their plum committee assignments in December, have become almost automatic “no” votes on spending bills that come out of the House. Massie has quickly joined their ranks.
Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas said in a statement that he voted against the budget because he wants “permanent spending controls,” not a “non-binding resolution” that can be “changed with each new Congress.” Full story
Speaker John A. Boehner downplayed the importance of the debt ceiling increase in remarks to reporters Thursday, saying it might provide “some” leverage to Republicans to force spending cuts, “but I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.”
Rather than isolating the debt ceiling as an individual point of leverage, Republicans are hinting they’ll use it alongside the sequester cuts and the budget fight to push for long-term entitlement changes.
“We’ve made clear that to get rid of the sequester, we need cuts and reforms that will put us on a path to balance the budget over 10 years. The president is clear that he’s not going to address our entitlement crisis unless we’re willing to raise taxes. I think the tax issue’s been resolved. So at this point in time, I don’t know how we go forward,” the Ohio Republican said.
Republicans are planning an extended closed-door meeting to hammer out their strategy on the debt ceiling and other issues when they return from Easter recess. Boehner and other members of House leadership met on March 14 with a working group of influential conservatives on the issue.
Conservatives in the group are coalescing around demanding changes to entitlements for the debt ceiling increase and said the extended conference session will allow the GOP to “hash out” which reforms they will support.
March 19, 2013
The budget blueprint offered by House Republicans last year would have balanced the budget in what seemed like a million years (actually, it was 27). This year’s plan offered by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., balances in only 10. It also repeals Obamacare and institutes Medicare changes sought by Republican deficit hawks.
And yet, there is angst on the right about this budget.
“This year’s budget actually spends more money” than last year’s budget, wrote Daniel Horowitz at RedState.com, “while all of the balance is achieved through $3.233 trillion in new revenues.”
Those new revenues include tax increases agreed to as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations as well as tax increases that were part of Obamacare. That has led to some anger on the right, including from ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, who said, “The only thing the Ryan budget makes clear is that Paul Ryan spent too much time campaigning with Mitt Romney.”
Among House conservatives, however, the complaints have been muted. Lawmakers who are concerned about the tax increases in the budget are planning on voting for it anyway. Full story