Archive for category congress
Just before midnight on Monday, congressional leaders and the White House tentatively agreed on a major budget deal. The plan is to end debt limit standoffs through March 2017, and keep the federal government in operation with some sequestration relief. So-called “entitlement reform,” meaning cuts to Medicare and Social Security, was kept within limits.
Presumably, Speaker John Boehner will send this budget bill to the House floor before turning over the gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan.
The good news is, it looks like the U.S. government and economy will survive in the near term. We’ll avoid a looming default on our National Debt, and there will not be a government shutdown on December 11.
The bad news is the Shutdown Caucus, a key block of Tea-GOP members of Congress, still wants to bring about a government shutdown and/or default any way they can. Because of gerrymandering, they are likely to survive the next election. And nobody except Bernie Sanders is talking about taxing the rich anymore.
The post will replace my earlier one, Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown.
The federal government made it past the end of the fiscal year with a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 11. Speaker John Boehner is stepping down, effective at the end of this month. President Obama has declared that that he will not sign another short-term CR.
As of today, the Tea-GOP House caucus is nominating a new Speaker, the inarticulate, gaffe-prone House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) [Apparently not – see updates]. Rep. McCarthy has already let the proverbial cat out of the bag by telling Faux News’ Sean Hannity that the purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee was to get Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers down.
Unless Boehner is able to push through legislation before retiring, the new Speaker will face a November 5th deadline to raise the debt limit, and then a December 11th budget deadline. At this point it does not look like the Tea-GOP has enough votes in the House to avoid missing those deadlines and precipitating a major governing crisis.
In short, it appears the only way to avoid a default on the National Debt and to prevent another federal government shutdown is with the support of House Democrats– who will surely demand an end to the sequester cuts and who knows what else.
Reps Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) were also running for Speaker. On Wednesday, the House’s conservative “Freedom Caucus” endorsed Webster.
Ian Millhiser on Think Progress:
It is possible that there is no one in America who can win an absolute majority of House members votes, the amount that is necessary to become the next speaker.
House Speaker John Boehner has refused to negotiate with Democrats on the federal budget, setting the conditions for another government shutdown at the end of September.
The House goes on vacation until after Labor Day at the end of the month. If no deal is in place, it will leave just three weeks to craft a budget compromise before funding for the government expires on Sept. 30.
Senate Democrats have promised to block passage of any budget bills that lock in sequestration cuts. Nothing has yet come to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto any such austerity budget bills.
Over in the House, the Tea-GOP has been unable to gather enough votes for the Interior-Environment appropriations bill (that includes crippling budget cuts to the EPA, would prohibit regulation of fracking or implementation of carbon emission standards for electric power plants, block new clean-water rules, and stop the government’s marine and coastal planning efforts to respond to climate change) because it contains an amendment allowing the confederate flag to be displayed in national parks. Speaker Boehner has placed a complete hold on appropriations bills until the impasse is resolved.
It’s unconstitutional and enjoys essentially zero public support, but the Koch brothers want it– therefore our so-called representatives are calling for national legislation to seize and sell America’s public lands.
Bishop and Stewart are seeking leverage. In trying to negotiate with the environmental groups who want more wilderness and other protections under the Public Lands Initiative, they are playing the state-takeover card. Those environmental groups would be more inclined to take less if they thought state ownership was looming. It’s a wild card, in that it’s not clear such a land transfer bill would ever make it through Congress.
The looming shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at midnight Friday is a fake crisis. Speaker of the House John Boehner has the votes to pass a “clean” DHS appropriations bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already caved on the Tea-GOP’s shutdown threat.
This thing is totally fake. Why are the media talking about it as if it were real?
1. Friday afternoon now,and Speaker Boehner is still refusing to allow a vote on the “clean” DHS appropriations bill.
2. Democrats to the Rescue: Congress Averts Shutdown for One More Week
3. John Boehner Blinks, Will Allow For Clean Funding Of Department Of Homeland Security
Source: The Daily Mirror
The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.
President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The draft resolution (PDF) asks Congress to enact a three-year Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. The resolution notably restricts the use of American ground troops and seeks to avoid a prolonged conflict.
Obama announced his plan to launch airstrikes against ISIS back in September, and the White House’s AUMF resolution seeks to formalize the U.S. military campaign to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.
The draft AUMF has already been criticized as imprecise. For example, it defines the enemy as “ISIL [sic] or associated persons or forces.” But that would include the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (armed by the U.S.), who routinely fight alongside ISIS. Like the 2001 AUMF (which would remain in effect), there is no geographical limitation in the new draft AUMF. Potentially it could authorize attacking Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Asked today if he agreed that language was “fuzzy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied with a firm yes, saying it is “intentionally” fuzzy “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief.”
I left the Army with the rank of captain, but it doesn’t take a four-star general to realize you can’t fight a war intelligently unless you know who the enemy is, and where to find them. Oh, and by the way this draft AUMF is probably a violation of the U.N. Charter – though that’s somewhat debatable.
“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.
“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Via CREDO Action:
The way the law works now, presidents can use the Antiquities Act to quickly set aside public lands for protection and conservation through national monument proclamations, instead of going through the difficult congressional process of designating a national park. In fact, it’s often the first step to creating a national park – the Grand Canyon was first proclaimed a monument under the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The power to proclaim national monuments is a presidential privilege that has literally shaped America’s landscape and its history, but Republicans in Congress now think it’s time to end all of that. Last month, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill that would strip the president of this authority. H.R.4988 (the MAST Act) would overhaul the Antiquities Act, making it nearly impossible for presidents to declare new national monuments. It’s a cynical attempt to forever block the president’s ability to protect our public lands from corporate drilling and mining.
Stop the MAST Act, it could be a big win for the Tea-GOP right-wing agenda. We can’t allow that to happen. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Stop Republicans from blocking new national parks.
The Highs and Lows of the Antiquities Act
Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.
It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”
Once you’ve watched the video, please join the growing chorus of Americans who are saying no to fast track and the TPP by adding your name to this petition from Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America.
Media Matters: Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months