Senate Republicans

Senate Republicans Start To Cave On DHS Funding, Obama’s Immigration Order

Mitch McConnell is shown. | AP Photo

Mitch McConnell is shown. | AP Photo

Addicting Info

Senate Republicans are showing signs of caving on the issue of using funding for the Department of Homeland Security to get rid of Obama’s immigration order. The Hill is reporting that they’re considering a new strategy now, which, if passed, will prevent DHS from shutting down next week.

This new strategy is something that they should have considered before, when Democrats were calling for a clean funding bill for DHS. They want to separate the legislation on Obama’s immigration order from the DHS funding bill. According to The Hill, a Senate Republican aide said:

“There’s another angle we’re going to try to approach on it. The goal is to bring up the issue of executive amnesty and have a determination of just that issue.

We would try to have a vote on just that issue. Does it have to be addressed as part of DHS, or can it be addressed separately? If we can get to that issue and have a vote on that issue, then you come back to DHS appropriations.

That’s the issue some of the Democrats have a problem with the administration as well as the Republicans. But when you throw in all the other issues, Dreamers and all the other things that came over from the House, you don’t have as much Democratic support.”

Senate Republicans need support from Democrats in order to get things through, since they don’t have the 60 seats they’d need to get anything passed without at least some Democratic supporters. The current funding bill from the House would reverse both Obama’s immigration order, and his order from 2012 called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA. DACA deferred deportations for people who are here illegally, if they came here as children.

Democrats have blocked that bill three times, and are showing no signs of allowing another vote anytime soon. Part of that is because DACA is more popular than Obama’s immigration order. Blocking the current bill puts Senate Republicans in a tough spot, since House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says his job is done.

Another Republican aide told The Hill that shutdowns are the GOP’s “kryptonite.” They can’t win that, ever, and yet, they keep doing it. The aide feels that Republicans made a huge mistake when they put DACA’s repeal in the funding bill. If it wasn’t for DACA, more Democrats in the Senate might side with Republicans, since there are some centrist Democrats upset with Obama’s immigration order, too.

So is this the GOP caving? Perhaps. Are we going to see an end to ridiculous ideological influences in Congress anytime soon? Not bloody likely. However, maybe some Senate Republicans are coming to their senses, and are more willing to be rational about these things.

McConnell lashes out: Tea Party groups ‘ruining’ GOP

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the weekly policy lunch of the Republican caucus on Nov. 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C. WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces Tea Party backlash in his coming re-election efforts for 2014.  This should be interesting in light of his most recent statement…


Mitch McConnell ripped tea party-aligned forces like the Senate Conservatives Fund in a recent interview, saying they are “ruining” the Republican brand.

It is the Senate Minority Leader’s latest attempt to stand up to extremists in his party amidst a tough reelection bid that’s left him fielding attacks from the left and right, with Democrats criticizing his role in allowing a government shutdown and his Republican challenger criticizing his role in ending it.

In an interview published on Friday, McConnell chided the most far-right wing members of his party—without specifically naming the tea party —and blamed them for the government shutdown in October.

“There were people who were basically afraid of [conservatives], frankly,” McConnell told theWashington Examiner. “It’s time for people to stand up to this sort of thing.”

In standing up to the tea party, McConnell is walking a tight-rope: he doesn’t want to anger the far-right, grassroots Republicans who have long made up his base, but he does want to stop the tea-party led insurgency that has dragged Republican approval ratings down to historic lowsshut the government down for 16-days, and caused a GOP civil war.

“To have the kind of year we ought to have in 2014, we have to have electable candidates on November ballots in every state—people that don’t scare the general electorate and can actually win, because winners make policy and losers go home,” McConnell told the Washington Examiner. “We can’t just turn the other cheek and hope for the best. It didn’t work in 2010 and 2012 so we’re going to try something different in 2014.”

McConnell kept quiet for the first few years of the group’s existence once he saw its power in Kentucky (a McConnell-approved candidate lost to tea party darling Sen. Rand Paul in a race to be Kentucky’s junior senator), courting tea party forces and even bringing Paul’s 2010 campaign manager to run his 2014 bid.

His battle with the tea party coincides with his 2014 bid, where he’s facing challenges on both sides—from a formidable Democrat, former Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes, and a tea party challenger, Matt Bevin. McConnell trumps Bevin in polls, but he and Grimes are neck and neck.

It’s perhaps why McConnell’s gloves came off when he discussed the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that aims to boot the Senate’s seasoned Republicans, including McConnell, in favor of farther right conservatives like his challenger from the right, Bevin.

“The Senate Conservatives Fund is giving conservatism a bad name. They’re participating in ruining the [Republican] brand,” McConnell said. “What they do is mislead their donors into believing the reason that we can’t get as good an outcome as we’d like to get is not because of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, but because Republicans are insufficiently committed to the cause — which is utter nonsense.”

Ted Cruz Infuriates House Republicans By Conceding Defeat On Obamacare Repeal

ted cruz house obamacare

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) infuriated House Republicans on Wednesday by, perhaps inadvertently, conceding that GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare aren’t going anywhere in the Senate. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) | Getty

This was inevitable…

The Huffington Post

House Republicans are fuming at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for conceding that the party’s efforts to repeal Obamacare aren’t going anywhere in the Senate — and leaving the House to keep fighting over it anyway.

Cruz, a tea party favorite, is one of the most vocal proponents of defunding the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. He’s spent months championing the cause. But on Wednesday, as House Republican leaders unveiled their latest plan for sinking Obamacare — tying a measure to defund the law to a must-pass resolution that keeps the government running — Cruz thanked House Republicans for their fight, and said they’re on their own.

“[Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said in a statement. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”

Aides to top Republicans in the House, where GOP leadership has already been struggling to keep the party together on the measure, were beside themselves. And once granted anonymity, they didn’t mince their words.

“We haven’t even taken up the bill and Ted Cruz is admitting defeat?” fumed one senior GOP aide. “Some people came here to govern and make things better for their constituents. Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fundraise off of attacks on fellow Republicans. He’s a joke, plain and simple.”

Another aide said Cruz’s comment “exposes how [Senate conservatives] have deliberately misled their constituents and the grassroots for eight weeks. This isn’t leadership, it’s hypocrisy.”

A request for comment from Cruz’s office regarding the dust-up caused by the senator’s remarks was not returned.

House Republican leaders have been planning to pass their bill on the continuing resolution (with its amendment to defund Obamacare) and hand it off to Cruz and others in the Senate, namely Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), to stage a dramatic fight over the issue, even if it can’t pass.

The three senators issued a joint statement on Wednesday praising Boehner for his plan to bring the bill to the floor later this week, but none vowed to use every tool possible to carry on the fight in the Senate, such as the use of a filibuster.

House Republicans, who have spent the last few weeks being berated by Cruz on the need to keep a government shutdown on the table in the Obamacare fight, were not impressed.

“House agrees to send #CR to Senate that defunds Obamacare. @SenTedCruz & @SenMikeLee refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender,” tweeted Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).

“So far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes, and townhalls, not much else. Do something…,” tweeted Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.).

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) also took to Twitter to vent. “House Republicans are turning words into action to defund #Obamacare. Ball will be in the Senate’s court,” he wrote.

To be sure, Cruz is correct that the Democratic-led Senate doesn’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare, and of course the president would never sign off on such an effort. But conservatives keep pushing votes on the issue because it’s popular with their base. Cruz’s statement on Wednesday was simply a tactical error:  He admitted what his colleagues won’t.

Not all Senate Republicans had signed up for a fight over Obamacare. Several have gone on record to oppose or criticize the strategy of pushing to defund the law in exchange for keeping the government open. Even in the House, some rank-and-file Republicans like Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) have been vocal critics of that move in the past.

But House Republican leaders were counting on Cruz to lead the fight in the Senate this time — not to concede the game before it even began. Cruz’s comments simply put the onus back on House Republicans to take the lead on — and pay the political price for — a strategy that remains unlikely to work.

Asked to respond to Cruz’s statement, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel simply said, “We trust Republicans in the Senate will put up a fight worthy of the challenge that Obamacare poses.”

Stewart Dedicates Last Show Of 2010 Entirely To 9/11 First Responders Bill

Ya gotta love this guy…

Huffington Post

Thursday night marked the final “Daily Show” of the year — and the decade — and Jon Stewart devoted the entire program discussing something near to his heart: the 9/11 First Responders Bill.

Stewart has probably done more segments this year on the legislation known as the Zadroga Bill than any other topic. The bill would provide $7 billion in benefits for those who first responded on 9/11 and are now experiencing subsequent health problems such as cancer and respiratory disease. While it passed the House, Republicans have blocked the bill from advancing in the Senate.

Stewart noted that, while the 9/11 first responders bill is stuck, Congress did manage to pass the controversial tax bill that will extend tax cuts to everyone including the super wealthy.

“Yes!” Stewart exclaimed. “That is astoundingly good news for firefighters who make over $200,000 a year.”

Nearly pulling his hair out at one point, Stewart expressed his annoyance at “the party that turned 9/11 into a catchphrase” now blocking legislation to help its heroes. Adding to his frustration, none of the three major networks have covered the story in over two months. Surprisingly, Stewart realized this was actually a job for Fox News, “the nation’s leading source of 9/11-based outrage.”   More…

Part 1:

Part 2:

It’s A Done Deal!

Tax Bill Headed To President’s Desk After Passage In House

Huffington Post

A coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats combined to push the Obama-GOP tax-cut deal through the House by a vote of 277-148 in Friday’s early morning hours. The bill slashes the estate tax, extends all the Bush tax cuts and reauthorizes unemployment insurance for 13 months. The bill will now go to the president for his signature.

The crucial vote was not on final passage of the tax cuts, but on the vote before, to reduce the generosity of the estate tax cut. Had it been included in the final measure, the bill would have gone back to the Senate. An identical version of that amendment passed in December 2009 with 225 votes, but it failed this time 233-194, with 60 Democrats voting against tightening the estate tax.   More…

Why Mitch McConnell is worse than Charles Rangel


Both men misused their power — but the Senate leader gave corrupt BAE Systems $17 million in 2010 earmarks

On the same day that the House Ethics Committee convicted Rep. Charles Rangel of nearly a dozen violations of congressional rules, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that under pressure from fellow Republicans, he will surrender his beloved earmarks. This is a notable coincidence because, like Rangel, McConnell has rewarded corporate donors to an academic center named after him — and used earmarks for that purpose. The top corporate recipient of earmarks from the Kentucky Republican in the 2010 budget not only happens to be a donor to the McConnell Center for Political Leadership at the University of Louisville, but one of the largest and most corrupt defense contractors in the world.

GOP senators fight over failure

Let the games begin!


Long-simmering tensions within the Republican Party spilled into public view Wednesday as the pragmatic and conservative wings of the GOP blamed each other in blunt terms for the party’s failure to capture the Senate.

With tea party-backed candidates going down in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, depriving Republicans of what would have been a 50-50 Senate, a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win in politically competitive states.

Movement conservatives pointed the finger right back at the establishment, accusing the National Republican Senatorial Committee of squandering millions on a California race that wasn’t close at the expense of offering additional aid in places like Colorado, Nevada and Washington state, where Democratic Sen. Patty Murray holds a narrow lead as the votes continue to be counted.

The back-and-forth following an otherwise triumphant election amounted to a significant ratcheting up of the internecine battle that has been taking place within the GOP for the past year.

“Candidates matter,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It was a good night for Republicans but it could have been a better one. We left some on the table.”

Referring to the debate within the right about whether the party was better off losing the Delaware seat than winning with a moderate Republican like Rep. Mike Castle, who lost the GOP primary to Christine O’Donnell, Graham was even more blunt.

“If you think what happened in Delaware is ‘a win’ for the Republican Party then we don’t have a snowball’s chance to win the White House,” he said. “If you think Delaware was a wake-up call for Republicans than we have shot at doing well for a long time.”Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott put it plainly: “We did not nominate our strongest candidates.”Had Republicans run Castle in Delaware and establishment favorites Sue Lowden in Nevada and Jane Norton in Colorado, Lott said, Tuesday would have turned out different.“With those three we would have won and been sitting at 50 [senators],” he observed.

Read more…

The Fifteen Craziest Senate Candidates

The Daily Beast

In a crazy campaign season, who’s craziest of all? The Daily Beast, using its Election Oracle and 9 other factors, discovers the 15 Senate candidates scoring highest on our new Wingnut Index.

Somehow, 2010 has turned out to be the year of the Wingnut. An unprecedented array of far out—and mostly far-right—candidates have won closed partisan primaries and now have a real shot at entering the nation’s most deliberative body—the Senate. But how can we quantify the crazy?

In the spirit of rankings that determine candidates’ ideological or special-interest adherence, we have come up with our own Wingnut Index as a way of measuring the extremism of Senate candidates this year. (Subsequent rankings of congressional and gubernatorial candidates will be coming every Monday until the election.) The 15 Senate candidates who earned enough points to grab top slots on the Wingnut Index reflect roughly one-quarter of the total candidates running this year—a fair measure of the extremes’ influence on our politics today.

The 15 Highest-Ranked Wingnuts

In the 10 areas measured, we have reached for binary criteria whenever possible, such as whether the candidate subscribes to the conspiracy theories of being a “birther” or a 9/11 truther, or whether they have compared their political opponents to either Nazis or communists. Evidence of either Bush Derangement Syndrome or Obama Derangement Syndrome was included in the general category of fearmongering.

Hyper-partisan, special-interest-driven voting records were taken into account when possible—for example, candidates who received a 100 percent rating from the Family Research Council or a 100 percent rating from what could be considered their opposite interest group on the left, the AFS ratings by the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees. (In the interest of full disclosure, Barbara Boxer’s 99 rating was rounded up for inclusion.)

Continue reading…

Extending Bush Tax cuts Adds $700 Billion to Deficit

Yep, $700 billion additional dollars to the deficit! 

The White House has released a very easy and simple explanation about the tax cut fight in congress.

Remember, the Republicans will not even discuss the tax cuts for small businesses unless the Dems include the Bush tax cuts for the rich in their plan…

Outgoing senators give exit interviews to NBC News (Video)


Unlikely friendships
When partisanship blankets Washington and gridlock reigns, senators say that personal relationships across the aisle are a fundamental element of how the chamber works.  

The late Sen. Kennedy was named often by the Republicans as someone they liked to work with on legislation. 

No one knew Kennedy better and learned more from him about the power of personal relationships than Sen. Chris Dodd. He served with Kennedy for 30 years, and the two were as close as brothers. When Republicans held the majority, Kennedy’s uncanny ability to charm GOP senators into bipartisan deals flummoxed Republican leaders, Dodd said.