Tag Archives: Senate

Morning Maddow: November 15, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Wisconsin Assembly votes in a late-night session to reinstate voter ID. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

House Speaker Boehner continues to insist that ENDA is not necessary. (The Hill)

Anti-abortion forces pressure vulnerable Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to take a stand on the 20-week ban. (News&Observer)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) won’t let the World Congress of Families meet in a Senate room. (BuzzFeed)

Louisiana elects a new Congressman tomorrow. (AP)

Washington state woman arrested for carrying a bomb, leaving another one behind at home. (Kitsap Sun)

China will loosen its one-child policy, abolish re-education camps. (NY Times)

4 Comments

Filed under Morning Maddow

Harry Reid Eviscerates John Boehner, ‘Nobody knows what he’s talking about.’

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 3.45.28 PM

I totally to agree with the Senate Majority Leader…

PoliticusUSA

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fed up with Speaker of the House John Boehner. Reid let loose in an interview, and claimed that nobody knows what Boehner is talking about.

In an interview with Fusion, Sen. Reid didn’t pull any punches when talking about Boehner and immigration reform. Reid said, “I’m stunned. How could anybody in good conscience tell one group he’s trying to do immigration reform, and a few minutes later, say ‘I’m not going to do anything about a conference?’… I mean, this House of Representatives might just as well not exist. They don’t do anything. And then to do this intellectual yoga drill where nobody knows what he’s talking about is like some of the yoga moves I’ve tried and can’t do.”

The Senate Majority Leader was talking about immigration, but what he described fits Speaker Boehner on every issue. Boehner says the economy and jobs are his top priority, but he refuses to pass any jobs bills. No matter what the news is on the ACA, Boehner repeats his same talking points that the law is a failure and must be done away with.

Harry Reid flat out said that Boehner and the House Republicans were worthless. Reid is frustrated because Boehner has consistently went back on his word, refused to act, and punted every single crisis that his caucus has created over to the Senate to solve.

It isn’t just that House Republicans don’t do anything. It is also the fact that when challenged on not doing anything, Boehner and company respond with a bunch of incoherent gibberish that makes no sense.

The House might as well not exist. Besides trying to destroy Obamacare more times than Pinky and the Brain tried to take over the world (with the same rate of success), what have they done?

The answer is nothing. Harry Reid is sounding like he is sick of it, and that he is more than ready for a functioning House of Representatives that he can work with in the future. More than anyone else in America, Harry Reid might be wishing for Nancy Pelosi to take back the gavel in 2014.

 

5 Comments

Filed under John Boehner, Sen. Harry Reid

McConnell smacks down tea party groups: They mislead for profit

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to reporters as lawmakers moved toward resolving their feud over filibusters of White House appointees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2013.CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP

It appears Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may have finally acquired a new set of cajones.  

As much as I don’t like McConnell, kudos to him for finally standing up to those folks in  the house and senate who wish to end government as we know it and profit from their destructive tactics in the process. 

MSNBC

Sen. Mitch McConnell is done playing nice.

McConnell smacked down the tea party in an interview with Wall Street Journal opinion writer Peggy Noonan published Thursday evening.

The Tea Party is made up of people who are “angry and upset at government,” the Senate minority leader said, but they’ve been mislead by their leaders.

“They’ve been told the reason we can’t get to better outcomes than we’ve gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty. Well, that’s just not true, and I think that the folks that I have difficulty with are the leaders of some of these groups who basically mislead them for profit,” he said.

When the tea party helped Sen. Rand Paul defeat a McConnell-approved candidate in a Kentucky Republican primary in 2010, McConnell made nice with the Senate’s tea party wing and looked to shore up his right flank, hiring a Paul-family friend, Jesse Benton, to run his re-election campaign. A tea partier challenged him from the right, but McConnell leads in polls by a 47 points.

Then the shutdown hit and all bets were off—McConnell quickly became a target when he brokered a deal with Democrats to reopen the federal government without taking down Obamacare.

And the chips fell swiftly.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, slammed McConnell, endorsed his Republican primary challenger, and later began running ads against McConnell.

“So now Mitch McConnell is negotiating the Republican surrender,” the group’s executive director,Matt Hoskins, said. “He gave the Democrats a blank check back in July when he signaled he would do anything to avoid a shutdown and now Democrats can demand whatever they want. It’s humiliating.”

The Tea Party Nation withdrew their endorsement of the Senate minority leader in his primary race; the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed McConnell’s tea party challenger. Western Representation PAC, a tea party-aligned group, slammed McConnell in a fundraising email titled “A Parliament of Traitors and Whores.”

Even Sarah Palin wrote a Facebook post pointing fingers at McConnell and his reelection race.

“We’re going to shake things up in 2014,” she wrote in part. “Soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let’s start with Kentucky.”

So, with little tea party support left to lose, McConnell is hitting back.

The Senate Conservatives Fund “has elected more Democrats than the Democratic Senatorial Committee over the last three cycles,” he told the Journal.

And that race in Alabama, where a birther, tea party activist lost to a conservative business-interest-aligned Republican?

That was a significant election, McConnell said, explaining that Republicans can’t govern if they can’t win elections. And to win, parties must “run candidates that don’t scare the general public, [and] convey the impression that we could actually be responsible for governing, you can trust us—we’re adults here, we’re grown-ups,” he said.

But McConnell isn’t worried about the primary challenge his tea party opponents are hoping to make more difficult.

“I don’t wanna be overly cocky, but I’m gonna be the Republican nominee next year,” he told Noonan.

2 Comments

Filed under Mitch McConnell

Senator Paul and the disappearing transcripts

MSNBCMichael Yarvitz

As examples of his plagiarizing from Wikipedia and other sources pile up, Rand Paul’s Senate office now appears to have started scrubbing his Senate website to make it harder to get the text of his speeches.

The screen grab below shows what it used to look like if you went to his website to watch his “State of the Union” response, containing the block of text plagiarized from an Associated Press article. You could follow along with the transcript of the speech typed out below. You can see the page says, “Below is a video and transcript of his speech.”

That full transcript was still up as of October 14, according to Google’s cache of the page. Now it’s gone. “Below is a video  of his speech,” the page reads. So, yes, you could transcribe the video yourself if you want to search for whether the words he used came from someone else, but Rand Paul’s office won’t make it so easy for you anymore.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Sen. Rand Paul

The Obamacare sabotage campaign

The opposition was strategic from the start. | AP Photo

Politico - TODD S. PURDUM

“The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.”

To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.

That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.

From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance. Partisan divisions also meant that Democrats could not pass legislation smoothing out some rough language in the draft bill that passed the Senate. That left the administration forced to fill far more gaps through regulation than it otherwise would have had to do, because attempts — usually routine — to re-open the bill for small changes could have led to wholesale debate in the Senate all over again.

But the bitter fight over passage was only the beginning of the war to stop Obamacare. Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.

Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.

Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort. When the White House let it be known last summer that it was in talks with the National Football League to enlist star athletes to help promote the law, the Senate’s top two Republicans sent the league an ominous letter wondering why it would “risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand.” The NFL backed off.

The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.

“I think my Republican colleagues forget that a lot of people are enrolling through state exchanges, rather than the federal exchange,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noted last week. “And if it wasn’t for the fact that many Republican governors, including my own,” failed to set up state exchanges, “then we wouldn’t be putting so much burden on the federal system.”

In fact, putting an excessive burden on the federal government was the explicit aim of the law’s opponents. “Congress authorized no funds for federal ‘fallback’ exchanges,” the Tea Party Patriots website noted as long ago as last December. “So Washington may not be able to impose exchanges on states at all.” The group went on to suggest that since Washington was not equipped to handle so many state exchanges, “both financially and otherwise — this means the entire law could implode on itself.”

Continue reading on page 2

Comments Off

Filed under Affordable Care Act, GOP Obstructionism

Biden To Swear In Cory Booker On Oct. 31

Nj-senate--2

Senator-Elect Corey Booker – AP Photo / Julio Cortez

This is good news for Democrats…

TPM LiveWire

Vice President Joe Biden will swear in Sen.-elect Cory Booker (D) next Thursday, a White House official confirmed to TPM.

Booker, the former mayor of Newark, will take the oath of office administered by Biden at noon.

Booker won the special election for deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) Senate seat roughly two weeks earlier. Booker replaces interim Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R-NJ), who was appointed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to fill Lautenberg’s seat in June after Lautenberg’s death.

The Newark Star-Ledger first reported the news of Booker’s swearing in.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Corey Booker (D-NJ)

Q&A: What’s the state of the debt limit fight today?

Congress had until Sept. 30 to raise the debt limit to avoid a partial government shutdown. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Confused by all the crazy ups and downs of Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling? Here’s a five-minute primer on what’s happening.

What’s going on right now?

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are in a mad dash to finalize a deal to reopen the government and avoid breaching a Thursday deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling. (The debt ceiling is scary and gets its own primer here.)

When will they reach the deal?

Hopefully today.

What will the deal involve?

Details are still up in the air, but it’s likely to have a four main elements:

– Reopen the government and fund it through Jan. 15, 2014.
– Raise the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014, but allow federal borrowing to continue for a few weeks longer.
– Require additional measures, favored by Republicans, to ensure that people who receive financial help in buying health insurance under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act are being honest about their income.
– Set up a negotiating committee to try to come up with a longer-term budget plan so we don’t go through this again early next year. The committee would be expected to issue budget recommendations by Dec. 13. Should it fail, agencies would have more flexibility to implement the deep cuts to domestic and Pentagon spending, known as sequestration, that took effect earlier this year.

When would the government open and the crisis be over?

As soon as both houses of Congress pass the deal and President Obama signs it.

When will the deal pass the Senate?

A deal could be passed as soon as Wednesday if all senators agree. If a single senator refuses to allow an immediate vote on the measure (looking at you, Ted Cruz), it could take several days. Cruz is reportedly being pressured by his Republican colleagues not to hold up any vote.

Will the deal pass the House?

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Big choices ahead for the Speaker. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Hard to say. When a Senate deal was progressing on Tuesday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) unveiled his own proposal that nearly undermined all the movement in the Senate. But that effort failed, and Boehner has in the past allowed a vote on critical legislation when he is facing a deadline. Any Senate measure would likely pass the House with the support of most Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans.

That sounds pretty uncertain to me.

Unfortunately, true.

How long do lawmakers have to get the deal done?

It really should get done by Thursday. That’s when the government no longer can borrow any money and basically will be running on fumes. That’s the day we hit the debt ceiling deadline.

After the debt ceiling deadline is breached, there might be a couple of days, or even a week, of breathing room, as the Treasury Department uses up whatever’s left in the federal piggy bank.

But soon enough, there won’t be enough money to make all payments, and the Treasury  might have to delay or suspend Social Security checks, food stamps and tens of billions of dollars in payments. In effect, the government would begin defaulting on its obligations.

Treasury would have only daily tax receipts to pay for the government, which amount to only 70 cents for every dollar of federal spending over the next month. And that could cause financial market chaos and a recession.

It sounds like the world doesn’t actually end tomorrow if Congress takes more time to figure things out.

That’s correct — at least due to a government default. There could always be a massive asteroid or alien invasion that does end the world.

Be serious. What is the precise date when Congress has to act to make sure we avoid lots of economic problem?

The sooner the better, but we don’t have an absolute fixed date. Federal finances tend to be unpredictable. Markets could freak out at any time, though we can’t say with certainty when that will happen.

Assuming this deal makes it through, who’s won and who’s lost?

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

He can be giddy. But just a little. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

What a simplistic way of thinking about things! But since you asked, it seems pretty clear in this round of the budget wars, President Obama and the Democrats will have outmaneuvered their Republican opponents.

House Republicans decided to shut down the government in hopes of major changes t othe health-care law. None is in the offing.

Senate Republicans reluctantly went along with that strategy — at least for a while. In the meantime, the GOP brand was badly beaten up in the polls.

Prognosticators now guess that Republicans could have a very hard time winning the Senate in 2014 – even though the electoral map is stacked against the Democrats. But the House still looks safe for the GOP.

Meanwhile, Obama and Democrats stayed firm to their view that they would not pay a “ransom” in order to accomplish the basic tasks of keeping the government open and raising the debt limit.

Hold up one second. Hasn’t Obama been forced to compromise to raise the debt ceiling and open the government?

Not really. Obama is giving the flimsiest of fig leaves to the Republicans — a promise to do a better job ensuring that people who report their income to get help buying health insurance under the health-care law are actually reporting their income properly. There were already some assurances in the health-care law, so all the president is promising is an additional layer of scrutiny.

So is it all wonderful for Obama and Democrats?

Nope. The truth is that for all the drama, they’re getting little out of this deal. They don’t roll back the deep spending cuts known as sequester — a policy that is eating away at domestic priorities like education and research and development. They don’t get new money to spend on jobs or an immigration bill.

They just get a political win. And they avoid an economic disaster.

Once this crisis is over, what happens next?

Well, per the outlines of the agreement, both Republicans and Democrats would assign lawmakers to a committee to hash out a broader budget plan for the coming year. These joint efforts have not had success in the past, and we’ve gone years without a formal budget.

But hope dies hard. For Democrats and Republicans alike, the basic question in the committee will be whether they find a way to roll back the sequester, which is due to launch a new round of budget cuts in January.

Democrats hate the sequester, because it’s basically the opposite of the vision of domestic investment they’ve long campaigned on. Republicans are more ambivalent, but there are many in the GOP who don’t like how deeply it cuts Pentagon spending.

The most likely path to replacing part of the sequester is to make cuts to mandatory spending — like healthcare programs or farm subsidies — instead. On a practical level, Republicans and Democrats agree that mandatory spending is better to cut since it’s the long-term driver of our debt. But mandatory spending has pretty entrenched constituencies — such as the elderly or farmers — which makes such cuts difficult to achieve.

A bigger budget deal — the elusive “grand bargain” — could also be considered as part of the conference. But any discussion of significant changes to mandatory spending usually leads Democrats to insist on new taxes, which has been a deal-breaker for the GOP.

What happens if the committee fails to come to an agreement and we’re back in January with new deadlines?

Most likely, neither side will want a new fight over government funding or the debt ceiling with the mid-term elections fast approaching. So they’ll just extend everything once again, leaving (albeit more flexible) sequester cuts in place, and the voters will decide what they want come November.

Like that’s worked well in the past.

Fair point.

Comments Off

Filed under Debt Ceiling, Washington

Breaking: Republicans May Be Ready To Take Senate Deal: ‘It’s All Over’

republicans senate deal

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 From left are, Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Boehner. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) | AP

It’s about time…

The Huffington Post

After House Republicans withdrew their proposed debt deal on Tuesday evening,Senate Leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they were ready to reopen negotiations to end the shutdown and avert a default.

Now, House Republican lawmakers and aides are saying they’re ready to throw in the towel and accept a Senate deal:

 

House Republicans withdrew their Tuesday proposal when conservative groups – namely the Heritage Foundation, Red State and FreedomWorks — slammed the deal as unacceptable.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the Rules Committee, told The National Review that House Republicans are now just “waiting for the Senate to get their work done.” He said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave members of the House the evening to get up to speed.

“We’re trying to make sure that what we’re doing, people know about and they can prepare and study for,” Sessions said.

Of course, before the House can even consider a deal, it must pass the Senate with unanimous consent. Whether it’s really “over” hinges on the concession of the chamber’s most reluctant members.

 

3 Comments

Filed under 113th Congress

Chicken of the House

John Boehner – Chicken of the House

It’s most troubling and frankly, unfathomable that a Speaker of the House would want his job so badly that he would allow the United States and the world to go into default just to please the small minority of Tea Party fascists.  Mario Piperni hit the nail on the head with the above graphic and article below.

Mario Piperni

The latest on the manufactured crisis forced upon a nation by an insane few.

Steve Benen:

There was palpable relief last night surrounding the debt ceiling. The House had withdrawn from the process; Senate leaders had crafted a bipartisan compromise; and the twin crises appeared to be nearing their end. All the House had to do was bring the Senate measure to the floor.

This apparently won’t happen. Hopes that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) might muster the courage to lead his members in a responsible direction were dashed this morning, as House Republicans decided to reject the Senate’s bipartisan compromise and move forward with their own plan.

The House Republican’s plan was quickly dismissed by the White House and Senate Democrats, as well as…by House Republicans.

House Republican leaders scrambled Tuesday after conservatives criticized their new plan to avert default. Just two days away from the deadline, it quickly hit turbulence with lawmakers concerned about the lack of spending cuts and upfront debt reduction.

“There are sincere, deep thoughts of concern,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) as he exited a closed-door Republican conference meeting Tuesday, in which leaders pitched the proposal.

The proposal dramatically ratchets down GOP demands but tacks on additional reforms to the framework that Senate leaders are close to agreement on. Like the Senate plan, it reopens and funds the government through Jan. 15, lifts the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, establishes budget conference negotiations and requires that Obamacare exchange enrollees verify their income eligibility prior to receiving any subsidies.

It adds a two-year delay of Obamacare’s medical device tax and strips subsidies for members of Congress, the President and Vice President and top administration officials. It retains financial assistance for staff buying insurance on the marketplaces.

Salon:

Harry Reid called the House GOP position “a blatant attack on bipartisanship” and vowed that it “won’t pass the Senate.” Boehner is already reacting, scrounging for more GOP votes by promising to stick it to Congressional staff. National Review’s Robert Costa reports that Boehner is reversing his position that aides should be held harmless in this fight, and will agree to nix the federal government’s contribution to their health insurance as well. It could move further right still. And as before it may not pass anyhow.

Way to go, Mr. Speaker. Let your House teahadists fuck up a nation and make congressional staff earning $30,000 a year innocent victims of your inept leadership while you look for a way to salvage your miserable job. Sick.

Has their ever been a weaker and more pathetic speaker than John Boehner?

3 Comments

Filed under 113th Congress, U.S. Politics

Tea party groups still want Obamacare gutted

An Obamacare protest is shown. | AP Photo

Some tea party leaders, however, say the protest has probably gone as far as it can go. | AP Photo

Politico

You go through a whole government shutdown so you can kill Obamacare dead, and all you get is a little more due diligence before people can get their subsidies?

Tea party groups are furious over the prospect that Congress is drifting toward a government funding-debt ceiling deal that might just take the usual one or two tepid dings out of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, just like Congress has in previous fights.

The whole point of urging Republicans to use the continuing resolution and debt ceiling bills as leverage, in their view, was to force a real shutdown of Obamacare, not just settle for one or two minor concessions. But in the deal that appeared to be coming together in the Senate Monday, only two Obamacare provisions were on the table: a measure to verify the incomes of everyone who applies for subsidies, and a one-year delay of a tax to help insurers that cover a lot of sick people.

(Understanding Obamacare: POLITICO’s guide to the Affordable Care Act)

If Obamacare was a piñata, that would be like walking away after you’ve lightly whacked the tail a couple of times. Tea party groups were hoping to keep smashing it until it broke.

“This fight is a fight worth having so that millions of Americans can get relief from Obamacare,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. “This fight is not worth having on issues that are smaller than that.”

The tea party universe is not monolithic, and as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans seem to be willing to settle for minor Obamacare concessions, some groups say it’s time to take what they can get and live to fight another day.

But the tea party faithful who are urging House Republicans to fight on are passionate and include groups like Martin’s Tea Party Patriots, one of the leading tea party groups, and FreedomWorks, which has organized Obamacare protests since Congress was first debating it in 2009. They’re both urging House Republicans to stand firm against any Senate deal if it doesn’t slow down Obamacare in a fundamental way, like delaying the individual mandate for a year.

(PHOTOS: 25 unforgettable Obamacare quotes)

“We’ve pushed very, very, very hard, and we’re doing that because we understand that this law is having very real effects on millions of Americans right now,” said Martin. “If they walk away from the current situation without securing any real, meaningful relief from Obamacare, we’re going to be very upset with them.”

Adam Brandon, executive vice president of FreedomWorks, said the Senate talks were one of the main topics of conversation at a meeting of the group’s activists in Atlanta this weekend.

“The grassroots are tired of these little technical tweaks. They want to start over,” said Brandon. He said any deal that doesn’t include, at a minimum, a delay of the individual mandate will have a hard time passing the House, because “the House guys are feeling the pressure.”

Brandon said the activists were especially cynical about an earlier Senate proposal to delay the law’s tax on medical devices, saying it would have been yet another example of interest groups with skilled lobbyists getting a break from Obamacare while regular people can’t. But that proposal appeared to have dropped out of the emerging Senate deal by Monday night.

(Also on POLITICO: Full health care policy coverage)

Even some tea party leaders, however, say the Obamacare protest has probably gone as far as it can go — since it has failed, so far, to peel away any of the red-state Senate Democrats the anti-Obamacare forces needed on their side.

“I would take progress, knowing that we can fix some of the problems,” said Sal Russo, co-founder and chief strategist of the Tea Party Express. “I mean, we’re not going to be happy, but most of the tea party people, we fought the good fight.”

Russo’s background is different from other tea party leaders — he’s a veteran Republican strategist who has worked on campaigns dating back to Ronald Reagan’s days in California politics. Russo said he had always called for Republicans to use the spending bill as the vehicle for broader Obamacare changes because he thought they could get a few red-state Senate Democrats to side with them — like Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, all of whom are up for re-election next year.

(Also on POLITICO: Sarah Palin: Barack Obama flirts with impeachment)

That effort has clearly failed, Russo said, and even though everything depends on the final details of a Senate deal, “that might be as far as we can get, given that we didn’t move those Senate votes that we have to move.”

Other groups are fully aware that the shutdown and debt limit crises have taken the focus away from their efforts to highlight Obamacare’s problems. So they’ll be happy to get past the crises and turn the spotlight back to the health care law, especially now that the law’s centerpiece is a federal health insurance website that breaks down all the time.

“We think overturning Obamacare is a long-term, grind-it-out effort, and we’re committed to doing that,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. When comedians like Jon Stewart are mocking the “incompetence” of the Obamacare website, Phillips said, “you’ve got a problem, and it’s been overshadowed. Let’s get back to shining a light on that.”

Continue to page 2 of this article

3 Comments

Filed under 113th Congress, Tea Party Agenda