In an interview with Time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she doesn’t know if a majority of House Democrats will support President Barack Obama’s rush to war with Syria.
“I don’t know. I think it would be important to get a majority in the Congress,” said Pelosi in response to a question about support in the Democratic caucus for military strikes against Syria. “But I don’t know if it’s important how you would break it down. These issues are not really partisan.”
Typical Pelosi — always trying to play down an issue that could hurt public perception of President Obama. She also told Time that she doesn’t believe that the White House had to come to Congress for authorization of force in Syria, though she said, “I think that it is great that he asked for it.”
Pelosi knocked criticism that Syria could be President Obama’s Iraq. She said that the intelligence the Bush Administration presented to Congress didn’t prove that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat and repeated the administration’s claim that the strikes in Syria would be limited.
“I was a senior Democrat on the Intelligence committee, and was one who received all of the documents—by law, they must show us what the documentation is. The evidence did not support the threat,” she said. “The intelligence this time does support the facts: that the Bashar Assad regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack on [his] own people.”
“What the Bush administration was asking the country to do on the basis of a false premise was to go to war. This isn’t about going to war,” she added. “This is about a limited, tailored strike, of short duration, for a purpose, which is the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
The White House scored a victory yesterday by convincing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to support military intervention in Syria, hoping that the two will be able to gather support from skeptical Republicans.
President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders yesterday a the White House to make his case for intervention in the Syrian civil war after the alleged use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s government.
“These weapons have to be responded to. Only the United States has the capacity and the capability to stop Assad or warn others around the world that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” said Boehner after the meeting. “I appreciate the president reaching out to me and my colleagues in Congress over the past few weeks.”
Cantor followed suit. I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria,” he said in a statement.
“Bashar Assad’s Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, is the epitome of a rogue state, and it has long posed a direct threat to American interests and to our partners,” he added. “The ongoing civil war in Syria has enlarged this threat.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who also attended the meeting with President Obama, is still skeptical about intervention.
During an interview last week with the National Journal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she doesn’t want to be Speaker again should Democrats win back the House of Representatives.
Pelosi had been commenting on the state of the House Republican Conference and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who won the job in 2011 following a historic mid-term election in which the GOP picked up 63 seats and control of the chamber, when she was pointedly asked if he wanted her old post back.
“No, that’s not my thing. I did that,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi’s office is, of course, disputing the report, telling media outlets that she “fully intends to be a Member of a Democratic Majority in the 114th Congress” and that whether she once again takes the gavel is up to the members of the House Democratic Conference. The National Journal stands by the original transcript of the interview.
The prospect of Pelosi serving as Speaker has been a rallying cry for Democrats. In May, President Obama told donors via email that he “could not be more anxious or eager” to have Democrats in control of the House and Pelosi holding the gavel.
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, said on Thursday night that the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups is a “phony,” using the issue rail against non-profit groups that engage in politics and the Citizens United ruling, which overturned campaign finance laws that suppressed political speech.
Matthews made the comments during a segment with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who alleges that leftist groups have been targeted in the same manner as conservative organizations and has filed a lawsuit against the IRS seeking to clarify tax-exempt laws, and Nia-Malika Henderson.
“[T]o this point [House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s] witchhunt has found no witches, not in the White House, of course. In fact, the entire narrative — this so-called ‘scandal,’ this repeated scandal — has gotten pretty hard to follow,” said Matthews in the lead into the segment.
“In fact, is it a scandal? Well, yesterday House Democrats released new evidence that the IRS was also targeting liberal groups in addition to flagging groups with names like ‘progressive.’ They also flagged applicants with terms like ‘emerge’ and, of course, ACORN, a group on the left which would associate with liberal causes,” he added before introducing Van Hollen. “Issa’s camp have dismissed those reports, of course, which could be evidence that he’s using the issue to score political points instead of actually trying to solve whatever problems there are at the IRS.”
After an embarrassing defeat last month, House Republican leaders have decided to separate food stamp funding from the Farm Bill in hopes that they can appease special interest groups lobbying for more taxpayer money:
House Republican leaders have decided to drop food stamps from the farm bill and are whipping the farm-only portion of the bill for a vote that will likely come this week, according to a GOP leadership aide.
The nutrition portion of the bill would be dealt with later.
House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas said Tuesday morning that he would support splitting the farm bill — as long as it can pass the House.
“I’m willing to do what it takes to get a farm bill done,” Lucas said as he exited a Republican Conference meeting Tuesday morning. “If that means doing it unconventionally, maybe we got to give it a try.”
Republican leadership has tried to blame everybody themselves, including Democrats and fiscal conservatives in the House, for the Farm Bill’s failure. Big spending, rank-and-file Republicans have also lashed out at fiscal conservatives for not voting for the bill.
At the very same time they’re playing up a return of the Clinton legacy to the White House by coalescing around 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Democrats have rejected a key point of then-President Bill Clinton’s approach to politics and a more sound economy.
Writing at Roll Call, Nathan Gonzales notes that a bipartisan achievement — like balancing the budget, for example — is not something about which Obama-era Democrats are particularly concerned:
“Like every generation of Americans before us, we have been called upon to renew our Nation and to restore its promise. For too long, huge, persistent, and growing budget deficits threatened to choke the opportunity that should be every American’s birthright. For too long, it seemed as if America would not be ready for the new century, that we would be too divided, too wedded to old arrangements and ideas. It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t so very long ago that some people looked at our Nation and saw a setting Sun,” Clinton said in his signing speech.
Today’s Democrats are singing a slightly different tune.
Democrats, including the president, don’t believe the deficit is an immediate problem. And while Republicans are touting and advocating for a “balanced budget,” Democrats want a “balanced approach.” The new Democratic approach includes a mix of spending cuts and tax increases but has no intention of balancing the budget, at this point.
In what was pre-holiday news dump, the White House announced on Tuesday that it would delay implementation of the employer mandate, which penalizes businesses with 50 or more employees if they don’t offer health insurance coverage, until the beginning of 2015.
“Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses - many of which already provide health coverage for their workers - about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” wrote Mark Mazur, the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so. We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action.”
“Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments. These payments will not apply for 2014,” he added. “Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.”
Facing steady opposition against ObamaCare and a long, steady string of news reports documenting reduce hours for employees and/or job losses, many Democrats in Congress have realized that they are losing the message battle over the law.
At the end of last week, Politico noted that some House Democrats were able to stress their concerns to DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose department is reponsible for ObamaCare’s implementation. Her response to those concerns was, well, rather callous (emphasis mine):
Congressional Democrats told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday that Americans are still very confused about the health care law — including older people who worry that Obamacare will change their Medicare.
Sebelius went to the Hill for another update with Democrats on Obamacare rollout. HHS this week overhauled its website, focusing more on the exchange enrollment, which starts Oct. 1.
[L]awmakers said that Sebelius’s main message was the importance of countering false notions about the law that are prevailing around the country — and doing it at a grass-roots level. She told lawmakers not to worry when they read media accounts about people losing their health coverage, said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.).
“There are articles here and there in newspapers talking about people who lost their coverage, … but the assurance she’s been giving us is a lot of those are probably pre-anticipations, and a lot of those are going to be unfounded if they just take a deep breath,” he said.
Among the problems that fiscal conservatives had with the $940 billion Farm Bill — and what was among the issues that led to the measure’s demise last week in the House — was the inclusion of food stamp funding.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) offered an amendment in the House Rules Committee to separate food stamps funding from the rest of the Farm Bill. During the hearing on the bill, Stutzman said, “[F]or too long this Congress has combined farm policy and nutrition policy and what we have now is a bill that spends $740 billion on food stamps and $200 billion on farm policy.” However, his amendment was rejected by the committee and never brought to the House floor for a vote.
It appears, according to Politico, that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is finally considering separating food stamps from the measure, which is what they should’ve done before, in hopes that that Farm Bill will win passage:
Moving further to the right, the House Republican leadership is actively pursuing a strategy now of splitting their failed farm bill into two parts so that the nutrition title and food stamps funding can be considered on its own.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who played a major part in the collapse of the farm bill last week, is driving this approach, which dovetails with the agenda of outside conservative groups. But it’s not clear whether Cantor believes himself this is the best course or is simply willing to go through the exercise in order to give the right wing another opportunity to express itself.
Much ink has been spilled over the Farm Bill that failed to pass the House of Representatives last Thursday. This measure, the bulk of which is SNAP (food stamp) funding, is taken up by Congress every five years and passed with limited opposition.
But that changed this year.
Sallie James, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, noted on Friday that this “was the first time in 40 years (or possibly in history) that the House has failed to pass a farm bill.” She noted the blame game being played in the media, she adds, however, that she would like to “bestow Presidential Medals of Freedom on the culprits.”
Indeed. If one wants to point to one piece of legislation that embodies Washington’s incestious relationship with special interests, there is no better example than the Farm Bill.
There are a number of things wrong with the policies pushed in this legislation. For example, it subsidizes wealthy “farmers” — including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Ted Turnerand members of Congress — and artificially drives up prices by paying farmers not to yield any crops.
It also enacts policies that are protectionist in nature. The sugar industry probably serves as the best example. Through import restrictions, price supports and subsidies, U.S.-based sugar producers get a pretty sweet deal (no pun intended) that helps them avoid overseas competition at consumer and taxpayer expense.