House of Representatives
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) could soon be coming back up in Congress thanks to efforts by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
After quite speculation at the end of last month, Mother Jones reported on Monday that Feinstein confirmed that she and Chambliss were working to revive the measure, which is sure to get under the craw of Internet activists and civil liberties groups.
“I am working with Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on bipartisan legislation to facilitate the sharing of cyber related information among companies and with the government and to provide protection from liability,” Feinstein told Mother Jones. “The legislation will…still maintain necessary privacy protections.”
This is the second attempt this year to move CISPA through Congress. The House of Representatives passed CISPA back in April, over a veto threat from the White House due to a lack of privacy protections. The Senate, however, shelved the measure shortly thereafter.
House Republican leadership was dealt an embarrassing blow yesterday when they had to pull their own spending plan and debt ceiling package off the floor because they didn’t have enough votes to pass it.
The day began with House leaders talking about their own bill, despite progress between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The House package would have funded the federal government until January 15 and extended the debt ceiling until February 7, roughly the same dates as the Reid-McConnell deal.
But there were a couple of aspects to the package drew opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats, including the two-year delay of the medical device tax and the ending the special subsidies for members of Congress. The House plan would have also required President Barack Obama to purchase coverage through the ObamaCare exchange.
The House proposal caused Reid and McConnell to postpone their talks, prompting some senators to question House leaders for getting involved when a deal in the Senate was close. Reid blasted Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) from the Senate floor, accusing him and other House leaders of trying to “torpedo bipartisan progress with a bill that can’t pass the Senate and won’t pass.”
“I’m disappointed with John Boehner, who’d, once again, try to preserve his role at the expense of the country,” added Reid.
It appears that there is a deal in the works between Senate leaders that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling and fund the federal government while yet another “super-committee.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have been working behind the scenes since a bipartisan compromise offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) fell apart over the weekend. The two leaders are cautious because whatever they agree to has to pass the House of Representatives.
“We have had an opportunity over the last couple of days to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward,” said McConnell from the Senate floor on Monday. “Those discussions continue, and I share [the] optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.”
The basis of the deal, according to various media reports, is a Continuing Resolution that funds the federal government until January 15 and extending the debt ceiling until February 7, though some outlets are reporting February 15. The sticking point for Senate Republicans is maintaining the sequester cuts and the $988 billion funding level for FY 2014.
There are also some minor changes to ObamaCare that are being considered, but Politico notes that negotiations on those provisions could fail, which would take the controversial law off the table.
The political stalemate in Washington that has led to a government shutdown has Democrats salivating at the prospect of winning back the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term election.
MoveOn.org, a leftist organization, released a set of polls earlier this week showing that 24 Republicans could be vulnerable next year, alleging that the government shutdown “has significant electoral implications” in the district they represent. The polls, which were conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), were immediately seized upon by Democrats, who need a net-17 seats to win control of the chamber.
While it’s true that many polls show Republicans taking the brunt of the blame of the government shutdown — though a recent CNN poll shows that blame is pretty close to evenly spread — Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst and namesake of the Rothenberg Political Report, disputes the notion that control of the House is up for grabs.
“Is the House in play now? Of course not. My newsletter’s most recent race-by-race assessment, completed just days before the shutdown began, found that the most likely overall outcome next year is a small gain for one of the parties,” wrote Rothenberg, who spent a fair amount of the column picking apart the Public Policy Polling surveys.
Death gratuity payments to the families of soldiers killed in action may soon be restored, bringing an end to one of the real world implications of the ongoing political stalemate in Washington.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved H.J. Res. 91 — “Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers Act.” This measure, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) appropriates money to the Defense Department to pay gratuities and benefits for the families and/or survivors of American soldiers killed in action.
The House passed the measure after Defense Department acknowledged that it had delayed payments to the families of four Americans who were killed last weekend in Afghanistan. Survivors of American soldiers are entitled to a one-time, tax-free payment of $100,000 within three days of the servicemembers’ death.
The a spokesperson for Defense Department said that they lacked legal authority to make the payments because no appropriations bill had been passed by Congress. House leaders disputed that claim, noting that Congress had passed and President Barack Obama had signed a measure — the “Pay Our Military Act” — to provide the Defense Department with the authority to pay the military, including survivors benefits.
The finger-pointing continues as Congress enters the eighth day of the government shutdown and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution in sight.
Tuesday began with President Barack Obama daring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). Boehner has insisted that such a measure can’t pass the House, but President Obama wants the Ohio Republican to “prove it.” Yes, folks, Washington is apparently governing by double-dog dares.
The Washington Post noted yesterday that are enough moderate Republicans willing to join Democrats to pass a clean CR. But that’s questionable. While there may be enough House Republicans unhappy about the stalemate, they’ve rejected a procedural trick by Democrats to bring the measure that President Obama wants to the floor.
The interesting aspect in all of this is that President Obama, despite all of his rhetoric, has distanced himself from the CR and debt ceiling debate. The Hill noted yesterday that the White House is now deferring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), putting him in charge of negotiations with House leadership. For his part, Reid is has been just as unwilling to move from his position as the White House.
Editor’s note: Updates at the bottom of the post.
Details are still coming in through news outlets and people on the scene via Twitter, but U.S. Capitol Police has confirmed that shots were fired either in or near the Capitol building in Washington, DC. CSPAN reports that a Capitol police officer was injured.
The Capitol and adjacent House and Senate office buildings have been locked down. Employees in the House received this “shelter in place” e-mail urging them to stay inside their offices or to seek shelter at the nearest available location:
SHELTER IN PLACE. Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill requiring all occupants in all House Office Buildings to shelter in place. Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows. Take annunciators, Go Kits and escape hoods; and move to the innermost part of the office away from external doors or windows. If you are not in your office, take shelter in the nearest office, check in with your OEC and wait for USCP to clear the incident. No one will be permitted to enter or exit the building until directed by USCP. All staff should monitor the situation. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.
Stay tuned for updates.
[2:53pm] Hill staffers have been sent a second email: “The United States Capitol Police are continuing to investigate the police activity. All occupants are directed to shelter in place until further notice. Additional information will be provided as available.”
[2:55pm] Reports are that the gun shots came from the direction of the Rayburn House Office Building, perhaps near the United States Botanical Gardens, which is adjacent to the United States Capitol building.
The House of Representatives has proposed a measure that would fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which grants money for cancer research, among other things. Senate Democrats, of course, oppose these piecemeal offerings, again demanding that the House pass the so-called “clean” Continuing Resolution demanded by the White House.
But when asked by CNN reporter Dana Bash about his opposition to the funding bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a very telling answer, which showed once again that Democrats are using the government shutdown to try to gain a political advantage over Republicans.
“You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds at least the NIH,” noted Bash during a press conference with Senate Democratic leaders, before the House pass the funding measure. “Given what you’ve said, will you at least pass that? And if not, aren’t you playing the same political games that Republicans are?”
“Listen, Sen. Durbin explained that very well, and he did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did Sen. Schumer. What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded? It’s obvious what’s going on here,” Reid told Bash.
Tuesday, the first day of the government shutdown, started out with Senate rejecting a proposal from the House of Representatives to enter into a conference committee to discuss differences between the two chambers on the Continuing Resolution (CR).
House-appointed conferees held a photo op in which they sat at the table across from empty chairs where their Senate counterparts would be sitting if they had agreed to negotiate. “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate. #FairnessForAll,” tweeted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), attaching the photo below.
House Republicans decided on another round of action to work through disagreements on ObamaCare by bringing up stop-gap spending measures that would end the disruption of certain parts of the federal government.
The House went into session early yesterday evening, planning to take up three separate spending measures to fund the National Park Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia, which is under the purview of Congress.
House Democrats chided Republicans for not passing a so-called “clean” CR before the government shutdown and overwhelmingly opposed the measures, leading to their defeat.
The stage has been set for a showdown on ObamaCare, as the House of Representatives passed amendments to the Senate’s version of the Continuing Resolution (CR) to delay ObamaCare for one year and repeal the law’s medical device tax.
In a rare weekend session, the House debated and passed a CR that would fund the government until mid-December. House Democrats decried the amendments for the measure, accusing their Republican counterparts of wanting to shutdown the federal government. House Republicans, however, insisted that this is was a compromise CR, citing the Obama Administration’s delays of various provisions of the law and bipartisan support for repealing the medical device tax.
Throughout the course of the debate, House Republicans noted that the White House has been eager to talk to Iran, but refused to negotiate a compromise on government funding with them.
Here’s a look at the changes made to the CR by the House.