Always one to say what’s on his mind, Vice President Joe Biden attacked conservative senators who are planning to filibuster on gun control measures that will soon come before the upper chamber:
Speaking to law enforcement officials at the White House, Biden said he wished members of Congress had been able to “eavesdrop” on his discussion with the parents of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a shooting in December.
“Not only are some of the senators not willing to stand and be counted, they’re prepared to stop anybody from being able to be counted. I mean, it’s almost mind-boggling,” Biden said.
“You’ve got leading senators, the most august body in the world, legislative body in the world — they’re saying we’re not even going to talk about this, a tragedy that traumatized the nation and caught the attention of the entire world,” he said. “And after all the thinking and the debate and the discussion with overwhelming majority of the American people thinking that the proposals the president put forward make absolute sense, the climax of this tragedy could be we’re not even going to get a vote?
“I can’t believe it. I mean, at the end of the day I can’t believe that it will actually happen,” he said.
ObamaCare is a mess, and it’s not just because of things its doing to drive up the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums. It’s literally a nightmare for Americans who will seek eligibility for subsidies that are provided through the law.
Last week, Sarah Kliff from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog posted a draft flowchart showing the complex process that regulators will have to follow to determine eligibility for Medicaid and private insurance subsidies:
Pretty mindboggling, right? Of course, this is what happens the when Congress turns power over to bureaucrats and regulators. They create an endless line of red tape that is far larger than the original bill, as was recently displayed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose office recently posted this photo showing the 7-foot tall stack of regulations and rules compared to 2,400-page bill:
The regulatory nightmare that is ObamaCare has even some Democrats questioning the law. During a recent press conference, Rep. John Barrow (R-GA), who did not vote for ObamaCare, said that the law “wasn’t fairly vetted” and called many of the regulations “way too onerous.”
If you couldn’t make it to CPAC 2013, you can watch it live via stream provided by PBS NewsHour. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre have already spoken this morning. You can watch McConnell and Ryan’s speeches below.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), are slated to speak early this afternoon.
During his speech this morning, Minority Leader McConnell vowed to repeal ObamaCare and slammed the budget produced by Senate Democrats:
Chairman Ryan spoke about the fiscal issues facing the country. He dropped a line that was tweeted like crazy. Ryan said, “This has been a really big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican, and we got a budget from the Senate. But when you read it, you find the Vatican’s not the only place blowing smoke this week.”
With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection coming up in 2014, numerous individuals have been looking at taking a whack at the Kentucky senator. He’s annoyed grassroots conservatives, libertarian Republicans, and Tea Party types for awhile now, both for his deals with Senate Democrats to keep things moving (such as the recent deal on filibusters) and just because he really hasn’t done anything to cut spending.
Recently, though, this irritation has built a bridge between Kentucky conservatives and Kentucky liberals, and an unlikely grouping of very strange bedfellows indeed are exploring the possibilities of an alliance against him. Seth Mandel at Commentary magazine doesn’t like this at all:
The sometimes contradictory nature of the grassroots conservative criticism of GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was apparent a few weeks ago when one conservative group began to advertise against McConnell from the right. It turned out this same group, which rates members of Congress on their dedication to conservative principles and freedom, gives McConnell a 95 percent rating.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who apparently has received an assurance from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the chamber will vote on her gun control proposal, will hold her own hearing on the issue because she isn’t happy with the witnesses slated to testify on the Hill today:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), unhappy with the witnesses slated to testify at Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on guns, will hold her own hearing on her proposed ban on assault weapons.
“I’m concerned and registered my concern with Sen. [Patrick] Leahy yesterday, that the witnesses are skewed to the anti-gun, anti-assault weapons position,” Feinstein told POLITICO. “He agreed that I would be able to do my own hearing on the assault weapons legislation which I will proceed to do.”
Wednesday’s witnesses include NRA President Wayne La Pierre; Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Nicholas Johnson, law professor at Fordham University School of Law; James Johnson, chief of police for Baltimore County; Gayle Trotter, general counsel of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.
Feinstein said she has not yet set a date for the hearing.
At least she wants to have a more pro-gun view represented, right? Regardless of her intentions, Feinstein’s bill has little chance of actually passing the Senate and almost no chance of passing the House.
After months of whining about the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came up with an agreement on the filibuster that will stall attempts by Senate Democrats to go nuclear:
The Reid-McConnell package would create a new path for eliminating filibusters on motions to proceed to new business. Under current rules, a senator can hold up a motion to even begin debating legislation.
The majority leader would be able to bar a filibuster on a motion to proceed if he allows each side to vote on two amendments, according to a Senate aide familiar with the package. Non-germane amendments would be subject to a 60-vote threshold, under this scenario.
This change would be adopted as a standing order that would sunset after two years, creating a trial period. Sixty senators must vote for it.
Alternatively, the deal would allow for expedited consideration of motions to proceed in cases where the majority and minority leaders agree to bring up a measure and eight senators from each party — including the leaders – sign a petition to end debate. Such fast-track consideration of motions to proceed would be set up by permanent rules change requiring 67 votes.
The tentative deal would expedite the process for sending legislation to conference negotiations with the House. But lawmakers would still be allowed to filibuster any effort to send legislation to a Senate-House negotiation.
In the fall of the 2008, the Bush Administration and Congress ironed out the details of what would come to be known as TARP in secret negotiations, hoping that rent-seekers on Wall Street would react positively. Fast-forward to 2013 — Washington has done it again.
Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks explains that Congress has again stuck it to hard-working Americans with the passage of the “fiscal cliff” deal that not only raises their taxes, but includes special interest tax breaks and corporate welfare:
On New Year’s Day, Republicans and Democrats joined together to bilk taxpayers with their phony “fiscal cliff” deal. They voted to raise taxes on 77% of Americans, yet larded the bill with pork, corporate welfare, and special-interest giveaways. They voted to increase spending by $330 billion, while throwing around buzzwords like “compromise” and “deficit reduction.” And they once again postponed the promised sequester spending cuts negotiated in 2011.
It was a team effort. Senator Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden drafted an outrageous bill behind closed doors; Harry Reid gave Senators all of 6 minutes to read and vote on the bill around 1:30am on New Year’s Eve when nobody was watching; Speaker Boehner scheduled a rushed, up-or-down vote in the House the following day without allowing for sufficient time to read or amend the bill.
This type of collusion against the average American is no surprise. Republicans have been negotiating with themselves ever since the Boehner-led House Republicans passed the consensus “Cut Cap Balance Act” in July 2011 and then began walking away from it. Democrats have been winning since that day, and the goal of fiscal responsibility has been losing.
Despite frequent threats to go nuclear on the filibuster and minority rights, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will temporarily hold off on making changes to the long-held rule when the new Congress comes into session today:
He has a chance to go “nuclear” Thursday, but instead Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to punt a decision on the filibuster until later this month.
With a new Congress being sworn in Thursday, Reid had threatened to invoke what critics call the “nuclear option”: Changing filibuster rules by 51 votes on the first day of a new session, circumventing the usual requirement in which at least 67 senators are needed to change Senate rules.
Instead, he’ll employ a circuitous procedure to technically keep the Senate in its first legislative day by sending the chamber into recess — rather than adjourning. That move would keep the Senate in session, preserving his option of pushing forward with the so-called nuclear option at a later date.
That will buy Reid time for further negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to see if they can reach a bipartisan agreement, aides said Wednesday. It could delay the fight until the week of Jan. 22.
Reid and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to some rule changes, including eliminating “secret holds” after the 2010 mid-term election. McConnell also agreed to scale back use of the filibuster, although the rules surrounding the tactic were left untouched.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released a statement claiming that he would use the new year to “hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.”
In an editorial at Yahoo! News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended the “fiscal cliff” deal and, like Boehner, explained that he is ready to tackle the “real problem” — Washington’s spending addiction:
Predictably, the President is already claiming that his tax hike on the “rich” isn’t enough. I have news for him: the moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over. Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation’s fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion.
We simply cannot increase the nation’s borrowing limit without committing to long overdue reforms to spending programs that are the very cause of our debt.
The only way to achieve the balance the President claims to want is by cutting spending. As he himself has admitted, no amount of tax hikes or revenue could possibly keep up with the amount of money Washington is projected to spend in the coming years. At some point, high taxes become such a drag on the economy that the revenue stalls.
There has been some movement in negoitiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” over the last 24 hours. Earlier this afternoon, President Barack Obama gave a progress report on the talks between congressional leaders. The stock market reacted positively, but it doesn’t look like Congress will vote on any sort of deal this evening.
It does look like there has been an agreement reached on tax rates. According to National Journal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) worked with Vice President Joe Biden to come up with an agreement that would raise taxes on individials earning $400,000 and families earning more than $450,000. It doesn’t look like there will be anything in the way of real spending cuts.
Jamie Dupree notes, that by going over the “fiscal cliff,” House Republicans will be able to vote for a tax package tomorrow that keeps them from actually raising taxes:
If you think about it, a fiscal cliff vote on New Year’s Day in the House means the GOP can vote for a tax cut— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 31, 2012
Dupree also notes that the House has adjourned until tomorrow at noon, though a vote in the Senate on the deal worked out between Biden and McConnell could come tonight.
We’ll be around tomorrow in case Congress does act.