House Republican: Barack Obama should be more like Bill Clinton

Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

It’s not often you hear Republicans looking fondly on the days of President Bill Clinton, who served from 1993 to 2001. But in a speech from the floor on Wednesday, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) hailed Clinton’s willingness to recognize political realities and work with Republicans.

“I was deeply saddened to see the President begin the sixth year of our nation’s economic malaise by renewing his partisan name-calling and finger pointing on Monday,” said McClintock.

Fortunately, we have a model for bi-partisan economic cooperation. In 1995, when President Clinton realized his policies weren’t working, he reached across the aisle to work with a Republican House, and despite their political differences, they did some amazing things,” he recalled.

McClintock noted that the bipartisan policies forged between a Democratic president and a Republican-controlled Congress led to “a period of prolonged economic expansion and unprecedented prosperity for America’s middle and working classes.”

“Republicans have been eager to repeat these successful bi-partisan policies of the Clinton years,” added McClintock in his speech from the floor. “Why isn’t the President?”

That’s the $6.1 trillion question, the number by which the national debt has increased on President Obama’s watch. It begs an actual answer.

Earlier this year, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has served in Congress since 1999, said that the country’s severe fiscal problems would’ve been fixed if Clinton were still in office. McClintock specifically cited a handful of bipartisan accomplishments forged as a result of Clinton’s willingness to work with Republicans.

House passes stop-gap spending measure, defunds ObamaCare

CR passes the House

The House of Representatives has passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the federal government until mid-December by a vote of 230 to 189. The stop-gap spending measure also contains language to defund ObamaCare, the very controversial 2010 healthcare law.

As you can see above, it was mostly a party-line vote, though two Democrats voted for the CR, while one Republican — Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) — voted against it. You can read his explanation for his “no” vote here. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC) were the Democrats who voted for the CR.

House Republicans immediately held a press conference after the vote where conference leadership explained that they took action to defund ObamaCare “on behalf of the American people,” a majority of whom oppose the law and want it repealed, and hailed the CR’s passage as a “bipartisan vote.” They also explained that ObamaCare is having precarious effects on the nation’s economy and Americans.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called out Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Begich (D-AK) — Democrats who are running for re-election in states won by Mitt Romney in 2012 — citing concerns from residents and business owners from their respective states.

“The House has listened to the American people, now it’s time for the United States Senate as well,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to cheers and applause from Republican conference members.

Senate likely to strip language to defund ObamaCare

A procedural strategy being looked at by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would strike the language to defund ObamaCare out of the Continuing Resolution (CR), according to a report from The Hill:

Reid’s first move would be to schedule a vote to end debate on proceeding to the House continuing resolution. This would require 60 votes. Republican senators would vote to proceed to the bill because it would including the language to defund ObamaCare.

Then he would fill the amendment tree, defining what amendments could be considered in relation to the House legislation.

Reid would be sure that one of the pending amendments is a so-called “amendment to strike,” which would allow him schedule a future vote on stripping the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments.

Then Reid would schedule a vote to end debate on the House continuing resolution and proceed to final passage. This vote also requires 60 votes.
After this second cloture vote has passed, the pending amendments can be approved with a simple majority vote. At this point, Reid could strike the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments without having to rely on Republican votes. He could strike the language with Democratic votes alone.

Justin Amash passes on Michigan Senate race

Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), an young and outspoken liberty-minded Republican, has decided to pass on the open Senate seat in Michigan, according to a report from the National Journal:

Amash was tempted by the allure of a campaign for higher office, sources say, but the second-term lawmaker ultimately was unwilling to risk surrendering the clout he enjoys among conservatives in the GOP-controlled House. (His advisers also didn’t like the uncertain internal polling against his expected general-election contender, but sources say that didn’t affect Amash’s decision.)
“Justin feels that he’s hitting his stride in the House, and that it’s the best place for him right now,” said one source close to Amash.

The National Journal explained some of the logistical background that ultimately led to the decision, including the fact that Michigan is generally considered to be a blue state. They also note that Amash’s internal polling in the primary “showed him running comfortably ahead of a weak GOP primary field.”

Terri Lynn Land, who served for eight years as Michigan’s Secretary of State, is thought to be the frontrunner for the nomination. Polling shows Land running close to Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), the likely Democratic nominee. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) believes the race is competitive.

House Republicans want to fund government above sequester levels

House Republicans may be moving ahead with a Continuing Resolution (CR) that defunds ObamaCare, but the measure they’re pushing will fund the government above levels set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The Budget Control Act (BCA) set in place $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, which became known as the sequester. Those cuts, which are ultimately cuts to the rate of spending growth, went into effect in March after a temporary delay at the beginning of the year. Half of the cuts were applied to domestic programs, the other half to defense.

Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute, noted last week that the original CR backed by House Republican leadership would have spent $988 billion in FY 2014, rough $20 billion above the levels set by the BCA.

“The Congressional Budget Office’s score of the House Republican CR shows that defense is funded at $20 billion above the sequestration-included cap for fiscal 2014,” wrote DeHaven. “However, non-defense funding is actually $1 billion below it. Thus, it seems clear that the CR was intentionally written to force the sequestration-defense issue, which would kick-in in January.”

The BCA set the level for spending level for FY 2014 at $967 billion. The latest CR proposed by House Republicans, which defunds ObamaCare, would spend $986 billion, funding the government until December 15.

Tension brewing between House GOPers and Ted Cruz

After several days of wrangling, House Republicans decided to move forward on a Continuing Resolution that defunds ObamaCare, which will mostly likely pass and head to the Senate, where it may not come to the floor for a vote at all.

The thinking is that the House will then pass a Continuing Resolution that funds the government (and ObamaCare) that can pass the Senate before the end of the month, thus averting a government shutdown.

But Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) set some House Republicans off early yesterday evening. In a statement praising the latest House spending bill, the freshman senator acknowledged that there aren’t enough votes to defund ObamaCare. Even some Senate Republicans have expressed skepticism about the House CR for various reasons (more on that later today), though only a few have publicly knocked the defund ObamaCare approach.

“We commend House leadership and House Republicans for listening to the people and for taking decisive action to stop Obamacare, the biggest job-killer in America,” said Cruz. “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.”

“At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people,” he added.

House to vote on spending measure to defund ObamaCare

It looks like conservatives in the House of Representatives have succeeded. Robert Costa reported late yesterday afternoon at the National Review that Republican leadership will allow a vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that defunds ObamaCare, though what comes after that remains in question:

Leadership sources tell me the House GOP will soon vote on a continuing resolution that simultaneously funds the federal government and defunds Obamacare. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are expected to announce the decision at Wednesday’s closed-door conference meeting.
Here’s how my sources expect this gambit to unfold: The House passes a “defund CR,” throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive. But if Cruz and company can’t get it through the Senate, the leadership will urge Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avoid a shutdown, and pass a CR that doesn’t defund Obamacare.

Conservative members in the House and outside grassroots and pro-growth groups have been pushing hard to kill a plan backed by leadership that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. They’ve rallied behind an alternative proposed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) that would delay and defund ObamaCare until 2015. Graves’ measure now has 79 co-sponsors, according to his office.

Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling

debt ceiling

Though most members of Congress are focused on funding the federal government for another year, there is another battle on the horizon — raising the federal debt ceiling, which will be reached mid-next month.

House Republicans want some sort of a trade off from the White House to raise the debt ceiling, currently at $16.7 trillion, either further spending cuts or concessions on ObamaCare, and are tossing around the idea of holding a clean vote on the measure to show that there isn’t support for it inside the chamber. The White House, however, isn’t interested in having a debate on raising the debt ceiling.

Disagreement on how to approach the issue could lead to a stalemate similar to what the country saw in 2011 when Congress passed the Budget Control Act, a compromise between the Congress and the White House that led to the sequester.

But two new polls show that Americans are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll at the end of last week showing that a plurality of Americans oppose raising the debt limit, at 44/22.

Though opposition is strong, NBC News notes that President Obama will be able to frame the debate over the issue, giving him an advantage over House Republicans who have frequently been unable to frame a coherent message.

John McCain may finally retire

John McCain

After 27 long years on Capitol Hill and two failed presidential bids, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may finally be ready to retire. The Hill picked up on comments that the Arizona senator made during a recent interview:

The 77-year-old’s current term is up in 2016. When asked if this would really be his last term, McCain backtracked a bit.

“Nah, I don’t know,” McCain said. “I was trying to make a point. I have to decide in about two years so I don’t have to make a decision. I don’t want to be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.”

McCain made the initial remark about retirement off-the-cuff to a group of Obama supporters who interrupted the interview as he was arguing that television providers should unbundle their channels.

Yes, please?

McCain has long been a thorn in the side of conservatives and libertarians, voting for bloated budgets and pushing unpopular positions on a number of policies. Just this year alone, he opposed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on drones, backed more onerous gun control measures, and tried to help Senate Democrats push their big spending budget into a conference with the House without a guarantee against a stealth debt limit increase.

CBO can’t determine costs of Syria intervention

Tomahawk missile

Among the reasons that have been cited against military intervention against Syria is the potential cost, not just in terms of what the Obama Administration says will be “limited strikes,” but also the possibility of a broader engagement should the situation worsen.

But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which frequently issues cost scores on legislation, issued a report on Monday afternoon noting that they could not accurately predict the cost of Syria intervention. Why? Because Obama Administration has “has not detailed how it would use the authority that would be provided” by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

S. J. Res. 21 would authorise the President to use military force against the government of Syria, for up to 90 days, in response to its use of chemical weapons,” noted the CBO in its summary of the resolution.

The CBO explained the AUMF requires that President Barack Obama to submit a plan to Congress showing that it has exhausted potential diplomatic solutions and how strikes against the Syrian government are in the national security interest of the United States. It also requires the Obama Administration to present a strategy for completing stated objectives of the strike.

“The Administration has not detailed how it would use the authority that would be provided by this resolution; CBO has no basis for estimating the costs of implementing S. J. Res. 21,” they added.

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