Shutdown talk grows in GOP

Shutdown talk grows in GOP

By Scott Wong,Rebecca Shabad and Cristina Marcos – 11/14/14 04:07 PM EST

Conservative House Republicans say they’re willing to shut down the government to prevent President Obama from carrying out what they see as unconstitutional actions on immigration.

Tea Party lawmakers emboldened by the GOP’s big midterm gains say they will insist on attaching a policy rider to legislation keeping the government open that would block funding for agencies carrying out Obama’s promised executive actions limiting deportations.

If the Democratic Senate or Obama rejects the rider, the government could shut down. A current measure funding the government expires on Dec. 12.

“I am insisting on that [rider] because the president is violating his executive privilege,” GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents the border state of Arizona, said in an interview Friday.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) called the plan to block the executive action through the government-funding bill “a great idea.” Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who defeated then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June GOP primary in part by accusing his opponent of supporting “amnesty,” said he also backed the proposal.

Asked if a government shutdown would be worth halting Obama’s immigration action, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) replied: “When you take an oath to uphold the Constitution, it is not appropriate to contemplate the political consequences. You should uphold the Constitution come what may.”

The call to arms by conservatives is a challenge for GOP leaders in both chambers, who also oppose executive action by Obama but acknowledge they have not settled on a plan to stop it.

“There’s no decision on the strategy, but we know for one thing that the president should not move forward,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Friday.

It’s unclear what Obama will do, but reports this week that he is considering expanding an existing program that defers the deportation of children who entered the U.S. illegally to both their parents and additional children have provoked outrage on the right.

Obama’s proposals could give legal status to 5 million people, some reports suggest.

Republicans say there’s no consensus in the broader GOP conference about how to respond when Obama issues his executive order as early as next week.

Just a year ago, conservative Republicans led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz closed the government for 16 days in a failed bid to defund ObamaCare. GOP leaders taking over the Senate would like to avoid a repeat of that scenario.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed Thursday that Republicans would not shut down the government or default on the nation’s debt.

But hours later, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), fresh off winning another two years in the top spot, said the GOP would “fight tooth and nail” to stop Obama and that all options remained on the table.

Senior GOP aides said the Republican response could be a combination of blocking executive-branch nominees when Republicans take over the Senate next year and expanding a GOP lawsuit against Obama to cover his immigration action.

More moderate Republicans are trying to talk their conservative colleagues down from the ledge, warning that the GOP surely will be blamed for another shutdown. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is plowing ahead with a clean omnibus package that would keep the government open through September 2015.

That approach has the support of senior appropriators, including Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

“I don’t blame people for being mad and proposing ideas,” Cole said. “I personally think it’s just a losing strategy. It didn’t work for ObamaCare. There’s no way it’s going to work here… My view is shutting down the government is never the appropriate remedy.”

One incoming freshman elected in last week’s GOP wave, Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo, was reserving judgment and even suggested Obama’s executive immigration action could be legal.

“I recognize that every president has executive authority. The extent of that authority is in question,” said Curbelo, a Cuban-American who supports the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill. “Let’s see how the president decides to act.”

But many other moderates and conservatives are echoing Boehner’s talking points: Nothing at this point should be taken off the table.

“I certainly don’t want a government shutdown but the Speaker said everything has to be on the table if the president is taking what we consider to be unconstitutional action,” said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.). “We’re going to have to take action back. I hope it never reaches that stage though.”

“No one wants to risk a government shutdown,” added Tea Party Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who is Hispanic. “But this is an important enough issue that all options need to be on the table.”

While Republicans took a hit in the polls last year, conservatives believe Obama and Democrats would be blamed in Round 2.

“I think there is plenty of opportunity here that doesn’t risk a government shutdown but if the cards are played, America knows who was responsible for shutting down the government last time,” said Gosar. “It was very clear it wasn’t Republicans and it wasn’t Congress.”

House conservatives have been coordinating an immigration response with allies in the Senate. But Steve King, the immigration hard-liner from Iowa, wouldn’t offer specifics about whether he’s spoken with Cruz or incoming Senate Budget Chairman Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) about the plan.

“I wouldn’t be able to say that I walked over to that side of the Capitol,” King said. “We have an open communication between our staff so that dialogue does take place.”

But King took aim at establishment Republicans like McConnell for immediately ruling out a shutdown.

“It is the equivalent of the president in our battle with ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] saying there will be no boots on the ground,” King said.

Even small ball too much for Congress

Even small ball too much for Congress

By: Darren Samuelsohn and David Nather
January 22, 2014 05:01 AM EST

From left, clockwise: Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are shown in this composite. | AP Photos

Everybody knows that Congress can’t do anything big any more – but it turns out Capitol Hill is equally hapless about getting the small stuff done as well.

All the dysfunctional partisan gridlock keeping the House and Senate worlds apart on the transcendent issues of the day also means little progress on the no-brainers, like technical corrections and minor fixes to Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. Revamping the nation’s energy policies with low-hanging fruit proposals championed by both Democratic and GOP lawmakers are stuck, too.

It’s a broken government with messy consequences. Absent action from Congress, the Obama administration is stuck navigating a maze of murky statutes and crafting regulations ripe for lawsuits. A glance at recent Supreme Court and federal appellate court dockets underscores what happens when inertia rules in the House and Senate.

(PHOTOS: Senators up for election in 2014) Continue reading “Even small ball too much for Congress”

Boehner, Mikulski among omnibus winners

January 17, 2014, 06:00 am

Boehner, Mikulski among omnibus winners

 

By Erik Wasson

The Senate’s approval Thursday night of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill finally put to bed the government’s budget for 2014. 

 

Winners

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)

The biggest winner of the omnibus is the appropriations chairman who negotiated it and was rewarded with 359 votes on the floor.

Rogers opposed October’s government shutdown and has long argued winning conservative policy goals in a divided government is better achieved through negotiation rather than threats. With the omnibus, he has proof.  Continue reading “Boehner, Mikulski among omnibus winners”

Lawmakers Cite Progress On Budget Near Deadline

The New York Times

Lawmakers Cite Progress On Budget Near Deadline

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WASHINGTON — With the next budget deadline just weeks away, top lawmakers said this week that they had made significant progress negotiating a huge government-wide spending bill that gives the once mighty congressional Appropriations Committees a chance to reassert control over the flow of federal dollars.

“We have a chance to prove to the rest of the Congress that we can produce bills,” Representative Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in an interview.

The past few years have proved frustrating for members of the spending panels. With House Republicans unable to come to terms with Senate Democrats on a budget, the government has functioned mainly under a series of continuing resolutions that have taken the Appropriations Committees out of the game. Continue reading “Lawmakers Cite Progress On Budget Near Deadline”

Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage

Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage

 
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, spoke to members of the media on Tuesday.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York Times

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Published: December 17, 2013 194 Comments

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan tax-and-spending plan designed to bring some normalcy to Congress’s budgeting after three years of chaos cleared its final hurdle on Tuesday when 67 senators voted to end debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote before it goes to President Obama for his signature.

The 67-33 vote easily surpassed the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster and made way for final passage with a simple, 51-vote majority, likely on Wednesday. Republican support was surprisingly strong after days of uncertainty fueled by political posturing and Tea Party opposition.

The budget plan would restore $63 billion to defense and domestic programs in fiscal 2014 and 2015 from the levels they would have received if automatic, across-the-board spending cuts were to resume in January. Over 10 years, the plan would decrease cumulative deficits slightly by trimming military and federal worker pensions, extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare providers into next decade and making other changes, like ending federal research for some fossil-fuel discovery efforts. Continue reading “Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage”