Senate approves two-year budget deal in 3 a.m. vote

Senate approves two-year budget deal in 3 a.m. vote

By Jordain Carney

Greg Nash
The Senate passed a two-year budget deal that raises the debt ceiling early Friday morning, sending the agreement to President Obama’s desk.

The deal was approved in a 64-35 vote after 3 a.m. after a late speech by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who criticized the legislation as a blank check for President Obama to add to the nation’s debt.

“Both sides of the aisle have what I would call sacred cows. On the right, they have the sacred cow of military contracts. …The left wants more welfare,” he said, adding, “Should we give Congress more money? Hell no.

Few other senators seemed interested in Paul’s speech, as the presiding officer repeatedly had to ask senators to keep their conversations down so that Paul could speak. Continue reading “Senate approves two-year budget deal in 3 a.m. vote”

Rand Paul, Mike Crapo to oppose budget deal

Rand Paul, Mike Crapo to oppose budget deal

Rand Paul and Mike Crapo are shown. | AP Photos

Paul and Crapo join an increasing number of GOPers who are opposing the bill. | AP Photos
By KEVIN CIRILLI | 12/11/13 9:16 AM EST Updated: 12/11/13 10:10 AM EST

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will oppose the bipartisan budget proposal that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released last night.

“Senator Paul will oppose the reported cap busting deal,” Doug Stafford, Paul’s senior adviser, told POLITICO on Wednesday. “He opposes increasing spending and undoing the minimal sequester cuts in current law, which weren’t even close to enough to begin with.”

The potential 2016 presidential contender’s opposition could signal trouble that Ryan and Murray will have convincing members of the right to get on board with the two-year budget agreement that cuts deficits by $23 billion. Some conservatives say Ryan gave up too much ground. Continue reading “Rand Paul, Mike Crapo to oppose budget deal”

Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.

Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.

The budget standoff that led to a government shutdown exacted a heavy toll on the Republican Party’s image. Now comes fresh evidence to suggest it has complicated the GOP’s effort to retain its House majority.

Data in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll should worry House Republican campaign strategists for several reasons, even as the election is still more than a year away and the GOP still has the upper hand overall. Below are the three biggest causes for concern.

1. A small cushion in GOP districts. Democrats hold a comfortable 48 percent to 40 percent lead among registered voters in the generic ballot test. But it’s not just the topline national numbers (which are not perfect predictors) that should worry Republicans. It’s what’s going on in Republican-held districts that should turn more heads. Republicans hold an 8-point lead in districts they control, compared to Democrats’ 30-point lead in their districts. An 8-point lead might not seem all that bad. But consider that we’re talking about all GOP districts here, the vast majority of which are very conservative and not at any risk of switching control.  What that means is that in the swing GOP seats that will decide who wins the majority, the Republican advantage is probably smaller, if it even exists. Meanwhile, Democrats, who have to play heavy defense in addition to going on offense, appear to be in the better position to buttress their incumbents. Continue reading “Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.”

Rand Paul’s government shutdown diplomacy

Rand Paul’s government shutdown diplomacy

Rand Paul is pictured. | AP Photo‘Maybe by chatting over coffee together, we can just talk and see if we can get along.’ | AP Photo

By MANU RAJU | 10/2/13 4:51 PM EDT Updated: 10/2/13 6:08 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul: Peacemaker?

In the raging government shutdown fight, the Kentucky tea party favorite is quietly carving out a role as a bridge builder between the warring hard-line conservative faction and establishment wings of his party. And he’s also tossing out ideas aimed at bringing Democrats along in the process.

Paul pitched a “clean” one-to-two week stop-gap measure to give the parties time to iron out their differences while keeping the government afloat. He has suggested bicameral negotiations to find a middle-ground between the demands of conservatives to defund Obamacare and Democratic insistence that they wouldn’t touch the law. And he’s now making a new pitch: Coffee.

In a letter to all senators sent Wednesday afternoon, Paul called for a bipartisan coffee meeting on the Capitol steps Thursday morning to “alleviate this tension and partisanship.”

(POLITICO’s full government shutdown coverage)

“Tension is at an all-time high here at the Capitol,” Paul said in the letter, which was provided to POLITICO. “We are all anxious about the shutdown and had to send the bulk of our staff home — worried about their future. … Maybe by chatting over coffee together, we can just talk and see if we can get along.”

Paul’s coffee announcement may amount to little more than optics in what has become an extended round of theatrics on Capitol Hill, with no resolution to the government shutdown in sight. But it’s the latest example of how the potential 2016 presidential hopeful is methodically seeking to broaden his appeal from 2010, when he ran for the Senate on a hard-right tea party platform with a devoted libertarian following.

Now, he’s building close ties to party leaders like Mitch McConnell — viewed skeptically by some conservative activists — while trying to keep up his appeal among the tea party right.

(PHOTOS: D.C. closes up shop)

In short, he’s no Ted Cruz.

“Anything a senator can do to create political space for our House colleagues is a good thing,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said when asked about the Paul efforts.

Cruz has become a hero on the right for vehemently attacking his Senate GOP colleagues for refusing to back his tactic to threaten a government shutdown if Democrats don’t defund Obamacare — alienating himself from Republican senators in the process.

Paul sided with Cruz in his anti-Obamacare effort, even signing a letter backing the defunding tactic and appearing with the Texas Republican for a portion of his 21-hour speech attacking Obamacare last week. But with Republican senators attacking the Cruz tactic as fruitless and politically damaging, Paul has maintained a lower profile. Paul has avoided becoming the face of the effort, eschewing direct confrontations with his colleagues — and even expressing concern about a government shutdown.

(POLITICO interview: Rep. Steve King predicts longer shutdown)

When asked why he was staying out of the spotlight just days before federal agencies closed, Paul responded: “I think it’s not a good idea to shut down the government.” Instead, he said it made more sense for House-Senate conference to resolve the Obamacare dispute to “split the difference.”

“That’s the way it really should work,” he said.

A day after Cruz’s marathon speech, Paul took to the Senate floor to engage in an extended colloquy with McConnell where the two men both railed about the ills of Obamacare, giving political cover to the GOP leader who opposed the Cruz effort to filibuster a government funding bill.

By keeping his foot in both camps, Paul has emerged as a key asset for his Kentucky colleague, McConnell, who can’t afford to undercut House Republicans in the shutdown fight without provoking a backlash from the right.

That could make Paul’s role increasingly critical if the shutdown grows politically unsustainable for the GOP and Senate Republicans begin to look for a way out of the crisis. On the Senate floor in recent days, Paul and McConnell have been seen talking extensively. And Paul’s suggestion for a short-term stop-gap measure on Monday came on the same day McConnell quietly sought to gauge support for a one-week plan.

(PHOTOS: 17 times the government has shut down)

But aides to the two Kentuckians deny they are coordinating their tactics, saying Paul is merely expressing his opinions about the best way forward.

While many Senate Republicans opposed the Cruz and House GOP tactics, many are now keeping their powder dry given that the government has shut down and there’s no clear resolution in sight. In interviews on Wednesday, Senate Republicans said they were not at that point yet of pressuring their House Republicans to buckle, saying that their best hope was to stay unified behind House Speaker John Boehner in the high-stakes battle.

“We’re at our best when we’re united,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

Read more:

Congress Looks Resigned to a Shutdown

Congress Looks Resigned to a Shutdown

Matt Berman 7 hours ago

Do you think the government is going to shut down? That’s what CBS’s Bob Schieffer asked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill, on Face the Nation Sunday morning. “I’m afraid I do,” he said.

Right now, with a day and change left before the government shuts down if Congress can’t agree on how to fund it, Durbin’s prediction is looking pretty sage.

If for no other reason, that’s because with so little time left, the frame of the debate is still far from a position that could yield a real negotiation. On Sunday, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., took up a line on the budget fight that seems to prime the government for a shutdown. “It’s not a good idea to give the president 100 percent of what he wants on Obamacare without compromise,” Paul said on Face the Nation. “We’ve been offering him compromises.” On Meet the Press, Ted Cruz said much the same thing:  Continue reading “Congress Looks Resigned to a Shutdown”

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