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”

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.

Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote

Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote

By: Manu Raju and Burgess Everett
February 12, 2014 06:57 PM EST

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are pictured. | John Shinkle/POLITICOSen. Ted Cruz and the GOP rank and file ultimately backed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn into a corner on the debt ceiling increase.

The leaders had wanted to allow the toxic measure to pass with just 51 votes so all 45 Republicans could vote against it. But Cruz, the Texas tea party freshman, demanded approval by a 60-vote threshold.

So McConnell and Cornyn tried to persuade more than five Republicans in safe seats to support the effort, but they were met with stiff resistance. No Republican wanted to be vote No. 60 to advance a bill to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts, forcing the GOP leaders to secure a comfortable margin of victory or risk being blamed for a historic debt default.

(Also on POLITICO: Senate passes debt ceiling bill)

Miffed that they have long been asked to take tough votes when the GOP leaders voted “no,” Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski, privately pressured McConnell and Cornyn to vote to break the filibuster, sources said. Murkowski resisted voting for the measure without the support of her leadership team. Continue reading “Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote”

Key Support For Budget Deal; Deficits Would Rise

by The Associated Press

December 11, 2013 5:13 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A newly minted budget deal to avert future government shutdowns gained important ground Wednesday among House Republicans who are more accustomed to brinkmanship than compromise, even though it would nudge federal deficits higher three years in a row.

There was grumbling from opposite ends of the political spectrum — conservatives complaining about spending levels and liberal Democrats unhappy there would be no extension of an expiring program of benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Yet other lawmakers, buffeted by criticism after last October’s partial government shutdown, found plenty to like in the agreement and suggested it could lead to future cooperation. The plan was announced Tuesday evening by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and quickly endorsed by President Barack Obama. Continue reading “Key Support For Budget Deal; Deficits Would Rise”

A Modest, Common Sense Budget Deal the Tea Party Will Stop at Nothing to Destroy

Politics & Policy

A Modest, Common Sense Budget Deal the Tea Party Will Stop at Nothing to Destroy

By December 11, 2013

 House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray give a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 10

Photograph by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray give a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 10

On Tuesday night, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington announced they had agreed on a budget deal that would ease automatic sequestration cuts by about $60 billion over the next two years and pay for this new spending by raising airline ticket fees, cutting federal pensions and extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare. On the one hand, this is a minor miracle because it breaks the pattern of Congress operating only under crisis conditions that have hurt economic confidence and caused a shutdown. Last week, I explained why passing even a modest deal like this one was very good news. Nickel version: it provides modest stimulus, avoids another shutdown, and makes another default scare less likely. Continue reading “A Modest, Common Sense Budget Deal the Tea Party Will Stop at Nothing to Destroy”