February, 2015

O’Malley Takes a Shot at Clinton

Martin O’Malley (D) “took a veiled shot” Hillary Clinton in a speech in South Carolina, “criticizing the politics of triangulation that have historically been associated with the Clintons,” the New York Times reports.

Said O’Malley: “The most fundamental power of our party and our country is the power of our moral principles. Triangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward. History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience.”

“The remarks from Mr. O’Malley, who is viewed as facing an uphill battle, signaled a new phase both of his own efforts, after a year of saying he was not in ‘compare-contrast’ mode with Mrs. Clinton, and of the early 2016 campaign.”

How Walker Rode Private Prisons to the Top

The Nation: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is perhaps best known for dramatically weakening public and private unions in his state… Over Walker’s long career in state politics, he also accomplished another transformation: increasing Wisconsin’s incarceration rate while making sure private companies had a larger role managing those prisoners.”

“He rarely talks about it anymore, but Walker’s efforts as a young legislator didn’t just change the Wisconsin criminal justice system—they helped fill Walker’s campaign coffers with money from private prison operators as he ascended from the state legislature to the governor’s mansion.”

Boehner May Have Found a Way Out

“A provision tucked deep in the House rulebook could provide the way out of the Homeland Security funding mess for Speaker John A. Boehner — without the Ohio Republican actually having to do anything,” Roll Call reports.

“With rumblings about a full-scale revolt from within the ranks should Boehner put a funding bill on the floor that doesn’t explicitly block implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions, there was talk Friday night from senior House Democratic aides of Republicans having found a face-saving procedural gambit that would ultimately end in full funding for Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

“The bottom line is any House Democrat could have the power next week to force a vote on a clean DHS funding measure.”

Walker Says Busting Union Key Foreign Policy Action

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was Ronald Reagan’s aggressive response to an air traffic controllers strike in 1981, Vox reports.

“Forget Nixon’s outreach to China, Reagan’s defense buildup, or the Iraq war — it’s all about the firing of about 11,000 federal employees.”

“The context surrounding this quote is important. Walker had repeatedly asserted that the air traffic controllers strike was a critical foreign policy decision, arguing that it sent the Soviets a message that Reagan meant what he said. At one point, he cited Soviet documents to support his point — documents that, it turns out, were entirely made up.”

Will John Boehner Be Ousted as Speaker?

Speaker John Boehner’s allies “are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility,” Politico reports.

Said one GOP lawmaker close to Boehner: “There is a lot of speculation about this. People are watching for this very, very closely.”

Senate Republicans Fuming at House

Senate Republicans “are fuming over the House GOP’s decision to extend the standoff over the Department of Homeland Security, a move that they say uses up political oxygen and burns precious time on the legislative calendar,” The Hill reports.

“GOP senators say it’s time to move on to other issues, such as the budget, trade legislation, and regulatory and tax reform. They must defend 24 seats in the 2016 election and worry that voters could soon start to question their ability to govern unless they can move forward with a more substantive agenda.”

Several GOP-Led States Revisiting Obamacare

“Officials in several Republican states that balked at participating in President Obama’s ­health-care initiative are now revisiting the issue amid mounting panic over a possible Supreme Court decision that would revoke federal insurance subsidies for millions of Americans,” the Washington Post reports.

“The discussions taking place in state capitals around the country are part of a flurry of planning and lobbying by officials, insurance and hospital executives, and health-care advocates to blunt the possible impact of a court ruling.”

Did Boehner Cut a Deal with Democrats?

“House Democrats signaled Friday that Republicans have cut a deal with them to pass a Homeland Security funding measure next week that would last until Sept. 30. But Republicans are denying it,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The deal, Democrats said, was made in exchange for Democratic votes in favor of a one-week extension of Homeland funding.”

“Next week, Senate Democrats are all but guaranteed to block a motion to hold a conference with the House… Republicans would then presumably have no choice but to put a bill on the floor funding Homeland until Sept. 30 which would pass with full Democratic support but would anger House conservatives.”

Renzi Reports to Prison for 3 Year Sentence

Former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) “reported to a federal prison in West Virginia on Friday to begin serving a three-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and other convictions,” the AP reports.

“Renzi, 56, was convicted of conspiring to use his congressional post to make companies buy his ex-business associate’s land so the associate could repay a debt to Renzi. A federal jury in Tucson convicted Renzi in June 2013 on 17 of 32 counts, including wire fraud, extortion and racketeering.”

Warren Seeks to Block Trade Deals

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “is gearing up for another big fight with the Obama administration, this time over trade,” Politico reports.

“The Massachusetts senator is stepping up her criticism of the administration’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda, saying it could allow multinational corporations to gut U.S. regulations and win big settlements funded by U.S. taxpayers but decided by an international tribunal.”

Homeland Security Shutdown Averted

“Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday, when House leaders only narrowly managed to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security after an embarrassing defeat earlier in the day,” the New York Times reports.

“The seven-day funding extension, approved by a vote of 357 to 60, came just hours before money for the department was to run out at midnight. The accord was reached after a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team…”

“The speaker was rescued by Democrats, who supported his offer of a weeklong extension because they believed it would lead to a vote next week on full funding for the department through the fiscal year, without any provisions related to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration included in the House’s original legislation. A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said the speaker had made no promises or deals with House Democrats to guarantee such a vote.”

Boehner Scrambles for Plan B

“After 52 GOP lawmakers brought down a three-week spending bill for the agency, House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team were scrambling Friday to find a way to keep the Department of Homeland Security from shutting down at midnight. The vote was a demonstration of the limits to Boehner’s authority, and one of the most humiliating setbacks of his time atop the Republican Conference,” Politico reports.

“There was no sense that Boehner would step down from the speakership, but leadership aides and key lawmakers didn’t reject the idea outright.”