Said Lee: “In case no one noticed, the way Washington works stinks.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “finds himself once again pushing his colleagues to avoid giving fodder to Democrats seeking to use the ‘nuclear option’ to change Senate rules with a simple majority,” Roll Call reports.
“The Arizona Republican’s latest endeavor is to persuade GOP senators to allow the appointment of conferees to hammer out a House- Senate budget agreement without binding instructions against raising the debt limit. But his efforts have yet to win over the GOP’s tea party wing.”
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) blasted his GOP colleagues for grandstanding on the budget, Ezra Klein notes.
“The quick background here is that congressional Republicans have spent years calling for a return to ‘regular order’ in which the House writes a budget, the Senate writes a budget, and the two chambers move to a conference committee to hash out their differences. This year, for the first time since 2009, Senate Democrats wrote and passed a full budget, shepherding it to passage through an open amendment process. Now various Senate Republicans are blocking the move towards conference — blocking, in other words, the move towards the regular order they demanded.”
McCain unloaded last night: “What are we on my side of the aisle doing? We don’t want a budget unless we put requirements on the conferees that are absolutely out of line and unprecedented?”
In the wake of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) “rejected comparisons between federal aid for this disaster and the Hurricane Sandy relief package he voted against,” the Washington Post reports.
Inhofe said that was a “totally different” situation arguing that the Sandy aid was filled with pork.
Said Inhofe: “Everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy taking place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”
Wonk Wire: Will Tornado relief need to be deficit neutral?
Washington Post: “Months after the FBI began probing allegations against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), investigators are looking at whether someone set out to smear him while he was running for reelection last year and then ascending to his new post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to four people briefed on the inquiry.”
David Hawkings: “The day’s most consequential roll call was at Senate Judiciary, where all eight Republicans joined the 10 Democrats in endorsing Sri Srinivasan for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”
“Such unanimity is an extraordinary and unmistakable sign that GOP conservatives are making a tactical retreat in the judicial wars — one that may influence the filling of a future seat on the Supreme Court.”
The Hill: “Senate Democrats frustrated with the GOP’s blocking of a string of
President Obama’s nominees are seriously weighing a controversial tactic
known as the ‘nuclear option.’ The option — which would involve
Democrats changing Senate rules through a majority vote to prevent the
GOP from using the 60-vote filibuster to block nominations — was raised
during a private meeting Wednesday involving about 25 Democratic
senators and a group of labor leaders.”
Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) former campaign manager “blames his friend for investing $250,000 from donors in a Las Vegas company amid the 2008 global financial crisis, part of a scheme intended to pay off within two months,” the AP reports.
“Crapo’s former manager, Jake Ball, said in a sworn affidavit Crapo gave him the latitude to seek higher returns for campaign cash, though Crapo said he had no knowledge of this investment until the money was gone.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he refused to see former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) last week, given his admission that he secretly fathered a child during an extramarital affair decades ago.
Said Reid: “I don’t mention Domenici’s name anymore because of what he did to Michelle Laxalt. I wouldn’t let him come and see me. But anyway, that’s another story.”
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) “has passed the 100-day mark in the Senate, but he’s still waiting for an office,” the Portland Press Herald reports.
“Currently he’s working in a bunker-like office down the hall from former Sen. Olympia Snowe’s large office suite.”
“King says he originally questioned why he had to wait. After all, there are 100 senators and there should be 100 offices. He says he’s not one to mess with such mysterious Senate traditions, but that he’s looking forward to his new digs in space that was occupied by Scott Brown of Massachusetts.”
President Obama’s “monthslong quest for a mulligan with Senate Republicans switched venues Monday from swanky dinners to the golf course, as he took three senators out for a round,” Roll Call reports.
“Obama is set to tee off with Republicans Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Mark Udall of Colorado, per a pool report. And for a president who doesn’t like losing, Obama sure picked a killer crew.”
“According to Golf Digest‘s rankings of Washington’s top 150 golfers, Udall and Corker are the two best golfers among D.C.’s elected officials, recording 2 and 2.1 handicaps in 2011, respectively. Chambliss’ game is nothing to scoff at either, as he has a 7.4 handicap — about a stroke behind the best golfer in the White House, Joseph R. Biden Jr.”
New York Times: “The dearth of candidates for an open Senate seat reflects what former and current senators and those who once aspired to the office say is a sad truth: rarely has the thought of serving in the Senate seemed so unappealing.”
“Once considered an apex of national politics second only to the presidency, the ‘greatest deliberative body in the world’ is so riven by partisanship and gummed up by its own arcane rules that potential candidates from Georgia to Kentucky, Iowa to Montana are loudly saying, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.'”
“Add to that the cost of getting there — which can include fighting off special interests and ‘super PACs’ from your own party, exhausting criticism from the increasingly partisan news media, and prohibitive campaign expenses — and a Senate seat no longer seems so grand.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that his fellow GOP senators lambasted him for threatening to filibuster gun control reform, Politico reports.
Said Cruz: “They said, ‘Listen, before you did this the politics of this were great — the Dems were the bad guys, the Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.’ Well, there is an alternative — you could just not be a bunch of squishes.”
As David Drucker notes, the bigger story is that Cruz revealed private conversations which is a huge breach of Senate etiquette.
As Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was considering Las Vegas attorney Jennifer Dorsey for a federal judgeship, two partners at her law firm made $150,000 in contributions to a political action committee associated with the Nevada senator, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.
“While apparently legal, the donations were called ‘problematic’ by a legal expert, who said they could be perceived as attempting to buy a judicial appointment as Dorsey’s confirmation is pending before the Senate.”
“I just don’t want to die with my boots on.”
— Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), quoted by the Billings Gazette, explaining his decision to retire in 2014 and not run for re-election.
“Liberals may have cheered when Montana Sen. Max Baucus announced he would retire in 2014 and give up his stranglehold on the Senate Finance Committee gavel. But the likely ascent of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to the top of the committee creates its own problems for Democrats,” Roll Call reports.
“Wyden has often perturbed leadership by freelancing on bipartisan talks that have run counter to the party’s message.”
Failed Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) told supporters “it’s a possibility” she would run for Senate again, the Elko Daily Free Press reports.
Said Angle: “Certainly, we need to replace Harry Reid’s leadership and it would be nice to have a different person representing our state as well. I encourage you all to run for office. I wouldn’t encourage you to do anything I haven’t done myself and wouldn’t do again.”