Political Musings April 7, 2014: Senate passes unemployment benefits extension bill 59-38, now moves to House

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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Senate passes unemployment benefits extension bill 59-38, now moves to House

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Senate passed on Monday, April 7, 2014 the full and final vote on the long-term jobless unemployment benefits extension bill with 59 votes for and 38 against with six Republicans joining the Democrats to pass the bill, while…READ MORE

Political Musings April 3, 2014: Senate passes unemployment benefits extension with 61-38 procedural test vote

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The Senate passed a second procedural vote 61 for and 38 against on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 ending the filibuster and debate and advancing the long-term jobless unemployment benefits extension bill to a full and final vote. Six Republicans…READ MORE

Political Musings March 28, 2014: Senate unemployment benefits extension bill passes 65-34 ending filibuster

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Senate unemployment benefits extension bill passes 65-34 ending filibuster

By Bonnie K. Goodman

With a bipartisan vote of 65 for and 34 against, the Senate voted on Thursday afternoon, March 27, 2014 to pass a cloture vote and end the filibuster moving the unemployment benefits extension bill forward towards a full senate vote…READ MORE

Political Musings November 22, 2013: Senate Democrats go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

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Senate Dems go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After earlier this week the Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s third judicial nominee for the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting Senate Democrats to invoke on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 what is called the “nuclear option”….READ MORE

Political Headlines September 9, 2013: Harry Reid Sets Senate First Test Vote on Syria for Wednesday

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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Reid Sets First Test Vote on Syria for Wednesday

Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that the first procedural vote, not the final one, on the use of military force against Syria will occur “sometime” Wednesday.

“The Senate will give this matter the serious attention that it deserves,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

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Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-18-13

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that it was time to take a breath and regroup in the wake of a sweeping defeat on gun legislation this week.

“I’ve spoken with the president,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “He and I agree that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit a pause and freeze the background check bill where it is.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 8, 2013: Rand Paul’s Near 13-Hour Filibuster Receives Mixed Reviews & Criticism from Sens. John McCain & Lindsey Graham

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Rand Paul’s Near 13-Hour Filibuster Receives Mixed Reviews

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Sen. Rand Paul’s stamina and conviction after his nearly 13-hour filibuster, but some of Paul’s Republican colleagues were less than impressed with the Kentucky senator’s marathon effort….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 6, 2013: Harry Reid Fails To End Rand Paul Filibuster On John Brennan

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Harry Reid Fails To End Filibuster On John Brennan

Source: TPM, 3-6-13

After five hours of a Republican-led filibuster on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) came to the floor to wrap things up.

Reid called for a unanimous consent agreement to move to a direct vote and effectively end the filibuster on the nomination. Paul objected…

Paul was aided on the floor at various times by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and even one Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

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Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

Source: Politico, 2-14-13

Chuck Hagel’s path to the Pentagon struck another major roadblock on Thursday when Senate Republicans kept up their threat to filibuster, throwing the nomination into limbo as Congress prepared to quit town for a weeklong recess….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Chuck Hagel

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Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Hagel

Source: Washington Post, 2-14-13

Senate Republicans have secured enough votes to mount a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Thursday, increasing the stakes in the showdown over the former GOP senator’s bid….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 24, 2013: Senate Leaders Harry Reid & Mitch McConnell Strike Filibuster Deal to Pass Bills Faster

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Senate Leaders Strike Deal to Pass Bills Faster

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-24-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Tired of D.C. gridlock? Check this out: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a tentative agreement on a set of procedural changes that could allow bills to get through the Senate at a somewhat faster pace.

The party leaders were running the deal by their members at policy lunches Thursday.

There is an important caveat – these changes will fall short of the major reforms that Democrats like Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Jeff Merkely, D- Ore., had pushed for.  The minority party will still be able to filibuster and require 60 votes on any piece of legislation. But if these changes are enacted the minority party – and more importantly individual senators – would have less power to slow legislation down by insisting on 30 hours of time before votes on procedural motions….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 24, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Senate Filibuster Deal

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 1-24-13 

In my State of the Union last year, I urged Congress to take steps to fix the way they do business.  Specifically, I asked them to address the fact that a simple majority is no longer enough to pass anything – even routine business – through the Senate.  And today, I am pleased that a bipartisan group of Senators has agreed to take action.

Too often over the past four years, a single Senator or a handful of Senators has been able to unilaterally block or delay bipartisan legislation for the sole purpose of making a political point.  At a time when we face critical decisions on a whole range of issues – from preventing further gun violence, to reforming our broken immigration system, to getting our fiscal house in order and creating good paying jobs – we cannot afford unnecessary obstruction.  And I am hopeful that today’s bipartisan agreement will pave the way for the Senate to take meaningful action in the days and weeks ahead.

I also want to thank leaders in Congress for changing the Senate rules in an effort to resurrect the longstanding tradition of considering consensus district court judicial nominations on a more routine basis.  After being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, my judicial nominees have waited more than three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my predecessor, even though the overwhelming majority of my nominees have been confirmed with little, if any, dissent.  These months of unnecessary delay have threatened our judiciary.  Today’s reforms are a positive step towards a fairer and more efficient system of considering district court nominees, and I urge the Senate to treat all of my judicial nominees in the same spirit.

Full Text Obama Presidency December 31, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations ‘Agreement Within Sight’

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Source: NYT, 12-31-12

By Pool

President Obama on the Fiscal Talks: President Obama says a deal is “within sight,” less than 24 hours before the so-called fiscal cliff.

The following is the full text of President Obama’s statement from the White House on the fiscal talks on Monday.

Related

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Thank you. Please, everybody have a seat. Well, good afternoon, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon!

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House.

AUDIENCE: Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you for having us. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Now, I realize that the last thing you want to hear on New Year’s Eve is another speech from me. But I do need to talk about the progress that’s being made in Congress today.

For the last few days, leaders in both parties have been working toward an agreement that will prevent a middle class tax hike from hitting 98 percent of all Americans, starting tomorrow. Preventing that tax hike has been my top priority, because the last thing folks like the folks up here on this stage can afford right now is to pay an extra $2,000 in taxes next year. Middle-class families can’t afford it. Businesses can’t afford it. Our economy can’t afford it.

Now, today it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year’s tax hike is within sight, but it’s not done. There are still issues left to resolve, but we’re hopeful that Congress can get it done. But it’s not done.

And so part of the reason that I wanted to speak to all of you here today is to make sure that we emphasize to Congress and that members of both parties understand that all across America, this is a pressing concern on people’s minds.

Now, the potential agreement that’s being talked about would not only make sure that taxes don’t go up on middle-class families, it also would extend tax credits for families with children. It would extend our tuition tax credit that’s helped millions of families pay for college. It would extend tax credits for clean energy companies that are creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It would extend unemployment insurance to 2 million Americans who are out there still actively looking for a job.

I have to say that ever since I took office, throughout the campaign, and over the last couple of months, my preference would have been to solve all these problems in the context of a larger agreement, a bigger deal, a grand bargain — whatever you want to call it — that solves our deficit problems in a balanced and responsible way, that doesn’t just deal with the taxes but deals with the spending in a balanced way so that we can put all this behind us and just focusing on growing our economy.

But with this Congress, that was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time. (Laughter.) It may be we can do it in stages. We’re going to solve this problem instead in several steps.

Last year in 2011, we started reducing the deficit through $1 trillion in spending cuts. Those have already taken place. The agreement being worked on right now would further reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay higher taxes for the first time in two decades, so that would add additional hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction. So that’s progress, but we’re going to need to do more.

Keep in mind that just last month Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Obviously, the agreement that’s currently being discussed would raise those rates and raise them permanently. (Applause.)

But keep in mind, we’re going to still have more work to do. We still have deficits that have to be dealt with. We’re still going to have to think about how we put our economy on a long-term trajectory of growth, how we continue to make investments in things like education, things like infrastructure that help our economy grow.

And keep in mind that the threat of tax hikes going up is only one part of this so-called fiscal cliff that everybody has been talking about. What we also have facing us starting tomorrow are automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect. And keep in mind that some of these spending cuts that Congress has said will automatically go into effect have an impact on our Defense Department, but they also have an impact on things like Head Start. And so there are some programs that are scheduled to be cut that we’re using an axe instead of a scalpel — may not always be the smartest cuts. And so that is a piece of business that still has to be taken care of.

And I want to make clear that any agreement we have to deal with these automatic spending cuts that are being threatened for next month, those also have to be balanced — because remember, my principle has always been let’s do things in a balanced, responsible way. And that means that revenues have to be part of the equation in turning off the sequester, in eliminating these automatic spending cuts, as well as spending cuts.

Now, the same is true for any future deficit agreement. Obviously, we’re going to have to do more to reduce our debt and our deficit. I’m willing to do more, but it’s going to have to be balanced. We’re going to have to do it in a balanced, responsible way.

For example, I’m willing to reduce our government’s Medicare bills by finding new ways to reduce the cost of health care in this country. That’s something that we all should agree on. We want to make sure that Medicare is there for future generations. But the current trajectory of health care costs is going up so high we’ve got to find ways to make sure that it’s sustainable.

But that kind of reform has to go hand-in-hand with doing some more work to reform our tax code so that wealthy individuals, the biggest corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most of the folks standing up here — aren’t available to most Americans. So there’s still more work to be done in the tax code to make it fairer, even as we’re also looking at how we can strengthen something like Medicare.

Now, if Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone — and you hear that sometimes coming from them, that sort of after today we’re just going to try to shove only spending cuts down — well — (laughter) — shove spending cuts at us that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle-class families, without asking also equivalent sacrifice from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists, et cetera — if they think that’s going to be the formula for how we solve this thing, then they’ve got another thing coming. That’s not how it’s going to work. We’ve got to do this in a balanced and responsible way. And if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction and debt reduction, then it’s going to have to be a matter of shared sacrifice — at least as long as I’m President. And I’m going to be President for the next four years, I think, so — (applause.)

So, anyway, for now, our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going up for middle-class families, starting tomorrow. I think that is a modest goal that we can accomplish. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have to get this done, but they’re not there yet. They are close, but they’re not there yet. And one thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there’s even one second left before you have to do what you’re supposed to do — (laughter) — they will use that last second.

So, as of this point, it looks like I’m going to be spending New Year’s here in D.C.

AUDIENCE: Awww –

THE PRESIDENT: You all are going to be hanging out in D.C., too. (Laughter.) I can come to your house? Is that what you said? (Laughter.) I don’t want to spoil the party.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You are the party. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: But the people who are with me here today, the people who are watching at home, they need our leaders in Congress to succeed. They need us to all stay focused on them — not on politics, not on special interests. They need to be focused on families, students, grandmas, folks who are out there working really, really hard and are just looking for a fair shot and some reward for that hard work.

They expect our leaders to succeed on their behalf. So do I. And so, keep the pressure on over the next 12 hours or so. Let’s see if we can get this thing done.

And I thank you all. And if I don’t see you, if I don’t show up at your house — (laughter) — I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Political Headlines December 31, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff: ‘Agreement Within Sight’

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Obama on Fiscal Cliff: ‘Agreement Within Sight’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-31-12

The White House

President Obama said an 11th-hour agreement to avert year-end tax hikes on 98 percent of Americans is “within sight” but not yet complete with just hours to go before the nation reaches the so-called fiscal cliff.

“There are still issues left to resolve but we’re hopeful Congress can get it done,” Obama said Monday at a White House news conference. “But it’s not done.”

Congressional and White House negotiators have forged the contours of an agreement that would extend current tax rates for households making $450,000 or less; raise the estate tax from 35 to 40 percent for estates larger than $5 million; and prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hammering millions of middle-class workers, sources said….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 30, 2012: Major Setback in Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

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Major Setback in Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-30-12

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday rejected the latest offer from Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.), pushing the country that much closer to the fiscal cliff as the senators scrambled to find a bipartisan deal before automatic tax cuts and spending hikes kick in for the new year.

A senior Democratic aide says that, although talks continue, the McConnell offer was “a major setback.”

“We are hugely disappointed,” the aide tells ABC News….READ MORE

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