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

Full Text Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Statement on the Unprecedented Republican Filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s Nomination

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Reid Statement On Unprecedented Republican Filibuster Of Hagel Nomination

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 2-14-13

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement after Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary from receiving an up-or-down vote, continuing the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. The vote was 58-40 with one Senator voting present:

“In a time of war and threats to Americans at home and abroad, Senate Republicans are waging the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. Despite unprecedented responsiveness and transparency from the White House, Republicans have constantly invented new pretexts for opposing Senator Hagel’s nomination, and Republicans continued their embarrassing display of disregard for our national security by blocking Senator Hagel’s nomination today.

“Watching Republicans with otherwise distinguished records on national security place their desire to please the Tea Party ahead of doing the right thing for our troops is one of the saddest spectacles I have witnessed in my twenty-seven years in the Senate.

“Senator Hagel is a decorated war veteran, an expert on national security issues and the right man to lead the Pentagon in these troubling times. Democrats will continue to fight for Senator Hagel, and we will reconsider his nomination in the coming days. Some Republican senators have said that they will change their votes, and allow his nomination to proceed at some point in the future. I will take them at their word, and I will hold them to their pledge.”

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

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Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-15-13

US Senate

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will have to stay on the job a little bit longer.

As expected, the Senate on Thursday failed to invoke cloture, essentially cutting off debate and not moving closer toward final passage of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next defense secretary.

The vote was 58-40. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted present. Four Republicans voted with the Democrats to end debate.

This marks the first time a Cabinet nominee has ever been blocked on a cloture vote….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans block Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary

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Senate Republicans block Hagel nomination for defense secretary

Source: WaPo, 2-14-13

(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Senate Republicans have blocked former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) nomination for secretary of defense, filibustering his confirmation amid demands for more time to study their former colleague’s speeches and finances after leaving the Senate in 2008. It is the first time a national security Cabinet nominee has ever faced a filibuster…..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 Political Headlines December 31, 2012: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech on the Senate Floor on the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations — ‘We can do this. We must do this.’

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McConnell: ‘We can do this. We must do this.’

Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 12-31-12

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations:

“Yesterday, after days of inaction, I came to the floor and noted we needed to act, but that I needed a dance partner. So I reached out to the Vice President in an effort to get things done.

“I’m happy to report that the effort has been a successful one and as the President just said, we are very close to an agreement.

“We need to protect American families and job creators from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary. And I can report that we’ve reached an agreement on the all the tax issues.

“We are very, very close.

“As the President just said, the most important piece, the piece that has to be done NOW, is preventing the tax hikes. He said: “for now our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going up for middle class families starting tomorrow.” He suggested that action on the sequester is something we can continue to work on in the coming months.

“So I agree, let’s pass the tax relief portion now. Let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving. The President wants this, members of Congress want to protect taxpayers, and we can get it done now.

“Let me be clear: We will continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending, but let’s not let that hold up protecting Americans from the tax hike that will take place in about 10 hours.

“We can do this. We must do this.

“I want my colleagues to know that we’ll keep everyone updated.”

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

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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

Full Text Political Headlines December 30, 2012: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech on Senate Floor Cites Lack of Urgency in Fiscal Cliff Talks, Reaches Out to Vice President Joe Biden

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McConnell Cites Lack of Urgency in Fiscal Cliff Talks, Reaches Out to Vice President

Source: McConnell Senate, 12-30-12

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations:

“My office submitted an offer to the majority leader last night at 7:10 pm and offered to work through the night to find common ground. The majority leader’s staff informed us they would be getting back to us this morning at 10 a.m.– despite our obvious time crunch. It’s now 2 p.m. and we’ve yet to receive a response to our good-faith offer.

“I’m concerned with the lack of urgency here. There’s far too much at stake for political gamesmanship.

“We need to protect American families and businesses from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary.

“In order to get things moving, I have just spoken with Sen. Reid.  I also placed a call to the Vice President to see if he could help jump start the negotiations on their side. The Vice President and I have worked together on solutions before and I believe we can again.

“I want my colleagues to know that we’ll keep everyone updated.

“The consequences of this are too high for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I’m interested in a result here. And I’m willing to work with whomever can help.

“There is no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point – the sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest, or courage to close the deal.

“I’m willing to get this done but I need a dance partner.”

Political Headlines December 30, 2012: President Barack Obama Suggests on NBC’s Meet the Press Any ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Would Be Small

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Obama Suggests Any ‘Cliff’ Deal Would Be Small

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-30-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

With less than two days remaining for Congress to reach a budget agreement that would avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” President Obama on Sunday suggested that a small deal remains the best hope to avoid the perilous package of spending cuts and tax increases.

In an interview aired Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the president said if Republicans agreed to raising taxes on top income earners it should be enough to avoid the triggers that would execute the $607 billion measure. Economists agree that going over the cliff would likely put the country back in recession.

“If we have raised some revenue by the wealthy paying a little bit more, that would be sufficient to turn off what’s called the sequester, these automatic spending cuts, and that also would have a better outcome for our economy long-term,” he 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

Political Headlines December 29, 2012: As Fiscal Cliff Nears, All Eyes Turn to the Senate

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As Fiscal Cliff Nears, All Eyes Turn to the Senate

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-29-12

Architect of the Capitol

A fiscal-cliff fix went nowhere in the House. Now, the Senate will take its turn.

With just three days before their end-of-the-year deadline, Congress and the White House are hurtling toward the so-called “fiscal cliff.” If no deal is struck by Monday night, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect.

Both sides still say there’s no concrete plan on the table….READ MORE

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