President Barack Obama speaks to members of the news media before a meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House
President Barack Obama meets with bipartisian congressional leadership in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House. Also pictured is (L-R) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Charles Schumer.
The Hill: …. Harry Reid said Thursday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor acted “childish” in the debt talks. He is the the latest Democratic leader to accuse Cantor of impeding progress on negotiations to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
“…. he has shown he shouldn’t be at the table and Republicans agree he shouldn’t be at the table,” Reid said from the Senate floor. “We had negotiations going here …. and he has walked out on the meetings with the vice president of the United States,” said Reid recounting a Cantor’s exit from the talks hosted by Vice President Biden. “It was childish.”
…. Obama and Democrats have become increasingly irked with Cantor as he has advocated for the more conservative elements of the House Republican Conference and drawn a hard line against tax increases in any deal to raise the $14.3 trillion deficit ceiling.
In focusing his ire at Cantor, Reid is following the lead of his No. 3 in the Senate, Charles Schumer who on Wednesday said Cantor was the only congressional leader who has failed to make meaningful concessions or bring a plan to the table in the ongoing debt-ceiling negotiations.
“There is one person who hasn’t come up with a plan, hasn’t compromised, hasn’t reached out to the other side in an effort to move forward, and that is the majority leader in the House, Mr. Cantor,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “He is the only one who still says, ‘My way or the highway.’”
Business Insider: Former GOP Senator Alan Simpson had strong words for lawmakers Tuesday over their failure to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling and lowering the deficit.
“The American people are disgusted at both parties,” the Republican co-chair of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission told ABC News. “Everybody says, ‘What in the hell is going on?’” he said. “The American people are smarter than their politicians.”
Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles reached a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction relying on both revenues and spending cuts that has been alternately derided and embraced by both parties — mostly to criticize their political foes.
Simpson saved some of his harshest criticisms for Republicans, saying their stance on revenues is baffling. “The stuff that’s going on in my party, where the – pettiness overcomes the patriotism – it’s just disgusting to me,” he told ABC News. “Reagan raised taxes. We’ve never had less revenue to run this country since the Korean war.”
Washington Post: …. The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act failed to pass last night. Despite unanimously passing the Senate, it only garnered a 241-166 majority in the House. Since House rules were in suspension, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, had a blunt response in a late-night press release:
“The action on the House floor stopping the Child Marriage bill tonight will endanger the lives of millions of women and girls around the world. These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth. Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill.”
His frustration makes sense: the corresponding House Bill had 112 co-sponsors! What the heck happened?
In the hours before the vote, Republicans circulated a memo to pro-life members of Congress alleging that the bill could fund abortions and use child marriage “to overturn pro-life laws” …. when it came time for a vote, a number of the bill’s pro-life supporters in both parties abandoned ship.
Time for the facts. First of all, the act is short – the body of the bill is around ten pages long – and does not mention abortion … a quick read suffices to show that the bill is not dealing with abortion.
Second, it does not appropriate any additional funding. It requires that the President and the State Department make child marriage a core part of American international development strategy. One more time: this means that this bill can’t provide funding for abortion. It’s not a appropriations bill. Nonetheless, some Republicans appear determined to showcase their conservative credentials at all costs - even when the facts make it unnecessary, even when the world’s most vulnerable children bear the bill.
At this point, the bill’s future is uncertain, but the ongoing bizarre misrepresentation of a bill designed to empower young girls and women is the worst sort of political gamesmanship. Why play politics with their lives at stake?
And on Thursday:
Senate Republicans blocked the long-awaited 9/11 health care and compensation bill, making good on a pledge to reject all legislation until the Bush-era tax cuts are passed.
The 9/11 health bill, known as the Zadroga bill, would continue health care funding for tens of thousands of 9/11 emergency responders, construction laborers and downtown residents, workers and students. It would also potentially compensate people with post-9/11 health conditions and the survivors of those who have died.
Thursday’s vote went even worse than expected. The Democrats need 60 votes to open debate — and 60 to close it. Democrats had thought they had 59 votes and a few possible centrist Republican contenders for the 60th vote. But GOP discipline held strong, and the Democrats only hit 58. Newly-elected Illinois Republican Senator Ron Kirk stayed with his party. Kirk, who was elected to President Obama’s former seat voted for the House version when he was there in September. He had assured Democrats he would again now that he is in the Senate.
Republicans are concerned the Zadroga bill would create a new entitlement program. The Democrats say they can fund it without raising taxes by closing a loophole on international companies that locate in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes. Republicans, however, say that amounts to a new tax on companies that operate here and employ American workers.
9/11 responder John Feal lashes out Friday at GOP politicians holding up theJames Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
New York Daily News: Lawmakers stung by the failure of the 9/11 health bill returned to Ground Zero Friday in hopes of breathing life into the measure.
Republicans filibustered the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Thursday, blocking the start of debate on the bill because they want to see tax cuts passed first.
Manhattan Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney ripped the move as “immoral” and “truly sad.” “Health care for Americans who are ailing because of 9/11 should not be held hostage to partisan politics,” Maloney charged.
Dozens of responders who showed up for the press conference were still in disbelief over the potentially fatal setback. “I was a registered Republican. I have no idea what I am now,” said Ray Simons, 60, a retired FDNY ambulance worker who said he’s ill from two weeks at The Pile. “For senators to turn this down, it’s like, oh, my God, it’s the ultimate betrayal.”
NBC NY: Arizona Sen. John McCain is under fire from his Democratic counterparts for a remark on the Senate floor yesterday, where he said lawmakers who support a health care bill for Ground Zero workers are “fooling around.”
The bill, which would provide up to $7.4 billion in aid for workers sickened by World Trade Center dust after the 9/11 attacks, was shot down by Republican lawmakers this month after they refused to consider the legislation until tax cuts were extended.
On Friday, McCain said Democratic leaders needlessly stalled a vote on a missile treaty with Russia “after all of the fooling around we’ve been doing” by holding loose votes on immigration and the Ground Zero health-care legislation.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), one of the main supporters of the bill, took to the Senate floor, saying “To call helping (first responders) fooling around is saddening and frustrating.”
And today, they defeated the DREAM Act:
ThinkProgress: Forty-one mostly Republican senators voted against a bill which would have provided young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents a path to legalization by pursuing a college education or serving in the military. 55 voted in the affirmative.
Immediately before the vote failed, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took the Senate floor to tell the young DREAMers who have come to his office that they were “wasting their time” because the border hasn’t been secured:
“…to those who have come to my office — you’re always welcome to come, but you’re wasting your time. We’re not going to pass the DREAM Act or any other legalization program until we secure our borders. It will never be done as a stand-alone. It has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform.”
What Graham didn’t mention is that though he has supported immigration reform in the past, he and his party are largely responsible for blocking it in 2010. First he held it hostage to health care reform, pitted it against climate change legislation, and then turned his back on it altogether. This summer, he declared his support for changing the 14th amendment to deny the U.S.-born children of immigrants citizenship.
And as we speak, they’re still trying to block the repeal of DADT and the passing of the START Treaty in the Senate