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Congress: Time to retaliate!

“Senate Republican leaders are considering retaliatory measures in response to President Barack Obama’s decision to use a recess appointment to install Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” Roll Call reports. Sen. John McCain went to the Senate floor and even mocked Berwick, who was knighted by the Queen of England, as “Sir Donald.”

Roll Call’s reporting on the Democratic Caucus meeting shows a group angry, fretting, and finger-pointing over White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ comments on Meet the Press that Democrats could lose control of the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for one was particularly hot and others accused the White House of not doing enough for them. Pelosi charged that Gibbs was making a “politically inept” statement and that “I don’t appreciate it. I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never met him before. And he’s saying that we’re going to lose the House.”

(First of all, Gibbs didn’t say that Democrats were going to lose the House; rather he stated the reality that there are enough seats in play that Democrat potentially could lose the House. And then here’s Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Do I think he’s right in that there are enough seats in play? Probably close,” Hoyer said, per The Hill. But he added that “the fact that they’re in play does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I think we’re going to lose the House.”)

Congressional watcher Norm Ornstein: “The Senate’s refusal to drop or overcome a filibuster to extend unemployment benefits and give aid to states that continue to provide a massive fiscal drag on a sick economy -- to demand that they be paid for now, which is just foolish given the weakness of the economy and the danger of deflation -- is simply shortsighted and reckless. I know how tempting it is to keep denying the Obama administration a victory, but there are greater stakes here. The Senate’s agenda in coming days also includes the looming vote on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I have been struck by the reflexive partisan opposition to Kagan -- who by any objective standard is extraordinarily well-qualified by temperament, intelligence and experience for the court. In recent decades, it has become a too frequent occurrence to see knee-jerk partisan opposition to top level nominees. In some ways, I find it baffling.”

Speaking of blocking legislation, “President Obama used Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday for a stealth attack on Mitt Romney, a leading Republican presidential contender in 2012. Obama dispatched Gates to meet Senate Republicans to discuss a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty and other national security issues,” The Hill writes, adding, “Republicans can block the accord with their 41 Senate votes because treaties require ratification by a two-thirds vote of the chamber.”