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Congress: GOP's slip-up

“The House yesterday failed to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are key to the nation’s post-Sept. 11 antiterror law, a slipup for the new Republican leadership that miscalculated the level of opposition,” the AP writes. “Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of that level.”

Roll Call called yesterday the “worst day” of Republicans majority “so far when internal GOP divisions resulted in a pair of unexpected and unwelcome defeats for the new leadership Tuesday.” First, “In the afternoon, Republicans abruptly yanked a bill that would extend expiring Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, which provide worker education and retraining, after it became clear that conservative objections to the spending would doom the floor vote.” And then, they lost the 26 members on the expedited version of the Patriot Act.

Speaker John Boehner says he “should be” considered a member of the Tea Party. "I don't know if I actually pay dues, but I'm a big believer in the Tea Party,” he told a Cincinnati talk radio show. “I talk to Tea Party activists all over my district and all over the country every day."

“Republicans, who came to power in the US House on a Tea Party platform of job creation and budget cuts, yesterday clashed sharply with Democrats over a GOP effort to push through a host of new antiabortion measures, including a proposal that would eliminate tax deductions for private insurance plans that cover abortions,” the Boston Globe writes. “The move is being watched closely as a test of how far Republicans are willing to try to extend influence beyond their economic agenda and push a social issue that has inflamed politics and divided Americans for decades.”

“A plan to make Congress vote on spending cuts for projects or programs designated as wasteful by a president is gaining momentum in the Senate,” AP reports, adding, “The measure is a weaker version of the line-item veto power possessed by most governors and briefly enjoyed by President Clinton in the 1990s — before the Supreme Court ruled it was an unconstitutional infringement on Congress’s power.”

Senate Democrats retreat today to Charlottesville, VA, where they “are hoping to put some meat on a sparse floor agenda and polish their messaging on the economy,” Roll Call writes. 

On Friday, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said this to the Ripon Society: “My biggest disappointment with respect to Paul Ryan is that he hasn’t gotten the support across-the-board in the Republican conference that I think he should have had. In 1995 when we took the majority, we had a man named John Kasich from Ohio. It was only in recent months … that I realize what happened to the Republican majority in days past.  Well, it went to hell in a hand basket. And largely [the GOP majority] was rejected by the American people because it went from budget discipline to budget indulgence. It went from a broad national policy vision for America to short-term, political, parochial visions for themselves. "