“A far-reaching six-month funding bill cleared the Senate on Wednesday afternoon after final adjustments were made for the meat industry to forestall the planned furloughs of food safety inspectors this summer in the wake of sequestration,” David Rogers writes. “The measure goes next to the House, which is expected to give its quick approval Thursday so as to avoid any threat of a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution runs out March 27.”
NBC’s Frank Thorp reports the vote on the Ryan budget should take place likely between 11:45 am ET and 12:15 pm ET.
Nancy Cook: “The Republican National Committee may want to send a few extra copies of the election postmortem it released this week over to Capitol Hill. Judging by the budget blueprints put forth by congressional Republicans, they didn’t get the memo. Right now, there appears to be a disconnect on economic policy between Republican Party officials, concerned with winning the White House in 2016, and congressional Republicans, concerned with slashing government spending and overhauling Medicare and Medicaid. That divide was particularly evident this week as the RNC released a report that implored Republicans to put forth new or different policy ideas to address the economic anxieties of the working and middle classes. ‘The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life,’ the report said. Historically, whoever charms this group wins national elections.”
But Priebus himself on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown was touting the importance of debt and deficits and defending the Ryan budget. "We're not losing the issues on the math,” Priebus contended, despite losing a 2012 election that was largely about taxing the wealthy, “Debt and spending are winners for us," he added.
Stu Rothenberg: “The Republican Party continues to fracture more seriously than I expected following last year’s re-election of President Barack Obama. Instead of uniting the GOP’s various constituencies against the president’s agenda, Obama’s re-election seems to have encouraged Republicans to spend much of their time harping on their internal disagreements and fighting over how the party should be positioned for 2016 and beyond.”
More: “With Republicans increasingly split on policy and strategy — hardly a recipe for political success in 2014 or 2016 — GOP grass-roots activists, party leaders and ‘outside’ groups still need to find a compelling case for swing voters and weak Democrats to reassess their assumptions about the two parties. For now, only the president and congressional Democrats can give them that.”
Democrats pulled a procedural maneuver to vote “present” to force Republicans to vote no on the Republican Study Committee Budget. If they didn’t vote no, it would have passed: “While the outcome was never seriously in doubt, the Democratic procedural maneuver ensured Republicans didn’t get to cast a freebie vote for a budget that plays well with the conservative base but is considered too extreme even by most members of the GOP,” Jonathan Allen writes.
Bob Corker: “For far too long, Congress has failed to fully exercise its constitutional responsibility to authorize the use of military force, including in the current struggle against al-Qaida, so I urge the committee to consider updating current anti-terrorism authorities to adapt to threats that did not exist in 2001 and to better protect our nation while upholding our morals and values.”
Question: In all this talk about drones and executive power, etc., where were Republicans when George W. Bush was pushing through the Patriot Act?
Well, OK then… “Support for gay marriage is picking up steam all over the country — except on Capitol Hill,” Politico writes. “Take Sen. Saxby Chambliss. When asked if his views had changed on gay marriage, the Georgia Republican quipped: ‘I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.’”
Claire McCaskill’s writing a book about her Senate race with Todd Akin.