Mel Watt can put this distinction next to his congressional biography -- with Republicans' successful blocking of his nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, he appears to be the first sitting member of Congress whose nomination has been defeated by filibuster since 1843.
The North Carolina Democrat joins Rep. Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts. Two days before Cushing left office, having pledged not to run again, President John Tyler nominated him to become his Treasury secretary in a lame-duck session of Congress. But he was blocked twice, according to the House Historian's office.
Thirty years later, Cushing was rejected again, this time for appointment as Ulysses S. Grant's nominee for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1874.
Cushing had been an "early and open critic" of slavery, but was against undoing it out of fear Southern states would secede, according to "Broken Glass: Caleb Cushing and the Shattering of the Union."
Cushing, who served as chairman of the 1860 Democratic conventions, was labeled "the South's favorite New Englander." He was even against the notion of "popular sovereignty," which would have allowed new territories to determine for themselves whether to allow slavery or not. It was seen then as a compromise position between pro-slavery factions and abolitionists.
That left Cushing with few friends -- and some old enemies -- when his nomination came up for the top spot on the Supreme Court.
Two other sitting members have been filibustered since 1949 -- Hilda Solis in 2009, nominated by President Obama for Labor Secretary, and Rob Portman, nominated by George W. Bush for US Trade Representative in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service.
But opposition, in both cases, was withdrawn.
Ironically, Portman was one of two Republicans to vote for Watt today.
“New revenue must be part of any bipartisan agreement to eliminate the sequester, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday,” The Hill writes.
Politico looks at the balancing act for Republicans on the Senate’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.
“The feuding between business groups and Tea Party Republicans is just beginning,” The Hill writes. “Trade associations and conservative groups that clashed bitterly over the government shutdown and the debt-ceiling hike will soon be on opposite sides in fights over the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and the farm bill, to name just a few.”
The Hill: “Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) on Wednesday became the third House Republican to back a Democratic-led immigration reform bill.”
President Barack Obama’s approval rating has declined to an all-time low as public frustration with Washington and pessimism about the nation’s direction continue to grow, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Just 42 percent approve of the president’s job performance, which is down five points from earlier this month. By comparison, 51 percent disapprove of his job in office -- tied for his all-time high.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President Barack Obama speaks about health insurance at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
The NBC/WSJ pollsters argue that no single reason explains Obama’s lower poll standing. Rather, they attribute it to the accumulation of setbacks since the summer -- allegations of spying by the National Security Agency, the debate over Syria’s chemical weapons, the government shutdown and now intense scrutiny over the problems associated with the health care law’s federal website and its overall implementation.
Those events have combined to erase some of the advantage the president gained with polls showing most Americans blame congressional Republicans for the shutdown.
And for the first time in the survey, even Obama’s personal ratings are upside-down, with 41 percent viewing him a favorable light and 45 percent viewing him negatively.
“Personally and politically, the public’s assessment is two thumbs down,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.
‘Mad as hell as we’re not going to take it anymore’
But that two-thumbs-down assessment also applies to almost every other politician measured in the poll. Consider:
Peter King explains why the president needs to stand with the NSA.
GOP pollster McInturff says that if the previous NBC/WSJ poll -- conducted during the shutdown -- sent shock waves hitting the Republican Party, this new poll is sending shock waves hitting everyone else.
“It feels like we’re in a Howard Beale moment,” adds Hart, referring to an often-quoted line from the 1976 movie “Network.”
“We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Hart paraphrases from that movie.
Measuring the shutdown’s aftermath
And the American public is particularly mad -- at everyone -- after the government shutdown.
By a 41 percent-to-21 percent margin, respondents say they have a less favorable impression of President Obama after the shutdown rather than a more favorable one.
Ditto congressional Tea Party Republicans (45 percent to 12 percent) and congressional Republicans (53 percent to 9 percent).
Still, more Americans blame congressional Republicans for the shutdown (38 percent) than Obama (23 percent), while 36 percent say they blame both sides equally.
But the poll also shows that the political gains that Democrats made during the shutdown have eroded somewhat.
Democrats have a four-point advantage among voters, 45 percent to 41 percent, on which party should control Congress after next year’s midterm elections. Yet that’s down from the eight-point edge, 47 percent to 39 percent, they held in the last NBC/WSJ poll.
President Barack Obama addresses the issues facing healthcare.gov Wednesday during a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
And measuring the health care rollout
In addition, the health care law is slightly less popular than it was earlier this month, according to the poll.
Thirty-seven percent see it as a good idea, versus 47 percent who see it as a bad idea. That’s down from the 38 percent good idea, 43 percent bad idea in the previous survey.
But the public is divided over whether the problems associated with the health-care law’s federal website are a short-term issue than can be solved, or a long-term issue that signals deeper troubles.
In the poll, 37 percent say that the website woes are a short-term technical problem that can be fixed, while 31 percent believe they point to a longer-term issue with the law’s design that can’t be corrected.
Another 30 percent think it’s too soon to say.
In a separate question, 40 percent say they are less confident about the health-care law from what they recently have seen, heard or read about it; 9 percent are more confident; and 50 percent say there has been no change.
As Hart puts it, “The sign-up problems have hurt the president personally rather than hurt the law.”
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 25-28 of 800 adults (including 240 cell phone-only respondents), and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.
Republican Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell says Republicans, in particular, Sen. Ted Cruz, don’t live in “political reality.” He “said that shutting down the government ‘over a deep matter of principle’ didn’t add up. He defected on a key vote during the shutdown, and called for a ‘clean’ government-funding bill,” The Hill notes. Of course, Rigell, from the Virginia Beach area, is the rare Republican in a district President Obama won and where there is a significant amount of federal workers.
“House and Senate negotiators will be focused on a small deal instead of a grand bargain when they meet Wednesday to begin their first budget conference since 2009,” The Hill writes. “Republicans and Democrats are talking about replacing all or part of the sequester, but divisions over the old question of new taxes could thwart a deal.”
Climate change didn’t get much attention on the one-year anniversary of Sandy, but a lot of Democrats think it should. National Journal: “President Obama didn't mention climate change in his statement on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, but plenty of lawmakers marked the day with a call for action.”
Politico notes, “Not so long ago, Kathleen Sebelius was a popular two-term governor with bipartisan appeal, a possible Democratic vice presidential prospect, a woman whom President Barack Obama could entrust with overhauling the nation’s heath insurance system. Even Bob Dole volunteered to introduce her at her confirmation.” But today, “House Republicans are expected to be harsh in their questioning at the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. They’ll use her as a punching bag, making her answer for a law they wouldn’t have liked even if the launch had put Silicon Valley to shame — especially as questions about the website failure have expanded to reports of canceled insurance plans and privacy worries.”
NBC's Maggie Fox has "5 questions Sebelius must answer."
Politico: “Sen. Rand Paul said on Tuesday that he plans to place a hold on Janet Yellen’s nomination to be Federal Reserve chair to try and force a vote on a bill he argues would increase transparency at the central bank.”
Roll Call: “Grand bargains are out. Tax hikes are out. Short-term and stopgap solutions are very much in.
That’s the reality in Washington this week, as budget conferees meet for the first time Wednesday to try to hammer out a deal. Publicly, the White House and top Democrats are still talking about a “balanced” plan requiring new revenue as part of a long-term budget blueprint that would replace the sequester and tackle the nation’s long-term debt challenges. But almost no one expects that to happen.”
NBC's Kasie Hunt & Andrew Rafferty: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that the Senate will vote on a bill to expand gay rights in the workplace before the Thanksgiving holiday.....The bill is unlikely to gain much traction in the Republican controlled House, but could provide Democrats with another opportunity to paint the GOP as out of step with most Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."
MSNBC's Benjy Johnson: "Senator Marco Rubio is bailing on his own immigration bill. Not only is the senator from Florida now telling House Republicans not to pass the Senate legislation he co-sponsored and championed for months – he’s urging them not to negotiate with the Senate at all."
“Senator Lindsey Graham threatened Monday to hold up all nominations for federal government positions until survivors of last year’s deadly attack on the diplomatic post in Libya appear before Congress,” AP writes. “‘Where are the #Benghazi survivors?’ the South Carolina Republican said on his official Twitter account. ‘I’m going to block every appointment in the US Senate until they are made available to Congress.’”
The Arizona Republic: “Former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, convicted in June of 17 counts of extortion, racketeering and other federal charges, was sentenced Monday to three years in prison. The 55-year-old Republican served in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District from 2003 until 2008, when he chose not to seek re-election while under indictment. He held a coveted seat on the House Intelligence Committee at the time of his indictment for public corruption.”
AP: "Former Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, who built a reputation as a military expert and social conservative during 34 years representing western and central Missouri in the U.S. House, died Monday in Virginia. He was 81."
It's the most explosive ad of the 2014 campaign.
Showing an image of a house being lit on fire and going up in flames, Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes accuses Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) of lighting the fire that led to the government shutdown.
"Mitch McConnell can't light the house on fire, then claim credit for putting it out," an announcer says in Grimes' first ad of her bid to unseat the Republican Senate leader next year.
The ad is evidence that one of the most important races of 2014 may just become the nastiest.
McConnell made a shrewd move in the aftermath of the government shutdown, which he helped broker an end to. He did several media interviews and claimed credit for his work to end the shutdown -- despite his Tea Party primary opponent.
"What happened yesterday completely steps on the whole rationale for her candidacy, which is that somehow I’m part of what she calls the dysfunction in Washington,” he said Oct. 18. "Look, I demonstrated on four occasions — including yesterday the most recent occasion, yesterday — that when the country is in crisis and something needs to be done on a bipartisan basis, I can step forward and get an agreement."
The ad points out that McConnell -- who has led the GOP strategy of making virtually every Democratic-pushed legislation need 60 votes to get through -- has called himself "a proud guardian of gridlock." McConnell also famously declared before the 2010 elections, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
The ad will get attention, and it indicates this is going to be a brutal race with two opponents who will pull no punches. It also shows, though, that McConnell's pivot has put Grimes on the defensive, which is usually the case when a candidate needs to use a highly provocative ad to make a point.
Ideology vs. electability on display in next week’s Virginia and New Jersey races… Outside forces (like Hurricane Sandy for Christie, and the government shutdown for Cuccinelli) have played important roles, too… Watching the upcoming FL-13 special… The Snowden leaks keep coming, and they keep hurting the Obama administration… Cruz’s “warm but muted” reception in Iowa… Rubio’s office: Don’t use a limited House immigration bill to conference with the Senate… And Dick Cheney uses TV appearance to criticize Mike Enzi.
*** Ideology vs. electability on display in next week’s races: It’s now eight days until Election Day 2013, and the featured Virginia and gubernatorial contests each pose a central question. In Virginia, the question is no longer will Democratic Terry McAuliffe win; it’s whether there will be a Democratic sweep (governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general). And in New Jersey, the question isn’t whether Gov. Chris Christie (R) will win re-election; it’s how big his margin will be and if his all-but-certain victory will allow him to run up impressive results among women, minorities, and younger voters in the exit polls. But there’s an even bigger story in next week’s Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races: You’re seeing the two different halves of the Republican Party on full display. In purple Virginia, it’s ideology with the very conservative Ken Cuccinelli leading the GOP ticket. (And it’s that same ideology that made Sen. Ted Cruz a draw in Iowa over the weekend.) In blue New Jersey, it’s electability with the conservative (but also pragmatic) Christie leading the ticket. And remember, one man -- Cuccinelli -- spoke at this year’s CPAC conference, while another man -- Christie -- wasn’t invited. As CPAC’s chief organizer said of Christie’s snub, "This year, for better or for worse, we felt like, ah, like he didn't deserve to be on the all-star selection.” And that was before the shutdown, and before Cruz control of the fall agenda for congressional Republicans.
Steve Helber / AP file photo
Virginia candidates for governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, talk during a forum at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va.
*** Outside forces have played important roles, too: Of course, ideology and electability haven’t been the only factors in these two gubernatorial races. So have outside forces. Given that this week is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, it’s worth remembering that Christie had solid -- but not out-of-this-world -- poll numbers before the storm. And in Virginia, Cuccinelli’s candidacy was hurt by two stories largely out of his control: 1) Gov. Bob McDonnell’s ethics woes, and 2) the government shutdown. By the way, the two gubernatorial favorites in Virginia and New Jersey had stars advocating on their behalf over the weekend. In Virginia, former President Bill Clinton stumped for McAuliffe on Sunday, and he does so again today. “I know what a good man he is… And I could literally keep you here until tomorrow morning just telling you things that I know about him that make my blood boil when I read these sort of cartoon characterizations of him,” Clinton said, per the Washington Post. (Rand Paul campaigns today for Cuccinelli.) And in New Jersey, Shaquille O’Neal appeared in a TV ad for Christie. “I don't endorse many politicians, but Chris Christie is different,” Shaq says in the ad. “He's working with me to bring jobs back to our cities and on a new program to help kids in tough neighborhoods get ahead.”
*** The 2016 proxy fight between Clinton and Christie: There’s another fun way to look at these two gubernatorial races, and that’s through the prism of 2016. McAuliffe’s campaign has been seen by many insiders as a way station for Clinton staffers to be. In fact, McAuliffe’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, is among the front-runners to hold the same title for Hillary 2016. Then there’s Christie, who is clearly modeling his re-elect off of George W. Bush in 1998. Bush wanted to show electability and distance from the less popular House Republicans back in 1998 as he used his re-elect to begin making his case to donors nationally and governors around the country. Christie, who is about to take over the RGA, will likely be hitting the road pretty quickly touting his bipartisan accomplishments and re-election numbers as he perfects a more anti-Washington message that many GOP governors feel they have no choice but to utter now that their party is taking a beating nationally.
*** Watching the FL-13 special: Speaking of elections, there is another race we’ll be watching in the coming months: the special congressional contest to fill the seat vacated by the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL). Democrats will have A LOT of pressure to win this race given that it’s a swing district (Obama won it in 2012, 50%-49%; Obama also won in it 2008, but Bush carried it in 2004). A win would give the Democrats plenty of momentum heading into the 2014 midterms, and would allow them to advance the narrative that the political winds are at their backs. But a loss would have the opposite effect: If Democrats can’t win THIS swing district, it would be hard to argue that they can win the other (and more Republican-leaning) districts needed to win back control of the House. That’s what will be on the line in the FL-13 special election. By the way, the election date hasn’t been set yet, but both parties are expecting January primaries and a March general.
*** The Snowden leaks keep coming: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The Snowden leaks have done significant damage to the U.S. intelligence services and to the Obama administration -- at home and abroad. The New York Times: “New details about the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone by the National Security Agency further stoked the German government’s anger on Sunday and raised two questions: Why did the United States target her as early as 2002, and why did it take five years for the Obama administration to put a halt to the surveillance?” In addition, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell said on “TODAY” that the Spanish major paper, El Mundo, reported the NSA recently tracked more than 60 million calls in just one month. The administration is embarrassed by these revelations and one of the president’s national security advisers admitted the president believes the revelations that have been more damaging than the tactics. That said, the administration appears to be open to establishing some sort of no-spy agreement with Germany or, perhaps, a “low-spy” agreement as they realize that Merkel’s not just PUBLICLY upset for political reasons -- she’s upset publicly and privately.
*** Cruz’s “warm but muted” reception in Iowa: Turning to 2016 news, Ted Cruz made his third visit to Iowa over the weekend, despite having served in the U.S. Senate for less than a year. Here’s the dispatch from NBC’s Kasie Hunt: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the hottest thing in tea party politics this year -- and the favored son of some activists -- almost overnight. But after two days of events across Iowa, it is clear that using the state as a springboard to the White House in 2016 won’t come nearly as easily as his national fame. At a big speech to the state party's fundraising dinner Friday, the reception was warm but muted. The western Iowa party activists and businessmen he hunted with Saturday morning were complimentary - yet more curious than fervent. And supporters of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who greeted Cruz at a joint fundraising lunch, cheered him - but several admitted they knew little about him.” In other 2016 news today, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan (as well as House Speaker John Boehner) will speak tonight at a Jack Kemp Foundation dinner in DC.
*** Rubio’s office: Don’t use limited House immigration bill to conference with the Senate: Until now, it's hard to recall another political figure spending so much political capital on an issue, but then deciding to essentially abandon that issue. But that is precisely what some might believe Marco Rubio has done on the issue of immigration reform. Yesterday, a Rubio spokesman told Breibart News that the Florida senator opposed a conference between the already-passed Senate bill (which Rubio co-sponsored) and any minor piece of immigration legislation the House passes. "Any effort to use a limited bill as a ruse to trigger a conference that would then produce a comprehensive bill would be counterproductive. Furthermore, any such effort would fail, because any single senator can and will block conference unless such conference is specifically instructed to limit the conference to only the issue dealt with in the underlying bill," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. In a follow-up with First Read, Conant added, “We're simply recognizing the reality that the House isn't going to pass [comprehensive immigration reform]. So at this time, the only approach that has a realistic chance of success is to focus on those aspects of reform on which there is consensus through a series of individual bills.”
*** Rubio’s two different races in 2016: Ever since the Gang of Eight immigration passed the Senate, Rubio hasn’t acted comfortable backing the legislation that he helped to write and negotiate. And it’s worth noting this: Come 2016, he faces the prospect of two different races -- 1) re-election to his Florida Senate seat, and 2) a presidential bid. The distance he has kept from his immigration bill suggests he is paying more attention to that second race more than the first.
*** Dick Cheney uses TV appearance to criticize Enzi: Lastly, Dick Cheney used his Sunday interview on ABC to criticize Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), whom his daughter Liz is challenging in a primary election. “Mike has a record, if you go back and review his finances, of getting about 84% of his campaign funds from Washington-based PACs. That’s more than any senator of either party. He doesn’t get much money from Wyoming,” Cheney said. “In the quarter just reported, Liz got 25% of her funds from Wyoming; he got 13% of his from Wyoming. She outraised him in the last quarter, over a million dollars in the first quarter out there.” Cheney also said this about Enzi: “Mike also said he and I are fishing buddies, which is simply not true. Never happened.”
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Billy House previews the week in Congress: “Halloween week kicks off in Congress with two issues long haunted by delays, as House and Senate conferees start separate negotiations Wednesday on a budget plan and a farm-bill reauthorization. Opening remarks from participants are expected to define most of the early action. But competition for the biggest spectacle in the Capitol that same day could come from The Who's Roger Daltrey, set to perform Wednesday at the dedication of a bust of Winston Churchill in National Statuary Hall. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the rocky launch of HealthCare.gov.”
“Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III has quickly become a favorite of Republicans with his quest to delay the individual mandate to buy health insurance under Obamacare,” Roll Call writes. “Though that effort doesn’t seem to have much traction, it’s one that could start giving vulnerable Democrats heartburn.”
Sen. John Barrasso said HHS Secretary Sebelius is the “laughingstock of America” because of a Saturday Night Live skit that made fun of her. (Well, if that’s the case, what does he think that means for House Speaker John Boehner after what Miley Cyrus did to him?)
National Journal: “Senate Intelligence Committee leaders plan to advance legislation behind closed doors Tuesday—ironically aimed at lifting the cloak-and-dagger opacity of the National Security Agency's controversial domestic-surveillance methods.”
USA Today looks at the continuing fight to try and repeal the medical-device tax.
“The Senate’s partisan balance will move a tick to the left Thursday, when Cory Booker takes his seat as the 55th member of the Democratic caucus. And the New Jersey newcomer looks increasingly likely to make a bit of history befitting his national profile only a few days later, by providing an essential vote to advance the most important civil rights bill of the decade,” Roll Call writes. “Legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is on the cusp of securing a filibuster-crushing supermajority of 60 senators — close enough that proponents are ready to call the question. Four Republicans have announced their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, along with 51 of the current Democrats.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) says the Redskins should change their name. She said it would “probably would be a good idea if they change the name.”
Harry Reid’s skeptical much of anything will get done in budget negotiations. I hope there would be a grand bargain, but I don’t see that happening,” Reid said in a radio interview. Of Republicans, ““They have their mind set on doing nothing, nothing more on revenue, and until they get off that kick, there’s not going to be a grand bargain on — there’s not going to be a small bargain. We’re just going to have to do something to work our way through sequestration.”
And here’s House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to Politico: “We need to focus on achievable goals. If we spend our time talking about a grand bargain, we will fall far short, because that will require each party to insist on the other compromising its core principles. And in this divided government, we’re not going to do that.”
“A rising tide of Democrats has begun voicing support for easing the deadlines and penalties of the Affordable Care Act, showing the first cracks in party unity against GOP opposition to the health care law,” USA Today writes. “The pressure is acute in the Senate where Democrats in conservative or competitive states are lining up behind proposals to delay Obamacare, citing problems with the administration's glitch-plagued online rollout.”
NBCNews.com: “Federal government officials, clearly stung by the embarrassing rollout of the health insurance websites, finally opened up a little bit about the problems on Thursday, admitting they rushed through testing too fast and tried to do too much, too soon, to make an Oct. 1 launch.”
The New York Times on yesterday's congressional hearing: "Federal officials did not fully test the online health insurance marketplace until two weeks before it opened to the public on Oct. 1, contractors told Congress on Thursday. While individual components of the system were tested earlier, they said, the government did not conduct 'end-to-end-testing' of the system until late September."
MSNBC's Suzy Khimm: "Some questions were serious. Others were pure political theater. Things even got so heated before the House Energy and Commerce hearing that Rep. Frank Pallone shouted out, 'I will not yield to this monkey court!'"
Meanwhile, the group Americans United for Change has this new video: “After four years fighting tooth and nail to kill it, Republicans, now the Republicans want health-care reform to work?”
National Journal: “Good news for Republicans who want to legalize marijuana: Taxing pot is A-OK with Grover Norquist, the keeper of the anti-tax pledge that hundreds of GOP lawmakers have signed.” Said Norquist: "That's not a tax increase. It's legalizing an activity and having the traditional tax applied to it," he says.
Speaking of things that won’t get done this year… The Hill writes, “For President Obama and advocates hoping for a House vote on immigration reform this year, the reality is simple: Fat chance. … there are no signs that Republicans are feeling any pressure. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly ruled out taking up the comprehensive Senate bill, and senior Republicans say it is unlikely that the party, bruised from its internal battle over the government shutdown, will pivot quickly to an issue that has long rankled conservatives.”
Echoing that, Politico writes: “House Republican leadership has no plans to vote on any immigration reform legislation before the end the year.”
There’s a congressional hearing with the health law website contractors today in the House.
USA Today previews the hearing leading with a CGI official saying, “High demand for health insurance coupled with confusion between contractors led to many of the problems that have plagued the HealthCare.gov website meant to allow uninsured Americans to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act, an official with the top contractor will say in prepared testimony to a House panel Thursday.”
Politico: “There’s congressional oversight that answers everyone’s most urgent questions - and then there’s just heckling from the partisan peanut gallery. Over the next few weeks, Republicans are going to have to decide which path they’re going to take as they open hearings into the broken Obamacare website.”
Rooting for failure… House Speaker Boehner “privately hopes Obamacare begins to collapse under its own weight, and the majority of House Republicans organically come toward his view that a second fiscal crisis is fruitless, aides say,” Politico writes. “Despite the seeming space, McConnell and Boehner share the same private outlook: Obamacare is a loser, but so are strategies to defund it with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House.”
Darrell Issa tells Politico he’s set to release immigration legislation – that does not provide a path to citizenship, but “legal status.” The spin is, he calls it a “middle ground.”
National Journal: “The 29 members of the budget conference committee are formally set to hold their first meeting next Wednesday, with the panel facing a deadline of Dec. 13 for coming up with a report of recommendations for the full House and Senate.”
The Hill: “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Wednesday that House Republicans will not consider a fiscal deal with Democrats that eliminates some of the sequester cuts by raising taxes.”
Paul Ryan told House Republicans in a closed meeting that the sequester is their leverage for entitlement cuts. That is remarkable, considering that many Republicans (including Ryan) voted for the Budget Control Act that contained the sequester cuts (if Congress couldn’t come to a compromise agreement to reduce spending).