A few excerpts from this week’s Washington Report. To read the full write-up click here
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Congress is on its annual summer recess and will be back to Washington on Sept. 9. Here’s Capstone’s quick review of recent political and legislative happenings.
The Capstone National Partners Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala, Kate Venne and Joyce Rubenstein)
SUMMER RECESS HISTORY LESSON POINT: By tradition and law, Congress recesses for the month of August. During the Senate’s early years, members attempted to adjourn in the spring, before the summer’s heat and oppressive humidity overwhelmed them. When the Senate moved to its current chamber in 1859, senators were optimistic about it’s “modern” ventilation system, but they soon found the new system ineffective. …The 1920s brought “manufactured weather” to the Senate chamber, but even modern climate control could not cope with the hottest days, forcing 20th-century senators to escape the summer heat. In 1970, finally facing the reality of long sessions, Congress mandated a summer break as part of the Legislative Reorganization Act. Today, the August recess continues to be a regular feature of the Senate schedule.
COUNTERPOINT More than eight in 10 voters say Congress should not be spending a month away from Washington. As lawmakers wind down their first of a five week August recess, a Fox News poll finds that 82% of voters believe Congress has “not worked hard enough” to deserve its annual summer recess.
AS CONGRESS FLEES The Fix writes, “Congress is gone from Washington, fleeing historic levels of partisan gridlock and voter distaste. With the House and Senate not set to return until the second week of September — nice life! — it’s worth reviewing what we’ve learned about the institution and the men and women who occupy it in these first eight months of the 113th Congress. (1) John Boehner is a SINO (speaker in name only); (2) A grand bargain [to avoid a government shutdown at the end of Sept. and/or avoiding a debt-ceiling crisis like we saw in 2011] looks like a pipe dream; (3) House Republicans have a slow-it-down strategy; (4) Gun control ain’t happening; (5) The Senate isn’t a fun place to be [7 Senators – 5 Dems/2 Reps – retiring – makes 29 Senators who have called it quits in the last 3 elections]; (6) Sen. Ran Paul (R-KY) is a force to be reckoned with.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT OF THE 113th CONGRESS SO FAR Sen. Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour long filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director. Paul’s speechifying on drones showed us: (a) he is a power center within the party, (b) filibustering is the new legislating when it comes to GOP politicians building a national reputation among conservatives, and (c) principle is a powerful political message.”
RNC WAR ON NBC AND CNN IS SMART The Fix writes, “In going hard after the networks for developing programming about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the RNC has picked a three-pronged fight against Clinton (and the idea of her running for president), CNN and NBC. And there you have three reasons why the fight is a smart one. … Reminding Republicans that Clinton may soon be a presidential candidate and is getting a lot of media attention — in the RNC’s view, biased attention — is a surefire way to gin up attention from the party base. … From there, consider who the other two targets are: NBC and CNN, which are part of the mainstream media that has long been viewed with skepticism from conservatives.
TIMING SAVY It’s August, when Congress is in recess, and Washington is empty. By opening up this battle on Monday, Priebus seized a share of the news cycle early in a week with not a lot else going on.
NOW WHAT? Neither CNN nor NBC have shown any willingness to back down in the face of the RNC’s threat to exclude them from the GOP debate process unless they stop moving ahead with plans to produce films about Clinton. And Priebus himself has said he doesn’t anticipate they will change course. Unless something changes, the RNC isn’t going to get what it is asking for.”
2016 UNDERWAY IN IOWA The Fix writes, “Blink and you might have missed the start of the 2016 presidential campaign in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. It will ramp up in the next couple of days with several events featuring the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rick Santorum, and Emily’s List, a group that works to elect women who support abortion rights, and has launched a campaign to elect a female president.
NO POLITICIAN GOES TO IOWA BY ACCIDENT So as high-profile pols make the rounds in the Hawkeye State along the way to 2016; it’s worth tuning into who is going and how often they are stopping by.”
AND IN THE GRANITE STATE…in a WMUR-TV Granite State Poll is focusing on NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his recent sparring partner, Sen. Rand Paul, who is leading the GOP pack, but another senator’s standing might be just as interesting: Marco Rubio checks in with only 6% — a 9-point drop from his first-place showing in the same poll in April.
BEACH READ FOR SOME OF US…Highly interesting from Dan Balz:Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.
INTERESTING TIDBITS The FIX “(1). Romney wasn’t always keen on running. (2) And he considered ending his campaign before it really started. (3) Newt Gingrich worried Romney. A lot. (4) Romney didn’t see “self-deportation” as a negative term. (5) Republican power brokers made a big push to convince Christie to run. (6) Christie thought really highly of his early endorsement of Romney. (7) Perry says he didn’t lose sleep after his “oops” moment of failing to recall the name of the third government agency he wanted to axe as president during one of the debates.”
“My favorite political philosopher is Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don’t have a plan anymore” — Obama manager Jim Messina, to Dan Balz in the new book Collision 2012 (Politico, 8/6)