A few excerpts from this week’s Washington Report. To read the full write-up click here
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Back from recess! Here’s Capstone’s quick review of recent political and legislative happenings. Both the House and Senate are out today.
The Washington Reporter will be away next Friday, next edition on July 26th.
The Capstone National Partners Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala, Kate Venne and Joyce Rubenstein)
THE HASTERT RULE, THE NUCLEAR OPTION AND THE FILIBUSTER, OH MY! The Fix writes, “If you’re following Congress these days, you’ve probably heard a lot about the Hastert Rule. Or the Senate nuclear option. Or the filibuster of this, that, or the other thing. The fact that arcane procedural terminology is now at the forefront of the political conversation speaks volumes about the intense partisanship that has gripped Capitol Hill. The most notable development in the House immigration debate so far has been Speaker John Boehner’s vow to invoke the so-called “Hastert Rule” by not bringing any immigration legislation to a vote that doesn’t have majority backing in his conference.
AND OVER IN THE SENATE “Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is set to convene a special caucus meeting on Thursday to discuss deploying the so-called “nuclear option” with regard to the Obama Administration’s nominees for cabinet positions and agency posts. Speaking of filibusters, we’ve been hearing about them a lot because as tactical maneuvers, they’ve popped up with increased frequency in recent years.
WHY IS CONGRESS SO PARTISAN? In the House, look no further than how members have been elected. Eighty-five percent of candidates won in 2012 with more than 55% of the vote. And large majorities won with upward of 60%. That’s not a recipe for compromise. It’s a reflection of a polarized House map created by national redistricting plans over the past two decades.
IN THE UPPER CHAMBER The world’s greatest deliberative body has started to look a lot like its legislative little brother over the past few years. Once regarded as the home of the great political orators of the time — not to mention the body where true deal making actually took place, the Senate has undergone a marked transformation, symbolized by increased partisanship, blockading for the sake of blockading and even some downright personal nastiness.
SO In Congress, partisan times seem to be calling for ever more partisan measures.”
CBO: SENATE BILL WOULD CURB ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION “The immigration bill passed by the Senate would reduce illegal immigration into the U.S. by one-third to one-half, the Congressional Budget Office said today. Additionally, the legislation would reduce the budget deficit by $158 billion over 10 years and another $685 billion during the following decade because of taxes from newly legalized residents.
BUT Heightened security will prevent 800,000 unauthorized immigrants from crossing the border in the next decade. But it will cost about $36.6 billion, or roughly $45,750 per immigrant,” National Journal reports.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS RESPONSE TO IMMIGRATION REFORM “House Republicans strongly opposed a comprehensive immigration overhaul Wednesday, despite admonitions from Boehner that a GOP stonewall could incur political costs,” The New York Times reports.
NO ONE LISTENS Former President George W. Bush broke his usual post-presidency silence on political issues to endorse immigration reform.
IRRATIONAL ON IMMIGRATION – WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE? “A day after House Republicans decided to slow down immigration reform and split it into small pieces, the Arizona Republican John McCain and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer—part of the “Gang of Eight” behind the Senate’s sweeping [immigration] bill—emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama to say they were encouraged. Why?
One: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, is interested in getting to yes.
Two: House Republicans at least want to do something.
Three: Senators are ready to negotiate.
Four: Obama is doing a great job leading from behind. … Never mind that there’s a chasm on the central issue, the Senate-passed path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. One of McCain’s trademark cracks comes to mind: It’s always darkest right before it’s totally black. Maybe he sees something we don’t.” (Jill Lawrence, National Journal)
THE BAND-AID CONGRESS “Republicans and Democrats have taken the “no blame, no (political) gain” game to new heights as they race to pin fault for increased student-loan rates on each other. The fight over how to bring the rates back down perfectly encapsulates everything that’s wrong with this Congress. First, they missed the deadline to take action, proving once again that not even a good old-fashioned deadline can force bipartisan action on a pressing issue. Perhaps more importantly, all the noise over student-loan rates misses the much bigger problem of college affordability. In fact, a new paper argues that the government’s support of student loans “designed to improve access to college has had the unintended consequence of increasing the cost of college.” Don’t expect much debate over how to lower the soaring cost of higher education. Once they patch up student-loan rates, our leaders will move on to treat another symptom, again leaving the real illnesses for another day.” (Chris Frates, National Journal)
DEAL ON STUDENT LOAN RATES “A bipartisan group of senators is closing in on a compromise that could provide a long-term fix for student-loan interest rates that recently doubled,” The Hill reports. The deal would tie interest rates on Stafford loans to the market, a plan that is similar to those endorsed by House Republicans and the White House.
DRONES Check out the video of the Navy’s first drone carrier landing.