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The Washington Report – March 6, 2015

14 Apr 2015

The Washington Report – March 6, 2015


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This week’s Washington Report! To sign up for the direct email, click here.

 

EASIER TO NOT BE IN CHARGE … BIBI GOES TO CONGRESS … BOY, I FED THE LIONS TODAY … MESSING WITH HIGH TECH COMPANIES … FREEDOM CAUCUS FLEX MUSCLES … PUT ON OUR LIPSTICK, SQUARE OUR SHOULDERS, SUIT UP AND FIGHT! … LILY THE FRENCH BULLDOG … SYMBOLISM DOES MATTER IN POLITICS … ANARCHY ON CAPITOL HILL and other news of the week.
Don’t forget the time change on Sunday. We spring ahead! Yes, Spring!

Best,

Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala, and Ross Willkom)

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President Barack Obama signed into law the spending bill that cleared the House this week funding the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30, capping a saga in which DHS nearly saw its funding lapse as House Republicans insisted on attaching provisions that would have blocked the president’s executive actions on immigration. Ultimately, they passed a “clean” appropriations measure.” (Politico)

NEXT CLIFF March 31 is the deadline for passing a new Doc Fix for Medicare payments. NEXT HEAVY LIFT Politico “… we won’t have another spending battle until September. But there’s an even heavier lift that will come in October or November, per the CBO, when the DEBT LIMIT needs to be lifted. “Republicans have no clue what, if anything, they will demand in exchange for raising the debt cap. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), said he prefers returning to the so-called Boehner rule, requiring spending cuts at least equal in size to any increase in the debt ceiling.

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HAVE YOU SEEN THE SENATE LATELY? The chamber passed a resolution disapproving of the National Labor Relations Board new election policies, (now it’s on to the House), which will be vetoed, failed to override the Keystone veto and is preparing for Democrats to stiff arm an Iran bill. It’s enough for Minority Leader Harry Reid to offer some consolation to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — after another week spent stymying his agenda, of course. EASIER TO NOT BE IN CHARGE Wall Street Journal “Mr. Reid said his job is much less difficult than when he was in charge-something he told Mr. McConnell a week ago. ‘I did your job for eight years…. That was pretty hard,’ he recounted saying. DON’T GLOAT Senate Democrats think they had a good couple of weeks, including a win in a battle over immigration and DHS, but Harry Reid is warning members against taking a victory lap. … This Congress the White House has released 18 official Statements of Administration Policy, and all but one are veto threats. DEFINE ‘STATEMENTS OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY or SAP” Quora: It is a formal document produced by the Office of Management and Budget that expresses the Administration’s official views on a bill.

FEARS OF GRIDLOCK On the Senate side … [some] Republicans now say they oversold their abilities in November. “Those people who ran around telling Americans that if both houses are in one party that things are going to start happening, with all due respect, probably oversold it,” said Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV).

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SUPREMES UPDATE ON OBAMACARE Scotusblog:The SCOTUS watchers began lining up in the miserable D.C. drizzle Wednesday to hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the challenge to the availability of tax subsidies for individuals who purchase their health insurance on a marketplace created by the federal government, which continues to dominate coverage of and commentary on the Court.  In The Wall Street Journal, “Justice Samuel Alito’s suggestion that the Supreme Court could delay for months the impact of a decision to gut the health law revives the possibility that at least a dozen states could take action to limit the effect of such a ruling.”  At FiveThirtyEight, Oliver Roeder writes that “Solicitor General Donald Verrilli won Wednesday’s oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Or at least that’s what the wisdom of the crowd is telling us.”

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BIBI GOES TO CONGRESS WashPo: “The Israeli Prime Minister gave a thundering speech with a lot of applause lines on Tuesday as he hammered the negotiators in the Obama administration and across the world working to strike a nuclear deal in Iran. “Though he said he was ‘grateful’ for all President Obama has done for Israel, Netanyahu went on to excoriate the administration for what he called its failure to insist on terms tough enough or enduring enough to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
It was the State of the Union address the Republicans wanted.”
– Jon Stewart

NOT EVERYONE WAS THRILLED House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was visibly frustrated with Netanyahu during the address, led the post-Democratic charge against the address by deeming it “an insult to the intelligence of the United States.” WHAT DOES NETANYAHU WANT? She was far from alone as House Democrats held a press conference to bash the PM’s address and Senate Democrats scratched their head at exactly what he wanted. “He seemed to say that there was no way [to] ever trust Iran. Which says to me you can’t have a deal with Iran. And then he said, ‘Well, why don’t you work for a better deal?’ So it was confusing,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).”

POLITICAL POINTS CNN: “Looking to seize on the momentum from Netanyahu’s speech, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began moving the Senate toward a bill that would allow Congress an up-or-down vote on any agreement interntional negotiators — led by the U.S. — make with Iran on its nuclear program. POISONED WELL The move to fast track the bill has undermined progress on getting Democrats to sign on. Democrats are angry that the bill hasn’t even passed committee yet. An “outraged” Bob Menendez (who sponsored the bill along with Bob Corker (R-TN) took to the floor on Tuesday to say he will vote against his own bill if the process doesn’t change, and when you’ve lost Menendez…!”

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BOY, I FED THE LIONS TODAY” Politico profile: “… [Elizabeth Warren] the Massachusetts senator wants to be the most powerful Democrat in America, but not while running for president. Her rise has been quick since 2008, and now she has entrenched relationships with groups of the left that make her influence quite daunting for the party and the White House. … But on Capitol Hill Warren hasn’t necessarily shown she’s ready for the big deal, though she has some bipartisan bills with prominent Republicans. Take it away, Senator Manchin: “Sooner or later, you have to go produce something … You gotta say, ‘I did something.’ It’s one thing to just keep throwing the red meat out there and say, ‘Boy, I fed the lions today, they’re happy.'”

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THE SENATE’S ANTI-IMMIGRATION CRUSADER Politico: “ … [Republican Jeff Sessions] the Alabama senator [is] one of the most frequent speakers on the Senate floor who has made blocking bipartisan attempts at immigration reform his cause. “Mocked by the left, beloved by the hard-right and at times bothersome to fellow Republicans, Sessions rallied his party in the weeks-long standoff that ended with GOP capitulation. But the fourth-term senator is quickly moving on from defeat to his next crusade: attacking high-skilled immigration. ATTENTION HIGH TECH COMPANIES Using his new gavel on the Senate immigration panel, Sessions said he plans to hold oversight hearings on H-1B visas that benefit high-skilled immigrants — one of the tech industry’s top priorities in Washington. Sessions has been in touch with tech employees who say they’ve been laid off in favor of foreign workers. And his office recently conducted a staff briefing for Senate aides, outlining what they say are abuses to the H-1B system.” INTRAPARTY DISAGREEMENT Earlier this year, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the so-called Immigration Innovation — or “I-Squared” — which would boost the number of H-1B visas issued each year to as high as 195,000. Currently, the H-1B cap is set at 65,000 annually, though an extra 20,000 visas are set aside for immigrants with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. school. The measure is backed by a handful of Senate Democrats and key Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Flake of Arizona.”

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PUT ON OUR LIPSTICK, SQUARE OUR SHOULDERS, SUIT UP AND FIGHT! WashPo: “Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) sure knows how to keep a secret. “In good health at 78, the senator said will retire: ‘Do I spend my time raising money? Or do I spend my time raising hell? … ‘There’s nothing gloomy about this announcement,’ … ‘I’m not frustrated with the Senate.'” ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS WEAR PANTS TO WORK Politico: “The Dean of Senate Women … shattered many barriers in the male-dominated bastions of Capitol Hill.  She fought with Robert Byrd to be able to wear pants in the chamber (in 1987), rather than skirts, and won. She is the longest-serving woman ever in Congress, the first female Democrat to have served in both chambers, and the first woman who didn’t succeed a husband or a father. She is also known for telling female colleagues to go “earring to earring” and to “put on our lipstick, square our shoulders, suit up and fight!” during legislative and political battles. SENATE SCRAMBLE If you a) live in Maryland and b] have a D next to your name, there’s a good chance you are exploring a run for this open seat.

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I WANT A BIGGER PIECE OF THE PIE Roll Call:  “Members of the New Democrat Coalition (have struggled for years to make their centrist message heard in the larger, and distinctly more left-leaning, House Democratic Caucus. The 46 self-described ‘moderate’ and ‘pro-growth’ House members in the coalition say they agree with the rest of their caucus on “90% of the issues” – it’s the remaining 10% that’s harder to summarize. WHAT DO WE WANT? A comprehensive approach to job creation that includes tax reform, investments in infrastructure and a pro-growth budget that invests in our future!'”

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REBELS WITH A CAUSE – FREEDOM CAUCUS FLEX MUSCLES Politico: “The ragtag group of conservative rebels is a little more sophisticated than you might think. They aren’t trying to oust House Speaker John Boehner, they made several (rejected) offers during the DHS battle and they are studying up on their parliamentary tactics. In the members’ minds, the House Freedom Caucus is here to stay. “With the backing of popular conservatives, they have changed the definition of what legislation meets conservative muster. Those new standards have grown the group’s reach beyond its approximately two dozen members. In the DHS fight, Republican leadership saw reliable allies siding with a different Ohioan than Boehner: Rep. Jim Jordan, who runs the Freedom Caucus.” HOW DOES ONE JOIN THIS SECRET SOCIETY? “Members of the group vote on any new inductee. While there are no formal guidelines, the current members are hardline conservatives who have expressed concern about the lack of ‘normal order’ in the House and the tendency for Boehner to rely on Democrats to approve must-pass legislation.”

Let’s say there was a coup (against Boehner) The Hill: “Democrats say they would protect Boehner against a more conservative speaker. “‘I’d probably vote for Boehner [because] who the hell is going to replace him? [Ted] Yoho?,’
– Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)  (Because I look for any opportunity to write “Ted Yoho.”)

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MILLER’S TIME Detroit Free Press: “The only woman to chair a committee in the House is hanging it up. “U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who moved to Congress in 2003 after two terms as a popular Michigan secretary of state, announced Thursday that she will not run for re-election in 2016 … her surprise decision was based solely on a belief that she has been in the nation’s capital long enough and she is looking to spend more time at home in Michigan.”

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m8ZOLvXZLzn8iivq4Q3HMIx4umKCbf4PllijJ1ygL1CqSldnywYYnOC1KDTEdW46uHbuaEUTNdXr5hwXgNIV9CjfWg4yUIgEIOpUe131Ek8Zuuck78MRZ0KOyW5mJkM53rEHIlHGCRXr4GUfismtseKwjVY=s0-d-e1-ftDOG INSPIRES RARE BI-PARTISAN COMPROMISE LATimes: “The House voted to approve a passenger rail reauthorization bill Monday, a feather in the cap of rail chairman Jeff Denham, one of those Republicans who faces a tough re-election basically every two years. But in addition to the big legislation that was passed, Denham and his family got another win: Lily the French bulldog is allowed on trains if the bill becomes law.  While he and his wife could take Lily back and forth to California on United Airlines without any problems when they tried to take her on Amtrak, they heard a familiar refrain: NO DOGS ALLOWED … Denham’s bill would expand the program to routes around the country. Amtrak has yet to define which routes will qualify, but the bill requires they be less than 750 miles, given dogs’ need for outdoor relief. Pet owners would have to pay a $25 fee for the privilege. Sorry, no ferrets or Komodo dragons.”

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PENTAGON FIRST EVER SOCIAL MEDIA MAVEN DefenseOne: “The Defense Department already boasts more than 800,000 Facebook “likes” and almost as many Twitter followers — and even maintains a presence on Instagram and Pinterest. But Stephanie Dreyer, who is joining DOD as its director for digital media and strategy, is the first official to be tasked specifically with strategizing around the use of social media. In particular, Dreyer’s work will focus on increasing communication between Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the public, according to her LinkedIn profile.”

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AUMF IS IN BIG TROUBLE Politico: “In interviews this week, not a single Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed support for the president’s war plan as written; most demanded changes to limit the commander in chief’s authority and more explicitly prohibit sending troops into the conflict. That opposition puts the White House and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, in a quandary – stuck between Republican defense hawks who are pushing for a more robust U.S. role against the terrorist group known as ISIL, and liberals who fear a repeat of the Iraq war.”

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HOUSE APPROPRIATORS WARNING Politico: “House appropriators gave Defense Secretary Ash Carter a blunt dose of pessimism on Wednesday, predicting the Pentagon’s budget request must be cut by more than $30 billion because the defense spending cap is not likely to change. Both Republican and Democratic members of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee said Tuesday they saw no solution in sight to change the Budget Control Act cap – and were preparing to slash the Pentagon’s budget as a result. It was a stark change in tone from Carter’s appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.”

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MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH SCREENINGS The Hill: “Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have introduced legislation that aims to bolster mental health screenings for troops. The Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers, or MEPS, Act would require mental health screenings for incoming recruits. Heinrich suggested screening military recruits would help provide a “baseline” for a service member’s future mental health assessments.”

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CLINTON USED PRIVATE EMAIL ACCOUNT NYTs: “Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.” STATE DEPT. RULES Politico: “The State Department has had a policy in place since 2005 to warn officials against routine use of personal email accounts for government work, a regulation in force during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state that appears to be at odds with her reliance on a private email for agency business … STATE DEPT. REVIEW WashPo: “Of the [55,000 pages of] e-mails that were turned over to State, [a] Clinton aide said, 90% were … between Clinton and agency employees using … government e-mail accounts, which end in state.gov. The remaining 10% were communications between Clinton and other government officials, including some at the White House, along with an unknown number of people ‘not on a government server.'”

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QbG5rSYP1I6jBW0YwqwecNs8i-iwOVBlAOk25SIkMQoN97BhpkqwKQ3FOv1bs4mzcOmOrOmW_Y66T7zG43bUuDMj35-Z9D6SRYvDx819B8Vt14zGFgPnjqVNSKPloqt8kiPvn44_jvKt3BCF2UYRLgTeW-8=s0-d-e1-ft-1THE REMARKABLE REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER OF STATE LEGISLATURES IN ONE CHART If you want to understand how destructive the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections were to the long-term downballot prospects of the Democratic party, all you need to do is look at this chart via Pew’s terrific Fact Tank site.

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SYMBOLISM MATTERS IN POLITICS The Fix: “The eyes of the political world will be on Selma, Ala., tomorrow as President Obama will be in town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches that began there. Know who won’t be in attendance? Anyone from the House Republican leadership. Politico: “… None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. WHAT DO YOU SAY JOE? Scarborough, looking into the camera on “Morning Joe”: “Republican leadership: Get your ass down there! … Don’t golf. Don’t raise money. Get somebody in the Republican leadership down to Selma to celebrate an extraordinary moment in American history.”

SOME SELMA HISTORY Atlantic: “Fifty years ago, a civil rights march began in Selma, Alabama. Nearly 600 people intended to walk to the state capitol in Montgomery, led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where they would demand to speak with then-Gov. George Wallace about the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old who was shot by police the previous month. The march barely made it out of Selma. When protestors crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, they were ambushed by state troopers. Mounted police charged the protestors on horseback; troopers beat people unconscious; 17 were hospitalized. News of the “Bloody Sunday” attack immediately spread across the country. The next morning, as filmmaker Scott Calonico recounts in this short documentary, President Lyndon B. Johnson faced a crisis. While he publicly condemned the attack, Johnson was also calling allies and advisors, searching for a political salve to the situation.” (Hear what President Johnson REALLY said about Selma.)

PHOTOGRAPHER SHAPES AMERICAN HISTORY NPR “This month Selma, Ala., will mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” Some of the most iconic images of that day were captured by photographer (the late) Spider Martin. … Martin was in Selma for Bloody Sunday when state troopers attacked protesters. Holding a camera made him just as much a target. … Martin kept covering the marchers until they reached Montgomery two-and-a-half weeks later. Martin’s collection contains thousands of photographs, clippings and other notes — much of it previously unpublished before it was purchased by the University of Texas. Even producers of the movie Selma used his pictures to recreate scenes for the film. Exhibitions of his work are going up around in Selma for the anniversary, at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, and in New York.” Check out his website.

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RACE AND RACISM The Fix: Seven months after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old, the Justice Department has issued a searing report into policing and court practices in the Missouri city. Investigators determined that in “nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system,” African Americans are impacted a severely disproportionate amount. The report included racist e-mails sent by police and municipal court supervisors, repeated examples of bias in law enforcement and a system that seemed built upon using arrest warrants to squeeze money out of residents.”

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f3uLqPXdAa6FHP8I0pSb3uZxk6QLo-EVdxuIjQVbCE4vOzKX6D95p2mkdhy4ySvNH7m9vcR-HGROSC0lhxUNhXOknjHsfnmakot4Ve8kJ4lc7NWv43XJ71DdLwSWAtvB5SuDPZQpDxMLVqVxqjgb3DyX_no=s0-d-e1-ftWE THE PEOPLE Washingtonian: “The US Capitol Police turned down Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s last-ditch request yesterday for a temporary lift of the ban on sledding down the West Front of the Capitol. But, it turns out, little kids don’t care what the lawman says. Several dozen children and their parents ascended to the top of the hill Thursday for an afternoon of protest sledding. With them were several dozen reporters, clearly looking for a piece of the only story that combines snow, winter sports, and protesting Congress’s Scrooge-like dominance of Washington.”

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