House Republican leaders on Thursday offered the GOP rank and file an optimistic take on the political environment and a packet of August talking points slamming Democrats over health care.Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), at a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, presented polling data that showed the electoral disparity between Republicans and Democrats has narrowed since January, according to GOP sources. The presentation was reiterated in the August recess package distributed to Members. Last January the political pundits and media experts were writing the obituary of the Republican Party, reads the opening paragraph of the GOP recess material. As we enter the August District Work Period, and after seven months of intense legislative activity, the American people are turning to us for solutions and to protect them from the radical agenda of our Democrat Congress.This summers recess packet encourages Republicans to talk to their constituents about the health care debate and how the Democratic bills could worsen the current economic situation. During a recession that has seen the loss of 6.5 million jobs, Democrats propose a government takeover of health care that will lead to increased costs, fewer jobs, higher taxes and less health coverage, according to the GOP talking points. Republicans also used the packet to distribute a controversial chart created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan.Democrats, saying the chart is inaccurate, have prevented Republicans from distributing the chart through the Houses system of sending free mail to constituents.The packet also included a page that criticizes President Barack Obamas plan to shutter the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and his decision to postpone the closure until December. To fulfill a campaign promise, President Obama ordered that the detention facility be closed, one bullet in the packet said. Now the President has missed the deadline he promised the American people for a plan to relocate the detainees and has kicked the deadline down the road. Republican leaders, in another bullet, raise the question: The more than 200 terrorists left at Guantanamo Bay represent the worst of the worst. How will closing Guantanamo make us safer?
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.