Kathleen Hunter

GOP Hopes Unity Lies Ahead

House Republicans are trying to recover their legendary discipline ahead of a defining battle on raising the debt limit.

The effort comes following unprecedented GOP defections last week on a compromise proposal brokered by Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) to fund the government for the next six months, a vote that exposed fractures within the Conference over how far the House GOP should push for spending cuts and fiscal reform.

McConnell Faces Debt Limit Test

Senate Republicans are locked in an internal debate about whether to filibuster a debt limit increase if it is not paired with the kind of tight limits on spending they are seeking.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has been making the case to his Conference to hold off on threatening a filibuster, which would set a 60-vote threshold for passage, arguing that Republicans could later find it strategically advantageous to allow a debt ceiling increase to pass with a simple majority of Democratic votes, according to several GOP sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.

War on Fiscal Discipline Rages as Democrats Weigh Alternatives

President Barack Obama’s decision to respond to House Republicans’ 2012 budget blueprint is complicating matters for Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The president’s address at George Washington University today comes as Senate and House Democrats have been working for weeks on their own deficit reduction and budget plans that were intended to provide a clear alternative to what the GOP has proposed.

Obama to Brief Leaders Before Speech

Updated: 4:42 p.m.

President Barack Obama will brief Congressional leaders Wednesday morning at the White House prior to what is expected to be a significant speech outlining his long-term deficit-reduction plan. 

GOP Can’t Pass the CR Deal Alone

House Republican leaders aren’t looking to Democrats for votes to approve the long-term spending deal that will come to a vote later this week even though many conservatives have announced they won’t support the bill.

While it is likely they will need Democratic support to pass the legislation, so far GOP lawmakers are feeling little pressure to pursue those votes because the package, negotiated late Friday night with Speaker John Boehner, got the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Barack Obama.

Senate Democrats Place Shutdown Blame on Boehner

Senate Democratic leaders say a final deal to avert a government shutdown rests in the hands of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and will only happen if he drops an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

At a press conference with more than 30 Democratic Senators — one of a nearly nonstop series of press events on Capitol Hill on Friday — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he has already spoken to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the possibility of moving a short-term spending bill if a deal is not reached. But Reid noted that any such effort would require unanimous consent given the limited time before a shutdown starts at midnight.

CR Talks Appear Back On Track

Republican and Democratic leaders continued to negotiate a long-term spending measure Wednesday, and while both sides sniped at one another, it appears they have gotten past Tuesday’s outbreak of partisan warfare.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) remained tight-lipped about the status of the talks. But there were indications that progress was being made.

1099 Vote May Lead to Other Changes in Law
But Democrats Still Leery of GOP Motives

Moderate Senate Democrats who voted to repeal a provision of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law say they are open to working with Republicans on more changes — but only if those changes are meant to improve, rather than dismantle, the measure. 

Senate Sends 1099 Repeal to Obama

The Senate on Tuesday voted to send to President Barack Obama a bill that would make the first significant change to Democrats’ signature health care overhaul law.

Despite White House objections to the mechanism used to pay for the proposal, the Senate voted 87-12 in favor of a House-passed bill that would repeal a tax-reporting requirement included in the health care law.

Legislative Pace About to Get Even More Glacial

The legislative pace in the Senate has slowed to a crawl, and it looks like it’s about to get even slower.

With the Republican-controlled House sending Senate Democrats one dead-on-arrival bill after another, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has spent the first three months of this Congress clearing the decks of a handful of relatively noncontroversial measures.

Reid, GOP Senators Believe Shutdown Can Be Avoided

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was optimistic Sunday that Congressional leaders will be able to strike a deal this week on a fiscal 2011 spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.

“I always look at the glass being half full. I think we can work this out,” the Nevada Democrat said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “It’s so easy to do. ... It’s a question of how we do it.”

Rubio Declines 2012 White House Bid

Freshman GOP Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday ruled out the possibility that he would be on the presidential ticket in 2012.

“I’m not going to be the candidate for president or vice president,” the tea party-backed Florida lawmaker said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Ryan Offers Glimpse at Fiscal 2012 Budget Plan

Updated: 12:25 p.m.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday that the fiscal 2012 budget proposal he will release this week would cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, make sweeping changes to Medicare and Medicaid, cap federal spending, and reduce tax rates.

Reid: Senate Will Look at Riders ‘One by One’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stopped short Friday of ruling out attaching some less controversial policy riders to the stopgap funding compromise that the Nevada Democrat and the White House are working to hammer out with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to avert a government shutdown.

Reid told reporters during a Friday conference call that there was “no need to talk about riders” until negotiators had finalized an overall spending-cut figure but that Senate Democrats would look at policy provisions that had been included in the House-passed bill “one by one” to determine whether any of them were palatable.

Senate to Vote on Repealing Portion of Health Care Law

The Senate set up a vote for Tuesday on a bill that would make the first significant change to President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul law.

Under an agreement reached Thursday, the Senate will vote on a House-passed bill that would repeal a tax-reporting requirement included in the health care law. The vote is scheduled to be held before the weekly caucus lunches.

Ethanol Subsidy May Split Senate Republicans

Budget-conscious GOP Senators are pushing to eliminate a $6 billion federal ethanol subsidy that is cherished by farm-state Republicans, exposing an intraparty schism that could muddy the party’s message on fiscal discipline.

The GOP ethanol opponents see an opportunity to use their party’s emphasis on cutting federal spending as leverage to support Sen. Tom Coburn’s amendment that would eliminate a tax credit that oil companies receive for blending ethanol into gasoline. But they face formidable opposition from a band of farm-state lawmakers — led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — who have long championed ethanol and say any attempt to limit federal support of the corn-based fuel should be part of a broader debate over national energy policy, rather than an ethanol-specific rifle shot.

Hispanic Caucus Wants a Little DCCC Wooing

Rep. Steve Israel is going on a charm offensive with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in advance of the 2012 election cycle, hoping to avoid the tensions that erupted with black Members of Congress earlier this month.

“I’m anxious to meet with the CHC and hope to have it scheduled soon,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman said.

Controversial EPA Vote on Hold in Senate

Senate Democrats have some breathing room before they have to weigh in on a contentious proposal to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. 

Senate GOP Wants Spending Votes

The burst of comity that followed a deal on Senate rules changes at the beginning of this Congress is under stress, with Republicans growing frustrated at the lack of action on items such as spending cuts and trade agreements.

A group of conservative Senators led by David Vitter (R-La.) vowed last week to object to any bills not dealing with  federal spending, forcing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to file cloture simply to bring bills to the Senate floor.

Members Rethink Earmark Ban

House appropriators from both parties are starting to push for a re-examination of the Republican-imposed earmark ban.

Democrats and Republicans alike are concerned that the ban will be enforced too broadly, and they want to revisit the definition of what an “earmark” is under House rules. The earmark ban hasn’t really been an issue for Members since it was adopted last November, but appropriators fear they may run into problems as they look to tackle 2012 spending measures and other project-based bills.