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Revolt against Reid

By Steven Dennis and Humberto Sanchez
Posted at 9:27 a.m. today

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told reporters Thursday she would not vote for Sen. Harry Reid as the Democratic leader as the party heads into the minority.

“I will not,” she responded when asked whether she will vote for the Nevada Democrat.

Her comments came as she was entering the Old Senate Chamber, where Democrats are holding their leadership elections.

She did not respond to reporters when asked why, but she has criticized Reid over the years for not doing more to reach agreements with Republicans.

Several other Democrats ran from Reid on the campaign trail, but no Democrat has emerged to challenge his leadership.

On Wednesday night, sources said Reid might add Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to his leadership team. Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland had urged senators to back Warren as a potential successor to Reid.


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An offer by congressional Republicans to work on immigration reform in January was flatly rejected by President Barack Obama, reports said Friday

By Cathy Burke

An offer by congressional Republicans to work on immigration reform in January was flatly rejected by President Barack Obama, reports said Friday.

At a post-midterm election lunch and meeting that lasted two hours, House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama not to take executive action to stem deportations or allow a flood of new immigrants to enter the country, the Washington Examiner reports.

“The speaker warned that unilateral action by the president on executive amnesty will erase any chances of doing immigration reform and will also make it harder for Congress and the White House to work together successfully on other areas where there might otherwise be common ground,” a spokesman told the newspaper.

Instead, Boehner asked Obama to let Republicans work on reforming and modernizing immigration early in the new session, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso told Reuters.

According to Reuters, an unnamed congressional source said Vice President Joe Biden asked Boehner how long he needed to pass a bill: “Feb. 15? March 15?” The source said Obama was visibly irritated and stopped Biden.

But a Democratic congressional source disputed that account, telling the news service, “At no time did the President cut off the Vice President.” The source described Obama as “courteous and firm” during the immigration discussion.

Afterward, Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN Obama’s right to move ahead with immigration reform, saying: “Families are being wrenched apart, children are being left without a parent or parents, and that is unacceptable. But he also made it very clear that if the Congress acted, that would be the law, that would be the preferable option that he wants.”

Reuters said the lunch with congressional leaders was “somber and slightly uncomfortable during a brief 4-minute photo op,” with Obama squeezed between Boehner and Nevada Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, who’ll give up his title as Senate majority leader in the new Congress because of the wave of Republicans who’ve swept Democrats from power.

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Corrupt politician works feverishly to implement agenda

By Alexander Bolton

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to confirm 50 of President Obama’s nominees and move an omnibus spending bill in a last hurrah before Democrats give up power in the Senate.

The nominees are part of a packed lame-duck schedule that Reid is furiously planning and that will be a topic at Friday’s White House lunch meeting between Obama and congressional leaders.

Reid also wants to move a package of expiring tax provisions, the annual Defense Department authorization bill and an extension of a tax moratorium on Internet purchases in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
That will be a challenge not only because of the tight schedule, but because of expected clashes between Democrats over what should be prioritized before Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) takes over the Senate’s agenda in January.

For example, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is about to lose his chairmanship, is pushing for consideration of a bill reforming the National Security Agency despite opposition from other Democrats.

One of the most pressing needs from the administration’s point of view is getting the Senate to confirm as many as 38 State Department nominees, but Reid will have to be judicious given the priorities fighting for precious floor time in the Senate.

Senate Democrats last year killed the Senate filibuster for most nominees, but it still takes up hours of floor time to move a nominee if there is a single objection.

Advocacy groups are pressing the leader to move judicial nominees as quickly as he can, knowing it will be much harder to move them when McConnell takes over.

“There are 16 [district court] nominees on the floor, and there are eight more district court nominees in committee, and the expectation is that all of them can and should be confirmed before the end of the year,” said Michelle Schwartz, director of justice programs at the Alliance for Justice.

There are a total of 24 judicial nominees on the executive calendar. Although there are seven circuit court vacancies, none of the pending nominees are for those seats.

Another wild card is that Obama is expected to nominate a candidate to replace Attorney General Eric Holder soon. This could trigger another time consuming fight, particularly if the president picks a controversial nominee.

Reid’s top lame-duck priority is to move a new bill to fund the government.

A senior Democratic aide said the Senate Appropriations Committee fully expects to pass an omnibus spending package that would run the government through September 2015 and asserted there is no talk of moving a short-term funding measure that would let the new Senate GOP majority renegotiate spending levels early next years.

“There’s no talk whatsoever about a short-term CR [continuing resolution],” the aide said in reference to a continuing resolution.

The House, however, will also have a say in whether Congress moves an omnibus spending package, a yearlong stopgap funding measure or a short-term continuing resolution.

It’s possible that Republicans will agree to a longer-term spending bill that would stick to the spending caps included in the two-year budget deal worked out by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) after the government shutdown.

That would put off a new fight over spending until the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.

House Republicans are debating internally over what their best strategy is.

“We’ll be talking with members all next week about what can and should get done — or not — in the lame duck,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).

McConnell has signaled to GOP colleagues that he wants to start his reign as majority leader in 2015 with a clean slate.

He wants to avoid a messy fight over spending levels at the beginning of next year, which could derail one of his top priorities, passing a budget.

But he faces internal challenges as well.

Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), two Tea Party favorites, have vowed to object to any legislation that could be postponed until next year.

“By any measure, deliberately planning to reconvene the Senate in a lame-duck session to address major new legislation would subvert the will of the American people, lessen accountability, and do lasting damage to the dignity and integrity of this body’s proceedings,” they wrote in a letter to Reid.


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By Eliana Johnson
November 7, 2014 4:02 PM

The lame duck session hasn’t yet convened, but its first major battle — over how best to thwart the executive action on immigration the president is expected to issue in the coming months — is already underway. Conservatives are pushing to include a measure attempting to deny the government the funds it needs to administer the amnesty in a must-pass spending bill, the so-called continuing resolution. That would include the funds to issue green cards and work permits.

National Review Online obtained a copy of a letter that Arizona congressman Matt Salmon is circulating to his colleagues to generate support for such a move. It is addressed to representatives Hal Rogers and Nita Lowey, who lead the House Appropriations Committee:

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Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey,

As the House continues to deliberate and draft appropriations legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on December 12, 2014, we write to encourage you to include language that would prohibit funding for the President’s reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

There are currently millions of undocumented immigrants living within our borders. Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a procurement request for 34 million work permits and green cards over the next five years. President Obama has spoken publicly and privately about his intentions to use executive action to create these work permits for those who are here illegally. This would be in direct violation of U.S. law. As you know, the Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the President from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people.

We respectfully request that as you work to finalize the year-end funding legislation that language be included in all relevant appropriations legislation for FY 2015 to prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside of the scope prescribed by Congress. We thank you for your efforts with this legislation and for your consideration of this important request.


Matt Salmon

Member of Congress

Senator Harry Reid is sure to oppose a continuing resolution with this restriction, and even if it got past the Senate, President Obama would almost certainly veto it. That raises the specter of a government shutdown, the prospect of which is not going over well with House leadership. According to a leadership aide, leaders will consult with members about how best to respond to an executive amnesty “in a way that keeps the government open.” One of the options cited by the aide is including the forthcoming amnesty in the lawsuit that House speaker John Boehner is filing against President Obama for taking unilateral actions that he considers executive overreach.

Some Republicans are already strategizing about how to avoid the blame for a shutdown: One Senate aide says a preemptive move to prevent an amnesty or a move in the immediate wake of one will put the onus on the president. Others think there’s no way for Republicans to avoid looking like obstructionists.

Salmon, according to an aide, plans to send his letter to Rogers and Lowey on Monday. (He is currently out of the country on a congressional delegation.) Though the Salmon aide says the congressman is more concerned with “discouraging the president” from issuing an amnesty than with persuading GOP leaders, that may be the battle he and the other signatories of the letter must win first.


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Reid tries to minimize losses in the public’s eye

By Drew MacKenzie

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reached out to his presumed successor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that he hoped they could work together “to get things done” in Washington.

In a statement, according to Mediaite

, Reid said, “I’d like to congratulate Sen. McConnell, who will be the new Senate Majority Leader. The message from voters is clear: They want us to work together. I look forward to working with Sen. McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

McConnell’s resounding victory in Kentucky over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes started the GOP wave on election night.

Democrats had hoped to punish McConnell for his fierce opposition to Obama’s agenda. Instead, his campaign team succeeded in linking Grimes to Obama, whose job approval numbers in the state were stuck in the low 30s.

McConnell’s strategy was encapsulated by his campaign slogan: “Obama needs Grimes, and Kentucky needs Mitch McConnell.”

His victory, combined with the GOP’s success in grabbing the Senate majority, means that McConnell is now considered the presumptive choice to be the next Senate majority leader in January.

Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson acknowledged in a Twitter message that Democrats were given a thrashing by the GOP, while poking fun at Republican Scott Brown, who was defeated in New Hampshire by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, according to The Hill.

“The fact that we got our butts kicked up and down the block only makes it ‘more’ hilarious that Scott Brown lost,” wrote Jentleson with the hashtag “smallvictories.”

Brown was one of the few Republican losses in close races on a night of joy for the GOP.

Brown had moved to New Hampshire after he was defeated in Massachusetts by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012. He had launched a challenge against Shaheen, a popular former governor and state senator, in April.

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It’s the albatross tie in the Oval Office who sealed our doom

J.D. Tuccille|Nov. 5, 2014 11:37 am

Even before the Democratic Party’s…drubbing (that seems to be the favored term this time around) in yesterday’s elections, the White House was already blaming its supposed allies for the defeats that were (correctly) anticipated once voters trooped to the polls.

“Ultimately, you know, it’s the quality of these candidates that’s going to be the driver of their success in this election,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday in what just might be taken as a slap at political hopefuls who were frantically distancing themselves from the aura of electoral leprosy surrounding President Obama.

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Oh no you don’t, legislative Democrats responded. It’s the albatross tie in the Oval Office who sealed our doom.

“The president’s approval rating is barely 40 percent,” said David Krone, chief of staff to (soon to be former) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “What else more is there to say? . . . He wasn’t going to play well in North Carolina or Iowa or New Hampshire. I’m sorry. It doesn’t mean that the message was bad, but sometimes the messenger isn’t good.”

After most of the votes were counted and the extent of the Republican wave—or Democratic washout—was clear, Dems lined up to swing a bit more at the presidential piñata. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) openly blamed Obama’s energy policies, while other’s essentially referred to him as a boat anchor on anybody with a “D” next to their names.

There’s nothing unique about this round of fingerpointing. Political parties should reasses themselves after they take a drubbing/shellacking/whatever to consider whether they’re advocating policies or behaving in ways that the electorate finds especially stupid or offensive. Republicans have done this in the past, including after their disappointing performance in 2012. It’s a big part of the reason the party ran far fewer overt loons for office this year.

Now it’s the Democrats’ turn. With an unpopular president carrying their party’s standard and despised policies in health, climate, and energy to their name, they need to take a hard look at the fundamentals.

And for those of us who have to live with what elected officials hath wrought, it’s finally time to grab the popcorn and get some entertainment out of the latest round of fingerpointing.