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WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker John Boehner is pushing to finalize the outlines of a deal to fund the federal government before he leaves Congress this week and hands the top House job over to Paul Ryan, congressional officials said Monday.

The delicate negotiations are aimed at dispensing with the thorniest issue awaiting Ryan, set to be elected later this week.

Congress also must raise the federal borrowing limit by Nov. 3 or risk a first-ever default.

The budget talks are separate but related. Money to pay for government operations runs out Dec. 11 unless Congress acts. Top House and Senate aides have been meeting with White House officials in search of a deal that would give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies budget relief in exchange for cuts elsewhere in the budget.

“We’re just trying to get something done as soon as we can,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Monday as he left the Capitol headed for a lunch hosted by former senators at the Metropolitan Club, where President Barack Obama was also to be in attendance.

Asked whether a deal could be announced Monday or Tuesday, Reid said: “We’ll see.”

With time running out in Boehner’s tenure, congressional officials said he is pushing for a deal. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about confidential negotiations.

The budget deal is aimed at funding the government beyond a Dec. 11 deadline while also lifting onerous caps on military spending, a GOP priority, and on domestic programs, a goal sought by Democrats.

Just days are left to finalize talks with Ryan, R-Wisconsin, set to be elected on Thursday to replace Boehner, R-Ohio, who is leaving Congress under pressure from conservative lawmakers disgusted with his history of seeking compromise and Democratic votes on issues like the budget.

Harry Reid endorses Paul Ryan for Speaker…



Harry Reid just gave Paul Ryan an unwelcome endorsement for speaker.

The Democratic leader offered his surprise backing for Ryan (R-Wis.) to assume the House speakership, saying he hopes Ryan runs and wins the job because he’s a “Paul Ryan fan.”

“He appears to me to be one of the people over there that would be reasonable. I mean look at some of the other people,” Reid said. “I don’t agree with him on much of what he does. I think what he’s done with Medicare and Medicaid, what he’s wanted to do I disagree with. But generally speaking we’ve been able to work with him.”

Indeed, Ryan’s work with Reid lieutenant Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on a two-year budget deal in 2013 remains a bipartisan highlight for a Congress otherwise beset by gridlock. But did Reid hurt Ryan by praising him?

The Nevada Democrat shrugged when asked if he was giving Ryan a kiss of death as the Wisconsin lawmaker weighs a speakers bid amid ever-growing criticism from the right for his policy positions.

“I just speak the truth,” Reid said. “If it helps him fine, if it doesn’t that’s too bad.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/the-gavel/2015/10/harry-reid-endorse-paul-ryan-house-speaker-214970#ixzz3p9gQLkXl

Armed guards protect Senate Democrats as they demand new gun-control laws…

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., walks from an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to fast-track the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) more >


Senate Democrats gathered Thursday on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by about a dozen armed guards to announce a new push for tougher gun-control laws.

The officers from the U.S. Capitol Police, who carried sidearms, were in addition to the regular detail paroling the Capitol ground due the large number of elected officials attending the event, according to a officer on the scene.

About 27 Democratic senators attended the event.

PHOTOS: Best pocket pistols for self-defense

They announced a set of priorities for combating gun violence, which centered on measures to expand and strengthen background checks for gun purchasers.

They echoed calls by President Obama following the mass shooting last week at a community college in Oregon in which he urged Americans to put pressure on lawmakers to take action to stop the scourge of gun violence in the country.

“We are asking, as the president said, to make their voices heard,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, “We expect there will be a groundswell.”

PHOTOS: Top 10 handguns in the U.S.

The Democrats’ priorities for gun control, which also closely mirrored the plan rolled out last week by Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, included:

*Closing background check “loopholes,” such as stopping criminals from buying firearms at gun shows or online;

*Improving background checks to include barring domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns;

*And shutting down the “illegal gun pipeline” by making straw purchasing of guns and gun trafficking a federal crime.

“The victims and their families deserve better than a Congress that shrugs its shoulders and waited for the next tragedy,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat. “They deserve action.”

McConnell ‘needs to get out of the way’



House conservatives are forcing an effective strategy to fight back against the Iran nuclear deal, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to lead is imperiling the effort and putting America at risk, according to one of the fiercest House critics of leadership.

Heading into this week, House and Senate leaders planned to proceed with votes to accept or reject the Iran deal, knowing full well that opponents did not have enough votes to override a veto from President Obama in the Senate.

House conservatives changed the dynamics by refusing to approve the rule to organize debate on the up-or-down vote. Instead, House Republicans will pursue a three-pronged attack. One vote will still focus on the deal itself. Another will declare the president in violation of the Corker-Cardin bill for not handing over the details of side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning nuclear inspections. The final bill would forbid the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran until January of 2017.


“The new strategy is a good strategy. If we would have gone with the first bill just to disapprove, that would have strictly been a symbolic vote. Plus, we would have been breaking the law we just passed in May, the Corker-Cardin bill,” said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Corker-Cardin required the Obama administration to turn over all text related to the agreement within five days of negotiators signing it. Lawmakers subsequently discovered the secret side deals and the administration will not provide details on it.

What do YOU think? Why is Obama so wedded to the Iran deal? Sound off in today’s WND poll

Yoho said Obama clearly violated the terms of the law he signed.

“The president has already gone beyond that time period,” he said. “He’s not given us the full information. Had we taken that vote when we first came back, we’d have been breaking our own law that we just passed and we would have codified the president moving forward with this.”

While some lawmakers believe the failure to provide the details of the side agreement means the 60-day review period should be paused until that information is provided, Yoho thinks it should qualify as a deal-killer.

“I would prefer that it’s struck down because we’re beyond the time period where he should have been in compliance,” said Yoho, who believes Obama’s failure to honor Corker-Cardin should result in the agreement being trashed and negotiators heading back to the table.

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.:

While the strategy is much bolder in recent days, it’s likelihood of succeeding borders on impossible, not only because it would be tough to find 60 votes for it in the Senate but because Senate leaders have no interest in trying to fight back.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sent a letter to McConnell, pleading for the Senate to follow the House lead. McConnell flatly rejected the idea, and Corker himself said Thursday that the GOP tried to stop the deal but just couldn’t.

That’s not acceptable for Yoho.

“For Mitch McConnell to say we tried and failed, leadership is lead or get out of the way. If that’s the way he feels, he needs to get out of the way,” said Yoho, who believes the American people are tired of watching the GOP Congress pile up defeat after defeat.

“The American people don’t want us to try. They want us to do,” Yoho said. “The American people are fed up with Congress trying. They want us to resolve these problems. They overwhelmingly don’t support this Iran deal, and we’re the only mechanism in government that can stop this.”

If Congress fails to reject the Iran deal, as seems increasingly likely, opponents have floated the idea of cutting off funding for implementing the deal during the appropriations process later this month.

Yoho is open to that idea, but once again fears McConnell does not have any stomach for the fight.

“We’ve already sent appropriations bills to the Senate,” he said. “We did that last year too, and the reason they were never brought up is we could blame (Democratic Leader) Harry Reid. Mitch McConnell’s in charge, and he hasn’t brought one of those up. It’s because of the threat Harry Reid may block that.

“Again, if you’re going to lead, lead. If not, then get out of the way. Bring those bills up. Let the people over there decide. If Harry Reid blocks them, let the American people know Harry Reid is blocking the progress of this country,” he added.

Yoho said there is no clearer evidence of America’s disgust with the current GOP leadership than the current state of the 2016 presidential race.

“Look who’s leading the polls in the Republican Party,” he said. “All outsiders: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina. The American people are hoping people get in there that put politics aside. Don’t be a Republican. Don’t be a Democrat. Do what’s right for America.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/09/mcconnell-needs-to-get-out-of-the-way/#qPztSx0UUodLBHts.99

Manchin is fourth Senate Democrat to reject Iran deal

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By Susan Ferrechio

Sen. Joe Manchin announced Tuesday he will vote to disapprove the nuclear deal with Iran, becoming the fourth Senate Democrat to reject the accord.

Manchin, of West Virginia, said he would not support the deal because it does not stop Iran from conducting terrorist activity in the region.

“For me, this deal had to address Iran’s terrorist actions,” Manchin said in a statement. “Without doing so would reward Iran’s 36 years of deplorable behavior and do nothing to prevent its destructive activities.”

The Obama administration had been working aggressively to assure congressional lawmakers that the United States would take new steps to boost security in the region in order to counter any new terrorism that would be generated by the deal. In exchange Iran reducing its nuclear capability, the accord will free up $100 billion in frozen assets, which critics say will be used to sponsor terrorism.

“Lifting sanctions without ensuring that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is neutralized is dangerous to regional and American security,” Manchin said. “The administration has accepted — what I consider to be a false choice — that this is only about nuclear weapons and not terrorism. However, the fact of the matter is that we are concerned about Iran having a bomb because, in large part, it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Asking us to set aside the terrorist question is irresponsible and misses the point.”

Manchin announced his opposition moments before Minority Leader Harry Reid delivered an address in support of the accord. In that speech, Reid pledged additional U.S. help for Israel to defend itself from Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

“It will take more money and military support, but we must provide the one true democracy in the region and the one and only Jewish state in the world with the resources it needs,” Reid said.

In addition to Manchin, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, are publicly opposed to the deal. Reid indicated Tuesday that Democrats are pushing to require a 60-vote threshold to pass the resolution, and later in the day, the 41st Democrat said he would support the agreement.

Democrats demand recess budget talks

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By SUSAN FERRECHIO 8/18/15 3:33 PM

Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded immediate negotiations with Senate Republicans on spending legislation for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

“With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period, just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year, to begin talks on a path forward,” Democrats said in the letter.

The GOP leadership office did not respond to a request for a comment on the Democratic letter. But Republicans have so far resisted efforts by Democrats to hold talks on government funding, arguing that Democrats blocked spending legislation from moving forward in the Senate earlier this year.

Senate Democrats refused to advance any fiscal 2016 spending bills, saying they objected to caps required under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats want Republicans to agree to higher domestic spending levels, and are angry that the GOP has found a way around the spending caps for the Defense Department.

Many Republicans in both the House and Senate are also opposed to the caps, which would have made it almost impossible to pass every spending bill even without Democratic opposition.

The House and Senate will not return to work until after Labor Day, leaving just a handful of legislative work days to come up with a spending plan for the government beyond the end of the fiscal year.

Due to disagreements over spending levels, Congress has increasingly waited until nearly the end of the fiscal year or beyond to come to an accord that satisfies both parties and President Obama.

It won’t be easy this year.

Obama and Democrats have called for an increase in taxes to pay for higher spending levels. Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the plan “a nonstarter.”

The letter, signed by all 46 Senate Democrats and Independents, is below:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

U.S. Senate

S-230 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20150

Dear Leader McConnell:

There are less than two months left in the fiscal year, and we are deeply concerned by the fact that negotiations to craft a bipartisan budget agreement have not yet begun. With the end of the fiscal year looming, we urge you to immediately schedule bipartisan budget negotiations so that we can work together over the coming weeks to avoid another manufactured crisis.

Inaction and failure to responsibly restore sequester-level cuts in FY16 appropriations bills will have real consequences for our country. That is why we are eager to start working as soon as possible to negotiate a compromise that will keep our nation and economy strong, and keep the government open.

With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period – just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year – to begin talks on a path forward. We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis.

We are ready and willing to work with you to produce a fair and balanced Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Therefore, we respectfully request you schedule the first round of these important negotiations as soon as possible.


Harry Reid

Richard J. Durbin

Charles E. Schumer

Patty Murray

Barbara Mikulski

Patrick J. Leahy

Dianne Feinstein

Barbara Boxer

Ron Wyden

Jack Reed

Bill Nelson

Tom Carper

Debbie Stabenow

Maria Cantwell

Robert Menendez

Ben Cardin

Bernie Sanders

Sherrod Brown

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Claire McCaskill

Amy Klobuchar

Sheldon Whitehouse

Jon Tester

Tom Udall

Jeanne Shaheen

Mark R. Warner

Jeff Merkley

Michael Bennet

Kirsten Gillibrand

Al Franken

Joe Manchin

Christopher Coons

Richard Blumenthal

Brian Schatz

Tammy Baldwin

Joe Donnelly

Chris Murphy

Mazie K. Hirono

Martin Heinrich

Tim Kaine

Angus King

Elizabeth Warren

Heidi Heitkamp

Edward J. Markey

Cory Booker

Gary Peters