Posted at 6:12 p.m. on Oct. 2 By Matt Fuller
As the shutdown stretches on, a bloc of moderate House Republicans could be the key to reopening government.
On Wednesday, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, held meetings with groups of “pragmatist” lawmakers — as Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., described them — who want to pass a policy-rider-free continuing resolution and end the government shutdown as soon as possible.
Grimm said the group was “spitballing some ideas” on how to pass a CR that would fund the entire government, but he indicated that any plan would probably require a number of centrists to join Democrats in voting down a routine procedural motion in an attempt to seize control of the debate and the House floor.
Grimm also expressed support for wrapping negotiations over the debt limit, sequester and the CR into one.
“I do feel we’re moving in the right direction, but for me, it can’t be fast enough,” Grimm said.
It isn’t fast enough for Rep. Peter T. King of New York, who was one of the most vocal House Republicans criticizing the party’s strategy as the government headed to a shutdown.
King wasn’t invited to any of Boehner’s moderate meetings Wednesday, so he held his own.
King said he met in his office with roughly 10 members who support a clean CR, and they discussed “what the strategy would be.”
“Everyone wants a clean CR; some just have different timelines” for action, King said.
But King said ultimately Republicans were going to agree to a clean CR.
“It would probably make it easier if we can show that we defeated Obamacare, even if we didn’t,” King said.
Another moderate Republican, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, summed up the current state of play.
“The real problem is we may have gotten ourselves in a position where we can’t budge on a clean CR and they can’t budge on Obamacare,” Simpson said. “I don’t think closing down the government is a good strategy for us.”
But it does seem to have caught the attention of Democrats and the nation. On Wednesday, Boehner headed to a meeting with the president and other congressional leaders, and lawmakers on both sides were hoping they could begin to forge an agreement.
If those talks don’t bear fruit, centrists could decide to try to hijack the floor. One way to get a clean CR would be by voting down a motion to order the previous question. If GOP centrists joined Democrats to vote down the previous question, Democrats could get control of the floor for an hour and might be able to offer a clean CR.
But when would a group of moderates actually employ that strategy?
“That’s the question,” Grimm said. “I think everyone is trying to give leadership at least the opportunity to have the conversation with the other side.”
Asked when he thought the group of moderate Republicans would start voting to do that, King wasn’t sure.
“I think they should do it now,” he said. “Believe it or not, people don’t always listen to me.”
King said that was precisely what lawmakers in his office were discussing — “when they should do it, how it should be done, what process we should follow.”
He said there were many lawmakers who support a clean CR. He cautioned, however, that many of them may never be in a position to vote for it “because of their districts, they’re afraid, they’re concerned about a primary.”
“One thing I admire about the Ted Cruz Republicans, they don’t care what anyone thinks about them, they just go ahead and do it. I think that’s what we have to start doing,” King said. “So to that extent I’m a Cruz Republican.”
But until centrists start acting with more abandon, Boehner is likely to stick with the current plan — even if they have the numbers right now to force a vote on a clean CR.
It’s no secret that King and Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania have been leading a contingent of moderates, and as of Wednesday afternoon, there were at least 18 Republicans who had publicly stated they would vote for a clean CR. The list includes King, Dent, Grimm, Simpson, Devin Nunes of California, C.W. Bill Young of Florida, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, Frank A. LoBiondo of New Jersey, Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Jon Runyan of New Jersey, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, Michael G. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, Rob Wittman of Virginia and Scott Rigell of Virginia.
If they all stick together, the bloc could make Boehner’s life difficult. But Boehner is worried about another group.
Many speculate that Boehner would face a conservative mutiny if he simply brought up a clean CR to be passed by Democrats and a small number of moderate Republicans.
Boehner needs at least 116 Republicans to vote for a CR. That’s half of the Republican Conference’s 232 members, and if Boehner had 116 Republicans to vote for a clean CR, the conservative mutiny would have to stand up to the majority of Republicans in the conference.
But there aren’t 116 Republicans supporting a clean CR — at least not yet and not publicly.
And the moderate group is still waiting to see if Boehner can pull out a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.
“I think there’s going to be another solution found,” Grimm said.“I know that Speaker Boehner understands the gravity of this situation.”
But ultimately, King said the moderates were going to have fight it out with the far right.
“First of all, I don’t know who they could elect besides John [Boehner]. And sooner or later, we’re going to have to face up to these guys,” King said.
Emma Dumain contributed to this report.
Tuesday, 01 Oct 2013 12:23 PM By Sandy Fitzgerald
House Speaker John Boehner Monday called on colleagues to ban an exemption lawmakers and staff receive for health insurance, but he and his aides had worked for months with Democratic leaders to save the subsidies, leaked documents and emails show.
The documents were provided to Politico, which revealed Tuesday morning that Boehner and aides were working closely with Democratic rivals to protect the payments.
Roll Call had earlier reported that Democrats were mulling divulging the private communications between Boehner Chief of Staff Mike Sommers and Reid Chief of Staff David Krone as proof that Boehner was trying to protect the payments.
The revelations are sure to cause more friction between Boehner and more conservative members of the House of Representatives, who have been pressing for all Obamacare exemptions for Congress to be scrapped.
The documents show Boehner and his aides discussed the matter with the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and others. Further, the documents show that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knew of the discussions.
A possible legislative solution was drafted, the documents show, and they continued to push for a solution from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Further, Boehner and Reid asked for a meeting with President Barack Obama to lobby him for help, the documents show. The meeting never happened, but a senior Boehner aide was able to speak to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the Speaker’s wish to retain the employer subsidy.
Obamacare requires lawmakers and staff to join insurance exchanges, and the debate over whether they should continue collecting the employer contribution from the federal government has been the source of many heated discussions.
The OPM ruled that lawmakers and their staff could not receive employer payments once they went into the subsidies. The office reversed its decision, saying the employer payments could continue.
But Boehner put the issue into the government shutdown debate, attaching an amendment ending the subsidies to a House GOP funding bill.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Politico the White House should solve the problem, and that “we always made it clear that House would not pass any legislative fix.”
He said Boehner was aware that Reid and the White House had been discussing the issue and that the speaker’s “fix is repealing Obamacare.”
Boehner’s office said the leak shows how concerned Democrats are.
“Any emails from Mr. Sommers will reflect the Speaker’s position: he voted against ObamaCare, and he wants to repeal Obamacare,” Steel said. “If the Senate Democrats and the White House want to make a ‘fix’ to the law, it would be their fix. The Speaker’s ‘fix’ is repeal. This is just a desperate act by Harry Reid’s staff to protect their own subsidy.”
Reid communications director Adam Jentleson, meanwhile, said his boss worked closely with Boehner and was grateful for his help.
Roll Call reported the communications could back up Democrats’ claims that Boehner’s decision to add an amendment revoking the contributions was a shot at vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014, such as Kay Hagan of North Carolina or Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
A handful of Republicans are pursuing the biggest scandal in American history, but guess what: House Speaker Boehner isn’t one of them, and that puts him on par with Democrats like Jim Costa, who think “Issa and Holder should sit down and work it out.”
West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall wants Holder to turn over the subpoenaed documents but is “not ready to go as far as contempt yet, no. Not yet.”
With the other issues, the economy and everything else, I think they would like to focus on that. I don’t think they’re opposed to going ahead with the contempt citation; it’s just that if we can get the Justice Department to move without having to move it, they would probably prefer that.
Americans would probably “prefer” that career politicians grow a spine and stand up to one of the most corrupt attorneys general in recent history and hold everyone responsible for the murders of innocent people accountable. Not gonna happen, according to an insider.
From Roll Call:
A GOP aide also warned against a racial backlash if Republicans are seen as unfairly targeting the first black attorney general, who is serving under the first black president. “Especially after Trayvon,” the aide said, referring to slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
How about an attorney general targeting Hispanics? “The term Hispanic, as dominated [sic] by the Office of Management and Budget, is used in the United States for people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica.”
Over 300 Mexican citizens have been murdered by weapons trafficked by our own government, with “more to come” according to Holder’s testimony. Many Mexican-Americans have relatives south of the border. Where is La Raza?
Bloggers, journalists, and investigators have chronicled this mess from the beginning. They’ve uncovered evidence leading first to the Department of Justice, then straight to the White House.
How about the three Os? Ogden, O’Reilly, and Obama.
In March 2009, Former Deputy Attorney-General David Ogden said, “The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan.”
A September 2010 e-mail from ATF Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell to White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly showed an “arrow chart reflecting the ultimate destination of firearms we intercepted and/or where the guns ended up.” The chart shows arrows leading from Arizona to destinations all over Mexico.
In March 2011, on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, Sarah Brady met with Jay Carney to discuss the need for tougher gun control laws. The president joined them, and Mrs. Brady recalled him saying, “I just want you to know that we are working on it[.] … We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
Agent Brian Terry died nine months after Obama’s “under the radar” statement.
Issa has indicated that he will seek a contempt citation if Holder doesn’t turn over the remaining documents by Memorial Day. We’ll see. In the meantime, I suggest that both Democrats and Republicans read the following words from the Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.
Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life.
Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.
And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.
Should one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?
Somebody needs to get on with it. Charge Holder with contempt now.
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report.
- Is Fast and Furious the Next Watergate? (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Conservative Reps Plan To Push House Leadership Toward Contempt Resolution For Holder (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- Rep. Darrell Issa To Holder: ‘Fast and Furious’ Will Be Your Legacy (businessinsider.com)
- Holding Eric Holder Accountable for Operation Fast and Furious (gds44.wordpress.com)
- IT’S OFFICIAL – John Boehner is stalling Fast and Furious contempt citation of Eric Holder (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Republicans Prepare Contempt Citation Against Obama AG Eric Holder (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Issa Makes ContemptCase Against Holder (foxnews.com)
The company is one of only three that holds a federal lease to research oil shale energy development on the Western Slope, but officials say they would rather pursue other projects.
“Chevron has notified the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) that it intends to divest its oil shale research, development and demonstration lease in the Piceance Basin in Colorado,” the company announced Tuesday. “While our research was productive, this change assures that critical resources — people and capital — will be available to the company for other priorities and projects in North America and around the globe. We will work with the BLM and DRMS to determine the best path forward, timing and other issues.” Despite nearly 100 years of failed attempts to make oil shale commercially viable, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the energy source will help fund his $260 billion transit package and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, is pushing the Pioneers Act, which would revive a 2008 plan put together during the Bush administration to open 2 million acres of public lands in Utah, Wyoming and western Colorado to oil shale drilling. The House passed Lamborn’s bill this month.
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report, however, which projected that Boehner’s bill would, over 10 years, leave the highway trust fund $78 billion in the red, and the Interior Department is looking at slashing the amount of land available for oil shale research to 462,000 acres.
“Chevron’s research hardly got started and they quickly concluded that they were throwing money down a rabbit hole. It’s indicative of the fact that oil and gas companies see much more profitable, and realistic, opportunities elsewhere,” said Colorado energy expert Randy Udall.
Squeezing energy out of oil shale requires immense quantities of water. Industrial-scale oil shale development could require as much as 150 percent of the amount of water the Denver Metro Area consumes annually, according to Bureau of Land Management estimates.
As early as 1921, oil companies have been trying to tap northwest Colorado for oil shale. The expense required to develop the energy source, however, has outweighed potential profits. About a dozen different projects have come and gone during that time — none remembered more than “Black Sunday” when ExxonMobil pulled the plug on a huge oil shale operation in western Colorado in 1982 that left the region in economic shambles.
Chevron and its subsidiaries started amassing acreage in Colorado for oil shale research back in the 1930s.
“Oil companies have been trying to pull the sword from the stone for nearly a century. Oil shale has no King Arthur,” said Matt Garrington of the Checks & Balances Project. “Chevron’s decision to pull out of oil shale is yet another reason why [U.S. Rep. Scott] Tipton [R-Colorado] and Lamborn should quit saying that melting rocks into oil will somehow fund critical repairs to our roads and bridges.”
Royal Dutch Shell and AMSO are the other two companies that hold oil shale leases in Colorado.
- Chevron gives up Colo. shale lease as Obama moves to shrink shale activity (junkscience.com)
- USA: Chevron to Splash USD 32.7 Billion in 2012 (mb50.wordpress.com)
By Phil Kerpen Published January 04, 2012
In 2008 candidate Sen. Barack Obama famously said: “This is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he is going along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We are not going to use signing statements as a way of doing and end run around Congress.”
Now, we find that not only was he kidding about signing statements – he recently used one to ignore about 20 provisions of the omnibus spending bill – but Obama also believes he can decide for himself that the Senate is in recess when it is not, overturn at least a hundred years of precedent, and bypass the Constitution’s
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Moreover, the president now considers it a political virtue that he is doing precisely what he criticized George Bush for doing: “make laws as he is going along.” Obama now says: “I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer… when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”
If he were acting within the confines of the law and the Constitution, the argument might make sense.But Obama has now adopted a theory of executive power so expansive that a reporter at a recent press conference understandably asked whether the president believes we have a virtual monarchy, a president of unlimited powers subject only to periodic elections but not to the rule of law.
According to a 1993 brief from the Clinton Justice Department, Congress must remain adjourned for at least three days before the adjournment constitutes a “recess” for the purposes the recess appointment power.
The origin of this three day period is Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, which states: “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.”
In other words, the president can only recess appoint when the Senate has adjourned for more than three days, and the Senate cannot adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the House.
Speaker John Boehner has properly withheld that consent to prevent Obama from installing radical appointees into key positions.
There is recent precedent for this action and for its legitimacy.In fact, then-Obama Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote to the Supreme Court on April 26, 2010:“Although a President may fill such vacancies through the use of his recess appointment power … the Senate may act to foreclose this option by declining to recess for more than two or three days at a time over a lengthy period. For example, the Senate did not recess intrasession for more than three days at a time for over a year beginning in late 2007.”
Obama’s attempt to “recess appoint” Richard Cordray while the Senate is in pro forma session is especially galling in light of the history of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the broad powers that Cordray – if Obama’s sleight of hand is permitted by the courts – will wield over the United States economy.
The CFPB has the power to interfere with every consumer financial transaction in the economy. It is housed in the Federal Reserve and funded out of Fed operations, not congressional appropriations, avoiding effective congressional oversight.
All power is vested in one individual – now, presumably Cordray – with no board or commission.None of this was part of Elizabeth Warren’s original design, which included a five-member commission that was funded and overseen by Congress.Senate Republicans have correctly called for reforms to make the new agency accountable before confirming a nominee and allowing it to begin writing rules that could have a major negative impact on the economy.
Obama doesn’t care.He’s making is up as he goes along.What a difference four years makes.
Phil Kerpenis vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him.
- Obama’s 2012 Slogan: ‘Can’t Work With Others’ (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Constitutional Scholar: White House Entirely Ignoring Article 1, Section 5 | CNSnews.com (manifestinjustice.wordpress.com)
- Is the Cordray Appointment Constitutional? (usnews.com)
- Constitutional Scholar: White House Entirely Ignoring Article 1, Section 5 | CNSnews.com (nootkabear.wordpress.com)
- Obama: Forget Congress; Richard Cordray’s my consumer… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Obama bypassing Senate to appoint Richard Cordray consumer chief – Chicago Tribune (chicagotribune.com)