Morning Action: Not Enjoying February? Valentine’s Day No Longer the Culprit
HAGEL. After a “rocky” nomination process, it appears likely that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed by the Senate as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Obviously, the President is pleased:
In presenting Hagel as his pick, Obama declared that “Chuck represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington.”
But the legitimate concerns of conservatives and many Senators remain:
Republicans such as Cruz said Hagel was not up to the job of running the Pentagon. Cruz went so far as to argue that Hagel, if confirmed, would “make military conflict in the next four years substantially more likely” because his views on negotiating with Tehran would encourage the Iranians to accelerate their nuclear weapons development program.
VAWA. The House is expected to take up its version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):
“The House is expected to take up a strong Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization,” said Megan Whittemore, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), “so we can protect all women from acts of violence and help law enforcement prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”
The other route would be for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to bring a Senate-like VAWA to the House floor and let it pass with mostly Democratic votes, along with the faction of House Republicans who are comfortable with the Senate version. It would upset conservatives but eliminate a no-win political issue. Twice this year, Boehner has brought legislation to the floor with the support of less than half his caucus.
AMNESTY. An immigration deal between the President and the Senate’s Gang of Eight is in the works:
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will meet with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss immigration, congressional aides confirmed to The Hill.
McCain and Graham are both members of a bipartisan group of eight senators that in January unveiled a framework for immigration reform legislation.
The President also extended an apology to Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for the leak of a White House draft bill, which some Republicans thought would risk setting back their efforts on immigration.
GUN GRAB. Democrats have scheduled votes this week on an assault weapons ban and other gun reforms:
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has planned a series of votes this week on President Obama’s gun-control wish-list, including a ban on assault weapons.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has scheduled Thursday votes on four separate gun-control measures, including proposals to ban assault weapons, to make gun trafficking a federal crime, to provide schools with enhanced security protections and to expand background checks surrounding gun sales.
Three of those measures were introduced last month. Only the background-check legislation is new this week.
Such efforts are not uncontested:
While Republicans have expressed some willingness to expand the background checks in the name of public safety, they’re also wary that such a move will be accompanied by establishing a new system of gun registration, which they adamantly oppose.
SEQUESTER. Fear doesn’t come from the good, but that is the position from which President Obama has decided to negotiate with Congress and his primary tool for getting support from the American people on the sequester:
President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it’s a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype.
For now, there’s a whiff of the familiar in all the foreboding, harking back to the mid-1990s partial government shutdown, when officials said old people would go hungry, illegal immigrants would have the run of the of the land and veterans would go without drugs. It didn’t happen.
In the partial government shutdown during his presidency, Bill Clinton and his officials told some tall tales and sketched dark scenarios that didn’t come to pass, though some might have if the crisis had lasted weeks or months longer. The shutdown played out over two installments totaling 26 days from mid-November 1995 to early January 1996.
Nonetheless, as Heritage explains, the President is getting plenty of help from his cronies in the media to stir up fear:
We’ve gotten used to the Obama White House and the nation’s news media working hand in glove on most issues, but the sequester is quickly becoming a case study worthy of Harvard.