Capitol Building

Moring Action: Vote-a-Rama

VOTE-A-RAMA.   The Senate hasn’t produced a budget in four years, so vote-a-rama will be a first for many new Senators:

Senate Republicans will be on the floor offering an unlimited number of amendments to the Democratic budget resolution. No, lawmakers have not come down with a very unusual case of bipartisanship.

Instead, the Senate will be conducting a rare and chaotic “vote-a-rama,” in which senators of either party can offer an unlimited amount of amendments to the budget resolution. Such a freewheeling process is peculiar to the budget resolution, which the Senate hasn’t considered for four years since one was last introduced in 2009. A third of the senators haven’t even been in the chamber long enough to experience a vote-a-rama, so this will be their first time participating in one.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is responsible for shepherding much of the hectic voting process on the floor.

“I’ve been through this before,” Murray said. “There will be a number of amendments and we’re looking forward to having a strong budget at the end of the day.”

AMNESTY.  We will have to wait to get the details on immigration reform legislation that Congress is working on to judge it, but for now House leaders have given the “solution” praise:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised a bipartisan group for coming up with “a pretty responsible solution” on immigration, the first public endorsement the Speaker has made on the substance of secretive talks that have gone on for more than four years.

A group of eight lawmakers — four Republicans and four Democrats — has been meeting privately to craft a comprehensive immigration overhaul, and they told Boehner and other Republican leaders last week that they were close to a deal.

OBAMA.   It’s common that in their second term, presidents lose appeal with the American people.  So how is Barack Obama faring?

Obama, who was riding high after his reelection win in November, has seen his poll numbers take a precipitous fall in recent weeks. 

A CNN poll released Tuesday showed Obama’s favorability rating underwater, with 47 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving of Obama’s handling of his job. 

Much of the president’s agenda is stuck, with climate change regulations delayed, immigration reform mired in committee negotiations and prospects for a grand bargain budget deal in limbo at best. 

There are probably a number of reasons that Obama is no longer very well liked, not the least of which is his poor handling of the economy.  But there are also a number of people who are displeased with his hypocrisy with regard to what is the proper role of a president of the United States:

But, experts say, Obama’s actions are more noticeable because as a candidate he was critical of Bush’s use of power. In particular, he singled out his predecessor’s use of signing statements, documents issued when a president signs a bill that clarifies his understanding of the law.

“These last few years we’ve seen an unacceptable abuse of power at home,” Obama said in an October 2007 speech.. “We’ve paid a heavy price for having a president whose priority is expanding his own power.”

Yet Obama’s use of power echoes that of his predecessors. For example, he signed 145 executive orders in his first term, putting him on track to issue as many as the 291 that Bush did in two terms.

John Yoo, who wrote the legal opinions that supported an expansion of presidential power after the 2001 terrorist attacks, including harsh interrogation methods that some called torture, said he thought that executive orders were sometimes appropriate – when conducting internal management and implementing power given to the president by Congress or the Constitution – but he thinks that Obama has gone too far.

SEQUESTER.  Many Republicans remain resistant to the White House’s attempts to get them to exchange additional revenue for a replacement to the sequester.  And if that were to happen, apparently it would not be any time soon.  It’s not a viable idea, though, and conservatives want Congress to remain committed to the cuts made by the sequester:

The White House — burned by a few overinflated claims of impacts and falling approval ratings — has long since given up its nationwide stop-the-sequester tour and daily appearances in the press room from Cabinet secretaries warning of dire consequences. But there is still a wisp of a hope in the West Wing that Republicans at some point will agree to a replacement that includes higher taxes. That hope rests not on national press coverage and presidential speeches but on a slowly growing stack of local news clips detailing impacts, such as an Associated Press story in Indianapolis on a lottery to determine which kids would be kicked out of the early childhood education program Head Start.

But while the impacts are starting to appear in local media across the country, particularly near military bases, rank-and-file Republicans generally say they aren’t feeling much pressure yet, and they expect the sequester will simply stay in place.

BALANCED BUDGET.  Why did House leadership come out in support a plan to balance the budget in ten years?  Conservatives:

On January 15, Michael Needham, Chris Chocola, and Tony Perkins—the heads of those three conservative group surged House GOP leadership to support a budget that balances in 10 years. “Very simply, we can quickly jump-start our economy and improve the lives of millions of Americans by insisting that Washington not raise the debt ceiling unless our nation gets on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years that stays balanced,” they wrote in a Politico op-ed.

A couple days later, Needham’s Heritage Action published a “Memo for the Conservative Movement” which had a top line calling for a 10-year balancing budget.

On January 18, a group of current and former chairmen of the conservative Republican Study Committee called for the same thing. Needham backed that call, asking for House leadership, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, “to publicly honor this agreement.”

It was not until several days later, on January 22, that Boehner backed the idea of a budget that balanced within 10 years. 

Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler told Breitbart News on Tuesday that conservatives did not need that NRCC poll to know the balanced budget idea is popular. “Conservatives did not need a poll to understand balancing the budget makes for good politics,” Holler said. “More importantly though, getting on a path to balance forces action on the types of reforms our country so desperately needs. You cannot balance if Obamacare is the law of the land. You cannot balance as Medicare spirals towards bankruptcy.  With this playbook in hand, the House must fight to enact the policy reforms necessary to achieve a 10-year balance and attach them to any future increases in the debt ceiling.”

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Rare/chaotic “vote-a-rama” will likely happen this week. Sens offer amendments to the budget resolution.

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Immigration deal is forming and receiving bipartisan praise from House leadership.

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145 = the number of Obama's executive actions in his first term alone.

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