Division Over Riders Forcing Congress To Edge Of Government-Funding Deadline

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

California members stall business on House floor as Democrats try to force gun control votes.

In the debate over gun rights, Pennsylvania Sen. Despite a contentious partisan debate Tuesday that saw discussions over the U.S. visa waiver program lurch awkwardly toward the issue of gun rights, there’s reason for optimism on Capitol Hill ahead of a looming deadline to pass a trillion-dollar omnibus funding measure.Disregarding calls from President Obama to act on the issue, the Senate on Tuesday once again rejected a measure that would ban folks on the terror watch list from acquiring guns. “This is to create a ‘gotcha’ moment for senators and candidates that are running in 2016,” Mr.Widening a Republican rift in the Pennsylvania Legislature, House Republicans unilaterally attacked the state government’s 5-month-old budget stalemate with a spending plan of their own Tuesday, rejecting a bipartisan Senate vote a day earlier on a rival approach endorsed by Democratic Gov.Washington • Democrats took to the floors of the Senate and House on Tuesday to draw attention to their drive to prevent suspected violent extremists from obtaining guns.

House leaders are bracing for a long week, a potential weekend session and more negotiations next week as Republicans and Democrats have failed to come to an agreement on how to fund federal agencies until October 2016.Democrats in Congress attempted to force a vote on gun control measures in both houses Tuesday, further pressuring Republicans to address gun violence days after the San Bernardino shootings. In recent weeks, lawmakers pushed several long-stalled pieces of legislation across the finish line, reaching a spending agreement that has the approval of the Republican leadership and President Barack Obama after five years of intense fiscal disagreements that saw a government shutdown and the implementation of “sequester” budget cuts considered so draconian they were only passed as an incentive for a bipartisan compromise that never materialized. Cornyn said. “I’m astonished by the proposition…that you can be on a secret watch list by the federal government just by virtue of this secret listing from an individual on a government watch list, you can be denied some of your core constitutional rights without any necessity of the government establishing probable cause or producing any evidence that would justify the denial of a core constitutional right.” Sen. A number of controversial measures both parties want to see in a final deal are preventing Congress from wrapping up its year-end business by the Dec. 11 deadline.

Debate, livid at times, came days after a Muslim couple who federal authorities say adopted extremist views killed 14 people last week in San Bernardino, California. In all likelihood, the House will vote Friday on a short-term government funding measure to avoid a shutdown, giving Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi more time to negotiate.

Widely viewed as one of the Senate’s most conservative members — he has a 94 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union — he is being blasted by gun rights activists for his willingness to expand background checks for gun purchases. The House last week approved – and the Senate was expected to pass on Wednesday – the first major overhaul of national education policy since 2002, when the much-maligned No Child Left Behind became law. The Republican-controlled House voted 115-86 for a $30.3 billion general appropriations bill, with four Republicans joining every Democrat in voting “no.” The bill’s passage represented the second time in the past month that a proposed budget deal between Wolf and the Legislature’s Republican majorities has collapsed.

Keane with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, adding that the president laid out “no new initiatives or strategies” to combat the terrorist threat. Republicans want measures in the omnibus that block the president’s climate change regulations and tighten the screening process for Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. — both of which are non-starters for Democrats. One deal discussed included Democrats agreeing to lift a U.S. oil-export ban in exchange for Republicans dropping many of their environmental policy demands.

Tom Wolf presented the first budget of his administration on March 3, more than 900 pages of revenue estimates and projected outlays to school districts, universities, social service agencies, municipal governments, you name it. Bush’s signature education policy expired in 2007, some 40 states had received federal exemptions from compliance with the law’s more onerous provisions because Congress couldn‘t agree on a replacement. If somebody is on this watch list who shouldn’t be, and it is a very small number, then they have, through this legislation, a means to get off that list.” Both in his weekly address on Saturday and in his nationally-televised address to the nation Sunday, Mr. But the California shooting, which came soon after terrorists associated with the Islamic State, also known by acronyms ISIL or ISIS, used explosives and firearms to conduct coordinated and devastating attacks in Paris, have left Democrats trying to link the two issues together.

Some Democrats are also talking about trying to push a measure to grant Puerto Rico some relief as it battles default, something Republicans would be unlikely to support. A key hang-up for the Senate’s budget bill is the $1.2 billion full-year tax increase that Senate officials say could accompany it as part of the Senate’s deal with Wolf. Without naming them, he blamed the gap on the National Rifle Association, which for years has used an alliance with gun-rights lawmakers, mostly Republicans, to block gun control legislation in Congress.

House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, countered that the Senate would need a two-year, $3 billion tax increase — $2.2 billion in a full year — to pay for its spending plans, and he questioned its political viability in the House. King (R-N.Y.), out of committee and onto the House floor through a process called a “discharge petition.” “Since the House won’t take up legislation to prevent the senseless deaths of 30 people killed a day by someone using a gun, I move that the House be adjourned,” Thompson said. That’s where Pennsylvanians still are today, nine months after his proposal was issued, five months after a budget was supposed to have been enacted.

In Congress, Democrats have pushed to ban the sale of firearms to those who appear on the FBI’s terrorist watch list — a compendium of names of those the law enforcement agency says have popped up with potential connections to terrorism. “We all understand what’s going on here,” Mr. He offered his own plan giving the government 72 hours to delay gun sales to those suspected of terror acts and persuade a judge to block that sale, and letting the government immediately arrest the suspect. Pelosi (D-Calif.) will skip a congressional trip to Paris that was scheduled to begin Thursday because of the ongoing funding talks, a Democratic aide said. Toomey’s support for expanding background checks “has made gun owners furious, and it’s going to cost him,” said Kim Stolfer of Firearm Owners Against Crime. “All I’ve done for the past three days is field phone calls and emails from angry people.” But the senator voted Mr. But the recent triumphs, tempting to dismiss as examples of lawmakers doing the jobs they were elected to do in the first place, were not the only ones for the 114th Congress: Two months into the session, legislators in March approved a breakthrough in Medicare payments after more than a decade of having to rely on short-term fixes.

The money would come from a $1 per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, new taxes on smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, and fees and taxes from legalizing Internet-based casino gambling sites and authorizing slot machines at off-track betting parlors. The push to lift the export ban — first established after the 1973 Arab oil embargo — has been a major point of debate on the tax extenders package, but the same Senate aide noted that talks are now shifting toward moving the omnibus and tax extenders as one package, coming to the floor together in a single large vehicle. Meanwhile, Wolf has insisted on a tax increase big enough to deliver a record boost in aid to public schools and narrow a long-term budget deficit that has damaged Pennsylvania’s credit rating. As a trade-off, he has agreed to sign legislation long-sought by Senate Republicans to scale back public pension benefits and by House Republicans to allow private businesses to sell wine outside the state-controlled system. Then House Republicans pulled the rug out from under it and instead passed a plan that is $500 million lower, would mean less money for education and probably has no chance of being enacted.

Non-binding and utterly impracticable, the plan is still the first time the two chambers have been able to agree on such a guideline in six years – when Democrats controlled them both. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., a leading gun-control advocate, forced a series of procedural votes to protest GOP leaders’ refusal to allow debate on legislation by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara). “We’re trying to show that if this House is not going to take action on what’s at the top of the minds of all Americans, what are we really doing here?” Swalwell said. A rare coalition of congressional Republicans and the Democratic White House in June secured Obama the legislative authority to negotiate a contentious 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal while giving lawmakers an up-or-down vote on its adoption.

John Kasich and Chris Christie made recent comments suggesting they’re open to the idea. “Before Congress goes home for the holidays, they should pass legislation to close the ‘no fly, no buy’ loophole,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. But House proposal would not harm working people or the state’s economy, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, told colleagues during floor debate. Toomey’s rivals “refuse to put aside their personal ambitions and join the widespread bipartisan praise of Pat Toomey’s courageous leadership.” And indeed, gun control advocacy group CeaseFirePA urged its members “to thank Senator Toomey for standing firm in his support” of it. Democrats said it was very similar to a Republican budget bill that was vetoed by Wolf on June 30 because it did not do enough to address the deficit or reverse GOP-engineered cuts to education aid and human services funding going back to 2011.

Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) said repeatedly calling for adjournment was a tactic the minority was welcome to use to bring attention to an issue, but “I don’t think it changes anybody’s mind.” Democrats called for adjournment five times Tuesday, and Thompson promised more adjournment motions would be brought up in coming days. The closer we are to an election, the more accountable folks here feel they are.” Even some potential political pratfalls ended well, with cooler heads prevailing to prevent a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in late winter after GOP members backed away from a plan to tie a measure funding the agency to efforts to undo Obama’s actions on immigration that offered deportation relief for those in the U.S. unlawfully. He said the House Democratic Caucus agreed to this series of show votes to slow action on other must-pass legislation in the last congressional days of the year. Manchin to expand the background check requirement, which currently applies only to sales at firearm dealers, after 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in late 2012.

Export-Import Bank, which provides financing for U.S. businesses exporting goods and services overseas, a groundswell of moderate lawmakers from both parties pushed to revive the bank’s charter. The Wisconsin Republican, who took over the role in October, last week delivered his first major address as speaker, taking the unusual step of outlining new priorities – like tax reform – heading into an election year. But gun rights groups are a force to be reckoned with, and in 2013 the measure ultimately got 54 votes, not enough to clear Senate procedural hurdles. Both sides agree the tax code has become overly complicated, and both sides say it produces unfairness that holds back Americans’ ability to prosper.

Upon agreeing to take up the gavel, Ryan vowed to return the House to regular order, allowing bills to work through committee and be fully debated on the floor. Salmon said many members of the Freedom Caucus would vote for the omnibus if it included this language, but senior Republican leadership aides doubt that is true. “A lot of us aren’t completely understanding why in the world, given the fact that we had a veto-proof majority on the vote on the individual bill [regarding refugees], why in the world we wouldn’t include it in the [larger spending] bill,” Salmon said. “It doesn’t make any sense at all.” Salmon added, “I think that every time we get jammed up against a holiday schedule with people wanting to be back in their districts and back with their families, we seem to end up getting things that we dislike intensely. When we don’t have that kind of pressure, there’s a little bit more of an ability to fight, and stand up on principle rather than be jammed against schedules that are important to people.” House Democrats have their own set of policy concerns. But even before last week’s vote, he downplayed expectations for it. “I still support the policy,” he told reporters last week, but “I doubt the vote totals have changed very much.” The measure was defeated 50-48.

Libertarian-minded Republicans are interested in reducing the costs of maintaining a massive prison population, while Democrats view sentencing and policing as civil rights issues. Toomey did not speak on the bill’s behalf from the Senate floor: Instead, the political journal Politico reported, he “quietly marched from the cloakroom to silently cast his vote.” “In the military and in public life, you want the warrior who is beside you every day,” said Joe Sestak, a retired admiral who contrasted Mr. Republican tax-writers, however, want to ensure that there is not fraud or abuse in these programs and are insisting on more “program integrity” checks.

Lawmakers eventually passed the measure, which would bar people from the 38 visa waiver countries who had recently visited Iraq or Syria from participating in the program. Toomey of “playing political games,” noting he “voted against a bill that would have prevented individuals who are on terror watch lists from being allowed to purchase firearms.” In a statement, Mr. Goodman said she worried the Republican measure “had so many hurdles that it wouldn’t have been effective keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists.” Still, she said, “there should be a way to get some middle ground,” on such questions. “Keeping guns away from terrorists shouldn’t be a hard push.”

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