Senates marathon Keystone debate ends in anger

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

KEYSTONE SESSION ENDS IN ANGER — But Senate shatters 2014 amendment number — Moderates flex muscle in House — IRAN CAUSES GOP RIFT.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to end debate around midnight, after a seemingly endless series of votes and quorum calls that left Democrats fuming.On Thursday — just three weeks into the new year — the chamber is set to surpass last year’s total of 15 amendment votes, thanks to a flurry of voting centered almost entirely on the Keystone XL pipeline.Even before President Obama arrived at the Capitol on Tuesday to deliver his State of the Union address, Republicans were making clear that the 6,600-word speech would have little impact on what Congress does in the year ahead. “With all due respect to him, he doesn’t set the agenda in the Senate,” Sen.

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late Thursday left Democrats angry and sputtering on the Senate floor, as he used his new power as majority leader to brush off several Democratic amendments in an effort to speed up work on a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline. We just cast our 15th roll call vote on an amendment on this bill, which is more votes — more roll call votes on amendments than the entire United States Senate [did] in all of 2014,” he said. Republicans were able to dismiss Obama’s proposals, knowing that few will ever gain congressional approval with the GOP holding majorities in both the House and Senate.

Jentleson and several other Democratic aides suggested that McConnell might have acted to let the Senate GOP’s trio of expected White House hopefuls, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, make their way to the conference. That rejection is the price Obama will pay for losing the Democratic majority in the Senate, which for the past six years served as the main battleground for the president’s initiatives.

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart countered that the GOP had offered to hold a series of Keystone votes on Friday but that Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois had objected. The Hill’s Laura Barron-Lopez: “Democrats questioned if the speedy nighttime session to get through amendments had something to do with the conference in California sponsored by the Freedom Partners, a conservative group tied to mega-donors Charles and David Koch. ‘Senator McConnell’s rush to vote on amendments without providing time to read or debate them could have something to do with this Koch retreat tomorrow, which a number of Republican senators are reportedly attending,’ Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. @StewSays (Don Stewart, a top McConnell aide): Summary: Sen.McConnell asked consent to vote on remaining pending amendments Friday; Democrats objected; next votes will be on Monday.

Now, the best Obama can hope for in regard to his big-ticket proposals is that his Democratic allies figure out a way to offer his ideas as amendments to Republican bills. Hatch (R-Utah), disparaged the president’s tax proposals — a new tax on the largest financial institutions and on the wealthy claiming capital gains, and a new two-year plan for free community-college tuition — as a pipe dream. “Sadly, it doesn’t appear that President Obama gets it. Remember, the GOP House majority is bigger than it’s been since the ‘40s, and that means Republicans have extended their reach far beyond conservative bastions in the South and West. The new majority leader’s vow to hold open debate on Keystone has at times put his own members in politically perilous situations – such as a Wednesday vote on accepting humans’ role in climate change that fell just one senator short – yet Republicans have offered nothing but praise so far for the change. “After yrs [sic] of dysfunction, it’s good to see us finally getting to work, having open debate … And allowing senators from both sides the chance to offer ideas and shape policy,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ top message man, said the focus for now is on relevant amendments but, eventually, they may turn to non-germane amendments.

Chamber of Commerce. “The tax hikes he’s proposing would be particularly damaging.” On foreign affairs, Republicans hope to flex their new muscle quickly. But the political pendulum has swung closer to the center, and now, everyday members of the House Republican Conference are regaining their voice and willing to criticize their leadership for catering almost exclusively to conservatives. Asked recently about whether Democrats may offer amendments on proposals like raising the minimum wage and encouraging pay equity between men and women, Schumer responded: “You will see those.” “There will certainly be times when we do non-relevant amendments, since we believe almost everything can be seen through the prism: We’re helping average Americans,” Schumer said.

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday he still wants to push a tougher sanctions bill against Iran in the next few weeks and is still advancing a plan that would force Obama to get congressional sign-off on a possible nuclear deal with Tehran before Secretary of State John F. And this week, moderates forced the leadership into a deeply uncomfortable situation, pulling Congress into an unwanted discussion about rape and abortion.” Who are these folks? “Rather than trying to appease conservatives by pursuing bills that have little hope of becoming law, GOP leaders, who have had their own battles with the party’s right flank, suddenly find themselves with a faction of vocal Republican lawmakers who say they are interested in scoring legislative victories rather than political points. ‘I’m a practical Republican,’ said Rep.

Tom MacArthur, a newly elected lawmaker from New Jersey who voted against the Dreamer-deportation measure and raised concerns about the antiabortion bill, despite his opposition to abortion.” LAT’S Lisa Mascaro: DRESSED DOWN BY BROWN – My favorite moment of the week was riding the subway with Sen. Last year, red state Democrats up for reelection balked at votes on divisive energy, health-care and social issues that Republicans were pushing in a rash of unrelated amendments to bills.

Obama’s speech and GOP reaction were not as confrontational as in some past years, and the two sides have tried to signal some areas that could produce some modest gains. The Republican leaders paid close attention to Obama’s remarks about trade legislation, an issue with widespread support among GOP lawmakers but not among Democrats, who largely tilt against it because of concerns that such pacts hurt their union allies. “Let’s hope the president talks about that tonight and does more than just talk about it, but this time actually goes to his caucus, goes to the Democrats, talks about the importance of this, to get this economy truly moving,” said Sen. The Ohio Democrat was in a punchy mood as we chatted about tax policy. “When you think tax reform in this place, where everybody’s paid well and dresses well,” he said, pausing to look at me. “Well, you guys aren’t paid well and you don’t dress that well either.” Luckily, riding in the car with us was a Republican aide that noted my new(ish) haircut. “The haircut looks great,” Brown admitted, eyeing me further. “But the tie?” ** Manufacturing jobs in 25 U.S. states contribute to an iconic car assembled in Michigan. The process led to some sharp debate on Twitter, as Democrats argued that McConnell’s tactics showed he wasn’t serious about an open amendment process.

Clarie McCaskill (D-Mo.) complained that McConnell was only interested in killing Democratic amendments, and wasn’t giving Democrats even one minute to speak about their proposals. Welcome to the Huddle, your play-by-play guide to everything Capitol Hill, where this Terp is beginning to develop strong feelings toward the state of Indiana. By the end of this month, the Senate is likely to pass the legislation in the face of a veto threat by Obama, who has said that federal studies about environmental safety should continue before a final plan is approved. McConnell just denied Markey chance to speak.” Earlier in the debate, Durbin asked why the Senate couldn’t come back into session on Friday morning and handle all the amendments. REMEMBERING WENDELL FORD: The former Kentucky senator and Democratic whip died early Thursday. “Ford held elective office for 33 years — the last 24 of them as a U.S. senator — and was the only Kentuckian ever to win election to consecutive terms as lieutenant governor, governor and senator.

To many Democrats, Ford was the most popular, effective and enduring politician the state party had produced in the last half century, and many sought his blessing and support before launching their own political campaigns.” Courier-Journal: McConnell floor speech: “Wendell Ford first came to the Senate in the 1970s, calling himself just ‘a dumb country boy with dirt between his toes.’ But, over a distinguished two-decade career, this workhorse of the Senate would prove he was anything but.” THE DEFINITIVE PRE-SURGERY REID STORY: Written by Manu Raju, naturally. “Harry Reid doesn’t particularly like long phone calls. They were allowed to offer two amendments to the Keystone bill — one to guarantee oil coming through the pipeline would be sold inside U.S. borders and another to guarantee that the pipeline is built with U.S. steel.

But in the aftermath of a grisly New Year’s Day exercise accident, which gave him four broken ribs and may leave him permanently blind in one eye, the 75-year-old Nevada Democrat has been burning up the phones with up to 50 calls per day, trying to make clear that he’s still in charge. He may be keeping largely out of the public eye, but his conversations with other senators, President Barack Obama and prominent Democratic players have shown he’s not yielding any of his power during his convalescence.” McCAUL, SESSIONS TRY TO SQUASH BEEF: But it didn’t really seem to work, reports Roll Call’s Matt Fuller. The amendments forced an uncomfortable vote upon a crop of Republicans facing potentially difficult reelections in 2016 on an issue that could do them political harm.

Mike McCaul’s border security bill, and the readouts from the two Republicans suggest all is not resolved. ‘I don’t think he had anything very specific with respect to my bill,’ [McCaul said]. ‘If you look at his seven issues, they’re really all in the judiciary lane.’ In a phone interview with CQ Roll Call later Thursday, however, Sen. Sessions adamantly disagreed with that characterization.” It’s probably moot: The administration hates the McCaul bill anyway, reports Seung Min Kim. Still, as Republicans made clear Tuesday, it’s not the same leverage that he enjoyed his first six years in office. “The American people have spoken,” McConnell said. “They’ve decided they want both parties to have some lever of power here in Congress, and I think they expect us to sort out the things that we can agree on and try to make some bipartisan progress.” Xavier Becerra, on the other hand, is so serious he’s rating his own seriousness, reports Anna Palmer. “‘One to 10, 10 being serious, 10,’ said Becerra when asked how seriously he was considering launching a campaign.” Less forthcoming: Former L.A. Conference of Mayors, reports McClatchy’s Curtis Tate. ““So I have an important announcement to make: The dessert will be served in just a moment.” IT WASN’T A HACK: Senate friends, wondering why your email went out on Wednesday night?

The Sergeant At Arms says “ a network router experienced a hardware failure.” THURSDAY’s TRIVIA WINNER – Claude Mark was the first to answer that California Sen. TODAY’S TRIVIA – Claude has today’s question: Name the Supreme Court Justice that served two separate stints, one as associate Justice and one as Chief. Just enter your email address where it says “Sign Up.” ** The all-new Mustang is just another reason that Ford is a top U.S. exporter of vehicles. Leading economic groups from across the political spectrum, including the Peterson Institute and the Laffer Center, agree that currency manipulation by other countries is hurting America’s competitiveness.

That’s why the U.S. must secure strong and enforceable rules prohibiting currency manipulation in Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and all future trade deals.

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