Archive for December, 2012

Rep. John Lewis’ wife, Lillian, dies

Sad news amid the fiscal cliff madness: Lillian Miles Lewis, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, died this morning in Atlanta, his office announced. Spokeswoman Brenda Jones said John Lewis is returning to Atlanta today but had no more details to release about the cause of death.

Lewis-5

John and Lillian Lewis in 1988 (AJC file/Johnny Crawford)

The Lewises had been married 44 years. They have one son, John Miles.

From the AJC’s obit:

Lillian Lewis met her future husband when he was already a civil rights legend, and played a key role in his transition to a career in politics.

Lewis, whose father owned a small contracting business, attended Los Angeles High School with the late Johnny Cochran, received an undergraduate degree in English from California State College (now California State University) at Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in library science at the University of Southern California.

She developed a lifelong interest in Africa when she taught in a student program in …

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Your Daily Jolt: Watch the Dow on cliff day

Like energy drink-guzzling college students pulling an all-nighter, our federal lawmakers are up against the “fiscal cliff” deadline today. And who’s the man you call when you need real work to get done? Biden. Politico this morning reports Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Veep have made “major progress” toward an accord:

McConnell and Biden, who served in the Senate together for 23 years, are closing in on an agreement that would hike tax rates for families who earn more than $450,000, and individuals who make more than $400,000, according to sources familiar with talks.

The vice president and the Senate minority leader only began talking Sunday, after negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell sputtered.

Sources close to the talks said a deal is now more likely to come together but cautioned that obstacles remain, including how Speaker John Boehner and House Republican leaders react to any tentative agreement.

But both …

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Fiscal cliff action to come Sunday … maybe

Harry Reid returns to his office Friday(The New York Times/T.J. Kirkpatrick)

Harry Reid returns to his office Friday after White House meeting (The New York Times/T.J. Kirkpatrick)

The United States Senate has the ball in its hands.

This afternoon’s White House fiscal cliff summit appears to have generated some movement toward a deal, with just more than 72 hours to go. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both took the floor afterwards in an unusually conciliatory manner, pledging to work with their staffs to come up with a plan that can pass both Houses of Congress. Reid said “we’ll see what we can come up with.” McConnell said he was “hopeful and confident” that both sides will have a deal to take to their conferences shortly after 2 p.m. on Sunday. The words were noncommittal, but the tone was a vast improvement over the deep freeze of recent days.

That would likely be a short-term deal. President Barack Obama did not present a new plan at the meeting — a fact that, once leaked, caused a stock market dip — and told …

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Breaking: Ports strike averted

The Port of Savannah AJC/Brant Sanderlin

The Port of Savannah AJC/Brant Sanderlin

A threatened strike that would have shuttered all East Coast ports — including that state economic engine in Savannah — has been averted for now. This just in from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service:

FMCS Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the the United States Maritime Alliance and International Longshoremen’s Association labor negotiations:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “I am extremely pleased to announce that the parties have reached the agreements set forth below as a result of a mediation session conducted by myself and my colleague Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director for Mediation Services, on Thursday, December 27, 2012:

“The container royalty payment issue has been agreed upon in principle by the parties, subject to achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement. The parties have further agreed to an additional extension of 30 days (i.e., until midnight, January 28, 2013) …

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Your Daily Jolt: Gloom descends on D.C.

A healthy dose of humbug has hit Washington as we go hurtling over the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama and top Congressional leaders will meet at the White House this afternoon to discuss if there is a way out of the looming tax hikes and spending cuts due Jan. 1. The House returns Sunday night, with instructions to remain through the week into the new Congress — sworn in Jan. 3 — while a grouchy Senate came back Thursday evening. The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer sets the mood in a piece worth reading from start to finish, but here’s one particularly good morsel:

Amid the absurdity of an urgent, nonurgent holiday session, there was the odd hum of normalcy. Senators fulminated about espionage for hours on the Senate floor as they debated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congressional aides wore their workday best as they sped through hallways, clutching their phones. Taco Thursday continued as it does each week in the small carryout restaurant where …

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Hudgens says HB 87 bogs down insurance license renewals

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has become the latest state official to note the effect of red tape generated by H.B. 87, Georgia’s 2011 measure to address illegal immigration.

The following note from Hudgens has been posted on the agency’s website:

Due to recent legislative changes involving the Citizenship verification that is now required for all licensees at renewal, renewal processing in Georgia is backlogged and behind schedule.

Please know that the Department and its vendor are working diligently to ensure all renewals are processed before December 31st.

However if there are renewals that have been submitted and not processed by December 31st – the Department will continue processing these renewals until all have been updated.

We are asking Insurers and companies to be patient as the delay in a licensee being able to provide a copy of their new license card is not necessarily their fault at this point due to this time delay with renewal processing.

If you …

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Your Daily Jolt: Racing over the cliff

Christmas is over, but Cliffmas is still bearing down. Here’s your morning shot of reality from the good folks at Politico:

Nearly all the major players in the fiscal cliff negotiations are starting to agree on one thing: A deal is virtually impossible before the New Year.

Unlike the bank bailout in 2008, the tax deal in 2010 and the debt ceiling in 2011, the Senate almost certainly won’t swoop in and help sidestep a potential economic calamity, senior officials in both parties predicted on Wednesday.

With the country teetering on this fiscal cliff of deep spending cuts and sharp tax hikes, the philosophical differences, the shortened timetable and the political dynamics appear to be insurmountable hurdles for a bipartisan deal by New Year’s Day.

Lawmakers are starting to emerge from their egg nog break today: President Barack Obama is flying back to D.C. from Hawaii, and lands late this morning. His Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner shot up a flare Wednesday reminding …

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Johnny Isakson: ‘Why put the markets in turmoil?’

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson on Sunday declared himself willing to accept President Barack Obama’s offer of legislation to preserve middle class tax cuts as a last resort – and questioned why Congress was willing to toy with the nation’s 401(k)s.

From his appearance on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos”:

Isakson:: “I felt like the House should have gone ahead and passed Speaker Boehner’s bill, because it addressed the subject and we’d still be in negotiation. And the president’s statement is right. No one wants taxes to go up on the middle class. I don’t want them to go up on anybody. But I’m not in the majority in the United State Senate and he’s the president of the United States. If we get down to the end of this year and the only choice we have is to save taxes going up on the middle class, then I would support that.

“But I wish we would have a comprehensive bill that dealt with spending, dealt with entitlements, and dealt with taxes …

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Johnny Isakson: John Kerry ‘a good nominee’

The United States Senate likes to confirm its own, and Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s reaction to the news that Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry would be tapped for the gig of Secretary of State showed that Kerry likely will have an easy ride. Video above, here’s a key quote:

Well, John Kerry is very qualified. I have had the occasion to work with him on the Foreign Relations Committee now for four years. He’s been very active and engaged in international diplomacy, in particular the comprehensive peace agreement in the Sudan, which was successfully concluded last year. I think he would be a good nominee for the president. … I’m sure there will be questions and analysis of his career, but I think he will be confirmed.

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A programming note: With Congress taking off for Christmas — and proud we are of all of them — your Washington-based fill-in Insider will be doing the same. I expect to be back midweek for more fiscal cliffhanging.

- By Daniel …

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NRA: Put armed cops in every school

The much-anticipated National Rifle Association response to the Sandy Hook massacre has arrived. The Washington Post has the full remarks from the no-questions “press conference.” Here’s the rundown from Phil Elliott at the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON —

The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings.”

The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.

The group’s top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said at a Washington news conference that “the next Adam Lanza,” the man responsible for last week’s mayhem, is planning an attack on another school.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.

He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out.

“In a …

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