Archive for the ‘U.S. Senate’ Category

A North-South split surfaces among Republicans in Congress

To understand the depth of the Republican dilemma that continues to brew in Washington, you only needed to listen to two voices last week.

One belonged to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The primal scream he aimed at his fellow Republicans in the 112th Congress, who on their final day refused to take up a $60 billion relief bill for Hurricane Sandy victims, rumbled across the right-left spectrum of cable TV news.

Most outlets focused on Christie’s criticism of John Boehner. The House speaker was to face re-election by his GOP caucus the next day. But the New Jersey governor dropped large hints that his real target was the dominating right wing of the House GOP caucus, peopled primarily by Southern conservatives.

“New Jersey and New Yorkers are tired of being treated as second-class citizens,” Christie said. “New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw displayed last night.”

“[The bill] just could not overcome the toxic internal politics of the House …

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Your daily jolt: Isakson, Chambliss say White House will have to bargain over debt ceiling

President Barack Obama may not want to negotiate over another increase in the federal debt ceiling, but Republicans nonetheless intend to bring him to the table, Johnny Isakson said this morning, in one of his first interviews as a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Isakson was on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” and first was asked to explain his vote in favor of a fiscal cliff agreement that set tax rates – but failed to address spending. Said the Georgia senator:

”It gave certainty to American business, small business, and families on what taxes would be. It made them permanent for everybody except those at $400,000 – and $450,000 for a couple. It’s good policy to make your tax policy permanent, so there’s not uncertainty every year….

“That was the good part. The bad part is that it was done behind closed doors, between just a very few people, when the issue should have been debated before the American people. That I’m sure will happen on the debt …

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Your daily jolt: White House works grassroots to dampen Democratic talk of a ‘fiscal cliff’ leap

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, was one of a dozen or so African-American state lawmakers who gathered at the White House on Tuesday for a briefing on the “fiscal cliff” from President Barack Obama and senior aides.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus/AJC file

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus/AJC file

The 90-minute meeting, including 15 minutes with Obama in the Oval Office, focused on the costs to states if Obama and Congress are unable to come to an agreement on a debt-reduction package – and a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in.

From Smyre’s description, the meeting with the leadership of the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures was intended to encourage core Obama supporters to spread the word and tamp down any Democratic talk that jumping off the cliff isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A few liberals have agreed with Newt Gingrich that the deadline is simply a mirage. Smyre is not among them. Like U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, he believes a deal is …

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Your daily jolt: Erick Erickson passes on 2014 challenge to Saxby Chambliss

Erick Erickson, who discourses on Republican politics for both CNN and AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB, has quickly resolved any talk that he might challenge U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in 2014. From Redstate.com:

Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign. It’d actually be really awesome, but it’d be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I’m not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable pay cut in pay and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement.

On the same topic, an analysis of Chambliss’ situation by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post includes these two paragraphs:

….Chambliss is hardly Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to the tea party and the conservative base — at least not right now. Both the Club for …

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Signs that a GOP civil war may be headed Georgia’s way

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, arrives for a closed-door oversight hearing of the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this month, looking into the circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. AP/Alex Brandon

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, arrives for a closed-door oversight hearing of the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this month, looking into the circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. AP/Alex Brandon

In politics, two years is the equivalent of two eternities. But already, signs are pointing to a Republican civil war headed Georgia’s way, settling into an orbit around the 2014 re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Seven days ago, just as they were about to fire up their turkeys, Chambliss’ assessment of Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge allowed the state’s more fierce Republicans to cook their birds without an oven.

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” said Georgia’s senior senator, who has spent the past two years trying to broker a bipartisan deal in Congress to tackle a $16 trillion federal …

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Your morning jolt: Sam Olens wins speaking role at GOP convention

Attorney General Sam Olens, Mitt Romney’s top elected supporter in the state, was rewarded this morning with a speaking role at this month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

His will be the most prominent Georgia face at the four-day launching of the fall presidential campaign. Olens was one of five convention speakers announced by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Apparently intended to advertise the diversity of the GOP, they include:

Attorney General Sam Olens at the state Capitol in February. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com.

Attorney General Sam Olens at the state Capitol in February. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com.

– Pam Bondi, Florida’s first female attorney general;

– Ted Cruz, who was Texas’ first Hispanic solicitor general. Cruz just won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Consider this a nod to tea party enthusiasts;

– Luis Fortuño, the first Republican elected governor of Puerto Rico since 1969;

– And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the first U.S. governor to beat a recall election.

Olens is identified as the former chairman of the Cobb County …

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Putting the focus on cuts to Georgia’s military bases

We started the day with an item about U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss calling for one of three presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to focus on a solution to the $16 trillion federal deficit – and recommendations by the Simpson-Bowles Commission to address it.

Chambliss will have to walk a fine line in the next few days, however. My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy says the senator is about to embark on a campaign to shield Georgia from some serious mandatory defense cuts, with an eight-stop tour of military bases:

And lest anyone accuse the Republican Chambliss of politicking – he’s even inviting Democrats.

Albany Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop will join Chambliss at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and at Fort Benning in Columbus on Monday. Later in the month, Augusta Democratic Rep. John Barrow will snag some bipartisan cred in the midst of a tough election year by joining Chambliss at Fort Gordon.

The other stops will be Marietta, Warner Robins, …

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Your morning jolt: Gift-cap conversions spread, but not to everyone

Suddenly, a $100 (per day) cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers is all the rage. Ray Henry with the Associated Press describes the conversion process:

A dozen state lawmakers who recently promised to cap lobbyist spending ahead of election season did not publicly back those limits during this year’s legislative session.

By signing the pledge, General Assembly candidates commit to co-sponsoring legislation that would ban lobbyists from giving public officials gifts worth more than $100. Lobbyists can currently spend as much as they want so long as they publicly report their spending.

Eleven incumbents seeking office again have signed the pledge but did not sign on as co-sponsors of bills to cap lobbyist spending. Another incumbent who signed the pledge but declined to co-sponsor the bill is stepping down. The list of incumbents who didn’t lend their name to the measure includes Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and Sen. …

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John Lewis, Hank Johnson, Common Cause file lawsuit challenging Senate filibuster

My AJC colleague Bill Rankin has sent this copy of a just-filed federal lawsuit challenging the use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Plaintiffs include the watchdog group Common Cause and three members of the U.S. House – including Democrats John Lewis and Hank Johnson of Georgia.

Other plaintiffs include three children of illegal immigrants living in the United States, who would benefit from passage of the DREAM Act – which would allow them to gain citizenship after going through college or serving in the military. The legislation has been blocked by the Senate requirement of 60 votes to begin or end debate in the Senate.

The lead defendant named in the suit is Vice President Joe Biden, who formally presides over the Senate.

Read the suit here. A small taste:

Both political parties have used [the filibuster] when they were in the minority in the Senate to prevent legislation and appointments proposed by the opposing party from being debated or voted on by the …

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Your morning jolt: John Barrow gets a nod from the U.S. Chamber

Some interesting calculations are being made at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Republican-oriented business group is launching TV ads in U.S. Senate races in four states, and targeting 17 House contests across the country. According to the Associated Press, the multi-million dollar buy hits Democratic incumbents over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and the administration’s energy policies.

The only Democrat getting a boost from the chamber is U.S. Rep. John Barrow, now of Augusta:

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Speaking of the endangered political center, after his defeat last night, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., issued two statements. One was a dab of pablum that thanked Indiana voters, etc. The other amounted to an indictment of a polarized political process. From the Evansville, Ind., Courier Press:

The truth is that the headwinds in this race were abundantly apparent long before Richard Mourdock announced his candidacy. One does not highlight such headwinds publically when …

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