Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate and a close ally of pro-Israel advocacy groups, today announced that he would back Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary.
Schumer's decision is a major boost for Hagel, who has come under criticism from pro-Israel groups concerned by his comments on Israel, including a past reference to a "Jewish lobby," and suggestion that he would not support a military strike to keep Iran from a nuclear weapon. Hagel is a former Republican senator whose nomination was greeted with skepticism on both sides of the aisle, and he is in the process of meeting with senators in an effort to persuade them to vote to confirm him.
Hagel: Meetings with senators "doing well"
"Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation," Schumer said today. "I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him."Continue »
House Speaker John Boehner's big idea for a backup "Plan B" exploded Thursday night when, after days of wrangling with his own troops, he realized he didn't have enough votes to pass the tax cut part of his plan. With four days until Christmas and 11 until the effects of the "fiscal cliff" begin the big question today is: what happens now?
Obama and Boehner to talk?
Boehner sent House Republicans home for Christmas after last night's legislative collapse, ensuring nothing will be passed until Dec. 27 at the earliest, when members are due back in town. That leaves Boehner and President Obama to keep negotiating - something that ground to a halt after Boehner announced he was moving forward with his "Plan B" earlier in the week.
But the two are at a stalemate, even though they're not that far apart in their proposals. In their most recent offers, Mr. Obama was offering $1.2 trillion in revenue and $800 billion in spending cuts; Boehner was offering $1 trillion in revenue and $1 trillion in spending cuts. Also, the president agreed to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire on those making over $400,000; Boehner is supporting a $1 million threshold, to the consternation of some in his party who don't want anyone's taxes to go up.
- Boehner: It's now up to Democrats to fix "fiscal cliff"
- House GOP pulls "Plan B" as fiscal cliff looms
The president is hoping to get to Hawaii for Christmas - he was planning on leaving town today but without a "fiscal cliff" deal, it's unclear whether he'll get to the Aloha State at all for the holiday. Meantime, Boehner wakes up today with the realization that he has a seemingly irreparable schism within his own ranks: there are just enough Republicans who refuse to budge on taxes and are demanding more spending cuts, especially on entitlement programs such as Medicare, therefore gumming up the works for any progress Boehner wants to make on the "fiscal cliff".
Ultimately, negotiations between the president and Boehner might be over, especially since it's clear to all parties after last night that Boehner doesn't have the votes to get any compromise through the House.
Obama and Reid to offer a solution?
Boehner seemed to throw up his hands after calling off the "Plan B" vote Thursday night saying the solution to averting the "cliff" is in the hands of Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner said Thursday night in a written statement. "The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt. The Senate must now act."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement tonight: "The President's main priority is to ensure that taxes don't go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days. The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy."
The Senate is in session today before recessing until Dec. 27; both the president and Reid will attend a memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, so action between the two, if any, would begin this afternoon at the earliest.
Over the "cliff"?
The only way to reach a deal may be to let the nation go over the "cliff." When that happens, the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts will mean that taxes on nearly all Americans will go up. That fact would seem to make it easier for House Republicans to back a "fiscal cliff" deal, since they would be voting for a tax cut, not a tax hike.
But going over the "cliff" could have significant consequences. To be clear, the "cliff" is actually more of a slope: The $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts are phased in over a decade - it's not the immediate punch to the cut that "cliff" implies - and there are budgetary maneuvers that can at least somewhat soften the blow of both the tax hikes and spending cuts. But going over the "cliff" could spook the markets and once again shake world perceptions of the ability of the U.S. government to function effectively. And if a deal is not reached relatively soon after the deadlilne, the $500 billion in tax hikes and $200 billion in spending cuts in the first year will likely start pushing the nation back into recession.
How will the markets react?
Many eyes will be on Wall Street to see how it reacts to the growing realization that the over the "fiscal cliff" scenario may be closer to reality than anyone hoped.
Things were not looking up early this morning: Asian markets across the board closed slightly down for the day after news of the "Plan B" withdrawal broke.
President Obama told employees at Daimler's Detroit Diesel in Redford, Mich., today that lawmakers shouldn't be trying "to take away your right to bargain for better wages."
The comment prompted sustained applause from the largely supportive audience, and came just one day before Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is likely to sign so-called right-to-work legislation in the face of union protest.
"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have anything to do with economics, they have to do with politics," continued Mr. Obama, who assailed the laws as being about the "right to work for less money."Continue »
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did not respond kindly when asked about reports he urged former New York senator and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a run to succeed him.
"Why do you think I encouraged Hillary Clinton to run for mayor? I mean, were you, did you hear me say that?" he told a reporter, as CBS New York reported. Bloomberg did not directly confirm or deny that he had urged Clinton to jump into the mayor's race.
Updated 1:11 p.m. Eastern Time
Former President George H.W. Bush has been in the hospital for one week battling a "chronic cough," his chief of staff told the Houston Chronicle, which reports that the president's condition has "drawn concern."
"President Bush is in the hospital," his chief of staff, Jean Becker, told the newspaper. "We have kept this quiet out of respect for him."
Bush Family Spokesperson Jim McGrath told CBS News that the former president "had bronchitis, but they were able to cure that."
"He's still in the hospital with a lingering cough," said McGrath. "This is just a precautionary measure. Very hopeful he'll be out by the weekend. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston the day after Thanksgiving."Continue »
Updated 10:31 a.m. ET Tuesday
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice is meeting with senators on Capitol Hill today to answer questions about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya. Her appearance will include a morning meeting with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who have been among her biggest critics since her initial remarks on the attack.Continue »
Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter wrote Tuesday that the media had it all wrong in its reporting on his comments on how the national health care law known widely as "Obamacare" will negatively impact his business.
"Many in the media reported that I said Papa John's is going to close stores and cut jobs because of Obamacare," he wrote in the Huffington Post. "I never said that. The fact is we are going to open over hundreds of stores this year and next and increase employment by over 5,000 jobs worldwide. And, we have no plans to cut team hours as a result of the Affordable Care Act."
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is suggesting that he may move to eliminate same-day voter registration in Wisconsin, a high-turnout state that has allowed citizens to register to vote on Election Day since 1976.
As the Associated Press reported, Walker gave a speech in which he said same-day registration is problematic because volunteer poll workers struggle to handle the same-day registrations.
Following an exchange on Twitter with a self-described "Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism," Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker plans to live off food stamps for one week.
Booker's office did not immediately confirm the plans to CBS News. But this afternoon, the mayor was tweeting his plans to go forward with a week-long "food stamp challenge."Continue »
In this highly politicized day and age, even a Twinkie can turn into a political football.
When Hostess announced it was going out of business, citing a labor strike that limited production and distribution of the company's products, a conservative group called Americans for Limited Government was quick to pin the blame.
The group said in a press release that "you can almost hear the union bosses...gleefully celebrating the destruction of one of America's most enduring brands." That claim came despite the fact that these "union bosses" are presumably among the 18,500 workers who are being laid off from the company.Continue »
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