On CBS' "The Early Show" this morning, the newly-minted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reiterated the GOP's priority to repeal health care reform as one of its first congressional acts, arguing that the bill is a "job killer" and that it is costing the American people "over $1 trillion."
"Republicans are committed to cutting spending every single day here in this Congress. And we're also committed to cutting the job killing regulations that have accompanied the health care bill and many others," Cantor told "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill. "Next week, what we'll see on the floor is a bill to repeal the health care bill. It's important, I think, to remember that most Americans don't like the health care bill."
Cantor also disputed the claim, put forth by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that the health care reform bill passed by Congress last year will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion, calling the figure "budget gimmickry. "
"I think what we do know is the health care bill costs over $1 trillion," Cantor told Hill. "And we know it was full of budget gimmickry. And it spends money we don't have in this country."Continue »
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, may be considering a 2012 presidential bid - a possibility that her chief of staff confirms is not "off the table," according to ABC News.
In recent weeks, speculation swirled around the possibility that the Minnesota congresswoman might challenge the state's Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, for her seat in 2012.
Now, amid reports that Bachmann has set a number of public appearances and private meetings in Iowa - a key primary state and popular first stop for prospective presidential candidates - it appears that the conservative Republican may have set her sights on higher ground.
Bachmann's office confirmed to CBS News that she is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at a Jan. 21 fundraiser for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC, and ABC reports that she has set up meetings with GOP political operatives around the state to hash out the possibility of a presidential bid.
Tickets to the fundraiser cost $25 per person or $40 per couple, but guests can also upgrade to "watchdog" ($250) or honorary "host" status ($1,000). The Iowans for Tax Relief PAC, which will benefit from the donations, works "to elect pro-taxpayer Iowa Legislators," as the invitation states.Continue »
On CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged" on Tuesday, five-term Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn defended GOP efforts to repeal health care reform, calling it something "we have to do."
"Our constituents tell us this is a job killer," Blackburn told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes. "They also want us to focus on reducing what the government spends - reducing the size of the federal government and putting the American people back to work."
House Republicans announced on Monday a vote to repeal health care reform legislation next Wednesday. While actual repeal is unlikely, the vote will show the GOP base that Republicans are at least trying to follow through on their campaign promises to repeal what they derisively call "Obamacare." (While the necessary votes may be there to pass a repeal in the House, the effort has almost no chance of getting through the Senate, which the Democrats still control.)
Blackburn dismissed the notion that voters might object to the elimination of some of health care reform's more popular provisions, among them the rule that young adults can stay on their parents' health care plans through age 26 and the expansion of drug coverage to millions of senior citizens.
"What they're doing is picking out a couple provisions where there was agreement on moving forward," Blackburn said. "What we're going to do is replace that bill with something that is going to be more focused on the doctor-patient relationship, more business-friendly for employers and employees."Continue »
In a news conference on Tuesday, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood by House Democrats' performance over the last two years, stating flatly: "We have no regrets." Pelosi said that responsibility for unmet goals during the last Congress lie at the feet Republican senators.
Responding to a question about whether she was concerned about Congress's ability to address job creation and the national debt, Pelosi said House Democrats had done everything in their power to move forward on those issues.
"We in the House of Representatives have on any number of occasions sent very positive paid-for jobs initiatives to the United States Senate, where they were held up by Republicans in the Senate," Pelosi told reporters. "So, no, we have no regrets."Continue »
Ron Klain, Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden, will be leaving his post at the end of January, the White House confirmed today.
Klain, a longtime adviser to Biden and the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore, will leave to serve as the president of Case Holdings, the parent company of AOL co-founder and former chairman Steve Case's investment company.
Klain will help oversee Revolution LLC, a Case Holdings investment firm, which has interests in companies like Zipcar and Everyday Health, a provider of Internet-based health services. Klain previously worked with Case as Executive Vice President and general counsel of Revolution LLC from 2005-2008, but left the position to join the Obama administration.
The Washington Post reports that Klain will also assist Case and his wife in the administration of the Case Foundation, which invests in people, nonprofits, and social enterprises geared toward philanthropy and community projects.Continue »
"I personally feel and I think others still feel like, even after what happened in the last election, we're still not being heard," Shuler, a moderate Democrat, told Roll Call. "The American people heard it. That's for sure. ... We think we represent the masses."
Shuler also said he was "aware of others who are going to be casting their vote" for him over Pelosi in the Wednesday vote, though he declined to target the possible number of Pelosi defections.
Shuler, a member of the Blue Dog caucus of relatively conservative Democrats, has been an outspoken critic of Pelosi in the weeks since November's midterm elections, largely blaming the outgoing speaker for heavy losses sustained by the Democratic party - losses which were particularly heavy among Democrats in more conservative districts.Continue »
Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to incoming John Boehner aides on Tuesday, Politico reports, in a move seemingly designed to emphasize the imminent speaker's commitment to constitutional reverence.
According to Politico, incoming House Speaker Boehner specifically requested that Roberts preside over the ceremony, which will take place a day before the rest of Congress's 435 members are sworn in on January 5, 2011, Congress's first day in session.
The event, which is largely symbolic -- aides routinely sign off on a commitment to support the Constitution in employment paperwork -- will be private and closed to the press.
"As Boehner said on election night, this isn't a time for celebration; it's a time for focus, commitment, and tough choices. The challenges that lie ahead for our nation demand a serious approach," a Boehner aide told Politico. "Having the highest judicial officer in the country administer the oath underscores our commitment to listen to the American people and honor the Constitution."Continue »
Tickets for the Jan. 4 event reportedly sold for $2,500 a pop, and the singer LeAnn Rimes is scheduled to perform for the guests. Interested parties were also invited to become a "Platinum Sponsor" - for $50,000. (The "Platinum Sponsor" package apparently includes eight tickets to the event, a "VIP lunch," and a "VIP suite" at the W.)
The group hosting the party is a recently-formed joint fundraising committee called "America's New Majority," which, according to the event's invitation, is "authorized and composed of" 13 political campaign organizations. (According to the website "Political Party Time," a project of the nonpartisan government transparency group the Sunlight Foundation, Rep.-elect Jeff Denham, R-Calif., appears to have founded the committee.)Continue »
A letter has been signed by every returning Democratic senator urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to push for filibuster reform in the New Congress, National Journal reports.
The letter, which was circulated by senators Carl Levin of Michigan and Mark Warner of Virginia, "expresses general frustration with what Democrats consider unprecedented obstruction [on the part of Republicans] and asks Reid to take steps to end those abuses," according to National Journal.
The letter does not outline a specific change to current filibuster rule, which allows Republicans to block legislation (1) by requiring 60 votes for passage, not a simple majority, and (2) slow down debate on even largely non-controversial issues, essentially killing them since the Senate often does not have time to spend to get to a vote.
Though filibuster reform remains a long shot, the Democratic senators hope the letter bolsters its chances for gaining steam in the next Congressional session.
"Hopefully that gives [Reid] the juice he needs to negotiate reasonable changes so we can stop the abuses next year," said Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.Continue »
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, President Obama celebrated the unexpectedly productive lame duck session of Congress, calling it evidence that "we are not doomed to endless gridlock." He also cast the 2010 lame duck session as "the most productive post-election period in decades."
"I think it's fair to say that this has been the most productive post election period we've had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we've had in generations," Mr. Obama told reporters shortly before leaving for a vacation in Hawaii.
Pointing to a newly-ratified arms deal with Russia, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the comprehensive tax compromise, and a 9/11 health bill that today cleared the Senate, Mr. Obama stressed that Congress had overcome partisan politics to work together.
"A lot of folks in this town predicted that after the midterm elections, Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock," Mr. Obama said. "And instead this has been a season of progress for the American people."Continue »
Updated 5:53 p.m. Eastern Time
In what is likely its last act before a new Congress takes over in January, Congress on Wednesday approved a $4.2 billion bill to provide health care and compensation for first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The bill was worked out in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats Wednesday morning, passed through the Senate in the early afternoon, and then passed the House in the late afternoon. It will now head to the president's desk for signature.
The House vote was 206-60. President Obama has vowed to sign the bill.
"Our Christmas miracle has arrived," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, flanked by Senate Majority Harry Reid and New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer.
"Today is an amazing day," added Schumer, who sponsored the bill with Gillibrand. "It's a great day, of course, for those who are ill. Now at least they know they'll be taken care of. It's a great day for New York and New Jersey, because we were the ones hit. And America rose to the occasion. But most of all, beyond any of the amazing individual stories that brings tears to our eyes, this is a great day for America."
Money from the bill will go for health care as well as wage and other economic losses for sickened workers and survivors of the attack, as well as local residents.
The bill, entitled the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, originally called for a ten-year, $7.4 billion compensation package for Americans who became ill as a result of their work on the scene of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.
Updated: 2:10PM ET
A group of approximately 50 9/11 first responders was turned away from Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's office on Tuesday night, the liberal blog ThinkProgress reports, after making a last-ditch effort to personally lobby the senator on behalf of a health care bill for 9/11 first responders.
The group, led by first responder John Feal, traveled to Coburn's office from New York and waited outside of his office for approximately 20 minutes before being denied a meeting and asked to leave, according to ThinkProgress .
A video shows the responders waiting quietly and holding up signs outside of Coburn's office. On the way out, after having been asked to leave, the group breaks into a chorus of "God Bless America" while exiting the Russell Senate office building.
Coburn this week said he would block the bill, entitled the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide health care benefits for Americans who became ill as a result of their work on the scene of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.Continue »
Rahm Emanuel, who in October resigned from his post as White House Chief of Staff to run for Mayor of Chicago, currently leads in that contest by more than 30 points, according to a new automated poll conducted by Illinois-based polling company We Ask America for the Chicago Retail Merchants Association.
The poll shows Emanuel leading every demographic, with 43.83 percent support overall. Gery Chico comes in a distant second with 11 percent support, and Carol Moseley Braun follows with 7.78 percent. About sixteen percent of voters said they were still undecided.
The survey suggests that Emanuel, who represented Illinois' Fifth District for six years before leaving Congress for the White House in 2009, has widened his lead by about five points since November.
Despite what appears to be a comfortable lead in the race, however, Emanuel's eligibility to run remains up in the air amid a number of challenges to the legitimacy of his Chicago residency.Continue »
In a last-ditch effort to block the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last night reportedly filed an amendment to a sweeping defense bill that would likely have prevented or delayed the repeal's implementation, Politico reports.
The amendment, which was filed to the broad defense authorization bill, would have required four military service chiefs to actively take part in the certification process that must take place before repeal goes into effect. That would have put Marine Corps chief General James Amos, who strongly opposes repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in a position to delay or block implementation.
Currently, the repeal requires the certification of President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen.
"It was a McConnell proposal," a GOP aide confirmed to Politico. "There was an attempted to get unanimous consent for it to be included in the defense bill and someone objected."Continue »
Stewart last week devoted a nine-minute segment of his Comedy Central program, "The Daily Show," to lambasting Congressional opponents of the Zadroga bill, which would provide health care coverage to first responders at the September 11, 2001 attacks on NYC's World Trade Center.
Some subsequently credited Stewart with helping a long-stalled piece of legislation get a second life.
"If there's the ability for that to sort of break through in our political environment, there's a good chance that he can help do that," Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday. "I think he has put the awareness around this legislation. He's put that awareness into what you guys cover each day, and I think that's good."Continue »