114th Congress

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  • Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist and the viral nature of social media to stage a dramatic sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his fellow Democrats to force a vote on gun control.
  • Leading U.S. Senate Democrats are discussing how to revive a push for legislation imposing additional gun controls in the wake of last weekend's mass shooting in Florida, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide on Monday. The aide did not provide details and senators, who have been on a weekend recess, will be back on Tuesday.
  • As Republicans and Democrats gird for a showdown over when and with whom to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the political question is which party will benefit from the battle. If a new survey is any indication, Republicans could end up sacrificing seats in the Senate if they refuse to allow a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee until after the elections in November.
  • A new CBS News poll out this morning finds that Donald Trump continues to dominate among Republican voters nationally: He’s backed by 35 percent; Ted Cruz has 18 percent; and Marco-Mentum has 12 percent. There was a great deal of excitement about yesterday’s NBC poll finding Trump had slipped behind Cruz, but that now looks like it may have been an outlier.
  • President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a historic visit to Cuba next month, speeding up the thaw in relations between the two Cold War former foes but igniting opposition from Republicans at home. In the first U.S. presidential trip to the Caribbean nation in nearly 90 years, Obama will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, entrepreneurs, and "Cubans from different walks of life" during the trip on March 21 and 22, the White House said.
  • Concerted Republican opposition to considering President Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court showed early signs of splintering on Wednesday as a handful of influential senators opened the door to a possible confirmation hearing. One Republican even suggested the president should nominate a candidate from his state. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, did not rule out a committee hearing on Obama's forthcoming nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. And Sen. Dean Heller said chances of Senate approval were slim, but added that Obama should "use this opportunity to put the will of the people ahead of advancing a liberal agenda" on the high court.
  • Thirty-three minutes after the San Antonio Express-News reported the death of Antonin Scalia, I emailed several conservative consultants involved in past Supreme Court fights: “Can Obama get a replacement confirmed?” The first reply came nine minutes later: “Absolutely not,” the GOP operative replied. “We won’t let them vote.”
  • In an unprecedented move, the $4.1 trillion budget will not receive even a formal hearing from the Republican controlled House and Senate budget committees.
  • Senate Republicans don’t even have a concrete proposal to speed the chamber’s glacial pace, but it’s already clear that partisan divisions and chamber traditions will make it very difficult to transform the Senate’s arcane rules and increase productivity.
  • They’ve tried to repeal it over 50 times. Now they’ve finally managed to get a real Bill to his desk. And they’re so proud of themselves:
  • President Obama called it "a Christmas miracle. A bipartisan bill signing right here." The "right here" was the South Court Auditorium, part of the White House complex. More importantly, the bipartisan bill being signed was the Every Student Succeeds Act — a long-overdue replacement of the unpopular federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
  • Democrats will launch an aggressive push on gun control this week, starting with a procedural move aimed at forcing the House to vote on legislation to stop individuals on a government no-fly list from buying weapons. California Rep. Mike Thompson will introduce a discharge petition Monday that Democrats hope can gather enough support to compel Republican leaders to schedule a gun control vote in response to a series of deadly shootings nationwide, including in San Bernardino, Calif. last week.
  • Senate Democrats will hold a special caucus meeting on Thursday to hash out their end-of-year strategy, a senior Democratic aide told POLITICO. The discussion, which will be held before a bipartisan Senate lunch, will focus on how to handle pending tax legislation and the Dec. 11 deadline for passing an omnibus spending bill.
  • It’s all too common today to portray regular Americans as the victims of dysfunctional politicians. It’s certainly true that in recent years those in public office seem unable to make the combination of tough choices and difficult compromises necessary for our government to function. But elected decision makers don’t operate in a vacuum; they’re not self-selected autonomous actors who willfully refuse to work together as matters of personal choice or political temperament.
  • For nearly the entirety of its five-year existence, the Affordable Care Act has been, in the eyes of most Republicans, the unfixable law. Repeal was the goal; gutting it was the only acceptable alternative. And for Democrats, it has been untouchable—a defining achievement of President Obama to be defended at all costs, not only against repeal but against any Trojan-horse attempts to dismantle it. With few exceptions, that political dynamic has served to stifle just about any good-faith effort to bolster the law that reshaped the health-insurance market in the United States. The King v.
  • Striving to end a cycle of crisis, congressional leaders and the White House united Tuesday behind an ambitious budget and debt deal aimed at restoring a semblance of order to Capitol Hill and ending the threat of government shutdowns until well after a new president takes office. The outgoing House speaker, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, prepared to push the deal through his unruly chamber on Wednesday as his last act before departing Congress at the end of the week.
  • The reviews of Hillary Clinton's Thursday testimony before the House Benghazi committee are in: It was not the success that Republicans had hoped for. Slate's Will Saletan called the 11-hour spectacle "a self-destructive, partisan embarrassment for the GOP." Vox's Jon Allen dubbed it Clinton's "best campaign ad yet." A number of conservative pundits acknowledged that the hearing, officially about investigating Benghazi but clearly in fact an effort to politically wound Clinton, was a disaster that ended up helping Clinton and blowing up in Republicans' faces.
  • It’s a good bet that Thursday will be the climax for the House select committee on Benghazi. After almost 18 months and dozens of hearings, the committee interviews Hillary Clinton on Thursday, in a marathon public hearing expected to last eight to 10 hours. Whether you regard the hearings as an essential inquiry or a political farce, Clinton’s testimony was always going to be the main event. Several separate investigations have already considered the September 11, 2012, attacks in Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Most of the big questions have largely been answered. Yes, the State Department that Clinton led should have done more to protect personnel in Libya; but, no, there’s no evidence thus far of any criminal negligence.
  • The news cycle that will follow Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Capitol Hill is entirely predictable. Instead of getting any closer to the truths about Benghazi or Clinton’s homebrew spy-friendly email system or the obvious conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, we’ll be treated to tiresome and politically ineffective theater from the Clinton cheer squad and hapless Republicans who don’t understand Hillary Rules.
  • Hillary Clinton is set to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi this Thursday, her first confrontation with congressional Republicans since she announced her presidential bid earlier this year. This face-off has been brewing all year. Republicans had initially viewed dragging Clinton before the committee as a prime opportunity to tar her as a scandal-ridden politician. But with the hearing date approaching, Clinton seems more eager than ever to square off against Congress, with the candidate and her surrogates regularly attacking the committee as a waste of taxpayer funds ($4.5 million and counting) designed solely to derail her campaign.