Today in Washington, D.C. – Dec. 27, 2012
Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, will resign her post, none too soon, ending a 4-year stint of creating burdensome regulations. Jackson is stepping down in the wake of a secret email account that she used and kept secret from government oversight. Jackson will step down after the State of the Union address in January.
The AP is reporting that President Obama is expected in Washington today. The President left his vacation in Hawaii so he could return to negotiations over the impending “fiscal cliff.” US Today reported, “House Republican leaders told lawmakers to return to Washington on Sunday, setting the stage for a dramatic final act in this Congress to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff.”
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., offered a pessimistic outlook for the chances of sending President Obama legislation before Dec. 31 to avert the budgetary collision of tax hikes and spending cuts that threaten the U.S. economic recovery.” . . . “”I actually think there’s still a chance to get something done,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told MSNBC. Asked why he was optimistic, Cole said, “Well, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, there’s so much manure around here there’s got to be a pony someplace.”
However, the House met for 9 minutes today and then adorned until Dec. 31. The House received a notice from the Senate that the Senate passed H.R. 1339, without amendment; passed H.R. 4212, with an amendment; passed H.R. 5859, without amendment; passed H.R. 6364, with an amendment; passed S. 3709; and passed H.R. 1845, without amendment.
The Senate reconvened this morning and began consideration of H.R. 5949, the FISA reauthorization bill. Following up to 7 hours of debate, the Senate will consider and vote on four amendments to the bill, with each requiring a 60-vote threshold for adoption. The Senate will then vote on final passage of H.R. 5949. It’s likely votes won’t begin until 5:30 PM. Also, the Senate could also return today to H.R. 1, the pork filled vehicle for a supplemental appropriations bill for relief from Hurricane Sandy.
Last Friday, The Wall Street Journal editors looked at the state of the fiscal cliff negotiations and called out President “Obama’s failure to negotiate seriously.” They wrote that the “failure to govern also owes much to President Obama’s failure to negotiate with any degree of seriousness. If Washington now goes off the tax cliff, Mr. Obama may not enjoy the plunge as much as some of his partisans believe.”
Noting the problems House Speaker John Boehner has had getting the president and Democrats to make serious offers, the WSJ editors write, “The Speaker’s miscalculation was that, just as in 2011, he thought he could get into a room with the President and negotiate a grand bargain. His intentions were good but he misjudged the all-or-nothing ideological nature of this Presidency. After the debacle of 2011, Mr. Obama could have treated the negotiations as the art of the bipartisan deal that could set the stage for immigration reform and other second-term achievements. Flush with victory, he could have at least made a gesture on entitlements. Instead, he has treated the talks as an extension of the election campaign, traveling around the country at rally-style events at which he berates Republicans for not accepting his terms of surrender.”
Democrats have spent a lot of time claiming that it’s up to the House to produce a bill, but of course it takes both houses of Congress to pass a law and Senate Democrats have been happy to do nothing and point fingers instead.
The Hill reported yesterday, “House Republican leaders promised Wednesday that the lower chamber would consider any measures to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff,’ but first the Senate must pass something for their consideration. . . . The Republican leaders pointed to a pair of bills passed by the House earlier this year, which would extend all the Bush-era tax rates across income levels as well as replace immediate defense cuts with cuts elsewhere, as options for the Senate to consider. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Senate Democrats have already ruled out this approach.”
But with Democrats offering nothing, it’s hard to take seriously Reid’s speech this morning where he “bluntly predicted the country was most likely headed over the fiscal cliff as he began to pointedly blame Republicans,” as Politico noted.
The president is the only person who can sign a fix to then fiscal cliff into law, and yet he hasn’t lead on this issue. Meanwhile, Democrats control the Senate and it’s long past time for them to put forward a plan if they don’t like the ones the House has offered. But blaming Republicans for this situation is far-fetched.
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