Republican Congress hopes to force a veto-palooza from President Obama

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) is flanked by Senator John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) (R) as he addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES

Congressional Republicans have apparently decided that the path to 2016 success is campaigning against President Obama, so they are planning to spend the next 15 months trying to pass stuff that he will be forced to veto. They started Tuesday with a defense authorization conference report, and enough Democrats voted for cloture that the final bill will probably pass, and head for the president’s desk.

The White House, which reiterated the veto threat yesterday, is angry that Republicans are using the annual legislation to pour extra money into the Defense Department, thus bypassing caps that were put in place by sequestration while leaving domestic programs underfunded.
The $612 billion bill also restricts the administration’s ability to transfer suspected terrorists out of Guantanamo Bay, authorizes lethal assistance to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed rebels and extends the ban on torture to the CIA.

This vote was 72-36, but that doesn’t

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Mitch McConnell plays stupid political tricks while budget crisis looms

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a news conference after the weekly party caucus policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT) - RTR4STHJ

Last week, news broke that Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner were meeting with President Obama on negotiating a two-year budget. Turns out, that information came from McConnell and was another move to screw over Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, even if just a little, and to make the process of negotiating a budget that much harder.

Reid and House Minority Nancy Pelosi thought they had an agreement with Republicans that a private conversation between GOP leaders and President Barack Obama about the budget would not be publicly disclosed—an effort to protect the early talks from political attacks.
But on Tuesday, with a little prompting from a reporter, Senate Majority Leader McConnell divulged that he’d been talking to the president along with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Kentucky Republican conveniently didn’t mention Senate Minority Leader Reid or Pelosi, who will both ultimately be integral to the talks despite

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Majority of House Republicans vote to shut down government over women’s health, and lose

U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (C), Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) (2nd R) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) (R) speak to reporters after a tour of DC Central Kitchen with the organization's CEO Mike Curtin (L) in Washi

Kevin McCarthy, already a sell-out before he’s even Speaker.

Five out of eight Republican House members voted to shut down government over women’s health care on Wednesday. Just 91 of them voted with Democrats and, in the words of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “[o]ne-hundred and fifty one Republicans decided their obsession with women’s health was more important than the thousands of disabled veterans, disadvantaged children and working families who would pay the price of another government shutdown.” That vote, and how candidates for leadership voted, doesn’t bode well for the future of the Republican conference and a functioning Congress.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is the favorite to succeed Boehner as speaker, voted for the bill, along with Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who wants to be the majority leader, and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who wants to be whip. Rep.

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House passes stop-gap budget, along with toothless Planned Parenthood show vote

Screenshot of final vote numbers in House on continuing resolution, 9/30/2015

The House passed the stop-gap funding bill sent over from the Senate, which passed it this morning, with a 277-151 vote. The 151 were solely Republicans. This bill continues to fund Planned Parenthood and keeps the government’s doors open until December 11.
Because House Republicans are deplorable people, they couldn’t simply pass a clean stop-gap funding bill. They had to attach an enrollment resolution, a “correction” that would defund Planned Parenthood as a separate vote. It was completely a show vote, it won’t pass the Senate—it won’t be taken up by the Senate—and President Obama will get the “clean” continuing resolution on his desk in time to sign it by tonight’s midnight deadline. But enough of the House conservatives were happy to take this meaningless vote that only three of them voted against it, and it passed 241-185. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) voted “present,” according to C-SPAN. Because

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President Obama starting talks with Boehner, McConnell on budget deal

U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a luncheon for bi-partisan Congressional leaders in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House in Washington, November 7, 2014. From L-R are Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConn

Making the most of House Speaker John Boehner’s last weeks in office, in which he can negotiate without the constraints of a bloc of extremists threatening his job, he has joined in budget talks with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Boehner apparently wants to have a broader budget deal in place before he leaves, but his successor might not be so keen.

Boehner on Sunday signaled his interest in getting a deal done, saying he wanted to “clean up the barn a little bit before the next guy gets here.”
Yet the talks could be a real problem for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is running for Speaker and could find himself under pressure to object to any negotiations Boehner engages in with McConnell (R-Ky.), the White House and Democrats. […]

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he and Boehner spoke to Obama

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Senate passes stop-gap funding bill, with Planned Parenthood funding

Screenshot of final vote on continuing resolution in Senate, 9/30/2015

The Senate did one of its most important jobs Wednesday morning—making sure government operates in the next fiscal year with a 78-20 vote. This is a “clean” continuing resolution—meaning no poison pills like defunding Planned Parenthood are included—that funds government until December 11. When we can have this fight—or who knows, by then a completely different one!—all over again.
House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation has seemed to quell, for now, the burning hot desire to shut down government over Planned Parenthood, at least on the Senate side. Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were content just to vote “no” on both the cloture vote, where they could have attempted some floor maneuver to block the clean bill from moving forward, and on this final passage. Cruz merely used it as an opportunity to do some presidential campaigning from the Senate floor after the fact.

The House will take

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Ted Cruz campaigns from the Senate floor, says Boehner should have left sooner

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Rep. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  waits for the start of. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 29, 2015.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1AUYB

Sen. Ted Cruz did not intervene Monday on the procedural vote in the Senate to advance a stop-gap funding bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. After the vote, he tried to set up an amendment on both Planned Parenthood and the Iran nuclear deal, but a cadre of senators had stuck around on the floor to block him, leaving Cruz to complete his real mission—grandstanding and bloviating for his presidential campaign by beating up on outgoing House Speaker John Boehner.

“Speaker Boehner has decided to cut a deal with Leader Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats, that this dirty CR that’s going to be passed out of the Senate is going to go to the House and the speaker’s going to take it up on the floor, pass it with all the Democrats just like Leader McConnell just did, and a handful of Republicans who will go with

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Senate advances clean short-term funding bill

Screenshot of Senate vote count on cloture to move short-term spending bill, 9/28/2015.

For whatever Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul decided against trying to derail a procedural vote on funding the government—including Planned Parenthood—through December 11, making their promises that Planned Parenthood wouldn’t get another dollar of government funding look pretty empty. The bill needed 60 votes to move forward, and it passed 77-19.
In setting up the vote, Senate Majority Leader insisted that the only reason that the Senate was having to consider a short-term funding bill was because the Democrats were forcing “unnecessary crises.” Luckily, someone with a good memory was also on the Senate floor.

But Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fired back calling the looming deadline “another Republican-manufactured showdown.”
“I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone that this last-minute scramble to do our most basic job is as unnecessary as it reckless,” he added. “We’re two days away from a shutdown, only two

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Is Mitch McConnell next? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean Republicans won’t fight over it.

Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell, November 2014.

With House Speaker John Boehner’s ouster, the extremists aren’t content just to claim victory. They want to topple another Republican who they seem to think is standing in they way of their achieving whatever it is they’re trying to make happen this week to destroy America: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Roger Villere, the chairman of the Louisiana GOP, urged McConnell to resign in a Saturday Facebook post.
In an interview with the Washington Times published on Sunday, Villere said that McConnell is hurting the Republican party.

“Mitch is a good and honorable guy, but the base is leaving our party,” Villere said. “I’m out in the field all the time and we have all our elections this year for state offices, and it’s hurting us tremendously with our elections.” […]

Republican presidential candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has also called on McConnell to resign.

“Mitch McConnell, it’s

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John Boehner is history, so what happens now?

Newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) joins new Republican Whip Steve Scalise (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (C) for a news conference after House Republican leadership elections in the Longworth House Office Building on Capito

Expect these confused looks to linger.

House Speaker John Boehner’s shocking resignation on the cusp of a government shutdown leaves a great deal up in the air, starting with what happens to government on October 1.
Note that Boehner will remain in office until October 30, which means he will shepherd through whatever plan leadership has decided upon to get it done. At this point, he could leave the hard-liners in the dust and work with the rest of his conference and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and pass his clean stop-gap, short-term funding bill. He’s taking the fall, then, and the subsequent speaker—early consensus says it will be Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy—isn’t tainted. Except if it is McCarthy, he’s part of the team that created this “show vote” that the problem children are so upset about. So it’s not a given that we’ll avoid a shutdown.

Then, if we do

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John Boehner is history, so what happens now?

Newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) joins new Republican Whip Steve Scalise (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (C) for a news conference after House Republican leadership elections in the Longworth House Office Building on Capito

Expect these confused looks to linger.

House Speaker John Boehner’s shocking resignation on the cusp of a government shutdown leaves a great deal up in the air, starting with what happens to government on October 1.
Note that Boehner will remain in office until October 30, which means he will shepherd through whatever plan leadership has decided upon to get it done. At this point, he could leave the hard-liners in the dust and work with the rest of his conference and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and pass his clean stop-gap, short-term funding bill. He’s taking the fall, then, and the subsequent speaker—early consensus says it will be Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy—isn’t tainted. Except if it is McCarthy, he’s part of the team that created this “show vote” that the problem children are so upset about. So it’s not a given that we’ll avoid a shutdown.

Then, if we do

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Ted Cruz resurrects his 2013 shutdown playbook as Boehner, McConnell look on

Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate U.S. Senator Ted Cruz addresses attendees at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia, August 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Tami Chappell   - RTX1NLQF

I’m lookin’ out for Number 1.

It worked last time. First, convince the House crazies of your rightness, polls be damned.

Cruz has invited House conservatives to meet in his Dirksen Building office while ratcheting up criticism of GOP leaders in recent days.
Cruz’s message is simple and a repeat of 2013’s: President Obama and the Democrats will deserve blame for a shutdown, not Republicans.

Second, antagonize John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who basically look like bumbling idiots.

On Tuesday he accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of capitulation after news broke they planned to move a spending bill stripped of language that would defund the family planning group, which has been engulfed in controversy since the release of undercover videos detailing its fetal tissue program.
“Republican leadership’s position has been, in effect, to surrender across the board,” he said in a fiery

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Will the Dems help Republicans avoid their manufactured shutdown over Planned Parenthood?

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. November, 2014.

You mean my jazz hands aren’t enough?

House Democrats have no love for the GOP leadership and some don’t appear inclined to help John Boehner avoid the shutdown the government is heading for on September 30, reports Dierdre Walsh.

As California Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra put it to CNN Wednesday, “I certainly know that there is a growing frustration among Democrats that we’re not allowed in the room to help come up with the solution, but we’re expected to stop the Republicans from killing themselves.”

Mitch McConnell has planned a Thursday vote that would fund the government through early December but also strip funds from Planned Parenthood. After that fails, McConnell will likely bring a “clean” short-term funding bill to vote that would keep Planned Parenthood funding intact—leaving the ball in Boehner’s court. He has to contend with the House crazy caucus: some 30 lawmakers who are vowing to

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Food stamps for 45 million people would shut down with the government

Volunteers serve people during a free dinner service at the Emergency Assistance Program at the Chicago Catholic Charities in Chicago, November 1, 2013.  One of every seven Americans will take a hit on Friday when a $5 billion cut in food stamps, the first across-the-board reduction in the history of the decades-old federal program, takes effect. The Chicago Catholic Charities' Emergency Assistance Program expects an increase in the numbers of those seeking their help due to the cuts in food stamps. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY FOOD POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTX14WXN

There aren’t enough food banks and emergency assistance centers to deal with this impending crisis.

If the government shuts down at the beginning of next month, people will go hungry. This is likely a feature rather than a bug of a government shutdown, as far as Republicans are concerned. It’s one of the destructive realities of this despicable game they insist on playing.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides monthly food benefits to 45 million Americans, will go dark if Congress fails to pass a law funding government operations after Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.
“If Congress does not act to avert a lapse in appropriations, then USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October and will be forced to stop providing benefits within the first several days of October,” a USDA spokesperson said in an

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Leading budget wonk: Shutdown ‘equivalent of a campaign event’ for Republicans

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), with his wife Heidi, arrives to address a Tea Party rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSD9P

If he doesn’t get his way, he’s going to wreck everything for all of us.

Here’s a depressing read to start your week off. Politico’s Danny Vinnik interviewed renowned budget expert Stan Collender, who formerly worked for both the House and Senate Budget Committees and writes for Forbes on budget issues and generally knows how all this stuff works. And he is really, really discouraged about where a small band of Republican nihilists is taking the country right now.

Danny Vinik: What’s the current state of the budget showdown?
Stan Collender: Technically, it’s a big mess. Congress and the president are supposed to agree on 12 appropriations bills for every year. The new fiscal year starts in October 1, and none have been agreed to. In fact, none are even close to being agreed to. What Congress has got to do in the next three weeks [ed. note—this interview was

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House extremists (and Ted Cruz): We won’t go along with tricks to avoid shutdown

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses a Tea Party rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSD7W

Ted Cruz on a fratricide mission.

While House extremists were happy to vote with the majority to defund Planned Parenthood for a year, that’s not enough to deter them from a government shutdown. Neither is the promise to use reconciliation to force President Obama to veto a defunding bill that leadership has floated. Nope, it’s shaping up to be government shutdown or nothing. And three guesses who their ringleader is.

The idea is aimed at placating conservatives by giving them a way to pass legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding and decouple the issue from the entire federal budget. But conservatives are balking at the proposal to use the majority-vote reconciliation process, calling it a “ruse” that, in the end, would leave Planned Parenthood’s federal funding intact and amount to little more than a feel-good exercise.
Even if Republicans used reconciliation to get a bill to President Barack

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House and Senate leadership scramble to avoid shutdown, offer Planned Parenthood defunding options

Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell, November 2014.

Republican leadership in the House and the Senate are promising that they will have votes to defund Planned Parenthood, desperately trying to give something, anything, to the House extremists and Sen. Ted Cruz who seem equally determined to shutdown Congress over the issue. Here’s Mitch McConnell’s deputy in the Senate, John Cornyn of Texas:

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he was under no illusion that such a proposal could pass. But that Republicans are even entertaining a proposal reflects how hard conservatives are pushing a strategy that could provoke a government shutdown.
“I think there will be a vote on that. I just don’t think Democrats will let that pass,” Cornyn said. “We will vote on defunding (Planned Parenthood) on the (continuing resolution) in some form or another.”

In a demonstration that they’re serious in wishing to cater to their extremist members, they’ll spend the rest

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The biggest fiscal cliff in years is two months away

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) speaks to reporters after Senate luncheons as he is accompanied by  Sen. John Cornyn,( R-TX)  at Capitol Hill in Washington, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

Among Mitch McConnell’s strange strategies for leading, besides wasting oodles of time forcing Democrats to vote repeatedly on the same failed legislation, is the idea of breaking apart bit, must-pass fiscal measures. Republicans have a better chance of making big cuts and avoiding new taxes if they deal with issues separately, the theory goes. But because McConnell does like to spend so much time on highly politicized votes, all that critical stuff gets pushed to the side and they end up facing what they’re facing now—not just an immediate potential crisis in keeping government going after September 30, but a big amalgam of must-pass fiscal legislation converging by mid-November.

Congress could hardly have orchestrated the coming storm any better had they intended to: Democrats and Republicans are now aiming to change the new shutdown date from Oct. 1 to mid-November, which is almost exactly when the Treasury Department is expected

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House extremists won’t take ‘Planned Parenthood can’t be defunded’ for an answer

New U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) reacts after picking number four in the office lottery for all new House members of Congress in Washington, November 19, 2010.      REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXUTKS

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)

There’s some rumbling behind the scenes at Congress that Republican leadership might have an idea for not shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. The talk now is that the House would go first with a continuing resolution that did not include the PP funding, send it to the Senate which would put it back in, and back at the House, it would pass with Democratic votes. That’s reasonable. Except that it’s clearly a plan to keep the government open and Planned Parenthood funded. And House extremists will have none of that.

“I cannot and will not fund a vile, racist organization who specializes in convincing mothers to kill their children and then selling their baby parts to the highest bidder,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said in a written statement to TPM Tuesday. “During the funding debate two years ago, Mitch McConnell finagled a $2.

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John Boehner, bad Speaker of the House or worst Speaker of the House ever?

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about funding for the Department of Homeland Security during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington February 25, 2015. Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner no

This is just pathetic.

Speaker John Boehner says he’s not worried about his political future, but the Ohio Republican’s fate has become an overwhelming obsession of House Republicans. His backers believe Boehner is being “blackmailed” by conservative hard-liners into supporting a government shutdown. His critics insist they just want their leader to do the right thing.
The latest flash point for Boehner is the controversy over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Hard-line conservative Republicans want Boehner to do whatever it takes to shut off funding for the group, even if it means a shutdown. They’re vowing to vote against any spending bill that allows such funding to continue.

The warning to Boehner is obvious: The speaker can either do what they want on Planned Parenthood, or they’ll force a vote to replace him. […]

“There’s a fuse burning, and things are going to blow up soon,” added a GOP lawmaker

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