Mitch McConnell fights for dirty water, political time-wasting


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President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news or

Fun times.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats defeated an attempt by Republicans to kill—of all things—a Clean Water Rule. Because, you know, overreach by the Obama administration in trying to make our water clean. 

The rule, which was finalized in June and which clarifies what water bodies get the protections of the landmark Clean Water Act, restored safeguards for streams and wetlands that lacked clear protection.
The Senate voted on a motion to take up a bill sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would have killed the rule. As the White House pointed out in threatening a presidential veto of the bill, it would also “require the agencies to define [protected waters] in a manner inconsistent with the [Act] as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in more confusion, uncertainty, and inconsistency,” and would “result in higher drinking water treatment costs, increased contamination of fish and

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Mitch McConnell pressured to go nuclear on filibuster


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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turns to Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX after speaking to reporters after the Republican party policy luncheon in the Capitol in Washington September 16, 2014.  At left is Sen. John Barasso, R-WY. The U.S. House of Represe

This is fun.

Frustrated with Democrats blocking their agenda, a cadre of upstart Republicans is pushing to revamp the Senate’s rule book to make it harder for the opposition to keep key legislation from coming to the floor.
But the move pits the maverick conservatives against the party’s “old bulls”—such as Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain—who argue the changes would erode key rights of the minority and undermine how the Senate was designed to work. Many of the upstarts have never been in the minority, but veteran Republicans are wary of taking bold action now that could haunt them if they ever lose control of the chamber. […]

“I think it’s appropriate to be able to debate a bill without having to have a 60-vote margin,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). “I think when they originally put the rules in place, it was a mistake not to have

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Reid warns McConnell about breaking budget deal


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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (L) and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stand together during a ceremony to present Golf legend Jack Nicklaus with the Congressional Gold Medal “in recognition of his many contributions to the game of golf and his

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bringing up—for the third time—a defense authorization bill that Democrats have already blocked twice and have vowed to block again, continuing his leadership strategy of repeating his failures over and over and over, maybe to keep the Senate from actually doing anything? That’s Sen. Harry Reid’s opinion, and he says that the Democrats will oppose the bill again, because McConnell is trying to force it outside of the full appropriations process.

Reid said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was “wasting the Senate’s time” by repeatedly filing procedural motions to move forward with the defense bill that “he knows will fail.” […]
McConnell sought to pressure Democrats Wednesday, saying that with a budget deal reached they should let the legislation move forward. […]

But Democrats, including Reid, are voicing concerns about moving a stand-alone defense spending bill. 

The Nevada Democrat

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Budget deal done, now comes the big fight


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President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news or

The Senate stayed up late to pass the budget and debt ceiling deal, a last minute bit of campaigning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) notwithstanding. Paul’s promised filibuster was a flop, and the bill passed but with substantial Republican opposition.

Thirty-five Republicans opposed the deal, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who are facing tough reelection battles in blue-leaning states next year.
The legislation clears the calendar of major fiscal fights, including funding the government, until after the 2016 elections that will see Republicans defending 24 Senate seats.

Actually, the legislation doesn’t do that at all, and the 35 Republican senators and the 167 House Republicans who voted against this deal means that there will be an ongoing fight. Because it doesn’t fund the government until 2016—it sets overall spending levels, not actually providing the funding authorizations for all the government agencies, and certainly doesn’t

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Reid to McConnell: We’re not done negotiating


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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R) sit at the same table during the beginning of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on campaign finance reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES) - RTR3S0VP

The budget and debt ceiling deal working its way through Congress will prevent a debt ceiling crisis and take a key hostage away from Republicans. But what it doesn’t do is continue funding the government past December 11, when the current spending authorization expires. It sets general spending levels for government, but it doesn’t make specific authorizations for spending or actually appropriate the money for programs. Considering how the Republicans have been approaching spending bills, larding them up with noxious policy riders to undo many of President Obama’s accomplishments, there could still be a shutdown at the end of the year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure from House Republicans who continue to point the finger at him for the failure of their extreme policies, approached Minority Leader Harry Reid this week, trying to leverage this budget deal into a larger spending agreement.

Would Democrats agree to relax their

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Rand Paul, Ted Cruz to campaign for presidency, destruction of country, from Senate floor


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U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) and Rand Paul (R-KY) (R) talk to reporters as they arrive to speak at the Tea Party Patriots 'Exempt America from Obamacare' rally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan E

It’s now up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (and Democrats) to pass the budget and debt ceiling deal that keeps the nation from defaulting on our debts next Tuesday, when we bump up against the current ceiling. He’s got some challenges from his hardliners, but mostly from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who smells a great fundraising opportunity here for his presidential campaign.


He’s got to do something to try to stay relevant in this campaign, so he started what he’s calling a filibuster . . . at Fox News. Of course. And of course, like all of Paul’s gab fests, this is not a filibuster. A filibuster stops a bill from proceeding. This bill will proceed, although thanks to Paul’s promise to demagogue it, that

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Congressional nihilists, and Paul Ryan, trash budget deal but are unlikely to kill it


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U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) pauses as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS5DA3

Paul Ryan wants you to know he doesn’t like this deal.

Congressional conservatives are not happy that outgoing House Speaker John Boehner negotiated away all their favorite hostages until 2017 in the newly announced budget deal. They’re trashing the deal in both the House and the Senate, though their opposition doesn’t seem large or organized enough to derail the package.
On the Senate side, it’s all Boehner’s fault.

Asked about the tentative agreement after the briefing, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions replied: “My knees quiver at the sound.”
In an interview, Sessions expressed frustration that outgoing Speaker John Boehner was hammering out the deal just days before he plans to give up the gavel for good. “What does Boehner got to do with it?” said an exasperated Sessions, the former top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “I’m worried about how fast it’s moving. I see no reason for

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Budget, debt ceiling deal close, sources say


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U.S. President Barack Obama (C) hosts a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, January 13, 2015. Pictured (L to R) are Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc

Dealing?

There is panic over John Boehner’s looming departure from the House speakership, and according to one early report, it’s leading the White House to do really stupid shit.

While congressional aides cautioned that the deal was far from certain, and the White House and Treasury Department declined to comment, officials briefed on the negotiations said the emerging accord would call for cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.

That’s the New York Times. CNN has a bit more detail and is less alarming.

The deal is expected to include $70 billion-$75 billion in increased spending for defense and domestic spending, sources said. That new spending would be offset by sales from the strategic petroleum oil reserve, use of public airwaves for telecommunications companies and changes to the crop insurance program—among other measures. Moreover, the deal would spread out increases in Medicare premiums over time so beneficiaries

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Morning Digest: GOP plan to travel back in time and kill Baby David Vitter almost succeeds


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Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter

Louisiana Republican David Vitter

Leading Off:
LA-Gov: Whether Team Red likes it or not, Sen. David Vitter is their gubernatorial nominee. On Saturday, Louisiana voters went to the polls for the jungle primary and unsurprisingly, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards grabbed the first runoff spot with 40 percent of the vote. However, Vitter only beat Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, a fellow Republican, 23-19 for the other runoff spot; GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne took fourth place with 15 percent. The Vitter-Angelle battle was closer than most pollsters predicted: Only Market Research Insight showed Angelle within striking distance of Vitter in October.

Louisiana is a dark red state and Edwards won’t have an easy time winning on Nov. 21, but Vitter may have just what it takes to lose it all. The senator started 2015 with good favorable ratings, and it appeared that he’d put his

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McConnell’s big fat gift to David Vitter’s floundering gubernatorial bid


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Senator David Vitter (R-LA) leaves the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington May 7, 2015. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a bill giving Congress the right to review, and potentially reject, an international nuclear agreement

Sen. David Vitter, the noted philanderer, has an itty bitty image problem that’s become a real drag on his bid to become Louisiana’s next governor, reports the Washington Post:

The latest Louisiana State University poll finds he’s viewed favorably by 30 percent of voters and unfavorably by 41 percent. […] Now, even one-in-three Republicans have negative feelings about their senior senator.

So GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is giving Vitter the gift of a show vote on his pet bill that aims to defund sanctuary cities, places where city officials decline to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities so immigrants won’t be afraid of local law enforcement. Vitter’s bill and others like it are a terrible idea, as this New York Times editorial fully explained over the weekend:

The laws are a class-action slander against an immigrant population that has been scapegoated for the crimes of a

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Dear GOP: You don’t even have a speaker. How can you demand entitlement cuts?


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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to speak to the media about healthcare on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Before we talk budget negotiations, let’s remember that Republicans are in total disarray and don’t even have a House Speaker with whom to negotiate. Let’s also remember that the GOP still owns the Congress—even if they are exhibiting an epic failure in leadership—and failure to approve a budget by Dec. 11 that keeps the government funded will lie at their doorstep, full stop. So what do Republicans do? Kick off the budget discussions with demands for cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Burgess Everett reports:

Republicans are demanding changes to entitlement programs, a request that’s already been rejected by Democrats. Democrats want boosts in domestic spending without painful cuts, a nonstarter for the GOP. Meanwhile, there’s no House speaker scheduled to serve past October. […]
Congressional Republicans are trying to project confidence, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose “no shutdown, no debt default” vows are paramount to

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The comical cult of Paul Ryan


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Not since LeBron James announced “The Decision” to “take my talents to South Beach” have so many Americans waited with bated breath for one man to declare his intentions. Hoping for white smoke from the chimney of his Jaynesville, Wisconsin home, most Republicans and even some Democrats are hoping that Paul Ryan will decide to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus save the GOP from itself.
While Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman remains huddled with family in his Badger State conclave, politicians and pundits sing Paul Ryan’s praises in almost hagiographic terms. Josh Marshall noted that “a defining principle of modern Republican ideology is that ‘Paul Ryan is awesome.'” Jonathan Chait argued that Ryan “is already the president of Republican America” because “no other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.” While

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush


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Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush


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Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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Debt-limit deadline moved to Nov. 3, GOP still has no plan in sight


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

Hey, don’t look at us.

As the House GOP continues to chase its tail looking for a leader, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress the debt-limit deadline has moved up to Nov. 3. By then, the government will need to have raised the $18.1 trillion cap because it will have just $30 billion of cash on hand and “federal bills for a single day sometimes eclipse $60 billion.” Yikes! And if the GOP-led Congress fails to raise the ceiling, absolutely nothing good will come of it. Peter Schroeder reports:

Without a hike, the specter of a default on U.S. obligations looms large — potentially setting the stage for significant market turmoil and dire consequences for America’s financial reputation across the globe.
“The first thing you’ll see is a market reaction,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, head of the right-leaning American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional

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GOP Senate gets mad, mad, mad and stops confirming Obama’s nominees


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Congressman Tom Cotton of Arkansas speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Let’s just say it: Tom Cotton appears to have anger management issues.

Tom Cotton was livid that top Secret Service officials had leaked unflattering information about a GOP congressman who had become one of the embattled agency’s highest-profile critics.
So the freshman Republican senator from Arkansas quickly settled on his payback: He would indefinitely stall ambassadorial nominees to Sweden, Norway and the Bahamas — a former White House counsel, plus two Obama campaign bundlers — until the administration investigated the Secret Service’s misconduct.

It’s not just Cotton holding up nominations. Republican senators such as Ted Cruz, John McCain and Chuck Grassley are deploying the tactic at an unprecedented level in their ongoing war with the White House. Right now, eight ambassadorial nominees are waiting on the Senate floor to be confirmed, and more than 100 other nominations are languishing in committee.

Of course, Republicans say this is all fair game

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Senate Republicans decide on their debt ceiling hostages: Social Security and Medicare


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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

Mitch McConnell is drawing up the list of hostages he plans to take as part of debt ceiling negotiations. With the debt ceiling approaching on November 5, the Senate majority leader is ready to make some serious demands in exchange for Republicans not forcing the United States to default on its debts:

McConnell is seeking a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security recipients and new restrictions on Medicare, including limiting benefits to the rich and raising the eligibility age, several sources said. In addition, the Kentucky Republican is eager to see new policy riders enacted, including reining in the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water regulations.

And, of course, if President Obama gives in to McConnell’s demands on Social Security and Medicare, Republicans will spend the next year blanketing the airwaves with ads blaming Democrats for cutting Social Security and Medicare. However, according to a White House spokeswoman, “Proposals such

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Morning Digest: RGA boot camp weigh-in: Matt Bevin almost misses his own fundraiser


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Kentucky Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin

Matt Bevin has better things to do than show up at his stupid fundraiser

Leading Off:
KY-Gov: Here’s how the RGA’s plan to whip Matt Bevin’s campaign into shape is going: He showed up an hour late to a fundraiser that Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Kentucky’s entire GOP House delegation, hosted for him last week—just as guests were preparing to leave. And according to Politico’s Kevin Robillard, the RGA has no plans to go back on the air for Bevin unless he contributes more of his own money to his cause. He’s not, though, since Democrats are set to spend $1 million more than the GOP this week.

Bevin does have a new ad out, this one featuring his wife. Glenna Bevin declares that Democratic ads attacking her husband are “misleading” and “false,” without any elaboration—we’re simply supposed to take her

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Hostage-taking Republicans say White House is playing politics with debt ceiling


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Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to reporters during the 14th day of the partial government shut down in Washington on October 14, 2013. U.S. senators said they were closing in on a deal Monday that would reopen the government and push back a possible

Really, Susan Collins? Really?

The financial press is getting increasingly jittery about the prospects of not having a debt ceiling hike at the beginning of November. This week’s bedlam in the House has only heightened those fears, on Wall Street and among anyone who is paying attention. Because the U.S. defaulting on its debt is kind of a big deal. A big unprecedented deal.
Note that, as the Fiscal Times reports the “current debt ceiling suspension expired in March, and since then officials have had to rely on cash reserves, shuffling money back and forth, and accounting gimmicks, known as ‘extraordinary measures.'” Extraordinary measures are expiring, and by November 5, the government will have less than $30 billion in cash. But because Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew—and President Obama—have drawn the line at negotiating with the Republican terrorists who would take the debt ceiling hostage, Senate Republicans are insisting

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Morning Digest: With his speakership hopes dashed, Kevin McCarthy mopes back to Bakersfield


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U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), flanked by his wife Judy (L), explains his decision to pull out of a Republican caucus secret ballot vote to determine the nominee to replace retiring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS3LZW

Not Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Leading Off:
CA-23: On Thursday, Speaker-in-Waiting Kevin McCarthy pulled the plug on his bid to become Speaker-for-Real. McCarthy quickly announced that he would not be resigning from the House and would stay on as majority leader. McCarthy’s Bakersfield seat is safely red and no notable Republicans have ever tried to challenge him, and that’s unlikely to change even after this debacle.

Of course, it’s always possible that McCarthy changes his mind and exits the House a bit earlier than planned. It’s probably not going to be fun for McCarthy to try and enforce order among his chaotic caucus when he knows that his path to becoming speaker has been blocked by his own loose lips. It’s also possible that McCarthy will find he can’t do his job as majority leader as well now that he’s embarrassed himself so badly, and that he’ll leave

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