Republicans return to work fresh off their annual retreat where they learned that the way to win the votes of women and minorities is to “talk to them as equals.” Brilliant!
-The GOP House will vote today to extend the government’s borrowing authority for three months thereby allowing lawmakers additional time to resolve differences over the debt and deficit. Translation: Congress will do what it always does…kick the proverbial can down the road to avoid taking a job threatening vote. Some see this as the GOP caving in to Obama’s refusal to debate whether or not America should pay its bills. We see it as same old s#*t…different day.
-Attached to the above mentioned bill is an amendment requiring the House and Senate to pass a budget by the April 15 tax deadline. Failure to do so would result in the withholding of members paychecks until a budget is passed. It’s funny how it requires an act of congress to get lawmakers to do what average citizens do as a matter of course. Do your job…or don’t get paid.
-Senate Majority Leader has an opportunity to eliminate much of the gridlock that has placed a strangle hold on Washington. During its first day in session a newly elected congress may elect to change certain rules dictating how it operates. One of them is the filibuster. For the past four years Republicans have abused the filibuster rule in their effort to stymie the president’s agenda. Under the current rule any senator can kill a bill by anonymously phoning in and objecting to it being bought to the floor for a vote. The days of Jimmy Stewart speaking for hours in the well of the Senate just to hold off a floor vote happen only in the movies. Republicans have used this tactic 360 times since Obama took office…112 times in 2012 alone. By contrast, the Senate averaged only 20 filibusters per year during the Carter and Reagan administrations. Reid has the opportunity to fix this problem by either removing the filibuster rule in its entirety or at least requiring the objecting senator to hold the floor, ala Jimmy Stewart, until the bill is withdrawn. Thus far Reid has done nothing other than mysteriously extend the “first day of the new session” from January 3 to January 22. In fact yesterday he extended it again for another week. See “kick the proverbial can down the road” referenced above.
Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton will testify before both Houses of Congress today where she will answer questions on the Benghazi attack. There she will inform legislators that the reason the attack succeeded is because the United States has long employed the policy of allowing the host nation to provide security for our embassy personnel. She will also remind lawmakers that they repeatedly refused requests to appropriate $300+ million for additional embassy security. While there will be no substantive affects from this grilling, legislators will be able to mug for the CSPAN cameras and show their constituents how tough they were on the powerful secretary. A word of caution to those who might try to embarrass the outgoing secretary; Mrs. Clinton may have political aspirations in 2016. If history tells us anything it is that elections have consequences…and the Clinton’s have very long memories.
-Remember all of the hoopla before the election over voter fraud? Remember how Republicans pushed for new voter identification laws on the notion that voter fraud was rampant in our society. We have to ask…”where are they now?” After all if voter fraud was such a huge national problem would it not make sense to continue to fight for stronger voter id laws so that we can eliminate the threat before the mid-terms? Or was this faux anger on the part of the Republicans just a scam to discourage historically pro-Democrat minorities from going to the polls? We ask again…where are they now?
-Speaking of suppressing the vote…the Republicans have a new scheme to rig elections. They would like to pro-rate electoral votes by congressional district rather than giving all of them to the statewide winner. The GOP’s gerrymandered districts enabled them to maintain control of the House even though Democrats won more votes. If every state awarded its electoral votes by these same gerrymandered districts Romney would have won the White House by a 276-262 margin…even though Obama won 51% of the popular vote. In fact Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. If you can’t beat them…change the rules. Perhaps Republicans should consider amending their policies to be more in tune with the country’s changing demographics.
-Nebraska Governor David Heinemann has approved the new path for the Keystone Pipeline, leaving the president as the only person standing in the way of its construction. The president put off any decision on the pipeline until after the election saying that he needed more time to study the economic and environmental details. We previously wrote that we expected the president to approve the pipeline if re-elected. We still believe that today. Why the previous delay? Every vote counts, including those cast by environmentalists. As the president famously told Russian President Medvedev: “After my election…I have more flexibility.”