September 28, 2013

House will vote Saturday on plan to delay Obamacare, keep government open

The House of Representatives plans to vote later Saturday on a budget plan that would delay the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, for a year.

It would also repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax, and fund the government through Dec. 15.

The Senate Friday approved a measure that funds the government through Nov. 15 and  keeps the health care law intact.

Since Republicans control the House, passage of the new plan is expected--setting up a showdown with the Senate, which is not scheduled to return until Monday.

Here's House Speaker John Boehner's statement Saturday:

"The American people don’t want a government shut down and they don’t want ObamaCare. That’s why later today, the House will vote on two amendments to the Senate-passed continuing resolution that will keep the government open and stop as much of the president’s health care law as possible.

“The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.

“Both of these amendments will change the date of the Senate CR to December 15th. We will also vote on a measure that ensures our troops get paid, no matter what.

“We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it’s up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government shutdown.”

September 23, 2013

McConnell won't vote to block funding bill that includes defunding Obamacare

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday he won't vote to block the 2014 budget bill, which now includes defunding Obamacare.

The first vote on cutting off debate is likely Wednesday. The bill at that point would include the defunding measure. Those funds, though, are expected to be restored later, and McConnell made it clear he opposes putting the money back in.

Here's a statement from his press office:

"Senator McConnell supports the House Republicans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds Obamacare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny. He will also vote against any amendment that attempts to add Obamacare funding back into the House Republicans’ bill.

"If and when the Majority Leader goes down that path, Washington Democrats will have to decide—without hiding behind a procedural vote—whether or not to split with their leadership and join Republicans and their constituents in opposing the re-insertion of Obamacare funding into the House-passed bill."

September 22, 2013

Pelosi: Hillary Clinton "certainly more prepared" than other recent presidents

Hillary Clinton would assume the presidency better qualified than her husband, Barack Obama or George W. Bush, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

Pelosi emphasized that she has great respect for Obama, but noted Clinton has been Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator and held other positions. Obama was in his first U. S. Senate term when he was elected president in 2008.

Pelosi doesn't know if Clinton will run. But, the California Democrat said, "when she does she will win.  And when she becomes president, she'll be one of the best- equipped, best-prepared people to enter the White House in a very long time.

"She has, by dent of her experience as a senator, as a secretary of state, as a first lady herself, participating in the way she did -- certainly, with all due respect to our president, and I think he's magnificent and wonderful and a blessing to us, but certainly more prepared than President Obama, certainly more prepared than President Bush, certainly more prepared than President Clinton"

Would she be more prepared than Vice President Joe Biden?

"Well," said Pelosi, "I'm saying the presidents that we have had. Joe Biden is very prepared, and I think President Bush Sr. was prepared.  He had been a vice president.  But I'm talking about recent memory of presidents that we have had.

"You know, Joe Biden would be very prepared as well.  But you asked me about Hillary Clinton."

Pelosi was asked if she would prefer Clinton over Biden as president.

"I always have a little habit of saying, when you're serious about running, I'll be serious about it.  But I think it would be magnificent for America to have a woman president.  And by the way, incidental, more importantly, very qualified," she said.

September 20, 2013

Americans gloomy about kids' future--but the kids aren't

Americans are worried and pessimistic about the future. Their children are more hopeful.

A new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll released Friday describes its overall findings as "downbeat."

If reported that two of three people think that when today's children grow up, "they'll have less financial security, with a poorer chance of holding a steady job and owning a home without too much debt."

Sixty-two percent thought their children will have "less opportunity to achieve a comfortable retirement."

A poll analysis, though, found "in the face of this intense pessimism on the part of adults, teenagers are much more optimistic and clearly feel the older generations have it wrong."

Here's the finding: "More than half of the teens surveyed (54 percent) say they believe it's better to be a teenager today than it was when their parents were growing up. A plurality (45 percent) believe that when they are their parents' age, they will have more opportunity to get ahead than the previous generation. Just 24 percent of teens say they will have less opportunity". 

To read more:

September 19, 2013

Pelosi says she respects Boehner--and hopes that doesn't hurt him

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says she respects House Speaker John Boehner--and maybe, she laughed, that won't help him.

"So I wish the speaker well.  I respect the speaker.  I wish him well.  And I hope it doesn't hurt him too much that I said I respected him," the California Democrat told her weekly news conference.

Asked if Boehner is in control of his Republican caucus, Pelosi said, "Maybe he's in full control of his caucus.  I don't know if he's a reflection of his caucus or they're a reflection of him.  But let's just say I wish the speaker well.  He's speaker of the House.  We have a responsibility."

Pelosi preceded Boehner as speaker. 

She explained Thursday how "the debt that has been incurred that we have to raise the limit to was incurred by the Congress of the United States. So we have a responsibility to lift the debt ceiling.  And that's not for new spending.  That's for spending that has already occurred. 

"So I think that it is not just up to the speaker, but the outside has to weigh in and say, we understand the consequences of not lifting the debt ceiling; even if you don't, let us 'splain that to you. That means, in our house, increased car payment, credit card payment, student loans, mortgage payments, small-business loans across the board...."

So, she said, let's have a national discussion "because I'm not sure people know, again, the pyrotechnics that are going on the -- by the tea party in the Republican caucus and what that means directly to them." 


Reid: "Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead, dead, dead"

Forget any chance that defunding of Obamacare will go anywhere in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

"So in case there's any shred of doubt in the minds of our House counterparts, I want to be absolutely crystal clear.  Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead, dead.  It's a waste of time, as I said before.  In fact, I told the speaker that last week," the Nevada Democrat told a news conference.   

"I'm disappointed that he's decided, from what I've heard, that he's going to move forward with full knowledge that it's a futile effort.  They're simply postponing the inevitable choice they must face:  Pass a clean bill to fund the government or shut it down."

Democrats reiterated that theme throughout the day. "I do think there's a widespread view among the Republican mainstream that this is a dumb strategy.  Many of them, you know, have voiced that to me.  But we'll have to wait and see what happens," said Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

The House of Representatives plans to vote Friday on a stopgap budget that would defund the 2010 health care law.

September 13, 2013

Americans not confident in government's ability to handle problems

Americans' trust in government's ability to deal with domestic issues is down to historic lows, according to a new Gallup survey.

Forty-two percent of those polled Sept. 5-8 said they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence, a percentage point less than a 2011 survey.

International marks were also down. About half said they had a fair or good amount of confidence in the government's ability to handle foreign matters, less than the 2007 low of 51 percent. The survey was conducted as the  United States was considering a military strike against Syria.

"Americans' trust and confidence in the federal government's ability to solve problems internationally as well as domestically has fallen to historic lows this year," according to a Gallup analysis.

"There are a number of possible explanations for this loss of confidence: controversy surrounding potential U.S. action in Syria, an enduring low assessment of the state of the economy, or low levels of confidence in Congress," the analysis said.

To read more:


September 12, 2013

Pelosi's wary view of Putin

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's take on Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op ed?

"It is what it is.  I mean, Vladimir Putin is not in a strong constitutional democracy where people have their say so he comes here and has his say, but it has to have some fidelity to fact," the California Democrat told a news conference.

She was asked if it was frustrating that Putin may be the United States' negotiating partner.

"I mean, (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is a part of the negotiation, too, and he is, I think, clearly a monster who would gas children in his own country that he wants to preside ove," she said.

Pelosi pointed to Putin's remark that he doesn't want the United Nations turning into another League of Nations.

"I thought that was interesting, because one of the reasons the United Nations has not been effective, say for example in Syria, is because of the fear of a Russian veto," she said. "Even initiatives that others have tried to propose that would, say, condemn the use of chemical weapons, they have not been willing to sign on to. 

"So, part of the strength of the U.N. is the fact that it has a strong Security Council.  Part of the lack of success is that Russia and China too frequently use that veto power.  But what I have found interesting was the closing.  He says when we pray to God he judges us all.  I don't know exactly what his words are, but he says that we are all God's children.  I think that is great.  I hope it applies to gays and lesbians in Russia as well."


Congress' Syria vote unlikely to have much election impact, poll finds

If Congress votes on Syria, the vote is unlikely to affect the 2014 election, according to a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll.

"Most voters wouldn't care enough either way to throw their representative out of office," according to a poll analysis.

The survey found that 55 percetn said that if their representative voted for a military strike, it wouldn't affect whether or not they backed the member's re-election.

"That's a testament to the issue's overhyped political implications, despite this month's fervent public debate over its merits," the analysis said.

"In any case, President Obama's decision Tuesday night to delay the vote while he seeks a diplomatic solution to Syria's use of chemical weapons might make the point moot. Despite the public's apathy, many lawmakers had already declared they would not support the resolution, and it looked to face long odds in the House."

Those who did back the strike did say it make them less likely to support their representative, as 13 percent said a yes vote would make them more likely to back the incumbent, while 26 percent said it would make them less likely to support them.

To read more:

September 11, 2013

Americans paying more attention to Syria, Gallup finds

Syria has crept onto the list of issues that most concern Americans, but it's in fifth place, well behind the ecnoomy and other matters.

A Sept. 5-8 Gallup poll found the economy remains the issue people consider most important. Trailing are unemployment, dissatisfaction with the government, and health care. Then comes Syria, at 8 percent.

"While the actions the U.S. will take, if any, in response to allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria remain unclear, Americans are starting to pay attention," according to a Gallup analysis.

"Seventy-one percent last week told Gallup they were following the news about Syria closely, and it now ranks as one of the top five problems facing the country, although still lagging behind concerns about the economy, government, and healthcare. Whether the sudden spike in concern over this issue is due more to the Syrian government's supposed use of chemical weapons or the possibility of a military response by the U.S. government is not certain.

"Meanwhile, worry over the economy appears to be receding. The 48% who name an economic issue as most important problem is down from 63 percent in the first month of this year. And, as Congress reconvenes to debate issues related to the nation's debt and deficit, anxiety related to these issues has fallen dramatically -- though this could change if a legislative stalemate again raises the threat of governmental shutdown or a national debt default."


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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