Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Jane and the Israeli spy exemption
Imagine for a moment that a sitting member of Congress had been caught in an NSA wiretap offering to obtain reduced sentences for a couple of Russian spies, or perhaps North Korean ones, in exchange for help getting the chairmanship the House Intelligence Committee of all things. The irony of that aside, the alarm over the idea that agents of a foreign government even thinking that they could influence appointments in Congress would by itself, evoke national outrage. And that member of Congress would be finished.

So, is Jane Harman finished? CQ Politics uncovered what looks like a double quid pro quo, only the spies are Israeli lobbyists for AIPAC, and Harman also got a free pass on the Justice Department investigation of her spy dealings by Alberto Gonzales, the felonious former attorney general, who thought her more useful to the administration as a Democratic booster for ... wait for it ... NSA illegal wiretapping. Oh, the irony. Something Torquemada has yet to deny...

Harman is now demanding ... demanding! ... the release of the wiretaps on which she was caught. But as a former supporter of warrantless wiretapping (at least in her case there was a warrant,) shouldn't she actually be praising the inquiry?

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posted by JReid @ 5:55 PM  
Friday, April 03, 2009
Shhh! The omnibudget passes both houses
Buried on the NYTimes homepage:
WASHINGTON — The House and Senate approved budgets of about $3.5 trillion for the government on Thursday with no Republican support, a sign of deep partisan tensions likely to color Congressional efforts to enact major policy initiatives sought by President Obama.

On the heels of House approval of its spending plan for 2010, the Senate voted 55 to 43 shortly before midnight to adopt a similar budget after a day spent laboring over politically tinged amendments that did little to change a fiscal blueprint generally in keeping with Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda.

Democrats said the two budgets, which will have to be reconciled after a two-week Congressional recess, cleared the way for health care, energy and education overhauls pushed by the new president. The Democrats said the budgets reversed what they portrayed as the failed economic approach of the Bush administration and Republican-led Congresses.
The House version passed 233-196, with 20 House Dems voting no, along with all the Republicans. Two Senate Dems opposed their version (Evan Bayh (IN) and Ben Nelson (NE)...) which went through on a straight up or down vote. Lieberman, still on his best behavior, voted with the majority of Dems.

Dennis Kucinich voted "no" in the House, because the bill includes funding for what he sees as an expansion of the wars.
Said Kucinich: This budget is a statement of principles for the upcoming year, and I cannot accept it in its entirety. I will not vote for a budget that ties military spending to the operational funding of our government. This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding. The Washington Post reports today another 10,000 troops may be sent to Afghanistan, bringing our total number of troops there to as much as 78,000 by 2010 –- a more than 100% increase from today's troop levels. This budget is a plan that authorizes the expansion of the war. I simply cannot endorse a budget or a plan that sends more of our brave men and women to Afghanistan, a conflict which has the potential to become this generation's Vietnam."
What's interesting is that after all the sturm and drang, the budget whizzed through in the dead of night. Quietly, while Michelle and Barack were off courting the Queen. But Obama got pretty much everything he wanted, and it's hard to imagine the reconciliation version being much different than what he proposed.

John McCain's spending freeze went down in flames, as did the GOP Fudge-it. Go figure. But Republicans, by voting universally against the budget, have placed all of the consequences of it, good or not, in the hands of the party in power. It's one heck of a roll of the dice, and most likely, not a smart one. Remember Clinton's 93 budget? No GOPers voted for that one, either, and the party is still trying to convince Americans that Clinton's roaring economy was something they did. But in their delusions, Congressional Republicans see these votes, along with public anger over bailouts, as a way to take back the House.

By the way, it wouldn't be Congress if they didn't tuck in something for the rich, and here it is:
Among the amendments that won Senate approval was a bipartisan proposal that would raise the estate tax exemption by $1.5 million, to a total of $5 million, and reduce the tax’s maximum rate by 10 percentage points, to 35 percent.
I mean, we wouldn't want Biff not to be able to give his little Muffy's his all...

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posted by JReid @ 9:47 AM  
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Why does Susan Collins hate school children?


One of the signature themes of the Senate Don Corleone, Susan Collins', lording of the economic recovery plan, is that she is dead set against spending money to reconstruct schools. What gives?
... after working most of Tuesday night, members and staff were plainly exhausted, and continued disputes over Obama’s school construction initiative delayed a planned meeting of the formal House-Senate conference on the bill.

“Like any negotiation this involved give-and-take, and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement,” said Reid. Down to the end, the school modernization funds were a bone of contention for Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine), whose vote is pivotal to the president.

Last Friday, she had successfully eliminated all such money from the Senate bill. Wednesday she agreed to allow $10 billion as part of a $54 billion fiscal stabilization fund but argued that the $10 billion should not be confined to this single dedicated purpose.

After Reid’s announcement, an administration official said the issue was resolved, as did Collins. But House leaders, who had grown resentful of the Maine Republican’s veto power over the bill, remained unhappy—forcing the delay.
So what is Collins' problem?
The constructions funds are especially sensitive in poor, often minority school districts less able to finance new schools. Among the many spending cuts made last week in the Senate, the school construction issue was perhaps the most ideological.

For the Obama camp, it brings back New Deal memories of the Public Works Administration creating construction jobs and building schools across the country. But Collins has always resisted arguing that, in today’s world, it represents an expansion of the federal role in state and local affairs.
Uh-huh... yeah, why help those poor minority kids, when you can just move to Maine, where there are no poor minority kids...

BTW it appears that the Senate has also screwed over urban districts, in favor of the rural folk who don't like Barack Obama anyway, and who from what I can tell, don't want an economic stimulus plan... and of course, they've also screwed over the poor.
... House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D., Cal.) said the tentative deal calls for 65% of the money to be distributed according to the Senate’s more rural formula; 35% as the more urban House wanted.

In the same talks, the House appears to have preserved its higher 65% subsidy to help laid- off workers meet COBRA payments to maintain employer-provided health insurance; the Senate had proposed 50%. But the House agreed in turn to drop its proposal to increase Medicaid coverage to help lower income individuals face the same insurance dilemma and can’t afford to pay even a subsidized COBRA payment.
ABC News has more on the school construction money dust-up:
One issue is that liberals in the House are objecting to the amount of money in the bill for school construction. Sources say the bill includes $6 billion for school construction. Negotiators worked hard to find a way to put the provisions back in after the Senate eliminated all $16 billion in school construction money. But some key House Democrats say that's not enough.

Another problem, sources say, is that some House Democrats say the bill gives states too much discretion on how to use some of the money intended for education. Some Congressman are concerned that governors will not use the money to help poor school districts.

Some Senate Democrats are unhappy, too. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says there is just not enough money in the bill for school construction.

"Every school in America will get 10,000 bucks if they're lucky," Harkin said, guessing that might be enough to buy two energy efficient windows. "And what's that going to do for them?" he asked. "We're trying to add new heating facilities. We're trying to add renovations. And doing it by formula doesn't do it."

Harkin says he'd ultimately vote for it, but he doesn't like the concessions made to get the support of the moderate Republicans.

No wonder Nancy Pelosi is pissed.



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posted by JReid @ 5:19 PM  
Deal reached on the economic recovery plan (and nobody's happy about it)
From MSNBC:
WASHINGTON - Moving with lightning speed, key lawmakers announced agreement Wednesday on a $789 billion economic stimulus measure designed to create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession. President Barack Obama could sign the bill within days.

"The middle ground we've reached creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the participants in an exhausting and frenzied round of bargaining.

The bill includes help for victims of the recession in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, health coverage and more, as well as billions for states that face the prospect of making deep cuts in their own programs.

It also preserves Obama's signature tax cut — a break for millions of lower and middle income taxpayers, including those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was conspicuously absent from the news conference in which members of the Senate announced the agreement, and it was not clear whether she stayed away out of unhappiness or a scheduling conflict.

Officials had said previously that one of the final issues to be settled was money for school modernization, a priority of Pelosi as well as Obama and one on which they differed with Collins and other moderates whose votes will be essential for final Senate approval.

The WaPo reports on the new D.C. Don Corleone, Susan Collins' ... take:

"I'm particularly pleased that we have produced an agreement that has the top line of $789 billion," she said. "It is a fiscally responsible number that reflects our efforts to truly focus this bill on programs and policies and tax relief that will help turn our economy around, create jobs and provide relief to the families of our country."

Collins, one of three Republican senators whose votes for the bill yesterday gave it a filibuster-proof majority, also said that in the final version, "we were able to increase the amount of infrastructure spending," which she called "the most powerful component in this bill to create jobs." She said the bill contains about $150 billion for infrastructure including transportation, environmental, broadband and other projects.

More than 35 percent of the funding goes for tax relief, Collins said.

And a bit more on what they were fighting over:

Before the House-Senate conference, Democratic negotiators convened a final meeting with Senate centrists who had forced steep cuts in the spending portion of the stimulus plan -- which at one point last week had grown to almost $940 billion in new tax cuts and domestic spending.

Even after the Senate scaled down its version to $838 billion, approved 61-37 yesterday, the centrists continued to demand more reductions. Senate aides said the targets were reducing Obama's "Make Work Pay" tax cut of $500 a year for most individuals and $1,000 a year for most families, paring it down to $400 and $800, respectively.

Other reductions were likely in a $15,000 tax credit for all home purchases in the next year as well as a tax credit for the purchase of new cars, both of which were added to the Senate bill after little debate.

House Democrats have objected to wholesale deletions from their original bill during the Senate debate, but they appeared likely to see some return of aid to states that totaled $79 billion in their plan. The Senate reduced that figure to $39 billion. Senators also zeroed out a fund that would finance school construction, another priority for which House Democrats are pushing to restore funds.

The wrangling may be the reason that not just Pelosi, but also the White House, have withheld the kudos from what just might be a moderate mish-mash bill:

... in a bewildering _ if temporary _ turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House withheld immediate expressions of support, and the formal meeting of congressional bargainers who will need to ratify the deal was delayed.

At a news conference in the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, flanked by moderate senators of both parties, said agreement had been reached on a compromise that "creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill."

Pelosi had been frustrated going into the conference:

“Usually you go to conference and split the difference between the two houses — that may not be the case here,” Pelosi said. “At these conferences, my experience has been that the White House has a seat at the table — that they weigh in.”

Both Obama and Pelosi are hoping to restore significant stimulus spending eliminated by the Senate, especially $21 billion in school construction and technology grants, $10.3 billion in COBRA insurance and $8.6 billion in new Medicaid coverage for the unemployed.

Personally, I blame Harry Reid, who has given virtual veto power over the bill to Susan Collins.

Wimp.


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posted by JReid @ 4:59 PM  
Step one: take out everything House Republicans asked for
The negotiations are moving along on the House-Senate economic revitalization conference bill. Andrea Mitchell just reported that the gist of the changes are to add back in state grants that were stripped in the Senate (and we know the White House wants school construction money restored as well) and cutting back some tax cuts requested by Republican House members who wound up not voting for the bill. As Mitchell put it, the House GOP provisions were "the first to go." After all, Democrats got nothing in exchange for them.

You GO Nancy.

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posted by JReid @ 1:24 PM  
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The economic stimulus plan passes with not a single Republican vote
Surprise! Bipartisanship doesn't exactly rule the day... but the package passes anyway:

With no Republican support, the House approved an $819 billion stimulus plan that will serve as the cornerstone of President Obama's efforts to resuscitate the economy, an early victory for the new president but still a disappointment because of the lack of Republican votes.

The measure passed 244 to 188, with 11 Democrats and 177 Republicans voting against it.

The two-year economic package includes $275 billion in tax cuts and more than $550 billion in domestic spending on roads and bridges, alternative-energy development, health-care technology, unemployment assistance, and aid to states and local governments. It would also provide up to $500 per year in tax relief for most workers and more than $300 billion in aid to states for funding to help rebuild schools, provide health-care to the poor and reconstruct highways and bridges.

Despite a last-minute lobbying campaign by Obama -- including coming to the Capitol yesterday for separate closed-door meetings with House and Senate Republicans -- Republicans opposed the measure and argued that it spent hundreds of billions of dollars on Democratic initiatives that would do little to stimulate the economy or create jobs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heralded the legislation as the first down payment on Obama's pledge, in his inaugural address, to provide "bold and swift" action to revive an economy that is losing more than 500,000 jobs a month, including 65,000 layoffs announced just this week.

"He said he wanted action, bold and swift, and that is exactly what we are doing," Pelosi told reporters before the vote.

A $475 billion Republican alternative, which focused heavily on reducing individual and business taxes, was rejected largely on party lines. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a member of the GOP leadership team, ridiculed the Democratic plan as a "typical bill that is full of wasteful spending." ...

The GOP now has to hope that it doesn't work. Next up: the Senate debates their version (tomorrow) and then it's on to conference committee. What fun!


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posted by JReid @ 9:33 PM  
Monday, January 26, 2009
Conyers tries again
John Conyers discovers his gavel, now that the Bushies have left town.

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posted by JReid @ 11:10 PM  
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
How stupid (and weak) are the Democrats, exactly?
Just a thought: why would Congressional Democrats consent to the creation of a "car czar" who serves at the pleasure of, and reports to, President Bush? Are they not setting Bush up perfectly to appoint an uber union-buster who will, from the moment he or she takes office until they leave in 40 odd days, be a lame duck on a pop up timer, with the game being, "break the UAW before you go?" Sayeth the WaPo:

Under the plan, unveiled by Democratic leaders, the Treasury Department would cut checks for the car companies as soon as next week. The proposal also calls for President Bush to name a "car czar" to manage a vast restructuring of the firms and restore them to profitability.

Democrats bent to the will of the president on several key demands, most notably in agreeing that the emergency funding would be drawn from an existing loan program aimed at promoting fuel-efficient technologies.

Still, the White House objected yesterday to several elements of the Democratic proposal, congressional aides said, including requirements that the car companies notify Washington of any transaction of more than $25 million and that they pull out of lawsuits against states seeking to enforce tougher tailpipe-emissions standards.

Under the proposal, the car companies would be required to submit detailed plans for restructuring by March 31, when they would be eligible for additional government assistance. The Bush administration was pressing to strengthen those provisions to make clear that only companies that were either financially viable or taking steps to achieve viability could receive more federal cash.
Wow. Giving in to Bush demands. That's a new one for Congressional Dems ... (yeesh)...

Aside from the distastefullness of Pelosi and Company's hapbit of ALWAYS giving in to a weakened president, it seems to me that the proposed $15 billion "mini-bailout" does three things:

1) Ties President-Elect Obama's hands, by making all deals binding through March, thus giving a Bush appointee, who if history is any guide, will be a union-busting Kleptocrat, authority that reaches into the next administration.

2) Jeopardizes the UAW, by creating conditions that can likely only be met by eviscerating the current, slimmed down union contract, and/or by laying off thousands more workers, to meet Wall Street's standards of "profitability."

3) Puts suppliers in jeopardy, but potentialy forcing the Big Three to break contracts with these, typically smaller, companies in order to meet the bailout requirements.

Instead of such a deal, can't Congress simply appropriate money for the automakers, within their constitutional authority, and dare the lame duck president to veto? The bottom line is that the auto companies are practically worthless, particularly GM and Chrysler, and as Michael Moore says, they could be bought outright for a fraction of the cost of bailing them out. The Congress holds the whip hand, but as usual, they are too timid to use it. Nancy Pelosi can talk about "haircuts" all she wants, but the fact remains that this is a big give to the outgoing president.

It's a shame when ordinary Americans, like the workers at Republic Windows and Doors, are ballsier than the people who supposedly represent us in Congress.

UPDATE: Even Ben Bernanke has the Dems' number, saying today that:
“The Federal Reserve would be extremely reluctant to extend credit where Congress has actively considered providing assistance, but after due consideration, has decided not to act,” Bernanke wrote Dodd. The letter was dated Dec. 5 and released Tuesday.
And...
... lending directly to an auto company would represent a “marked departure” in the use of the Fed’s emergency program, which is aimed at promoting financial stability, a crucial underpinning for the broader U.S. economy, the Fed chief wrote.

“It would raise the question as to whether the Federal Reserve should be involved in industrial policy, which has traditionally been outside the range of our responsibilities,” Bernanke wrote. “Our view is that questions of industrial policy are best resolved by Congress.”
Duh.

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posted by JReid @ 7:47 PM  
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sorry, Hillary. This is the most powerful woman in America


Nancy Pelosi could sure teach Harry Reid a thing or two about wielding power. If you doubt for a second that she is the most powerful woman in the country, ask yourselves two questions:

1. Who did Nancy Pelosi support for the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee: fellow Californian Henry Waxman, or John Dingell, who has held the gavel, or been the ranking member, for a quarter century, and who is the longest serving member of the House? Answer: Waxman.

2. Who is going to be the chairman in the 111th Congress? Answer...

And by the way, Dingell and Pelosi are longtime rivals, and his ouster also represents a blow to the influence of the industrial northeast, specifically his state of Michigan, where the Big Three automakers aren't doing themselves any favors on Capitol Hill, by, in the words of one Congressman, flying to Washington on private jets with tin cups in their hands.

The major shift in the leadership also represents a triumph for the left wing of the party, over the doctrinaire old guard. As the Christian Science Monitor puts it:
The 255-member House Democratic conference voted 137 to 122 Thursday to replace Rep. Dingell, a close ally of the auto industry, with Waxman, a longtime champion of environmental causes. The vote places Waxman in charge of a panel with one of the broadest jurisdictions of any congressional committee, responsible for legislative oversight relating to consumer protection, food and drug safety, air quality, energy supply and transmission, telecommunications, and a host of other matters relating to interstate and foreign commerce.

Environmentalists are praising the outcome, which was unusual in that it defied Congress’s seniority system. Dingell, the House’s longest-serving member, assumed office in 1955 and has chaired the energy committee for 28 years.

“Waxman’s victory is a breath of fresh air – of clean air,” wrote Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group. “It was a stunning defeat for the corporate lobbyists on K Street.”

“This is huge for those who’ll want strong action on both climate change and clean energy and energy independence (and health care)” wrote Joseph Romm, a former Clinton energy adviser and a blogger for the Center for American Progress, a think tank headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief-of-staff. “Heck, it’s the second best piece of news on global warming this month!”

Dingell had long opposed measures the auto industry didn't like, like increasing CAFE standards or increasing gas mileage (or building electric cars.) Yet another single that if they want help, Detroit will have to make major changes, and not by slashing the incomes of their employees.

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posted by JReid @ 1:41 PM  
Thursday, November 06, 2008
364
I don't mind being wrong (well, very slightly wrong... I had it at 349 with NC as a maybe...)

AP has called North Carolina for Barack Obama. He's now at 364 electoral votes to McCain's 162, and he becomes the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. (Indiana and Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964.) That means that Obama grabbed a total (Missouri is still counting votes) of eight states that GWB won in 2004: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, spreading the map in a way no Democrat has in more than a generation.

The Dems also pick up a sixth Senate seat, as Gordon Smith concedes to Jeff Merkley in Oregon. He seemed like a good guy, but that's the kind of year we're having. The party has also picked up 22 House seats (my predictions had been 9 or 10 in the Senate and 28 in the House) with four races (in Alaska, California, Maryland and Ohio) still too close to call.

Meanwhile, the Huffpo and Matthew Yglesias point to a New York Times map that shows that only 22 percent of counties voted more Republican this year than in 2004, and almost all of those counties are located in Appalachia -- it's the only place where McCain improved upon Bush.

Barack Obama got 40% or more of the vote in every state West of the Mississippi, including Montana in the Great Northwest, which he damned near won, the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska, with the exception being the "iron GOP triangle) of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, where he was in the 30s (though it was a healthy-ish 36% in Idaho.) He even got 43% in Texas (where the Hispanic population is making the state bluer every day, on the Western and Southern sides.) The GOP firewall is now pretty much confined to Appalachia, which is losing population, and losing influence, fast. They will have to find a way to appeal to suburban and urban whites, Hispanics, Asians and Black folk sometimes soon, or they're doomed. Long-term doomed.

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posted by JReid @ 1:21 PM  
Monday, November 03, 2008
The final tally
Ok, I'm going all-in on the predictions. I'm more conservative on this than some, and am calling it as follows:

Obama - 349
McCain - 189

... an electoral landslide by any measure. I give Barack the following pick-ups from Bush 2004:

Virginia
Florida
Colorado
New Mexico
Iowa
Ohio
Indiana
Nevada

... and I say he holds New Hampshire for a solid Northeast.

I'm not so sure about Georgia and North Carolina, although if Obama pulls those off, he's at 379, and if he manages to grab Missouri, he's at an astounding 390. One of the volunteers on the campaign in Miami is married to a former Indiana congressman, so her inside take is that Indiana is very winnable. I agree. Missouri is too, I think, based on the primary turnout for Obama and Hillary, but I'm being conservative, as I said. And my prediction is based on two, I think insurmountable factors in Obama's favor: superior voter registration numbers for the Dems, and exceptional early vote turnout, particularly among black voters.

Make your own electoral map here. Get more electoral math here.

As for the House and Senate, I'm going to guess that the Democrats will pick up 10 Senate seats (9 I'm certain of, Georgia is a maybe...):
  1. Alaska - Begich wins, the other guy's a felon.
  2. Colorado - Udall #1 wins
  3. Maine - I like Susan Collins, but she loses
  4. North Carolina - Bye-bye, Liddy Dole! And take that "godless" ad with you!
  5. Minnesota - The Frankin era begins... (and he makes a return visit to "SNL")
  6. New Hampshire - Bye, Sununu, I hear you're a good guy, but this is just that kind of year...
  7. New Mexico - Udall number two, wins
  8. Oregon - Gordon Smith, another decent guy, goes down
  9. Virginia - Mark Warner. Need I say more?
  10. Georgia - I know, I know, but with black turnout? It can happen.
More fun with the congressional match-ups here. See all the races here.

As for the House, I'll go with a nice round number of 28 seats, including pick-ups in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington State, to name a few.

All in all, should be a good night for our side.

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posted by JReid @ 7:56 AM  
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Boehner tees off
While the Democrats are dithering around "on vacation..." the Republican Party is doing the people's business in the House of Representatives; lights be damned!
(WaPo Capitol Briefing) On Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a release commending McCain for his call [for the House to come back into session and vote to drill, drill, DRILL...!], trashing Barack Obama and adding: "While Democrats left town for a month-long break, House Republicans have stayed behind and continued to demand a vote on the American Energy Act, which will help lower energy prices and liberate America from its dependence on foreign oil."

Boehner was around for the start of the fake House session Friday but then left town and hasn't been back since. Even former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) showed up today to rally with his GOP comrades, but the current party leader was nowhere to be seen.

So where is the Boehner?

... His office says he's been in Ohio raising money for his political action committee, the Freedom Project, and that he should be back in D.C. later this week. He's also doing 18 events in August for GOP candidates across the country.

But Boehner also has found time to squeeze in a couple rounds of golf. Scores reported by Boehner himself to a United States Golf Association site show that he posted an 85 sometime this week at his home course, Wetherington Golf & Country Club in West Chester, Ohio. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said he wasn't exactly sure of the details of Boehner's 18 holes, but that he felt confident that "if he did play at home, it was over the weekend."

And The Sleuth passes along a tip that Boehner was spotted yesterday at the lovely Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Muirfield was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is the home of the Golden Bear's annual memorial tournament. Here's a nice shot of Boehner and Nicklaus together at the 2005 tournament.

Um...

Well... at least we can count on John McCain to do the people's business .... right...?
As for McCain, it would be a big deal indeed if Congress came back into session for an energy vote and the Arizonan actually showed up. This Friday will mark the four-month anniversary of the last time McCain actually cast a vote in the Senate. Since April 8, he's missed 103 consecutive floor votes, including several on energy-related issues. That's a remarkable streak, even for a presidential candidate. McCain is like the anti-Cal Ripken.
Damn, damn, DAMN!
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posted by JReid @ 12:24 AM  
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My kingdom for one gutsy Democrat
Okay, now I've got a few, and none of them are in the Senate.

President Bush says he will veto any FISA reform bill that doesn't give immunity from lawsuits to the telecom companies who helped his administration illegally spy on Americans. (Placing the government's national security aparatus in the service of big business: priceless... using fearmongering to do it? Bush.) Well, go ahead, Dubya, delay that trip to Africa, veto the bill, see if anybody who matters cares.

On Thursday, February 14th, Valentine's Day 2008, finally someone had the balls to stand up to this maniac. From Wired News:
House Democrats Stand Up To Bush, Refuse to Rubber Stamp Domestic Spying

The Protect America Act, a temporary but expansive warrantless spying bill passed by Congress last summer, will likely expire Saturday at midnight, a casualty of a battle between President Bush and House Democrats over amnesty for phone companies that aided his secret, warrantless spying program and how much of that program should be legalized. The House leadership announced there will be no more votes before the long President's Day legislative break.

The bill's expiration is largely symbolic, but demonstrates that House Democrats are willing to fight Bush on anti-terrorism policies, where fear-mongering rhetoric had previously cowed their opposition.

Though Republicans charge that the expiration will endanger national security, no wiretaps or dragnets will be forced to stop and the government will retain longstanding surveillance powers.

Additionally, any broad domestic surveillance of emails and phone calls started under the expiring act can continue for another year, and new targets can be added such programs without getting a court order.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) laid the blame for expiration at the White House's door and said the House wanted extra time to protect Americans' rights.

"We are committed to protecting the American people and protecting the constitution," Pelosi said. "We will continue to work with the Senate to produce a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] bill that does both."

The Protect America Act, passed in August last year, was a temporary measure enacted after a secret spying court ruled that the president's spying was illegal. That secret ruling came just months after Bush bowed to political pressure and submitted the program to the court more than a year after the New York Times exposed its existence.

On Wednesday, House Democrats attempted to pass a three-week extension to give it time to work out a compromise bill with the Senate. The Senate bill, passed by a wide, bi-partisan margin on Tuesday, is far more Administration- and telecom-friendly than the House's bill.

But Bush threatened to veto any extension to the temporary measure, a move clearly intended to push the House to adopt the Senate version verbatim. House Republicans, joined by conservative Democrats and a handful of anti-warrantless wiretapping liberal, voted down that extension Wednesday. ...
This comes after the Senate capitulated to the president, voting down Chris Dodd's attempt to strip telco immunity from its bill, and then approving a monstrosity of a FISA reform act that essentially gives this weakest of presidents -- this total lame duck -- everything he wants. How this guy can continue to run over Senate Democrats at this stage of his undress is beyond me. I'm starting to wonder if his domestic spying started, and perhaps ended, with Senate Democrats...

But the biggest theatrics of the day came from House Republicans, who threw a tantrum after their colleagues refused to kiss the backside of the president one more 'gain and walked out of the chamber (to waiting microphones, of course...) Someone get John Boehner a tissue...

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posted by JReid @ 11:41 PM  
Friday, February 16, 2007
The House votes to frown sternly at Dubya
House Congressional Resolution 63 has been approved, "Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq." The Yeas were 246 and the Nays were 182. 17 Republicans voted with the Democrats, of whom only two opposed the resolution.

The concurrent resolution reads as follows:
Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Here's the WaPo's take.

Update: The RedStaters take names on the 17 GOPers who voted for the res. Big ups to Rick Keller (R) of Florida.

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posted by JReid @ 4:05 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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