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House Dems ask Boehner for ‘no shutdown’ vow

Rep. George Miller helped wrangle 178 House Democrats – including the rest of the Bay Area’s delegation – to sign two freshmen’s letter calling on Speaker John Boehner to publicly say he won’t use the threat of another government shutdown or debt default as a political tactic in the budget talks.

“Republicans shut down the government and nearly defaulted on America’s debt because they couldn’t shut down the new health care law,” Miller, D-Martinez, said in a news release. “Americans paid a steep price for that partisan and irresponsible action, costing the economy $24 billion and causing economic confidence to plummet. We’re calling on the Republican leadership in Congress to vow ‘No More Shutdowns’ or threats of default as we work out our legitimate differences over the federal budget.”

The letter – led by Reps. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., and Annie Kuster, D-N.H. – said “the most powerful source of uncertainty to American families and businesses is the threat of a government shutdown and default on our debts. That is why we are writing to you to urge you and your leadership to publicly declare that you will not again use the threat of a government shutdown or default as leverage in the important discussions regarding long-term deficit reduction and economic growth.”

OK, everyone – hold your breath now while we wait for Boehner to comply with their request…

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Boxer helps float bill to curb debt-limit battles

The president could raise the nation’s debt ceiling unless Congress votes to nix it, under a bill introduced today by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and two other Senate Democrats.

Boxer, D-Calif.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, say the “Pay Our Bills Act” would reduce the chances of the debt ceiling being used as a political weapon to leverage votes on unrelated issues, as just happened this month as House Republicans tried to tie raising the ceiling and ending the government shutdown they caused to defunding the nation’s health insurance law.

Barbara Boxer“We know from recent history that even the threat of not paying our bills does serious damage to our economy,” Boxer said in a news release. “It’s time for us to put in place a straightforward process to avoid a catastrophic default on our nation’s debt. The Pay Our Bills Act gives both houses of Congress and the President a say, but sends a strong message of certainty to the markets, to our families and to the world.”

Right now, Congress must vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling – the limit beyond which the nation can no longer borrow to pay costs it already has incurred. Under this bill, the president could propose an increase and Congress would have 15 days in which to vote on a resolution of disapproval. The president could veto that resolution like any other legislation, but so too could Congress could override that veto with a two-thirds majority vote as with any other legislation.

As a practical matter in the current political landscape, such a resolution of disapproval would pass the Republican-led House easily but would be dead on arrival in the Democrat-led Senate – and without disapproval from both chambers, the president would be free to do as he sees fit. And that means this Pay Our Bills Act will be dead on arrival in the House.

The plan is based on a Republican idea – the “McConnell Rule” first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2011.

But McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor today, said his 2011 proposal was never meant to be permanent, or unaccompanied by spending cuts like those accomplished through the ongoing budget sequestration. He called the Democrats’ bill an “outrageous… plan to permanently hand the President a credit card without spending limits, and without lifting a finger to address the national debt.”

Schumer “is not going to find any dance partners on this side of the aisle,” McConnell said. “Because handing the President a permanent blank check, increasing the size of government, and trying to overturn the most significant bipartisan accomplishment of the Obama years – well, that’s just a non-starter.”

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PAC vows to revive civility in politics. Not.

A Nevada-based conservative political action committee on Thursday apologized – well, sort of – for an early-morning fundraising email describing lawmakers who supported the deal to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling as “a parliament of traitors and whores.”

“These 81 whores curbstomped liberty and defecated on the Constitution yet again tonight,” the Western Representation PAC’s email said, singling out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., for special abuse. “Mitch McConnell received his $3 billion of silver to betray the base and the grassroots, via an amendment authored by Lamar Alexander. They’re such sluts for a good porking… It takes $2.9 billion to put Mitch McConnell on his knees before President Obama, whoring himself out and betraying his Kentucky constituents.”

Western Representation PAC logo

“They will remember this day and rue it, and we will pour forth the fires of your wrath upon their heads… We are coming, and we are never going to stop until we take down every last one of these 81 whores,” the email vowed. “Your donations are history-making ammunition to execute those who spat in your faces tonight with their vote. It’s time to take these whores and traitors out. Donate today, and know that your dollars will rain down like mortars on those who betrayed us tonight in 2014. A season of vengeance is upon us, and it is time for the establishment to reap what it has sown.”

Yowza! Sounds like someone was off their meds.

The email had gone out in the name of PAC cofounder Dustin Stockton. He sent out another email Wednesday afternoon under the subject line “We went too far.”

Dustin Stockton “After seeing some of the crony handouts in the legislative deal yesterday I instructed our team not to pull their punches and portray the rage that we are justifiably feeling over just the latest example of Washington corruption,” Stockton wrote. “Although my name was at the bottom of that email it was not written by me and some of the rhetoric I felt went over the line. I’d like to apologize for that and since it had my name on it, ultimately it is my responsibility and I apologize for some of the more brash rhetoric.”

But delving into notpology territory, Stockton also wrote “the fact is that these politicians who are granted the sacred honor of representing our interests ARE whoring themselves out to lobbyists and special interests.”

“Our team is humbled and honored for the opportunity to dedicate our lives to fighting these evil bastards,” he wrote. “We only succeed when we responsibly represent your voice in our activism and our email earlier stepped over the line. We apologize for that, but not for calling it like we see it.”

Read the entire original email, after the jump…
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What they’re saying on the shutdown/debt deal

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts. With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies, raising taxes is not a viable option. Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue. We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law’s massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer“Bipartisanship in the Senate is leading America out of a painful, partisan, self-inflicted crisis. Relief doesn’t begin to describe my feelings at this moment in history as the Senate came together not a moment too soon.

“During the 16-day government shutdown I worked to show through my committee chairmanship and as a Senator of the largest state in the country just how painful the shutdown has been to millions of Americans, and how we should never again go through another government shutdown or even a flirtation with a devastating default.

“There are many issues that divide Republicans and Democrats, but the one thing I trust this outcome ensures is that we will always keep the government open, pay our bills and work together.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

honda.jpg“I am pleased that cooler heads in the Senate have prevailed with a bipartisan deal that allows the federal government to reopen, albeit temporarily, and removes the specter of reaching the debt ceiling until February.

“Obstructionist Tea Party Republicans held the government and the American people hostage for sixteen days and threatened the full faith and credit of the United States, all in a misguided, failed effort to deny millions of Americans access to healthcare. This process has done lasting damage to the public’s trust in Congress, as governing should not involve lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next in the hopes of extracting concessions in exchange for not destroying the economy.

“Today’s agreement sets a winter deadline that some may use to take us to the brink yet again. I believe we must permanently reform this process, and will be working to build support among my colleagues for my legislation, H.R. 233, that will end the brinksmanship and threat of default by creating a smooth process for raising the debt limit. This is the kind of structural change we need for economic stability in the future.”

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Miller: Petition might be last option to avert ruin

An effort to force a House vote on a “clean” continuing resolution to re-open the federal government “may become the parachute that saves us from crashing” if other plans fall through in the next day or so, Rep. George Miller said Tuesday afternoon.

George MillerA plan for the House to vote Tuesday evening on a GOP proposal to raise the debt limit and reopen the government appears to be on the rocks. House Republicans appear split on whether to support it, and the Democrat-led Senate probably wouldn’t pass it anyway because it would fund the government only through mid-December and it’s predicated on a tweak to the national health insurance law.

Senate leaders had been inching toward a deal of their own Monday, but that was put on hold Tuesday pending the House vote. If the Senate can’t return to the bargaining table, that leaves little time before Thursday’s deadline – after which the government loses its ability to borrow and won’t be able to pay its bills, triggering chaos in the world’s financial markets.

Democrats on Oct. 4 announced they would start a discharge petition to force a vote on a clean continuing resolution, but due to procedural requirements, they couldn’t start gathering signatures until Saturday. As of Tuesday afternoon, 196 Democrats had signed but no Republicans; 218 signatures are needed to force a vote.

House Democrats have been pressing 30 specific Republicans – who have voiced their distaste for their party’s shutdown strategy and said they would vote for a clean CR – to sign the discharge petition.

“They have not (signed) yet – they’re in negotiations, and this is a very heavy lift to join a discharge petition against your own leadership,” Miller, D-Martinez, said Tuesday, but he’s convinced enough will sign if there’s no other way to avoid the impending fiscal disaster.

“We’re 48 hours away from having a dual image flash across the world: The United States government is shut down AND it’s about to default on its debt,” he said. “That is a catastrophic image for our country.”

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Calif. House members: ‘Stop fighting, start fixing’

Eight California lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were among more than 50 House members who gathered today in Washington, D.C., to urge congressional leaders and President Obama to “stop fighting and start fixing.”

Organized by the bipartisan group No Labels, the lawmakers who assembled in the Cannon House Office Building’s caucus room agreed leaders mustn’t let the nation default on its debt.

“The No Labels Problem Solvers and other members of Congress you see here today are ready to work together and support our respective leaderships in a bipartisan solution to the government shutdown and other crucial issues facing our country,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. “Let’s show some courage and work together like the American people expect and deserve.”

Among those at the event were Reps. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Tony Cardenas, D-Arleta; Jim Costa, D-Fresno; Susan Davis, D-San Diego; Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Scott Peters, D-San Diego; and David Valadao, R-Hanford.


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“The costs of the government shutdown are growing every day, and experts from all sides agree that failing to pay America’s bills would be disastrous for our economy,” Bera said in a news release. “It’s past time for us to stop blaming one another, and start talking about how to move forward for the good of the country. This is not about Democrats or Republicans; it’s about putting the American people before politics. Many of us are ready to begin working and solving our nation’s problems, but we need leadership that lets us do that work.”