Tag Archive: democrats


Senators Seek To Force Approval Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted: 05/01/2014 4:10 pm EDT Updated: 05/01/2014 4:59 pm EDT

 

HEIDI HEITKAMP

WASHINGTON –- Senate supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline say they think they have enough votes to pass a bill that would force the approval of the controversial project. A group of 56 senators — all 45 Republicans plus 11 Democrats –- introduced legislation on Thursday that would bypass the Obama administration and grant approval for the pipeline.

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced the bill on Thursday. Democrats Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Walsh (D-Mont.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) are cosponsoring it.

Because it crosses an international border, the decision on the pipeline falls under the authority of the State Department. The State Department announced another delay on a decision last month in response to a court decision that invalidated the pipeline’s proposed route through Nebraska, saying that it would wait to decide until there is more clarity on where the pipeline will ultimately run. The legislation would grant approval to “any subsequent revision to the pipeline route” in Nebraska, without requiring further environmental analysis.

“We continue to hear delay, delay, delay from the Administration about the Keystone XL pipeline. I’m beyond sick of it,” Heitkamp said in a statement Thursday. “We have strong bipartisan support in the Senate for this project –- and I’m proud to have recruited support from 10 other Democrats last month. Now, all of those Democrats also signed onto this bill that we crafted to fully approve the construction of the Keystone pipeline. If the Administration isn’t going to make a decision on this project after more than five years, then we’ll make it for them. End of story.”

 

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The Hill

Pelosi warns focus on deportations a ‘gift’ to Republicans

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Immigration reformers shifting their focus from Congress to the White House over deportations risk undermining efforts to pass a comprehensive reform bill this year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Thursday.

Pelosi said she supports the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s calls for the administration to reduce deportations. But simultaneously taking pressure off of House Republicans, she added, is a “gift” to GOP leaders, allowing them to dodge a sensitive issue that could hurt them in the 2014 election.

“That’s a gift to the Republicans,” she said. “Because the fact is, the Republicans are never going to move unless they think there’s a price to play politically for not bringing the bill to the floor.”

Pelosi stressed that legislation remains the Democrats’ ultimate goal, and urged reformers to stay focused on Congress getting a bill.

“I see the pain and suffering of the deportations,” she said. “But the answer, the medicine for every ill in the deportations is to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Pelosi did not say that congressional Democrats or the White House should no longer consider reduced deportations. But her warning that the actions of pro-immigration groups could deliver Republicans a political benefit could raise questions about the strategy overall.

Many Democrats are calling on President Obama for reduced deportations, and Obama has asked Department of Homeland Security leaders for an across-the-board review of his deportations policies.

The move has made many critics hopeful he’ll expand the administration’s deferred action program, which allows some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as kids to remain in the United States temporarily, to a broader population.

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Pelosi: Race playing role in GOP’s reluctance to move immigration bill

Greg Nash

Issues of race have made GOP leaders reluctant to back immigration reform, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) charged Thursday.

 

The Democratic leader suggested that the Republicans would have moved a reform bill long ago if whites were the only beneficiaries.”I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it were just you, this would be easy.’ “

The remarks came in response to a question about the often-testy relationship between congressional Republicans and the administration of President Obama, the nation’s first black president.

There’s long been grumbling among Democrats that Obama’s race has exacerbated the partisan divide between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans, highlighted recently by a flare-up between Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

Pelosi was reluctant to say that race issues have fueled those tensions, arguing more broadly that Republicans have been “very disrespectful” of White House officials regardless of their ethnicity.

 

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Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints

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The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on Monday said changes in the healthcare market meant it did not need to make those cuts to Medicare Advantage this year.

It cited an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare, which it said has lowered projected costs for that program.

CMS separately is delaying a risk assessment proposal that was set to take affect under ObamaCare.

 

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Obama administration proposes 1.9% cut in Medicare Advantage payments

February 21, 2014 8:08 pm by

Barack ObamaMedicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015.

CMS said Friday its preliminary estimate is “the combined effect of the Medicare Advantage growth percentage and the fee-for-service growth percentage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans said they are reviewing the details of the announcement to determine the total impact of the federal payment rates. In a statement, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni was critical of the proposed rates, saying, “The new proposed Medicare Advantage cuts would cause seniors in the program to lose benefits and choices on which they depend.”

 

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Obama flip-flops on Medicare drug coverage

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

The Obama administration, in an abrupt about-face, said on Monday it would drop proposed changes to Medicare drug coverage that met wide opposition on grounds they would harm health benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Late last week, more than 370 organizations representing insurers, drug makers, pharmacies, health providers and patients urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw changes it had proposed for Medicare Part D.

One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees.

Critics said the changes, if adopted in coming months, could not only undermine Part D benefits but impact drug benefits available through Medicare Advantage, a program that allows Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their major medical coverage through private insurers.

“Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time. We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner advised in a letter sent on Monday to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The proposals were opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party had already begun to look for ways to leverage popular anger over the changes into campaign attacks on Democratic incumbents who could be vulnerable in November’s election showdown for control of Congress.

Elated critics of the proposed changes said the government had effectively agreed to start over in the face of broad, bipartisan opposition.

 

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New York Times SundayReview

The Obama administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance plans that cover almost 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries — are fair and reasonable. As it happens, they are also mandated by law. Yet Republicans, sensing a campaign issue, are telling older and disabled Americans that the administration is “raiding Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare.” The health insurance industry, for its part, is warning that enrollees will suffer higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer choices among doctors if the cuts go into force.

Some of this could in fact happen, although the industry has cried wolf before and continues to thrive. But the key point is this: Over the past decade, enrollees in Medicare Advantage have received lots of extra benefits, thanks to unjustified federal subsidies to the insurance companies. Now they will have to do with somewhat less, unless the insurers are willing to absorb the cuts while maintaining benefits. Enrollment in these private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, has more than doubled since 2006, in part because of lower premiums and extra benefits, like gym memberships, that are not included in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

What made these perks possible was, in effect, a subsidy from taxpayers and other Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government paid the private plans, on average, 14 percent more in 2009 than it would cost to treat the same people in traditional Medicare. The insurers used this extra money to reduce enrollees’ costs and add benefits.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act rightly required that these subsidies be reduced, although it stopped short of completely eliminating them. The reductions began to take effect in 2012, and have not, so far, visibly harmed beneficiaries or the plans. Since enactment of the law, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent, the opposite of what some expected, and enrollment has increased by nearly 33 percent, according to the administration. But as the law intended, federal payments to the private plans dropped — from 7 percent more than services under traditional Medicare in 2012 to 4 percent more last year. The administration now proposes to further reduce the payments to Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. The loudest criticism has come from Republicans, but plenty of Democrats have chimed in.

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The Hill

Lauren Schneiderman

The budget deal worked out by House and Senate negotiators is on the verge of unraveling over the exclusion of federal unemployment benefits, several leading Democrats warned Wednesday.

The lawmakers are outraged by a GOP move to add the Medicare “doc fix” to the package but not a continuation of unemployment benefits — a strategy they say could sink the entire package by scaring away Democratic votes.

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Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Sandy Levin (Mich.) said the move creates a “new dynamic” undermining Democratic support for the plan announced Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“I think it puts at risk the whole bill, and it surely puts at risk my vote,” said Levin, the top Democrat at the House Ways and Means Committee.

Van Hollen echoed that message.

“This does now add a new dynamic that could upset the applecart that could put at risk the budget agreement,” he said.

It’s not clear whether Democrats would sink the first bipartisan budget deal in years over the unemployment insurance (UI) issue. But with GOP leaders intent on leaving town on Friday — and with GOP leaders showing little appetite to extend the benefits before they expire on Dec. 28 — the Democrats’ only real leverage is to threaten to do so.

“Obviously, once the budget passes you don’t have much leverage in terms of votes on things that remain,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. “That may be the last vehicle.”

Some Democrats on Wednesday morning appeared poised to back the Ryan-Murray budget agreement. But they also cautioned that the addition of the Medicare language without a UI extension could erode that support.

“It’s something we should do, but why wouldn’t we do unemployment insurance if we’re doing that?” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked Wednesday morning after a meeting of her caucus in the Capitol.

 

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Yahoo News

Bipartisan budget deal sets off some grumbling

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Backers of a narrowly drawn budget deal are selling it as a way to stabilize Congress’ shaky fiscal practices and mute some of the partisan rancor that has helped send lawmakers’ public approval ratings plummeting. But the bipartisan pact doesn’t solve long-term tax and spending issues, leaving liberals and conservatives alike grumbling.

House and Senate floor votes are being sought on the plan announced Tuesday by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, and applauded by the White House, with the aim of securing passage before lawmakers go home for the holidays.

But skepticism surfaced in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and leading deficit hawk, panned the new deal in an interview Wednesday, saying it fails to address core issues of wasteful spending in Washington. He said it was probably “the best” that Ryan and Murray could get at this time. But said he was disappointed in its failure to address core fiscal issues such as duplication and wasteful spending in Washington.

The agreement, among other things, seeks to restore $63 billion in automatic spending cuts affecting programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis. It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the budget year that began in October.

The measure unveiled by Ryan, R-Wis., and Murray, D-Wash., blends $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees — but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries — to replace a significant amount of the mandated cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.

The package would raise the Transportation Security Administration fee on a typical nonstop, round-trip airline ticket from $5 to $10; require newly hired federal workers to contribute 1.3 percentage points more of their salaries toward their pensions; and trim cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of military retirees under the age of 62. Hospitals and other health care providers would have to absorb two additional years of a 2-percentage-point cut in their Medicare reimbursements.

The plan doesn’t attempt to resuscitate earlier attempts at an accommodation that would have traded tax hikes for structural curbs to ever-growing benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. But it would at least bring some stability on the budget to an institution — Congress — whose approval ratings are in the gutter.

“Our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back … harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years,” Murray said.

Ryan is set to pitch the measure to skeptical conservatives at a closed-door GOP meeting on Wednesday. Democrats are set to discuss it as well, but the measure won an immediate endorsement from President Barack Obama if only tepid approval from top Capitol Hill Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee.

“Tonight’s agreement represents a step toward enacting a budget for the American people and preventing further manufactured crises that only harm our economy, destroy jobs and weaken our middle class,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure that we don’t have another government shutdown scenario in October,” Ryan said. “It makes sure that we don’t lurch from crisis to crisis.”

 

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TPM Livewire

House Budget Dem: If There’s A Medicare Payment Fix Vote, Let’s See Unemployment Insurance Too

Debt-summit--3

AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

House Democrats are urging lawmakers to include a vote on unemployment insurance alongside a budget deal if Republican lawmakers insist on including a short-term fix to the Medicare payment system as well.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, standing along side Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), said Republican lawmakers have begun pushing to include a Sustainable Growth Rate fix (often called a short term doc fix that addresses a Medicare payment problem) alongside the budget proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).

Physicians who treat patients under Medicare are scheduled to take a huge pay cut in the new year if Congress doesn’t enact this “doc fix.” Many lawmakers have expressed support for reversing the pay cuts baked into current law should, but such a fix is costly.

 

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CommonDreams.org

New poll reveals growing discontent with NSA surveillance

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Photo: EFF Photos/cc/flickr A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Thursday poll reveals that while a growing number of Americans feels that the National Security Agency violates privacy, the party the least critical of the agency’s surveillance activities are Democrats.

The poll found that, overall, an increasing number of Americans believes that the NSA’s activities intrude on their privacy. Sixty-eight percent said that the agency’s activities violate the privacy of some Americans. Forty-eight percent said that those intrusions were unjustifiable; that’s up from 40 percent in a July poll.

Forty-six percent said that agency “goes too far” in its surveillance activities.

But the poll revealed significant partisan differences.

Only 37 percent of Democrats responded that the surveillance agency “goes too far”; that’s compared to 47 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents.

Also, asked if the NSA intrusions on “some Americans’ privacy rights” were justifiable or unjustifiable, Democrats were 18 points less likely than Republicans and independents to say they were unjustifiable.

The poll also asked respondents about Edward Snowden.

It found that 60 percent of Americans said that the whistleblower’s disclosures have harmed U.S. security—a surge from 49 percent in their July poll.

Support for Snowden was strongest from youth; just 35 percent of respondents under 30 say he should be charged with a crime, compared with 57 percent of older respondents.

And while over half (56 percent) of those under 30 said Snowden did the “right thing” in revealing the extent of NSA spying, only 32 percent of those over 30 agreed.

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A Commentary By Sebastian Fischer and Marc Pitzke

Photo Gallery: US Congress Votes to End Shutdown Photos
AP

The United States has temporarily avoided federal default. As the Republicans lick their wounds, the Democrats are triumphant. But no one should be happy, because the debacle has exposed just how broken the American political system truly is.

The president kept things short, speaking for only three minutes on Wednesday night to praise the debt compromise reached by Congress. After he finished, a reporter called after him: “Mr. President, will this happen again in a couple of months?” Barack Obama, who was on his way out the door, turned and answered sharply, “No.”

 

ANZEIGE

But such optimism has proven to be unrealistic in the past. With his re-election in 2012, Obama thought he could break the Republican “fever.” Instead, the conservatives paralyzed the government and risked a federal default just so they could stop Obama’s signature project: health care reform. And this despite the fact that “Obamacare” had been approved by a majority of both houses of Congress, was upheld by the US Supreme Court, and was endorsed by the American people in the voting booths.

No, the democratic process cannot reduce this “fever,” and probably won’t during the next fight, either. On the contrary, the political crisis has turned out to be a systemic crisis.

America’s 237-year-old democracy is approaching its limits. Its political architecture was not designed for long-lasting blockades and extortion, the likes of which have been enthusiastically practiced by Tea Party supporters for almost the last four years. The US’s founding fathers proposed a system of checks and balances, not checks and boycotts.

In hardly any other western democracy are the minority’s parliamentary rights as strongly pronounced as they are in the US, where a single senator can delay legislation, deny realities, and leverage the system.

Non-Representative Democracy

In Germany, the government is built from a majority in parliament. In America, the president and his allies in Congress have to organize majorities for each new law. But for a long time Obama has hardly been able to find any — not for immigration reform, or new gun control laws, or even for the budget, as the world’s largest economy has been making do with emergency spending measures since 2009.

Scarcely 50 right-wing populists, led by Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz, have been pushing their once proud Republican party into a kamikaze course. Why are the other Republicans letting them do this? They are afraid of radical challengers within their own party in their local districts.

Meanwhile, the Democrats hardly pose a threat, because over the past several years the borders of the congressional districts have been manipulated in such a way that they almost always clearly go Republican or Democratic. As a result, America loses the representative nature of its representative democracy. In the congressional elections in 2012, Democrats won 1.17 million more votes than Republicans, but Republicans got 33 more seats in the House of Representatives.

 

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NBC News

A new NBC News/Esquire poll shows that a majority of Americans are now in the political center. NBC News political director Chuck Todd discusses the findings with Matt Lauer.

It’s the most conventional wisdom in Washington, the unchallenged idea that America is a divided nation, a country ripped into red and blue factions in perpetual conflict. The government shutdown this fall would seem like only the latest evidence of this political civil war. But is the idea of two Americas even true? Not according to a new Esquire-NBC News survey.

At the center of national sentiment there’s no longer a chasm but a common ground where a diverse and growing majority – 51 percent  – is bound by a surprising set of shared ideas.

“Just because Washington is polarized doesn’t mean America is,” says Robert Blizzard, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, the lead pollster for Mitt Romney in 2012. His firm co-created the survey with the Benenson Strategy Group, pollsters for President Obama, and the result is a nation in eight distinct segments: two on the far right (“The Righteous Right” and “The Talk Radio Heads”), two on the far left (“The Bleeding Hearts” and “The Gospel Left”), and four in the middle that represent nothing less than a new American center (“Minivan Moderates,” “The MBA Middle,” “The Pick-up Populists, and “The #WhateverMan.”)

The people of the center are patriotic and proud, with a strong majority (66 percent) saying that America is still the greatest country in the world, and most (54 percent) calling it a model that other countries should emulate. But the center is also very nervous about the future, overwhelmingly saying that America can no longer afford to spend money on foreign aid (81 percent) when we need to build up our own country.

Take an interactive quiz to find out where you stand

Pluralities believe that the political system is broken (49 percent), and the economy is bad (50 percent) and likely to stay that way a while (41 percent). Majorities fear another 9/11 or Boston-style bombing is likely (70 percent), and that their children’s lives will be more difficult than their own (62 percent), which are either stuck in place or getting worse (84 percent) — while the rich keep getting richer at the expense of everyone else (70 percent).

The new American center has a socially progressive streak, supporting gay marriage (64 percent), the right to an abortion for any reason within the first trimester (63 percent), and legalized marijuana (52 percent). Women, workers and the marginal would also benefit if the center had its way, supporting paid sick leave (62 percent); paid maternity leave (70 percent); tax-subsidized childcare to help women return to work (57 percent); and a federal minimum wage hike to no less than $10 per hour (67 percent).

But the center leans rightward on the environment, capital punishment, and diversity programs. Majorities support offshore drilling (81 percent) and the death penalty (64 percent), and the end of affirmative action in hiring and education (57 percent). Most people in the center believe respect for minority rights has gone overboard, in general, harming the majority in the process (63 percent). And just one in four support immigration reforms that would provide a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally.

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The Herman Cain Show

 

Image Credit: Nancy Pelosi via Flickr

 

Published by: Herman Cain on Sunday October 13th, 2013

 

It’s time for Republicans to stop focusing on who shut down the government and tell the real truth.

Consider the evidence!

When Vincent Gray, the Democrat mayor of Washington, D.C., appealed to Senator Harry Reid to end the shutdown because of the collateral impact it is having on people in the District of Columbia, Reid told Gray, “I’m on your side, don’t screw it up.”

Translation: We are going to hold out until we get everything we want and give up nothing to the Republicans.

The Democrats want to increase the debt ceiling with no conditions so they can continue to spend this nation into oblivion. Over the last four years, the ratio of increased national debt to economic growth has been 2-to-1.

Democrats want to continue to impose the ObamaCare disaster on the nation despite the negative cost to people, businesses and lost jobs. They don’t care.

ObamaCare has driven health insurance rates up for most Americans when the promise was that rates would go down. ObamaCare has caused health insurance to be unaffordable for millions of people when previously they had insurance. And ObamaCare has caused millions of people to lose their doctors when the promise was that they could keep their doctors.

 

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Senate stalls bi-partisan debt ceiling deal to end government shutdown

 

Published time: October 12, 2013 19:02
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada (2nd L) prepares to make a statement with US senators Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, Patty Murray (2nd-R), D-Washington and Dick Durbin, D-Illinios, during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling in Washington, DC, October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada (2nd L) prepares to make a statement with US senators Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, Patty Murray (2nd-R), D-Washington and Dick Durbin, D-Illinios, during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling in Washington, DC, October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

 

With only five days left to a possible default, there is yet no unity in the US senate with Republicans and Democrats rejecting each other’s proposal to end the 12-day-old government shutdown.

 

On Saturday the focus of efforts to end the shutdown shifted to the Senate, where the two sides held negotiations in a bid to resolve the stalemate. However, the talks yielded no agreement.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the US budget crisis

The US Senate Republicans rejected a Democratic plan to raise the debt ceiling through 2014 without making any cuts or changes to Obamacare. Voting 53 against and 45 in favor, Republicans, who want the extension to be accompanied by spending cuts, blocked the bill, which needed at least 60 votes to overcome the objections.

The move was followed by Senate Democratic leaders’ opposition to Republican proposal to end the fiscal stalemate.

Rejecting an offer by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to end the budget impasse, Democrats argued that her offer asks for too much in return for too little, the POLITICO cited senators and aides.

The so-called Collins plan, which has bipartisan support, offered a six-month extension of government funding and an increase in the government’s borrowing limit through January. It was also calling for a two-year delay on Obamacare’s medical device tax as well requiring income verification for Americans seeking subsidies for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Democrats say a new medical device tax that would raise $30 billion over 10 years for the President’s healthcare law.

 

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POLITICO

Focus on Senate after Obama rejects House plan

 

 

 

 

Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans Saturday morning that his efforts to strike a deal with President Barack Obama are at a standstill.

There is no agreement, Boehner said in a room in the Capitol Saturday, and there are no negotiations between House Republicans and the White House, since Obama rejected the speaker’s effort to lift the debt ceiling for six weeks and reopen government while setting up a budget negotiating process.

With that, a familiar dynamic has resurfaced 12 days into the government shutdown and five days before Treasury says the nation runs out of borrowing authority: The pendulum has swung back to Senate Republicans, who now look more likely to cut a deal with Obama to end the first government shutdown since 1996, and avoid the first default on U.S. debt in history.

(Also on POLITICO: Democrats reject Susan Collins proposal)

After the news that talks between Boehner and Obama have broken down, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) emerged on the floor to emphasize that the nation’s eyes are firmly fixed on the chamber.

“I was happy to see the Republicans engaged in talks with the president, the House Republicans. That’s over with. It’s done. They’re not talking anymore,” Reid said. “I say to my friends on the Republican side of this Senate, time is running out.”

House Republicans are, for the first time, acknowledging that reality. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the closed meeting of GOP lawmakers that, “Senate Republicans need to stand strong and fight,” according to sources in the room.

 

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         United States Department of Veterans Affairs; Veterans Day National Committee

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 Rep. Michaud Condemns Use of Veterans as Political Pawns

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Mike Michaud (ME-02), Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, spoke on the House floor today during debate on H.J.Res. 72, a bill that partially funds VA operations and furthers the standoff over the government shutdown. Michaud has previously spoken out against piecemeal approaches pursued by Republican leaders.
“This House bill, like the others before them, will not be considered by the Senate and the President has said he will veto it. Instead of waging a PR war and wasting time on bills that will go nowhere, House Republicans should pursue a solution to the shutdown that could actually pass both chambers and be signed by the President,” said Michaud.
In a letter sent to Congress today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, and Paralyzed Veterans of America called on Congress to provide the full year’s funding for all veterans programs, adding that “funding the operations of the VA through short-term continuing resolutions (CRs) or other stop-gap measures are not acceptable solutions.”
“Congress must stop using veterans in this partisan game and end this shutdown now,” said Michaud.

Michaud’s remarks on the House floor today, as prepared for delivery, can be found below:

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164 Democrats Vote Against Funding Veterans’ Benefits

HJ Res. 72

Vote summary: 264-164. Failed (required 2/3 majority).

H J RES 72      2/3 YEA-AND-NAY      1-Oct-2013      7:44 PM
QUESTION:  On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass
BILL TITLE: Making continuing appropriations for veterans benefits for fiscal year 2014, and for other purposes

Yeas Nays PRES NV
Republican 231 1
Democratic 33 164 3
Independent
TOTALS 264 164   4

This bill would have restored funding for American veterans’ benefits. The 164 Democrats listed on this page don’t think veterans’ benefits are important enough to pay for. These 164 Democrats (no Republican voted against the bill) voted to block funding for veterans’ benefits.

Click the tweet [links] to ask them why.

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Harry Reid blocks funding for veterans programs, national parks

By JOEL GEHRKE | OCTOBER 3, 2013 AT 1:38 PM

Senate Democrats blocked four resolutions to fund government programs, including paying the National Guard and opening national parks, as Republicans offered the limited measures in an attempt to win the government shutdown fight by financing popular programs and leaving those they oppose untouched.

“Unbelievably, today Senate Democrats went on record to oppose funding for National Guard and Reserve salaries, veterans’ services, lifesaving medicine and cures, and national parks and museums,” Senate Republican Conference chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said in a release following the procedural battle.

“Congress unanimously passed a bill to ensure active-duty military personnel are paid during this lapse in government funding, and it’s unclear why Senate Democrats wouldn’t pass similar measures to fund these important services,” Thune said.

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Military keeps Camp David open, cuts NFL, baseball coverage to troops overseas

By PAUL BEDARD | OCTOBER 4, 2013 AT 2:12 PM

President Obama has visited the Navy-run presidential retreat Camp David in central Maryland only 32 times, but it is being kept open during the government shutdown for his entertainment and security at the same time the Pentagon is cutting sports coverage to hundreds of thousands of troops around the world.

A phone call to the retreat found it open, confirming a TMZ report.

Camp David is one of the most highly secure areas in the nation and provides the president with a safe haven. The president has been known to shoot skeet at Camp David, which he most recently used for his 52nd birthday, according to CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

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Pelosi, Pingree and Michaud vote against funding for veterans benefits

Michaud-Pingree

Reps. Michael Michaud (left) and Chellie Pingree (right) voted Tuesday against continuing funding for veterans benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid the shutdown turmoil in the nation’s capital city, 33 House Democrats crossed party lines Tuesday night to support a GOP measure to restore funding for veterans benefits for fiscal year 2014.

The resolution failed (264 – 164) to get the two-thirds vote threshold required for passage in the House under a suspension of the rules. Reps. Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to help defeat the resolution.

The failure of the measure offers little assurance to veterans, whose benefits have been jeopardized by the uncertainty of partisan chaos in grid-locked D.C. Although October’s benefit checks have already gone out, a prolonged shutdown could place November’s payments in doubt. Moreover, the backlog of veterans benefits claims, which only recently has begun to shrink, will certainly grow since many VA staffers have been furloughed.

The vote is especially problematic for Michaud, who has abdicated his congressional seat to run for governor, and who has made veterans affairs the signature issue of his decade in Congress. Michaud’s vote also runs contrary to statements he made on Tuesday regarding appropriations for veterans benefits in light of the partial federal shutdown.

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