Not much going on today in Washington after a big day of grilling for the low key CEO of BP Tony Hayward yesterday in the House. Just like the Celtics defense melted down in the 4th quarter collapse last night against the LA Lakers in game 7 of the NBA finals, final passage of the Tax Extenders bill melted down in the Senate and consideration of the DISCLOSE Act collapsed in the House yesterday.
The Senate will be in today with no votes scheduled. There are no votes scheduled in the House either. Also, no markups or hearings scheduled in either chamber.
Issues for Conservatives (and Bostonians) to watch today:
- Tax Extenders- A final vote on the Tax Extenders bill melted down in the Senate over cost. The Senate was 4 votes short of shutting off debate on the bill yesterday. The Senate is expected to continue work in finding ways to further lower cost for the bill, but there may be no way to get this bill cut and paid for enough to pass. This bill started out at $140 billion and was trimmed to $118 billion. According to CBO, this bill will expand the deficit by over $50 billion in the next 10 years and conservatives in the Senate are fighting to make sure that all new spending is offset. Conservatives should thank Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) for starting a lonely battle in March of this year to force Congress to abide by PAYGO budgeting rules that force cuts for new spending. CQ reports that Senator Coburn (R-OK) has a "clay pigeon" amendment to cut 20 different portions of the bill. From CQ, "parts of Coburn’s amendment would reduce spending on federal workers’ salaries, government printing operations and government travel." Many Democrats don't see way to get this bill passed. Liberals want to pass the new spending as an "emergency" and conservatives want new spending offset by cuts. According to The Hill, "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he wasn't sure at this point what changes or cuts would attract the one or two Republicans needed for passage, speculating that it's possible nothing can be done." This debate is forcing Congress to take a hard look the $13 trillion in debt they have passed on to the American people.
- The DISCLOSE Act- The DISCLOSE Act also melted down yesterday. The House was scheduled to vote on the DISCLOSE Act - a bill to overturn portions of the Supreme Court decision protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans to participate in the electoral process. Just like the Celts blew a 13 point lead in the second half of the final game of the NBA season last night, this bill was pushed aside because some Democrats pledged to block a vote over the issue of a special carve out for the National Rifle Association. The Washington Post reports that "top Democrats abandoned plans for a Friday vote in the House on the legislation, known as the Disclose Act, after liberal groups and members of the Congressional Black Caucus rose up against the deal with the NRA." The bill contains an exemption for groups with over 1 million members and established for over 10 years, yet still restricts the rights of other similarly organized groups. More from the Washington Post, "anger boiled over Thursday afternoon during meetings between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) and members of two crucial voting blocs: the CBC and the conservative Blue Dog Democrats. The Black Caucus objected to the bill's potential impact on the NAACP and other civil-rights groups, while the Blue Dogs are spooked by opposition from the business lobby ahead of the November elections, according to aides familiar with the meetings." Either Congressional Democrats have to craft other special carve outs for liberal groups or the exemption will be removed before the House can take another run at restricting the First Amendment rights of all Americans to band together in an organization and participate in the democratic process.
- Boston Fans- Please excuse this bullet point on a matter completely unrelated to "Today in Washington," but as a Boston fan, I am raising a Point of Personal Privilege and venting about Boston sports for a moment. This is a terrible time for Boston fans. The Lakers are World Champs and just secured a Laker 16th title, one behind the Celts 17. Celts were up 3-2 in the series and played excellent defense in the first half of game 7. My hats off to Rajon Rondo for an excellent series. The Bruins just named Cam Neely as President of the Bruins (an excellent move) after an epic meltdown during the Bs - Philly Flyers series. The Bs were up 3 games to 0 and then blew a 3-0 lead in game 7 to complete one of the most embarrassing meltdowns in sports history. The Yankees are baseball's World Champs - no more need be said about that. The New England Patriots were blown out of a playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in a year with high expectations. This is a tough time for Boston sports fans, but we shall rise again.
Celts should have won that game!!!