The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $436 million fiscal year 2019 operating budget.
The budget is $8 million larger than last year’s budget, due to increased revenue from use and occupational taxes. According to the mayor’s office, 133 vacant jobs were cut from the budget, saving the city $4.7 million.
Despite the larger budget, Mayor Randall Woodfin said there still wasn’t enough money for street paving or additional funding for Birmingham City Schools.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) will play in the 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game tomorrow, June 20, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
This beloved tradition began in 2009 after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, female members of Congress face members of the Washington, D.C., press corps to raise funds and awareness for the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), an organization that addresses a variety of issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Each year, the players honor real women who are battling cancer. This year, Representative Roby will be playing for Courtney Pruitt, a Montgomery native and recent Alabama Christian Academy graduate who is currently undergoing intense treatment to fight leukemia. Courtney is the daughter of Representative Roby’s dear friend and Montgomery City Councilman Glen Pruitt.
“This year marks the tenth consecutive year female members from both sides of the aisle have come together for the Congressional Women’s Softball Game to support young women battling cancer,” Representative Roby said. “I’m proud to be involved in this great event again this year, and I truly believe it demonstrates what we can accomplish when we put our differences aside to rally for a worthy cause. I am honored to play for my dear friend’s daughter Courtney as she continues to courageously battle this disease.”
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Note to limited government conservatives: The shutdown’s effects serve as a stark reminder of Alabama’s economic reliance upon the federal government.
— Wallethub used six key metrics to determine which states are being most affected, including each’s share of federal jobs and contracts, access to federal lending programs, and percentages of children reliant upon the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
— Congress is still looking for a long-term solution for CHIP, putting those who rely on the program at risk as it remains unfunded.
— When the government shutdown in 2013, the arsenal’s 12,000 federal employees were furloughed, as well as the many civilian contractors who were affected.
— The Alabama Policy Institutereleased a studylast fall that showed while Alabama relies on the federal government for 42 percent of its budget, a large majority of Republican primary voters surveyed considered it important for the state to become less dependent on federal dollars.
(Do you think Alabama should become more self-reliant? Take this article over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends).
Gov’t shutdown forces cancellation of Alabama congressional town halls (Update: Mo Brooks town hall canceled as well)
(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)
[Second update added, see below]
The federal government shutdown had perhaps its first noticeable impact on Alabama on Sunday. According to a tweet from Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and later confirmed to Yellowhammer News by Byrne’s office, Byrne has canceled two town hall meetings scheduled for Monday.
Due to the ongoing government shutdown, I will not be able to hold town hall meetings in #FriscoCity and #BayMinette on Monday. Legislative business will keep me in D.C. We will reschedule them!
One was to be held in Monroe County’s Frisco City and the other in Baldwin County’s Bay Minette.
At the other end of the state, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) had a town hall meeting scheduled for Monday as well. As of 10 p.m. local time, Brooks’ office had not responded to Yellowhammer News’ query about the status of the meeting scheduled to be held at Oak Park Middle School in Decatur for 6:30 p.m.
Hope to see you this Monday in Decatur at Oak Park Middle School for a Town Hall Meeting. The public event is open Q&A, so I hope you will attend to join the discussion on important issues facing North Alabama and our nation. pic.twitter.com/xDasUrcDmJ
House Dems force vote on Bradley Byrne’s ‘Schumer Shutdown’ sign display on House floor
(Screenshot / CSPAN)
On Saturday Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) had a floor speech about the government shutdown interrupted because Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) claimed a poster he had on display was “disparaging to a member of the Senate.”
Byrne had a red poster featuring a 2013 quote from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) describing a shutdown as the “politics of idiocy, of confrontation, of paralysis.”
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), who was presiding over the House ruled the poster was allowed, to which Perlmutter appealed and insisted on a vote.
The House voted 224-173 to find Byrne’s poster was in order.
After the vote and Byrne resumed, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) interrupted and alleged Byrne was out of order upon referencing comments from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had described the previous House continuing resolution as “doggy doo.”
After some commotion on the floor, Lewis said, “We all need to be a little more human, a little more patient, and in order to have civility among all of us, I withdraw my objection.”
After that nearly 40-minute ordeal, Byrne completed his speech and yielded the floor.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones bucks party over government shutdown
(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)
Democrat Doug Jones scored an upset victory in last month’s special election in no small part by convincing voters that he would pursue a moderate course and seek bipartisan consensus.
On one of his first opportunities to demonstrate it, he bucked his party Friday night over the government shutdown fight.
Jones joined most Republicans in supporting a short-term funding measure passed by the House of Representatives to keep the government operating through Feb. 16. But the measure fell well short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. That means nonessential functions of the federal government will shut down for the first time in five years.
Jones did not vote for the spending measure enthusiastically. He told the Associated Press that he was disgusted by the process but that he would “reluctantly” vote for it. He cited the need to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Alabama is one of a half-dozen states facing a critical shortage of federal funds for the program, which provides health coverage to children in lower-income families.
The Republican bill would have reauthorized the program for six years.
Four other Democrats, all of whom face potentially tough re-election campaigns this year in states that President Donald Trump carried, also voted for the bill. They were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota; Joe Donnelly of Indiana; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
The vote put Jones in a tough spot. Not only does Alabama face a CHIP funding shortfall, but shutting down the government likely is not popular in the state. But Democrats faced pressure to stick together in order to force concessions from Trump and Republicans on an unrelated issue — amnesty for the so-called dreamers, illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States as children.
Jones supports the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, which would give permanent residency and a path to citizenship for that group. But he was unwilling to use a government shutdown as leverage.
Despite the Democratic defections, the measure got only 50 votes. That is because four Republicans also opposed the funding extension — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who have worked with Democrats on amnesty; and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, who object to a seemingly never-ending series of short-term funding extensions without permanent funding for the fiscal year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also voted “no,” but only for parliamentary reasons. As a member of the winning side, he now can bring the measure back for a revote if Republicans and Democrats strike a deal over the weekend.
Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.
Although it sailed through the House on a bipartisan vote of 332-94, Senate Democratic leaders indicated over the weekend that the bill’s passage is far from secured in the upper chamber.
“The struggle is still on in the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told Fox News on Sunday.
But progress was made on Monday, leading aides on both sides of the aisle to predict that they will have the 60 votes needed to pass a procedural motion on Tuesday. They will then move move for final passage later in the week, which requires only a simple majority.
Many Senate Republicans have cited the fact that the budget deal exceeds the Budget Control Act of 2011 as grounds for opposing it. The Budget Control Act capped 2014 discretionary spending at $967 billion. The Ryan-Murray budget smashes through that cap.
“I’d really like to stay within the (spending) caps,” complained Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas. “This busts the caps and as a result I’ll vote against it.”
But Sessions and several of his Republican colleagues have chosen to focus their attention on the cuts to military retirees and vets.
“We need to find a better way to save $6 billion than take it out of the hides of our retired veterans,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi.
Sessions’ plan to rescue veterans benefits involves saving money by closing a tax credit loophole that watchdog groups say has been frequently exploited by illegal immigrants.
The fix is simple. Applicants seeking to receive the child tax credit would have to submit their Social Security numbers. That way the IRS could easily weed out the illegal aliens taking advantage of the system. Sessions’ amendment would save the federal government roughly $4.2 billion, freeing up room for veterans benefits to remain at higher levels.
The handwringing in D.C. has already commenced with a budget deadline looming on Jan. 15. If a deal is not reached by then, another partial government shutdown will ensue.
Congressional approval rating plummets to all-time low
According to a new Gallup survey, Americans’ approval of Congress has dipped to 9 percent, the lowest level in Gallup’s 39-year history of polling the question. Congress’ approval rating dropped to 10 percent twice in 2012, the lowest level previously recorded.
Gallup explained their findings further in a release today:
Congress approval fell to 11% in October, during the U.S. government shutdown. Although the shutdown is now history, Americans’ views of Congress have not recovered, but instead have edged lower. By contrast, Americans’ confidence in the economy has begun to improve in the last several weeks. The continuing depression in Americans’ views of Congress has occurred even though the troubles with the rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act are now dominating U.S. political news.
Public displeasure with Congress is equally rampant across political groups, with Republicans (9%), independents (8%), and Democrats (10%) giving the institution similarly low approval ratings.
Twenty percent of Democrats approved of Congress in September, but their approval plummeted to 5% in October during the shutdown. This month, Democrats’ approval improved slightly, but is still well below levels measured earlier this year.
Congress is also on track to have their lowest average yearly approval rating on record. An average of 14 percent of Americans have said they approve of Congress over the last 11 months. The previous record was set at 15 percent in 2012.
Earlier this year, Gallup asked Americans to tell them their top reasons for disapproving of Congress. Partisan gridlock and bickering topped the list.
How do you feel about your congressman’s job performance?
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Rand Paul’s pragmatic vein may just give Lindsey Graham a pass.
The Kentucky senator signaled Monday he’s unlikely to delve into the South Carolina Senate contest, which includes three challengers trying to unseat Graham.
“I’m going to try not to be involved,” Paul said in response to a reporter’s question. ”We’re unlikely to, we’re not going to say never.”
The answer underlines the difficulty of the question for Paul, whose inclination in many races has been to back the insurgent conservative challenger against the establishment figure. But as he lays the groundwork for a probable 2016 presidential run, he realizes the risk in getting in the crosshairs with the heavily favored Graham, who wields tremendous influence in the Palmetto State.
While Graham’s favorability numbers among Republicans are middling, a four-way primary that splits the opposition works to his advantage. He’s also flush with cash, with $6.9 million in the bank.
But Paul’s reasoning went even further, positing that his involvement in a primary here would hamstring his ability to make substantive progress in Washington.
“I think for the most part, I’m not against people having races and people may run against me some day, if I run again. But I think that it’s difficult for other people to get involved because you eat lunch with people every day. It’s just a difficult scenario and doesn’t make for any kind of cohesiveness as far as trying to get things done in Washington,” he said.
Paul and Graham are ions apart on their foreign policy views, but recently there’s been signs their chilly relationship has thawed.
Graham was complimentary of Paul’s “responsible” approach during the government shutdown.
Not exactly a bromance yet, but perhaps steps towards at least a lunch.
Chris Christie’s victory rally in Asbury Park, New Jersey Tuesday night had the look, feel and size of a presidential celebration.
The speech he delivered matched the grandiosity of the stage he stood on.
Following his seismic 22-point victory over Democrat Barbara Buono, it’s obvious now that Christie sought to use the address to trumpet his rationale for a presidential candidacy.
Here are 5 key points he delivered along with the larger message he was attempting to send to the country.
1. Christie’s soundbyte: “I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune in their TVs right now, see how it’s done.”
Christie’s message: For all the talk of my harsh, brash, pugnacious nature, I’ve proven I’m still more successful at governing than those putzes in Washington. The government shutdown? Woulda never happened on my watch. I have to deal with a legislature of the opposite party too — but we’re still capable of acting like adults and working together.
2. Christie’s soundbyte: ”We show up. We show up everywhere. We don’t just show up in the places that vote for us a lot. We show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don’t just show up in the places we’re comfortable. We show up in the places where we’re uncomfortable. Because when you lead, you need to be there.”
Christie’s message: If (when) I run for president, I’ll strive to campaign everywhere — even in places that may be wary of an in-your-face northeastern governor, even in enclaves normally hostile to Republican candidates. My mantra will be to win and winning means growing the party. That means venturing into the big cities as well as the smaller far-flung towns. And oh, punditry aside, I may just go to Iowa in the run-up to the caucuses, despite my long odds of success there. Sure, I probably won’t win them (and frankly, I don’t need to), but I will respect their process and make my case, because that’s what I do. I show up. Everywhere.
3. Christie’s soundbyte: ”You can agree with me or disagree with me, but I will never stop leading the state I love.”
Christie’s message: Admit it Democrats, you probably don’t like a lot of my policies, but you can’t deny I’m not a natural leader with tremendous persuasive ability. You gotta at least respect my no-nonsense candor, for the most part.
4. Christie’s soundbyte: ”Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have principles, we have many of them. And we have stood and fought every day to cut taxes, to reduce the size of government spending, to reform pension benefits, to reform a broken education system and to make sure that we create an opportunity again for New Jerseyans.”
Christie’s message: And to my conservative critics, look at the record, I’m a pretty conservative guy. And I stress the stuff that matters — the stuff that will allow us to win — economic, bread-and-butter, kitchen table issues I’m with you on the social issues too, but I’m not in your face about it. This is part of the formula that allows me to win. I’m one of you, just packaged a bit differently and with a bit more spunk. So don’t even think about trying to portray me as a faux conservative. It won’t work.
5. Christie’s soundbyte: ”I know that tonight a dispirited America angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington, looks to New Jersey to say, ‘Is what I think happening, really happening? Are people really coming together? Are we really working African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites and city dwellers, farmers and teachers, are we really all working together?’
Christie’s message: Remember that rebranding effort the Republican National Committee undertook a year ago? How’s that working out for you? Well, I’m a governor in a blue state who has built a broad coalition. I can win women — the demographic that befuddled the other Republican gubernatorial candidate who lost this year. I can put Hispanics in play and African-Americans will at least give me the time of day. And I’ve built a team of ambassadors here from all these different demographic groups who can vouch for me and my proclivity to be inclusive. It’s powerful and it’s just the beginning.
Aderholt: Shutdown will make Democrats ‘more willing to come to the table’
In an interview with Huntsville NBC affiliate WAFF, Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, offered an interesting perspective on the federal government shutdown that ended with Democrats getting pretty much everything they wanted — a debt ceiling hike and immediate implementation of ObamaCare.
Aderholt told WAFF at an event in the Rocket City that he believes the shutdown will make negotiating with the other side of the aisle easier because they want to avoid another shutdown.
“I think that the Democrats will be more willing to come to the table and say ‘we want to avoid what happened back in October, we want to find a solution to this so we can deal with some of the issues that are important to you, so we don’t have to compromise our principles,'” Aderholt said.
Various surveys have shown that Republicans took a hit in the polls as a result of the shutdown, as much as 14 points according to a Washington Post-ABC poll. However, President Obama and Congressional Democrats weren’t spared from the fallout themselves. Their negatives reached record highs according to that same poll.
AL-01: The ‘battle for the soul of the GOP’ gets America’s attention
(Above: CBS Evening News profiles Alabama First Congressional District race)
On Tuesday night, the six million national viewers of “CBS Evening News” got a taste of Alabama politics.
CBS national correspondent Chip Reid made the trip to Foley, Ala. to get a first-hand look at Bradley Byrne and Dean Young, the Republican candidates running to become Alabama’s next First District representative in the U.S. Congress.
Young, they noted, is running as the Tea Party candidate, while Byrne has positioned himself as the more traditional Republican in the race.
CBS and other national news outlets have started watching the race closely. They view it as a microcosm of what is set to take place in Republican primaries all across the country in the coming election cycle.
“In south Alabama, most people take pride in their good manners, but the Republican primary for an open House seat has become unusually impolite,” Reid said. “The race between Dean Young and Bradley Byrne echoes the party’s sharp divide over the government shutdown in Washington earlier this month.”
Reid asked Young if he views the First Congressional District race as a battle over the soul of the Republican Party.
“We’ve got the classic battle that the nation’s been looking for,” Young said. “Tea party against the establishment … I do see this as a fight for the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve got to get the government small again, even if it means shutting down the government.”
Byrne viewed things differently, saying the voters are looking for a leader who can make the government work again rather than shutting it down — a “work horse” rather than a “show horse.”
“What he wants to do is go to Washington and be a show horse,” Byrne said of Young. “I’m a work horse. I don’t want to be a show horse … I think his [approach] is bad for our party. I think it’s bad for our area… that approach doesn’t get anything done.”
The two are set to face off on November 5. The winner will be the heavy favorite in the general election scheduled for December 17 against Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore.
Sessions: shutdown ‘not a positive experience’ for conservatives
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, believes the shutdown strategy employed by Republicans during the latest government funding debate produced a damaging result for conservatives.
Sessions, as a guest on Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated radio, acknowledged that the “defund ObamaCare” rallying cry of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee did a lot to energize the conservative base. However, he said he hopes the Party will in the future unite behind tactics with a better chance of success.
“I think Republicans should value the contribution of Cruz and Lee and others who brought new energy and a willingness to engage the issues directly and point out the great threats this health care proposal and the debt pose to America,” Sessions said. “And at the same time, I think we’ve got to unify behind a strategy for which we can all fight — that has the best chance of being successful and puts us on the side of the American people.”
“The American people are uneasy about shutdowns,” he continued. “They are not comfortable with that. But they want to see us push and fight and make progress toward goals. So setting some goals that we can achieve that advance the philosophical views, I think, of most Americans can be done. I believe we can unite behind it and we ought to incorporate this energy and drive some of our new members have brought to the Senate.”
Ingraham said she believed Cruz and Lee are smart guys, but asked Sessions if their lack of experience led them to employ an unwinnable strategy.
“I tend to think so,” Sessions replied. “I didn’t sign the letter because I couldn’t see it ending as they thought it would … There were some great people who shared the goals of Lee and Cruz who felt there is a better way of doing this and [thought] this could end up in a damaging situation — and I think it hasn’t been good right now… We have to see the value of the energy that Cruz and Lee and others have created and harness that in a more positive way.”
“If you are not unified as a movement, the Democrats will take you to town, which is exactly what happened,” Ingraham said. She went on to say she believes the shutdown strategy ultimately produced a negative result for conservatives.
“I agree with you,” Sessions replied. “Fundamentally, at this point this has not been a positive experience… But can we harness this and learn from it? Perhaps.”
Roby doubles down on calling Tea Party-backed shutdown ‘a losing strategy’
WASHINGTON – On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, released a YouTube video explaining her “no” vote on legislation to re-open the government and raise the federal debt ceiling, which passed by a 285-144 margin in the U.S. House.
The Montgomery Republican said she couldn’t support the bill because it did nothing to rein in out-of-control spending that is causing the national debt to skyrocket.
“Late Wednesday night Congress passed a deal to fund the government and raise the debt limit,” she said. “The good news is that the government functions people count on will once again be operational and we have avoided defaulting on our debt. The bad news is that half a trillion dollars will be added to the national debt without one single reform to rein in spending. That’s why I couldn’t support the Senate plan. Washington’s addiction to spending is what led to this mess, and piling on more debt while ignoring the spending problem is exactly the wrong approach.”
“As you know, this is a temporary deal, so in all likelihood we will be right back discussing these same issues in a matter of months,” she said. “We have to go about the next budget and debt negotiations in a smarter way. Shutting down the government was a losing strategy from the beginning, and I’m urging leaders in my party to adopt a wiser strategy next time. The American people overwhelmingly agree that the United States spends too much money and holds too much debt as a result. I believe we can achieve meaningful reforms that get our country on a solid financial footing, but only if we stop bickering and start communicating.”
Roby expresses frustration with ‘shutdown strategy’ endorsed by the Tea Party
WASHINGTON – Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, on Wednesday expressed frustration with the “shutdown strategy” for which many members of the Tea Party advocated throughout the debt limit debate.
“The problem is the ‘shutdown strategy’ damaged the House’s bargaining power in these negotiations,” Roby said. “I staunchly oppose ObamaCare, and I am proud to stand with those that have fought this bad policy every step of the way. That fight is not over. Especially now, as residents throughout Alabama are just learning of dramatic ObamaCare-driven premium increases, we are motivated more than ever to replace this harmful law.”
Roby insisted she was steadfast in her opposition to President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care reform law, but said she had been against using a shutdown as a bargaining chip all along, including during the August recess when she made stops throughout her district.
“Despite my fierce opposition to ObamaCare, I have always been honest with my constituents about the improbability of repealing or defunding the law until Republicans regain control of the Senate and eventually the White House,” she said. “Throughout my August and September district visits, I repeatedly warned that shutting down the government over ObamaCare was a poor strategy. I said it wouldn’t work because the sheer numbers in the Senate aren’t in our favor and Republicans don’t hold the White House. I said it would backfire, costing Republicans our momentum and damaging our prospects for the future. And, I said it would distract attention from the implementation of ObamaCare, which everyone predicted was going to be a ‘train wreck.’ As it turns out, all of this has come to pass.”
Roby did, however, vote “no” on the bill to re-open the government Wednesday night, citing its lack of spending reforms.
“I strongly believe we must act to avoid defaulting on our debt payments and reopen the government,” Roby said. “However, I cannot support a plan that increases our nation’s debt while offering no spending reforms. Washington’s addiction to spending is what led to this mess, and piling on more debt while ignoring the spending problem is exactly the wrong approach. A better way forward would be honest, simple legislation that takes care of our debt needs with corresponding spending reforms, provides temporary government funding, and allows us time to work toward a real budget. I know a majority of Republicans and Democrats would ultimately support such a plan.”
Bachus, Sewell break with Alabama delegation, vote to raise debt ceiling
WASHINGTON – Late on Wednesday, the U.S. House approved a bill to end the government shutdown and raise the federal debt limit through the beginning of 2014 by a vote of 285-144. The bill had been approved by the U.S. Senate just hours earlier by an 81-18 vote, and will now be signed into law by the president.
The Alabama delegation, with exception of Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, voted not to go along with the majority of their congressional colleagues.
“I firmly oppose this legislation,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said in a statement following the Senate vote. “We should fund the government and safeguard the full faith and credit of the United States. We should do both, however, by putting our nation on a more responsible fiscal path. This legislation fails to do so. Once again, we are kicking the can down the road. In the meantime, the spending continues and our national debt grows unabated. The American people deserve better.”
A statement by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, pointed out that over the last five years, the federal government has spent more than $15 trillion and added more than $6 trillion to the debt. Sessions also criticized the two key Democrats in the fight, President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their “extreme stance.”
“[L]eader Reid and the White House have adopted the extreme stance that there is to be no change in policy to help the millions of Americans being squeezed out of the middle class,” Sessions said. “They demanded yet another increase in the debt limit – without cutting one single penny of spending. They demanded the unfettered implementation of ObamaCare – a law that will add $6 trillion to the long-term debt while causing millions of hardworking people to lose their jobs and health plans, forced into part-time work that can’t support a family. And they even demanded that we spend above the Budget Control Act – a transparent effort to permanently bust federal spending caps.”
On the House side, Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Mike Rogers, R-Saks, and Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, all opposed the bill.
“While it is good to fully open the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, it is necessary that Washington do it in a financially responsible way,” Brooks said in a statement. “Today’s Senate bill is financially irresponsible. It further deteriorates America’s financial solvency and, over the long haul, creates an unhealthy funding environment that will slowly but surely bleed NASA and national defense of the money they need to carry out their missions.”
Brooks said it would take serious reforms to convince him to vote in favor of increasing the nation’s borrowing limit.
“I am more than willing to vote to properly fund the federal government and raise the debt ceiling so long as Congress simultaneously passes a balanced budget constitutional amendment or spending cuts that both address the underlying deficit problem and give our children and grandchildren, and America, a brighter future,” Brooks said.
On the affirmative side, Bachus broke ranks with his Alabama Republican colleagues. In a statement issued after the vote, Bachus called for “true entitlement reform” to rein in the federal deficit and debt.
“Unless we accomplish true entitlement reform, we will continue to face these disruptive crises,” Bachus said. “There now needs to be bipartisan resolve to decisively address the entitlement programs, ObamaCare and Social Security Disability among them, that are the primary drivers of our deficits and national debt.”
Sewell, the state’s lone Democrat on Capitol Hill, expressed frustration with congressional Republicans and explained why she voted in favor of the measure, along with the 87 Republicans, including Bachus, and all 198 House Democrats.
“Tonight, I voted in favor of H.R. 2775, the bipartisan funding bill, because it was the onlyresponsible thing to do to re-open government and pay our nation’s bills,” she said. “I share the frustrations of millions of Americans who are fed up with the political brinkmanship in the halls of Congress. For the last sixteen (16) days, House Republicans have placed partisan politics ahead of the needs of the American people by allowing the government shutdown to continue due to their unreasonable demands to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. We do not put America’s full faith and credit in jeopardy to score political points.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, introduced legislation that would fund NASA for FY2014 and end the current furlough of the space agency’s workforce.
Brooks, the vice-chairman of the Space Subcommittee, explained that his support for the measure is the result of extenuating circumstances brought on by the government shutdown.
“Today I introduced a bill to protect NASA’s workforce, which is important to both America’s economic well-being and its national security,” Brooks said in a statement. “While I do not generally support continuing resolutions as the best way to fund the government, the current shutdown has forced us to propose alternative solutions until responsible funding bills have passed both houses of Congress and have been signed into law by the President. This bill provides the stability necessary to continue working on important NASA programs.”
Brooks’ effort has the co-sponsorship of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Science Space and Technology Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. and Space Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.
The deal, which is already being panned by many conservatives, was outlined by the House leadership team during a meeting of the House Republican Conference this morning.
Republicans will tout that they have convinced the Obama Administration to verify the income levels of ObamaCare subsidy recipients, but it appears that was already in the law. ObamaCare will not be delayed, much less defunded.
One of the main differences between the House and Senate deals is that the House version would delay the so-called Medical Device Tax. The House is also seeking to prohibit special treatment for elected officials under the law, and remove some provisions that gave favorable treatment to unions.
In what has become the usual sequence of events, conservatives aren’t satisfied with what’s being offered, but the Administration is framing it as a “partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans.”
WH calls House plan "partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the 1st place"
A vote on the House plan is tentatively scheduled for tonight, but sources on the Hill tell Yellowhammer that the current plan is a “working document” that will likely see changes prior to it coming to the floor of the House.
The talking points that will be used by the House GOP are as follows:
(Differences between the House and Senate plans are in bold)
To end the government shutdown and avoid a national default, House Republicans are proposing several common-sense changes to make the emerging bipartisan agreement in the Senate fairer for the American people, who are being forced by Washington Democrats to live under the president’s train wreck of a health care law.
The House GOP proposal would modify the emerging Senate agreement to prohibit special treatment for House Members, Senators, the president, the Vice President and members of the president’s Cabinet under the president’s health care law, requiring all to be placed in ObamaCare without taxpayer-provided subsidies. If the president and Senate Democrats are going to force the American people to live under ObamaCare, then they and all Washington leaders should not be shielded from the law.
The House GOP plan eliminates the special ObamaCare protections for labor unions in the emerging Senate agreement and replaces it with a two-year delay of ObamaCare’s “pacemaker tax” (medical device tax), which places a new tax on essential medical devices such as children’s hearing aids and senior citizens’ pacemakers, and income verification for those receiving taxpayer subsidies through ObamaCare, shutting down the Obama Administration’s plan to invite rampant fraud by relying on the so-called “honor system” for the distribution of such subsidies. In conversations between the White House and House Republicans, the administration indicated the president could accept a delay of the pacemaker tax.
The House plan would maintain the emerging deal’s date of the continuing resolution (CR) funding government operations to January 15 while immediately reopening the federal government.
Like the emerging Senate agreement, the House plan would extend the debt ceiling to February 7. But the House plan would bar the Treasury Department from using accounting gimmicks known as “extraordinary measures,” increasing the transparency of the federal budget process and prohibiting what economist Donald Marron calls the “embarrassingly casual” use today of such measures by the Treasury Secretary. In the era of President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, short-term debt limit increases with hard dates and no gimmicks were the norm. The House plan seeks to restore transparency to the process and deny bureaucrats the ability to use budget gimmicks to mislead the public about the financial condition of the United States.
The House GOP plan will end the government shutdown and prevent a national default while making the emerging Senate agreement fairer for the American people.
Roby applauds passage of bill restoring funding for death benefits for fallen soldiers
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, praised the unanimous passage of a bill that authorizes the funding for military death benefits for families of fallen soldiers.
“Those who gave the last measure of devotion for this country deserve every measure of respect from its government,” Rep. Roby said. “I was proud to vote to restore funding for benefits we provide to families of fallen soldiers, and I’m proud that the House vote was unanimous. Political disagreements in Washington should never get in the way of our most solemn duty: supporting and honoring our military men and women and their families.”
The “death gratuity” benefit is a $100,000 pension sent to families of military members who were killed during the service of their country. Last week, Congress authorized the Pay Our Military Act to make sure that active-duty soldiers and civilian support staff are paid for their services.
Rep. Roby said she doesn’t know why the Pentagon denied the death coverage benefits from the legislation.
“The temporary shutdown of the government isn’t good for anybody, but we can come together to fund essential services even during this situation. The Pay Our Military Act and the Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldier Act are two of the 12 stopgap funding bills passed by the House, and there’s more to come,” Roby said. “While we continue to look for ways to end the shutdown for good, I urge the Senate and President Obama to get behind our additional funding bills so that Americans don’t unnecessarily suffer during this political stalemate in Washington.”
The House has also passed the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act, and the Open Our National Parks and Museums Act, among several others.
Brooks believes congressional Democrats might back down
In an interview with Huntsville CBS affiliate WHNT on Tuesday, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said he believes there’s a chance congressional Democrats will back down from their intransigent stance on upholding the president’s controversial healthcare law.
Brooks also conceded the current government shutdown isn’t good for the economy.
“A government shutdown has an adverse effect on our economy,” Brooks said. “Although… through the 1970s and 1990s we’ve had 17 government shutdowns. And as you know, we had a thriving economy in the 80s and in the 90s.”
Brooks cited his desire to stop out-of-control government spending as the primary reason he’s been willing to take the current fight to the shutdown level.
“I am quite willing to do whatever I can with respect to continuing resolutions, appropriation bills, debt ceiling votes, to try to get those in Washington who are financially irresponsible to start doing the right thing,” he said.
But as for the primary stated goal of rolling back ObamaCare, Brooks said he wasn’t giving up on the possibility of Democratic lawmakers giving in — at least to some degree.
“Under the right circumstances it’s possible,” Brooks said. “We’d have to see how those circumstances unfold. Today, [it’s] unlikely. Tomorrow, maybe.”
Brooks: Obama ignoring law protecting DoD employees from furloughs
(Above: Rep. Mo Brooks speaks on the floor on the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 3, 2013)
WASHINGTON – Just moments before the U.S. government shutdown on Monday, Congress passed a bill that was signed into law by President Barack Obama ensuring members of the military are paid despite the government being shut down.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, says that the Obama Administration may now be in violation of at least a portion of that law, known as the “Pay Our Military Act.”
On Thursday morning, Brooks took to the floor of the U.S. House and argued that Obama is ignoring the part of the law that requires Department of Defense personnel be paid, even during the government shutdown.
“While President Obama is following part of the law by not furloughing men and women in uniform, he ignores the part of the law that eliminates furloughs for Department of Defense civilian personnel and requires continued payment of defense contractors who provide ‘support to members of the Armed Services,’” Brooks said.
Brooks joined 63 of his colleagues in signing a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that stated, “The language outlined in H.R. 3210 purposefully exempts Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard employees supporting the Armed Forces. Since all DoD and U.S. Coast Guard civilian employees serve to support the uniformed services, all of these civilian employees should be returned to work without further delay.”
Brooks, whose district includes the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, accused the president of violating the law by not paying these contractors and civilian employees for “partisan political gain.”
“The law does not limit the broad meaning of the term ‘support’ in any way,” Brooks said. “Any contractor or civilian DoD worker who supports our Armed Forces in any way is, by law, exempt from the government shutdown and should return to work. In choosing to furlough civilian defense personnel, President Obama has willingly degraded our national defense, violated clear law, and done so purely for partisan political gain.”
By now, most Americans paying attention recognize that the federal government began shutting down on Monday based on the inability of Congress to appropriate funds.
The hill that both Republicans and Democrats seem to be willing to die on is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare.” How many Americans noticed that essentially one vote on one piece of legislation served as the power switch for the entire federal government? Why does the love or hatred of one policy, albeit a significant one, mean that government shuts down?
The bipartisan failure to address numerous other appropriation bills in favor of a winner-take-all political gamble on the PPACA is lazy, uninspiring, and devastating to those who depend on the federal government for their livelihood.
The federal government belongs to the American people, not a political party. Politicians are entrusted with its management, but it is not a prize to be won. It is that simple. Our nation was founded on a principle of divided government to avoid a dangerous consolidation of power that could be used to oppress those who shared different thoughts and beliefs than the controlling elite.
America’s new political order is hell-bent on driving each of us into adopting one of two narratives: Either the Democrats are to blame for shutting down government to preserve their signature partisan accomplishment or the Republicans are to blame for shutting down government to rail against the PPACA. Pick your side and blame the other…again.
Instead of passing multiple appropriation bills over the past several years, Congress has adopted a new trend of funding the government in an “all-or-nothing” fashion through continuing resolutions and supplemental spending bills. Instead of working to agree on the appropriations bills covering every aspect of government other than the PPACA, both Republicans and Democrats decided to needlessly play chicken with the entire federal government impacted by discretionary appropriations.
In the 111th Congress, Democrats enacted the PPACA without any Republican support in the House or the Senate. By any account, the legislation represented Washington’s hyper-partisan environment at its most extreme.
Republicans regained the House of Representatives in convincing fashion during the 2010 midterm elections. The Democrats’ 63 seat net loss was the largest for one party since 1938.
While President Obama won reelection in 2012 and Democrats surprisingly gained two seats in the Senate, the House of Representatives remained solidly in Republican control.
The PPACA was passed in a flatly partisan manner and is understandably controversial; Democrats are no more entitled to Republican votes to fund the PPACA than they were when they passed the legislation in the first place. The Democrats are doing their best to feign shock that Republicans would respond in a similar partisan manner to address the PPACA when given the opportunity.
While enacting the PPACA may have provided the authorization for Congress to appropriate funds for the PPACA, the appropriation itself is a separate piece of legislation.
Most importantly, it involves a relatively discrete portion of the federal budget. The bipartisan failure to address numerous other appropriation bills in favor of a winner-take-all political gamble on the PPACA is lazy, uninspiring, and devastating to those who depend on the federal government for their livelihood.
The fact that we have hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are so quickly deemed “non-essential” to the core functions of our government begs for a robust political debate, but most Americans can empathize with the plight of federal employees losing their pay as a consequence of being treated as political hostages.
The American people must reject the voices telling us that the failure to fund the Grand Canyon park, veterans’ benefits or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the unavoidable collateral damage of a single un-negotiable policy item. Otherwise, those of us pointing partisan fingers may be unwitting hostages as well.
Cameron Smith is Vice President and General Counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.
Bachus escorts defiant vets through World War II Memorial in DC
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the first day of the partial federal government shutdown, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, escorted a group of World War II veterans to through the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in defiance of the National Park Service.
With the assistance of Bachus and other lawmakers, the group of World War II veterans knocked over the barriers at the memorial and gained access to the site.
“The America that I have known would have welcomed our WWII Veterans with open arms and spared no effort to make their tour of the monument as pleasant and honorable as possible,” Bachus said in a statement. “For them to be greeted by barricades is not the America that our forefathers left us.”
Bachus escorted Barbour County native Raymond Stanley, who had entered the Army in 1943 and served two and a half years in England, France and Germany.
Several of his potential 2016 rivals, like Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul, were all — to varying degrees — backing the quixotic “defund ObamaCare” strategy. Today, they look like children in comparison to a get-things-done governor like Christie. I don’t necessarily think this shutdown will be on the minds of voters in 2016, but what we are witnessing is merely the latest example of a Congress that can’t get its act together. Voters will have to ask themselves, “Can we trust these guys to govern?”
In times of crisis and chaos, the public is more likely to turn to a strong-willed executive. I’m not suggesting Christie is an out-and-out authoritarian. He just feels like one. His bullying and bluster might have been mocked in a calmer time. But these days, one imagines the public might yearn for a leader who can, though the sheer force of his will, force Congress into line. Maybe we need someone strong to break the fever?
I agree with Lewis that Christie — and frankly any governor — benefits from moments like these when Washington looks like a cesspool of stagnation featuring politicians more focused on the spin war than accomplishing something tangible.
But given my reporting on where the GOP base and even the establishment outside the Beltway is on this fight, color me skeptical that Christie sits in the driver’s seat.
First, take the governor’s chest-thumping response to the D.C. chaos. It’s great theater, but not particularly practical:
“My approach would be, as the executive, is to call in the leaders of the Congress, the legislature, whatever you’re dealing with and say that we’re not leaving this room until we fix this problem,” Christie said Monday in the hours before the government shutdown. “Because I’m the boss, I’m in charge.”
Whoever thinks that quirky Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and ironclad Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would acquiesce to Christie’s demands and not leave a room before cutting a deal has been drinking with Snooki too long on the Jersey Shore. There’s a reasonable theory to pose whether Christie’s celebrity status is more about his blustery, pugnacious style than anything of substance. When push came to shove, would he have joined the Ted Cruz talk-a-thon just to prove a point, as Rand Paul and Marco Rubio did? He has the luxury of not answering that question.
Additionally, the response to Cruz’s pseudo-filibuster last week — even among key members of the Republican National Committee (i.e. the establishment)– was overwhelmingly positive.
The South Carolina Republican Party went as far to call a special meeting to back Cruz’s crusade. And Cruz, unquestionably benefited politically by pulling off such a stunt, soaring in a national poll. It’s hard for me not to believe that the person who got the most mileage — potentially short-term — out of this episode was Ted Cruz, especially when narrowly applying it to the primary field audience.
Lewis himself isn’t sure Christie could win a primary — (To be fair, I’m not neither — Other than New Hampshire, where does he win in the first slate of contests? Can he even compete in Iowa?)
But he has a point when he notes that both Mitt Romney and John McCain secured their nominations, in no small part due to a splintered conservative base. That’s why I have Christie ranked so high on The Chase.
So, I agree that this will undoubtedly be a moment for Christie to point to on a debate stage two years from now, in order to underline Washington dysfunction and contrast it with the steady and orderly progress he achieved at the state level.
But it’s hard to pinpoint this — (likely brief) — shutdown as a transformational moment in the 2016 race.
Recall how short the collective political attention span can be.
Just one short month ago, the country was on the eve of war in Syria.
Where do potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates stand on potential govt. shutdown?
On the eve of an increasingly likely government shutdown, here’s a look at how the potential Republican 2016ers have calibrated their positioning, in order from the most staunchly opposed to the most willing to flirt with closing down Capitol Hill.
Perry cautioned against the idea of shutting down the government over Obamacare, calling it “a bit nonsensical.” ”I don’t think it’s a good option,” Perry said. “There’s still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare.”
“I believe the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable, and will have a negative impact on the economy of my state. But I don’t extend that to the point that we should shut down the government over it. I support limited government,” he added. ”But I want the government left to work.”
“Republicans know this is a loser, so they’re going to have to learn the lessons of this whole episode, and that will be you can’t have an all-or-nothing approach,” said the 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
“Mr. Ryan, meanwhile, has seemed uncomfortable with a tactic of stripping funding from the health law. He has been quietly telling fellow Republicans to pick their battles, urging them to avoid a shutdown . . . Mr. Ryan has been almost entirely silent.”
Asked whether the GOP should be willing to risk a government shutdown, Jindal didn’t directly answer the question. ”I don’t think we should negotiate with ourselves and take anything off the table,” said Jindal. He had previously said he didn’t believeRepublicans needed to shutdown the government to repeal Obamacare.
“The president’s the one saying, ‘I will shut down government if you don’t give me everything I want on Obamacare,’” Paul said. “That, to me, is the president being intransigent and being unwilling to compromise.”
Rick Santorum on Monday declared that he “would be with Ted Cruz” when it came to shutting down the government in order to defund President Barack Obama’s health care reform law because “you have to make people uncomfortable.”
Roby won’t take salary if government shutdown affects military pay
WASHINGTON, D.C. – While a House-passed Continuing Resolution to keep the government open and defund ObamaCare awaits Senate action, U.S. Representative Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, today vowed to forgo her congressional salary if a government shutdown affects the pay of men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
The House of Representatives last week passed a Continuing Resolution that would prevent a shutdown by fully funding the government while removing funding for the President’s healthcare law. The Senate must act before the current spending authorization expires at midnight on September 30 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
“I’m hopeful that there won’t be a government shutdown, and the Continuing Resolution we passed last Friday would prevent it,” Roby said. “Even as the Senate deliberates, I remain optimistic that we can arrive at a solution before it’s too late. However, if there is a government shutdown that interrupts salary payments to our troops, my salary should stop as well.”
“I have instructed the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives to hold my salary for any day that our troops would go without regular pay due to a government shutdown,” She continued. “This is Congress’ problem to fix, and as a Member of Congress, I don’t believe I should be paid while gridlock in Washington forces our military families to go without.
Roby emphasized her belief that time remains for Congressional leaders in Washington to find a responsible path ahead that keeps the government open while protecting citizens from the harmful effects of ObamaCare.
“Voters sent me to Washington to solve problems, not become part of them,” Roby concluded. “I will continue to work toward a responsible solution that funds government operations, protects Americans from the impending train wreck that is ObamaCare and ensures our military families don’t go one day without pay.”
Should Congress and the President fail to agree on a plan to fund the government, salary payments for military personnel would cease. The last time a threat of a government shutdown emerged in April of 2011, Rep. Roby made the same pledge to forgo her congressional salary if soldiers go without.