Category Archive 'House of Representatives'
27 Jul 2010

Republicans Can Kill Obamacare

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The GOP has a reasonable chance of recapturing the Senate in November, but it looks like it is definitely going to take the House.

Even with a Republican-controlled Senate, there will probably be enough RINOs from Maine and Massachusetts and other states to stop efforts to repeal the socialization of the American health care system, and even if we did have enough votes in the Senate, the Obamination has the veto.

But, leftwing Talking Points Memo is warning, a Republican House still has other tactics available. Most particularly, the power of the purse. The House can just defund Obamacare.

House GOP Conference Chair Mike Pence [said] “We’ll also use whatever means are available to delay implementation of Obamacare.”

Pence cited the “power of the purse” — Congress’ prerogative to appropriate funds to federal agencies — as a key tool at the Republicans’ disposal if they win back the House. That’s not just bluster.

“The most serious, yet realistic, possibility is precisely the one that you’re suggesting: what the Republicans can do through appropriations bills,” says Paul van de Water, a health care expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In short, implementing the health care law costs money. “Some money was provided in the health reform bill itself, but not by any means all the administrative funding that will be needed,” van de Water said. “If HHS and Treasury don’t get appropriations they need to run the law well, that could be a real problem. It’s not sexy but it’s serious.”

This can work one of few ways. House Republicans, in negotiations with the Senate, could demand appropriation levels beneath what’s necessary to effectively implement the law. If the two chambers reach an agreement — even an agreement that leaves the health care law cash strapped — Obama would be hard pressed to issue a veto. “It’s hard for the president to veto a bill because it doesn’t provide enough money.”

“In theory [they] could cut the funding 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent,” says Congressional expert Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. “The problem is, you could do a lot of damage in a lot of different places.”

But things could shake out differently. An agreement might not be reached, for instance. Or, similarly, Republicans could simply “refuse to fund the entire Labor-HHS appropriations bill, or…pass an appropriation for Labor-HHS that does not include any funds for implementation of the health care plan,” as Ornstein put it.

“They could really bollocks things up if they say ‘none of the funds in this bill can be used to administrate the Affordable Care Act,” echoes van de Water.

That could lead to a veto and then a showdown between the White House and the Hill, mimicking the 1995 standoff between Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. …

There are other tricks the GOP could pull, too. “A second thing that they can do is hold a bunch of hearings and try to tie HHS and CMS into knots, by subpoenaing docs calling in of key figures to testify. In effect, deliberate sabotage to gum up the works,” Ornstein adds.

It’s all but impossible to get Democrats to discuss this threat openly — it’s election season, and they have to hew tightly to the line that a GOP takeover of the House is impossible. But it’s not.

Let’s make sure Republicans are prepared to follow through with exactly what TPM is warning about.

25 Mar 2010

Castro Congratulated Obama Too Soon


As HuffPo explains, it’s back to the House, where Pandora’s Box opens again.

Senate Republicans succeeded early Thursday morning in finding two flaws in the House-passed health care reconciliation package. Neither is of any substance, but the Senate parliamentarian informed Democratic leaders that both are in violation of the Byrd Rule.

One is related to Pell Grants and the other makes small technical corrections. Why they’re in violation of the Byrd Rule doesn’t matter; the upshot is that Republicans will succeed in at least slightly altering the legislation, which means that the House is once again required to vote on it. With no substantial changes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should have little problem assembling the same coalition of 220 Democrats who passed the measure Sunday night. That’s already four more than the minimum 216 required for passage.

But the ruling might give Democrats another option — the public one.

Democratic leadership no longer has to worry that additional amendments would send it back to the House, since it must return to the lower chamber regardless. The Senate is now free to put to the test that much-debated question of whether 50 votes exist for a public option. Democrats could also elect to expand Medicare or Medicaid, now that they only need 50 votes in the Senate and the approval of the House.

The question then becomes whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could pass the reconciliation changes with a public option. She has long maintained that the House has the votes to do so. Indeed, it did so in late 2009. Since then, however, two members who supported the public option are no longer in the House. But with fewer members, the House also needs two fewer votes than the 218 required for a majority in November, alleviating some of that pressure.

Would they have the votes?

25 Mar 2010

What Would Jefferson Say?

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As democrats complain loudly that Congressmen who voted for Obamacare are being threatened and harassed by outraged voters, John Hinderaker asks aloud, “What Was That Line About the Tree of Liberty and the Blood of Tyrants?”

The peril of the socialist legislators is doubtless being exaggerated in order to score political points, but Power Line makes a telling point in response. If a measure abridging liberty and expanding government authority is so unpopular that legislators are receiving threats from ordinary Americans, doesn’t that suggest that those legislators are not really functioning very effectively as representatives of the people and that something has gone seriously awry in the relationship between the governing and the governed?

21 Mar 2010

Alcee Hastings on the Rule of Law

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Alcee Hastings

0:08 video

In 1989, the future Rep. Alcee Hastings (D – 23FL) became the sixth federal judge in American history to be impeached and removed from office. He was found guilty of bribery and corruption, having accepted $150,000 to arrange a favorable sentence.

Hastings was subsequently nonetheless elected to the House of Representatives from a safe seat representing a “minority-majority” racially-gerrymandered district in 1992. Hastings was in line to succeed to the Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee when democrats regained the majority in 2006 and Nancy Pelosi expressed the intention of passing over Jane Harman (D – 36CA), but Hastings’ dishonorable past was just little too much. Hastings is now chairman of the Legislative/Budget Process sub-committee of the House Rules Committee, where he gets to “just make stuff up.”

20 Mar 2010

Coburn Pledges to Foil Bribes for Health Care Votes

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The New York Times reports on a very intelligent move by Tom Coburn (R – OK) attempting to counteract at least a portion of the wholesale exchange of favors for House votes for Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi’s preposterous attempt to strike a pose of moral superiority is good for a derisive laugh.

Raising the bar on Republican opposition maneuvers in the Senate, Mr. Coburn on Thursday threatened to put future holds on any Democratic House members who switch their vote in favor of the health care bill, lose their election as a result next November, and then are rewarded with a high-ranking job in the Obama administration.

“If you voted no and you vote yes and you lose your election and you think any nomination to a federal position isn’t going to be held in the Senate, I’ve got news for you, it’s going to be held,” said Mr. Coburn, a physician known somewhat affectionately around the Senate as Dr. No.

Mr. Coburn, appearing at a news conference with 10 fellow Republican lawmakers who are also doctors, promised to scour upcoming spending bills for any special projects that may be given to lawmakers who reluctantly back the health care bill.

“If you think you can cut a deal now and it not come out until after the election, I want to tell you that isn’t going to happen and be prepared to defend selling your vote in the House,” Mr. Coburn warned those making up their minds across the rotunda. …

“There is no limit to what the other side will do to protect the insurance companies,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

16 Mar 2010

Armey on Pelosi: “Inept, Not as Mean as People Think”

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Dick Armey thinks the democrats will succeed in ramming through a health care bill somehow, by hook or by crook, and he tells us that Americans are wrong about Nancy Pelosi.

Former Republican House Majority Leader and current Tea Party leader Dick Armey said today that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “inept” but that Congress would likely still pass health care reform.

“What has probably surprised me more than anything else about Speaker Pelosi is her ineptness,” Armey said at luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “I didn’t realize anyone could rise to the position of Speaker and be that inept.”

Despite his harsh criticism of the Speaker, Armey said that he personally liked Pelosi and he defended her from people who say she’s mean.

“She’s more inept than I thought she was, but she’s not as mean as people think she is,” Armey said.

But even with Pelosi’s “inept” leadership, Armey says Democrats will most likely pass health care reform legislation that has been debated for the last year and is expected to come to a vote this week.

“They’ll probably force this through,” he said. “But you can’t discount the number of people who can be moved by a ruthless and powerful political leader or group of political leaders.”

The Freedom Works chairman also had harsh word for the rest of Congress – the “self-serving” people he suggests are equally to blame for the passage of health care legislation.

“The average member Congress – House and Senate – is first and foremost only a self-serving inconvenience-minimizer who doesn’t have a lot of principle they stand on the first place,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to move a jellied spine, so they’ll probably get their votes.”

Asked if Democrats will get a bounce in poll numbers if they pass health care reform, Armey said Democrats “will get politically bounced” from office. Armey is confident that Harry Reid will lose his Senate seat in November and that Republicans will regain a majority in both houses of Congress either this election cycle or the next.

16 Mar 2010

“Liquored Up on Sake, Ready for Suicide Run”

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Everybody, even Lindsey Graham, recognizes the insane futility of what House democrats are about to do.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Monday used language that compared House Democrats’ efforts to pass healthcare reform legislation to a Japanese kamikaze mission.

“Nancy Pelosi, I think, has got them all liquored up on sake and you know, they’re making a suicide run here,” Graham said on the Keven Cohen Show on WVOC radio in Columbia, S.C.

13 Mar 2010

The Left’s Current Vote Count

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Stupak’s Anti-Abortion bloc of votes is coming under intense pressure from democrat leadership, and is beginning to fragment.

Fire Dog Lake is counting Health Care Bill votes. Well-informed opinion within the left-side democrat base believes the count is currently 191 Yes votes and 202 No votes with the rest undecided, and is optimistic about picking up a sufficient number for passage.

The raw totals, on the flip:

Definite YES:
191 Democrats.

Definite NO:
177 Republicans.

Definite NO:
25 Democrats.

19 Democrats who voted No in November:
Bobby Bright, Mike McIntyre, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Walt Minnick, Artur Davis, Chet Edwards, Frank Kratovil, Mike Ross, Dan Boren, Gene Taylor, Larry Kissell, Dennis Kucinich, Collin Peterson, Ike Skelton, Jim Marshall, Mike McMahon, Charlie Melancon, Tim Holden, Ben Chandler.

6 Democrats & Republicans who voted Yes in November (confirmed Stupak bloc):
Bart Stupak, Marion Berry, Dan Lipinski, Kathy Dahlkemper, Joe Donnelly, Joseph Cao (R).

18 potential Democratic No-Yes flip votes:

15 possible:
Jason Altmire, Bart Gordon, Glenn Nye, Brian Baird, John Tanner, Rick Boucher, Allen Boyd, John Boccieri, Suzanne Kosmas, Betsy Markey, John Adler, Scott Murphy, Lincoln Davis, Jim Matheson, Harry Teague.

3 less possible:
Travis Childers, Heath Shuler (severe lean no), John Barrow.

20 potential Yes-No flip votes:

4 additional Stupak bloc (Stupak-curious):
Steve Driehaus, Brad Ellsworth, Marcy Kaptur, Jerry Costello.

16 other wary Democrats:
Mike Arcuri, Zack Space, Chris Carney, Mike Doyle, Paul Kanjorski, Ann Kirkpatrick, Alan Mollohan, Nick Rahall, Dan Maffei, Bill Owens, Dennis Cardoza, Baron Hill, Solomon Ortiz, Gabrielle Giffords, Earl Pomeroy, Tim Bishop.

Democrats need 25 of a combination of the 18 potential No-Yes flip votes and the 20 potential Yes-No flip votes. So they need 25 out of the remaining uncommitted 38.

Read the whole thing.

04 Mar 2010

Now It’s Judgeships for Health Care Votes

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First there was the Louisiana Purchase of Mary Landrieu’s vote for $100 million (she claimed $300 million), then there was the “Cornhusker Kickback” used to acquire Ben Nelson’s vote, later still came the special deal for labor unions exempting them from the Cadillac Health Insurance tax, and now, as the Weekly Standard reports, it looks like Barack Obama is trading Appeal Court appointments for House votes.

Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he’s obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson [D- 2UT] of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson’s brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. …

Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother’s vote?

Consider Congressman Matheson’s record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he’s “undecided” on ramming the bill through Congress. “The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus,” Matheson’s press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. “It’s too early to know if that will occur.” Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: “I would not infer anything. I’d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday.”

27 Feb 2010

Obamacare Could Still Stall in the House of Representatives

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Kim Strassel, in the Wall Street Journal, explains why even the decision to employ the reconciliation “nuclear option,” throwing the rules of the Senate out the window, does not actually guarantee that democrats can pass the health care bill. The focus of drama now moves over to the House.

The Summit Show was designed by Democrats for Democrats, to give Mr. Obama an all-day stage to inspire and exhort his party to charge once more into the health fray. It’s about “altering the political atmospherics,” admitted one senior Democrat. Yet for all the talk of “jump-start,” there’s little to suggest the ugly politics of passage have changed.

The day after Mr. Brown’s victory broke the majority’s power, Democrats turned to New Strategy, Version 37, Part 12. It is now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s job to pass the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill. It is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s job to pass retroactive “fixes” to that legislation through an unsightly “reconciliation” process that requires only 51 Senate votes.

The strategy is somewhat bully for Mr. Reid, who can afford to lose eight of his own members. It’s meaningless for Mrs. Pelosi. If the speaker had the votes post-Brown to pass the Senate bill, we’d be living under ObamaCare. She didn’t have them then, and yesterday’s summit was a sideshow to the problems she has getting them now.

A few numbers: Mrs. Pelosi passed her health-care bill in early November, with three votes to spare. The one Republican yes has since bailed. On the Democratic side, one vote has left Congress, one has died, and one retires this week. A smaller Congress means Mrs. Pelosi only needs 216 votes. If all were equal to November, she’s at 216.

Only it isn’t November. It’s nearly March, and the speaker is being asked to pass a bill vastly different from her own, in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat and in light of dire public-opinion polls.

Mrs. Pelosi has at least 11 Democrats with big problems with the Senate’s flimsy language on publicly funded abortions. This is the same crew that nearly derailed her first bill, and whose threats at the time were serious enough to cause Mrs. Pelosi to throw over her liberals in favor of pro-life demands.

For many, this is a moral issue that can’t be changed with Cornhusker kickbacks or “atmospherics.” Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who spearheaded the pro-life fight, has already declared the Senate bill “unacceptable.” And the Conference of Catholic Bishops has no intention of now giving these pro-life Democrats an out.

Another reality is Mrs. Pelosi’s many announced retirements. The conventional wisdom holds that some Blue Dogs who voted no the first time—say, Tennessee’s John Tanner—might now be willing to stick it to their constituents as their last act in Congress. Maybe.

Mrs. Pelosi is surely more worried about retiring members who voted yes and are convinced that vote hastened their departure. Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry used his retirement announcement to rip the White House for pushing Blue Dogs into an electoral abyss. House Democrats leaving to run for the Senate—including Indiana’s Brad Ellsworth or New Hampshire’s Paul Hodes—might be more interested in, say, winning those races than clinging to their prior yes votes.

Speaking of Indiana, Mr. Reid’s decision to go reconciliation adds to Mrs. Pelosi’s problems. If retiring Sen. Evan Bayh votes no on reconciliation, is Mr. Ellsworth—running for Mr. Bayh’s seat—going to vote yes? Democratic senators will claim to vote against reconciliation on technical grounds, but the public will view it as the disownment of the president’s agenda. The pressure on House Democrats from states with senators who vote no will be incalculable.

Don’t forget, too, the House members who have seen their district polls disintegrate since their first yes. No doubt they appreciated the president’s spirit yesterday. Yet unless the summit drives a 30-point shift in public opinion, they retain good reason to not repeat their mistake.

The trillion-dollar question is how many votes Mrs. Pelosi had in reserve the first time. Yet here, too, March is no November. These members are now on record in opposition. They have benefited back home from those no votes. Why flip now?

Mrs. Pelosi has been effective at marshalling votes, and nobody should write her off. Yet it says plenty that she is demanding that Mr. Reid go first. Something big must change for her to move her members. Mr. Reid knows even reconciliation is no sure thing and is demanding that Mrs. Pelosi be the one to go first.

The next few days will provide a better sense as to whether the sight of 40 Washington pols summiting over CBO estimates is a game changer. Don’t count on it. Talk is easy. Politics is hard.

26 Feb 2010

Democrat Effort to Insert Criminal Penalties into Intel Bill Fails

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With the media and the country distracted yesterday by President Obama’s health care summit, House democrats tried to slip provisions into the intelligence authorization bill that would not only have criminalized a number of controversial interrogation tactics, an “includes but is not limited to” provision would have made anything done by a US interrogator allegedly “degrading” to a prisoner potentially punishable by imprisonment.

Faced with strong Republican opposition and fearing the reaction of the public, the House leadership backed off and removed the entire bill from consideration.

The Hill:

[Intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) added language, originally offered by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.)] into the intelligence authorization bill that would establish criminal punishment for CIA agents and other intelligence officials who engage in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” during interrogations.

Democrats inserted an 11-page addition into the bill late Wednesday night as the House Rules Committee considered the legislation.

The provision, previously not vetted in committee, applied to “any officer or employee of the intelligence community” who during interrogations engages in beatings, infliction of pain or forced sexual acts. The bill said the acts covered by the provision would include inducing hypothermia, conducting mock executions or “depriving the [detainee] of necessary food, water, sleep, or medical care.”

The language gave Congress the discretion to determine what the terms mean, and it would have imposed punishments of up to 15 years in prison, and in some cases, life sentences if a detainee died as a result of the interrogation.


Andrew McCarthy explains just how far the language went:

The provision is impossibly vague — who knows what “degrading” means? Proponents will say that they have itemized conduct that would trigger the statute (I’ll get to that in a second), but it is not true. The proposal says the conduct reached by the statute “includes but is not limited to” the itemized conduct. (My italics.) That means any interrogation tactic that a prosecutor subjectively believes is “degrading” (e.g., subjecting a Muslim detainee to interrogation by a female CIA officer) could be the basis for indicting a CIA interrogator. …

Waterboarding is not all. The Democrats’ bill would prohibit — with a penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment — the following tactics, among others:

    – “Exploiting the phobias of the individual”

    – Stress positions and the threatened use of force to maintain stress positions

    – “Depriving the individual of necessary food, water, sleep, or medical care”

    – Forced nudity

    – Using military working dogs (i.e., any use of them — not having them attack or menace the individual; just the mere presence of the dog if it might unnerve the detainee and, of course, “exploit his phobias”)

    – Coercing the individual to blaspheme or violate his religious beliefs (I wonder if Democrats understand the breadth of seemingly innocuous matters that jihadists take to be violations of their religious beliefs)

    – Exposure to “excessive” cold, heat or “cramped confinement” (excessive and cramped are not defined)

    – “Prolonged isolation”

    – “Placing hoods or sacks over the head of the individual”

Naturally, all of these tactics are interspersed with such acts as forcing the performance of sexual acts, beatings, electric shock, burns, inducing hypothermia or heat injury — as if all these acts were functionally equivalent. …

Democrats are saying they would prefer to see tens of thousands of Americans die than to see a KSM subjected to sleep-deprivation or to have his “phobias exploited.”

05 Dec 2009

Punishing 85% to Cover 15%

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Rep. Mike Rogers (R – 8th MI) delivers a devastating critique of the democrat healthcare bill.

3:49 video

The commentator at Maggie’s Farm who signs himself Bird Dog called it “powerful stuff.”

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