Tag Archives: senator

Harry Reid’s Office: Jim Bunning Holding All Presidential Nominees

Posted by: BuellBoy

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)

TPM/Rachel Slajda~Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who has become a one-man filibuster of a bill to extend unemployment benefits, apparently placed a hold on all presidential nominees last week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office confirms to TPMDC that Bunning has placed the holds.

It turns out that not only has he been blocking the unemployment insurance bill, he has also been blocking the confirmation of nominees since last week as well,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.

Bunning’s spokesman tells TPMDC that he doesn’t know about the holds.

I don’t know that. Right now the senator’s number one priority is reaching an agreement to get this bill paid for and passed,” said the spokesman, Mike Reynard.

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Obama Administration, Partisan Politics, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized

Not A Game by Senator John Kerry

Posted by: Betsm

Written by Senator John Kerry/Cross-posted from TPM

Senator John Kerry

Senator John Kerry

Too often, the way it’s played and the way it’s reported, Americans might think everything that happens in Washington is a game.

But look, this is anything but a game. The business before the Senate is literally life and death on many issues, and the parliamentary tricks to delay and obstruct the basic workings of our government have real-world consequences.

What am I talking about? Start with the latest example: one Senator’s effort to delay the votes on some critically-needed legislation for Americans out of work and hurting in our economy.

A lot of people today are clicking on this news story about Senator Bunning.

Political theater? Much more than that. Here’s what’s at stake: 2000 federal highway workers were furloughed this morning, losing the pay that their families depend on and halting work on critical national infrastructure. Nearly 1.2 million could lose their unemployment benefits without an extension of that program, pulling away a critical financial lifeline.

This has to end.

In the last Congress, the Republican minority more than doubled the previous record for filibusters, and they are on a pace to challenge or surpass that “accomplishment” this Congress as well. And filibusters are only the most obvious part of it. (TPM put together a great chart on filibusters which you can see here.)

On issue after issue, votes large and small, the strategy from the GOP at the highest levels has been the same: exploiting every Senate rule, playing every trick to try to slow things down. They put holds on bills that later pass by 90 votes, filibuster things they later vote for, block things they previously proposed. They used the filibuster to shoot down a debt commission that they themselves called on President Obama to implement! They block completely uncontroversial nominees and cause days of delays on the most critical of legislation. They even stalled on money for our troops last year, just to try to delay debate on health care reform.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are good Senators on both sides of the aisle. Last week, five Republican Senators (including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and I don’t care about party label, I call it the way I see it – Scott cast the right vote for Massachusetts there) joined with Democrats to break a GOP filibuster to pass a jobs bill helping small businesses hire in this tough economy. Senator Lindsay Graham and I are working hard together to develop a bill on energy and global climate change.

But as long as the GOP leadership continues with the scorched-earth campaign, it will be tough to get done the things we know we need to do.

We need this to end. Debate big differences. Disagree. Use the filibuster when big matters of principle hang in the balance – and sometimes they do. But at the end of the day, Washington has to function – people are counting on it. When it comes to unemployment insurance for workers who have been laid-off through no fault of their own, stop playing games immediately, allow a vote, and then get to work trying to solve some problems, not playing tricks with the Senate rules. The framers invested the minority with rights to protect the Senate – not to destroy it.

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Filed under Economy, Jobs, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Sen. John Kerry, Senate, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s Impasse Puts 2000 Federal Employees Out Of Work Today

AP~Two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it.

Federal reimbursements to states for highway programs will also be halted, the Transportation Department said in a statement late Sunday. The reimbursements amount to about $190 million a day, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The furloughs and freeze on payments were the result of a decision last week by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning to block passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs, the department said. Those programs expired at midnight Sunday.

The extension of transportation programs was part of a larger package of government programs that also expired Sunday, including unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans.

Bunning objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. He didn’t respond to a request Monday for comment.

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A Disappointing Return to Political Games with Severe Consequences for Those Who have Lost Their Jobs

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
Cross-posted from WhiteHouse.gov

On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans came together in the House to pass an emergency bill that will temporarily extend benefits for American workers and small businesses. It showed that in times of great need, our elected officials can still set aside their differences to do right by the American people.

But just when we thought we were seeing progress, we have been confronted with a disappointing return to tactics that could be harmful to the American people, with Senator Bunning (R-KY) blocking the extension of several critical priorities for middle-class families. If Senator Bunning gets his way, hundreds of thousands of people could be ineligible for COBRA tax credits for health coverage created by the Recovery Act; 400,000 individuals who cannot find work will lose their unemployment insurance; thousands of small businesses will lose access to credit; transportation projects and public safety programs across the country would be halted; critical transportation safety personnel will be furloughed at a time of increased concern about the safety of our roads and highways; and 600,000 doctors across the country who care for our seniors and veterans could be subject to a 20 % pay cut, including 8,105 in Senator Bunning’s home state of Kentucky.

Make no mistake about it: this bill is too important to fall prey to the political games of one person. If Senator Bunning succeeds, it would have a devastating effect on millions of people as early as Monday.

There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008. Over the past decade, unemployment insurance extensions have been passed as emergency measures under Republican and Democratic Congresses alike. So what we’re seeing right now is politics at its worst. It’s a perfect example of why so many Americans are fed up with Washington.

We need to think about how our actions will impact the American people, because they sent us here to work for them. We need to put an end to the gamesmanship, and do whatever is in our power to put Americans back to work. They expect and deserve nothing less of us.

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First Lady Michelle Meets with Members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries

Posted by: Audiegrl

US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) seated alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L) and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa

US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) seated alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L) and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa

First Lady Michelle Obama met today with Members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House. Discussing her childhood obesity initiative and steps that families, schools and communities can take to fight it.


First Lady Michelle Obama: “I want to begin just by thanking you all for taking the time to come and join us today.

As you are probably now more than aware, we’re in the process of launching a nationwide effort to dealing with the obesity epidemic in this country. And as you’ve seen, as I’ve been out there, as a parent, this is an issue that I care deeply about and I’ve spoken about in a very personal level. But I’ve learned that there are many parents around this country who are struggling with this issue, who are concerned about it and are looking for ways to help.

But one of the good news — pieces about this challenge is that this problem is imminently solvable, and that’s the good news. But it’s going to require us working together — not just the administration, but Congress, governors, mayors, parents, teachers. Anyone who has access to children in their lives is going to have to work together. And one of the things that’s also very clear is that this problem won’t be solved by any single federal solution. This is going to require national action.

So I’m very excited about the conversation that we’re going to have. The initiative that’s going to launch is really going to look at four key areas. And I talked about these before, but we’re going to try to increase the number of healthy schools in this country. We’re going to work hard to increase the level of regular physical activity that kids are getting in this country. One of the tougher challenges that we need to look at is improving the accessibility and affordability of foods because there are many food deserts in this nation, which makes it difficult for families trying to access good options. And we also want to do more to empower consumers to make better choices in their own lives.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filmmaker Who Broke ACORN Story Arrested For Attempted Bugging Of Landrieu’s Office

Posted by: Audiegrl

James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe


A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four people arrested by the FBI and accused of trying to interfere with phones at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

Activist James O’Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu’s New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office said Tuesday. Letten says O’Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.

In the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.

After handling the phone, Letten’s office said, they asked for access to a phone closet so they could work on the main phone system. The men were directed to another office in the building, where they are accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.

They were arrested later by the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Details of the arrest were not available. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was also arrested, but Letten’s office said only that he assisted the others in planning, coordinating and preparing the operation.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Federal officials did not say why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu’s phones or whether they were successful. Landrieu, a moderate Democrat, declined comment Tuesday. She has been in the news recently because she negotiated an increase in Medicaid funds for her state before announcing her support for Senate health care legislation.

Bill Flanagan’s office confirmed his son was among those arrested, but declined further comment.

An FBI criminal complaint charging the men was unsealed Tuesday, and a magistrate set bond at $10,000 each after they made their initial court appearances wearing red prison jumpsuits.

Much more on the breaking story @ TPM

UPDATE: What Is The Pelican Institute?

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Hat tip Media Matters

With O’Keefe arrest, Breitbart develops new-found appreciation for “facts”

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Democrats Cast Blame At Each Other Over Senate Campaign

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Martha Coakley gives a concession speech January 19, 2010 at the Sheraton Boston

Associated Press/Laura Kellman~The buck stops … Well, it was hard to tell just where the buck stopped Tuesday when it came to the Democratic party’s loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century.

Days before Republican state Sen. Scott Brown officially captured the seat over Democrat Martha Coakley, Washington to Boston began dodging blame and pointing fingers at each other.

Cool-headed analysis of what was driving independents from Coakley to Brown? No. The issue was who botched Democrat Martha Coakley’s Senate campaign more: her state people or national Democrats.

Most spoke the classic Washington way, under the cloak of anonymity. But President Barack Obama’s senior adviser took precise, public aim at Coakley’s camp as Brown closed in on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat.

I think the White House did everything we were asked to do,” David Axelrod told reporters. “Had we been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier.”

But the signs had been there. In the bluest of blue states, the election was seen, at least in part, as a referendum on Obama, on health care reform, on the Democratic majority that had controlled two of three branches of government for a year.

And the Republican candidate was surging.

What of Obama himself?

Surprised and frustrated,” reported White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, promising more presidential reaction Wednesday. “Not pleased.”

Democrats could agree on the obvious: Somebody had taken the seat for granted, had underestimated the public’s anger over the economy, over the Democrats’ health care overhaul, over plain old arrogance in Washington.

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Senator Arlen Specter Announces Support for Stalled Justice Department Nominee Dawn Johnsen

Posted by: Audiegrl

ThinkProgress/Amanda Terkel~Last year, President Obama nominated Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which, during the Bush administration, sanctioned torture. Johnsen, however, was an outspoken critic of the so-called “torture memos.” Conservatives blocked her nomination, and the White House has said that it plans to renominate her when the Senate officially reconvenes later this month. Even after he became a Democrat, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said that he opposed Johnsen’s nomination. However, today his office released a statement in which Specter says that he will now support her:

After voting ‘pass’ (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor.

Spencer Ackerman notes that Republican Sen. Dick Lugar (IN) has also said he is standing by his support for Johnsen, meaning she has the 60 votes necessary to be confirmed.

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The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not Want To Lose by Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy and Victoria Reggie KennedyWashington Post—My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars — and competing interests — were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation’s working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn’t do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn’t arise again for a generation.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn’t ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Ted often said that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He also said that it was better to get half a loaf than no loaf at all, especially with so many lives at stake. That’s why, even as he never stopped fighting for comprehensive health-care reform, he also championed incremental but effective reforms such as a Patients’ Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA continuation of health coverage.

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It’s a Helluva State by Cynthia Nixon

Op-ed by Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon and her girlfriend, Christine Marinoni

HP/Cynthia Nixon—My girlfriend and I want to get married. Only thing is: it’s not legal in NY State, where we live. So we started doing everything we could think of to reverse that. Including going up to Albany this past spring with two of our politico friends to speak to some Senators — Democratic and Republican — who were on the fence on the issue.

Wednesday’s No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding… Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding… Montauk Beach wedding — you fill in the blank — goodbye. But we have two things today we didn’t have yesterday.

The first thing we have is clarity about who’s with us and who’s against us. And we’ll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.

The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce.

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester)

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-NY)

Our gang of four met with her last spring and she explained to us in depth, over a long and respectful meeting why she thought she was going to vote no on gay marriage. Senator Hassell-Thompson is deeply religious. She felt strongly that marriage always has been and always should be the union between a man and a woman.

But she is a careful, thoughtful person and you could see her weighing the issue again and again in her mind. And in her considering she stumbled across something in her personal experience that began to change her perspective.

She spoke about how her mother had been a deacon in their church at a time when previously only men had been deacons. And how controversial that had been. And how vehemently many people opposed her mother’s appointment. And how none of those opposed could give any explanation for why her mother becoming a deacon was wrong, just that it was. Because it was new. Because it was shocking. Because it was an idea that took people a little time to get used to.

On Wednesday Ruth Hassell-Thompson voted yes.

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