Sequestration is here
President Obama will sit down with House and Senate leadership from both parties Friday, on the same day the across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, go into effect. The talks are designed to be a "constructive discussion" about how to minimize the impact of the cuts, according to the White House.
On Thursday, Republican and Democratic sequestration alternatives were defeated in the Senate. The Republican proposal, which the Obama White House said it would veto, would have given President Obama the discretion to implement the cuts. The Democratic proposal relied on a combination of cuts and a tax increase on those making more than $1 million a year.
House conservatives signal support for effort to fund government
On Wednesday, key House conservatives signaled that they would support Leadership’s plan to avoid a government shutdown with a six month funding extension. The current funding for the government expires on March 27th.
Some observers had seen March 27th as the next potential “crisis” date for Congress. Without a new continuing resolution, a government shutdown would occur. It was feared that some of the most fiscally conservative Tea Party members of the House GOP caucus would refuse to approve any new plan to fund the government in order to force a shut down.
Tax reform gets green light
Yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that in the 113th Congress, H.R. 1 – traditionally the designation given to legislation deemed most important by the majority – would be reserved for tax reform.
According to The Hill newspaper:
“The decision, confirmed by the Ohio Republican’s office, underlines the GOP’s determination to press ahead with the first rewrite of the tax code since 1986 despite concerns within the party."
“Fixing our tax code is one of my highest legislative priorities for this Congress,” Boehner said in a Tuesday speech to the Credit Union National Association. “It’s time we shift the balance of power from the tax collector to the taxpayer.”
Read more here.
Chuck Hagel confirmed
Chuck Hagel culminated a bruising several weeks with a 58-41 confirmation victory in the Senate on Tuesday to become the next secretary of Defense, albeit with the smallest support margin since 1947.
Jack Lew confirmed
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jack Lew as Treasury Secretary by a vote of 71 to 26. Lew had previously served as President Obama’s Chief of Staff and as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Obama to nominate Ramirez to head FTC
On Thursday, it was reported that President Obama intends to designate Federal Trade Commissioner Edith Ramirez as the next Chair of the agency. Ramirez would replace Jon Leibowitz who announced earlier in February that he was stepping down.
House passes Violence Against Women Act
On Thursday, 87 House Republicans joined with 199 House Democrats in passing the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Earlier in the day, the House defeated a House GOP version of the bill that stripped out protections for LGBT Americans and Native Americans. VAWA now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
Pro-Hillary PAC staffing up in Ohio
According to BuzzFeed, supporters of a potential Hillary Clinton Presidential bid in 2016 are staffing up:
The "Ready for Hillary" political action committee, founded late last month in support of Secretary Hillary Clinton's possible bid for the presidency in 2016, has made its first major hire and is gearing up to expand further, a source familiar with the group tells BuzzFeed.
Seth Bringman, who served as communications director of the Ohio Democratic Party from 2009 to 2012, has joined "Ready for Hillary" in the same capacity.
On tap for next week:
In the House:
Tuesday, March 5 -- The House Appropriations Committee Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Budget Hearing - Department of Energy, Science" at 10 a.m. in 2362-B Rayburn.
Tuesday, March 5 -- The House Appropriations Committee Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Oversight Hearing - Department of Treasury" at 10 a.m. in B-308 Rayburn.
Tuesday, March 5 -- The House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Enhancing American Competitiveness Through Skilled Immigration" at 10 a.m. in 2141 Rayburn.
Wednesday, March 6 -- The House Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Oversight Hearing - Sandy Disaster Relief and Recovery" at 10 a.m. in 2358-A Rayburn.
In the Senate:
The Senate is expected to take up gun-control legislation next week, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is working with Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to craft language acceptable to both parties, warned this weekend that trying to register gun owners would kill the bill.
The Senate Intelligence Committee pushed back its vote on Obama's nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, originally scheduled for Thursday. The rescheduled vote will likely take place Tuesday.
Quotes of the week:
"It's a little like a dysfunctional family right now, where everybody knows old Uncle Joe at the end of the table's an alcoholic, but nobody wants to say it," -- Rep Tom Cole (R-OK) on the state of the Republican Party.
"You know what the President's handicap is? Doesn't understand economics." -- Jay Leno on President Obama's golfing trip in Florida last week.
David Letterman's top 10 things you don't want to hear from a guy dressed as Abraham Lincoln: "Why don't you and I form a more perfect union?"
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