Cornyn accuses Reid and President Obama of "sabotaging" tax reform
On Monday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) penned an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle that accused Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama of trying to "sabotage" tax reform efforts in the Senate.
Cornyn praised the bipartisan efforts of Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) saying they have, "spent the last few months working on revenue-neutral, pro-growth tax reform."
Cornyn cited Leader Reid's refusal to support any tax reform package that doesn't include revenue increases (tax increases) as evidence of Reid's efforts to sabotage the process.
August town halls: A not so welcome home
August isn't just a time for Congress to go on vacation, its also time for them to go home and face their constituents. August is traditionally the time when members hold town hall meetings in their districts to talk to voters about what is going on in D.C. and hear feedback from their constituents. Over the last few years, however, these town halls have become increasingly contentious as interest groups on both sides of the ideological spectrum attempt try to rally their grassroots activists.
In the first two weeks of this August recess, members are already finding a rocky reception at home. Town halls across the country this August are proxy battlegrounds over defunding Obamacare, immigration reform and other high profile issues.
The polarization and politicization of town halls has led some members to stop holding them altogether.
NLRB at full strength
For the first time since 2003, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has a full compliment of members. On Monday, four new members of the NLRB were sworn in.
The four new members were confirmed by the Senate in July as part of the bipartisan deal to avoid the so-called "nuclear option" that would have changed the rules regarding filibusters of cabinet appointees.
Despite their confirmation, Republicans have expressed concern about two new members of the NLRB in particular: Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer.
Schiffer spent decades working for the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers, and Hirozawa was formerly the top lawyer for NLRB Chairman Pearce.
Pentagon announces new measures to combat sexual assault
On Thursday, the Pentagon introduced new provisions aimed at cracking down on sexual assaults in the military. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the new provisions, "will provide additional rights, protections and legal support, and help ensure that sexual assault related investigations and judicial proceedings are conducted thoroughly and professionally."
The response from the Hill, however, was less than enthusiastic. Several lawmakers panned the "new" measures, saying most of what was announced wasn't "new" at all.
Sexual assaults in the military has become a hot topic on the Hill over the last few months, with a bipartisan coalition of Senators - including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) - pushing for a change in the law that would remove the decision to prosecute sexual assaults from the regular military chain of command and instead place them in the hands of military prosecutors.
Arkansas 4th Congressional District: Arkansas State House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman (R) announced his candidacy for Congress this week. Westerman's announcement came one day after Republican Lt. Governor Mark Darr announced that he would not run for Congress.
California 52nd Congressional District: Carl DeMaio, a highly touted Republican candidate, said this week that his focus had shifted from a House run to "ousting" San Diego Mayor Bob Filner from office. DeMaio, who lost the Mayor's race to Filner in 2012, did not directly answer questions about whether he would abandon a Congressional bid if Filner is forced out and there is a race to replace him.
Idaho 1st Congressional District: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced this week that he would run for re-election to the House rather than challenge sitting Republican Governor Butch Otter.
Michigan: Republicans seem to be putting all of their hopes of picking up the seat of retiring Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) into a potential candidacy by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Camp ruled out a run back in April, but is now reconsidering his decision. While Republicans continue to wait for a candidate, Democrats have coalesced around Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) who has been barnstorming the state since he announced his candidacy on May 1st of this year.
New Jersey special election: On Tuesday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker cruised to an easy Democratic primary victory in his bid to fill the Senate seat of Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who passed away earlier this year. Booker will face off against Republican Steve Lonegan and is the heavy favorite to win the seat.
South Carolina: South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright (R) announced on Tuesday that he would challenge Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). In his announcement, Bright called Graham a "community organizer for the Muslim brotherhood."
A look ahead:
The House and Senate are not in session next week.Washington by the numbers
30 - The number of months former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) was sentenced to serve in prison after pleading guilty to misuse of campaign funds
“When he heard the leader of Greece was [at the White House], Biden was like, ‘John Travolta’s here?’” -- NBC’s Jimmy Fallon
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