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Immigration reform backers urge Boehner to drop Hastert Rule

One of the House's leading comprehensive immigration reform proponents, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) says there are more than the 218 votes necessary to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship in the House. Gutierrez called on Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to drop the so-called "Hastert rule" that requires a majority of the majority to support a measure before it comes to the floor.

While Boehner has been willing in the past to bypass the Hastert rule and bring legislation to the floor that does not have the support of a majority of the Republican conference, he has said that when it comes to immigration, any bill will need the support of a majority of the conference.

Gutierrez warned that a failure to pass immigration reform by House Republicans will marginalize the party saying, "the Republican Party can decide if it wants to be a party of provinces and states and localities but it will never be a national party ever again."

House GOP may hold vote on "clean" debt-limit increase

Several House Republicans have signaled that Speaker Boehner may hold a vote on a "clean" debt-ceiling increase bill this fall in order to show President Obama that such a move lacks support on both sides of the aisle.

In 2011, Boehner used just such a tactic and 82 Democrats joined every Republican in overwhelmingly opposing a clean debt-limit increase.

Republicans are hoping to use the debate over increasing the debt-limit to extract additional spending cuts. President Obama, however, has said flatly that he will not negotiate the way he did in 2011 and is calling on Congress to send him a clean debt-ceiling increase.

Van Hollen announces lawsuit against IRS

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) may have united both Tea Party conservatives and progressives this week when he announced his plan to sue the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Van Hollen said his lawsuit was intended to assuage Tea Party concerns over IRS overreach and liberals concerns over the effect of the Supreme Court's Citizens United case. Van Hollen is suing the IRS, as well as the Treasury Department, to demand a change in the way they evaluate nonprofits that claim themselves to be "social-welfare" organizations.

The IRS currently tax-exempts 501(c)4s to dabble in political advocacy, so long as they keep such activities secondary to their general charitable work. Van Hollen hopes to close this loophole. He hopes to force the IRS to rewrite its rules to require 501(c)4s to engage exclusively in social-welfare activities, and keep out of political spending entirely. If the groups want to get into politics, they should register under a different nonprofit classification—known as 527s—that would protect the groups from taxation but require them to disclose all of their donors.

Van Hollen said the problem of political targeting by the IRS, a concern of many conservatives in the wake of the IRS-Tea Party scandal, could be rendered moot by removing the IRS's obligation to judge where groups stand along the blurred line between social welfare and political advocacy.

Republicans back away from government shut down threats

On FOX New Sunday, Tea Party favorite Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said he did not think it was a good idea to shut down the government. Many on the right had been advocating an effort to defund Obamacare even if it forced a government shut down.

Paul said the threat of a government shut down was simply part of an effort aimed at finding a compromise that would hopefully delay the implementation of the President's healthcare law.

Tax reform gets a boost with Camp's announcement

The prospects of comprehensive tax reform passing before the 2014 mid-term elections have always been slim, but those slim hopes got a boost with the announcement that House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) would not run for Senate.

Democrats had warned that tax reform efforts would have fallen apart had Camp chosen to run for the Senate and even Republicans had acknowledged that a Camp run would require him to shift his focus away from tax reform.

Political Bits:

House

California 7th Congressional District: Former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA) will make a comeback bid against Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). Ose will face 2012 California Senate nominee Elizabeth Emken in the Republican primary.

Senate

Michigan: As noted above, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) announced that he would not run for Senate in 2014.

North Carolina: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) became the latest high-profile Republican to pass on a Senate race in North Carolina in 2014, which is good news for freshman Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC).

Tennessee: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) got a Tea Party primary challenger in the form of State Rep. Joe Carr. Carr made the decision to drop a bid for Congress and instead challenge Alexander. Alexander begins the campaign with a huge money advantage over Carr.

Six things losing candidates say

Noted political handicapper, Stu Rothenberg released a must-read list on Thursday: his list of six things losing candidates say. Writing in Roll Call, Rothenberg, in advance of the 2014 mid-terms, gives us the six phrases that are the hallmarks of losing campaigns: 

“I’m running a grass-roots campaign.” This translates to: “I’m not going to raise any money.” Running an effective grass-roots and get-out-the-vote operation is important for a campaign, but winning a competitive House or Senate race requires multiple millions of dollars to make your case in paid advertising.

“The only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day.” This doesn’t guarantee defeat in the upcoming election, but it means you are losing the race at the time and have no empirical evidence to the contrary. It’s up to the candidate to change the dynamic of the race.

“I’m the next [insert big name politician here].” This means the campaign strategy is to emulate a previous candidate who overcame nearly impossible odds to win their own race. Whether a candidate is invoking Republican Scott P. Brown’s special election victory in Massachusetts or then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s improbable presidential run, it’s probably unlikely that the candidate using this phrase will be able to replicate those victories.

“I’m not going to run any negative ads.” This is one way to virtually guarantee defeat. We can argue about the definition of “negative,” but campaigns are about contrasts. And successful campaigns rarely let the opponent run unscathed and define himself or herself only on their own terms. The caveat to this is if outside groups run negative ads on behalf of a candidate. But if you’re a candidate who wins without running negative ads, then you were probably going to win anyway.

“I’m not going to accept PAC money.” It’s hip to reject contributions from political action committees and decry them as “special interest money.” But candidates taking this pledge probably weren’t going to get that money anyway. And if they did, they would call it “grass-roots support.” It’s possible to win without PAC money, but it usually means the campaign is supplemented with something else, such as a personal checkbook.

“My son is running my campaign.” Really, you can insert any family member into this quote. Unless a candidate is related to professional campaign strategist (not the pretend ones on the cable networks), this is a sign that they do not understand the task ahead of them and will be woefully unprepared if and when a tough fight arrives.

A look ahead:

The House and Senate are not in session next week.

Washington by the numbers

35 - The number of states where welfare programs pay more than minimum wage, according to a study released this week by the Cato Institute.

Washington humor

“President Barack Obama had a vacation. How long was he on vacation? A week? The hardest job in the world, and he gets a week off. The hardest job in the world -- yeah, we’ll give you a week of pretend vacation.” -- David Letterman

 

 

 Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.559.2600

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
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