News Briefing for Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Job health insurance costs rising faster than wages
“People with insurance through an employer—that is, most people with health coverage—are paying “more in premiums and deductibles than ever before” as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new report finds. Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers’ personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent. If that wasn’t painful enough, deductibles—or the amount a person has to pay out of pocket before an insurance plans covers medical costs—more than doubled over the 10-year span. And despite a recent slowdown in costs that coincided with the adoption of the Obamcare health-care reform law in 2010, the price of job-based coverage is still rising faster than incomes, according to the report. Families are “being squeezed by health-care costs,” said report co-author Sara Collins, vice president for Health-Care Coverage and Access at the Commonwealth Fund. “Growth in family income is so slow that people still feel a pinch from health costs.” Job-based health insurance is, by far, the single biggest form of health coverage in the United States. Some 153 million people, or 57 percent of the population, are covered by health plans offered by their employer, or the employer of their spouse or parents, while the biggest provider is government-run Medicaid, which covers about 50 million poor adults and children. From 2003 to 2013, the average premium for an individual worker covered by a job-based plan rose from $3,481 per year to $5,571 per year—a 60 percent increase. Family coverage, which grew by 73 percent, went from an average of $9,249 in 2013 up to $16,029 in 2013, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Because of the relatively slow growth in wages at the same time, total average premiums paid for a family getting coverage through a job went from being 15 percent of median income in 2003 to 23 percent in 2013.”
Feds Plan for 35 Agencies to Help Collect, Share, Use Electronic Health Info
“Along with the primary goal of expanding the availability of health insurance, the Affordable Care Act aims to make the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) universal. This plan actually began with the 2009 stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), which included the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Doctors and other health providers have been offered incentives to convert patient information and health histories to a compatible and transferable electronic format, and as of June 2014, 75 percent of eligible doctors and 92 percent of eligible hospitals had received payments under the program. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which details the efforts of some 35 departments and agencies of the federal government and their roles in the plan to “advance the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research.” The plan is illustrated with the following graphic:”
“Get over your damn glibness.”
“CLIP: Rep. Cynthia Lummis finishes her questioning time at the health care hearing by talking about her husband, who died from a heart attack, and the problems they had with health care. Watch the complete hearing here: http://cs.pn/1scug6J
GOP REP TO GRUBER: ‘GET OVER YOUR DAMN GLIBNESS’
“Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) tore into Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber on Tuesday, telling him to “get over” his “damn glibness” on Tuesday. Lummis told the story of her difficulties enrolling in Obamacare, saying “I’m on Obamacare. My husband was on Obamacare with me, and we were told that we were enrolled in Obamacare, and then when we filed claims, we were told we were not enrolled in Obamacare, and then we got it straightened out. And he filed claims and we were told once again that we were not on Obamacare. Well, come to find out, my husband was having chest pains at the time that he was told we were not enrolled in Obamacare, and come to find out, he didn’t have all of the tests that he was advised by his physician to have.” Unfortunately, the delay ended in tragedy when “on October 24, a week before [the] election, my husband went to sleep and never woke up. He had a massive heart attack in his sleep at age 65, a perfectly, by all appearances, healthy man. Come to find out, in a conversation with his physician after he died, he chose not to have one of the tests, the last test, his doctor told him to have. This happened to coincide with the time that we were told that we were not covered by Obamacare.” Lummis added, that “I’m not telling you that my husband died because of Obamacare, he died because he had a massive heart attack in his sleep. But O am telling you that during the course of time that he was having tests by a physician and was told we were not covered by Obamacare that he then decided not to have the last test the doctor asked him to have. Let me suggest that there may be a decline in participation and that it may not be to the benefit of the American people.” She concluded “I want to suggest that regardless of what happened to me personally, that there have been so many glitches in the passage and implementation of Obamacare that have real-life consequences on people’s lives and the so-called ‘glibness’ that has been referenced today have direct consequences for real American people. So get over your damn glibness.”
Watch: GOP Lawmaker Chokes Up as She Describes Her Tragic, Personal Involvement With Obamacare
Elijah Cummings Savages Gruber: ‘Absolutely Stupid,’ ‘Incredibly Disrespectful’
“Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings tore into MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber on Tuesday for his remarks on American voters and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee made GOP chairman Darrell Issa’s opening statement sound tame by comparison. “As far as I can tell, we are here today to beat up on Jonathan Gruber for stupid — I mean absolutely stupid — comments he made over the last few years,” he began, staring angrily at the hapless professor. “Let me be clear, I am extremely frustrated with Dr. Gruber’s statements,” Cummings continued. “They were irresponsibly, incredibly disrespectful, and did not reflect reality. And they were indeed insulting.” “I was in Congress when this law was debated, and Dr. Gruber does not speak for me, or the chairman of the other committees who worked tirelessly on this bill,” he said. “We debated this legislation for nearly a year before it was finally passed and signed by the president! Never once did I believe or did anyone suggest that we were somehow hiding our goals from the American people.” “But worst of all,” the ranking member concluded, “Dr. Gruber’s statements gave Republicans a public relations gift in their relentless political campaign to tear down the ACA and eliminate health care for millions of Americans!”
Another Democrat Berates Gruber, This Time over Obamacare Employer Mandate
“Massachusetts congressman Stephen Lynch became the latest Democrat to pile on Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber this Tuesday. But while other Democrats excoriated the MIT professor for a series of offensive remarks about the passage of the law, Lynch took him to task over the substance of the Affordable Care Act itself. The congressman asked Gruber to explain how Obamacare helps union employees of large companies, many of whom are refusing to re-up collective-bargaining agreements because of the employer mandate. “How do we help these employees?” he asked. “Because now they’re being told, ‘Go to the exchange, we don’t do that anymore. We’re out of the health-care business.’” Gruber hastened to explain he’s not an expert on collective bargaining, but added that “there’s no reason these employers can’t provide affordable and comprehensive insurance under the provisions of the Cadillac tax.” That didn’t sit well with the congressman. “Just so you know how this works,” he said, “if you’re bidding on a construction project and you have 49 employees, and I have 150, my bid includes $13 an hour for health care! Your bid is zero!” “Now you say I can afford it!?” Lynch continued. “How do I win that bid, if for every man-hour on that job I have to put $13 an hour on my bid, and you can put zero and send your people to the exchange, or you’re not obligated to account for health care? How does that work?”
Jonathan Gruber: I’m not ‘the architect’ of Obamacare
“Beleaguered Obamacare adviser Jonathan Gruber declared he was not “the architect” of the health law as House Republicans on Tuesday hit hard at a pair of scandals that have overshadowed an otherwise successful launch of the second sign-up season.
“I was not the ‘architect’ of President Obama’s health care plan,” the MIT economist told the House Oversight committee, as he repeatedly apologized and dismissed as “mean” and “glib” his own remarks about the passage of Obamacare and the “stupidity” of the American voter that have fueled controversy. “I am not a political adviser nor a politician,” said Gruber, who was a key economic adviser during the drafting of the law. He said his comments were “thoughtless” and “downright insulting” at times. He also drew the ire of committee Republicans for not disclosing all his income from state and federal consulting contracts, and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa threatened to bring him back for yet another hearing if he didn’t divulge a fuller picture of what taxpayers had paid him. Tuesday’s hearing was the GOP’s last best shot at Obamacare this Congress, and even Democrats showed their annoyance with Gruber’s videotaped comments attributing Obamacare’s passage to a lack of transparency and voter “stupidity.” The Gruber videotapes have become a conservative media sensation and a highly unwelcome distraction for the White House. Fox News carried the opening portions of the hearing live. “Are you stupid? … Does MIT employ stupid people?” Issa asked Gruber, before asking him to explain his remarks as a “smart person” at a respected institution. Later Gruber was asked if he understood what a tax was, as the Republicans tangled with Gruber about the health law’s individual mandate penalty. Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner was the other key witness, and she too spent her time on apologies — in her case for giving the committee inflated Obamacare enrollment numbers earlier this fall. The administration included nearly 400,000 dental plans, giving the false impression that it had surpassed the 7 million enrollment goal. Tavenner said that was a mistake, arising from counting payments to health plans instead of tallying the number of covered people. Issa said Gruber and Tavenner “are a perfect pairing, a pairing of individuals who are responsible for what we know and don’t know before during and after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.”
Gruber “Embarrassed” For Obamacare Comments; Says He Wasn’t Architect (video)
GRUBER WON’T STAND BY WAPO QUOTATION IN OWN BOOK
“Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber refused to stand by a quotation describing him as “possibly the [Democratic] Party’s most influential healthcare expert” that he put in his own book on Tuesday. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) read a passage from Gruber’s book “was a key architect of Massachusetts’ ambitious healthcare reform effort and consulted extensively with [the] Obama administration and Congress during the development of the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post called him ‘possibly the [Democratic] Party’s most influential healthcare expert'” which Gruber agreed was in his book, and said he would stand by it, except for the Post’s statement that he was the Democrats’ “most influential healthcare expert.”
When Issa asked why he would put a statement in his book that he wouldn’t stand by, Gruber told him “it was a flattering quote to me and I put it in my book, but it’s their definition, not mine.” Issa concluded by saying “we’ll let the Washington Post’s credibility speak for itself”
Gruber Refuses to Say How Much He Was Paid for Obamacare Work (video)
“Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber refuses to say how much he’s been paid for his work on Obamacare, under questioning by Republican Jim Jordan:”
Gruber Refuses to Tell Congress Amount Gov’t Paid Him for Obamacare
“GOP Oversight chairman Darrel Issa informed Gruber that due to a misfiled form, the committee did not receive the complete compensation data for his work on Obamacare. “Would you agree to supplement your Exhibit B, so that we would have . . . your state revenue that you would’ve also received, since ultimately it’s Affordable Care Act-related?” he asked. “I’m sure my counsel would be happy to take that up with you,” Gruber replied, deferring to his lawyer. “Actually I was asking would you agree to provide it,” Issa said, prompting Gruber to speak with his counsel before again refusing to answer. “Why doesn’t he just tell us?” interjected Ohio Republican Jim Jordan. “How much money did you get from the state taxpayers and the federal taxpayers? He’s under oath, why doesn’t he tell us how much he got paid by the taxpayers? We don’t have to wait for him to send something to us, he should just be able to tell us.” Jordan later pressed Gruber on the question again, but the professor refused to comply. “As I said, the committee could take that up with my counsel,” he repeated.”
GRUBER WON’T SAY HOW MUCH HE WAS PAID FOR OBAMACARE WORK
“Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber repeatedly refused to answer how much he was paid for his lectures on Obamacare before the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday. Representative Jim Jordan repeatedly asked Gruber how much he was paid, to which he was told to look at his disclosures and to “take that up with my counsel.” Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) then pointed out “errors and omissions” in his truth filing could not be cleared up by his legal counsel and that his truth filing did not contain money he was paid for contracts, when his disclosures only contained money he earned via grants. After Gruber conferred with his lawyers, Jordan again resumed his questioning, and Gruber said “I was informed that I should report all federal moneys received through grants or contracts for this fiscal year and the previous two fiscal years. I did that.” Jordan continued pressing about the total amount Gruber, to which he was finally told “I don’t recall the total.”
Jonathan Gruber Apologizes: ‘I Am Embarrassed, and I Am Sorry’
“Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber apologized Tuesday for his past comments that seemed to revel in the “stupidity of the American voter,” which he said was a handy tool that allowed Congress to pass Obamacare. “I would like to begin by apologizing sincerely for the offending comments that I made,” Gruber said in prepared remarks before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He said in some cases he made “glib comments” about the process, and said his tone implied he’s an expert on healthcare, “which is wrong.” Gruber acknowledged his “insulting and mean comments” were uncalled for. “I sincerely apologize for conjecturing with a tone of expertise and for doing so in such a disparaging fashion,” he said. “It is never appropriate to try to make oneself seem more important or smarter by demeaning others. I knew better. I know better. I am embarrassed, and I am sorry.” Gruber’s comments, caught in several videos that surfaced over the last few months, drew anger from both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans said they showed the distain for voters that Democrats held, while Democrats said Gruber’s comments just made it easier for Republicans to keep up criticism of Obamacare. During the House hearing, ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Gruber’s comments were “stupid, I mean absolutely stupid,” in part because they gave Republicans a “public relations gift.” Many Democrats have reacted to Gruber’s comments by saying he was not the mastermind behind efforts to pass the law in 2010. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even said she didn’t know Gruber, a sign she and others were quickly backing away from Gruber after having praised his analytical work years earlier.”
Jonathan Gruber: ‘I am embarrassed, and I am sorry’
Gruber apologizes for ‘mean and insulting’ ObamaCare comments
Obamacare adviser sorry for making “insulting” comments about the law
Obama health adviser apologizes for ‘glib’ remarks
Gruber to Apologize, Walk Back ‘Lack of Transparency’ Comments
““I would like to begin by apologizing sincerely for the offending comments that I made,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber will tell the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, according to an advance copy of his testimony obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Gruber’s comments refer to a series of videos that denigrated “the stupidity of the American voter” and referred in an offhand fashion to attempts to game the Congressional Budget Office’s fiscal score of the law as it worked its way through Congress. “I know better. I knew better. I am embarrassed, and I am sorry,” Gruber will tell the committee. However, he will also attempt to backtrack claims that Obamacare only passed due to “a lack of transparency” in the legislative process. “Let me be very clear: I do not think that the Affordable Care Act was passed in a non-transparent fashion,” he will tell the committee. “Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of [some of Obamacare’s revenue raising provisions], but it is completely clear that these issues were debated thoroughly during the drafting and passage of the ACA,” he will say. That is a marked departure from his comments since the law passed. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” he said in one recently released video seized on by Obamacare opponents as evidence of Democrats’ legislative chicanery. Gruber’s testimony will not address his relationship with the Department of Health and Human Services in 2009 and 2010 that critics say presented his macroeconomic analyses of the law as objective even though he was on the department’s payroll. HHS, the White House, congressional Democrats, and numerous Obamacare supporters in the media touted Gruber’s analyses as definitive evidence of Obamacare’s positive fiscal impacts.”
Jonathan Gruber of M.I.T. Regrets ‘Arrogance’ on Health Law
“Jonathan Gruber, the health economist whose incendiary comments about “the stupidity of the American voter” have embarrassed the Obama administration, apologized Tuesday for what he described as his “glib, thoughtless and sometimes downright insulting comments.” “I am not a political adviser nor a politician,” said Dr. Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of technology who was a paid consultant to the Obama administration in 2009-10. Dr. Gruber minimized his role, saying he had used an “economic microsimulation model” to help the administration and Democrats in Congress assess the impact of policies in the Affordable Care Act. He later defended the law in a number of speeches. In one, he said the law had been adopted thanks in part to the stupidity of voters and a “lack of transparency” about its financing. Testifying on Tuesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Dr. Gruber said: “I behaved badly, and I will have to live with that, but my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act. The A.C.A. is a milestone accomplishment for our nation that already has provided millions of Americans with health insurance.” The chairman of the committee, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, said supporters of the law had passed it and sold it to the public with half-truths and deception. He said that Dr. Gruber and the administration had displayed “a pattern of intentionally misleading the public about the true nature and impact of Obamacare.”
The Shocking, Three-Word Question Darrell Issa Asked Jonathan Gruber During Obamacare Hearing
“Issa said he thought to ask the question after the Kennedy Center honored Tom Hanks, who played Forrest Gump, the “ultimate in successful stupid man.” “Are you stupid?” Issa asked Gruber, quoting a line from “Forrest Gump,” in which a young girl asked Gump, “Are you stupid or something?” In the movie, Gump answered the question by saying, “Momma says stupid is as stupid does.” Gruber answered by saying he doesn’t think he’s stupid. “I don’t think so, no,” Gruber replied. “Does MIT employ stupid people?” Issa asked. “Not to my knowledge.” “OK, so you’re a smart man who said some … really stupid things, and you said the same. Is that correct?” “The comments I made were really inexcusable,” Gruber said of his various remarks about the passage of Obamacare, including that the “stupidity of the American voter” was key to getting it through. He apologized for those remarks at the start of the hearing.”
CHAIRMAN DARRELL ISSA ASKS JONATHAN GRUBER IF HE IS STUPID
Video: Issa Asks Jonathan Gruber, “Are You Stupid?”
Trey Gowdy Unloads on Jonathan Gruber’s Defense: ‘Is That the Best You Can Come up With?’
“Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Tuesday rejected Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s claim that he made disparaging claims about the intelligence of American voters in order to make himself look smarter… Gruber said a few times that he shouldn’t have spoken about politician matters at all, since he’s not an expert. But Gowdy said Gruber seemed to routinely speak about politics, and dismissed that answer. “Is that the best you can come up with?” he said. Gruber then said repeatedly that he spoke disparagingly about the American voters in an attempt to sound smarter than he really was. “Once again, it was my trying to conjecture about a political process in which I’m not an expert,” he said. “Once again, it was using inappropriate language to try to sound impressive about something to my colleagues.” Gowdy finally had enough, and asked a question that seemed to reveal that Gruber’s answers may not be the real reason why he said all those things. “So you’re a professor at MIT and you’re worried about not looking smart enough?” Gowdy asked. After a long pause, Gruber finally said, “Yes.” “Well, you succeeded if that was your goal,” Gowdy said. Gruber also said throughout the day that he was sorry he said what he said. But Gowdy said to his eyes, it looked like Gruber was only sorry because his comments were caught on video. “Professor Gruber, let me just say what it looks like from this vantage point,” he said. “You thought that they were really pithy and really funny, until the video showed up.” “Which one are you apologizing for? Because you said it, or because you meant it?” Gowdy pressed. “I didn’t mean it,” Gruber said. “All of these quotes that I just read to you, you didn’t read a single one, not a one?” Earlier in the hearing, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked Gruber if he was “stupid.” Gruber said he was not, but Gowdy and others said Gruber said many stupid things on the videos that leaked out over the last few months. “Do you see a trend developing here, Professor Gruber?” Howdy asked at one point. “I don’t understand the question,” Gruber said. “It’s a lot of stupid quotes you’ve made, that’s the trend.”
Talk to my lawyer: Gruber won’t commit to turning over documents he produced for ObamaCare
“American taxpayers have paid him millions for his health-care work over the last 10 years at the federal and state level. He produced plenty of documents in the course of that work; presumably, since they paid for them — and since this process is allegedly so transparent — the voters have a right to see them, yes? Nope, says Gruber. You’ll need to talk to my lawyer if you’re interested in that. You know what Gruber documents I want to see? Not his contracts with HHS and state governments, as interesting as they might be. What I want to see is what he said in correspondence about whether consumers who buy their new plans on the federal exchange are entitled to subsidies under the law. That’s the issue at the heart of the Halbig case that the Supreme Court will soon be hearing; Gruber famously claimed more than once in front of audiences that only consumers on individual state exchanges would be eligible for subsidies, a potential dagger in the White House’s heart as they prepare to argue Halbig in court. He tried to spin that today, claiming that his earlier statements were made on the assumption that all 50 states would eventually create their own exchanges. That means the feds would never need to create their own exchange, which in turn means federal consumers would never be eligible for subsidies — because there wouldn’t be any “federal consumers,” see? But this too is a lie: Go back and listen to the clip of Gruber in early 2012, years after O-Care was passed and several states had already declined to build exchanges of their own. Clearly, Gruber knew at the time that the feds might have to build their own exchange for those states; and yet, instead of saying “no biggie, federal consumers can get subsidies too,” he says the opposite, that the fact that consumers in those states can’t get subsidies should put political pressure on the state legislatures to think twice and build their own exchanges. The guy’s lying, straight up.”
GRUBER LAWYERS UP, REFUSES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTS ON $2.5 MILLION IN CONTRACTS AND OBAMACARE MODELING
“Controversial MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber, known to all except, apparently, himself as the “architect” of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), apologized repeatedly for what he called his “series of inexcusable comments” in his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday. He also asserted that “my flaws as a private citizen should not reflect the process by which the Affordable Care Act was passed.”
But Gruber did little to dispell the notion that his work on behalf of Obamacare was deceptive and lacked transparency. When asked to provide details requested by the committee about $2.5 million in Obamacare related contracts he secured with an estimated eight states, He lawyered up. “Take it up with my counsel,” he said several times. In addition, he refused to provide any examples of work product related to his Obamacare economic modeling carried out under a $400,000 sole source contract he obtained with the Department of Health and Human Services in 2009. Gruber’s failure to provide the documentation required on all federal and state contracts related to Obamacare in advance of the hearing, as well as his repeated failure to recall how much he had been paid by states, and even how many states had paid him for his Obamacare expertise subsequent to the passage of the law in 2010, drew the ire of current Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and incoming Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).”
Gruber Admits to Referring to Obamacare as a Tax
“ In a heated exchange with Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday, Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor and the so-called Obamacare architect, does not deny referring to Obamacare as a tax, but disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling that the Obamacare mandate is a tax.”
Gruber: I Knew People Were Going To Lose Their Health Plans
“Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admitted he knew people were going to lose their existing health insurance plans when he was writing the health care reform law, and he told officials in the Obama administration exactly that. “I believed that the law would not affect the vast majority of Americans,” Gruber said when asked at Tuesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing whether he knew people would lose their plans. Gruber then repeated his statement. “It is true that some people would have to upgrade their plans,” Gruber finally admitted under tough questioning from Rep. Tim Walberg. Walberg then asked Gruber why President Barack Obama told people that if they liked their plans they could keep them when even his own expert told him otherwise. “I’m not a political adviser and I have no answer to that question,” Gruber said. “That was part of the calculation” Gruber later said. “We did model that some individuals would lose their existing plans and move to new forms of coverage. … I don’t know the national estimate for how many people lost health insurance, so I don’t know how it compares to what I projected.”
Gruber on Obamacare: Some Americans Losing Insurance Plans “Part Of The Calculation”
GOP Rep. Mica Grills Gruber: Consultants Enriched Themselves While We Still Have 40 Million People Uninsured (video)
MICA: GRUBER NOT ONLY ONE ON HOT SEAT IN FRONT OF HOUSE
“Representative John Mica (R-FL), a member of the House Oversight Committee said that in addition to the grilling Jonathan Gruber will receive, there will be questions about discrepancies in figures given to the committee on Tuesday’s “Jose Diaz-Balart” on MSNBC. “We also have to hear from the Chief HHS Director about the discrepancy in figures that she gave to the committee last May…you begin to question the numbers in this whole thing and the cost that people profiting like Dr. Gruber. You start out with 44 million uninsured. She came in and said they had 7.3 signed up, hey actually had about 6.9, 6.7 about 4 to 5 million people already had insurance like me. I’m on Obamacare. I had insurance, we were forced off it. So, we’re talking about 3 to 4 million people maybe that actually got insured, then we have 41 million people without insurance in this country, and we spent billions of dollars on this mess that has been created” he stated. Earlier, when asked whether Gruber’s apology was satisfactory, Mica responded “not really, and he did admit that there was a lack of transparency. He got paid $400,000 to be one of the chief architects and then I’m going question him in a few minutes on the amount of money he got from about eight states, probably [$]400,000 a piece. So, he profited by the lack of transparency.”
Obamacare Chief Stays Mum After Giving Congress False Enrollment Totals
“Obamacare chief Marilyn Tavenner showed up to face a congressional committee Tuesday for the first time since giving them false information, but this time refused over and over to give out much information at all. Tavenner faced the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer for putting out falsely boosted Obamacare enrollment numbers. As administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Tavenner testified to the Oversight Committee in September that 7.3 million people were enrolled in Obamacare plans nationwide. But that number was inflated by stand-alone dental plans — and the ”mistake” was only uncovered by the Oversight Committee in November. Tavenner apologized and brushed aside the “inadvertently” boosted numbers, but was tight-lipped about new information. CMS did release 19,000 pages of documents to the Oversight Committee Tuesday morning, just before the hearing — but did not provide the committee time to read the documents and receive Tavenner’s testimony on the contents. Tavenner’s interactions with the committee have typically been icy, and Tuesday was no different. When asked to confirm the number of uninsured Americans before Obamacare launched last year, Tavenner claimed she didn’t know — never mind that she touted a drop in the uninsured rate in her written testimony. And when asked about the number of customers whose premiums increased after Obamacare’s first year, the subject of an HHS report just last week, Tavenner also claimed that she didn’t know.”
Gruber won’t deny the White House wanted to trick Congress into passing the ACA
“In one of his moments of candor, Gruber lamented how dishonestly the Affordable Care Act was written so as to avoid the politically inconvenient fact that Congress was, in fact, imposing a new tax on those least likely to be able to absorb it – namely, those either too young or too impoverished to afford health insurance. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” he said. In an appearance on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Gruber was probed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) over his lamentation that the administration’s lack of honesty about the imposition of taxes both on those who do not purchase insurance and on those who do have insurance. Turner prodded Gruber over whether he had any conversations with members of the White House who perhaps shared his opinion that the ACA needed to be crafted in a “tortured” way to ensure its passage. After much deliberation, Gruber finally answered: “I honestly do not recall.” For those keeping track, that is not a “no.” It defies logic, and insults just as much as did Gruber’s original comments about the “stupidity of the American voter,” to presume that the administration did not take some part in the “tortured” way in which Obamacare was crafted.”
Gruber told the truth about Obamacare — then he was sworn in
MARA LIASSON: GRUBER ‘COULD BE THE UNDOING OF OBAMACARE’
“NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson said that Jonathan Gruber’s comments “could be the undoing of Obamacare” on Tuesday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel.
“He is just the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of Obamacare. Not only did he insult people and suggested that the law was passed by subterfuge…I think the most danging thing he said, which could be the undoing of Obamacare, is when he said that the law was meant to only give subsidies to state-formed exchanges, not people who get their healthcare on the federal exchange” she stated, predicting that those comments would be “exhibit A” in the lawsuit over Obamacare’s state exchanges. Later, Liasson added “I just don’t think that they can afford too many more of these unforced errors. There’s just one after another.”
Many Conservatives Were Happy to Watch Republicans Grill Obamacare Architect — but Mark Levin Is Absolutely Livid
Still cooking the ObamaCare books
“The ObamaCare lies keep coming. In two highly publicized announcements last week, top Obama health officials claimed the Affordable Care Act is slowing health care spending and improving hospital safety… On Dec. 3, federal actuaries released data showing that health spending inched up only 3.6 percent in 2013. Marilyn Tavenner, the head of Medicare and Medicaid, boasted that it’s “evidence that our efforts to reform the health-care-delivery system are working.” Sorry, not true. That 3.6 percent figure is an improvement only by a hair. The real slowing of health care spending started way back in 2009, in the wake of the Great Recession, long before ObamaCare even passed. Health spending slowed to a comfortable 3.8 percent rise that year, and stayed at that slow pace in 2010. Not that the president acknowledged that health spending was growing at the slowest rate in a half-century. To pass his health bill, he needed a crisis. So he and then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly lied, warning that costs were “skyrocketing,” spending was “spiraling” out of control and health needs would gobble up ever more GDP unless Congress quickly passed the Affordable Care Act. Fast-forward to today. There’s nothing remarkable about the 3.6 percent rate in 2013. But there is bad news ahead, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Federal actuaries predict that health spending increases will nearly double soon, averaging 6 percent a year through 2023, pushing total health spending to a staggering 19.3 percent of GDP, up from 16.6 percent pre-ObamaCare. So much for ObamaCare controlling costs. What of the boast that the president’s health law is making it safer to go to the hospital? Don’t bet on that, either. On Dec. 2, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced “demonstrable progress” in making hospital care safer. Her report claims that some 50,000 fewer patients died from bed sores, infections, medication errors, falls and other mishaps from 2010 to 2013, largely due to new payment incentives and a patient safety program in ObamaCare. That happy claim was repeated verbatim by many media outlets. Not so fast, say patient safety experts who actually read the report. Dr. Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard School of Public Health had already taken to the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine to caution about the patient safety program’s cherry-picking methodology, lack of data transparency and unsubstantiated claims. “It’s nearly impossible to tell,” they said, whether the program’s changes “led to better care.”
The administration bragged about reducing infections, but didn’t count the type of infection that kills the most patients — Clostridium difficile or C. diff. That’s like a kid’s report card that leaves out reading and math. It doesn’t tell the whole story. Truth is, C. diff is raging through hospitals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Thomas Frieden calls it one of the “nightmare bacteria.” It kills 14,000 patients a year, and increases your risk of dying while in the hospital by 75 percent. The Leapfrog Group, a trusted patient safety advocacy outfit, released a new assessment of US hospitals on Oct. 30 that gave 41 percent of hospitals C, D or F grades because patients there were harmed by medical mistakes, falls and other injuries and infections.
According to Leapfrog, progress on patient safety is stagnant — and by some measures hospitals are doing worse. That’s the opposite of what the administration claims. Finagling data is nothing new for the Obama team. Just weeks ago, it was caught red-handed inflating ObamaCare enrollment numbers by counting dental-only plans as health insurance.”
Obamacare measure could thwart Senate energy-efficiency bill
“Sen. David Vitter is reviving an effort to eliminate a policy that exempts federal workers from enrolling in Obamacare in a move that could stop an energy-efficiency bill from being approved. The Louisiana Republican has sought to end an Obama administration change to the Affordable Care Act that would allow Capitol Hill employees to keep their current benefits rather than go to the federal exchanges. He is going at it again after attempting to force a vote last year as an amendment to energy-efficiency legislation, prompting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pull the bill. “I think the [Office of Personnel and Management] rule is flat-out contrary to law, and I think we should actually follow the law. It’s pretty simple,” Vitter told reporters in the Capitol. “I’m going to try to advance it in any way that I can.” Vitter’s Obamacare amendment threw similar legislation from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, off track in September 2013. The pair of senators have tried for more than three years to get their bill passed. Shaheen hopes to file a slimmed-down version of the bill, which already has passed the House, under a maneuver that would allow it to pass if no senators object, said Shripal Shah, a spokesman for Shaheen. But Vitter might object to that maneuver to give him the option of attaching his measure to the energy bill. It’s doubtful Reid would then put the energy-efficiency bill on the floor given the chance of it getting bogged down in a fight just as lawmakers look to flee Washington at the end of the week. “The House passed this bill with 375 bipartisan votes because it’s a smart, non-controversial bill that will save taxpayers money and reduce pollution,” Shah said in an email. “Senator Shaheen is hoping people can put partisanship aside to get this legislation through the Senate and to the President for his signature.” The energy-efficiency bill encourages efficiency upgrades at buildings and homes, as well as within the federal government. It mirrors House legislation co-sponsored by Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and David McKinley, R-W.Va.”
Veto proof: Overturning Obamacare starts with Dem support of repealing ‘medical device tax’
“As the new House-Senate GOP majority map an agenda of action for the next two years, insiders say that they will seize on issues also backed by Democrats to challenge the president, starting with Obamacare. The leading edge of that fight is likely to be the elusive Senate passage of a repeal of the so-called “medical device tax” of about 2.3 percent. It has Democratic support in the House and a wide range of backing in the Senate, from conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Sponsor Rep. Erik Paulsen, Minnesota Republican, said that 32 House Democrats have voted to support the repeal in past House tallies and a total of 79 senators agree, making the legislation veto proof. Democratic leaders have blocked full passage in the Senate, but the incoming Republican majority is expected to approve it early next year. President Obama, he told Secrets, “is not going to want to be put in the position where you potentially have a veto-proof majorities supporting a repeal of the device tax,” he said in predicting that the White House would OK the repeal of the jobs-killing tax. While it could eventually be a stand-alone challenge to Obamacare, it might also be lumped in with other changes including Medicare liability reform, changes or repeal to the individual mandate and a switch back to considering 40 hours as a typical work week. But even more than challenging Obama, Paulsen said that it would be part of a larger Republican reform agenda, one focused on creating jobs and improving the economy and not just slapping the president. The medical device tax, for example, punishes small businesses like doctors and dentists that have to pay it, and device makers have eliminated jobs because business is slowing.”
ObamaCare’s Casualty List
Three elections later, the law continues to be a political catastrophe for Democrats.
“surprise, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored as inevitable. Ms. Landrieu was a widely liked three-term incumbent, and her GOP foe was hardly a juggernaut, yet she lost by 14 points after Washington Democrats all but wrote her off. Think of Ms. Landrieu as one more Democrat who has sacrificed her career to ObamaCare. It’s hard to find another vote in modern history that has laid waste to so many political careers. Sixty Democrats cast the deciding 60th vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010, but come January only 30 will be left in the Senate. That’s an extraordinary political turnover in merely three elections, the largest in the post-Watergate era. As it happens, the law has been nearly as politically catastrophic for Democrats as Watergate was for Republicans.”
The crime and punishment of Obama’s healthcare law
“In 2014, polls determined, health care was no longer quite the flashpoint it had been in the 2010 midterms, but it had become so entwined with Obama and Democrats that it colored everything they did. Approval and disapproval of Obama and Democrats tracked exactly with approval and disapproval of Obamacare, which in turn tracked directly with candidates running in Senate races, in which Republicans would capture nine seats. At a panel held by the Kaiser Family Foundation held September 9 this year, a pollster said that while health care was mentioned less often, it underlay everything. “Obamacare really cannot be separated from the views … on the president,” he said. “Those two ideas … have gone hand in hand from the beginning.” “It was huge,” Charlie Cook weighed in later. “It did play a central role in framing everything … basically, health care’s been pretty much the dominant issue one way or another for five years.” Obama’s idea that he could govern without popular consent didn’t just lose him Congress — it poisoned the well for all future developments, and made certain that this “achievement” might well be his last. With public opinion behind them, Republicans saw no need or desire to compromise. “All of that two year period, I would argue, put us in the position we’re in,” as Chuck Todd told an audience, with no politics, no legislation, and only a grinding and grim civic war. There’s another reason why the way the act passed has kept it in trouble, and why challenges to it won’t die. Democrats’ decision to pass the Senate bill back through the House meant there would be no chance to clean up the many loose the ends they had left in it. “The bill is a mess,” Todd added. “There’s a reason it’s in front of the Supreme Court. It’s amazing how many people … were telling me, ‘We just assumed that we could fix that in conference committee, and we could do this here.’” Another small problem that eluded Obama, in his misguided effort to capture his legacy, was this: By passing that law in a way no president had done before, he probably guaranteed that no future president, seeing this frightful example, will attempt it again.”
Bloomberg poll: Majority opposes Obama executive action on immigration
“The latest Bloomberg Politics poll shows Republicans’ popularity hitting a five-year high after a stunning midterm wave election. That comes mainly at Barack Obama’s expense, but also at the expense of the Democratic Party. The backlash can be felt in the standing among independents, and on issues such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — which turns out to be an expensive pander to a narrow constituency: “Republicans are enjoying a five-year peak in popularity after their wins in the midterm elections, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll, while President Barack Obama struggles with his lowest job approval rating, at 39 percent. The White House also is facing a backlash from independents who oppose his unilateral moves on immigration, and just 24 percent say the country is on the right track, the lowest rating since September 2011. … “This is a rising tide for Republicans while the tide has kind of gone out for the Democrats,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “Now that the midterms are over, it seems to me it’s incumbent on them to pivot for 2016. They’ve had a strong ride in beating up on Obama. Now, exactly how long is that the relevant message? People are eventually going to want to hear ‘We’re going to do this.’ They’re going to want to hear a positive message—not just ‘we have to stop Obama.’”
Approval Ratings Hit 5-Year High for Republicans
President Obama’s ratings hit bottom in a new Bloomberg Politics poll as he prepares to take on an antagonist Congress.
GOP Spending Bill Gives Nearly $1 Billion To Aid Border Migrants
“The GOP’s draft 2015 “omnibus” spending bill reportedly includes $948 million to help poor and unskilled Central American migrants establish themselves in the United States, but includes no effective restrictions on President Barack Obama’s plan to provide work permits and tax payments to millions of resident illegal immigrants. That new spending works out to $16,928 for each of the 56,000 youths, young adults and children who crossed the border during the 12 months up to October 2014. Prior to October, Obama’s officials sent only 1,901 of the migrants back home to Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to a federal report. Much of the $948 million may also be used to care for the next wave of illegals who could flood across the border during the summer. The influx in the summer of 2015 is expected to be large, because Obama is offering work permits and social security numbers to at least five million illegals already in the country. The $948 million fund is part of the one-year, $1 trillion 2015 spending plan described in a late-night report from The New York Times. The GOP leadership has given merely lip service to supporting the opposition among GOP legislators and much of the public to Obama’s welcome for foreign migrants, and is now refusing to direct the Department of Homeland Security not to spend any funds on implementing the Obama amnesty.”
REPORT: BOEHNER’S OMNIBUS DEAL WITH DEMOCRATS SURRENDERS ON BORDER CRISIS, FORCES NEARLY ALL REPUBLICANS TO FLIP-FLOP FROM PREVIOUS POSITION
“House Speaker John Boehner’s forthcoming $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending deal—the text of which he still hasn’t released—will reportedly surrender every gain Republicans made this summer on the border crisis. The deal, which Boehner is working with Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenant Steny Hoyer to secure Democratic votes for, would—according to the New York Times—“allocate roughly $948 million to handle the surge of unaccompanied minor children who began pouring across the southern border this summer.” Under the spending deal, there would almost certainly be no policy changes attached to that $948 million worth of cash for Obama’s border crisis. Nearly every House Republican, in the days leading up to the August recess, rejected spending $659 million on the border crisis unless there were changes to immigration law—forcing GOP leadership to keep Congress in town an extra day and hash out the details to do so. But, now under Boehner’s leadership, every House Republican who votes for the omnibus bill will not only be flip-flopping from the previous position that no money could be allocated to Obama’s border crisis without policy changes—they’ll be giving him more money than they said was unacceptable last time. In a statement after the House passed the key policy changes in the summer, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA)—one of the key conservatives involved in securing the changes—issued a statement detailing how important those policy changes that Boehner is apparently abandoning now were. “The legislation funds the efforts, in part, by redirecting foreign aid for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be used instead in repatriation efforts,” Barletta said: It also deploys the National Guard for border protection and reimburses states for their use of the Guard on the southern border. The legislation will also prevent people detained at the border from being relocated around the United States by holding them pending deportation proceedings at the border. The House passed its legislation while members of the Senate had already left town without approving any measures to deal with the situation. Barletta went on to detail how these “very important improvements” and policy changes will help “in how we approach this current crisis and prevent similar situations in the future.” “We are paying for states to send the National Guard to the border to help,” Barletta said: We are changing the law so that all illegal immigrants are treated the same no matter where they are from. We are taking foreign aid we were giving to countries that contributed to this problem, and using it to repatriate their citizens instead. And we are halting President Obama’s DACA program that actively encouraged the illegal immigrants in the first place. Importantly, we are also stopping the practice of sending unaccompanied minors to relocation centers around the country by keeping them at the border pending their deportation proceedings. A senior congressional GOP aide told Breitbart News on Tuesday that the only thing that has changed between this summer’s fights and now—when Boehner is leading Republicans into a flip-flop and surrender—is that Republicans decisively won an election. “So, over the summer, GOP firmly says to Obama: no long-term funding period and no money until we change the policy to try and force deportations,” the aide said: Members spent a lot of time trying to write that bill. The only thing that’s happened since then is we won an election. So can someone explain to me why we are giving Obama more money, for longer-term, without the policy change? Why not wait until January so we can pass a bill with the policy changes? Basically, the [House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Hal] Rogers plan looks like it will subsidize illegal immigration through September of next year. None of the border kids are being sent home, and ‘border security’ is just being used to funnel the illegal immigrants from south of the border into the interior of the U.S.”
GOP Cuts Spending Deal: Yes on Obama’s Amnesty (Thru At Least Feb. 27); No on Light Bulb Reg
GOP WHIP STEVE SCALISE COMES UNDER FIRE FOR SUPPORTING OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE AMNESTY VIA OMNIBUS BACKING
“House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is coming under fire in conservative circles for supporting the effort by House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) to reach a spending deal that would fund President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. Scalise has represented Louisiana’s first congressional district since 2008. Last week he helped Boehner and McCarthy pass a substantively altered bill from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that was sold to members as a plan to stop Obama’s executive amnesty. In reality, the measure had a secret exception slipped into it that bolstered Obama’s legal argument. As Breitbart News reported over the weekend, according to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Scalise was actually whipping votes with Republican members based on the earlier version of the bill—not based on the version of the bill that was brought up for a vote in the House. After the dramatically changed bill passed the House, Scalise praised it as if it would prevent Obama’s executive amnesty. “Today’s vote re-establishes the rule of law and stops the president’s lawless, unconstitutional executive action from going into effect,” Scalise said, adding: The American people spoke loud and clear in the November elections. They want a Washington that works together on their behalf, not a go-it-alone president governing by executive fiat. I urge the president to focus on securing the border, enforcing the laws on the books, and working with us in Congress to fix our broken immigration system. I would like to thank Rep. Yoho for introducing this critical legislation and for his leadership in Congress on this issue. Political insiders agree the measure was merely “symbolic,” and so won’t accomplish its grand-sounding goals. And Breitbart News has shown over the course of the past week that the bill wouldn’t “re-establish,” as Scalise claimed, “the rule of law.” Nor would it stop what the Whip called “the president’s lawless, unconstitutional executive action from going into effect.” Scalise’s office hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment over several days on the Yoho bill’s ineffectiveness. Scalise’s office also hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment over several days on whether he plans to whip votes on Boehner’s and McCarthy’s behalf for the forthcoming more-than-$1 trillion CR-omnibus spending bill package. But if he does whip votes for this, he’ll be pushing a package that supports Obama’s executive amnesty—something Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who used to hold Scalise’s House seat, noted in a recent interview with nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham. “All the members from Louisiana– they have such great respect for you– do you urge them to use the power of the purse to pull back on executive amnesty?” Ingraham asked Jindal on Friday last week. “I would absolutely, and I’ve said this publicly and will continue to say it: we need to use every tool we can in Congress to force the president to follow the Constitution, absolutely,” Jindal responded. George Rasley of Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ told Breitbart News that if anyone—including Scalise—provides any material support for Obama’s executive amnesty by backing Boehner’s omnibus bill, that person is personally responsible for Obama’s executive amnesty. “Last year during the Obamacare funding fight Sarah Palin said if you fund it you own it,” Rasley said in an email. “The same principle applies in spades to the Omnibus. If you vote for it you own everything in it; Obamacare, Obama’s war on coal, amnesty, all of it.” Numbers USA, an anti-amnesty group, is scoring a vote for the omnibus as vote for amnesty. So that group would consider it supporting amnesty if Scalise whips votes for the omnibus… Boehner has put some of his other top House GOP lieutenants at risk as well. Katrina Pierson, a conservative who ran against House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), told Breitbart News that she’s considering another run against Sessions after he pledged to push amnesty and helped enable the GOP leadership’s deception of members on the Yoho bill. Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ has publicly stated that Sessions is a “primary target” for conservatives in 2016 already because of his actions on this front. House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) has drawn the ire of Tea Partiers in Kentucky, who are actively searching for a primary challenger for him at this time. Ingraham said on her radio program, too, that she’s planning on targeting Rogers in 2016 and is launching her own search for a suitable primary challenger.”
GOP REP.: COWARDLY TO ‘PUNT’ EXECUTIVE AMNESTY FIGHT INTO NEXT YEAR
“House Republican leadership’s strategy of waiting to combat President Obama’s executive amnesty via the power of the purse until next year is a ‘punt’ and a cowardly one, according to Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ). “To me the old adage ‘he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day’ is a coward,” Salmon tells reporters Tuesday. Salmon is one of the conservative lawmakers who argue that the must-pass government funding measure — set to be unveiled Tuesday afternoon according to GOP aides — should include language to defund Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Instead, Republicans are expected to offer a bill that would fund most of the government through September 2015 but only fund the Department of Homeland Security, which is implementing Obama’s executive orders, to February in order to allow Congress to take up the issue with a Republican House and Republican Senate.
According to Salmon, who reiterated that he will vote “no” on the so-called cromnibus, the funding measure without defund language is “a punt and “not what [he] signed up for.” Salmon — who led an effort to call on appropriators to defund the executive amnesty last month — recalled how one of the members of leadership explained waiting for reinforcements to fight the executive orders. “‘So a big bully at school is picking on you and you know that next week three of your big buddies are going to be able to help you fight this big bully. Are you going to go ahead and fight him and get beat and all bloodied up?’” Salmon said quoting a member of leadership, who he would not name beyond saying “you’ve got three guesses.” “My point is: if he’s harming one of my children, then I’m going to risk it and this to me is a Constitutional issue and I think it’s important enough that we fight the fight,” he said, explaining his retort to the bully argument. Of how many Republicans will vote against the crominbus, Salmon estimated more than 50.”
GOP Representatives Demand Vote, Fairness On Amnesty
“Rank-and-file Republican legislators will ask the House’s rules committee Tuesday to allow an anti-amnesty vote during the floor debate over the 2015 government budget. But unless there’s huge wave of phone calls from voters to Congress, the request will likely be rejected by GOP leaders prior to a Thursday debate. That’s because the chairman of the rules committee, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, was caught on video telling Democrats last week that he’ll push for an 2015 amnesty that would provide more foreign workers to U.S. companies. Rep. Sessions is a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, who has so far blocked efforts to defund the amnesty. The new anti-amnesty language is being pushed by Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, and Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, who unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a June 2014 primary vote. “This is an issue that Congressman Brat ran on, and was a signature part of the campaign, and he couldn’t just stand by and vote no on the [funding] bill,” said Brat’s spokesman, Brian Gottstein. ”He feels like he has to do anything he can” to stop Obama’s amnesty, Gottstein said. The language in the amendment is intended to bar any spending by Obama’s agencies on his ambitious plan to give work permits and aid benefits to at least four million illegals, to put illegals on a fast-track to citizenship, and to boost the inflow of foreign university graduates for jobs sought by U.S. graduates.”
GOP Members Release New Anti-Amnesty Amendment
“GOP members have released their draft amendment to defund President Barack Obama’s national amnesty. “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available, including any funds or fees collected or otherwise made available for expenditure, by this division or any other Act, or otherwise available to the Secretary of Homeland Security, for any fiscal year may be used to implement, administer, carry out, or enforce the [amnesty] policies,” says the short amendment. The new anti-amnesty language is being pushed by Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, South Carolina’s Rep. Mick Mulvaney and Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, who unseated the GOP’s pro-amnesty majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, in a June 2014 primary vote. They’re urging voters to call their legislators’ offices to demand passage of the amendment. “Rep. Salmon is committed to fighting to ensure that our nation’s laws be faithfully enforced as written and voted on by our legislators in Congress,” said a statement from his spokesman, Tristan Daedalus. Top GOP leaders want to block the popular anti-amnesty amendment, even though they have repeatedly denounced Obama’s unpopular amnesty, and have fought to include roughly other 100 other policy related amendments in the massive $1 trillion 2015 budget bill.”
GOP REP.: OBAMA PUTTING LAWBREAKERS AHEAD OF 200,000 UNEMPLOYED TENNESSEANS
“President Barack Obama is putting lawbreakers ahead of unemployed Tennesseans, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) argues ahead of President Obama’s appearance in The Volunteer State.
“More than 200,000 Tennesseans remain out of work, but rather than prioritize their plight, the President is putting the interests of those who have broken our laws ahead of them,” Black said Tuesday. “Why should unemployed Tennesseans have to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs? And why should those who break our laws to come here be rewarded while so many wait to come here legally?” Obama is slated to appear at Casa Azafran in Nashville on Tuesday afternoon to continue promoting his executive amnesty — which included providing legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. According to Republicans, Obama’s unilateral actions represent an overreach of power, something the president himself has argued on multiple occasions. “This is wrong and the President does not have the authority to change our immigration laws without Congress, as he himself has said at least 22 times,” Black said. “But now he has changed his mind and chosen Nashville as a destination to publicly thumb his nose at the American electorate that just rebuked him in the last election.” Black concluded the: “Obama Presidency has been a disaster and can’t end soon enough.” “[I]n the meantime, I will work with my colleagues in Congress to fight the President’s unconstitutional power grab and to advance policies that will help get Tennesseans and those who have immigrated here legally back to work,” she said.”
What Obama’s Amnesty Means for the American Worker | Commentary
“Work permits for millions of illegal aliens is just the beginning of President Barack Obama’s unlawful attack on American workers at every skill level. He “can’t wait” to impose new immigration regulations in order to expand the pool of people looking for work — despite stagnant wages and record low labor participation rates signaling the foolishness of doing so — he’s just not going to tell you about it. A funny thing was missing from Obama’s address. Not once did he acknowledge he was granting work permits and Social Security numbers to people in the country illegally. Nor will you find any mention of on the White House’s “Share the Facts” page about the executive action. Yet the Los Angeles Times reports: “In the most consequential change to the administration’s policy on deportation, the program will invite parents of either U.S. citizens or long-term permanent residents to apply for a work permit and a three-year protection from deportation.” Why was “the most consequential change” missing from both the White House’s facts page and Obama’s speech? The president of the United States is no fool. He knows handing out work permits to illegal aliens before lifting a finger to secure the workplace for citizens and legal immigrant workers is deeply unpopular. Obama saw support for his immigration bill fall apart last year, once voters became aware the only thing it guaranteed was work permits for legalized aliens up front. As hard as they tried, pollsters never could word a survey in such a way to find majority support for an amnesty-first plan. That’s why the president delayed his announcement until after the elections; why the details of the plan were kept from the public; and why, when it came time to make the public case for executive action, the president looked directly through the camera lens at the American people and said: “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.” For all the moralizing in his speech, the president couldn’t bring himself to be completely honest with the American people. Obama took great care not to alarm middle-class voters, describing the beneficiaries of this plan as “workers who pick our fruit and make our beds.” (Translation: These amnestied workers won’t be competing for your jobs.) Even if that were so, are the Americans who rely on those jobs to put food on the table not as deserving of less competition from foreign workers as law professors or community organizers? Are they not as deserving of the protections that immigration law is meant to provide? Of course they are. And despite Obama’s attempt to persuade otherwise, middle-class voters have their own stake in opposing his executive action. The White House has long courted the backing of corporations that lobby for greater access to foreign workers, even as they lay off Americans. And according to Politico, one of the first things the White House did as it shifted into “sales mode” was to call tech companies and assure them of provisions “that would make it easier for them to retain foreign workers.”
Open-Borders Republicans And Democrats Agree: Mass Immigration Weakens Democracy, And That’s The Point
“Republican voters stunned by the House leadership’s apparent reneging on their pre-election promise to defund Obamnesty, must turn to the insights of Mexican national, Fredo Arias-King to understand the true, treasonous nature of our modern political elite. While representing former Mexican president Vincente Fox’s foreign affairs team in the early 2000s, Arias-King met and discussed immigration policy with over 80 members of the U.S. Congress, a level of access your average political scientist could only dream of. Most congressional members who spoke to Arias-King were shockingly candid not only about their full support for open-borders but also about their active use and abuse of immigration policy. “Often laughingly,” they told Arias-King, when forced to consider anti-immigration bills and measures, they would simply ‘defang’ or ‘gut’ them “by neglecting to fund this program or tabling that provision” or simply deleting the measure entirely. Like the fate of the 2006 Secure Fences Act (defunded) or the policy recommendations of the 1995 Jordan Commission (largely ignored), we may be seeing such treatment now with the House’s measure to fund amnesty. Arias-King would say, most definitely. According to the findings, “Republicans and Democrats were similar” in their reasons for supporting open-borders. Although Democrats were conscious of Hispanics’ left-leaning voting patterns, so were Republicans and neither in any case considered it a major motivating factor. What was most important to both was that Hispanic immigrants were “more malleable than the existing Americans.” “New Americans,” Arias-King was told, “would be more dependent on and accepting of active government programs and the political class guaranteeing those programs.” Surveys measuring Hispanic opinion on big government bear this out. Legislators wanted to see a Latin-style “patron-client system,” in other words. “New Americans,” being more pliant and dependent than traditional Americans, would in Arias-King’s words, remove from Congress the “straightjacket devised by the Founding Fathers.” This was more important than ideology, we’re told, as Republicans “seemed to idealize the patron-client relation with Hispanics as much as their Democratic competitors did.”
Obama takes immigration reform campaign to Nashville
Obama’s immigration taunt: Next president won’t dare reverse my executive action
“President Obama insisted Tuesday that his successor won’t take the political risk that would come with reversing his recent executive action on immigration reform. Speaking at a town-hall meeting in Nashville, the president said it’s “theoretically” possible that the next administration could undo the amnesty Mr. Obama has granted to more than 4 million illegal immigrants, but he assured a crowd of undocumented Americans that such a step it is extremely unlikely. “It’s true a future administration might try to reverse some of our policies. But I’ll be honest with you — the American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly and every survey shows that if, in fact, somebody has come out and subjected themselves to a background check, registered, paid their taxes, the American people support allowing them to stay. So any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think, would not have the support of the American people,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s true, theoretically, a future administration could do something that I think would be very damaging. It’s not likely, politically, that they reverse everything we’ve done.”
Obama Immigration Action Full Speed Ahead
“Congress isn’t going to stop President Barack Obama’s immigration action. Not this week, not next year. That’s the view of Obama, and he’s going full speed ahead to implement his order. As he made clear on Tuesday at a Q&A on immigration in Tennessee, the president will be reaching out across the country so the 4 million people eligible for his new temporary executive amnesty program — including deportation relief and work permits — feel comfortable coming forward and applying. Obama said the White House would make clear to people that they don’t need to pay a lawyer or a notary. They just need to sign up. And not only does he think Congress isn’t going to succeed in efforts to block the immigration action — something he said last week — he doesn’t think a future president would roll back the “temporary” action either, saying they wouldn’t have the support of the American people. He also reiterated that his plan will mean reduced enforcement against “everybody” who doesn’t fall into a priority category for deportation, not just people who qualify for the new program. That means millions of additional people now likely have little reason to fear deportation, although Obama said it would take some time to train local immigration officials and he said some families may still be split up in the meantime.”
Question to Obama: Can Immigrants Trust Next President?
“On Tuesday, Mr. Obama said a future administration could try to reverse some of his policies but added that the public likely wouldn’t support such a decision. “The American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly, and every survey shows that if in fact somebody has come out, subjected themselves to a background check, registered, paid their taxes, that the American people support allowing them to stay,” Mr. Obama said. “Any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think would not have the support of the American people.” For his part, Mr. Obama said his focus is on deporting felons – not breaking up families. A 20-state coalition led by Texas is suing the Obama administration, asking a federal district court to block the president’s changes to immigration policy and declare them illegal. Mr. Obama said he recognizes that there are controversies around the issue of immigration, but he said the concerns are not new. “This isn’t amnesty or legalization or even a path to citizenship,” the president said. “That can only be done by Congress.”
Obama tries to reassure immigrants to register
“President Barack Obama on Tuesday tried to reassure immigrants that if they register under his new executive action they won’t be a priority for deportation in the future. Obama heard from several participants in an hourlong town hall at an immigrant community center that they are fearful to give their information to the government. One young woman asked Obama what would happen to them if the next president ends the program. Obama said although the assurance they won’t be deported is temporary, he’s confident they will be able to stay in the United States with their children. “It’s true that a future administration might try to reverse some of our policies,” Obama said. “But I’ll be honest with you, I think that the American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly. “I think any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing would not have the support of the American people,” he said. He said giving people the confidence they can register will be an important part of the program’s success. Obama recently used his executive authority to extend deportation relief and work permits to some 4 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally. His action would affect those who have been here more than five years and have children. Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who did not attend Obama’s event, said the current immigration system isn’t working, but Obama should have worked with lawmakers on a solution instead of taking executive action. “I think this was kind of rolling a hand grenade in room and blew up the possibility for a good discussion that we should have had, and that long term it will be harmful to really solving the immigration situation,” Haslam told reporters after a speech to the Farm Bureau in Franklin, Tennessee.”
Obama looks to calm immigrant concerns about new deportation deferrals
Obama tells Latinos immigration policy shift won’t hurt them later
“President Barack Obama sought to reassure Latinos on Tuesday that signing up for deportation relief under his new immigration policy was safe and would not put them in jeopardy if his White House successor tried to overturn the action. Supported strongly by immigration activists and staunchly opposed by many Republicans, Obama’s controversial executive action removed the threat of deportation for up to 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. But it sparked fears that coming out of the shadows now could leave immigrants vulnerable later if another administration rescinded the policy. Under the policy enacted last month, eligible undocumented immigrants must submit to background checks and start paying taxes. During a town hall style question and answer session in Tennessee, Obama acknowledged a new president could try to reverse his orders. “It’s true that, theoretically, a future administration could do something that I think would be very damaging,” he said. “It’s not likely politically that they reverse everything that we’ve done, but it could be … that some people then end up being in a disadvantageous position.” Nonetheless, he predicted that a future president would not reverse his policy because good-hearted Americans wanted immigrants who were registered and paying taxes to stay. “Any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think would not have the support of the American people,” Obama added. Democrats largely support Obama’s action and a successor from his party would be unlikely to change course, but a Republican president could shake up the system when Obama leaves office in early 2017. Hispanics are an important political constituency for both parties, but tilt toward Democrats. Obama noted it would take a lot of work from community organizations, churches and local agencies to register people. Only 55 percent of the estimated 1.2 million young people eligible under Obama’s 2012 executive action – known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – have applied, according to a report in August by the Migration Policy Institute. The latest program was modeled after DACA, which stopped deportation and granted work permits to immigrants brought illegally into the country as young children. The White House said Obama came to Nashville because the city has one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the country.”
OBAMA: SOME REPUBLICANS STILL THINK I’M AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT
“During a town hall event in Nashville, President Barack Obama admitted that he still had difficulty speaking to Republicans about the importance of immigration reform. Obama explained that it was important to set up a fair legal system that “reflected human nature” and “the wisdom of the American people” instead of one that separated families. “Now, does that mean everybody is going to listen to me, on the other side,” he said. “Not necessarily, they’re pretty sure I’m an illegal immigrant.” After the audience laughed, Obama added, “That was a joke.” Obama then reminded the audience that he was of Irish heritage—pointing out that one of his ancestors was a boot maker in Ireland. The Irish, he added, were once discriminated against when they emigrated from Ireland in large numbers. “Read your history and look at how people talked about Irish immigrants,” Obama said. Obama also pointed out that many Americans who opposed immigration reform should remember where their ancestors came from. “Look, immigration, as I said before, has always elicited passion and it’s ironic because unless you are a member of an American Tribe, you came here from somewhere else,” Obama reminded his critics.”
OBAMA: CHRISTMAS SEASON SHOULD HELP US UNDERSTAND EXECUTIVE AMNESTY
“President Barack Obama thinks that Christians should use the Christmas season and “the good book” to understand the importance of immigration reform. “If we’re serious about the Christmas season, now is the time to reflect on those who are strangers in our midst and remember what it was like to be a stranger,” Obama said during an immigration town hall in Nashville. Obama reminded them that the Christmas season was about a “soon to be mother” and “a husband of modest means” who were looking for a place to stay, but there was no room at the inn.
“As I said the day that I announced these executive actions that we were once strangers too, and part of what my faith teaches me is to look upon the stranger as part of myself,” he said. “And during this Christmas season that’s a good place to start.” Obama also mistakenly attributed the slogan of throwing stones in glass houses to the Bible. “I think the good book says, you know, ‘Don’t throw stones in glass houses,’ or make sure that we’re lookin’ at the log in our eye, before we’re pulling out the mote in other folk’s eyes,” he said. “I think that’s as true in politics as it is in life.”
Obama: Back Immigration Action Because of Christmas, Bible
“During his immigration question-and-answer session in Tennessee, a member of the clergy wished him a “joyful and blessed Christmas.” Obama thanked him. “I appreciate that, Father. It’s worth considering the Good Book when you’re thinking about immigration. This Christmas season there’s a whole story about a young, soon-to-be-mother and her husband of modest means looking for a place to house themselves for the night, and there’s no room at the inn. “And as I said the day that I announced these executive actions, we were once strangers too. And part of what my faith teaches me is to look upon the stranger as part of myself. And during this Christmas season, that’s a good place to start. “So thank you for your generous comment. But if we’re serious about the Christmas season, now is a good time to reflect on those who are strangers in our midst, and remember what it was like to be a stranger.”
Obama Says Immigrants Are Saving Social Security
“Speaking Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee, Obama explained the only reason the U.S. workforce is younger than in many other countries is because of immigrants. “Native-born Americans, our birthrates are as low as Europeans, but we replenish ourselves, and that’s good,” Obama said. “People who are about my age right now, and who are going to be looking to draw on Social Security, when you’re 70, the way Social Security works is the current work force pays for the retiring work force. You have a stake in these folks working and paying taxes, these young people, to support your retirement. So this is good the economy as well as for society.”
Obama Admits Amnesty Is For Many More Than 5 Million
“President Barack Obama told a group of illegal immigrants in Tennessee that his immigration-law rewrite means “you’re not going to be deported.” Obama’s admission acknowledged that his Nov. 21 declaration provides a de-facto amnesty for the 12 million illegals living in the United States. The confession contradicts his many suggestions, and many media reports, that his Nov. 21 amnesty covers only 5 million illegal immigrants whose children have citizenship or green cards. In practice, the president is allowing all 12 million illegals who have not committed major felonies or who are not terrorists, to illegally stay and compete for work against lower-wage Americans and American professionals. “That applies to everybody, even if you don’t do anything” to register under the new amnesty, Obama said. The formal Nov. 21 policy awards actual work permits, tax payments and Social Security cards to the 5 million illegals with children who are citizens or legalized. The 5 million will have Obama work-permits when seeking jobs sought by the 4 million Americans who turn 18 each year.”
Immigrants in limbo over Obama immigrant rules
“Hernandez, 42, meets the criteria for Obama’s deportation relief. He has a daughter who was born here and is a U.S. citizen, a steady job and he has lived here without being convicted of crime since 1999. But the president’s administration is trying to deport Hernandez anyway. The deportation case stems from an arrest and charges in 2010, of which he was later acquitted. Hernandez fought it for four years, hoping Obama would live up to his pledges to fix the country’s immigration system. When the president gave his White House address outlining the program, Hernandez and his family watched from the basement room of a church where he has been living for the past month to prevent immigration authorities from sending him back to Mexico. He felt a flicker of hope, but one that was quickly dashed. His wife and non-citizen daughter qualify for deportation relief, but not him. “It’s difficult, frustrating. I thought ‘the program is here, I’ve qualified,'” Hernandez said. His wife and daughters flew to Washington on Tuesday to plead for mercy. The president’s order is the most sweeping in decades, allowing immigrants in the country at least five years with U.S. citizen children to stay. But a still unknown number of immigrants are going to fall through the cracks, immigration attorneys say, because they can’t prove they’ve been here long enough, their children only grew up here but were not born in the United States, or they, like Hernandez, are already in the deportation queue. “Lines have to be drawn somewhere. There are always going to be people on the wrong side of the line,” Denver immigration attorney Mark Barr said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it will consider on a case-by-case basis people who, like Hernandez, would qualify for deportation relief under Obama’s program but are already in the process of being deported. They would not comment on Hernandez’s case, although officials have suggested that otherwise law-abiding people like him would be low priorities for deportation. That’s not enough to ease Hernandez’s worries. Hernandez and his wife came to the United States on a legal visa with their 3-month-old daughter in 1999. They built a life in the suburbs around Denver, having a second girl who is a U.S. citizen. Hernandez worked at a construction firm, but in 2010, a co-worker complained that Hernandez assaulted him. Hernandez was arrested and found innocent after a trial, but not before immigration authorities were notified he was in the country illegally. Hernandez said he hoped he could hang on until Obama carried out his longstanding promise to fix the immigration system and let people like him stay. “They promised us for five or six years immigration reform and he is doing nothing,” Hernandez said. “Thousands of people are deported every year.” In October, as Hernandez’s final deadline approached, he fled to the safety of a church, First Unitarian Society of Denver. Immigration policies don’t let agents enter a house of worship to deport someone unless they have committed a serious crime. Hernandez has been living in a basement room ever since. A poster entitled, in English, “My Family,” drawn by his youngest daughter hangs on the wall, emblazoned with hearts and stick figures representing Hernandez, his wife and two daughters.”
OBAMA ADMITS MOST ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WHO DON’T GET EXEC AMNESTY WON’T BE DEPORTED
“On Tuesday, President Barack Obama admitted that most of the seven million illegal immigrants who do not qualify for his executive amnesty are not likely to be deported unless they are violent criminals. He also said it was a long-term goal to “retrain” ICE officers to not deport illegal immigrants if it would result in families being separated.
At a Nashville town hall event, Obama was asked by a former illegal immigrant and current community organizer what happens to the seven million illegal immigrants who were not granted executive amnesty. Obama told him that the new “prioritization” rules on deportations apply to “everyone even if you don’t do anything.” The President said it would take some time to get “ICE officers at the ground level to apply” the new prioritization rules in a consistent way. Obama said said that he wanted to “retrain, reprioritize, and refocus ICE officials” to deport only criminals and not separate families. He said that even though seven million illegal immigrants will not qualify for formal work permits, “if they are law-abiding, working, peaceful… then they’re much less likely for deportation than they were in the past… and they don’t have to do anything for that.” But even before Obama enacted his executive amnesty, illegal immigrants who were not violent criminals were less likely to be deported. Immigration officials have actually sued the Obama administration, alleging that the Obama administration is forcing immigration officials to release illegal immigrants—even those who are criminals.”
OBAMA: ‘LEGITIMATE’ FOR AMERICANS TO BE WORRIED ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WILL LOWER WAGES
US COMMERCE SECRETARY: OBAMA’S AMNESTY WILL ‘HELP’ ECONOMY
“Commerce Secretary, Chicago native Penny Pritzker, penned an editorial in support of Obama’s amnesty policy, claiming that the president’s move would be a “source of economic opportunity” for the nation. Pritzker, a Chicago socialite and heir to the Pritzker family fortune, began her piece equating the millions of legal immigrants in past decades to today’s illegals and said that without past immigrants America would not have experienced the progress and prosperity it has realized. Saying that “the current chapter of American history is no different,” Pritzker noted that 28 percent of all new businesses are started by immigrants or the children of immigrants. But Pritzker made no distinction between the millions of illegals currently awaiting the President’s amnesty and the millions who came to the U.S. legally in years past.
Of principal concern to Pritzker was the requirement for foreign students to return to their homes instead of being allowed to stay in the US after graduation. The Commerce Secretary claimed that Obama’s policy changes would “offer these students every incentive to remain in the U.S.” after graduation. Pritzker claimed that the President’s extremely controversial actions are “within his legal authority,” but she also urged Congress to take further action.
“The bottom line,” Pritzker wrote, “is that America needs a smart, effective immigration system that secures our borders, keeps families united, creates opportunities for our workers, and makes sure that every business has the talent it needs. Immigration reform is more than a moral imperative; it is an economic opportunity and a matter of competitiveness for our country.”
The Obama Official Responsible for Sending Unaccompanied Illegal Minors Across the Country Is Resigning
“A top Health and Human Services Department official responsible for the release of thousands of unaccompanied alien children into communities across the country announced his resignation Tuesday without much notice. Eskinder Negash, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversaw the placement of more than 53,000 illegal immigrant children in all 50 states in fiscal year 2014, announced his resignation on Tuesday. The announcement of Negash’s resignation comes one day before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on how the release of unaccompanied alien children who flooded across the border in large numbers this summer has impacted local communities. In his statement, Negash provided a list of personal accomplishments, including his office’s decision to release across the country 95 percent of the unaccompanied alien children served by HHS. Local communities are bearing the costs of caring for the illegal minors, and plenty of them are feeling serious strain, as NR reported recently. The cost of just educating the unaccompanied alien children could exceed $761 million, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Office of Refugee Resettlement did not respond to NRO’s requests for comment about Negash’s resignation or the timing of his announcement. His resignation statement, in which he wrote that he does not view himself as a political man and called his resignation a “difficult decision,” but did not otherwise explain his decision to resign. The crisis Negash handled began with the more than 68,000 unaccompanied alien children who crossed America’s southern border in Fiscal Year 2014, mostly from Central America. At the border, they received flawed medical screening from federal officials, which allowed contagious illnesses to spread. Soon after, the Department of Homeland Security released the minors into custody of HHS, Negash’s department, which placed them with family members, friends, or other sponsors across the country.”
Unknowns Abound on ‘Cromnibus’ — Even for Steny Hoyer
“All of Capitol Hill is watching and waiting for text of the so-called “cromnibus” to be revealed and the House’s No. 2 Democrat is no exception. At his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters Tuesday morning, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that he, along with most others, expected the fiscal 2015 appropriations package to be filed before the end of Monday, keeping Congress on track to adjourn for the year on Thursday and avoid a government shutdown. Now, Hoyer said, the prospect of having to pass a two- or three-day continuing resolution to keep federal operations running while lawmakers cross the T’s and dot the I’s is looking more likely. And it’s still not clear, even at his leadership level, what outstanding items were keeping appropriators from moving forward in the process, Hoyer insisted. He mentioned that among the “90-plus” policy riders being debated, a ”a large number” of issues had been resolved. He insisted he didn’t know which riders were still the subject of disagreement at the negotiating table, or whether part of the hold-up had to do with a stalemate over the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which has now reportedly come down to whether House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, can compel Senate Democrats to make some concessions to the 2010 financial regulatory bill known as Dodd-Frank, much maligned by the GOP.”
Spending Package Faces Tight Deadlines, Short CR Likely
“Lawmakers are lurching toward releasing a compromise version of a sprawling hybrid spending package Tuesday after one of its biggest policy barriers appears to have been decoupled from the must-pass, $1 trillion measure. An aide said Tuesday that the reauthorization (S 2244) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (PL 110-160) will not be hitching a ride on the so-called cromnibus, effectively clearing what has become the biggest hurdle to the spending package. The House Rules Committee posted that bill on its site Tuesday, indicating it could come up for floor consideration this week. The panel also posted a substitute amendment from Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. Aides in both chambers said they plan to post the text of the spending package — which is expected to include a two-month stopgap for the Department of Homeland Security and line-by-line guidance for 11 of the 12 annual appropriations bills that would span the balance of the fiscal year — later Tuesday. They will be under a very tight timeline to advance the measure. Budget authority expires Thursday night under the current continuing resolution (PL 113-164) and leaders are keenly aware that they will need to get some sort of spending measure through both chambers by then in order to avert a politically damaging government shutdown. If the measure is indeed released Tuesday and House Republicans choose to adhere to their self-imposed three-day rule for considering bills, the House would vote on the measure Thursday. That leaves little time for the Senate to take up the package and send it to the president’s desk for his signature, particularly if any senator chooses to object to the bill. Such an objection would stretch floor debate for at least another day… Meanwhile, details of individual provisions included or left out of the spending package continued to spill out of the negotiating room. Charitable-giving tax breaks are no longer a part of cromnibus negotiations, according to aides, as House Republicans plan a Wednesday vote on a stand-alone bill permanently extending tax breaks for donations of food inventory, conservation easement land and funds from Individual Retirement Accounts. The Senate is expected to move the measure the following day. Language to repeal a part of the Dodd-Frank Act (PL 111-203) that requires banks to push out their operations on swaps from the part of the institution that is federally insured was increasingly likely to be included in the cromnibus, according to Marcus Stanley, policy director of the liberal Americans for Financial Reform. He said if it remained, it would represent “the biggest Dodd-Frank rollback” since the law was enacted in 2010. Marijuana legalization advocates slammed news that the spending package would include a policy rider blocking marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia for the fiscal year — the duration of the spending bill. The rider would maintain decriminalization of the drug in Washington, but advocates said they saw it as a capitulation by Democrats and worried it would create a precedent for meddling in the District’s drug laws. “This is Republicans winning this issue. This is [Harold] Rogers getting what he wants,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., the House Appropriations Chairman, is firmly against any loosening of drug laws due to substance abuse issues in his own eastern Kentucky district. Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, said that he had heard that an attempt to fix multi-year pension plans by providing a blueprint for benefit reductions would not be included in the final bill. Meanwhile, John Hoeven, R-N.D., said a rider delaying for one year the listing of the sage grouse on the endangered species list was expected to be included. Republicans say the designation would harm local economic development, including by limiting farming on designated habitat areas. “Last I heard, it was going to be included,” the Senate appropriator told CQ Roll Call. Hoeven said he was “not optimistic” that a rider high on the GOP’s wish list blocking the EPA’s highly contentious climate rules would be included in the bill. Shelby cautioned against counting on any one rider being included or excluded in the spending package. “You think things are in and then they’re out. You think they’re out and then they’re in,” he said. Overall, Mike Johanns, R-Neb., a retiring Senate appropriator, said he ultimately expects few controversial riders will make it into the spending package since it is “designed to try to move.”
House to vote on short-term funding bill
Move buys time to avert a government shutdown
“The House will vote to pass a short-term government funding bill to give the Senate extra time to pass a yearlong spending package and avert a government shutdown.
The timing is uncertain, but the short-term bill will be on the floor Wednesday or Thursday and it would keep government open for two or three days so the Senate has time to debate the so-called “cromnibus.” The House expects unveil the larger spending bill Tuesday afternoon.
The longer term bill is expected to pass and is almost certain to avert a government shutdown.”
Congress will pass ultra-brief spending bill to keep government open
“House Republicans will take up a bill to fund the government for a day or two, while they draft and vote on a $1.1 trillion package to fund most of the government through September 2015. House appropriators plan to publish the details of the larger plan on Tuesday afternoon. But the government is currently operating under a stopgap measure that expires on Thursday. That means lawmakers may not have enough time to debate and vote on the legislation in both chambers. The ultra-brief spending measure will avert the threat of a government shutdown, which both parties are eager to avoid.”
House to Move TRIA Bill Separately
“In a gambit to jam the Senate, House Republicans are moving ahead with a standalone Terrorism Risk Insurance Act bill they intend to pass in the coming days, taking TRIA out of cromnibus negotiations and risking the program’s future. As of Tuesday afternoon, TRIA was one of the major remaining roadblocks in cromnibus negotiations, with House Republicans insisting on changes to the Dodd-Frank Act that would alter collateral rules for certain companies trading derivatives. According to an aide for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House is now moving forward with a plan to pass a separate TRIA bill and take the issue out of cromnibus negotiations. The House Rules Committee posted language of the TRIA bill Tuesday afternoon. With the House and Senate unable to come to a compromise on TRIA, House Republicans are hoping they can force the Senate’s hand by passing the terrorism risk insurance legislation with their Dodd-Frank changes. But as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether such a tactic would work — or whether it would derail TRIA. “This is an attempt to kill the bill, pure and simple,” a Senate Democratic aide told CQ Roll Call. “Adding in an extraneous, unrelated Dodd-Frank issue that Democrats, and the administration, oppose to a bipartisan TRIA bill that has been carefully negotiated puts the future of TRIA in doubt.” But a House Republican aide disagreed with that characterization. “The Democrats’ ideological and irrational zeal for Dodd-Frank is holding up a long-term reauthorization of TRIA,” the aide said. “Our side is trying to get a clarification — not a change — on Dodd-Frank’s treatment of manufacturers, ranchers and farmers. Even Barney Frank and Chris Dodd tried to clarify during colloquies that Congress never intended to impose margin requirements on end-user derivatives transactions.” The aide noted that 181 House Democrats had joined all Republicans in voting for a bill that would make those derivatives changes.”
BOEHNER, HOUSE REPUBLICANS BOW TO SCHUMER, DROP TERRORISM INSURANCE FROM OMNIBUS
“Speaker John Boehner and Republican House leaders have reportedly given in to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and pulled the reauthorization of terrorism insurance from the draft omnibus spending bill. “An aide said Tuesday that the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will not be hitching a ride on the so-called cromnibus, effectively clearing what has become the biggest hurdle to the spending package,” CQ Roll Call wrote on Tuesday afternoon. “The House Rules Committee posted that bill on its site Tuesday, indicating it could come up for floor consideration this week. The panel also posted a substitute amendment from Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas.” This latest cave from House GOP leadership comes after House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a conservative, was the last one holding the line on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Ask (TRIA) when it comes to the CR-omnibus spending bill as of late Monday. “Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a frequent foe of big business who chairs the Financial Services Committee, is trying to use the negotiations over renewing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act to enact changes to Dodd-Frank, the 2010 banking regulation law Republicans have tried to dismantle,” Politico wrote late Tuesday. The biggest opponent of Hensarling’s on this was Schumer—and he had help from the White House. “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the White House are opposed, and think Hensarling is overreaching and slowing the talks,” Politico wrote.”
“Cromnibus” Talks Mask Proxy Tax Fight on Corporate Inversions
In just a few hours, official Washington should begin pouring over the contents of the last major bill of this Congress, the so-called “Cromnibus.” The measure–a combination of an omnibus appropriations bill for the fiscal year less a short-term continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security (thanks to immigration-gate)–is expected to be gargantuan. There will be surprises of all kind in Cromnibus, especially from the “policy riders”–changes to law which have little to nothing to do with how much the government spends, and is more about political victories claimed by one side or the other. One policy rider that those interested in the tax reform debate should take note of have to do with companies contemplating corporate inversions. The word is that Democrats are pushing hard to include a provision to prevent any company who has executed a corporate inversion from receiving federal spending dollars. One iteration of this that I have heard is that Burger King–which is considering a corporate partnership with Canada’s Tim Horton’s–would be barred from doing any procurement with the Defense Department. Another is that companies that have corporate offices in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands would not be able to get money from Energy and Water spending measures. No doubt there are others. Republicans would be wise to insist that all these anti-inversion measures be stripped in full from the Cromnibus.”
Negotiators Strike Deal to Target Sale and Tax of Marijuana in D.C.
“Congress plans to block the District of Columbia from implementing a system to tax and regulate sales of legalized marijuana in the city, a source close to appropriations negotiations said Tuesday. The news came hours after a rumored deal between Democrats and Republicans on an appropriations rider addressing pot policy in the District ignited the marijuana advocacy community. Marijuana legalization advocates said they caught wind of a potential deal between House and Senate leadership that would block legalization of small amounts of marijuana but allow the decriminalization of pot — which emerged intact from congressional review in July — to remain in effect, and they’re outraged. They stormed a Heritage Foundation event on pot policy Tuesday to heckle Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., a chief opponent of loosening drug laws, and visited the personal offices of Democratic leaders to plead for the party to defend Referendum 71, an initiative to legalize small amounts of marijuana that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November. A source close to the negotiations said the deal reached by Democrats and Republicans does not prevent D.C. from implementing legalization. Instead, language in the amendment prohibits the District from passing additional legislation to “future regulate and tax marijuana or permit the sale of marijuana.” “The language in itself is not consistent with the principles of home rule,” said the source, “but preventing the carrying out of Referendum 71 would be an even more unsatisfactory outcome.”
REPORT: CROMNIBUS TO BLOCK D.C. POT SALE, REGULATION
“While House Republicans are not expected to include language to block President Obama’s executive amnesty in the must-pass government spending bill, the measure could include a rider to block the regulation and taxation of pot in Washington, D.C. Roll Call reports that: “Congress plans to block the District of Columbia from implementing a system to tax and regulate sales of legalized marijuana in the city, a source close to appropriations negotiations said Tuesday.”
The news comes as conservative lawmakers argue that the must-pass government funding measure should include language to defund the president’s executive action on immigration, a request that is unlikely to be met. Instead, later Tuesday the House plans to unveil a so-called cromnibus that would fund most of the government through September 2015 but only fund the Department of Homeland Security into February, so as to allow the GOP to find ways to block Obama’s executive amnesty next year with a Republican House and Senate. The prospect is unacceptable to dozens of conservative Republicans. They say Congress must engage in the funding fight now.”
Cromnibus Includes Undefined Flexibility on School Meals
“Flexibility in the Cromnibus. There seems to be general agreement that the 2015 fiscal spending package, a hybrid of a continuing resolution and an omnibus, will provide flexibility for school meal providers on sodium content of foods they serve and on meeting whole grain requirements. The main question seems to be the definition of flexibility. The Senate 2015 Agriculture spending bill includes an amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, that called for a scientific study that could delay the scheduled 2017 requirement for further reductions in sodium in foods served to school kids. The language also gave USDA flexibility in granting more time to school districts that could not meet the whole grain requirement. It is unclear at this point if this is the language in the cromnibus. One-Year Waiver. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said she has been told there is no waiver along the lines of the one Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, included in the text of his fiscal 2015 spending bill. Aderholt’s provision would provide school districts claiming financial hardship a one-year reprieve from new school nutrition rules. Aderholt had tried report language, which does not have the force of law, in the fiscal 2014 spending bill. USDA did not implement the waiver. “We’re willing to give in terms of implementation but not waivers,” Stabenow told reporters today. Her committee oversees USDA nutrition programs and wrote the 2010 nutrition law that required the Agriculture Department to improve school meal nutrition standards. Pressed for details, Stabenow, D-Mich., said she did not want to say much more until appropriators release the cromnibus. Whole Grain Waiver. Senate appropriator John Hoeven, R.-N.D., who agreed to the Harkin language but continued to press for waivers for schools on whole grain products, said cromnibus language would be similar to the Harkin provision. “But I want to add again that the bill has not been filed and nothing is final. I’d like to get the full waiver. That’s my first choice, but we may end up with compromise language that I offered.” Hoeven also talked about possible policy riders in other portions of the cromibus that would affect actions on listing the sage grouse and toxic lead ammunition. Sen. Roy Blunt, ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, told reporters he had no details on the matter, noting there a number of issues negotiated or still being considered by leadership. Then again, maybe there is cromnibus fatigue. “I’d be hesitant to tell you from memory the components of what was decided,” Blunt, R-Mo., said.”
CQ ROLL CALL – DO NOT HAVE LINK
Conservatives, Democrats tussle over contraceptives in spending bill
“A tussle over contraceptives has ended with Democrats keeping an attachment pushed by House conservatives out of a trillion dollar government funding bill. Conservatives had asked their party leaders to attach a policy rider to the funding bill that would have allowed corporations potentially to duck contraceptive coverage rules under Obamacare. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was opposed, a senior Democratic source said. Republicans will likely depend on Democratic votes to pass the spending bill, so both parties have been negotiating over the language of the legislation. Pelosi tapped Democratic negotiators to draw “a firm line” against any changes that focused on the so-called ‘conscience clause’, a senior Democratic source said. There were no direct conversations about contraceptives between Pelosi and Speaker John Boehner or House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. And Democrats were broadly opposed to any additions to the government spending bill that would change the 2010 health care law. Congress is expected to avert a shutdown this week, though a final bill still needs to be filed and voted on by the House and Senate. “This kind of political maneuvering – using must-pass legislation to accomplish a ‘wish list’ of one faction of Congress and risking a government shutdown – is precisely the kind of behavior the American people detest. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to keep any appropriations legislation considered before the close of the 113th Congress free from ideological policy riders,” Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) wrote in a letter to Boehner earlier this week.”
DEMOCRATS WIN BATTLE OVER CONTRACEPTIVES COVERAGE ATTACHMENT IN SPENDING BILL
“House Democrats will get their way on omitting an attachment to a spending bill that would have permitted corporations to possibly sidestep ObamaCare’s contraceptive coverage rules.
As reported by Politico, a senior Democratic source said House conservatives had requested that the policy rider be attached to the trillion dollar spending bill, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposed the move, instructing her negotiators to draw “a firm line” against changes to the “conscience clause” in the health reform law. “Republicans will likely depend on Democratic votes to pass the spending bill, so both parties have been negotiating over the language of the legislation,” said Politico, and added that Democrats would not agree to any changes in ObamaCare that might come via attachments in the spending bill. “This kind of political maneuvering – using must-pass legislation to accomplish a ‘wish list’ of one faction of Congress and risking a government shutdown – is precisely the kind of behavior the American people detest,” Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to keep any appropriations legislation considered before the close of the 113th Congress free from ideological policy riders.”
Wyden: Extension of Internet Tax Freedom Act is in funding bill
“Sen. Ron Wyden is out of the gate early tonight, praising Congress for extending a ban on Internet access taxes as part of a last-minute funding bill to avoid a government shutdown.
The text of the funding bill is not yet publicly available, but Wyden said in a statement that the bill includes a one-year extension of the hugely popular Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prevents state and local governments from taxing Internet access. “By extending this bill, the Congress has, for the short term, ensured that this longstanding policy keeps Internet access tax-free,” he said, pledging “to continue fighting to ensure that these protections will bolster the digital economy for the long term.” Many expected an ITFA extension to be included in a larger funding bill, as the law is otherwise set to expire with the current CR on Dec. 11. Some senators had pledged to attach a more controversial measure, the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow state and local governments to collect sales tax when residents make online purchases from out-of-state sellers. Wyden has been a vocal critic of the online sales tax bill.”
G.O.P. Extracts Price for Averting Shutdown
“With the spending bill now in the works, Republican leaders hope to leave their imprint more firmly — and signal the direction they will try to take the federal government starting next month, when Congress is in their complete control. Under the plan drafted by House and Senate Appropriations Committees, President Obama would get $5.4 billion in emergency funds to battle Ebola, Democratic and Republican aides say. More than half of the overall package — about $554 billion — would go to military spending. The deal would also allocate roughly $948 million to handle the surge of unaccompanied minor children who began pouring across the southern border this summer. Negotiations grew contentious on Monday and the public release of the legislation was likely to slip until Tuesday. The delay would push a House vote on the deal from Wednesday — the target date — to Thursday, with little margin for error to pass the package to avoid a government shutdown. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland and chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, did not rule out a 24- or 48-hour short-term measure to give Congress some additional time to pass the spending package, but seemed confident the legislation would ultimately make it through. “I believe that we will not have a shutdown, and I believe that we will not have government on autopilot,” she said. “The exact time and hour — I’m not exactly sure.” Policy prescriptions, including those to ease standards on school lunch content and the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over some bodies of water, have been more contentious than the negotiations over money. Cultural conservatives in the House and Senate were also pressing to include a “conscience clause” for employers who say funding contraception violates their religious beliefs. “Nobody here is disagreeing on nutrition in school lunches,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s just that sometimes people carrying out your wishes are so overzealous they go beyond what you were asking.” Republicans maintain that efforts by the first lady and congressional Democrats to improve school nutrition by reducing the sodium content and increasing the percentage of whole grains in school lunches have become onerous for beleaguered school cafeterias. The eased school lunch standards are “about pace and flexibility,” Mr. Cole said. Meantime, conservatives on and off Capitol Hill were growing more leery as lawmakers tried to stuff the spending plan with other, only marginally related measures. Lawmakers were considering add-ons to extend federal terrorism risk insurance for private developers and to shore up the ailing federal pension regulator, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The $1 trillion spending bill would fund almost all the government through September 2015 but keep the Department of Homeland Security open only through February to keep pressure on the president over his executive action to defer deportation of as many as five million illegal immigrants. Military projects were given the benefit of the doubt in a package that will bear the fingerprints of Republican negotiators more than any other spending legislation has since the party took control of the House. For instance, seven reserve Awacs surveillance planes the administration wanted to cut from the Air Force Reserves will be saved at Tinker Air Force Base in Mr. Cole’s district. Conservative groups like Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, were pressuring Republicans to vote against the measure, saying it did too little to combat Mr. Obama’s increasingly bold use of executive authority. That, in turn, strengthened the Democrats’ hands, since with Republican defections it will take Democratic votes to secure a majority to pass the bill. “I remain cautiously optimistic that there will be sufficient votes,” said Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, who added that his preference would have been to pass a broad spending bill to fund all of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, through the current fiscal year. “Maybe in the new year we add some policy riders, but at the end of the day we’re going to pass the Homeland Security bill, so why not do it now rather than wait.” Speaker John A. Boehner may need several dozen Democratic votes to push the legislation through the Republican-controlled House, and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, has signaled that she will provide the necessary votes only if Democrats and Republicans can find “common ground” on the policy provisions. Mr. Cole said Ms. Pelosi’s objections over policy prescriptions were “a desperate attempt to stay relevant.” Mr. Boehner, meanwhile, has been busy trying to corral his own restive conference into supporting the broad spending bill. But some conservative lawmakers are still refusing to vote for the package, arguing that it does not go far enough to fight Mr. Obama’s action on immigration.”
House agrees on $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid government shutdown
“Key House lawmakers agreed Tuesday night on a $1.1 trillion spending bill in a race against the clock to avoid a partial government shutdown, Fox News has learned. The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee was expected to release the bill later in the evening. The government technically runs out of money at midnight Thursday. The bill next will go to the chamber’s Rules committee to be prepared for debate and a full House vote by perhaps Thursday morning or afternoon, with the Senate conceivably tackling the bill before the fast-approaching deadline.”
Lawmakers Release Massive ‘Cromnibus’ 2 Days Ahead of Shutdown
House introduces spending legislation, plans Thursday vote
Congress Inches Closer to Avoiding Government Shutdown
LAWMAKERS AGREE ON $1.1 TRILLION SPENDING BILL
“Time running short, Republicans and Democrats agreed Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and delay a politically-charged struggle over President Barack Obama’s new immigration policy until the new year. In an unexpected move, lawmakers also agreed on legislation expected to be incorporated into the spending measure that will permit a reduction in benefits to current retirees at economically distressed multiemployer pension plans. Supporters said it was part of an effort to prevent a slow-motion collapse of a system that provides retirement income to millions, but critics objected vehemently… Earlier in the day, House Republicans removed one obstacle to passage of the spending measure by announcing they would pass legislation separately to renew a requirement for the federal government to assume some of the insurance risk in losses arising from terrorism. In talks with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Republicans led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas., agreed to the renewal, but said they wanted to roll back portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that tightened federal regulation on the financial sector. The stand-alone bill seemed likely to clear the House, but its fate in the Senate was uncertain. By contrast, disagreement over an emerging proposal relating to multi-employer pension funds was not along party lines. Officials said the talks between Rep. John Kline, R-Min., and George Miller, D-Calif., were designed to preserve benefits of current and future retirees at lower levels than currently exist, but higher than they would be if their pension funds ran out of money.”We have a plan here that first and foremost works for the members of the unions, the workers in these companies and it works for the companies,” said Miller, retiring at year’s end after four decades in Congress. Not everyone agreed. The AARP, which claims to represent millions of retirement-age Americans, attacked the agreement as a “secret, last-minute closed door deal between a group of companies, unions and Washington politicians to cut the retirement benefits that have been promised to them.” Also driving the talks was concern over the financial fate of the fund that assures multi-employer pensions at the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The agency said in its most recent annual report that the fund’s deficit rose to $42.2 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept, 30, up from $8.3 billion the previous year, and that the likelihood of its bankruptcy is 90 percent by 2025. Agency figures show as many as 1.5 million retirees could be affected by any change in law to permit a reduction. An estimated 400,000 of them receive benefits from the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund.”
BOEHNER DROPS 1,603-PAGE OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL, SECURING FUTURE OF OBAMA’S AMNESTY
“Election results in November that emboldened the House Republican majority and delivered the U.S. Senate majority to the GOP be damned, House Speaker John Boehner is desperately turning to the Democrats to pass his omnibus bill that enables President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. The full bill, the text of which was publicly introduced at about 8:20 p.m. on Tuesday after congressional leaders missed several self-set deadlines throughout the day, is 1,603 pages long. That means it will be impossible for any member of the House or Senate to read the entire bill before voting on it this week. The pure numbers in Congress suggest Boehner can’t get enough Republicans to pass his executive amnesty omnibus, something even his top lieutenants have admitted in recent days. There are 435 members of the House, and to pass this bill, Boehner and his allies—including Louisiana’s Republican Whip Steve Scalise and California’s Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy—need to get 218 votes. There are 234 Republicans in the House as the 113th Congress finishes its final days of the lame duck post-election session, meaning Boehner could theoretically pass a bill that all Republicans agree with. But according to Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, a conservative, there are at least 50 Republicans—probably more—who won’t vote for this bill. If even 18 Republicans vote against the bill, that means Boehner needs Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenant Steny Hoyer to get to 218. Salmon is not optimistic the number of Republicans in opposition will reach the number of Democrats voting for this bill at this time. Yet since there are so many liberal parts of the bill, once the text is introduced, anything can happen.”
Lawmakers Agree on $1 Trillion Spending Bill That Puts No Limits on Obama’s Immigration Action
REPORT: BOEHNER’S OMNIBUS DEAL WITH DEMOCRATS SURRENDERS ON BORDER CRISIS, FORCES NEARLY ALL REPUBLICANS TO FLIP-FLOP FROM PREVIOUS POSITION
“House Speaker John Boehner’s forthcoming $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending deal—the text of which he still hasn’t released—will reportedly surrender every gain Republicans made this summer on the border crisis. The deal, which Boehner is working with Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenant Steny Hoyer to secure Democratic votes for, would—according to the New York Times—“allocate roughly $948 million to handle the surge of unaccompanied minor children who began pouring across the southern border this summer.” Under the spending deal, there would almost certainly be no policy changes attached to that $948 million worth of cash for Obama’s border crisis. Nearly every House Republican, in the days leading up to the August recess, rejected spending $659 million on the border crisis unless there were changes to immigration law—forcing GOP leadership to keep Congress in town an extra day and hash out the details to do so. But, now under Boehner’s leadership, every House Republican who votes for the omnibus bill will not only be flip-flopping from the previous position that no money could be allocated to Obama’s border crisis without policy changes—they’ll be giving him more money than they said was unacceptable last time. In a statement after the House passed the key policy changes in the summer, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA)—one of the key conservatives involved in securing the changes—issued a statement detailing how important those policy changes that Boehner is apparently abandoning now were. “The legislation funds the efforts, in part, by redirecting foreign aid for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be used instead in repatriation efforts,” Barletta said: It also deploys the National Guard for border protection and reimburses states for their use of the Guard on the southern border. The legislation will also prevent people detained at the border from being relocated around the United States by holding them pending deportation proceedings at the border. The House passed its legislation while members of the Senate had already left town without approving any measures to deal with the situation. Barletta went on to detail how these “very important improvements” and policy changes will help “in how we approach this current crisis and prevent similar situations in the future.” “We are paying for states to send the National Guard to the border to help,” Barletta said: We are changing the law so that all illegal immigrants are treated the same no matter where they are from. We are taking foreign aid we were giving to countries that contributed to this problem, and using it to repatriate their citizens instead. And we are halting President Obama’s DACA program that actively encouraged the illegal immigrants in the first place. Importantly, we are also stopping the practice of sending unaccompanied minors to relocation centers around the country by keeping them at the border pending their deportation proceedings. A senior congressional GOP aide told Breitbart News on Tuesday that the only thing that has changed between this summer’s fights and now—when Boehner is leading Republicans into a flip-flop and surrender—is that Republicans decisively won an election.”
HANNITY: GOP OMNIBUS BEHAVIOR ‘A PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS’
“Talk radio host Sean Hannity ripped House GOP Leadership for its handling of the omnibus spending bill on Tuesday, saying “Republicans ought to be a different party” and that their failure to change the process by which the government was funded “is probably a preview of coming attractions” Hannity began by stating, “as I understand it the GOP Whip, [Rep.] Steve Scalise (R-LA) has come under fire for supporting Obama’s executive amnesty via the omnibus bill.” Cox Radio Reporter Jamie Dupree said that despite the concerns of certain members of the GOP, “I still think that the speaker and his people believe that they’ll have more than enough votes in the end, I bet you they get a bunch of Democratic votes to approve this plan.” Hannity then accused House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) of “doing exactly what he accused [former Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of and that’s hiding the omnibus from the American people, from lawmakers and then they rush it to the floor, and they’re going to race out of town, and nobody will even know what’s in it because everyone will be paying attention to Christmas,” a point Dupree agreed with. Hannity concluded that it was “far more disappointing” to see Republicans acting in such a manner because “Republicans ought to be a different party.” He then predicted “I think this is probably a preview of coming attractions, which is sad.”
OMNIBUS GIVES $500 MILLION WORTH OF WEAPONS, AID TO ‘APPROPRIATELY VETTED’ SYRIAN REBELS
Omnibus Contains Casino Crony Kickback For Harry Reid And His Las Vegas Pals
Boehner Omnibus Gives Obama $5.4 Billion To Fight Ebola In U.S., Around The World
Budget Deal Could Mean Millions More in Party Fund-Raising
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are considering including a provision in the spending bill that would allow the two parties to raise millions of additional dollars from wealthy donors, according to congressional aides with knowledge of the discussions. The new provision would allow each party to raise up to $20 million in a separate fund devoted to paying for its national presidential conventions every four years. To get the money, the parties could solicit $90,000 from any individual each year — roughly three times the amount an individual donor can regularly give to party committees. Political action committees could contribute $45,000, triple the amount PACs can contribute for other party business. The discussion comes after Congress voted this year to abolish public financing for the conventions and rededicate that money to medical research, forcing the Republican and Democratic national committees to find other sources of money for the 2016 conventions.”
OMNIBUS BILL SPENDS OVER $19 MILLION PROTECTING RHINOCEROSES
“Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) to protect real-life rhinoceroses. There are actually two full sections in the bill designed to protect the giant exotic creatures. On pages 674-675, Boehner aims to appropriate $9,061,000 to protect Rhinos and other endangered species. “For expenses necessary to carry out the African Elephant Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 4201 et seq.), the Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 4261 et seq.), the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994 (16 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.), the Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000 (16 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.), and the Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004 (16 U.S.C. 6601 et seq.), $9,061,000, to remain available until expended,” the bill text reads. On page 1,340, there is $10 million appropriated to combat “rhinoceros poaching.” “Not less than $55,000,000 of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act shall be made available to combat the transnational threat of wildlife poaching and trafficking, including not less than $10,000,000 for programs to combat rhinoceros poaching,” the bill text reads.”
What’s in the spending bill? We skim it so you don’t have to (Good)
‘Cromnibus’ Highlights: IRS Cuts; No Raise for Biden; Break on School Lunches
“Many measures are designed to win over conservatives, but could risk alienating Democrats — adding a little uncertainty to congressional plans to wrap up work this week. Here are some of the provisions that lawmakers will be evaluating as they decide whether to vote yes or no on the package, known as the “Cromnibus.”
–Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration officials won’t get raises next year, thanks to a pay freeze for the vice president and senior political appointees.
–The three million Defense Department active-duty, civilian employees and reservists will receive a 1% pay raise.
– The measure significantly expands the size of contributions individuals can make to national party committees.
–The measure attempts to override voters in the District of Columbia with a rider that bans federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum that legalized marijuana use.
–Some $5.5 billion would be made available to respond to the Ebola outbreak.
–Some $5 billion would be used to fight Islamic State extremists.
–States would be able to get an exemption from a requirement for whole-grain foods in school lunches if they could show financial or other hardship in procuring the products. Mrs. Obama has promoted such standards on the grounds that they are healthier.
–The spending bill includes provisions to stop the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
–The sage grouse will lose out on protected status under a provision that bans funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to put the chicken-like bird on the Endangered Species list. The federal government had said the bird was at risk from increased oil- and gas-drilling and habitat loss from farms and subdivisions, but Republicans warned of adverse effects on economic development.
–The Pentagon won funding for 38 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters — nine more than were funded in fiscal 2014.
–Banks won a measure easing restrictions on their derivative-trading activities. The change would affect requirements under the Dodd-Frank law that banks spin off certain derivatives-trading activities into units that don’t enjoy access to the government safety net.
–Appropriators steered some $619.8 million to Israeli programs, including $175 million for the Iron Dome missile-defense system. That is on top of the $225 million for Iron Dome that Congress approved roughly four months ago.
–The measure would make a $345.6 million cut to the Internal Revenue Service budget and provided no funding for the International Monetary Fund.
–The spending bill continues a longstanding ban on federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the life of the mother.”
Major provisions of $1.1T omnibus spending bill (another good summary)
RAND: OMNIBUS ‘ABOMINATION,’ WILL SHOW IF GOP WINS ‘MADE A DIFFERENCE’
“Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) argued that the “abomination” omnibus bill was “a chance to see if electing Republicans made a difference” on Tuesday’s “Laura Ingraham Show.” “I’ll vote no to any kind of 2,000 page bill that I’m given at the last minute that we don’t have time to read, it’s an abomination, nobody should support a Congress that stuffs all the spending into one bill, nobody reads it, there are no reforms, no amendments, and it really is probably why Congress has about a 10% approval rate because this is not doing our job” he declared. Paul added that when the GOP takes the majority it should pass separate appropriations bills, and “this will be a chance to see if electing Republicans made a difference in January and for the next nine or ten months. If Republicans actually do their job and pass every appropriation bill then I think the American people will stand up, applaud and elect more Republicans.” On the issue of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, Paul stated that Obama’s use of Congressional gridlock to justify the order “appalls me.” He also said “I won’t vote for this spending bill if it includes money for the executive amnesty. In January, when we have the power, I will also insist that we do it through the appropriations process.”
Reid Outlines Endgame, Again Warns of Weekend Work
“…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday. “The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” the Nevada Democrat said. “There’s still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You’ve all heard them, just like I have.” “For the extremists within the Republican Party … there’s always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it’s not one thing, it’s some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn’t be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that’s what we’re facing,” Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill. Reid said that he would back a very short-term continuing resolution should it become necessary to get through procedural maneuvering and finish final details. That scenario was becoming more likely as Tuesday progressed without legislative text of the cromnibus spending package being posted by the House. Asked what message he has for any Senate Republican that may seek to slow down the Senate clearing legislation, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference said, “I just think in the end this is going to move … You want to get as much of the things that you have to get done now behind you so that we could start fresh next year.” He would not rule out the possibility that the Senate may need to pass a short-term spending bill to provide enough time to clear the larger bill. “I hope that doesn’t happen,” Thune said. “Any one member can slow things down if they want to … but in the end I don’t see it getting derailed,” Thune added. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican appropriator, echoed Thune’s sentiment about clearing the decks to allow for a more regular process in fiscal 2016.”
Study: Employment Falls When Minimum Wage Goes Up
“The National Bureau of Economic Research released a study Monday showing employment for low-skilled workers falls as the minimum wage goes up. The study, titled “The Minimum Wage and The Great Recession,” looked at the impact of three federal minimum wages increases that occurred between 2007 and 2009. It found that during that time, employment and income for low-skilled and younger workers fell. The study found the employment and wage impact was less in states where the minimum wage was already higher than the federal minimum. “Between July 23, 2007, and July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage rose from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. Over a similar time period, the employment-to-population ratio declined by 4 percentage points among adults aged 25 to 54 and by 8 percentage points among those aged 15 to 24,” the study said. “Over three subsequent years, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers,” the study concluded. “Lost income reflects contributions from employment declines, increased probabilities of working without pay.” “The people we were supposed to be helping saw their wages fall,” Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In general, economists have found that each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage sees a decreased employment in certain groups,” Saltsman explained. “About a 1 to 3 percent decrease.”
46 MILLION ON FOOD STAMPS FOR 36 MONTHS IN A ROW
“For the first time in U.S. history, food stamp enrollments have been above 46 million for 36 months in a row. According to newly released numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture (which oversees the food stamp program), food stamp enrollments in September 2011 were 46,268,250 and never fell below 46 million up and through September 2014 (the most recent month for which numbers are available), when 46,459,998 individuals received food stamps. The 36 unbroken months of food stamps enrollments above 46 million paints an economic portrait of a citizenry frozen in place. President Barack Obama, however, sees it otherwise. “By every economic measure, we are better off now than when I took office,” said Obama in October. Indeed, under Obama, food stamp enrollments have skyrocketed. Since January 2009, the number of individuals on food stamps has skyrocketed from 31.9 million to the 46,459,998 who receive them today.”
JUST LIKE OBAMACARE: BOEHNER’S OMNIBUS WEBSITE FAILS, BILL TEXT DISAPPEARS BEHIND ‘SERVER ERROR’ MESSAGE
“A few short hours after the House GOP posted Speaker John Boehner’s 1,603-page $1.1 trillion omnibus bill text on its website, the website failed. The bill text—both the PDF and the XML versions—went down around 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, for unspecified reasons. Speaker Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel hasn’t responded to inquiries as to why the bill is no longer available for the public to see. Instead of the bill being available online, the website reads: “Server Error.” “401 – Unauthorized: Access is denied due to invalid credentials,” the website now reads. “You do not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials that you supplied.” The Rules Committee website which serves as a gateway to get to the bill text is still up. Interestingly, the process for the introduction of the omnibus spending bill has been largely nontransparent. Critics from both the left and the right have hit Congressional leaders like House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Boehner, and others for not releasing the bill text until very late Tuesday—it first posted online at about 8:20 p.m. on Tuesday—after originally promising to have the bill text available on Monday. While reporting on a new campaign finance loophole inserted into page 1,599 of the 1,603 page bill, New York Times reporter Nick Confessore said via Twitter: “In a two year cycle, you and your spouse could give about $130,000 to a party committee. Now you can give $1.3 million.” That’s a significant change to campaign finance law that has nothing to do with funding the government. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fought to include some campaign finance changes in the bill, but not these specific ones. McConnell aides did tell the Washington Post he didn’t push for these campaign finance restrictions to be loosened.”
IG: IRS paid $6 billion in bogus child tax credits
“The IRS paid at least $6 billion in child tax credits in 2013 to people who weren’t eligible to receive them, a government investigator said Tuesday. Payments went to families that mistakenly claimed the tax credit or claimed the wrong amount, as well as taxpayers who committed fraud, according to an audit by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The audit highlights problems with a tax credit that President Barack Obama has championed as a way to help low-income working families. Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package temporarily expanded the credit to more families that don’t make enough money to pay federal income tax. These families receive the $1,000-per-child credit in the form of a tax refund. The report released Tuesday focused on payments to these families.”
Feds Propose Taxing Marijuana, True Cash Crop
MCCONNELL TELLS STAFF ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ WHEN GOP RETURNS AS MAJORITY
“Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave remarks at his office’s annual Christmas party Monday night at the NRSC, and according to an attendee, McConnell said that people overestimate what Republicans can do even though the GOP will have majorities in both chambers of Congress in January. The Kentucky Republican also said that when they reconvene, they will return the Senate to “business as usual.” Comparing Americans’ present expectations of the GOP to when Republicans took the House in 2010, McConnell told the room that too many people thought four years ago that “now we can run the government.” According to the attendee, people in the room laughed at that statement. Additionally, McConnell stressed that even with the power of the gavel next month, he will need to find 6 Democratic votes to get things done and that it will not be easy. In the near term, he said, “Republicans have to learn how to pass Republican appropriations bills.” He continued, “I have some members who don’t even want to pass appropriations bills.” McConnell warned that if this happens, “then I have to go to Harry Reid and the first thing he does is start stripping out riders and things that we want.”
When asked about the speech, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News, while noting the gathering was private and he did not have a transcript of the Senator’s exact words, “He’s said several times on the record, including in a joint op-ed with the Speaker, that we’ll be considering House-passed jobs bills. Many of those are bipartisan and will get 60 votes including Democrat votes. Same with Keystone. Obamacare repeal, on the other hand, won’t get 60 votes, but we will vote on it.”
Senate OKs Obama ambassador pick for Afghanistan
“The Senate has approved President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. On a voice vote Tuesday night, lawmakers backed the choice of Peter McKinley, a career foreign service officer who currently serves as deputy ambassador in Kabul. McKinley has been an ambassador to Colombia and Peru and a deputy chief of mission to the European Union in Belgium. McKinley will become ambassador amid Taliban attacks across Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul. And he takes the post as American and NATO troops this month end their combat mission in a country still mired in war 13 years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime for harboring those responsible for 9/11. The Senate also approved the nomination of Richard Verma to be U.S. ambassador to India.”
Harry Reid makes push for nominees
“Senate Democrats plan to squeeze every last drop out of their majority, threatening to extend the lame duck to approve key nominees of President Barack Obama before turning over Senate control to Republicans in January. If they hold their caucus together, Democrats can unilaterally prevail and approve Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Carolyn Colvin to be Social Security administrator, as well as nine judicial nominees, nominees Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday his chamber will consider before the year ends. But it could get messy given the controversy surrounding Murthy and Saldana — and could require overtime for lawmakers, including defeated or retiring ones who are eyeing the exits for good. Democrats may need all their members to stick around to win tough votes, including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who lost her seat on Saturday and has missed all of this week’s votes so far. “Maybe we’ll have to work the weekend and maybe even work next week. I know that’s tough duty for everybody, but we may have to do that,” Reid said when asked about the road ahead for approving the president’s team. Murthy’s nomination has been contentious given his past remarks linking gun violence to public health, though advocates for his confirmation are beginning to believe he has gained enough traction among moderates to prevail. But aides are still unsure whether he will be confirmed or join Debo Adegbile’s nomination to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which is the only nomination to be defeated since Democrats’ unilateral rules change gutted the filibuster. Saldana’s nomination only recently became controversial. She was cleared by voice vote through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee early last month but squeaked by on a party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. She said in a written questionnaire that she supports Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration and that Obama had the legal authority to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.”
Washington pay-by-mile pilot program approval expected
“The Washington State Transportation Commission is expected to approve a pilot project designed to charge drivers for every mile they travel on public roads. A Road Usage Charge would eventually replace the gas tax in Washington State, which has brought in less revenue with more hybrid and electric vehicles using less gas. A GPS device would track miles driven and charge accordingly. Testing would begin next year. The state legislature will be asked in January to give final approval for the test project. A GPS requirement wouldn’t happen until at least 2017. It is modeled after a similar pilot project happening in Oregon. The commission says non-GPS based systems are also being tested to address privacy concerns.”
The School Lunches Malia And Sasha Eat Vs. The Crap Michelle Obama Has Foisted On America
Federal Employees Less Happy Under Obama’s Second Term
“A report released Tuesday reveals that government employees are significantly less satisfied with their job in Obama’s second term than his first. Federal employees satisfaction fell for the fourth straight year, dropping to the lowest recorded since the group Best Places to Work began producing the reports in 2003. The report assigned a job satisfaction score peaking at 65 (out of 100) during his first term, but this year that score dropped to 56.9. “The steady drop in employee satisfaction from 2011 to 2014 may be the result of a number of factors,” the report states. “These include the 2013 across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration; three years of pay freezes; hiring slowdowns; numerous management missteps that garnered negative attention and criticism; and a partial government shutdown that resulted in the furlough of 850,000 employees.”
Why Obama Wanted to Appear on “Colbert”
“President Obama is chasing his political base this week, one media interview at a time. Latinos? On Tuesday, he’ll tape discussions with Telemundo and Univision hosts about his immigration executive actions, which he announced in November. He’ll be piggybacking on a Nashville immigration event that he’s headlining the same day touting positive economic contributions by immigrants. Young people? On Monday, the president poked fun at the criticism that late-night comedy shows are a news format “beneath his dignity.” With broad, indulgent smiles, plus a straight face for the punch lines, Obama parried with Stephen Colbert during a “Colbert Report” show taped earlier in the day in front of a student audience at George Washington University. African-Americans? Black Entertainment Television on Monday evening also aired an interview with the president, which was taped Dec. 5 in the White House. Obama, offering no smiles on BET, described his reactions in the wake of a string of deaths among young black males during encounters with white police officers. “I’m being pretty explicit about my concern,” the president said. “This is an American problem.” In the parlance of the White House, Obama needs “specialty” media to speak to his base of supporters wherever he can find him. His advisers believe changes at traditional news media outlets and an evolution in the way many American consumers find their news and information dictate that Obama explain his policies to network and cable anchors as well as entertainers, to newspaper columnists as well as black and Spanish-language media outlets.”
Obama throws shade on Keystone XL during ‘Colbert Report’
Lima Climate Talks Set for Record Carbon Footprint
Hardly green, Lima U.N. climate talks on track for record carbon footprint.
Panel Faults C.I.A. Over Brutality and Deceit in Interrogations
Spies fire back at ‘biased, inaccurate, and destructive’ report
Obama: Harsh CIA methods should be left in past
“President Barack Obama says he hopes the release of a Senate report on harsh CIA interrogations helps leave the harsh torture techniques “where they belong — in the past.” Obama says in a written statement that the report reinforces his view that harsh interrogations techniques “were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.” The president’s statement comes moments after a Senate committee released a long-anticipated report on CIA interrogations during the administration of his predecessor, President George W. Bush.”
Maddow: Pardon Bush for Torture To “Make It Clear Crimes Were Committed”
John Kerry asks Congress for broad war authorization against ISIS
Obama Admin. Wants the Option of Using Ground Troops in Fight Islamic State
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:
Tea Party Patriots Hand Out ‘I’m With Stupid’ T-Shirts Before Gruber Hearing