Boehner: ‘American economy is on the line’

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 3:00 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 3:00 PM


            House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Boehner said no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House

Declaring that the “American economy is on the line,’’ House Speaker John Boehner Thursday called on President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to “get serious’’ about cutting federal spending as part of a major budget deal.

A pessimistic sounding Boehner, emerging from a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, said that he was “disappointed in where we are,” referring to the process of avoiding the combination of tax increases and spending cuts at the end of the year, popularly called the fiscal cliff.

“Going over the fiscal cliff is serious business.” said Boehner, R-West Chester Twp. “I’m here seriously trying to resolve it.”

Boehner insisted that tax revenue is on the table, but only if there are “serious spending cuts” as part of the agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

The problem is, according to Boehner, that “(the Republicans) have no idea what the White House is willing to do.” In a shot at Obama, Boehner said “this is a moment for adult leadership,’’ saying that “campaign-style rallies and one-sided leaks are not a way to get things done here in Washington.”

Boehner was referring to Obama’s planned trip to Pennsylvania Friday to rally support for his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans as part of a deal to avoid going over the cliff at the end of the year. Obama wants the 2001 and 2003 income and investment tax cuts to expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year.

Boehner himself asserted that he is serious about doing everything he can to avoid putting American jobs and the American economy at risk.

“And I hope the White House will get serious as well,” he said.

Congress already squeezed by its 2017 calendar

Published: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 9:02 PM

While the calendar says we are days away from the month of June, Republicans in Congress are already feeling pressure over their legislative agenda for 2017, as time is already growing short for GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law, which also puts a time squeeze on other major initiatives on Capitol Hill.

There are no votes scheduled this week in the Congress; the Senate returns to legislative session on June 5, while the House is back in Washington, D.C. on June 6.

Here’s some of what faces Republicans in the Congress:

1. Everything keys off of the GOP health care bill. Because the GOP is trying to use the expedited “budget reconciliation” process, which allows them to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, nothing involved with next year’s budget – or with tax reform – can move until health care is settled. GOP Senators have been meeting regularly in recent weeks to decide what to do on health care – but they don’t have a deal as yet, and no one is quiet sure when they might have a vote. “We’re a long ways from that,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND) told reporters this week. “Damned if I know,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said about when a deal might be reached. Writing their own bill takes time.

2. Why do you keep saying there isn’t much time? Two things are at work here – the Congressional calendar, and the limits on the “budget reconciliation” process. The authorization to use reconciliation for a health care bill expires on September 30 – the end of the 2017 Fiscal Year. So, the GOP has four months to figure out a bill, and get it approved and sent to the President. But, lawmakers won’t be here much of that four month period. In fact, between now and the end of the fiscal year – there are 43 scheduled legislative work days in the House, which mirrors the Senate schedule. That’s 43 legislative days in session spread out over 18 weeks. You could always get extra time by scrapping the August recess, or working some weekends.

3. The budget is way behind schedule – more than usual. This past week, President Trump delivered his 2018 budget to the Congress. Normally that is done in February. The House and Senate only started having hearings on spending bills this past week. Lawmakers were supposed to approve the blueprint known as the “budget resolution” by April 15. As of now, that plan doesn’t even exist. Congress is supposed to pass all spending bills by October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, but that has not happened since 1996. With the schedule still showing five weeks off during the summer, there is no way that lawmakers are going to meet that spending deadline, which will pave the way for stop gap budgets, and then most likely a year-end omnibus spending deal. Sound familiar?

4. Tax reform still hasn’t taken shape. Despite the Sunday tweet by President Trump about his tax plans, it was obvious in budget hearings last week involving Secretary of Treasury Stephen Mnuchin that a Trump tax plan is not ready to be rolled out any time soon. Remember – all we have right now is a one page document with some bullet points. Even if the White House put out the details this next week, Republicans couldn’t take it up under budget reconciliation rules until they get finished with health care legislation. And, as stated above, the GOP does not seem to be near a deal. Senate Republicans probably cannot let June go by without some kind of agreement on health care.

5. You can’t pass bills when you aren’t in DC. Whenever I point out how the Congress is going to be home for an extended break, I always hear from people who say, “If they’re not in DC, they can’t screw things up.” Yes, that’s true. On the other hand, it’s also true that when they aren’t working on Capitol Hill, they can’t pass any bills to fix things, either. And for Republicans right now, if you aren’t at work on the floors of the House and Senate, you aren’t passing any of President Trump’s agenda. Those Republican lawmakers having town hall meetings this week will get a lot of attention.

It’s not even the end of May. But time is already running short for Republicans in 2017.

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Trump quickly finds voice on Twitter after returning from foreign trip

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 8:34 PM
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 8:36 PM

Back after a nine day overseas trip, President Donald Trump returned to a familiar plan of operations on Sunday, as he used Twitter to jab at his critics and the news media, vowing to push ahead on his legislative agenda in the Congress, and making clear he wants a crack down on leaks from the U.S. Government.

“Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” the President said early on Sunday morning.

Here are some things to look for with Mr. Trump back at the White House:

1. The President isn’t going silent on Twitter. Despite some news reports while he was gone that aides have tried to limit Mr. Trump’s time on social media, @realDonaldTrump was doing more than just highlighting White House talking points, as he issued a series of tweets on Sunday morning and later in the evening that plowed familiar ground. The Twitter barrage started softly – “Big win in Montana for Republicans!” the President tweeted about Thursday’s special election victory for the GOP – but then the President revved his engines. “Fake News is the enemy,” Mr. Trump said, as he took aim at the news media.

2. Will the President be firing White House leakers? Another story that broke while Mr. Trump was gone was one that said three leakers inside the White House had been identified, and that the President would be getting rid of them once he returned to the U.S. No names were revealed, but it has resulted in plenty of rumors across the political spectrum, especially more from conservative figures on social media, who publicly pointed the finger at aides whom they argued are not reliably supportive of the President. While those stories have circulated, Mr. Trump floated a different possibility – that maybe there aren’t leaks after all.

3. Don’t forget the Trump Agenda in Congress. The President on Sunday pressed two of his biggest agenda items, tax cuts and overhaul of the Obama health law. One interesting note was that Mr. Trump seemed to argue for more spending in a GOP health plan that is now before the Senate. “I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere,” the President tweeted. “ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!” For now, Senators still haven’t forged a deal that can get a majority – that will be their focus when they return to work on June 5. Asking the Republicans to spend more government money on health care does not seem to be a GOP priority, as Mr. Trump tweeted.

4. The President presses for tax reform. In his Sunday tweets, Mr. Trump also used the bully pulpit to call for action in the Congress on tax cuts and tax reform. While both the House and Senate have held some introductory hearings, no real details have been handed out – other than one page of bullet points from the White House. While the President says it is “ahead of schedule,” Congress cannot act on a tax package until lawmakers finish action on health care overhaul. Despite his tweet, Mr. Trump’s tax plan has a lot of details that are TBD – and it’s not even clear that Congress can act on tax reform this year.

5. Is the White House readying a “War Room” While the President jabbed at the press over leaks, he didn’t give any hints on whether there would a shakeup in his own communications team, which has been reported by a number of news organizations, saying the White House is ready to set up a rapid response team to deal with stories about the Russia investigation, and other matters for top staffers. The Russia story didn’t go away with Mr. Trump in Europe, and it won’t be easy to sidestep once he is back at the White House.

6. Will Spicer be out? Or just to the side? While the President was overseas, there were reports that Mr. Trump was ready to make major changes in how the communications team deals with the press. The White House has denied that Press Secretary Sean Spicer will be pushed out, but his job security has been the subject of roller coaster rumors for the past four months; we could see more of Sarah Sanders at briefings. There have also been rumblings about making major changes in the White House briefings, maybe even doing away with the televised daily briefing. That would certainly make some news.

Few public answers to puzzle in Congressional IT investigation

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 8:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

An inquiry into possible wrongdoing by IT staffers employed by a number of Democrats in Congress has garnered more attention in recent days, after a prominent lawmaker gave a public tongue lashing to the Capitol Hill police chief, vowing “consequences” over his refusal to return computer equipment that is evidently part of the ongoing investigation.

At issue is a probe into a possible security breach involving Imran Awan, who has worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and other Democratic lawmakers, as a shared information technology worker.

Little has been made public by Capitol Police on what exactly is being investigated; news reports in recent months have linked Awan, several of his relatives, and his wife to some type of Capitol Hill investigation that could involve stolen property and more.

The new scrutiny came after a budget hearing on May 18 with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa; the hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee had escaped notice, until reports earlier this week by the Daily Caller, noting the sharp words that Wasserman Schultz had for Verderosa.

At the end of her Q&A with the police chief, Wasserman Schultz asks what happens when police find lost items.

“I’d like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member, or a staffer, that’s been lost within the Capitol complex, and found or recovered by one of your officers,” Wasserman Schultz begins.

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The bottom line from the chief was simple – until an investigation is completed, “I can’t return the equipment,” which is reportedly a laptop from Wasserman Schultz’s office.

That answer did not satisfy the Florida Democrat.

“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way,” Wasserman Schultz said bluntly, as she told the chief that he should “expect that there will be consequences.”

In the wake of that somewhat jarring verbal exchange, a reporter on Thursday asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Awan investigation.

“I’m really not familiar with what you’re talking about,” Pelosi said.

“We’ve been busy with a lot of other things,” Pelosi added.

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U.S. Capitol Police have released little information about what this probe involves, and who exactly is being investigated.

According to U.S. House spending records, Imran Awan was a shared employee for thirteen different House members in 2016, earning in the third quarter anywhere from as little as $300 from a pair of Democrats to $6,624.99 from another.

Wasserman Schultz paid Awan $5,000.01 for work between July 1 and September 30, 2016.

Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, worked for seven Democrats, plus the House Democratic Caucus, earning close to $44,000 in the third quarter of 2016.

Records also show two relatives of Awan’s on the Congressional payroll: Abid Awan worked for eight different House Democrats, while Jamal Awan worked for eight others – all as ‘shared’ employees.

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Kasich touts book, weighs in on Trump, Nixon, faith, media

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 4:02 PM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 4:03 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida on Friday, May 26, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich weighed in on his former Republican presidential nomination rival Donald Trump at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch on Friday — but he spent more time talking about a pair of encounters he had with former President Richard Nixon.

Kasich spoke to a sellout crowd of about 700 at the Kravis Center to promote his new book Two Paths: America Divided or United. He said America is divided because conservatives and liberals tend to read, watch and listen only to media sources that confirm their points of view.

» John Kasich: ‘I have no clue what I’m doing in 2020’

“Turn off the cable television and go back to bowling,” advised Kasich, who used to host a show on Fox News Network.

He also said people can “live life bigger than themselves” by reconnecting to their faith.

“The beautiful thing about faith (is)…in the next hour we have a chance to do better. And I think we need to come together as a nation again and love our neighbor and spend 10 minutes out of every day reading something that we don’t agree with. It begins to open our minds to other people.”

Kasich told the story, included in his book, of how his persistence as an Ohio State University freshman in 1970 led to him getting a meeting with Nixon in the Oval Office.

Promised five minutes with the president, Kasich said the meeting ended up lasting longer.

» FLASHBACK: After Paris attacks, John Kasich hits U.S. ‘unwillingness to lead’

“The good news is as an 18-year-old I spent 20 minutes in the Oval Office with the president of the United States,” Kasich said. “The bad news is I spent 18 years in Congress and if you add up all the time I spent in the Oval Office, I peaked out at 18.”

Kasich called the Nixon anecdote “a good story for young people because it means dream big. For all of us, dream big, keep asking, just keep doing what you want to do until somebody tells you it’s impossible and then don’t believe that.”

Kasich was asked about Trump during a question-and-answer session. He noted that he didn’t endorse Trump in 2016 or attend the Republican National Convention, even though it was in Kasich’s home state.

“I didn’t do that because I was mad about something,” Kasich said of his refusal to back his party’s nominee.

“It’s just that I’m not going to support people who are putting people down or being negative or not bringing us together. Now that he’s president, of course I root for him as much as I can, just like I rooted for the pilot on the airplane that brought me to Florida. I want them to be successful.”

» RELATED: Kasich gives Trump an ‘incomplete’ grade

As the question segment was winding down, Forum Club President Michelle McGovern told Kasich, “We have at least five people who want to know about your conversation with Nixon.”

So Kasich told the audience about a second conversation he had with Nixon in 1987. Kasich was a House member then and both his parents had just been killed by a drunk driver.

When he told Nixon about losing his parents, Kasich said, “His reaction was amazing. It was like he had been shot. It hit him like a ton of bricks.

“I said, ‘My sister is really struggling. Could you send her a note?’ And he wrote her a handwritten two-page letter that will be put in the Nixon Library at some point. It was just so amazing. And that’s a side of him that we don’t hear about.”

Kasich wasn’t asked about whether he’ll run for president again in 2020 — a possibility he hasn’t definitively ruled out. He said he’s relieved sometimes that he didn’t win in 2016.

“I’m a happy guy,” Kasich said. “I wake up in the mornings sometimes and say ‘Lord, thank you for never letting me have that job.’”