Budget compromise taking shape irks conservatives

BY Christina Bellantoni  December 10, 2013 at 9:40 AM EST

Congressional leaders are headed back to Washington Tuesday to try to finish work on a budget deal so they can go home for the holidays on Friday. Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Quick, what’s the opposite of a grand bargain?

In the end, it’s not going to matter what the budget compromise taking shape is dubbed. The biggest question is whether conservatives will revolt.

Budget Chairs Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan are working furiously to put the finishing touches on a $1 trillion spending measure to be revealed in the next 36 hours, and it’s not sounding like it will make any sweeping changes to how the government taxes and spends.

Early reports suggest the deal, pulled together to avoid shutting down the government, would leave entitlement programs and tax rates as they are. It also would leave in place many of the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester. Spending would be slightly higher than the $967 billion framework initially considered, and it would not, as Democrats had hoped, extend federal unemployment benefits.

The Morning LineRoll Call’s Niels Lesniewski and Emma Dumain break it down:

Each side would get something: Republicans can avoid another messy government shutdown in an election year while softening a new round of defense cuts, and they seem likely to declare victory on the major sticking point: no tax increases.

Democrats will get to restore some of their favored domestic spending programs while they extract at least some small amount of revenue from the GOP — albeit in categories such as spectrum sales or user fees rather than closing tax breaks for the wealthy or corporations.

Wednesday is the last day a bill can be filed and still meet House rules ahead of the Friday deadline. The Hill’s Erik Wasson and Russell Berman report:

Releasing the bill that late in the week could be the best way to cut off a rebellion from the right, and conservatives on Monday were already expressing wariness.

“I’m resigned to the fact that fiscal conservatives always lose at Christmas,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).

For party leaders, voting quickly and at the last minute has an advantage because it leaves less time for activists and lobbyists to attack the compromise.

After all, you can’t key-vote legislation if you haven’t seen it.

But the conservative group Heritage Action already is opposing the possible compromise, and Mulvaney’s comments are likely to be echoed by lawmakers who wanted to cut spending.

Still, Politico’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnehan outline the closed-door negotiations and write that the stars might just be aligned for this deal to get done.

With most of Washington ground to a halt due to a winter storm blanketing the region with snow, the final parameters may not be known until Wednesday.

REMEMBERING MANDELA

Nelson Mandela was revered early Tuesday as a leader and inspiration for the ages, as a host of world leaders and family friends honored the former South African President’s legacy.

President Barack Obama took the stage around 6:30 a.m., calling Mandela someone who inspired people around the globe and asking for a time of self-reflection. “With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?”

Mr. Obama said:

Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.

White House officials told reporters that Mr. Obama did not work on the speech until after Mandela’s death last week. He traveled on Air Force One with former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State HIllary Clinton.

Watch the memorial service here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker has the details that former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta will join the White House as an adviser to help President Obama recover from a rocky Affordable Care Act rollout. Podesta, who led the president-to-be’s transition effort in 2008 and 2009, will be a counselor for a year, Jackie Calmes of the New York Times reports.
  • Texas GOP Rep. Steve Stockman filed to run against Sen. John Cornyn in a March 4 primary just minutes before the deadline Monday night. He’s the latest tea party-backed candidate to attempt to outflank a conservative Republican from the right. Roll Call gets at the surprise move. And Daniel Strauss has a roundup at Talking Points Memo of some of Stockman’s greatest hits, including calls for impeachment. Don’t forget, Cornyn, a former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has a mountain of cash.
  • Vice President Joe Biden will announce funding for mental health initiatives Tuesday at an event tied to the anniversary of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
  • The president signed via autopen a ban on plastic guns.
  • Senators introduced a revised Defense Authorization bill Monday, which does not include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s, D-N.Y., hotly debated proposal to remove the process for addressing military sexual assault from the chain of command or stricter sanctions on Iran. It also leaves in place a prohibition on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on the floor of the Senate, “This is the only practical way to get a defense bill done.” Members of both parties expressed their concern that a defense bill pass before the end of legislative session. “This is the most important obligation that the Congress of the United States has,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
  • With the Senate set to get moving on nomination votes following the nuclear option rule change last month, Majority Leader Harry Reid attempted to push through dozens of administration appointees, but Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander used a procedural tactic to block Reid.
  • The Supreme Court heard a case Monday about a pilot who’s at odds with the airline he worked for. The case is about the Aviation and Transportation Security Act — the post-9/11 “see something, say something” policy — and how far the law goes to protect people who report threats. Robert Barnes of the Washington Post has more here.
  • Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., announced Monday that he plans to introduce legislation to address the gathering of mobile phone data, following an investigation showing law enforcement filed one million requests for cell phone data in 2012. “We need a 4th amendment for the 21st century,” the senator said in a statement. The NewsHour examined the controversy over surveillance programs with Brad Smith of Microsoft.
  • Could Virginia’s GOP-controlled state House actually decide the in-a-recount attorney general’s race?
  • A Nebraska House candidate who once excited Democrats has now backed out of a race against GOP Rep. Lee Terry.
  • Northern Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican, gets a challenger.
  • Roll Call tees up the comeback congressional campaigns.
  • Politico’s Seung Min Kim looks at how immigration reform advocates are moving from polite advocacy to “all-out harassment mode.”
  • Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson lost $18 million in a fraud scheme, court papers show.
  • Local council member Kelly Westlund is challenging GOP Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. And the liberal group Progressive Change Campaign Committee made Westlund its first general election endorsement of 2014, calling her an economic “populist.”
  • Star Trek legend George Takei picked sides in the Hawaii Democratic primary battle.
  • Sarah Palin will host a new Sportsman Channel show.
  • Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., underwent successful gall bladder surgery on Monday. According to a statement from his office, Kirk’s doctor “expects a quick recovery.” Kirk suffered a stroke in January 2012 that required him to take a months-long leave of absence from the chamber.
  • Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin again will chair the Democratic Governors Association in 2014. Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana also will take leadership roles.
  • Members of the evangelical community are pushing former Arkansas Governor-turned-television personality Mike Huckabee to run for president once more.
  • Salon’s Brian Beutler calls members of Congress whiners and hypocritical for the fight over Capitol Hill staff enrolling in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest and three years probation after pleading guilty to one felony charge of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor charges of battery. The Democrat resigned after multiple complaints of sexual harassment.
  • 21-year-old Tulane University student Jeramey Anderson turns 22 on Friday and to celebrate he is being sworn into the Mississippi House of Representatives as the youngest member of a legislative body.
  • Politics, of all things, has created a divide between the widow of U.S. Rep. Bill Young and his son.
  • Shelby County, Ala., which won its challenge to parts of the Voting Rights Act last year, gutting the law, is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to reimburse it $2 million in legal fees. The Dallas Morning News also published an update on how Congress has tried to restore the part of the law that the court invalidated, to little success.
  • Satanists would like to erect a monument — perhaps something involving a pentagram or an interactive display for children — on the Oklahoma Statehouse steps.
  • Friend of the NewsHour Stu Rothenberg listed his “Best and Worst of Politics in 2013.”
  • The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson details what your grocery store says about your politics.
  • In case you missed it, Mr. Obama became the first president to acknowledge the existence of Area 51.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Gwen Ifill got an update from David Herszenhorn of The New York Times about what’s going on behind the scenes in the Ukraine, and the outlook for a solution to end the civil crisis there. They also discussed how the United States has reached out to the government to urge caution.
  • Northeastern University economist Barry Bluestone told Paul Solman about the day President Reagan’s labor secretary admitted he was wrong about inequality.
  • Don’t miss Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with rock legend and lifetime achievement honoree Carlos Santana.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katelyn Polantz, Aileen Graef, Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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