CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 27, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
‘BE READY TO TALK SOLUTIONS’: An Obama administration official tells CNN that President Barack Obama spoke briefly with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He said they need to be “ready to talk solutions” at their White House meeting on Friday.
DEADLINE: The president is required by law to issue the sequestration order by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 1, an official from the Office of Management and Budget told CNN’s Jessica Yellin. OMB would transmit the order to Congress.
What seven states we originally covered in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?
Politics can be defined as the fight over scarce resources – in many cases, financial resources. We relish covering the tough choices involved in that struggle between limited funds and political reality. Those choices are in a very public battle right now at the Department of Homeland Security.
As we reported on Tuesday, the department's immigration officials have placed hundreds of detainees on "supervised release" due to budget cuts expected to kick in on Friday. From the department's point of view, it was a tough decision based on financial necessity. The agency said the release was "more cost-effective" and reminded the public that it is continuing to prosecute cases in immigration court and “when ordered, will seek their removal from the country.”
From the White House point of view, it quickly became a political headache. On Tuesday, we highlighted the blistering remarks from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. "It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration.”
Today, an Obama White House official told CNN's Jessica Yellin that the administration and DHS headquarters were caught off guard by the decision, a decision "made by career ICE employees."
The Drudge Report took note, headlining the administration's defense that it was out of the loop with its own view, emblazoned under a photo of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that read: "White House Blames Big Sis for Alien Release."
What's interesting is how quickly the Republican message morphed. At the start of the week, the GOP warned that the White House "was going to try to scare you" with tales of dire forced budget cuts … Now that the GOP found a dire cut of their own, out comes scare tactics over the choices: "There's such outrage over Obama releasing 30,000 criminals, illegal alien criminals. He doesn't have to do that.," Rush Limbaugh told his listeners. Goodlatte warned that “by releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives."
This debate underscores why this product tracks the language of politics as closely as the money behind it.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Justices offer split views on Voting Rights Act enforcement
A predictably divided Supreme Court appeared ready to strike down – at least in part – the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, with many conservative justices on Wednesday suggesting it was a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era. Known as Section 5, it gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities mostly in the South with a history of voter discrimination. – Bill Mears
Leading Drudge: White House Blames Big Sis For Alien Release
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security were unaware of Immigration Customs and Enforcement's decision to release detainees until the agency announced it, administration officials said Wednesday. “This was a decision made by career officials at ICE without any input from the White House, as a result of fiscal uncertainty over the continuing resolution, as well as possible sequestration,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. – Jennifer Epstein for Politico
Leading HuffPo: Back To 1964?
Conservative justices on the Supreme Court expressed skepticism Wednesday about whether the federal government should still be requiring preclearance of voting system changes in certain places with a history of racial discrimination in elections. Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that the continuation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act represented the "perpetuation of racial entitlement," saying that lawmakers had only voted to renew the act in 2006 because there wasn't anything to be gained politically from voting against it. – Ryan J. Reilly
Leading Politico: Sequester countdown: Obama summons Hill leaders
Steep and harsh federal spending cuts kick in Friday. And that’s when President Barack Obama has invited Congressional leaders to the White House to try and resolve the standoff. – Jake Sherman
Leading The New York Times: Spending Cuts Are Only One Skirmish in 2013 Budget Wars
It may be hard to believe, given the intense partisan strafing ignited by the automatic government spending cuts set to begin on Friday, but this year’s budget wars have yet to fully get under way. – Richard W. Stevenson
The political bites of the day
- Bipartisanship? Obama, McConnell honor Rosa Parks at statue unveiling -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: “Rosa Parks' singular act of disobedience launched a movement. The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind. It is because of these men and women that I stand here today. It is because of them that our children grow up in a land more free and more fair, a land truer to its founding creed.”
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL: “We have had the humility as a nation to recognize past mistakes and we've had the strength to confront those mistakes but it has always required people like Rosa Parks to help us get there. ... What a story. What a legacy. What a country.”
- Forget bipartisanship… Republicans slam Obama for political theater, not negotiating -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS: Obama “went to Newport News ... and did a campaign-style event using our men and women in the military as props. Pure and simple. He's traveled over 5,000 miles in the last two weeks doing campaign-style events, trying to drum up support for his actions on the sequester. All he would have to do is drive a mile and a half, sit down with Harry Reid and the Democrats and get to work.”
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “Republicans have been calling for Democrats to work with us on the sequester over and over and over again. We’re still ready to work with them to get something responsible passed, but we can’t do it alone. The president’s party runs Washington. It’s time they got off the campaign trail and started working with us to govern for a change.”
- Colorado governor will support gun magazine limits, dismisses inconvenience for range shooters -
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER OF COLORADO IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS4 IN DENVER: “You put yourself in the shoes of that principal and resource officer running for their lives and trying to save the kids and what’s in their minds; and him just flipping around and he’s got a 30-shot clip. He’s got two 30-shot clips taped together. You’ve got to think, ‘Is the convenience of someone at a target range not having to change their clip quite so often worth the risk to citizens and people in their neighborhoods?’”
- Biden: Ban AR-style rifles because ‘there are so many out there’ -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FIELD AND STREAM MAGAZINE…
F&S: Well, this brings up a common question that we got from a lot of readers, and I’ll use the reader Mike Hooker who asked this: “AR-style rifles, or what are being called assault rifles, are in fact used for many legitimate purposes. What is the reason for banning these popular rifles when, according to the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Report, they are used in fewer than 1 percent of all firearm-related criminal homicides?”
BIDEN: Because there are so many out there, and police don’t want more out there, because they’re being outgunned. That’s the reason why.
F&S: According to the statistics, more handguns are used in crimes.
BIDEN: Well, by the way, that’s true. That’s absolutely true. That’s why we want to limit the clips, the size of the magazine on handguns.
- John Kerry, the funny man. But did he steal his joke? -
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY AT AN EVENT IN PARIS: “I’ll tell you a story about one of the reasons why I am so happy to be doing this and not what I was doing before. I was walking through an airport after I had not. It was a couple years ago and I had run for president, and so a lot of people would recognize me and I was walking through the airport. And when you are in public life, you know, you can see when people recognize you or don’t. You kind of wonder instantly – was that person friendly or is that person coming after me for some vote I cast? And this person, you know, sort of looked at me and I could tell here comes the recognition. But it was different. It was a shout – ‘hey you, hey.’ It was in the airport. ‘Anybody ever tell you you look like that Kerry guy we sent down to Washington?’ And I said ‘yeah, they tell me that all the time.’ He looks at me and says ‘makes you kind of mad don’t it?’
Gut Check Full Service: Sen. John McCain, who also lost a presidential election, tells a similar story at the Washington Ideas Forum, according to the Hill Magazine… McCain said, "I was recently at Sky Harbor and a man came up to me and said, 'Has anyone ever told you that you look like John McCain?'" McCain replied, "Yeah." The man said, "Doesn't that make you mad?"
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Todd Sperry (@toddsperry) February 27, 2013
Pelosi on WH Fri mtg: "we have to think beyond the sequester" & need "something bigger..big, grand and settle the matter for a while."—
Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) February 27, 2013
Jim Messina, campaign manager for Obama 2012, to open consulting firm politi.co/YzQhfh—
Catherine Ho (@WapoCat) February 27, 2013
Audible gasps in SCOTUS's lawyer's lounge when Scalia called Voting Rights Act a "perpetuation of racial entitlement" thkpr.gs/YXQJVp—
ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) February 27, 2013
Is Voting Rights Act in trouble? One expert says Kennedy's questioning signals he could still uphold it: washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-lin…—
Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 27, 2013
ACU chairman clarifies that Chris Christie didn't make the CPAC cut over Sandy relief bill, not gun control: huff.to/WizQtR—
Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) February 27, 2013
From the Dept. of Don't Throw Me in the Briar Patch: By banishing Chris Christie, isn't C-PAC just making making him stronger in NJ?—
David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 27, 2013
From late yesterday, Christie's exclusion from CPAC reflects all that is self-defeating with the GOP bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-2…—
Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 27, 2013
Bloomberg at WH on the special election in IL that he helped swing to a pro gun control candidate: "This is the public speaking."—
Jim Acosta (@jimacostacnn) February 27, 2013
Strains credulity to think that ice releases thousands of illegals and no one there ran it up the food chain. Not even a "heads up"? Hmmm.—
Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) February 27, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 requires any changes to voting laws in certain states be cleared by the federal government. The law, which is aimed at stopping voter discrimination, originally covered all of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, as well as certain counties in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and North Carolina.
In 1975, the law was expanded to include "Alaska, Arizona, and Texas in their entirety and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota," according to the Justice department.
These areas were selected, according to the Justice Department, using a formula that measures restrictions on the right to vote and the percentage of people in each area who are registered to vote. The law was supposed to be temporary, but after a number of extensions by Congress, in 1970, 1975, 1982 and 2006, the law is set to remain in place through 2031.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the provision should be scrapped, as a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era. A Supreme Court ruling is expected by June.
Civil rights groups say Section 5 has proven an important tool to protect minority voters from local governments that would set unfair, shifting barriers to the polls. If it is ruled unconstitutional, they warn that the very power and effect of the entire Voting Rights Act would crumble.
But the provision's opponents counter it should not be enforced in areas where it can be argued racial discrimination no longer exists.
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