Washington (CNN) – A leading Senate Republican essentially said Sunday that his GOP colleagues are not terribly interested in President Obama’s recent efforts at bipartisanship.
On two key Democratic legislative agenda items, a jobs bill and a comprehensive health care reform bill, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans may not support measures backed by leading Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Late last week, in a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, unveiled a $85 billion jobs bill which observers believed at least some Senate Republicans would have supported. Within hours of the unveiling of the Baucus-Grassley jobs bill, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced his intention to present a much smaller $15 billion jobs bill to the Senate when it returns from an upcoming weeklong recess. The slimmed down Reid version of the jobs bill also contains provisions which Senate Republicans might be expected to support like tax incentives to spur small businesses to hire and buy equipment.
Related: Jobs bill advances . . . or does it?
But, Kyl said Sunday on State of the Union that his fellow Senate Republicans may not back the Reid bill and the Senate Republican Whip made a special point of emphasizing the abrupt way in which the jobs bill has been handled in recent days.
"I respectfully disagree," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on State of the Union when asked about comments by Obama national security adviser James Jones.
Earlier in the program, Jones, who served four decades in the Marine Corps, said he supported the positions of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. Earlier this month, Gates informed Congress that the Pentagon was laying the groundwork for the eventual repeal of the policy and Mullen said it was his personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly "would be the right thing to do."
"I tend to take my lead on things like this from my colleague John McCain," Kyl said. Sen. McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee, has suggested that "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" accommodates the desires of a majority of service members while still allowing gays and lesbians to serve in uniform.
Washington (CNN) – The number two Republican in the Senate said Sunday that his party generally supports President Obama’s recently announced surge strategy in Afghanistan. But, added Sen. John Kyl, by announcing a date to begin to draw down the additional U.S. troops sent as part of the surge, the president had “complicated matters” in the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.
After roughly three months of deliberation, President Obama announced last week that he has ordered 30,000 additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan. As part of the new strategy, Obama also informed the nation and the world that the U.S. would begin to remove those troops in July 2011, depending upon the conditions on the ground in the war-torn country.
Republicans “are supportive of the president,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “They want this mission to succeed very much and we will do everything we can to support his policy.”
But, Kyl quickly added, “I think he has complicated matters by having this firm beginning-of-withdrawal date. He said it is chiseled in stone. But what happens the day after [Obama’s drawdown date] and how many troops come down, I think is the question. And, as long as that’s condition-based, it has a chance of succeeding.
“The reason I said it complicates matters is that in war, will matters. In fact, the whole object of war is to break the will of the enemy to fight.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The chair of the Senate Ethics Committee said Sunday that a preliminary investigation has begun into the conduct of Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign.
Ensign admitted earlier this year to an extramarital affair with a married campaign staffer. A recent report by the New York Times suggests that Ensign went to great lengths to aid the staffer’s husband, who also worked as an aide in Ensign’s Senate office, and, in the process, may have encouraged the possible violation of Senate rules regarding lobbying.
“I can’t discuss this with you other than to say that there’s a preliminary investigation going on,” California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer told John King on CNN’s State of the Union. “And we will look at all aspects of this case as we do whenever there’s a case before us and try to get to the bottom of it as quickly as we can in fairness to all.”
Asked about the specific issues the investigation is looking into, Boxer said she was not permitted by Senate rules to do so.
Asked whether Ensign could serve effectively with an ethics investigation pending, fellow Republican Sen. John Kyl of Arizona said he would “wait and see what happens” with the Ensign investigation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A leading Senate Republican said Sunday that the Obama administration should consider keeping marginal tax rates at current levels in order to help small businesses who may be struggling in the midst of a down economy.
“Don’t allow taxes to go up,” is how Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl responded Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked what the president could do to help with job creation as the national unemployment rates inches closer to ten percent.
“Targeted tax relief for Americans would be the quickest way out of this recession,” Kyl also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “If you, for example, were to ensure that the top marginal rates do not increase, you’ll have small businesses ... be able to invest in their companies [and] hire more people. They are the job creators in the country and I think that will begin to get us out of the recession.”
Kyl rejected two major Democratic agenda items – health care reform legislation and an energy bill that would create a cap-and-trade system for emissions – as viable methods for helping the economy. Kyl said both initiatives, if enacted, would cause the economy to lose jobs.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California disagreed.
Boxer, who recently introduced an energy bill in the Senate, said that legislation intended to deal with climate change and promote American energy independence would result in increased private capital coming into the economy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrats are planning to hit Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl in his home state next week with a new television ad that accuses the Arizona Republican of being out of touch on health care issues - a pitch aimed squarely at women voters.
The 30-second commercial features video of a Senate exchange between Kyl and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. In the clip, Kyl says he doesn't need maternity care, and requiring that coverage in his insurance policy would be unnecessary and expensive. Asked whether he thinks insurance policies should be required to cover pre-natal health care, Kyl's response included an offhand remark that "over 60 years ago, my mom did."
"TELL JON KYL: COVERING MATERNITY CARE ISN'T A JOKE FOR WOMEN," reads the ad's on-screen text.
The TV ad, which is the latest element of the Democratic National Committee's "Call 'em Out" campaign, will begin airing Monday in Tucson and Phoenix. A DNC spokesman calls the buy "open-ended."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Mitt Romney has spent much of 2009 raising money for other Republicans, but the former Massachusetts governor is also working hard to keep his own coffers flush.
Romney collected over $200,000 during a two-day Western swing this week, according to an aide - a total that includes $85,000 raised at a Wednesday event in Phoenix co-hosted by his former Republican presidential primary opponent John McCain.
McCain and his fellow Arizona senator Jon Kyl headlined the event at Chase Bank Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Romney also took in $125,00 from a $1,000-a-plate dinner in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
The money will go to Romney's "Free and Strong America" political action committee, which allows him to maintain a national profile by traveling the country in support of other Republican candidates as he mulls a second presidential bid in 2012.
UPDATE: McCain was not at the Phoenix event but lent his name to the invitation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. John McCain is co-hosting a fundraiser for his former 2008 Republican primary rival Mitt Romney next Wednesday in Phoenix.
McCain and his fellow Arizona senator Jon Kyl will headline the event at Chase Bank Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The fundraiser will benefit Romney's Free and Strong America PAC, and features a $3,000 per person VIP reception along with a $300 per person luncheon.