CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 3, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
LEADER ONCE AGAIN: BOEHNER, UNDER FIRE FROM SOME CONSERVATIVES, RE-ELECTED SPEAKER… Republican Rep. John Boehner won another term as House speaker on Thursday despite harsh criticism from some conservatives over his handling of the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. There were a few scattered votes for other names – defeated Rep. Allen West, the tea party favorite from Florida, and GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor both received nods. But the vast majority of Republicans in the House shouted Boehner's name when the time came. In total, 220 Republicans out of a conference of 234 went for the Ohio lawmaker. – Deirdre Walsh and Kevin Liptak
THE NON-BOEHNER FOURTEEN: ELEVEN REPUBLICANS VOTE AGAINST BOEHNER, ONE VOTES PRESENT, TWO ABSTAIN… Rep. Justin Amash voted for Rep. Raul Labrador; Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Rep. Steve Pierce, and Rep. Ted Yoho voted for Minority Leader Eric Cantor; Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Louis Gohmert voted for former Rep. Allen West; Rep. Walter Jones voted for former Comptroller General David Walker; Rep. Tim Huelskamp voted for Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Tom Massie voted for Rep. Justin Amash. Rep. Steve Stockholm voted present, ostensibly a vote against Boehner, and Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mick Mulvaney declined to vote.
When was the last time the House required more than one ballot to elect a speaker?
With so much talk about Democrats changing the Senate rules, we thought it would wise to present this proposal from two Capitol Hill veterans who are experts in Senate procedure, protocol and rules. Lula Davis is the former United States Senate Secretary for the Majority for Democrats and Elizabeth Letchworth is the former United States Senate Secretary for the Minority for Republicans. They are co-owners of Congressional Global Strategy, LLC and make the case that the Senate can be the "greatest deliberative body" again.
"Mr./Madam President, I send an amendment to the desk and ask for its immediate consideration."
The ability for any United States senator to utter this short and simple request has become a rarity in recent years. As two formerly elected officers of the Senate, we thought it might be helpful to provide a short history lesson as to how this request has become rare and then offer a bipartisan way to bring this request back to a more routine status in the Senate.
In the mid 1980's, after the landslide election of President Ronald Reagan, Republicans controlled the Senate. This GOP majority status occurred for the first time in over two-dozen years, but more importantly it was also the largest freshman class in Senate history except for one elected in the 1940's. After a couple of years of Senate service, many of these freshman senators began to worry about their reelection, without the benefit of President Reagan’s coattails. With this in mind, several of these senators began to approach the majority leader and request that he schedule the Senate in such a way as to avoid votes on certain subjects that might make their reelection more difficult. Thus was born the Senate tradition of avoiding tough votes. As the years turned into decades, this "vote protection" has become a prerequisite for those seeking the office of Senate majority leader.
By the 1990s, the minority party began to find clever ways to force votes on issues that they believed might be hard to defend on the campaign trail. …
Numerous years of this scenario playing out multiple times in the Senate, has created the current endless loop of gridlock. Newer members of the Senate have seen this gridlock and endless loop of objections as routine in the Senate. After years of witnessing this gridlock, many in the Senate have come to the conclusion that the Senate is broken ... hence the calls for wholesale changes to the filibuster rule - Rule 22.
What if the Senate agreed, on a temporary basis, to return to the days where the minority had a voice? This scenario could be orchestrated at the beginning of this Congress and last for only the first session of the new Congress. The Senate could grant unanimous consent to agree to a "standing order" which would allow the minority party the opportunity to offer no less than one amendment, but not more than three relevant amendments to each piece of legislation. During this test period, a study could be requested to determine the rate of success of such a temporary agreement. This right would be controlled by the minority leader or his designee, with the subject matter of these amendments having to be disclosed, in writing, as soon as the bill becomes the pending business. "Side-by-side" alternatives could be crafted by the majority and if a super majority of senators didn't want to ultimately vote on the subject of the amendment(s), all the rights under the provisions of Rule 22 would still be in order and used to invoke cloture and render the minority amendment(s) out of order. The Congressional Research Service seems the appropriate entity to conduct the study and could be tasked by a date certain, to report to the Senate leadership, the effect of the temporary agreement. It is our opinion that under this type of scenario, the Senate could once again be entitled to be called "the greatest deliberative body."
To read the full detailed proposal, click here.
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Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Borger column: Fiscal cliff was bound to collapse
So I remember thinking, when Congress and President Barack Obama concocted the supercommittee on the deficit - and the fiscal cliff as a last resort if all else failed - that it was a generally boneheaded, albeit necessary, idea. How silly it all seems now. Of course the supercommittee failed. Why would anyone think that a congressional committee could magically come up with a bipartisan solution that has been so elusive for so long? And of course the fiscal cliff turned out to be a dud. Why would we have thought otherwise? It somehow makes perfect sense that Washington created its own gargantuan hurdle and then crawled around it, with both sides promising to climb the real mountain another day. – Gloria Borger
Leading Drudge: Boehner Hangs On
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was reelected Speaker of the House on Thursday after a week of rumors of a possible GOP revolt. Boehner won a bare majority in a vote that saw nine Republicans vote for other GOP members, and several others who abstained from voting or voted "present." Two years ago, Boehner won all 241 available GOP votes. – Pete Kasperowicz
Leading HuffPo: 'Obama Has Utterly Failed'
President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday, despite his own threat to veto it over prohibitions on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Civil liberties advocates had roundly criticized the bill over Guantanamo and a separate section that could allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens on suspicions of supporting terrorism. Just as he did with last year's version of the bill, however, Obama decided that the need to pass the NDAA, which also sets the armed forces' $633 billion budget for the 2013 fiscal year, was simply "too great to ignore," according to a presidential signing statement released in the early morning hours Thursday. – Matt Sledge and Ryan J. Reilly
Leading Politico: Dems to run against 'chaos' in '14
Democrats, facing a challenging fight to retake the House of Representatives in 2014, see a promising new line of attack rising out of the fiscal cliff follies: casting the Republican congressional majority as a terminally dysfunctional body that cannot perform the basic functions of government, let alone lead the country through difficult times. – Alexander Burns
Leading The New York Times: For Obama, a Victory That Also Holds Risks
For President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress, the fiscal deal reached this week is full of small victories that further their largest policy aims. Above all, it takes another step toward Mr. Obama’s goal of orienting federal policy more toward the middle class and the poor, at the expense of the rich. Yet the deal, which the Senate and the House have passed and Mr. Obama has signed, also represents a substantial risk for the president. – David Leonhardt
The political bites of the day
- Why he voted against Boehner -
FRESHMAN REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE, WHO VOTED FOR CANTOR, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “We lost seats in the House, we lost the Senate, we lost the presidency. I just thought it was time for new leadership. Hey, he won, he is the Republican guy and I am going to be all behind him.”
- Colin Powell? Really? -
MODERATE DEMOCRATIC REP. JIM COOPER RELEASED A STATEMENT ABOUT WHY HE VOTED FOR COLIN POWELL INSTEAD OF PELOSI: “Never have America’s problems looked so big, and Congress looked so small. Since the Speaker does not have to be a member of the House, retired four-star Army General, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell would be a tremendous Speaker of the House. He has a proven ability to work across the aisle and has supported President Obama. He knows about reforming storied institutions like the military, and there is no institution in more dire need of reform than Congress. We need a hero now, more than ever.”
- Members herald the Women of the 113th -
MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “I do think that women are consensus builders, they come to get a job done and I think that nothing is more wholesome for the political or governmental process than the increased participation of women. I honestly believe that.”
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH OF ILLINOIS IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “It (diversity) means that we reflect America more. You know the district where I come from is a very diverse district and it is good to see Congress starting to look more like the rest of America. And you see the demographic shifts that are happening across the country. That’s really happening in the 8h district of Illinois where we are 22% Latino and 13% Asian-American.”
–Reid does not blame Boehner for his facial marks -
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “I should have started, Madam President, by telling everyone that the marks that people see on my face - that has nothing to do with fiscal cliff or the disagreements Speaker Boehner and I had. It’s from being very pale and living in the desert most of my life.”
- Al Gore sees symmetry between Al Jazeera and Current TV -
AL GORE AND JOEL HYATT, COFOUNDERS OF CURRENT TV, IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT TO THE PRESS WEDNESDAY: "We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV. …Current media has built - was built based on a few key goals to give voice to those who are not typically heard, to speak truth to power, to provide independent and diverse points of view, and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera has the same goals and like Current believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
The last time it took multiple ballots to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives was 1923, when it took nine ballots to select Fredrick H. Gillett, a Republican from Massachusetts. Gillett, who up for his third term as speaker, received only 197 votes on the first ballot – leaving him only two votes ahead of Democratic Rep. Finis J. Garrett’s 195 votes.
“In 1923 (68th Congress), in a closely divided House, both major party nominees initially failed to gain a majority because of votes cast for other candidates by members from the Progressive Party, or from the ‘progressive’ wing of the Republican Party,” writes Richard S. Beth and Valerie Heitshusen in a Congressional Research Service report. “Progressives agreed to vote for the Republican candidate only on the ninth ballot, after the Republican leadership had agreed to accept a number of procedural reforms favored by the progressives. Thus the Republican was ultimately elected, although still with less than a majority of the full membership.”
At the end of Gillett’s term, in 1925, he became the senator from Massachusetts. To this day, his is the longest-tenured congressman to be elected to serve in the Senate.
Although a few of the more conservative members of his caucus voted against his bid, John Boehner was re-elected speaker on the first ballot on Thursday. He assumed the gavel in 2010, when the Republicans won a major victory in the midterm elections.
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