Morning Action: Bargaining Over an Unemployment Benefit Extension Continues

BARGAINING.  In exchange for a three-month extension of unemployment benefits with offsets, Republican senators are seeking to repeal $6 billion in cuts to military pensions:

Republican senators are trying to combine their efforts to offset the cost of a three-month unemployment benefits extension with a repeal of $6 billion in cuts to military pensions.

Eight Republican senators held a press conference on Wednesday urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow the Senate to vote on Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s (R-N.H.) amendment as part of the unemployment insurance bill.

Ayotte said Tuesday that the measure would save $20 billion — enough to offset both the $6 billion pension cuts and the $6 billion for a three-month unemployment insurance extension.

OMNIBUS.  Some House conservative are insisting on policy riders in the omnibus, and depending on how negotiations go, lawmakers may opt passing a continuing resolution in place of an omnibus spending bill (sub. req’d):

Politically divisive policy riders appear to be what are tripping up negotiations between the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees and their staffs as they race to finalize a spending package in the days ahead.

Unbowed by criticism from GOP leaders, some conservatives insist they are not backing away from their earlier demands. Several have said they would prefer to see a straightforward continuing resolution at lower fiscal 2013 funding levels, even if that triggers a new round of sequestration. Scalise said the fiscal 2014 wrap-up measure is an omnibus ensures that it won’t be free of policy riders. “The fact that it is an omnibus implies that there will be some policy included,” he said.

“It implies it’s not just going to be a continuing resolution — it’s going to have policy in it. Otherwise you’d just do a CR,” he said. Scalise also wants to see riders limiting “overreaching” agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor.

FARM BILL.  The farm bill debate happening currently in the House highlights the absurdity of centralized government control of agriculture, pitting one special farm interest against others.  Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has come out saying he does not support the dairy program in the farm bill (sub. req’d):

But finding a middle ground on the dairy issue appeared increasingly difficult. House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., the chairman of the conference, said he is reluctant to put a dairy program to a final vote by the full conference for fear of endangering the entire farm bill. The full conference was expected to possibly meet on Thursday, but those plans were scrapped after the four lead conferees talked Wednesday morning.

“Dairy is a real challenge,” Lucas said later Wednesday. “I am dealing with forces that are so diametrically opposed with such intensity, who are operating from positions of personal knowledge and experience. Between your ranking member and your speaker, that’s a tough position to be in a conference committee.” Democratic Rep. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota is the ranking member of the House panel.

The milk problems arose after Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, in a telephone conversation with the lead House conferees on Friday ruled out allowing a dairy supply management program to be part of the final legislation. “The speaker has been clear that supply management will not be in the final farm bill,” a leadership aide said.

Boehner in the past has likened a dairy supply plan to a “Soviet-style” system that would require the federal government to intervene in the marketplace. Some consumer groups also have warned that the plan, which is in the Senate bill (S 954), could increase retail prices in the marketplace and increase the costs of the federal government’s nutrition programs for the poor.

BENGHAZI.  Most Americans believe President Obama and Hillary Clinton “deliberately misled” them on the Benghazi terrorist attack:

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton battles new allegations that she only considered presidential politics in voting against the successful surge of troops to Iraq in 2007, the 2012 Benghazi attackcontinues to haunt her, with a new poll finding that Americans believe the administration “deliberately misled” them on the scandal.

A new YouGov poll found that 44 percent of the public believes “the Obama administration deliberately misled the American people” when the president, Clinton, and others suggested the attack was sparked by outrage over a western movie, not terrorism. Some 30 percent said the administration “shared the facts as they became available,” and 25 percent clocked in at “not sure.”

Worse for Clinton, 40 percent in the just-conducted poll disapproved of her handling of the affair. Just 31 percent approved. In addition, 46 percent disapproved of Obama’s handling of the affair.

BLAME GAME.  Democrats are trying to blame big business for botched Obamacare rollout:

Democrats taking heat back home for Obamacare’s rocky online rollout say don’t blame them — blame Big Business.

Facing an onslaught of constituent frustration over problems with online exchanges, several Democrats have started pointing fingers at the companies and senior executives in their home states that have contracts to get the health care websites up and running.

Democrats have made a version of the argument in Washington in recent months, defending the health care law not only from Republican attacks that it’s a failure — but from the line that government itself can’t do big things.



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