Morning Action: Fighting Corporate Special Interests in DC

NEEDHAM.  Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein interviewed Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham:

It’s become popular lately in Washington to declare that the Tea Party is dead and its influence within the Republican Party is waning. But Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action who helped orchestrate last year’s effort to defund President Obama‘s health care law, insists “it’s stronger now then it ever has been.”

Watch him explain why in the latest episode of “Dialogue with Philip Klein.” In the video above, Needham discusses his efforts to get Republicans to embrace the populist appeal of the Tea Party over corporate special interests. Needham says this is a necessary part of implementing a broadconservative policy agenda in areas such as taxes and health care.

Watch the video of the interview here.

AMNESTY.  CQ reports on Heritage Action’s opposition to tacking the ENLIST Act onto the NDAA (sub. req’d):

An effort to legalize illegal immigrants who join the military sputtered weeks ago in committee when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon declined to put it in his defense-authorization bill. But Heritage Action sent out word Wednesday the proposal better stay dead.

The advocacy arm of the right-leaning Heritage Foundation announced it would key vote against the National Defense Authorization Act if the ENLIST Act is added as an amendment.

Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Needham called the proposal “amnesty.”

“Advancing an amnesty-first agenda on the backs of our brave men and women in the military is deplorable,” he said in a statement. “The ENLIST Act creates radical and perverse incentives that will have a negative impact on our military and our immigration system.”

BENGHAZI.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 14% is undecided about whether Democrats will participate in the Benghazi panel (sub. req’d):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she remains undecided about whether to allow Democrats to participate in the special committee investigating the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, telling CNN she is unconvinced Republicans will conduct the probe fairly.

“We’ll see. I mean, the point is we want to show . . . how unfair this process is,” she said on “The Situation Room,” when asked whether she would appoint members. “I think what they have in mind is to control the documents, to control the witnesses, come to their own conclusions. We’ll have to make a decision about what the best way is to showcase their unfairness.”

UI.  It remains to be seen whether President Obama will continue to pressure John Boehner to pass an unemployment benefits extension (sub. req’d):

Obama and his lobbying arm, Organizing for Action, have urged supporters to call members of Congress and ask them to pass an unemployment extension, but so far he doesn’t appear to have taken his own advice.

Last week, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez sent Boehner a letter offering to meet and negotiate an unemployment extension, but nothing appears to have come of that, either.

A GOP House leadership aide dismissed the letter in an email.

“Secretary Perez’ ‘offer’ was basically, ‘Hey, enact the whole White House domestic agenda – including UI, comprehensive immigration, and the President’s version of tax reform – and we’ll call it a “deal” – OK?’ It was completely unserious. Boehner has been clear since before Christmas about what we would need to see from the White House — and they are just not acting.”

HIGHWAY BILL.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highway bill (S 2322) scheduled to be marked up Thursday (sub. req’d):

For years, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has been crusading in the Senate to pare back federal highway funding for bicycle paths, pedestrian walkways and other transportation alternatives.

Meanwhile — his state’s largest city has embarked on an ambitious plan to build 28 new bike trails in 25 years.

Provisions in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highway bill (S 2322) scheduled to be marked up Thursday would promote such local bicycle and pedestrian projects by steering a greater share of transportation alternative funds directly to metropolitan planning agencies — bypassing state transportation departments more interested in building highways.

The Heritage Foundation discusses the bill here.

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