Morning Action: President Obama to Talk to John Boehner on Immigration

IMMIGRATION.  President Obama will talk to House Speaker John Boehner on immigration (sub. req’d):

[President Obama] plans to personally press Speaker John A. Boehner to act.

“Some of you saw that there was an interesting election yesterday,” he told donors at a fundraiser this evening. “And it’s interesting to listen to the pundits and the analysts, and some of the conventional wisdom talks about, oh, the politics of immigration reform seem impossible now. I fundamentally reject that. And I will tell the Speaker of the House that he needs to reject that,” Obama said.

OBAMACARE.  According to a new survey, employers still fear the costs of Obamacare:

Most employers are worried the Affordable Care Act will have a detrimental affect on their business and raise their health insurance costs this year, according to a new survey.

study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) of some 700 human resources and benefits professionals found more than half of employers are concerned ObamaCare will have a negative effect on their company and 90 percent expect the law to increase their cost of covering health insurance for their employees.

HTF.   Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 5% is working to encourage her Senate colleagues on the Senate Finance committee to come up with a long-term solution to keep the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent (sub. req’d):

Finance Committee members say they’re looking for a short-term patch, which would keep the fund solvent beyond July, when it is expected to run out of cash to reimburse states.

A short-term patch, although it appears to be the most likely solution, will not satisfy Democrats including Boxer, D-Calif., who say that states and local governments need the certainty that only a long-term funding solution would provide. This suggests that Democrats could find themselves at odds with one another once the Finance Committee releases its plan to shore up the trust fund.

“You’re not going to build any kind of road projects or any real transit project if you just had a short-term patch so I don’t see that happening,” she said.

The Environment and Public Works Committee last month marked up a full six-year transportation authorization bill ( S 2322 ) under Boxer’s supervision. But the committee did not have to come up with a funding solution, making its work easier.

TAX BILLS.  The House is debating and voting on two tax bills today, H.R. 4453 and H.R. 4457.

HAGEL.  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel evaded questions during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Bowe Bergdahl case:

The first question concerned the background of the five Taliban commanders traded by theObama administration for the release of Bergdahl. Hagel sought to downplay the threat posed by freeing the five. “They’ve been in U.S. custody at Guantanamo …12, 13 years, but they have not been implicated in any attacks against the United States,” he said.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) 55% asked Hagel about evidence that they were involved in hostilities at some point.

“Yes,” Hagel agreed. “They were mid- to high-ranking members of the Taliban. So yes, they were part of planning. But my point was, we have no direct evidence of any direct involvement in direct attacks on the U.S. or any of our troops. They were part of the Taliban — yes, they were combatants.”

No direct evidence of any direct involvement in direct attacks. By throwing in so many directs, Hagel was engaging in some serious hedging, and Thornberry clearly caught what was going on. Whatever being directly involved means, he asked, they were certainly involved in some way, weren’t they? “Your point was, they didn’t pull the trigger, but they were senior commanders of the Taliban military who directed operations against the U.S. and its coalition partners,” Thornberry said.


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