Friday, November 05, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Breifing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

 Today In Washington

Cold Comfort for Democrats. This morning’s modestly optimistic October jobs report showed the $10 billion in education aid the Democratic Congress sent the states this summer was starting to reap benefits: public school payrolls rose in October for the first time in six months, after 56,000 positions were eliminated in September. There are still 200,000 fewer teachers now than at the pre-recession peak of July 2008, though.
 
Unemployment stayed the same, as expected, at 9.6 percent. But the total number of jobs across the country rose by 151,000, the first increase since May, and private payrolls also went up more than expected, by 159,000, the biggest hike since April. That indicator has ticked up each month this year, after falling in 23 of the 24 months in 2008 and 2009.

When the Going Gets Tough – Go Abroad. Obama is off today on a 10-day Asian trip, including the G-20 summit in South Korea and a gathering of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders in Japan.

Such trips are planned months, even years, in advance. Still, Obama follows a tradition of presidents getting out of the country — and fast — whenever their party takes a drubbing in a midterm. Ford flew off to Japan, South Korea and Moscow soon after the Watergate bloodbath of 1974. Reagan criss-crossed Central and South America after his party lost 26 House seats in 1982. Clinton lost no time in jetting off to Asia after his party lost Congress in 1994. Bush in 2002 stayed home after a midterm when the GOP majorities grew in both chambers. But four years later, when the Democtats took over Congress, he promptly left on a seven-nation tour through Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East and East Asia.

A Sign of Flexibility on Taxes? In a break from his past statements on the issue, Obama yesterday talked about extending the tax cuts for middle-income families that are set to expire at year’s end — but he did NOT express opposition to also extending the upper-income tax rates. This might be the first sign that the White House is ready to bend to the new power structure in the capital. The president will be back from Asia in time to meet with Hill leaders on Nov. 18. That’s when he hopes to carve out his agenda for the lame duck that will get under way that week, then reconvene after a week off for Thanksgiving.

Is the Tsunami Over? Three days post-voting, Republicans are holding at 60 more seats in the House and six more in the Senate, as the handful of close races settled yesterday all fell to the Democrats. Most prominent among them was in Washington, where Democrat Patty Murray was declared the winner of her fourth Senate term.

One Senate and nine House contests remain up in the air. The counting of absentee ballots in Alaska, which will decide Republican Lisa Murkowski’s fate, will begin next week.

Republicans still have decent chances to pick up three more House seats: In the Chicago suburbs, Melissa Bean is trailing tea party candidate Joe Walsh, who had been written off months ago, by 365 votes with about 4,000 provisional ballots to be counted. In upstate New York, Dan Maffei trails Republican Ann Marie Buerkle by 659 votes and only the generally pro-GOP military and absentee votes still need to be counted. Along the Gulf Coast of Texas, 28-year veteran Solomon Ortiz is behind out-of-nowhere Republican Blake Farenthold by about 800 votes; a recount looms there.

In California, David Harmer may yet get close enough to second-term Democrat Jerry McNerney to demand a recount. But Democrats Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, Jim Costa in California, Ben Chandler in Kentucky, Gerry Connolly in Virginia and Rick Larsen in Washington will very likely survive.

Lame Ducks and Leaders. By custom, candidates in such contested races are invited to the caucuses where House leadership elections are held — which means some people who end up never getting to Congress have a say in picking party leaders.

Conventional wisdom is building that Pelosi has decided she wants to stay in the House Democratic leadership and will announce her candidacy for minority leader, a move that could cause a deep and public rift in the caucus. As Roll Call first reported yesterday, she’d be challenged by the much more conservative Heath Shuler, who survived the GOP wave in his western North Carolina district with only 54 percent. He says the party can win its way back into the House majority in 2012 only if it’s run with centrists like him in mind. But liberals like Pelosi will make up a much higher percentage of the Democratic caucus next year than they did before the election, so she would have a strong base on which to campaign.

On the GOP side, a leadership race that blossomed yesterday could split the really conservative House members from the really, really conservative ones. The former camp will want leadership-backed Jeb Hensarling of Texas, a past leader of the most conservative coalition in the House to become chairman of the Republican Conference. But the tea party crowd will be rallying around one of their few genuine congressional heroines, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

— David Hawkings, editor

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Editor's Picks From The CQ Roll Call Newsroom

Roll Call: Pelosi Acts as if She's Staying

The outgoing Speaker is remaining mum. But those who know her best, at the Capitol and on K Street, think she wants to become minority leader so she can help Democrats try and win back the House in 2012. » View full article

Roll Call: Meet the Incoming Speaker's K Street Insiders

Boehner may be the leader of at least 84 new House GOP freshmen, many of whom owe their election to being proud political outsiders. But after two decades in Washington he's played golf, shared a smoke and poured a drink with almost every burrowed-in operative in town. » View full article

CQ Today: McConnell Vows Fights on Health Care, Spending

The Senate minority leader, who says his main goal for the next two years is to prevent a second Obama term, is only solidifying his post-election position as the leader of the Republican roadblock. » View full article

CQ HealthBeat: Conservatives: Health Law Changes Difficult to Enact but Debate Important

Right-leaning wonks said Wednesday that it's worth trying to rewrite portions of the overhaul. And they say a few factors — including the influx of new GOP governors and some possible revisions to the cost estimates for the law — might be in their favor. » View full article

CQ Today: White House Signals Openness to Extending Upper-Income Tax Cuts

The president made an important, if understated, overture to the ascendant Republicans before heading off to Asia. » View full article

Congress.org: Liberals look to lame duck

Advocates for jobless benefits, gay rights, and immigration are pressuring Democrats to pass bills in the lame duck. » View full article

Roll Call: Rangel Could Be His Own Lawyer

After a split with his logtime counsel, the New York Democrat could have to rely on his own legal skills at his impending House ethics trial. » View full article
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David Hawkings
dailybriefing@cqrollcall.com

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

 Today In Washington

Up in the Air. The winners of a dozen congressional seats are unclear two days after the voting. Two Senate races almost certainly won’t be decided this week, because of the mail-in system in Washington (incumbent Patty Murray vs. former GOP state Sen. Dino Rossi) and the need to hand-count the 40 percent of Alaska ballots cast for write-ins. Some of them won’t be for GOP incumbent Lisa Murkowski; her detractors recruited people to write in some similar-sounding names.

Of the 10 House seats still undecided, Republicans have decent pickup chances in three: the Jim Costa seat in California, the Illinois seat of Melissa  Bean and the Texas seat of Solomon Ortiz. The others, all involving Democratic incumbents who appear to have decent shots of prevailing in the end, are Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, Jerry McNerney in California, Ben Chandler in Kentucky, Dan Maffei in New York, Gerry Connolly in Virginia and both Adam Smith and Rick Larsen in Washington.

Sober Spin. House Speaker-to-be John Boehner’s generally somber tone reflects some of the more sour notes for the GOP in Tuesday’s exit polling. Party leaders are working to dissuade fellow Republicans from calling this a “wave” election, which they think suggests some positive surge in favor of their side. In fact, polling showed the GOP with essentially the same “unfavorables” as the Democrats — and voters signaled they remain impatient and will be more than willing to throw out the new guys again in two years. The best news for Republicans may be their victories in so many governor and statehouse races, which means  redistricting maps next year that could lock in many of the GOP House gains for a decade.

Waiting for Pelosi. It’s by far the biggest shoe to drop in the post-election fallout at the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi is under intense pressure from within her own ranks to reveal whether she’ll seek to stay on as minority leader, leave the leadership or resign her San Francisco seat altogether. The smart money is on option No. 2, and for announcement by the end of the week.

The arresting images on election night — revealing herself to be crestfallen, at last, after so many months of upbeat rhetoric and unwavering smiles — were followed yesterday by a Pelosi in total hunkered-down mode. To avoid the media throng, she took a circuitous staircase-and-elevator detour down through the Capitol basement to get between her second-floor office and another room — which was just a few yards down the hall.

Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, the majority leader for the past four years and Pelosi’s rival in the top echelons of ambitious Democrats for two decades, said he wanted to become minority leader next year “if the Speaker doesn’t run.”

Leadership Maneuvers. Pete Sessions of Texas wants to be rewarded for his success as chairman of the House campaign organization with a promotion to majority whip. But he’s likely to be persuaded to stay on at the National Republican Congressional Committee so that Kevin McCarthy of California can take the No. 3 job. McCarthy, who just got elected to his third term, was an architect of the “Pledge to America” campaign agenda and also ran candidate recruiting at the NRCC this cycle.

There probably will be a contest for the position of vice chairman of the Republican Conference, where incumbent Kathy McMorris Rogers of Washington will be fending off challenges from Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Unless, that is, Blackburn decides to make an uphill run for chairman of the conference. In the jockeying for that job, Jeb Hensarling of Texas seems to have lined up all the endorsements he needs to succeed Indiana’s Mike Pence, who’s leaving the position to focus on running for president.

All but three House committee chairmanships seem set. Jerry Lewis of California and Harold Rogers of Kentucky both want Appropriations. Both are old-school earmarkers who would have minimal automatic appeal to the incoming insurgents. To try to change that, Rogers joined Lewis yesterday in endorsing the idea of continuing the party’s restrictions on those parochial pet projects.

Fred Upton of Michigan and John Shimkus of Illinois are both going after Energy and Commerce. So is the incumbent top Republican, Joe Barton of Texas, but his “apologizing” to BP at the height of the Gulf oil spill this summer has made him a non-starter in Boehner’s view.

And California’s Ed Royce said this morning that he’d try and become chairman of the   Financial Services Committee instead of the top Republican now, Spencer Bachus of Alabama, who faces the perception that he’s ineffectual.

In the Senate, the top leadership teams on both sides are set — and unchanged. There was talk before the election that, even if Harry Reid survived in Nevada, he’d be such damaged goods that he couldn’t stay on as majority leader. That talk has totally disappeared.

2012 Hit List. The next congressional election is 733 days from now. But even in their celebratory state, House GOP campaign operatives already are targeting districts for next time: The remaining dozen (at most) that will be in Democratic hands for the next two years even though they preferred John McCain for president in 2008. (The election wiped out at least 37 Democrats who had been holding McCain districts.)

Two of the McCain-district Democrats are in races still too close to call: Giffords and Chandler. The other 10: Jason Altmire, Mark Critz and Tim Holden in Pennsylvania; Dan Boren in Oklahoma; Jim Matheson in Utah; Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler in North Carolina; Collin Peterson in Minnesota; Nick Rahall in West Virginia; and Mike Ross in Arkansas.

There will be 21 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2012, but only five of them represent states McCain carried. They, too, will be on the top of the GOP hit list: Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jon Tester of Montana and the just-elected-to-a-partial term Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Never Mind. So much for the year of the woman. If both Murray and Murkowski hold on, there will be a net gain of just one woman senator, Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, for a new total of 18. If both Bean and Giffords prevail, there will still be  a net loss of two women in the House, for a new total of 75 — or 17 percent.

Out with a Bang. The Capitol will really get buzzing on Monday, Nov. 15, when the freshmen-elect show up for orientation and  the lame-duck session begins. At the same time they’re trying to figure out their posture as the minority party next year, House Democrats must decide how aggressive they want their agenda to be for their final weeks in control. Pelosi’s style suggests she’ll want to try and go out with a legislative bang, but her shell-shocked troops are decidedly against that idea.
This morning, Obama invited top congressional leaders to the White House on Nov. 18 to discuss plans for the lame duck.

Birthday Song. House Republicans have long been scheduled to nominate their next candidate for Speaker, and elect other leaders, on Wednesday, Nov. 17 — by amazing coincidence, the 61st anniversary of when Mary Ann Boehner gave birth to her second child in Cincinnati.

And so you can count on hearing, through the closed doors of the Cannon Caucus Room, at least one rousing rendition of the quick ditty that Boehner himself likes to sing on such occasions. To the tune of that vaudeville standby “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,” it goes like so: “This is your birthday song. It does not last too long. Hey!”

Starting Gun. It’s a thrill to be able to start  pointing readers to some of the best work my CQ Roll Call colleagues are doing each day. 

 — David Hawkings, editor

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Editor's Picks From The CQ Roll Call Newsroom

CQ Today: Voters Put GOP in Control, but on a Short Leash

Republicans are tamping down expectations about a conservative revolution, saying their only course (unless the president reaches out to find compromise) will be to block the Obama agenda. » View full article

Roll Call: Boehner's Return: Republican Leader Sees Hard Work Ahead for GOP Majority

Why John Boehner is taking a decidedly somber tone as he starts preparing to become the 53rd Speaker of the House. » View full article

Roll Call: Democrats Left Idling as Pelosi Decides Next Move

The creation of a new Democratic order in the House is on hold until the outgoing Speaker decides what she'll do next » View full article
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Contact The Editor

David Hawkings
dailybriefing@cqrollcall.com

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» CQ Floor Video   » CQ BillTrack   » CQ Hot Docs
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» CQ Weekly   » CQ Amendment Text   » CQ LawTrack
» CQ Today   » CQ HealthBeat   » See all CQ Roll Call
   products

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Monday, November 01, 2010

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com

Edited by Arwen Bicknell | Email the editor

In This Issue

  • CQ Daily Briefing Begins Thursday
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate is not in session.

The President is in meetings at the White House.

In Washington, all is quiet on the eve of the election, as lawmakers prepare to head to the polls tomorrow.

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Top Stories

CQ Daily Briefing Begins Thursday

Effective Thursday, Nov. 4, your CQ Today Midday Update subscription will change to receive the "CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing." This daily newsletter from editor David Hawkings will arrive in your inbox from sender dailybriefing@newsletters.cqrollcall.com . Please update your address book accordingly to ensure timely delivery.
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