Entries in Bipartisan (14)


In Tough Districts, Some Democrats Shun Obama to Stay Afloat

Wilson (L) and Tomblin (R). US Senate/Governor's Office, W.Va.(NEW YORK) -- It is nothing new for local politicians to shun unpopular leaders of their parties to remain viable with voters, nor is it so uncommon for elected officials to switch parties when the going gets tough.

But least two Democrats are trying a different approach this election season: actively attacking President Obama.

Take Charlie Wilson, a former Ohio congressman who lost his reelection bid in 2010 to Republican Rep. Bill Johnson. Facing his old foe again this November, Wilson has debuted a new ad that strikes as much at his own party as at his opponent’s.

“Charlie Wilson voted against [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi 105 times,” the narrator says, adding that Wilson also opposed President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Medicare. The ad says Wilson opposed “Obama’s bad trade deals,” and calls Wilson a “true independent.”

Also on the ballot: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, whose first ads are out Monday and squarely distance him from Democrats in Washington.

In one 30 second ad, the narrator says Tomblin’s “conservative financial management” has balanced West Virginia’s budget, “while the federal government can’t stop spending.”

Another attacks Obama’s energy policy.

“Since the day I became governor, I fought the Obama Administration’s war on coal,” it says. “I took them to court, and we won.”

Of course, bucking one’s own party isn’t unique to Democrats this cycle. Earlier this summer Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., drew criticism for donating to the reelection campaign of another West Virginian: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. And in Hawaii Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono, running for Senate, enjoyed the backing of veteran Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, in a televised ad.

“Here’s what’s important, Hawaii,” Young says, seated next to his colleague. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State of the Union 'Date Night': Lawmakers to Sit Together Again

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More than 190 members of Congress will sit with a member of the opposing party Tuesday night, sitting together for the second straight year rather than divided to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in what has casually been dubbed “date night” on Capitol Hill.

Republicans and Democrats have traditionally sat separately on their respective sides of the aisle. But in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona last year, members of Congress teamed up for the first time, projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics.

Following a year that could go down as one of the fiercest and most partisan years on Capitol Hill in recent memory, the proposal for another bipartisan, mixed seating arrangement was envisioned again this year by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., at the one-year remembrance ceremony of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting earlier this month.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” Udall spokeswoman Tara Trujillo said.  “It was a nice moment of bipartisanship last year.  The tradition is more divisive than anything and there’s no reason to continue it.  It helps change the climate at least for a day.”

A more cynical view is that a co-mingled Congress also makes it less obvious to the viewing public that much of Obama's speech will only be met with applause from his own party: no such "date nights" came to be under previous administrations.

On Tuesday night, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who completed her last event as a congresswoman the day before, will sit on the Democratic side between Reps. Jeff Flake, a Republican, and Raul Grijalva, a Democrat.  At last year’s State of the Union address, shortly after Giffords was shot and wounded, Flake and Grijalva flanked an empty seat reserved for the congresswoman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John Boehner: Relationship with Obama Is 'a Little Frosty'

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the struggle between the White House and Congress over how to get Americans back to work has heated up in recent weeks, House Speaker John Boehner's relationship with President Obama has grown "frosty," the Ohio Republican said on Sunday.

But Boehner maintains that they still have a "pretty good relationship" and they can work together on job creation measures and on reaching a long-term deficit reduction plan in Congress this month.

"The president and I have a pretty good relationship," Boehner said in an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour.  "It's been a little frosty here the last few weeks.  But we've got a pretty good relationship."

"That doesn't mean that we always agree," he added.  "But the American people expect, even though we have very different ideas, the American people want us to look for common ground and then act on it. ... We've taken some steps in the right direction here over the last couple of months.  We've got a lot more steps to take together."

While the latest jobs report showed only modest growth, with the unemployment rate dropping slightly to 9.0 percent, little progress has been made in Congress on job creation measures since Obama introduced his American Jobs Act in September.

Boehner cited the recently-passed free trade bills with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea as recent bipartisan actions in Congress, but he said further action on jobs is being stalled by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"We've passed 22 bills, all with bipartisan support, that would help reduce barriers to job growth," Boehner said.  "They all remain in the United States Senate."

Last week, the Senate failed to pass portions of Obama's jobs bill, including bipartisan measures on infrastructure spending, because Democrats pushed to pay for them with a tax on millionaires.

"Over half of the people who would be taxed under this plan are, in fact, small business people," Boehner said.  "And, as a result, you're going to basically increase taxes on the very people that we're hoping will reinvest in our economy and create jobs.  That's the real crux of the problem."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boehner, Cantor Urge Obama to Convene Meeting before Jobs Address

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged President Obama to find common ground with Republicans, asking that he convene a meeting with the top Congressional leadership before his address to a joint session of Congress Thursday “so that we may have the opportunity to constructively discuss your proposals.”

“While we each sincerely believe that our own policy prescriptions for economic recovery are what is best for the country, neither of us is likely to convince the other in a manner that results in the full implementation of those policies,” the duo wrote in a letter to the president Tuesday.  “While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement.  We should not approach this as an all or nothing situation.”

In the letter, Boehner of Ohio and Cantor of Virginia highlighted a number of potential areas for bipartisan agreement, such as the elimination of a law that requires states to set-aside 10 percent of their surface transportation funds for transportation enhancements, which must be used for the establishment of transportation museums, education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists, acquisition of scenic easements, historic preservation and operation of historic transportation facilities, among other things.

“While many of the initiatives funded by this mandatory set-aside may be worthy projects, eliminating this required set-aside would allow states to devote more money to the types of infrastructure programs you are advocating without adding to the deficit,” Boehner and Cantor noted.  “We believe such a reform would be consistent with your statement last week that we should ‘reform the way transportation money is invested, to eliminate waste, to give states more control over the projects that are right for them.’”

Boehner and Cantor also said they are “hopeful” that they can work with the White House to pass three pending free-trade agreements, speed up the permitting process for construction projects and overhaul the unemployment system to aid workers at risk of being unemployed for an extended period of time.

The leaders also urged Obama to support a batch of legislation that has already passed the House and that GOP leaders predict would lead to job creation that has stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.

“Our new majority has passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures to address the jobs crisis.  Aside from repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement in the health care law, however, none of the jobs measures passed by the House to date have been taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate,” Boehner and Cantor wrote.  “Our hope is that both parties can work together in the coming weeks to reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth in our country.”

The White House does not know yet whether Obama will brief Congressional leaders before his jobs speech.

The president has not yet finished working on his speech, and he is not rehearsing it, but he did get considerable work accomplished over Labor Day weekend, according to a White House official.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Van Hollen: Bipartisan Seating Possible Again Next Week

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A scuffle over timing of a presidential speech has marred dreams of bipartisan unity in the coming weeks on Capitol Hill.

But one symbolic statement about the willingness to work together may come together next Thursday, when President Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress -- a day later than he had planned.

Asked on ABC’s Top Line Thursday whether mixed seating -- Democrats next to Republicans -- will be in place like it was in January at the State of the Union address, a top member of House Democratic leaders said he hopes so.

“That last time I sat with a couple of my colleagues from Florida, [Rep.] Connie Mack and some others,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.  “So I thought that was a good example to set.  I hope we will do it again.”

Van Hollen, a member of the Congressional “super-committee” charged with recommending deficit-reduction matters, said the committee is “off to a fine start,” notwithstanding the fact that Democrats and Republicans on the committee have only met separately thus far.

“Things have been coming together,” Van Hollen said.  “The nuts and bolts have to be put together, you have to agree on a hearing schedule, who your witnesses are going to be.  That does take a little bit of time.”

Van Hollen said he hopes President Obama’s proposals aren’t going to be considered “partisan by my GOP colleagues.”

“I think you do need additional investments, stimulus -- whatever you want to call it,” he said, adding that spending on areas such as transportation infrastructure are a “win-win.”

In any event, he acknowledged that the disagreement over timing of the speech didn’t instill confidence in the process.

“Clearly we had an unfortunate back and forth with the date that the president can deliver his speech,” Van Hollen said.  “I’m glad that that was very quickly resolved.  Obviously we were not off to a great start in that respect.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


VP Biden Says Debt Talks Progressing, 'Getting Down to the Real Hard Stuff'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- After emerging from the eighth round of Biden-led deficit reduction negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, negotiators made clear Thursday night that while the bipartisan, bicameral group is making progress, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.

“We’ve made progress on that but any progress on that is contingent on resolving other issues down the road. And I want to emphasize that,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the House Budget committee, said. “Today was primarily going over some of the earlier issues we discussed in a rough way at the beginning of this process.  And trying to pin down where we actually had agreements. And again I want to emphasize this, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

Van Hollen said that everything is subject to be reopened for re-negotiation “if we don’t get agreement on some of the big issues.” Those big issues, the Maryland Democrat added, are still a “long way” away from being worked out.

Thursday’s discussion focused on non-health mandatory spending, which accounts for about 12 percent of the federal budget. But nothing had been agreed to yet, legislators leaving the meeting emphasized.

“We have more do to on that, and we’ve got more to do on the healthcare and more to do on the discretionary,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.

Vice President Biden said there are still differences that have to be bridged and that won’t occur until the end -- a natural result of how the negotiating process works.  The meetings up until now, Biden says, have been about the low-hanging fruit in the areas where they can identify mutual agreement on savings. The tough topics are what is left ahead of the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline to enact a deal.

“We’ve gone through all those discrete elements, and the really tough stuff that’s left are the big ticket items, and philosophically big ticket items,” Biden said.  “Where we are now is we’ve gone through a first series scrub of each of the categories that make up the total federal budget including mandatory spending, and we’ve said if we could agree on the pieces most important to us -- Democrats -- revenue, we’re prepared to agree on some of the things you want in discretionary spending if we can get an agreement on military, we’re prepared to do more on.”

Asked whether he is concerned that if and when this group brokers a deal it might be hard to sell to the rank-and-file members on both sides, Biden said he is not worried and that they won’t agree on anything that they cannot get passed through each chamber with bipartisan consensus.

The group will meet up to four times next week and has been told to take “bigger chunks out of their calendar” for these meetings.

“Now we’re getting down to the real hard stuff,” Biden said as he left the Capitol this evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Highlights 'Same Sense of Unity' Felt After 9/11

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking before a bipartisan group of House and Senate members, President Obama called for the unity felt in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden to be extended to the upcoming debates on Capitol Hill.

“I know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulty of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come,” Obama said from the East Room of the White House. “But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family.”

The president referred to the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in January and the recent storms that swept the South as times when both parties came together.

“Last night was one of those moments," he said. "And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”

The president had scheduled a dinner with bipartisan House and Senate Leadership, Committee Chairs, Committee Ranking Members and their guests, senior administration officials and members of the Cabinet weeks ago because he thought it would be a good opportunity for leaders of both parties and their spouses to spend time together, outside of politics.

“Tonight seems like an especially fitting occasion to do this,” he said. “Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll all have them again in the future, but last night as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden ...”

The president was then interrupted by extended applause and a standing ovation from the members of Congress in the room.

“You know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11," he said when he resumed. "We were reminded again that there’s a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.”

Obama thanked Congress for giving support to the military and the intelligence officials.

“Without your support they could not do what they do,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Senators Introduce Bill to Ensure Military Gets Paid in Event of Shutdown

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan group of senators is now introducing a bill to make sure that members of the military still get paid even if the government shuts down.

The senators leading the effort are Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jim Inhofe and Democrat Bob Casey. Also signing on are Republicans Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski, John Hoeven, Susan Collins & Kelly Ayotte. According to the senators, the Ensuring Pay for our Military Act of 2011 would “make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown” and it would “give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.”

In a paper statement, Hutchison said, "I am not willing to place the well-being of our military personnel and their families in the balance as we await a budget agreement. Our troops are serving our country, and our country must continue to serve them."

Said Casey, “Military men and women put their lives on the line and sacrifice every day to ensure our security. They should not have to worry about getting paid on time.”

"The last concern our service men and women need to have while serving in harm's way is whether or not they can pay their bills - rent, car payments, and food for their families,” said Inhofe. “This country and this Congress has an obligation to care for our military and their families, just as they care for and protect this nation every day.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Bipartisan Lawmakers Targeted for Recall

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Former Democratic Congressman David Obey has launched a push to recall the state's union-busting Gov. Scott Walker.

Obey, considered to be Wisconsin's liberal lion, may be too eager. The Republican governor has been in office for only eight weeks and state law requires that elected officials be in office for at least a year before being eligible for a recall.

Obey claims that despite the law, Walker should be recalled because his attempt to dismantle union protections for state workers is "abusive."

Walker's office fired back Tuesday, saying that Obey's complaint and those of his fellow Democrats is "without merit."

"It's sad that Democrats are obsessed with playing politics rather than helping Governor Walker and the legislature create an environment that will help the private sector create 250,000 new jobs over the next four years," Walker's press secretary Cullen Werwie said in a statement to ABC News.

Walker isn't the only Wisconsin official targeted for recall. In fact, Wisconsin is in the throes of recall mania.

Sixteen Wisconsin state senators -- eight Republicans and eight Democrats -- are the early targets of recall efforts, an unprecedented number in American politics.

The eight Democrats are among the 14 Democrats who fled the state to prevent a vote that would strip unions of negotiating rights, but have been in office for at least a year.

The eight Republicans were targeted for recall because they support Walker's anti-union bill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Sets Lunch Date with GOP Leaders

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will sit down for lunch with three Republican leaders at the White House Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Tuesday. House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will attend the lunch.

Gibbs did not provide specifics on what issues will be discussed during the lunch. When asked for details from a reporter at Tuesday’s White House press briefing, he said that "the president looks forward to discussing all issues foreign and domestic."

"Obviously, without a doubt, there will be a heavy discussion of the economy and spending, and I think the president will have a chance to talk through with them many of the things he outlined in the State of the Union,” Gibbs said.

The lunch comes at a time when President Obama is seen as changing his tone. Monday, the president delivered a speech at the Chamber of Commerce as part of an effort to mend his relationship with big business. The president is also set to release his annual budget next week.

A spokesman in Boehner’s office says the Speaker of the House plans to discuss economic issues with President Obama.

“The Speaker is pleased to have an opportunity to speak with the president about our plans to reduce economic uncertainly and create jobs by cutting spending and breaking down barriers to private sector investment,” the spokesman said.

This will be the president’s first lunch with Republican leaders since they took control of the House after the midterm election.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio