Entries in House Democrats (11)


House Dems Want to "Fire" Republicans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Considering the high unemployment rate, Democrats have chosen a curious message for GOP House incumbents: You’re fired.

At a press conference with top-tier Democratic candidates on Friday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel unveiled “pink slips” to be handed out by Democrats in their districts, saying they will “fire” Tea Party lawmakers.

“They came to work, and they hardly worked, and when they did, they worked for the wrong people,” Israel said of the freshman GOP House class, speaking at a podium labeled “FIRE the Tea Party Republican Congress.”

“When you do damage on the job, you get fired. When you don’t perform, you get fired,” Israel said. Pointing to Congress’s 13 percent approval rating, he added, “I ran a small business. If one of my employees was right only 13 percent of the time, I’d fire them.”

Other Democrats echoed Israel’s comments, telling reporters that it’s time for Republicans to “get the pink slip,” citing national issues like women’s health and business tax loopholes.

Republicans used a similar messaging campaign in 2010, when the Republican National Committee ran a “Fire Pelosi Bus Tour,” aimed at turning races across the country into referendums on then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic House majority.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


A Dozen House Dems Urge Obama to End Bush-Era Tax Cuts for Rich

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A dozen House Democrats wrote a letter to President Obama Friday expressing “serious concerns about the direction of negotiations regarding federal spending,” and called on the president to include an end to the Bush-era tax cuts for the country’s wealthiest earners as part of a bipartisan deal to increase the debt limit.
“Our nation’s most respected economists and business leaders agree that we need a long-term solution to our budget deficit coupled with responsible choices about investing in rebuilding and renewing our economy in the short term,” the letter reads. “We urge you to push for a fiscal 2012 budget deal that makes responsible short-term choices that do not threaten our fragile recovery.”
“We also urge that this deal provide a long-term fiscal solution that includes an expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- a step which, by itself, will stop the growth of the deficit over the next decade,” the letter adds.
Last December, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then-House Minority Leader John Boehner struck a deal to extend the tax cuts through the end of 2012.

Earlier this spring, Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead negotiations with a select group of lawmakers from each of the four caucuses and conferences. Over the past few months, the vice president has held five meetings, either at the Capitol or at the Blair House near the White House.

The Treasury Department says that lawmakers have until August 2nd before the US. government defaults on its credit if negotiators are unable to strike a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion statutory debt limit.

In the letter, the group warns “that sharp immediate cuts in government spending risk plunging our economy into a double-dip recession that will cost further jobs and ultimately worsen our fiscal situation.”
The letter is signed by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Jim Moran, John Olver, Michael Honda, Luis V. Gutierrez, Jim McDermott, Lynn Woolsey, Donna Christian-Christensen, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gwen Moore, John Conyers, and Barbara Lee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hoyer: House Dems Want 'Substantial Drawdown' of US Troops in Afghanistan

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Despite calls from top military commanders, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for a more gradual drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., says House Democrats want to see “significant, substantial drawdown” in the region.

Speaking on ABC’s Top Line webcast, Hoyer said that his caucus wants "to see the drawdowns begin this summer to be more significant than the numbers that were being talked about." While Hoyer is known as one of the more moderate members of the Democratic caucus, he joined 177 of his Democratic colleagues and 26 Republicans in supporting an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have required a speedier withdrawal from the country. The amendment was defeated by a narrow 215-204 vote.

More Hoyer: "I think Democrats want to see and what I think the American people want to see is a shift from the U.S. playing the dominating role in Afghanistan to a significant and early transfer of responsibility to the Afghan people and certainly I think the end of the year, a significant, substantial drawdown would accommodate that objective."

On the domestic front, Hoyer said he’s “optimistic” that a deal can be reached with Republicans on legislation that would raise the debt ceiling.  But, Hoyer said, “if there’s going to be an acceptable deal,” it needs to deal with “significant reductions in spending” as well as “revenues” (otherwise known as taxes).

“The Republicans have said they don't want to look at revenues,” said Hoyer, “but I think that ultimately if there's going to be an acceptable deal that will be part of it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are US Nuclear Plants Safe? Leading House Dem Weighs in

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, among others, is standing by his support for expanding the use of nuclear power in the United States, despite events in Japan that have exposed the potential for catastrophic fallout at a nuclear power plant.

But some leading members of Congress aren't so sure.

On ABC’s Top Line Wednesday, Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House energy committee, said he doesn't believe industry assurances that U.S. facilities are safe and secure, and said the government should at least learn the lessons of the Japan crisis before green-lighting any new plants.

Asked if he's sure that U.S. nuclear plants are safe, Waxman said: "I can't reach that conclusion -- nor can anybody at this point. We've got to learn why it happened in Japan the way it did. We've got to learn from that whether we're equipped to handle whatever catastrophe may occur."

"The industry tells us to relax, we're okay. I wouldn’t take anything like that at face value,” said Waxman (D-Calif.) "We're talking about gigantic consequences to the public health and safety if there's a nuclear catastrophe. So we've got to make sure that the existing plants that we have now have all the state-of-the-art plans for failsafe to encounter a greater earthquake, a greater tsunami, a terrorist attack, whatever the case may be."

"We have to have a lot of concern about what's happening in Japan. Japan is an industrial, first[-world] country, capable of designing the most technologically able nuclear equipment. And yet they're looking like Chernobyl or close to it at the moment."

"We hope things will get under control quickly, but their plants are modeled exactly on ours. So we need to learn why this happened in Japan and whether we should put as much of our hopes for our energy future in the bag of nuclear energy."

At the very least, the crisis should prompt a reexamination of safety procedures and policies, he said.

"It would be a mistake to move forward with nuclear facilities without learning the lessons from Japan. I don't know whether there needs to be a moratorium, because that could stop some that are almost ready to go online. But we need to make sure that all of them have all the failsafe to deal with whatever emergency may come about."

The crisis in Japan serves as a reminder for why the US needs a balanced energy portfolio, Waxman said.

"We can continue to rely on nuclear, but I don't think we ought to put all the eggs in one basket. We've got to move toward renewables and efficiency and put a price on carbon so we move away from coal and oil, especially because of the national security consequences of our reliance on foreign oil." Critics have warned that many of the regulations that Waxman favors, such as so-called "Cap and Trade" regulations, would hit Americans square in the wallets and hobble an already-struggling American economy.

Waxman also issued an endorsement -- though clearly a self-interested one -- of Sarah Palin in 2012: "I think she'd be a terrific Republican nominee," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Passes Bill Repealing Health Care Law 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After two days of lively debate, the House of Representatives Wednesday voted to repeal the health care law, even as Democrats and Obama administration officials used the renewed debate to highlight its benefits.

On Thursday, the House will hold another vote calling on four committees to begin work on crafting a replacement bill that will yank some of the most contentious parts of the bill, such as the changes to Medicare Advantage and the requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance by 2014. In nearly two days of debate, Republicans argued against the idea that the bill would create jobs and cut costs, while Democrats touted the benefits of the new law and the negative impact on Americans were it to be repealed.

The bill has little chance of being taken up in the Democratically-controlled Senate, but GOP lawmakers said their vote was still important.

"This is not symbolic. This is why we were sent here," Rep. Michelle Bachman, R-Minn., founder of the Tea Party caucus said on the House floor Wednesday.

The House Republican leadership instead challenged the Senate Democratic leadership to bring it up for debate.

But President Obama is unlikely to sign any bill that would repeal the $1 trillion health care law.

"I'm willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can't go backward," the president said in a statement Tuesday.

A majority of Americans continue to oppose the law, which will bring a myriad of changes to the U.S. health care system in the next few years.

Forty-six percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, released Tuesday, think the law is likely to cut jobs, eight points more than those who think it will create them. Even more, 54 percent, think the law is more apt to hurt than help the economy, and 62 percent see it as increasing rather than decreasing the federal deficit.

Yet, most Americans do not want to see the law repealed. Only 37 percent of those polled favored repealing all or parts of the law. The rest either support it, or want to wait and see its effects.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Delays Tax Cuts Vote, But Vote Still Possible Thursday

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team worked Thursday afternoon to reach a solution to move forward on the tax cuts legislation after Democratic opposition to proceed on the bill forced the Democratic leadership to pull the tax cuts package from the floor.

Democratic leadership pulled the tax cuts bill from the floor after it became apparent that liberals would not vote to pass the rule, according to a senior Democratic leadership aide.

The Democratic aide says that while the minority party never votes for rules and Democrats were not counting on Republican support to pass the rule, on Thursday it became "clear the votes weren’t quite there" from House Democrats either.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, explained the concerns raised by the majority of House Democrats, telling reporters that Democratic members were frustrated that they would not get the opportunity for a clear vote on the underlying tax cuts bill.

When asked which members specifically had a problem with the way the rule was structured, Slaughter let out a hearty laugh and said, "Just about everybody, would be my best answer, including me!"

Slaughter said House Democrats are now devising a strategy to move forward with the bill and she planned to go over the options this afternoon with the House Parliamentarian.

Some House Democrats said that by adding $858 billion to the deficit, the House will be forced to cut spending from other programs that need the money.

House Democrats are expected to meet once again Thursday with party leadership behind closed doors in an attempt to reach a solution. Sources said the leadership is expected to resolve the hiccup over the rule and that the House will take further action on the tax cuts legislation later Thursday.


House Democrats Waiting for Senate to Pass Tax Cuts Bill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats emerging from a closed-caucus late Tuesday night told reporters that the Democratic leadership has not come to a conclusion on moving forward with the Senate bill, but that the options are plentiful and a vote is still expected by the end of the week. But before the House Democratic leadership decides how to move forward on the bill, they’ll wait to see what the Senate accomplishes in Wednesday morning’s vote.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, the chair of the Rules Committee, said that when members of the House eventually take up the bill for consideration (as soon as the Senate passes it), the bill likely won’t be altered through amendments, but rather members of the House will have multiple rules to vote on, which would contain various proposals -- such as changes to the estate tax break and the upper-income levels of the tax cuts. In a procedure known as “King of the Hill,” members would vote on a series of rules and the rule with the most votes beyond a majority would become law.
Beyond their opposition to the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy and the estate tax provision of the deal, some House Democrats have expressed their frustrations with the length of the Unemployment Extension being only one year, while many of the other proposals are two-year extensions.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Biden Tells House Democrats to 'Take or Leave' Tax Cut Deal

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden met with House Democrats Wednesday night in an effort to persuade them to accept the tax cut deal that many of them are having a hard time swallowing.

Paraphrasing the vice president, California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, said Biden referred to the compromise as a kind of "take it, or leave it" deal.

Democrats in the meeting said that Biden left little room for tweaking the deal, and while many members of the party continue to be agitated at the substance of the compromise plan as well as the White House’s handling of the negotiations, there are now signs that it may be moving toward congressional passage before the end of the year.

With backing from a critical mass of Senate Democrats, the administration will likely be able to avoid a filibuster.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Two House Democrats Want to Postpone Congressional Leadership Elections

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It may not come to pass, but a push by two House Democrats to put off Congressional leadership elections until after Thanksgiving is yet another symbol of the ongoing feuds within the Democratic Party in the wake of last week’s stinging defeat at the ballot box. Even though there have been some flare-ups on the GOP side over House leadership positions, once again Democrats are looking like the disorganized ones.

In a letter sent Tuesday to fellow members, reps. Marcy Katpur of Ohio and Peter DeFazio of Oregon wrote, “Following the loss of our majority, we should fully understand the causes of our historic losses before we begin the process of rebuilding. If we do not to learn from our losses we will remain in the minority until we do learn." They continued, “We are not endorsing or opposing any leadership candidate with this letter, but we are seeking more time for a more thoughtful discussion with everyone in the same room.”

They called on their colleagues to join their cause by close of business Friday. Politico’s Jonathan Allen points out that it’s “a move that could give potential challengers to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants more time to gather their forces.” But aides to Pelosi say they expect leadership elections to take place as scheduled next week. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


House Candidates in Undecided Races Beg for More Cash, Volunteers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Razor thin vote margins in several congressional districts where Republican challengers are hoping to knock off a few more incumbent Democrats have campaigns on both sides mobilizing for a fight.

Renee Elmers, the Tea Party and Palin-backed candidate in North Carolina’s second district, leads her opponent Democrat Rep. Bob Etheridge by around 1,600 votes. But Etheridge is not backing down.

“We really feel with the way the trend is going now that we’re going to win this race,” he said Thursday.

Elmers is not taking any chances, telling supporters in a fundraising letter Thursday that she’s hiring 11 attorneys to monitor the vote count in each of the district’s counties – all to the tune of at least $50,000.

“I never dreamed I’d be asking you for another donation two days after the election – but I need to raise $50,000 ‘yesterday,’” she says.

The NRCC apparently declined to help foot the bill; but Sarah Palin has begun riding to the rescue. “SarahPAC help is on the way for @Renee4Congress recount fund. Will other PACs join us? How about Beltway GOP?” Palin tweeted Friday.

Meanwhile, in Arizona’s 8th district where Republican challenger Jesse Kelly trails Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by roughly 3,000 votes, the call is out for volunteers to hover over county election officials as they make their final tallies.

“We need volunteers to observe the ballot counting in Pima Co. Plz contact Lynne [number withheld] if you are near Country Club and Valencia,” Kelly tweeted Friday.

Republican businessman Keith Fimian, who’s trying for a second time to unseat freshman Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly in Virginia’s 11th district, is also begging for donations and volunteers to wage his fight to the bitter end, even though he’s behind by 900 votes.

 “This process has required us to hire an experienced election lawyer and continue paying staff to engage a strike force of several dozen volunteers who are vigilantly monitoring the process for us,” Fimian spokesman Tim Edson said in a fundraising email.

And in California, where anyone who wants a recount must pay for it themselves, trailing candidates in two House races are likely mulling the fees they may have to fork over in the days ahead.   In Alameda County, as the Mercury News notes, a recount requires a $5,000 deposit and up to $1,500 a day.

Republican David Harmer trails incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney by around 500 votes in the state’s 11th district, while Democratic Rep. Jim Costa is staring down a 2,000-vote gap with Republican Andy Vidak in the 20th district.

Five other House races – IL-08, KY-06, NY-25, TX-27, WA-02 – are awaiting final vote counts and certification by state election officials before potential recounts or legal challenges could ensue.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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