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The Edge

Debt Ceiling Progress, Obama's 'Enormous Frustration,' and Cruz Prepares Another Showdown

photo of Jack Fitzpatrick
February 11, 2014

By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: House Republicans gave up hope of coming up with a debt-ceiling plan tied to a measure on military benefits and will vote on a "clean" bill tonight -- but Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't plan on letting it pass the Senate easily. In her first testimony as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen said she was surprised at the poor jobs report for January and that the country had a long way to go in its recovery. President Obama said there was "enormous frustration" over the lack of progress in Syria. Attorney General Eric Holder called on states to allow convicted felons to vote. And Matt Lauer is taking over for Bob Costas on NBC's Olympic coverage due to Costas's very noticeable eye infection.


REPUBLICANS TO VOTE ON 'CLEAN' DEBT-CEILING BILL TONIGHT: Division within the party undermined a plan to tie the debt ceiling to a measure undoing cuts to veterans benefits. And an East Coast snowstorm will force a vote on a clean debt-ceiling bill tonight. (Izadi/Mimms, NJ)


BUT TED CRUZ MAY MAKE THE BILL HARDER TO PASS: Cruz plans to object to a simple majority vote on the debt ceiling, meaning the bill will need 60 votes to pass the Senate. It will take at least five Republican votes to pass the bill, and not many support a "clean" debt-ceiling hike. (Elahe Izadi, NJ)

AND THE GOP ISN'T GIVING UP ON MILITARY PENSIONS: The plan to reverse the cuts won't make it into the debt-ceiling bill, but House Republicans say they hope to take up separate legislation on the benefits tonight. (Sarah Mimms, NJ)

YELLEN SAYS JOBS RECOVERY IS 'FAR FROM COMPLETE': In her first testimony to Congress, new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said joblessness is still too high, and noted the unusually high number of long-term unemployed. That sentiment is important because the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, only a tenth of a percentage point away from the threshold the Fed has set for raising the short-term interest rate. Following her testimony, the Dow was up more than 200 points in afternoon trading. (Ylan Mui, WaPo)

AND SAYS OBAMACARE'S ECONOMIC IMPACT IS 'COMPLEX': Yellen said the Congressional Budget Office report on Obamacare is a work in progress and that the office should continue to look at all the ways the law will affect the economy. The report estimated the law would lead to 2.3 million fewer full-time employees in the workforce. (Catherine Hollander, NJ)

OBAMA FEELS 'ENORMOUS FRUSTRATION' OVER SYRIA: The president ruled out direct U.S. military intervention, but said in a news conference with French President Francois Hollande that the U.N. is "far from achieving" peace in Syria. (Nakamura/Branigin, WaPo)

HOLDER SAYS STATES SHOULD REPEAL LAWS AGAINST FELONS VOTING: The attorney general has no authority on the issue of state laws banning felons from voting, but Holder called on states to repeal those laws. Almost no states allow inmates to vote from prison, and some bar felons from voting for life. Holder said this disproportionately affects minorities and is "unacceptable." (Matt Apuzzo, NYT)

TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The House Democratic Caucus begins its issues conference, which continues until Friday. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies at 9 a.m. at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on his top challenges and priorities. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Chairman David Medine and others testify at 10 a.m. at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the NSA's phone data-collection program. Maria Contreres-Sweet will testify to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on her nomination to be the administrator of the Small Business Administration at 10:30 a.m.


IS OBAMA'S USE OF EXECUTIVE POWER REALLY 'UNPRECEDENTED'? According to the data, no. Obama has issued an average of 56 economically significant regulations per year, barely more the George H.W. Bush's average of 53. (Christopher Ingraham, WaPo)

WHY WASHINGTON IS AN OUTLIER: The capital is more confident about the economy than any state. It's one more sign that D.C. is different than the rest of the country. (Matt Berman, NJ)

SERIOUSLY, STOP POINTING LASERS AT PLANES: The FBI is launching a new program offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of someone involved in "lasing." (Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire)

THIS COULD BE THE ICEPOCALYPSE: The National Weather Service says the snowstorm in the South could cause a "crippling" amount of ice on the roads. (Eric Holthaus, Slate)


DEMOCRATS' LAST FAULT LINE: While many Americans don't pay attention to trade issues, liberals' disappointment with Obama's trade agenda has created the last major divide in the Democratic Party. (Alex Seitz-Wald, NJ)

THE PROBLEM WITH 'MITT': The Netflix documentary shows Mitt Romney as a human, but one without any real depth. (Mark Bowden, The Atlantic)


LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 2 MINUTES: Michael Sam is poised to become the NFL's first openly gay player, the first civil-rights landmark for the league since it welcomed its first openly bad player, Tim Tebow. (Mauro Whiteman, NJ)

WHAT HAPPENED TO BOB COSTAS'S EYES? Matt Lauer is replacing Bob Costas in NBC's coverage of the Olympics after Costas got a very noticeable eye infection. (Mackenzie Kruvant, BuzzFeed)
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