Senate Republicans by and large do not like the budget agreement very much, but despite their concerns, they expect it to pass both chambers and head to the president’s desk, according to members and Senate aides.
The sticking point for members is that the agreement, brokered by budget cochairs Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, lifts the spending caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, who this week got a high-profile primary challenger in Rep. Steve Stockman, said he’s inclined to vote against the agreement. “I’m disappointed that some people are apparently willing to give up the spending caps for just more spending and no entitlement reform,” Cornyn said. “That was always the deal most of us hoped for.”
While they worry about the spending increases, members acknowledge that the bipartisan agreement, embraced by John Boehner and Harry Reid, gives Congress a chance to avoid another government shutdown.
“I don’t think anybody on either side wants a government shutdown,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who acknowledged that having a top-line spending figure, which the agreement will set for Congress, will make appropriating easier.
The conference is wary of torpedoing a deal before the House votes, in part, out of respect for Ryan, who’s earned a sterling reputation among conservatives.
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi hasn’t decided whether he’ll support the deal, but said he expects it to pass. “I know the position the speaker and Mr. Ryan have been placed in and so it takes two to tango,” he said.
But, GOP Senate aides said, lawmakers realize it’s politically dangerous to risk sabotaging the deal that avoids a shutdown.
“We’ll see what the House does,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, who chairs the Republican Policy Committee. “I don’t like the fact that it busts through the caps. At first blush, I don’t support it.”
Since the legislation is expected to come to the Senate as a bill, it will be subject to a filibuster, which means that barring any Democratic defections, Reid will need five Republicans to get cloture. Depending on the issue, a cohort of Republicans tends to coalesce to vote with Democrats on cloture, even if they go on to vote against the underlying legislation.
One member who’s usually in that group is Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who, according to her office, has yet to announce her view on the deal. But on Tuesday, Collins did not rule out the idea of breaking the caps to provide relief from sequestration.
“I’m open to the concept of substituting some reforms in mandatory spending in order to ease the impact of sequestration, particularly on the Defense Department,” Collins said shortly before the agreement was announced. “But really I’ve got to wait to see what the details are.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."