Just hours before a sure-to-fail vote to restore more than $6 billion in funding for military benefits, Senate Democrats and Republicans now appear ready to move the measure forward.
Last week, Democrats had planned a Monday night vote to restore the funding, which was cut as part of December’s budget deal. They assumed Republicans would block the bill because it lacked a spending offset and would increase the national deficit.
But by Monday, just hours ahead of the vote, senior Republican and Democratic Senate aides said that they expected the chamber to easily find the required 60 votes to proceed to a debate on reversing the cuts. The ensuing debate on how to unwind the cuts is likely take up most of the week.
The measure, however, still has to clear several hurdles. Republicans are still balking at the lack of a budget offset, and they plan to push for changes to it as it moves forward.
A senior Republican aide said Republicans felt the veterans issue was too important to let pass an opportunity to move the measure forward. So instead of blocking the bill, the aide said, they’re trying to force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow debate on Republican amendments that would pay for the cost of reversing the pension provision.
Several Senate Republicans have rallied around an idea from New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte that aims to close loopholes to prevent undocumented immigrants from enjoying the child tax credit.
Some senior Democrats like Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, of Michigan have preferred a payfor from New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen that would close offshore tax loopholes.
Either payfor is considered a nonstarter to the opposite political party.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.