The House voted 326-90 Tuesday to reverse a controversial $6 billion cut in veterans benefits included in last year’s budget deal.
The House bill would offset the cost of the repealed cuts by extending the budget sequester for mandatory spending cuts by an additional year.
The chamber is almost unanimous in its desire to reverse the cuts, but some Democrats voted against the bill because it would fund the veterans benefits, in part, through further cuts to mandatory domestic spending for social programs they favor.
Democrats on Monday had indicated to Republican leadership that they would not be able to deliver sufficient votes to pass the benefits bill if it was tied to the debt ceiling. The objections to the debt-ceiling plan stemmed not from objections to restoring the benefits, but rather from Democrats’ concern that they would set a precedent whereby Republicans could tie provisions — even legislation with broad bipartisan support — to a future debt-ceiling increase.
In the end, 120 Democrats suppored the veterans measure Tuesday, while 71 voted against it.
The bill now heads to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future. Senate Democrats are arguing that veterans already paid their debt to society and that the legislation to reverse the cost-of-living adjustment cuts should pass without offsetting the legislation. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday that he would not support the House’s sequester extension.
But Senate Republicans are still insisting that any legislation to reverse the cuts must contain provisions to prevent it from increasing the deficit.
A bill to reverse the vets COLA cuts from Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor is pending in the Senate. Democrats say they hope to complete that bill this week, but the chamber might adjourn for its Presidents Day recess as soon as Wednesday because of an expected snowstorm.
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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."