With lawmakers joining hands to pass a budget deal, could there be a push to advance other, less controversial bipartisan bills?
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., the author of an embattled energy-efficiency bill, certainly hopes so.
“I’m optimistic that we can find a way forward,” Shaheen told National Journal in the Capitol on Tuesday, when asked about the status of the legislation.
Despite the fact that the measure, which Shaheen cosponsored with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has wide bipartisan support, its progress stalled in the fall when it became mired down in debate over the Affordable Care Act and other hot-button issues unrelated to the legislation itself. The bill contains incentives to speed adoption of energy-efficient technologies in the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors as well as by the federal government.
Shaheen and Portman, along with their staffers, have been working behind the scenes for the past few months, however, to win enough votes to invoke cloture in the Senate to cut off debate when the legislation is reintroduced.
That work, Shaheen said, is ongoing.
“We’ve secured a number of votes,” she said. “And we’re working on securing a few more.”
Shaheen said that while she does not yet know when the legislation might be taken up again by the full Senate, she is hoping to make an announcement with Portman on the Senate floor this week regarding the measure.
A Senate aide said the announcement has not yet been scheduled but that the senator is hoping to highlight the progress that’s been made to advance the bill so far and press for action on the legislation next year.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”