A New Era of Congressional Civility? Don’t Bet on It

U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to members of the press during a news conference September 12, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Pelosi held the news conference to discuss House Democratic agendas.
National Journal
Billy House
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Billy House
Oct. 17, 2013, 4 p.m.

As the gov­ern­ment and Con­gress re­opened for busi­ness Thursday, many law­makers were back in their dis­tricts for their first week­end break after the end of the 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down and debt-ceil­ing crisis.

Sen. An­gus King, I-Maine, had said on the Sen­ate floor that he hoped his­tory would judge this week’s bi­par­tis­an deal to end the stan­doffs as “the be­gin­ning of a new era of co­oper­a­tion and ci­vil­ity and prob­lem-solv­ing.”

But early re­turns on how some lead­ers and rank-and-file mem­bers are ex­plain­ing these events in Wash­ing­ton to con­stitu­ents at home don’t in­dic­ate any sud­den shift in that dir­ec­tion.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who most prom­in­ently pushed the strategy to tie fund­ing the gov­ern­ment to con­ces­sions on the Af­ford­able Care Act, de­clared Thursday he wasn’t back­ing down.

“I would do any­thing, and I will con­tin­ue to do any­thing I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obama­care,” Cruz told ABC News when asked if he would rule out for­cing an­oth­er shut­down.

“Even someone as cold as [Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er] Harry Re­id will have a hard time for­cing people to buy a bad, un­af­ford­able product from a web­site that doesn’t work,” tweeted Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga. It was Graves who in­tro­duced in the House the De­fund Obama­care Act of 2013, eli­cit­ing a wave of sup­port from con­ser­vat­ive groups and a move­ment among rank-and-file Re­pub­lic­ans to push for ac­tion on Obama­care.

And Graves is not the only House con­ser­vat­ive un­ready to stop the flow of rhet­or­ic. Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, R-S.C., sent out a re­lease Thursday ex­plain­ing his vote against the deal to tem­por­ar­ily fund gov­ern­ment through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceil­ing through Feb. 7.

Among his reas­ons: “In­sur­ance com­pan­ies in Harry Re­id’s home state [of Nevada] are get­ting spe­cial treat­ment; so are bars and res­taur­ants in [House Minor­ity Lead­er] Nancy Pelosi’s dis­trict. Mem­bers of Con­gress and their staffs will re­ceive be­ne­fits that no oth­er cit­izens will re­ceive. That’s simply not right. And that’s what we were fight­ing against.”

But par­tis­an jabs per­sisted from both sides of the polit­ic­al aisle.

At the White House, Obama him­self leveled more cri­ti­cism at Re­pub­lic­ans, even while he called for their co­oper­a­tion over the re­mainder of the year and for a less shrill tone on both sides.

Pelosi con­tin­ued to blame Re­pub­lic­ans for the gov­ern­ment shut­down, ask­ing re­port­ers, “Was their tem­per tan­trum worth $24 bil­lion?” That’s a ref­er­ence to cred­it-rat­ing agency Stand­ard & Poor’s ana­lys­is that the shut­down cost the na­tion’s eco­nomy at least $24 bil­lion.

She went on to say she hopes the budget ne­go­ti­ations that are get­ting un­der way might provide a way around an­oth­er fisc­al show­down, but she also sug­ges­ted that the bi­par­tis­an talks need to be held in pub­lic, not be­hind closed doors.

Pelosi’s sug­ges­tion came with a barb, as she claimed Re­pub­lic­ans like to ig­nore hard data on budget and policy is­sues. “What seems to be miss­ing now in their caucus is a re­spect for facts,” she said. “It’s like a data-free zone.”

But not all of the chat­ter Thursday was par­tis­an.

Pride of au­thor­ship beamed in a press re­lease pos­ted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who un­flinch­ingly took cred­it for a pro­vi­sion con­tained in the Wed­nes­day’s agree­ment that crit­ics have sug­ges­ted is tan­tamount to an ear­mark.

A state­ment pos­ted on his web­site, en­titled “Simpson Se­cures Wild­fire Fund­ing,” states: “Idaho Con­gress­man Mike Simpson en­sured that crit­ic­al wild­fire sup­pres­sion fund­ing was in­cluded in must-pass le­gis­la­tion to avert a po­ten­tial debt de­fault and end the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shut­down.” The re­lease goes on to state that the fund­ing in­cluded $600 mil­lion for the U.S. Forest Ser­vice and $36 mil­lion for the In­teri­or De­part­ment.

But the week­end rhet­or­ic has yet to really be­gin. And not all law­makers have ne­ces­sar­ily gone home to carry forth more par­tis­an mes­saging.

Rep. Scott Ri­gell, R-Va., a Re­pub­lic­an who voted for the meas­ure Wed­nes­day night, held a town-hall event Thursday night, and one of the points on his agenda, ac­cord­ing to aides, was his be­lief there needs to be more ci­vil­ity in polit­ics.

As one of the points on his agenda said, “So many people are frus­trated and dis­ap­poin­ted in their gov­ern­ment — and rightly so.”

What We're Following See More »
CAN LIKELY MOVE THROUGH THE HOUSE WITHOUT CONFERENCE
Senate Passes Budget Bill
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Senate approved the Republican-proposed budget Thursday night, a major step forward for the GOP effort to enact tax cuts. The budget, which now moves to the House, is projected to expand the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Its passage will allow the GOP to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, removing the need for support from Democratic senators."

Source:
“THEY ARE NOT READY FOR THIS”
Trump Officials Blindsided by Opioid Announcement
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump overrode his own advisers when he promised to deliver an emergency declaration next week to combat the nation’s worsening opioid crisis ... Blindsided officials are now scrambling to develop such a plan, but it is unclear when it will be announced, how or if it will be done, and whether the administration has the permanent leadership to execute it, said two administration officials. 'They are not ready for this,' a public health advocate said of an emergency declaration after talking to Health and Human Services officials enlisted in the effort."

Source:
EXPECTED TO RISE
U.S. Uninsured Up to 3.5 Million
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The number of U.S. adults without health insurance is up nearly 3.5 million this year, as rising premiums and political turmoil over 'Obamacare' undermine coverage gains that drove the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low. That finding is based on the latest installment of a major survey, released Friday. The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index asks a random sample of 500 people each day whether they have health insurance."

Source:
PROMOTED TWEETS AND ACCOUNT NAMES HANDED OVER
Twitter Gives Sliver of Data to Russia Probe
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

The initial data Twitter gave to the Senate's Russia Probe was "a batch of tweets that the Kremlin’s English-language news network paid the company to promote, The Daily Beast has learned. That’s just a sliver of what investigators believe to be Russia’s propaganda campaign on the social network—which helps explain the dissatisfaction that followed those first disclosures."

Source:
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login