Look for no white flag from Sen. Ted Cruz’s Obamacare barricade.
As Senate elders grasp the reins of the debate to reopen government and extend the debt limit, Cruz has not budged an inch from the position he made famous weeks ago, when he and his allies spoke on the Senate floor for almost a full day.
“President Obama and the Democrats refuse to negotiate,” Cruz said, exiting a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans on Saturday. “Republicans in the House are working to fund vital priorities and they’re also working to provide meaningful relief to the millions of people across this country who have lost their jobs, who have lost their health care because of Obamacare.”
Cruz crisply delivered his well-worn statement to a handful of reporters, even as his colleagues flooded the Ohio Clock corridor outside the Senate chamber to deliver another message entirely: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid are now talking, and the House can vote on what the Senate sends it.
Gone is the talk of mini-continuing resolutions and the insistence that Democrats negotiate because, as numerous Republican senators said, those talks are now indeed under way.
“The real conversation that matters now is the one that’s taking place between McConnell and Reid,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
The thinking among Senate Republicans, especially those who disagreed with Cruz’s strategy from the start, is that it’s time to make a deal. Republicans always expected to gain spending or entitlement concessions from the White House over the debt limit, and they’re still hopeful they can achieve a victory.
Republicans are even haggling in public.
“If you asked me if I wanted a six-month CR I’d say we’d probably get there but I’d rather have a 12-month CR,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “That would be the normal view of our conference. Say a 90-day debt ceiling or I’d rather see a 60-day debt ceiling increase so we can come back and visit that.”
While a proposal from Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., gained early traction and included a delay of a medical-device tax that partially funds Obamacare, the discussion among key Republicans has shifted away from the health care law.
“In the end, Senator McConnell and Senator Reid have to come up with recommendation for us about how to open the government, how to pay our bills by raising the debt limit and how to reduce the debt,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who joined Reid, McConnell, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at a 9 a.m. meeting on Saturday to open the discussion.
Republicans still revile the health care law, but their focus has clearly shifted to whatever leverage they have on the debt ceiling.
“The most important aspect of this is holding the line on spending and getting the appropriations process to work. I’m one who thought we ought to have a budget conference and would like to see that happen,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
How Cruz will pitch his next battle over the Affordable Care Act is not clear, but he says he’s still telling his colleagues in the House and Senate to continue the iterative process of passing piecemeal continuing resolutions and to focus on undoing the president’s signature legislative achievement.
“That’s what our focus should be and that’s what I’m urging people both privately and publicly to do,” he said.
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Nikki Haley. Jeb Bush. Scott Walker. Lindsey Graham. John Kasich. The list is growing ever longer of Republicans who say they wouldn't even consider becoming Donald Trump's running mate. "The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles."
"Donald Trump holds a 15-point lead over Ted Cruz in the potentially decisive May 3 presidential primary race in Indiana, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Trump gets support from 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters — followed by Cruz at 34 percent and John Kasich at 13 percent. If that margin in Indiana holds on Tuesday, Trump would be on a glide path towards obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination on a first ballot at the GOP convention in July."
In a statement released on Sunday, President and Mrs. Obama revealed that their oldest daughter, Malia, will attend Harvard University in the fall of 2017 as a member of the Class of 2021. She will take a year off before beginning school.
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.”