Posts by Meredith Shiner

  • Why Sen. Mike Lee needs to stay in Sen. Ted Cruz’s shadow

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 3 days ago

    Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are like the Batman and Robin of Senate conservative politics, renegades who buck leadership and upset their own colleagues — that is, if Batman got all the attention and most people outside Gotham didn’t know that Robin existed at all.

    The differences between the two politicians are as stark as the contrast between their home states. Cruz, representing Texas, is brash, outspoken and openly considering running for president. Utah’s Lee is soft-spoken, generally better liked by colleagues and less of a staple on cable news than Cruz, who has taken the lead on conservative fights such as opposing the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.  Thanks to their contrasting styles, the two men are viewed differently by the media and by their own colleagues, even though their policy positions are nearly identical.

    In the wake of the shutdown fight, Cruz won plaudits with his Texas base and continued to relish his role as Democratic bogeyman, while Lee sought to refocus on middle-class policies in an attempt to win back points with Utah voters, according to Republican sources familiar with his work over the past year.

    “I was shocked! Shocked!” McCain said.

  • Six ways Democrats lose out in the 2015 spending bill

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 8 days ago

    Late Tuesday night, congressional negotiators unveiled a spending deal to keep most of the government funded through September 2015, but on Wednesday it became clear that the substantial policy concessions made by Democrats in a bid to attract enough Republican votes to keep the government open are likely to shrink the coalition supporting the last-minute bill.

    The 1,600-page spending document could be forced through the House and Senate in less than one week, giving lawmakers little time to review its contents but enough time to be angered that certain controversial provisions were included, most notably major changes to two of the biggest laws approved by Congress since 2000, which had rewritten Wall Street rules and reformed the campaign finance system.

    The current government spending bill expires on Thursday, and failure to pass new legislation by then will trigger another shutdown a little more than a year after Republicans forced a 16-day government closure in October 2013. That GOP standoff over defunding the Democrats’ health care law cost the nation an estimated $24 billion.

  • Republicans aim to reverse defense cuts in 2015

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 10 days ago

    Confirming a new defense secretary is likely to be one of the very first things the new Senate majority does in 2015, which presents Republicans with an opportunity to move on one of their top legislative priorities: rolling back defense spending cuts.

    Hawkish Republicans oppose the $600 billion in the sequestration automatic across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in after congressional negotiators failed to find agreement on targeted savings in 2011. Now, they are aiming to use the confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Pentagon to press the nominee on the cuts agreed to by the White House. One senator has even gone so far as to say that he will not vote to confirm the nominee, Ashton Carter, unless he agrees that the cuts need to be reversed.

    “If someone said that they could accommodate sequestration, then I wouldn’t vote for them, because they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Yahoo News, adding that senators “totally” should use confirmation hearings to discuss the issue.

  • Can Landrieu pull off a ‘Hail Mary’ in Louisiana?

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 14 days ago

    It’s plausible that on Saturday, the day of the runoff election in Louisiana, more people will tune in to the Southeastern Conference Football Championship game than turn out at the polls to vote for their next U.S. senator. If so, it would be a fitting coda to a midterm election season defined largely by voter frustration and apathy, which in November saw the lowest national voter turnout since 1942.

    But just as No. 1 Alabama is the odds-on favorite to defeat No. 16 Missouri on Saturday and still could lose, Landrieu and her backers haven’t given up hope for what would be the biggest come-from-behind win of the year. And if she does defy the odds and beat her challenger, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, the victory would be all the sweeter for being achieved almost entirely without the help of national Democrats, who pulled money and ads out of the state almost as soon as the runoff began.

    But the enthusiasm needed to get voters to the polls just might not be there.

  • Top NFL official: Goodell didn’t need to see second Ray Rice video

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 16 days ago

    Appearing before a congressional panel on Tuesday, NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent refused to answer one of the biggest questions in sports: whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about the video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City hotel elevator before it was made public by a gossip website, TMZ, in September.

    In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., asked Vincent directly how the commissioner could not have known about the video from inside the elevator “at the time of the June 16 meeting with Ray Rice."

    While Vincent did not answer that question directly, his response made plain the NFL’s current position on whether the league acted appropriately and on when it could have imposed a stricter punishment on Rice.

    Vincent called Rice’s behavior “ heartless, gutless [and] despicable,” before adding, “I don't think there was a need for a second video in order to impose the proper discipline.”

  • Boehner: I'm ready to 'reappoint' members to special Benghazi panel in new Congress

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 24 days ago

    Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday evening announced that he is reappointing Republican Trey Gowdy of South Carolina to head the Select Committee on Benghazi next Congress.

    The problem, however, is that by doing so, Boehner named a chairman to a panel that does not yet exist. Because the Benghazi committee is select and not permanent, the House will have to vote again to re-create it when Congress returns for a new session in January.

    Boehner’s statement did not mention that another vote would need to occur in order for Gowdy to have a panel to lead or for other Republicans to serve on it.

    “On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in the statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.” 

  • Republicans could struggle to roll back immigration changes

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 28 days ago

    Republicans have unlimited negative opinions on President Obama’s plan to halt the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants who have U.S. citizen children — but they will have few actual options, procedurally or politically, to roll back the changes.

    The GOP warnings against Obama’s executive action have bordered on apocalyptic, with one retiring Republican senator saying it would create “anarchy” and “violence” in the streets and Republican leaders vowing to fight the decision “tooth and nail.”

    GOP leaders have yet to announce how they might do so.

    Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said it would be “impossible” for Congress to defund the executive action in the pending government-spending legislation, because the agency that oversees the issuance of immigration status is self-funded through fees it levies on immigration applications.

  • Mary Landrieu against the GOP wave

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 29 days ago

    Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is the last Democrat up for election in 2014 following a GOP wave that swept eight of her colleagues out of office in November.

    Now senators, operatives and reporters are waiting for that same massive current to come crashing down in the Gulf.

    The three-term senator is increasingly facing it alone as she readies for a Dec. 6 runoff against her Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy. The official campaign arm of the Senate Democrats withdrew $2 million in reserved ad time in the state immediately after Election Day, Nov. 4. The Senate Majority PAC, which spent more than $2.4 million on Landrieu’s behalf in the general, has not spent a single dollar in the past week, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Meanwhile, conservative groups are still pouring thousands of dollars into ads against her.

    Despite the air of negative inevitability that surrounds her, Landrieu has spent her time back in Washington thrashing forward in hopes that action will keep her afloat.