On Monday, the Senate will pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits, at which point, the popular, bipartisan bill will immediately die at the hands of House Republicans.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Friday gave every indication that the House will not consider a bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits, even if the Senate passes the bill as expected early next week.
Cantor was asked directly on the House floor by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) whether Senate action on its bill next week might prompt the House to act. Cantor did not explicitly say yes or no, but strongly indicated Republicans would not consider it.
"It doesn't create any jobs, and right now we are in the business of trying to see how we can get people back to work, for an America that works for more people," he said.
Cantor's response isn't surprising -- House GOP leaders have made it abundantly clear for months that they're opposed to the jobless-aid bill, no matter its form -- but it is striking the degree to which his comments contradict the evidence.
We seem to have reached a point in the debate in which the House Majority Leader and his allies simply don't want to acknowledge the connection between job creation and unemployment benefits.
It's as if the evidence exists in some blind spot that GOP lawmakers choose not to see.
There's long been a problem with understanding public attitudes with the Affordable Care Act: the law is far less popular than what's in the law. Ask the American mainstream for their views and most tend to say, "We don't like Obamacare." Ask the American mainstream for their take on the ACA's main provisions and they tend to say, "Those sound like great ideas."
As a practical matter, the discrepancy doesn't mean much, but as a political matter, it makes things a little tricky for both parties. Democrats, for example, aren't getting credit from voters for delivering popular reforms.
But Republicans also face a challenge: when they demand a "repeal" of the law, they're invariably asked, "Including the popular parts?" The answer, more than not is, no -- Republicans usually say they only dislike the unpopular parts.
Aaron Blake reports, however, that one high-profile Republican leader is willing to go where others won't.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says in a new interview that it would be too costly for Republicans to reinstate some of the more popular provisions of Obamacare if and when the law is repealed, but that Republicans should look for alternatives.
The former GOP vice presidential nominee was asked on Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" about whether Republicans would keep provisions like requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, keeping kids on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old and barring insurance companies from having different rates for those whose jobs include physical labor.
The Affordable Care Act's policy extending coverage to young adults who want to stay on their family plans enjoys broad support -- indeed, at this point it seems like policy no-brainer -- but for Ryan, it'll have to go.
Along with the protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
And the ban on annual and lifetime caps.
And all the other consumer protections that Ryan believes "dramatically crank up the cost" of coverage.
The day after this week's mass shooting at Fort Hood, Army Secretary John McHugh said the gunman lived off post and was therefore not required to register his weapon with the military.
McHugh told senators yesterday, "We try to do everything we can to encourage soldiers to register their personal weapons, even when they live off post. We are not legally able to compel them to register weapons when they reside off post."
Soon after, during House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) press conference, a reporter noted McHugh's comments and asked the House leader whether this is an issue Congress should address. Boehner replied:
"Well, there's no question that those with mental health issues should be prevented from owning weapons or being able to purchase weapons. In the so-called 'doc fix' that passed here, there was funding for a pilot project dealing with mental health issues and weapons from both the Senate side and the House side. There are two programs that are being funded in there. The bill went to the president yesterday. This issue we need to continue to look at to find a way to keep weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them."
The "doc fix" bill related to Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians, but it's always a pretty big bill with plenty of unrelated provisions. This year, there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding how the bill passed -- House GOP leaders played a fast one on their own members and conservatives were right to be annoyed -- but I never heard a word about funding for a pilot project dealing with mental health issues and firearms.
And that's surprising. Usually, any federal measure related in any way to gun ownership is the subject of considerable scrutiny. But there was the House Speaker yesterday, assuring the public in the wake of another mass shooting that lawmakers just acted on a policy related to gun violence and mental health.
It's enough to make one wonder: does the provision Boehner referenced actually exist?
Last May, just two days after a deadly tornado caused devastation in Oklahoma, state senators got right to work ... de-funding Planned Parenthood. Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox (R), an obstetrician who considers himself "pro-life," made no secret of his disappointment.
In a striking piece published in The Oklahoman last May, Cox made an impassioned argument against his own party's culture-war agenda. "What happened to the Republican Party that I joined?" he asked, adding, "What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman's life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?"
A year later, as Katie McDonough reported yesterday, Cox's frustrations haven't faded.
Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox is an anomaly, and he knows it. As a self-identified pro-life Republican in a deep red state, Cox makes for an unlikely ally in the reproductive rights movement. But that hasn't stopped him from being an outspoken critic of his colleagues' efforts to scale back access to contraception and abortion services.
In a letter to his fellow Republicans, Cox admonished the modern GOP for its fixation on controlling women's bodies. Writing in response to a proposal to ban Medicaid coverage for emergency contraception and allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, Cox asked, "What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny?" On the House floor this week, Cox blasted his colleagues for pushing Texas-style restrictions on providers and regulations around emergency contraception that he called "prejudiced against women."
Among other things, policymakers in Oklahoma are considering new regulations on abortion clinics and new restrictions on contraception access. By all appearances, the measures are likely to pass.
Ordinarily, a politician's flip-flop is simple: he or she takes one position, then decides to take the opposite position, and hopes the blowback isn't too severe. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), however, is struggling through an entirely different kind of experience -- one in which he tried to flip-flop, but didn't quite stick the landing.
Exactly two weeks ago, Gardner, his party's competitive U.S. Senate candidate this year, announced that he'd changed his mind about a radical anti-abortion policy called "personhood" measures, which would ban, among other things, common forms of birth control. The Republican congressman had championed the idea in recent years, but now that he's seeking statewide office, Gardner wants Coloradans to know he believes the opposite of what he used to believe.
How, when, and why did Gardner reverse course? The conservative lawmaker said he didn't want to talk about it. Rest assured, though, he's no longer a "personhood" proponent.
Yesterday, however, Democrats eagerly circulated a statement from Personhood USA's president, Keith Mason, telling Gardner he didn't really flip-flop.
"Representative Gardner, you've long said you stood in defense of unborn life from the moment of fertilization, including by co-sponsoring the federal 'Life Begins at Conception Act.' That act would guarantee the rights and protections of personhood for all unborn children, just like the personhood bills here in the state of Colorado."
This is perhaps the first instance I've ever seen of a politician declaring, "I've flip-flopped on a major issue," only to be told by friend and foe alike, "Actually, no, you didn't."
With the bipartisan DREAM Act unable to pass the Republican-led House, President Obama acted nearly two years ago, announcing that he's using executive-branch authority to allow young "Dreamers" to remain in the United States without the threat of deportation.
What the White House could not legally do, however, is make these immigrant kids citizens or put them on a path to citizenship. One GOP lawmaker has a worthwhile idea about helping take the next step.
Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service -- and he's got a plan in the works.
The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham's efforts told CQ Roll Call.
It's a pretty straightforward idea: under this policy, young, undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before they turned 15 would be able to join the U.S. military. After their service, so long as they're honorably discharged, these immigrants would become legal permanent residents and be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Denham's bill would be fully in line with American traditions -- many immigrants to the U.S. became citizens by serving in the military -- and has already picked up some bipartisan support.
Procedurally, proponents hope to act quickly so that the ENLIST Act can be added as an amendment to the 2015 defense spending bill, which the House Armed Services Committee is posed to mark up in the coming weeks.
But this won't be easy. The committee's chairman, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), won't commit to a vote on the amendment, and the far-right is just now starting to rally against it.
Kentucky's Matt Bevin, who's challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a Republican primary, recently spoke at an event he would have been better off skipping.
U.S. Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin's itinerary listed a Saturday's morning event at The Arena in Corbin as a "states' rights rally," but event organizers say the sole purpose was to build support to legalize cockfighting in Kentucky.
Bevin addressed the crowd of about 700 people at the event, which was closed to the media.
If we apply the rules of Campaign Management 101, we can quickly acknowledge three basic truths: (1) Senate candidates in the 21st century probably shouldn't attend cockfighting; (2) if they do, they shouldn't lie about it; and (3) trying to make up for the lie by defending cockfighting only makes matters worse.
Somehow, Matt Bevin managed to break all of these rules over the course of a few days.
Bevin accepted an invitation from the Gamefowl Defense Network -- seriously, that's what it's called -- and delivered remarks over the weekend. The Republican candidate later insisted he had no idea he was speaking to pro-cockfighting activists.
The event's hosts soon suggested Bevin's explanation wasn't possible: the "entire rally" was devoted to the issue and "there was never any ambiguity" about the point of the gathering organized by the Gamefowl Defense Network.
Apparently left with no choice, Bevin decided to switch gears: he started defending cockfighting.
After discouraging monthly job reports in December and January, there were broad concerns about which way the job market was headed. Would it remain stuck or start to bounce back?
The latest evidence seems to suggest the latter. In fact, the new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, roughly in line with economists' expectations. The unemployment rate remained the same at 6.7%.
For the second consecutive month, public-sector layoffs did not drag down the overall employment figures. Though jobs reports over the last few years have shown monthly government job losses, in March, the private sector added 192,000 while the public sector broke even. That could be a whole lot better, but at least it wasn't a negative number.
Better yet, the job totals for both January and February were both revised up quite a bit, pointing to an additional 37,000 jobs that had been previously unreported.
All told, over the last 12 months, the U.S. economy has added over 2.24 million jobs overall and 2.26 million in the private sector. What's more, March was the 49th consecutive month in which we've seen private-sector job growth.
By any sensible standard, Mississippi Senate hopeful Chris McDaniel is considered very conservative. For example, it was the GOP state senator, currently taking on U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in a primary, who conceded having a role at a neo-Confederate and pro-secessionist conference last summer.
But as Dave Weigel noted, interest in Cochran's associations is only intensifying.
On Wednesday afternoon the conservative blog Y'all Politics posted a kind of scoop. Chris McDaniel, the Republican challenger who has posed a serious threat to Sen. Thad Cochran all year, was scheduled to speak at Firearm Freedom Day in (wait for it) Guntown, Miss. Two other Republican legislators, Melanie Sojourner and (wait for it again) Bubba Carpenter, would be there too. But among the vendors was a group called Pace Confederate Depot.
This might not have raised hackles with the rest of the press -- not in a state whose flag incorporates the stars and bars -- but blogger Alan Lange, a donor to Cochran, did some homework.
And what Lange found quickly became a national story: Pace Confederate Depot's lead proprietor is a racial segregationist, not usually the kind of person a U.S. Senate candidate would choose to hang around with before voters head to the polls.
McDaniel's campaign soon after announced that the candidate would not be attending the event after all.
But what makes this story especially interesting is its two parallel angles. The first is McDaniel's radical associations, which help capture an ugly side to contemporary far-right politics. The second is the speed with which the Republican establishment -- in Mississippi and in D.C. -- is using the story to bury McDaniel.
Fort Hood shooter had no violent signs in his past. The search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 heads underwater. President Obama meets with Congress' big four. Do members of Congress deserve a raise? In a private ceremony, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signs the anti-gay, "religious freedom" bill within hours of receiving it. Despite a long career in politics, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno "remains a mystery."
Errol Morris, Oscar-winning filmmaker talks with Rachel Maddow about his new documentary "The Unknown Known," examining Donald Rumsfeld's perspective on the war in Iraq, and the rewriting of history by former Bush staffers. watch