Senate Cloture On Unemployment Insurance
A bill to extend unemployment insurance will likely pass the Senate early next week, since the Chamber voted to invoke cloture yesterday. Six Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues to close debate in a 61-35 vote. At an earlier stage in the process, four additional Republicans had voted to advance the bill, but they dropped off in this vote. According to Sarah Mimms of National Journal, their defection was a protest against the fact that Republican amendments were not considered. In its current form, it is unlikely to pass the House, where Republicans say the bill is not paid for. Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the bill’s primary architects plans to lobby the Speaker of the House for his support of the bill.
Democrats Avoid Obamacare
According to the Obama Administration, 7.1 million people signed up for health insurance through marketplace exchanges, meaning they exceeded their stated goal. However, congressional Democrats are not making the still very unpopular healthcare law a centerpiece of their electoral strategies this fall. The Hill reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said that, although her party is proud of Obamacare, “we now pivot to job creation”, since voters will care most about that. Other Democrats have expressed similar thoughts. For instance, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri is campaigning in Arizona, but The Hill reported, “‘I’m not going out there talking about the Affordable Care Act,’ he said. ‘I’m not … going to go to a district that’s just on the line — a possibility for us — and start damaging people. That’s crazy.’”
Minimum Wage Deal Unlikely
The President and Democratic leaders have insisted that one of their major priorities is raising the Federal hourly minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $10.10, but Republicans have generally opposed this. A number of Senators from both parties have been working on compromises to resolve the issue. The congressional leadership in both Chambers are reportedly opposing this. The Democratic leaders say they are opposing such a compromise the $10.10 figure would mean 1 million would then earn more than the national poverty threshold. Republicans say half a million would lose their jobs. There are also political reasons for avoiding a compromise. The Democrats find themselves in a particularly interesting bind. On the one hand, many in their base—particularly big labor unions—are vehemently opposed to anything less than an increase to $10.10; however, supporting a compromise measure, rather than the higher wage, could help some at-risk Democrats look practical and less ideological.
President, Congressional Leaders Meet
As all the above suggests, with the midterm elections only seven months away, Congress and the President probably won’t produce many major bills, realistically speaking. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try. On Thursday evening President Barack Obama hosted a meeting with Congress’ four party leaders, Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The officials spoke about the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, immigration reform, income inequality, among other issues.
And for a non-congressional but highly worthwhile article: Four Insights That Will Make You Happier at Work
And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate