Senate Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension
Yesterday, in a 59-38 vote, the Senate passed an extension of unemployment benefits, approving a bill that would help 2 million unemployed and cost $10 billion. The Senate has been working on it for months, but the House of Representatives is unlikely to take it up anytime soon. The House Republican leadership has asserted that the costs have not been sufficiently offset and that it does not contain provisions aimed at creating jobs. Republicans have advanced a number of proposals, but the Administration said they will not pass the Senate. Despite leadership opposition, a number of more moderate House Republicans have publicly supported the bill. For instance, Representative Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, who was joined by a number of colleagues, sent a letter to the Speaker of the House to urge him to pass some kind of unemployment benefits extension. These moderate Republicans would be key to getting the jobless benefits passed in the House. Democrats will likely try a number of other strategies to keep up pressure on the House leadership. In addition to currying the favor of the moderate Republicans, they could also use a plethora of anecdotes from people who are unemployed and trying to make ends meet, when crafting their messages. They have also said they will pitch stories about unemployment benefits to local media so the issue will be front and center for constituents.
Midterms Look Bleak for Democrats
Undoubtedly the Democrats are hoping that they will be able to use the unemployment insurance bill to their advantage one way or the other. They will certainly need all the help they can get in the challenging environment they are facing this year. Charlie Cook, one of DC’s most respected political analysts, has recently pointed out that there are a number of signs that do not bode well for the Democrats. For one, President Barack Obama’s approval numbers are down—in the mid-40s when things are going well for him, and even lower when they are not. The Democrats are also in the position of having to defend a number of Senate seats in more conservative states. The Republicans could take the Chamber if they win the currently Democratic seats in states where Romney won by 14 points or more. Then too, Republicans are far more ginned up over Obamacare than the laws supporters are over defending it. If the Democrats would like to maintain their Senate majority, they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them.
National Capital Planning Commission Rejects Eisenhower Memorial Plans
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is still having trouble getting off the ground. Last year, Members of Congress denied it funding for fiscal year 2014. The design for the Memorial has also come under heavy criticism from many in the public, not the least of whom were the President’s family and Members of Congress. The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), which oversees the development of Washington DC and the National Capital Region, recently voted 7-3 to reject the plan, asking for revisions. Commission member Representative Darrell Issa, for instance, thought that the design did not sufficiently highlight Eisenhower’s accomplishments as President. Some also thought the proposed monument would look out of place amidst its surroundings. Issa suggested that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission update the NCPC every two months on progress it has made.
And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate