That fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees.
Manu Raju and Ted Barrett report: Senate Democrats are eager to make Donald Trump pay a political price for nominating staunch conservatives to fill out his Cabinet, hoping to exact revenge for the GOP’s stubborn opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominees.
But there is little they can do about it — and some top Democrats are now coming to regret it
“Yes, we changed the rules. We had to change rules because we now have a DC Circuit that functions, we’ve got 98 judges, and we have a functioning National Labor Relations Board …. And remember, with now 48 senators, we only need to pick up a few Republicans of goodwill to stop some of these nominations.”
— Harry Reid
That’s because Senate Democrats muscled through an unprecedented rules change in 2013 to weaken the power of the minority party to filibuster Cabinet-level appointees and most judicial nominees, now setting the threshold at 51 votes — rather than 60 — to overcome tactics aimed at derailing nominations.
“I do regret that. I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”
— Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago.
With the Senate GOP poised to hold 52 seats next Congress, some Democrats now say they should have thought twice before making the rules change — known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option.”
“I do regret that,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago. “I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”
With their power weakened, Democrats are weighing how to make life difficult for the Senate GOP.
They are planning on making the fight over Rep. Tom Price’s nomination to lead the Health and Human Services Department a proxy war over the GOP’s plans to to dramatically overhaul Medicare. They want to turn Steven Mnuchin’s nomination to lead the Treasury into a battle over regulating Wall Street. And they want to make Sen. Jeff Sessions answer for his hard-line stands on civil rights issues and against comprehensive immigration reform.
Senate Democrats plan to make speeches and mount objections to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to quickly schedule votes to confirm much of Trump’s Cabinet by the time he is inaugurated in January. Under the rules, they could delay votes from taking place for a few days at a time, temporarily slowing down the Trump agenda.
But they ultimately won’t be able to stop those nominees — unless Republicans defect and join the Democratic opposition. And that fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees — most notably their unprecedented refusal to even give the President’s Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland, a hearing.
Some Democrats realize they’ve made life harder for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
Trump On 60 Minutes: ‘I’m the Only Presidential Candidate Who Can Air-Kiss While Playing Air-Accordion’Posted: July 17, 2016
He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role.
“Part of Mr. Obama’s problem is that, far from exaggerating the jihadi threat and overdoing the rhetoric, he seems to have underestimated the challenges.”
I had the same reaction Monday listening to President Barack Obama talk about how much he’s doing to defeat Islamic State. Speaking from the Pentagon, the president listed some impressive-sounding accomplishments: identifying ISIS leaders killed, the large areas in Syria and Iraq that ISIS no longer controls, air and ground efforts to destroy the jihadis. Yet 60% of the public has little confidence in Mr. Obama’s policies, a CNN/ORC poll found this month.
After almost seven years in office, the image of a risk-averse president is tough to shake. It matters little that Mr. Obama’s administration has killed Osama Bin Laden, taken out al-Qaeda core leadership and infrastructure, and expanded the drone war (making him a sort of George W. Bush on steroids when it comes to counterterrorism). He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role. The image he conveys is that of a cool, non-emotive leader who prefers diplomacy (see: Iran and Cuba), who is convinced of the rightness of his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan, and who shies away from the emotional rhetoric of his predecessor (wanted: dead or alive). Read the rest of this entry »
Frances Martel reports: The women of the Kurdish People‘s Protection Units (YPJ) fighting the Islamic State on the front lines in Iraq and Syria have a message for the rest of the world: ISIS is not just a threat to them, but “a threat to humanity.” 60 Minutes Australia embedded with YPJ forces in Iraq and Syria and found a tough-as-nails force willing to die to save the world from radical Islam.
“All of us wanted to live a safe life, to go complete our studies and have boyfriends … but we live in an emergency situation.”
“My first responsibility as a female commander is to prove women anywhere can have a will and a reason to exist,” says one YPG commander to 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, explaining that their fight is not one just to save the Middle East and comparing the Islamic State to a “cancer.” She says the soldiers have no “personal fear” on the battlefield, though they do have “a fear for our society and culture.”
The YPJ have one significant advantage against their male counterparts, which has aided their success against jihadists: ISIS terrorists believe that they earn an eternity in Heaven and their own bevy of virgins upon dying in the name of Allah, but such privileges are revoked and they are condemned to shame, rather than awarded martyrdom, if they fall at the hands of a woman. Read the rest of this entry »
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says the United States should not have completely pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011.
In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Panetta, who was defense secretary under President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2013 after being director of the CIA from 2009 to 2011, said he disagreed with the U.S. strategy of withdrawing soldiers from Iraq.
“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq,” Panetta said.
Panetta also said the U.S. should have provided weapons to Syrians who opposed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, a view opposed to that of President Obama and many high-level security officials.
“I think the President’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up,” Panetta said. “My view was, you have to begin somewhere.”
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The re-edited story will air on “60 Minutes” Feb. 9 on CBS
For Variety, Francesca Bacardi reports: In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, “60 Minutes” will rebroadcast a 2006 interview conducted by Steve Kroft in which Hoffman discusses his problems with drug addiction. It will be re-edited to include previously un-broadcast material, including more from the actor about the rehabilitation he underwent as a young man that he credited with saving his life.
“We made a mistake,” Logan said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”
More to come