MORNING MESSAGE: So Can We Focus On Jobs NOW?
OurFuture.org's Dave Johnson: "Now that the idiotic “fiscal cliff’ is out of the way, maybe we can start to get around to doing something that will actually help We, the People, fix the economy and reduce the borrowing. Namely, invest in modernizing our country’s infrastructure and reducing our economy’s reliance on burning fossil fuels for energy."
WH Sees New Day…
WH hopeful bipartisan "cliff" vote can be replicated, starting with immigration. W. Post: "White House strategists were determined that Republicans recognize that a new political dynamic had taken hold, one that could cement the president’s legacy with legislative victories on issues including immigration … The vote marked the first time in more than a decade that a measure passed a GOP-controlled House despite being opposed by a majority of Republicans in that chamber … White House aides are debating whether they should take the unusual step of drafting an immigration bill or instead lay out principles that could serve as a rallying point. Pro-immigration Republicans will be recruited to help…"
The 85 House Republicans who voted for the deal showed they're in relatively moderate districts. Politico: "Their districts are conservative — but not so conservative that jumping off the fiscal cliff wouldn’t potentially backfire in the next election. A general-election challenge from the left is a bigger threat than a primary from the right. And being able to tell most of their constituents they shielded them from a big tax hike was more important than being accused by a vocal few of selling out Republican principles."
WH immigration and gun control initiatives start this month. HuffPost: "The timeframe is likely to be cheered by Democrats and immigration reform advocates alike, who have privately expressed fears that Obama's second term will be drowned out in seemingly unending showdowns between parties. The just-completed fiscal cliff deal is giving way to a two-month deadline to resolve delayed sequestration cuts, an expiring continuing resolution to fund the government and a debt ceiling that will soon be hit. With those bitter battles ahead, the possibility of passing other complicated legislation would seem diminished."
New immigration rule designed to keep families together. NYT: "Obama administration officials unveiled rules on Wednesday that will allow many American citizens — perhaps hundreds of thousands — to avoid long separations from immediate family members who are illegal immigrants as they apply to become legal residents. The rules, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, create a waiver that bypasses an arcane Catch-22 in immigration law. It had presented Americans with the prospect of being separated for up to a decade from immigrant spouses, children or parents who were applying for the legal documents known as green cards."
New Congress sworn in today, and new vote for Speaker may have defections. The Hill: "Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to keep his Speaker position while Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already secured her spot as the Democratic leader. But the small groups of defectors are a reminder that neither party is entirely unified heading into the high-stakes fiscal battles that are expected to define 2013 …"
…While GOP Girds For Debt Limit Fight
Sen. Min. Leader McConnell tries drawing lines ahead of debt limit, in Yahoo! oped: "Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation’s fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion … particularly, spending on health care programs …"
Conservatives plan to pressure Congress on spending cuts. Politico: "In the next fight, both McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have said they will not budge off the Boehner rule, which holds that every $1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by $1 trillion in spending cuts … American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said conservatives are counting on Republican congressional leaders to … hew to the so-called Hastert rule, which holds that a bill should not be voted on unless a majority of Republicans support it. He also believes red lines need to be drawn on how much spending cuts will be demanded."
GOP Backs Down On Blocking Sandy Aid
Republicans relent on voting for Sandy aid after being slammed by NJ Gov. Christie and NY Rep. King. AP: "The speaker will schedule a vote Friday for $9 billion for the national flood insurance program and another on Jan. 15 for a remaining $51 billion in the package … King had branded Boehner’s initial decision to pull the bill a 'cruel knife in the back' to New York and New Jersey. King was among an angry chorus of New York and New Jersey lawmakers from both parties who blasted Boehner, with some saying his move was a 'betrayal.'"
"Republicans Have a Habit of Blocking Disaster Relief for Americans" notes Mother Jones: "…King and Christie shouldn't be surprised. Boehner's stonewalling on disaster relief, far from a clean break with tradition, has become characteristic of how the currently deficit-obsessed GOP does business. Here's a refresher…"
House GOP lets Violence Against Women Act die. HuffPost: "In April, the Senate with bipartisan support passed a version of VAWA that extended protections to three groups of domestic violence victims who had not been covered by the original law, but House Republicans refused to support the legislation with those provisions, saying the measures were politically driven … [Sen. Patty] Murray said she is 'absolutely' planning to reintroduce the bill in 2013. If the Republican Party is concerned about its relationship with women, she added, it should 'put that concern to action."