President Obama, on his way home from Hawaii, offered an assessment of how Republicans will act in the opening months of 2011, saying he expects they will “play to their base for a certain period of time.” He still retained some optimism, however. “My expectation, my hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012.”
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) yesterday, Senate Democratic leadership said “we will block” in the Senate any attempt by the House to “move forward with a repeal of the health care law.” Particularly concerned over the elimination of the “donut hole” Medicare fix, Democrats said the law “is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission.”
House Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), have announced a list of investigations they hope “could embarrass the Obama administration.” Over the next three months, Issa plans six investigations: into the WikiLeaks scandal; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration; the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s failure to identify the origins of the meltdown; and corruption in Afghanistan.
Obama’s advisers are debating whether he should use his executive authority to issue a signing statement that would allow him to bypass new restrictions on the transfer of Guantánamo detainees. Congress included the restrictions — which would make it harder to close the detention facility — in a defense bill it passed last month and the President is expected to act on the measure this week.
Republican military expert John Wheeler, 66, was found dead in a Delaware landfill Monday. A former aide in the Reagan and both Bush administrations and a veteran of the Vietnam War, Wheeler’s “death has been ruled a homicide.” “A band of Senate Democrats signaled on Monday that it would press forward when Congress convenes this week with a proposal to curtail filibusters and other methods of slowing the chamber’s work.” Democrats will likely use some “procedural sleight-of-hand” to buy time for negotiations with Republicans over rule changes, delaying implementation for a few weeks.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) plans to reach out to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to craft a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the new Congress, but it is unclear if Graham will respond favorably to Menendez’s outreach. Otherwise, Menendez said he will introduce his own bill. “If there’s nothing to have hearings about, nothing to debate over, you will never move forward,” he said last month.
And finally: While debating the authenticity of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) new tan, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough wondered if the senator was attempting to mimic pop star David Bowie’s space-traveling alter ego. “Did you follow David Bowie through the Ziggy Stardust years? He had more makeup than Bowie did,” Scarborough said of Graham. “I think the senator was just out in the sun over the holidays,” replied co-host Willie Geist.
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