Posts Tagged Thursday
Senior Obama Adviser Compares House Republicans To Terrorists, Kidnappers, And Arsonists
BRETT LOGIURATO SEP. 26, 2013
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer used three vivid analogies to attack House Republicans’ laundry list of demands for raising the debt ceiling, comparing Republicans to arsonists, hostage-takers and suicide bombers.
“What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Pfeiffer said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday afternoon. “We’re not going to do that.”
Earlier on Thursday, House Republican leaders released a preliminary list of items they plan to attach to any bill that also raises the debt ceiling. Among other things, it includes a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act, construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and entitlement reforms.
But a report from The Hill later Thursday suggested that Republicans might not have the votes necessary to move that bill.
The White House took pains Thursday to emphasize President Barack Obama’s position of not negotiating over the debt ceiling. Pfeiffer did so in an especially colorful way.
“Republicans are not asking for a negotiation,” he told CNN’s Tapper. “It’s a negotiation if I’m trying to sell you my house, and we are debating the price of it. It’s not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say, ‘Give me everything inside or I’m going to burn it down.’
“Republicans have provided a laundry list of essentially ransom demands of things that were essentially the Romney agenda that voters rejected.”
- Senior Obama Adviser Compares House Republicans To Terrorists, Kidnappers, And Arsonists (businessinsider.com)
- White House: Republicans fighting over budget and debt ceiling are like terrorists, or something (hotair.com)
- White House Advisor Links GOP Spending Cut Demands to Criminal, Terrorist Threats (mediaite.com)
- Adviser Dan Pfeiffer likens GOP to ‘people with a bomb strapped to their chest’ (twitchy.com)
- Blitzer Corners Jay Carney: Why Did Obama Vote Against Raising Debt Ceiling Under Bush? (mediaite.com)
- Obama Senior Adviser Compares Republicans To Terrorists (swampland.time.com)
- Obama adviser compares Republicans to terrorists, kidnappers, arsonists… (redflagnews.com)
- The GOP should just do it (politico.com)
- House GOP may delay debt ceiling vote (politico.com)
- Obama phones Boehner, says WH won’t negotiate with GOP on debt ceiling (hotair.com)
North Carolina House Passes New Restrictions on Abortion
Gerry Broome/Associated Press
Spectators watched the debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives on Thursday.
By ALAN BLINDER
Published: July 11, 2013
Legislation that would impose new restrictions on abortion clinics moved out of the North Carolina House of Representatives on Thursday in a form that would give wide power to Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.
The bill became the focus of battling factions in the Republican Party this week, with a series of public legislative debates and back-room maneuvering over how to create new limits that would appeal to the governor, who is a Republican.
Mr. McCrory threatened to veto a Senate measure that would have required doctors to be present for all doses of abortion drugs and force clinics that perform abortions to meet standards similar to those of an ambulatory surgical center.
Opponents said such restrictions would force most of North Carolina’s abortion clinics to close.
Under the House proposal, which has yet to be considered by the Senate, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services would have the authority to “apply any requirement” imposed on ambulatory surgical centers to abortion clinics if the regulations do not impede access to abortion care.
The bill also requires a doctor to be present during the first dose of a drug to induce abortion.
Mr. McCrory took office in January after promising he would not support any new curbs on abortion access. After he expressed his displeasure with the Senate plan, his administration helped House lawmakers craft one he would support, members of the House said Thursday.
North Carolina is the latest state to try to tighten abortion rules by adding new mandates for practitioners.
Wisconsin’s governor last week signed into law a measure forcing abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a requirement similar to those Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee have tried to implement since 2012. (Alabama’s, Mississippi’sand Wisconsin’s laws have been suspended by judges.) The Texas Senate will consider a similar bill Friday.
In North Carolina, Representative Ruth Samuelson, a Republican, said her proposal was about safeguarding women, not stemming access.
“This is really all about protecting the health and safety of women,” Ms. Samuelson said. “We are not out here trying to shut down every abortion clinic in North Carolina.”
But Democrats, hamstrung by Republican control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office, worried that by ceding regulatory power to an executive department, Mr. McCrory’s administration would enjoy broad authority over the rules that govern abortions.
“This can still close clinics in North Carolina, depending on what the department decides to do,” said Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield.
Although the legislature has supported other bills about abortion this year, the debate intensified July 2, when Senate Republicans made a surprise move and amended an unrelated bill to include their recommended restrictions and passed the measure all within 24 hours.
The Senate’s conduct drew widespread condemnation. Mr. McCrory criticized the body, and House Republicans ultimately chose to pursue their own proposal.
The vote on Thursday came after an emotional public hearing this week, part of a procedure that Ms. Samuelson said yielded “more debate and more opportunity for change and discussion and correction than if we had followed the normal process.”
But Representative Rick Glazier, a Democrat, decried the House’s version as a “rewrite by moonlight” and said it was symbolic of the legislature’s rightward tilt since Republicans took complete control of North Carolina’s government.
“To an extreme legislative majority bent on eliminating the right to choice, everything looks like a health regulation, ready to be used and abused to dismantle access to that choice,” Mr. Glazier said.
- North Carolina slips abortion restrictions into motorcycle safety bill (tv.msnbc.com)
- North Carolina GOP quietly adds abortion amendments to bills (tv.msnbc.com)
- NC House passes restrictive abortion bill (myfox8.com)
- McCrory plans to veto abortion bill unless changes made (wral.com)
- Motorcycle-turned-abortion bill advances in N.C. (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- North Carolina Republicans sneak abortion restrictions through in motorcycle safety bill (rt.com)
- DHHS calls for more study of abortion restrictions (wral.com)
- House approves new restrictions on NC abortion clinics (wral.com)
- Legislators’ secretive abortion bill fuels #vaginamotorcycles (cnn.com)
- North Carolina House sneaks revised anti-abortion language onto motorcycle safety bill (dailykos.com)
In Flurry of Activity, Only Muted Hope for Fiscal Deal
Published: December 27, 2012
WASHINGTON — President Obama will meet with Congressional leaders on Friday, and House Republicans summoned lawmakers back for a Sunday session, in a last-ditch effort to avert a fiscal crisis brought on by automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to hit next week.
T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
Senator Harry Reid arrived at the Capitol on Thursday in Washington.
Republicans expressed a flicker of hope Thursday that a deal could still be reached to at least avert most of the tax increases on Jan. 1, to prevent a sudden cut in payments to medical providers treating Medicare patients and to extend expiring unemployment benefits. But both parties’ leaders said time is running out.
“Here we are, five days from the New Year, and we might finally start talking,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader.
The overriding emotion Thursday, as senators convened for a rare session between Christmas and New Year’s Day, appeared to be embarrassment. The continuing impasse “demonstrates a tremendous lack of courage here in Washington to address the issues that need to be addressed — at every level,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
Lawmakers and aides from both parties cautioned that the burst of activity could be more about making sure the other side gets the blame than any real search for a resolution before the Jan. 1 deadline. Under Senate rules, no deal could run the gantlet of procedural hurdles in time for a final vote before the deadline without all the senators agreeing not to slow progress.
“I have to be very honest,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Thursday. “I don’t know timewise how it can happen now.”
White House officials continued to put the onus on Republicans to clear a procedural path to a quick vote on a negotiated deal.
“The only way America goes over the cliff is if the Republican leaders in the House and the Senate decide to push us by blocking passage of bills to extend tax cuts or the middle class,” said the White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer. “It’s a question of their willingness to put country before party.”
Republicans said there was nothing preventing Mr. Reid from putting formal legislation on the Senate floor, and to date, no such bill has been written.
But the contours of a fallback deal did come into view Thursday, even as the will to achieve it lagged behind.
Republicans involved in the talks said both sides would probably be able to agree to extend expiring Bush-era tax cuts up to some income threshold higher than Mr. Obama’s $250,000 cutoff but lower than the $1 million sought by the House speaker, John A. Boehner. To that, leaders would probably agree to add provisions to stop thealternative minimum tax from suddenly enlarging to hit more middle class households, and possibly to extend expiring unemployment benefits.
Republicans would be far less receptive to Mr. Obama’s call to temporarily suspend across-the-board spending cuts unless such a suspension was accompanied by significant and immediate spending cuts elsewhere.
But no such deal could be reached without significant, face-to-face negotiations between the president, Senate leaders and House leaders, aides said. McConnell aides said a phone call between the president and the Senate Republican leader Wednesday night was the first outreach Mr. McConnell has had from any Democrat since Thanksgiving.
“It appears to me the action, if there is any, will be on the Senate side,” Mr. McConnell said Thursday afternoon on the Senate floor.
After a House Republican leadership conference call on Thursday, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, announced that House members would return to Washington on Sunday for legislative business, with votes in the evening. Lawmakers were warned that the House might be in session through Jan. 2, the day the 112th Congress disbands. The next day, the 113th Congress will convene, wiping out any unfinished work of the past two years.
Between such glimmers of hope, the talk in Washington on Thursday was anything but conciliatory. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said Republicans would use an imminent fight over raising the government’s statutory borrowing limit to fight for big spending cuts, and compared that to taking one’s own child hostage and threatening to kill it.
On the Senate floor Thursday, Mr. Reid excoriated House Republicans for failing to consider a Senate-passed measure that would extend lower tax rates on household income up to $250,000. He urged House members to return to the Capitol to put together at least a modest deal to avoid the more than a half-trillion dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to begin in January.
“The American people are waiting for the ball to drop,” Mr. Reid said, “but it’s not going to be a good drop.”
- As Fiscal Deadline Looms, Path to Deal Remains Unclear – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Search for Way Through Fiscal Impasse Turns to the Senate – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Only agreement on ‘fiscal cliff’: Deal now unlikely (rep-am.com)
- You: Obama calls leaders for Friday talks in effort to reach fiscal cliff breakthrough (guardian.co.uk)
- Senate Democratic leader warns US going over “fiscal cliff” – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Finger-pointing begins as Reid says ‘we’re headed’ to fiscal crisis (foxnews.com)
- Lawmakers, Obama in last chance talks on “fiscal cliff” (news.yahoo.com)
- Republican US lawmakers set up 11th-hour bid on ‘fiscal cliff’ – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)
- Fiscal cliff deal increasingly unlikely (politico.com)
- How The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Affects You (wspa.com)
How Boehner’s Plan B Vote Imploded
Updated: December 20, 2012 | 11:29 p.m.
December 20, 2012 | 8:07 p.m.
AP PHOTO/ALEX BRANDON
Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, center, departs after a House Republicans meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 in Washington. Confronted with a revolt among the rank and file, House Republicans abruptly put off a vote Thursday night on legislation allowing tax rates to rise for households earning $1 million and up.
Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., overcoat in hand, was the canary in the coal mine.
He jetted out of the Capitol basement room where the House Republican Conference holed up Thursday night, walked by a handful of journalists and delivered in a flash the news that House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B had suffered a mortal wound. Would there be a vote tonight? No, came the reply.
Plan B, the fiscal cliff tax proposal that would extend the Bush tax cuts on income for those who earn $1 million or less and that Boehner said earlier Thursday would pass, failed to win enough support in the Republican Conference. The vote was canceled and lawmakers were free to leave for Christmas.
The details about the failure, and their scope, flowed quickly after that as Majority Leader Eric Cantor and a phalanx of staffers walked by and confirmed that the speaker’s efforts to persuade members had failed. A statement from the Speaker came quickly.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said.
Inside the meeting, which started at 7:45 p.m., Boehner led the conference in the pledge of allegiance and then the serenity prayer and said they were going to have a short conference.
“Then he said we’re not going to be here until after Christmas and maybe we don’t come back at all this year, and I hope you all have a merry Christmas,” said Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio.
Boehner did not indicate how many votes he fell short of passing the bill, nor was there any attempt to twist people’s arms, said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas.
Another member inside the room said the speaker told them: “The fate of this country shouldn’t be left up to two men negotiating in a locked room.”
Boehner tossed the fiscal cliff football to the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The House has done its job, he argued in a familiar refrain.
“The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act,” Boehner said.
LaTourette, though, saw the situation differently and added that this wasn’t just a blow to the negotiations over taxes and spending but a mark on the party itself.
“It’s the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party, and we are going to be seen, more and more, as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get the majority of our own people to support the policies we’re putting forward,” he said. “If you’re not a governing majority, you’re not going to be a majority very long.”
Members sat stunned by the speaker’s admission, unsure of what it meant for the fiscal cliff negotiations. The speaker pledged to call the president, said one attendee, but few members had high hopes House Republicans could cut a deal or pass legislation.
“Well, I don’t know that there is a next step. We’re not coming back until after Christmas and maybe never,” said LaTourette, who’s retiring.
- Boehner’s Plan B Vote Implodes (drudge.com)
- Ruth Marcus: Making a ‘B’ line to the cliff – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Congressional Republicans Implode (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- True Conservatives Defeat Boehner’s ‘Plan B’ (freedomoutpost.com)
- No, Boehner Isn’t Nuts (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Here’s What Happens Now That Boehner’s “Plan B” Went Down In Flames (hennessysview.com)
- Republicans reject Boehner’s fiscal cliff Plan B, House breaks for Christmas (dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com)
- ‘God only knows how we get there:’ Boehner admits he’s stumped on how to avoid fiscal cliff (business.financialpost.com)
- Boehner’s toughest hour – Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan – POLITICO.com (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Breaking: Boehner’s Plan B fiscal cliff bill pulled amid dissension in GOP caucus (mbcalyn.com)
Taking Off: Implications of China’s Second Stealth Fighter Test Flight – China Real Time Report – WSJ
Taking Off: Implications of China’s Second Stealth Fighter Test Flight
By Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins
China’s fighter aircraft development efforts appeared to take another leap forward after local media reported that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) had successfully tested its J-31 stealth fighter prototype this week. Following the test flight of a Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 prototype less than two years ago, the test of the J-31 suggests China could eventually become only the second country behind the U.S. to develop two stealth fighter programs – an important development with serious potential implications for the tactical aircraft export market and well as the U.S. military.
Video and photos posted online Thursday show the J-31 prototype conducting an initial high speed taxi run and 10-minute flight test accompanied by a pair of SAC J-11BS fighters. The J-31’s maiden flight represents the second “unveiling” of a significant new fighter aircraft by SAC in less than a year, the other being the J-16, a two seat multi-role variant of the J-11B, similar to the US F-15E and the Russian Su-30MKK.
China’s defense industry can now sustain multiple overlapping advanced programs. SAC alone is currently working on four major fighter aircraft – the J-31 and the J-16 as well as the J-16’s single seat parent the J-11B and the carrier-based J-15, also based on the J-11B.
Like most modern fighter aircraft, the J-31 will likely be a multi-role combat aircraft capable of employing modern precision munitions in both air-to-air and air-to-surface roles. Despite apparent rapid advancement, however, it will take time for the fighter to reach full operational status. As Xu Guangyu of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association explains, “there is still a huge gap between China and the US’ fighter jet technologies because we are still testing both the J-20 and the J-31. It might take another couple of years before we can put them on the production line.”
Mr. Xu’s observation raises an interesting question because it is not yet clear if the J-20 and J-31 are intended to complement each other or be competitors. Some Chinese analysts like former Aviation World deputy editor Bai Wei share the view of Western counterparts that they may be complementary as part of a “high-low” mix, with the larger J-20 akin to the F-22 and the smaller J-31 akin to the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
One factor that suggests the J-20 and J-31 could complement one another is that the J-31 could be modified for use on aircraft carriers in a way the larger J-20 is unlikely to be. Sr. Capt. Li Jie of the PLA Navy (PLAN)’s strategic think tank has been quoted in Western media as stating the J-31 prototype “might become a carrier-based fighter jet” because it is smaller and slimmer than the J-20.
The prospect of the J-20 and J-31 becoming China’s mainstay tactical strike fighters during the next decade stands to influence regional defense planning and tactical aircraft export markets. Unveiling the J-31 affirms that, save for jet engines, China’s aerospace sector is now in many ways nearly as advanced as Russia’s and suggests that Russian manufacturers will soon be unable to compete with China’s own fighter manufacturers. Beijing is already the world’s sixth-largest arms exporter, and Chinese aircraft export growth would come largely at Moscow’s expense.
This means Russia will need to shift its weapons exports from China to Chinese neighbors such as Vietnam and India. However, given the defense spending cutbacks in the U.S. and Western Europe, Russian firms will have to compete with the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and BAE in a way they never had to when China (which Western defense firms are largely prohibited from selling to by an embargo) was essentially a captive market for Russian weapons exporters. Chinese e increasingly Therefore, the parallel development of the J-20 and J-31 will provide further impetus for China’s aviation industry to master mass-production of modern high-performance jet engines – its last major obstacle to being able to export tactical aircraft.
The J-31 also stands to meaningfully impact decisions on U.S. defense spending, especially if it ends up being produced in conjunction with the J-20 and they end up being complementary to one another. If the J-31 and J-20 both end up in mass production, China could ultimately achieve parity or perhaps even numerical superiority in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of late-generation fighters deployed. There is a rising probability that China’s rapid advancement in indigenous tactical aircraft design will spark a renewed debate in the U.S. over restarting production of the highly advanced but also highly expensive F-22 Raptor.
Bottom Line: China’s Military Aerospace Industry Nearing Critical Mass
It is extremely significant that China may soon join the U.S. as the only other nation to develop two “low-observable” aircraft simultaneously. China’s defense aerospace sector overall may be moving toward an architectural model in which several distinct poles of expertise develop in Shenyang, Xi’an, and Chengdu and then compete with each other on key big ticket projects. Multiple aviation industry bases with significant development and production capacity, including SAC, allow for domestic competition for key aircraft programs. This can minimize the chances of single-point failures jeopardizing development targets, increase efficiency, and maximize the chances of useful breakthroughs.
It is thus not too early to consider the possibility that China’s aviation industry, despite enduring limitations, may already enjoy some key advantages over Western counterparts. As a latecomer, China can draw on knowledge gleaned from industrial espionage, reverse engineering, and study of foreign systems, standards, and specifications, allowing it to save costs by leapfrogging rather than developing every component itself. Meanwhile, it may benefit from lack of legal obstacles to subsidization and technical diffusion through civil-military integration—a lack that Western contractors arguably benefitted from during their Cold War heyday before stricter regulations emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. China’s military aerospace industry is rapidly approaching critical mass. Continuing to add investment to this growing foundation will allow China’s aviation industry to fully harness the flashes of technical prowess shown when new aircraft like the J-31 take flight.
- Second China stealth fighter prototype has test flight (foxnews.com)
- China’s Newest Stealth Fighter The J-31 (Updated) (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- China’s Newest Stealth Fighter The J-31 Has It’s Maiden Flight (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- Stealth fighter jet dubbed as the J-31 reportedly tested in China (ubergizmo.com)
- J-31 Chinese Stealth Fighter completes successful maiden flight (americanlivewire.com)
- The secret flight of China’s new stealth fighter (killerapps.foreignpolicy.com)
- New pictures show second Chinese stealth fighter being test flown (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- China ‘makes first test flight’ of new stealth fighter jet (telegraph.co.uk)
- J-31 (thing) (everything2.com)
- Second Chinese stealth fighter makes test flight (guardian.co.uk)
Romney Stares Uncomprehendingly At $1 Bill
POCATELLO, ID—A $1 bill somehow made its way into the hands of Mitt Romney during a campaign stop Thursday, reportedly causing the Republican presidential candidate a moment of uncomprehending fascination. “What am I looking at here? What is this?” said Romney, squinting at the bill as he turned it over and over in his hands. “It almost looks like money, but it’s missing the zeroes. Huh. Do people try to buy things with this?” Romney finally crumpled up the bill and threw it away, chuckling as he told reporters that “whoever thought that one up must be a real wiseacre.”
- Romney Raises Record-Breaking $106 Million | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Promises ‘The Opposite’ Of Obama On Israel | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Area Man Lives Vicariously Through Son’s Bully | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Spends Most Of Factory Visit Yelling At Employees To Work Harder | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- New Internet Destinations Created | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Dollar Bill On Floor Sends Wall Street Into Frenzy | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Report On Continuing Plight Of Millions Of Unemployed Americans Results In Round Of High-Fives At Romney Campaign Headquarters | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- New Study Finds 85% Of Americans Don’t Know All The Dance Moves To National Anthem | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
What follows the Holder contempt vote?
By Alan Silverleib
updated 8:40 AM EDT, Thu June 28, 2012
· The House will likely vote Thursday to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt
· Recent history indicates the contempt vote won’t have serious legal consequences
· Democrats say the contempt vote — tied to Operation Fast and Furious — is all about politics
· Republicans say the contempt vote is about proper legislative oversight
But beyond the political symbolism of such a vote — no attorney general has ever been held in contempt by Congress — what exactly does it mean? Where does the case go from here?
If modern history is any guide, it won’t go very far.
The GOP-controlled House is actually set to hold two votes: one for criminal contempt and another authorizing civil action.
The criminal contempt charge would refer the entire dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who would then decide whether to file criminal charges against Holder or others, based on the Justice Department’s refusal to hand over information sought by House Republicans.
If you sense a possible conflict of interest here, you’re not alone. Machen was appointed to his job by President Barack Obama. Holder’s his boss.
Most legal observers expect Machen to do nothing. They note that President George W. Bush’s Justice Department refused to take any action after a Democratic-controlled House voted in early 2008 to hold then-White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt for actions relating to the controversial dismissal of several U.S. prosecutors.
They also note Obama’s use of executive privilege to prevent the release of certain documents in the Fast and Furious case — a move which typically makes executive branch officials immune from criminal prosecution.
House Republicans are well aware of this recent history, which helps explain the separate measure authorizing a civil action. That resolution, according to a GOP spokesman, would allow the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to file a lawsuit asking the courts to examine the Justice Department’s failure to produce certain subpoenaed documents, as well as the validity of the administration’s assertion of executive privilege.
The committee is led by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, Holder’s chief congressional nemesis.
Specifically, Issa’s panel is seeking documents showing why the Justice Department decided to withdraw as inaccurate a February 2011 letter sent to Congress that denied any major flaws in Operation Fast and Furious.
Holder has repeatedly refused to turn over materials containing internal deliberations, and asked Obama last week to assert executive privilege over such documents.
The goal of the civil action — beyond continued political embarrassment to a president in the middle of a tough re-election campaign — would be to compel Justice Department officials and their political allies in the White House to hand over the documents in question.
But Cornell University law professor Josh Chafetz, a legislative expert and former federal clerk, says any judicial proceedings relating to the civil action will likely take years and outlast any political interest in the case.
“Just by going to court, the House guarantees it loses. Even if (the House) wins, it’s going to be years from now,” Chafetz told CNN. “This Congress will be out of office and Obama may be out of office. If they wind up going to court, it will actually be to the great detriment of the House’s oversight role.”
Chafetz noted that House Democrats also pursued the case against Miers and Bolten in court, finally reaching a compromise settlement after Bush left office in 2009. By that point, few people cared.
The Democrats “got some of the documents they wanted and some of the testimony they wanted,” he said. “But the timing was so unfortunate for the House, and that’s what’s happening this time.”
Stan Brand, a top Washington lawyer and former general counsel to the House under Speaker Tip O’Neill, predicted “two or two-plus years of protracted, arduous litigation.”
“We’ll hear about it again in 2014,” he told CNN. “I think it’s fine to go to court and try to vindicate your interest, but this isn’t going anywhere.”
Fast and Furious, a so-called “gun-walking” operation, allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s fatal shooting were linked to the operation. Guns from the operation have also been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians’ deaths.
Republicans say the documents they seek are needed to get to the circumstances around Terry’s death. Democrats are crying foul, and insist the GOP probe is all about politics.
“House Republicans have made the strategic choice to try to score political points,” White House press secretary Jay Carney argued Wednesday. They are “focusing their time and attention on a law enforcement operation from 2009 that was botched and that everyone agrees was botched.”
The Republicans have “made that choice rather than focusing on jobs and the economy.”
For their part, House GOP leaders insist they are merely holding the executive branch accountable for its actions — a core constitutional function of Congress.
The Justice Department has “acknowledged that it made false claims to Congress about this reckless operation,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week. “The Obama administration, however, (has) stonewalled Congress’s legitimate oversight responsibilities. … The American people deserve the truth and the administration has an obligation to turn over the relevant documents right now.”
Political analysts are sharply divided over the merits of the GOP’s case and its potential political fallout.
“I think, for a lot of Americans who don’t understand the complexities and really don’t care about … this, I think it is one more illustration, as if we needed any more, that Washington is broken,” veteran political analyst David Gergen said earlier this month on CNN.
“If people conclude yet once again those guys really cannot run the country, it is very discouraging.”
- What follows the Holder contempt vote? (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Congressional Black Caucus plans walk out of Holder contempt vote (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- House to proceed with contempt vote against Holder (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- House to vote Thursday on Holder contempt charge (thehimalayantimes.com)
- 20 Democrats Expected to Join GOP in Holder Contempt Vote (thegatewaypundit.com)
- ABC NEWS: Eric Holder Contempt Vote To Be Held Thursday. “Both the Washington Post and CNN report … (pjmedia.com)
- House Democrat breaks ranks to back Holder contempt as vote looms – Fox News (foxnews.com)
- Holder faces House contempt vote on gun probe (news.yahoo.com)
- Left shrieks over reports that up to 35 House Democrats may back Holder contempt vote (twitchy.com)
- Dozens of Dems may join GOP on contempt (upi.com)