A Personal Note

Effective today, I’ll no longer be posting updates to this blog and its corresponding Twitter feed. Operating this site for just shy of four years now has made the decision a tough one.

It’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with all that is going on in the Senate since this has remained a hobby of mine and has not materialized into paid work. I’ve done everything by myself from day one which has also made it more of a challenge to step away from things on a consistent basis when needed without falling behind.

For some, my coverage of the Senate has become something they relied on to keep up with various issues. For that I am humbled and grateful. My goal has always been to keep people informed in an up-to-date fashion. I don’t feel I can maintain that level of commitment any longer while juggling the various other aspects of daily life.

It’s been fun getting to interact online with some great reporters who work at the Capitol and around D.C. I would especially like to thank those writing for POLITICO, The Hill, Talking Points Memo, The Washington Post, Roll Call/CQ, The Huffington Post, National Journal/Hotline On Call and, of course, the wire services for their excellent reporting. They are all tremendously hard-working and talented individuals who made what I did possible.

I’d also like to thank those Senate press offices who were kind enough to be responsive to an unknown blogger such as myself. And of course, C-SPAN, without which floor coverage would not have been possible.

On a final personal note for those interested, I live and work in Oklahoma in the legal profession. That explains my at times incessant Twitter updates about OU football. I’m 27 years old and happily married.

Thanks again to all for your support and God bless.

Josh

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Rubio Says No to 2012 Ticket

Ben Smith calls the following a “pretty Shermanesque” statement from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) regarding the 2012 presidential race:

RUBIO: "No, I’m not going to be on a ticket in 2012."

GREGORY: "Under no circumstances?"

RUBIO: "Under no circumstances."

That’s from an interview airing today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Filed under Election, Sunday Shows

Graham Supports Taking Qadhafi Out

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “said Sunday he supports taking out Muammar Qadhafi,” POLITICO reports.

Following reports Saturday that one of Qadhafi’s sons and three grandsons may have been been killed in NATO attacks, Graham said the allies should be doing more to take out the Libyan leader.

"Wherever Qadhafi goes, he is a legitimate military target," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "He’s the command and control source. He’s not the legitimate leader of Libya and [the] way to get this to end is to go after the people around him and his support system."

Asked whether such a move would be illegal — international law prohibits the assassination of national leaders — Graham said plainly and clearly he believed Qadhafi has forfeited that title and therefore, that immunity.

"In my view, he’s not a foreign leader, he’s a murderer," Graham said.

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DOMA Repeal Has Enough Votes for Committee Passage

New support for “legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act assures that the necessary votes are in place for a favorable Senate committee vote on the measure as advocates maintain hearings should take place first before advancing the bill,” the Washington Blade reports.

Last week, the Respect [for] Marriage Act, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would repeal the 1996 anti-gay law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, gained two additional co-sponsors: Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Kohl’s support for the legislation is critical because he’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and would have a vote when the roll is called to move the legislation to the floor. Lynn Becker, a Kohl spokesperson, said the senator had previously considered DOMA a state issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also said she’d vote for repeal of DOMA in committee, although she’s stopped short of co-sponsoring the legislation. Last month, the Minnesota Independent reported that the senator would back the Respect for Marriage Act.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade, Klobuchar confirmed that legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has her support.

The support from “Kohl and Klobuchar means that the Respect for Marriage Act has at least 10 votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee — enough to advance the bill to the Senate floor.”

Timing of any vote is uncertain:

Despite having the votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, imminent plans that exist for the Respect for Marriage Act in the panel are unclear. Erica Chabot, a Senate Judiciary Committee spokesperson, said she was unable to communicate with Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) during the congressional recess about his plans.

Advocates working “to advance the legislation say hearings should take place before the bill is sent to the Senate floor to follow regular order and build additional support.”

Even if the bill “is reported to the Senate floor, significant hurdles remain in passing the legislation.”

Ending a filibuster in the Senate requires 60 votes, so at least seven Republicans would have to vote in favor of ending debate on the measure.

More information on Feinstein’s bill here.

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Filed under Committees, Marriage Equality

Senate Sunday Lineup: April 30

Here’s a list of Senators hitting the Sunday talk show circuit tomorrow:

  • Face the Nation (CBS) – John McCain (R-AZ)
  • State of the Union (CNN) – John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
  • Fox News Sunday – Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Meet the Press (NBC) – Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • This Week (ABC) – None

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Risch Calls U.S. Money Borrowing a Ponzi Scheme

Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) “on Thursday called the way the U.S. borrows money a ‘Ponzi scheme’ that could soon throw the country into financial turmoil,” according to the Floor Action blog.

"It took time for this to set in," said Risch, according to northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Press. "What I realized was this country is no longer the master of its own destiny."

Risch described in detail how the Bureau of Public Debt, through the U.S. Department of Treasury, goes about borrowing the $4 billion to $5 billion a day needed to keep the federal government running.

"There’s no money," said Risch. "It’s a Ponzi scheme."

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Filed under Budget, Debt Ceiling

Baucus Releases Blueprint Plan to End Oil Tax Breaks

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “struck while the iron was hot Thursday and vowed to shepherd a plan through the panel that ends billions of dollars in tax breaks for the largest oil companies,” The Hill reports.

Baucus released a short “blueprint” of the plan – which would expand investment in “clean” fuels and efficient vehicles – the same day that oil giants Exxon and Shell reported big gains in first-quarter profits.

And the outline arrives a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he planned to bring a tax break repeal measure to the floor. The White House and Democrats are targeting the subsidies in the wider political debate that has erupted over high gasoline prices.

The plan would “prevent the five biggest oil companies from claiming a lucrative deduction on domestic manufacturing income, reduce the foreign tax credit for royalty payments to foreign governments and impose an excise tax on certain Gulf of Mexico leases, the blueprint states.”

The plan would “not add to the deficit because repealing the oil industry tax incentives would pay for the ‘clean’ energy programs in the bill, according to the Senate Finance Committee.”

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Filed under Energy, Taxes