Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:17 pm
Two wily veterans of Congress' fiscal wars will lead the budget talks scheduled to start Wednesday: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.
As the 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee — 22 from the Senate and seven from the House — sit down to begin negotiations, they'll have in Ryan and Murray two lawmakers who from most accounts get along well despite their many differences.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health care.gov website.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Today, something uncommon is happening on Capitol Hill. Not one, but two conference committees are meeting to work out the differences between House and Senate on the budget and the farm bill. This is the way Congress was designed to work. These days, those sorts of committees are quite rare.
To talk about what's at stake, we're joined by NPR congressional correspondent, Tamara Keith. Good morning.
President Obama would like you to remember that Obamacare was based on Massachusetts legislation signed in 2006 by then governor and Republican Mitt Romney, pictured at the signing ceremony. And that rollout started slowly, too.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 9:40 am
Good morning, fellow political junkies.
The Affordable Care Act should dominate Wednesday's news cycle thanks to scheduled high-profile appearances by President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to defend the law.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Secretary Sebelius on who's responsible for 'this debacle'
(We last added to this post at 4:10 p.m. ET.)
"You deserve better. ... I apologize. ... I'm accountable to you."
That's what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Americans on Wednesday morning during a Congressional hearing into problems with the Obama administration's HealthCare.gov website and Republicans' concerns about the Affordable Care Act.
While Congress tries to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Affordable Care Act website, it's got other problems on its mind. Leading the list is the inability of lawmakers to carry out their most fundamental constitutional responsibility: appropriating the money needed to run the government in a timely fashion.
This month's shutdown was only the most recent fallout of the breakdown in appropriations. Some lawmakers say the Republican ban on earmarks nearly three years ago has only made things worse.
Parents arrive to pick up their children from a school in Montgomery, Ala. After a tough immigration law was enacted in 2011, Hispanic students began to disappear from classrooms in the state's public schools.
Opponents of Alabama's strict immigration law are declaring victory Tuesday, as the state agreed not to pursue key provisions of a measure critics had called an endorsement of racial profiling. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a federal court's ruling that gutted the law.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 3:55 pm
Michael Bloomberg's time as New York City mayor may be coming to an end, but there's no evidence he's ready to leave the political arena.
Less than two months after playing a starring role in two recall elections in Colorado, Bloomberg has again turned his eye to that state and contributed $1 million to the campaign backing a ballot measure that would increase income taxes to provide funds for a new public school financing system.
Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is one of five Democrats in the Senate calling for a delay in the enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act. He says consumers shouldn't be punished for the technical problems that have plagued the health law's website.
A handful of Democratic incumbents in battleground states are among senators now calling for an extension of the open enrollment period, which could be a way to curry favor in relatively conservative states.
In recent weeks, the White House staff has pleaded in a couple of high-profile embarrassments that the president did not know. As we just heard from Ari, it's been reported that President Obama did not know until recently that German Chancellor Merkel's communications had been intercepted. It's also been said that he was unaware of problems with the rollout of healthcare.gov.
President Obama is trying to soothe his European allies who are furious about these spying revelations. A group of parliamentarians from Europe has come across the Atlantic, and today they met with U.S. officials and expressed their anger. Meanwhile, the White House is trying to deflect questions about whether the president plans to end this eavesdropping.
Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner says progress has been made
The first of two days worth of hearings about the problems plaguing HealthCare.gov got going Tuesday with an apology for the botched rollout from Marilyn Tavenner — administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As It's All Politics noted earlier, she heads the agency "that oversaw the ill-fated website project."
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 12:00 pm
Ed Marksberry is the longest of long shots against Kentucky GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.
While the unknown Democrat turned independent is given little chance of defeating the Senate minority leader, Marksberry could still play an important role in the 2014 race — as a spoiler candidate in a contest that many expect will be decided by a close margin.
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois leaves federal court in August after being sentenced to 30 months in prison. Jackson reported to prison in North Carolina several days before the Nov. 1 deadline.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 11:26 am
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has begun his prison sentence, resolving a brief period of confusion over his status. It seems that Jackson tried to turn himself in to federal prison officials Monday — but he was four days early. The official deadline for his surrender for a 30-month prison term had been set for Friday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, (who we're sure was not intentionally making the "choke" sign) and Marilyn Tavenner, head of the HHS agency that oversaw the Obamacare website project.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 7:39 am
Good Tuesday morning, fellow political junkies.
As you go through your day, keep this in mind: at least you're not Marilyn Tavenner. When critics of the Obama administration's botched launch of the Affordable Care Act call for heads to metaphorically roll, Tavenner, the top official of the Health and Human Services agency that oversaw the ill-fated website project, is high on that list.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 9:40 am
NPR's Scott Horsley reported Monday on questions about a famous quote attributed to the late Winston Churchill. Did the former British prime minister say it? Take this interactive quiz to find out — and see if you can find the correct speaker for other famous comments.
Fed up with what they see as a lack of representation at the California Capitol and overregulation, supervisors in the far Northern California county of Siskiyou, which includes Yreka, have voted in favor of secession.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 10:59 am
There's a big race right now to become the 51st state.
Forget traditional contenders like Puerto Rico. In several existing states, residents of less populous areas are hoping to create new states of their own.
Citizens in 11 mostly northeastern Colorado counties are among them. They'll vote on Nov. 5 whether to break off and form their own state. Many are unhappy about liberal state legislation they believe reflects the values of the Denver-Boulder corridor, but not their part of the world.
Louie talks with UTEP Political Science professor Dr. Jose Villalobos about the courses he teaches on Congress and the presidency. Dr. Villalobos' students, Michelle Rojas and Robert Maddox, join in the conversation and offer their views on everything from Obamacare, Syria, and the budget. Dr. Villalobos recommends this website to anyone wanting to learn more about politics: http://www.realclearpolitics.com.
President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Russia in September in happier times before revelations that the NSA electronically eavesdropped on U.S. allies.
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 8:54 am
Good morning, fellow political junkies.
It's the last week of October. That means the administration has just a month to meet its self-imposed deadline to have the Affordable Care Act website running as efficiently as it and millions of Americans had originally envisioned.
But the first item in our Monday political mix of some of the more interesting tidbits that caught my eye this morning indicates why setting such a deadline might be easier than meeting it.
Senators and representative hold budget talks this week, a meeting that should have been routine but was not arranged until after a government shutdown. Now Democrats and Republicans are supposed to set a framework for federal spending, on everything from defense to education to helping seniors.
Ron Brownstein of National Journal says it's going to be hard because of both party's political calculations. He starts us off with Democrats.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Political professionals like to keep an eye on the only two governors races to come year after each presidential election. In 2005, Democrats won the races in New Jersey and Virginia. They went on to dominate congressional races the year after.
Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 4:17 pm
The next state to legalize same-sex marriage may be Hawaii, where the state's Legislature will begin a special session on the issue Monday. The governor called the session so that lawmakers could consider the Marriage Equality Act, which would allow same-sex couples to wed.
There's little doubt that the Obama administration would like a health care website do-over.
Since its rollout Oct. 1, Obamacare's online insurance exchange sign-up, critical to success of the health care overhaul, has been a well-documented disaster.
The White House, in addition to managing considerable political fallout, also is dealing with a big, fat public relations problem. Just how does the administration go about winning the trust of the American people after the October Obamacare debacle?