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Archive for May 16th, 2007

Here’s a quick update that I felt was simply too interesting (it would be funny if so many lives weren’t at stake) to pass up.

Coming in after the debacle that was yesterday’s AP-Ipsos poll demonstrating America’s disapproval of President Bush is only exceeded by their displeasure in the obviously impotent job performance of the newly elected Democratic congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, frustrated with the Republican minority, is now going back to the drawing board. Way back in fact–all the way back to 1822.

Is this the progress Democrats and liberals have been promising? Do you think? Progress? Ahem.


PELOSI LOWERS THE BOOM
Wed May 16 2007 14:43:59 ET

After losing a string of embarrassing votes on the House floor because of procedural maneuvering, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided to change the current House Rules to completely shut down the floor to the minority.

The Democratic Leadership is threatening to change the current House Rules regarding the Republican right to the Motion to Recommit or the test of germaneness on the motion to recommit. This would be the first change to the germaneness rule since 1822.

In protest, the House Republicans are going to call procedural motions every half hour.

Developing...

Iraq Withdrawal Move Thwarted in Senate

 

May 16, 11:34 AM (ET)

By ANNE FLAHERTY

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 31, 2008.

The vote was a loss for Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and other Democrats who want to end the war. But the effort picked up support from members, including presidential hopefuls previously reluctant to limit war funding – an indication of the conflict’s unpopularity among voters.

The proposal lost 29-67 on a procedural vote, falling 31 votes short of the necessary votes to advance. Of the 67 senators who opposed Feingold’s proposal, there were 19 Democrats, 47 Republicans and Connecticut Independent Joseph Lieberman. Of the 29 supporting, 28 were Democrats and Vermont Independent Bernard Sanders.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democratic presidential front-runner, previously opposed setting a deadline on the war. But she said she agreed to back the measure “because we, as a united party, must work together with clarity of purpose and mission to begin bringing our troops home and end this war.”

Sen. Barack Obama, another leading 2008 prospect, said he would prefer a plan that offers more flexibility but wanted “to send a strong statement to the Iraqi government, the president and my Republican colleagues that it’s long past time to change course.”

The proposal had been expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance under Senate rules, but was intended to gauge the tolerance of members on anti-war legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid staged a series of war votes Wednesday to inform negotiations with the House on a war spending bill.

“We stand united…. in our belief that troops are enmeshed in an intractable civil war,” said Reid, D-Nev.

Feingold’s measure, co-sponsored by Reid and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., proved divisive for Democrats.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he opposes any measure that cuts off money for the war.

“We don’t want to send the message to the troops” that Congress does not support them, said Levin, D-Mich. “We’re going to support those troops.”

But other Democrats said the move was necessary.

“I’m not crazy about the language in the Feingold amendment, but I am crazy about the idea that we have to keep the pressure on,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who also wants the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Senate vote on Feingold’s legislation was one of several expected Wednesday, as the Democratic-controlled Congress struggles to clear legislation for Bush’s signature by the end of next week to continue U.S. military operations through Sept. 30.

The House last week passed legislation funding the war on two separate, 60-day installments.

The Senate must take the next step by passing its own measure. Given the political forces at work, that legislation will be a placeholder, its only purpose to trigger three-way negotiations involving the House, Senate and Bush administration on a final compromise.

As a result, officials said Tuesday that Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had discussed jointly advancing a bill so barebones that it would contain no funds and do little more than express congressional support for the troops.

Negotiations on the final compromise are expected to take days.

Wednesday’s votes on Feingold and other proposals “will provide strong guidance to our conferees and help shape the conference negotiations we have ahead of us,” said Reid.

In addition to Feingold’s measure, members were expected to vote on legislation by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., that would threaten billions of dollars in U.S. aid for Iraq if Baghdad does not make progress on certain military and political reforms.

Reid said he would oppose Warner’s measure because it doesn’t go far enough; the proposal would allow the president to waive the restriction on foreign aid.

“It is nothing,” said Reid.

Levin pulled from the floor his proposal to set an Oct. 1 date to begin troop withdrawals, but allow the president to waive that requirement. He had pitched the idea with the expectation that the president would accept it because of the waiver; but, Levin said Wednesday he had been advised by the White House that the president would veto the measure regardless.

Poll: Congress, Bush share low approval

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer Fri May 11, 3:49 PM ET

WASHINGTON – People think the Democratic-led Congress is doing just as dreary a job as

President Bush

, following four months of bitter political standoffs and little progress on

Iraq

and a host of domestic issues.

An AP-Ipsos poll also found that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) is a more popular figure than the president and her colleagues on Capitol Hill, though she faces a gender gap in which significantly more women than men support her.

The survey found only 35 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, down 5 percentage points in a month. That gives lawmakers the same bleak approval rating as Bush, who has been mired at about that level since last fall, including his dip to a record low for the AP-Ipsos poll of 32 percent last January.

“It’s mostly Iraq” plus a lack of progress in other areas, said Rep. Tom Cole (news, bio, voting record), R-Okla., who heads the House GOP’s campaign committee. “These are not good numbers for an incumbent, and it doesn’t matter if you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name.”

Democrats agree that the problem is largely Iraq, which has dominated this year’s session of Congress while producing little more than this month’s Bush veto of a bill requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops. It has also overshadowed House-passed bills on stem cell research, student loans and other subjects that the White House opposes, they say.

“People are unhappy, there hasn’t been a lot of change in direction, for example in Iraq,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (news, bio, voting record), D-Md., chairman of House Democrats’ campaign effort.

Rising gasoline prices could also be a factor, lawmakers said.

In another measure of popular discontent, the survey found that 71 percent say the country is on the wrong track — about even with the 73 percent who said so last May, the worst level since the AP-Ipsos poll began in December 2003.

The survey was taken Monday through Wednesday, before Bush offered to seek compromise with congressional Democrats over a war spending bill setting benchmarks for progress in Iraq.

Bush told reporters Thursday that if pollsters had asked his opinion about Iraq last fall, “I’d have said I disapprove of what was going on in Iraq. They could have put me down as part of the disapproval process.”

That was before his decision to send nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, which “would more likely cause me to approve of what’s going on in Iraq,” he added.

Overall approval of Bush was steady from last month, but fell to 69 percent among Republicans, about 7 percentage points below where it had been in April. Earlier this week, a group of GOP moderate House members warned Bush that the status quo in Iraq could mean Republican election losses next year.

“If the war doesn’t begin to turn around, Republicans will have problems,” said Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record), R-N.Y., who said he supports Bush’s Iraq policy.

White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment on the poll.

Congress’ approval rating this week was 10 points higher than a year ago, when Republicans were in control.

But after bumping up in April, this month’s drop left lawmakers’ job approval where it was when the year began. April saw Congress defy Bush and send him a bill financing the war and requiring a troop withdrawal, which he vetoed May 1.

“People wanted change in Washington” on many issues, not just Iraq, said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic leadership. “I’m not surprised about where people are. They’re hearing only about Iraq.”

Congress’ reduced appeal was evident in several categories of people. Only 48 percent of Democrats said they approved of Congress, down from 55 percent last month. That included a 12 percentage point drop among Democratic women, though support from Democratic men remained steady.

Approval by minorities also fell a dozen points to 39 percent, with a similar reduction among people whose family incomes exceed $75,000.

By region, the steepest drop was in the Midwest, where approval fell by 10 percentage points to 28 percent. Congress’ highest approval was in the Northeast, where four in ten gave it a positive rating.

As for Pelosi, D-Calif., her overall approval of 45 percent stood 10 points higher than Bush’s and Congress’.

She was seen favorably by 52 percent of women, but only 39 percent of men. While whites are closely split about her, minorities approve of her job by a 15-point margin.

Pelosi’s numbers are about where she was last month but slightly lower than in January. In the last month, she has lost significant support from younger voters, college-educated women and Westerners.

“Voters are frustrated by the fact that the president refuses to change direction on Iraq,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.

Bush’s approval ratings are lowest for his handling of Iraq and domestic issues including health care, with about one-third seeing him favorably. About four in 10 like the job he is doing on the economy and foreign policy.

Men give the president higher grades than women do, whites higher than minorities, and married people higher than singles.

The AP-Ipsos survey involved telephone interviews with 1,000 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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