From POLITICAL HOTSHEET at CBS NEWS:
Vice President Joe Biden’s deficit reduction talks imploded today after the only two Republicans involved in the negotiations announced they are halting their participation because of their objections to Democratic demands for “tax increases.”
Democrats meanwhile, suggested Republicans are “playing with fire” by holding up a vote on raising the debt ceiling.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced this morning that he would skip today’s scheduled meeting because “Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases.”
Subsequently, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona announced he was pulling out of the negotiations.
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From the Christian Post:
A conservative Christian group sent Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who in 2007 confessed to using the services of a high-profile prostitution ring, a letter Monday calling on him to follow former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s lead and resign.
Several Democratic leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, had called for Weiner’s resignation.
Unlike Weiner, Vitter, who admitted to “serious sin” in 2007 after his number was disclosed by the alleged prostitution ring “D.C. Madam,” never faced the same pressure from fellow Republicans to resign following his scandal.
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So maybe it wasn’t the best timing in the world: Even as House Republicans face tough questions at their town hall meetings about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Speaker John Boehner has given an interview in which he said Ryan’s plan was an idea “worthy of consideration” and that he wasn’t “wedded to it.”
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Tuesday’s breakdown in Republican discipline weakens Speaker John Boehner’s hand in White House budget talks and raises the chances of a government shutdown next month unless he and President Barack Obama greatly step up their game.
Fifty-four Republicans broke ranks with Boehner, leaving him suddenly dependent on Democrats to win House approval of a must-pass three-week spending bill to keep the government operating past Friday. Tea-party-backed freshmen contributed to the embarrassment, but an equal force was a set of more veteran conservatives — some with their own political agenda but also more willing to risk an immediate fight with the White House.
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From The Houston Chronicle:
There was U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, in her coveted State of the Union perch along the aisle. Wearing an eye-catching lime-green jacket, she got her brief moment of TV exposure and a handshake from President Barack Obama, as usual, as the president made his way into the august chamber of the House.
This time, though, instead of sitting in a bloc with her fellow Democrats, Lee sat beside a real live Republican, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land.
The two Houston lawmakers were enthusiastic participants in the State of the Union “date night,” a bipartisan gesture prompted by the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., earlier this month.
The pre-speech curiosity was almost Oscar-night giddy — or maybe prom-night giddy — as lawmakers over the past several days paired off.
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From POLITICAL CORRECTION:
The tragic shootings in Tucson prompted calls for civility from politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) proposal for Democrats and Republicans to sit together at the State of the Union. But yesterday on Scott Hennen’s radio show, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) — who is best known for his frequent bouts of incivility — vehemently rejected the idea of mixed seating at the presidential address. Responding to a caller who described Udall’s suggestion as a “slap in the face” to conservative voters, Broun [said:]
Our leadership said you do whatever you want to do. If you wanna sit with the Democrats, you can. If you wanna sit with Republicans, that you can. We’re going to have a conference next week and I’m gonna bring that up there. I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing. They don’t want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show — to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now. Then when people stand up to — what the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, um, if they’re scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won’t be as noticeable as if we’re sitting apart. So it is a ruse and I’m not in favor of it and I’m talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait.
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From the NY DAILY NEWS:
House Speaker John Boehner is taking heat from some Democrats after skipping out on Wednesday’s memorial service for the shooting victims in Arizona and instead hosting a cocktail party for the Republican National Committee.
The Ohio Republican turned down President Obama‘s invitation to travel on Air Force One to Tucson, Politico reported.
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