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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
651 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Tuesday, January 27, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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Capitol Hill News
- Keystone Bill Fails Procedural Senate Vote Proponents of Keystone XL were disappointed Monday as a bill to approve the pipeline did not receive the votes necessary to advance in the U.S. Senate. Negotiations on the bill are now stalled, in a rejection of one of the top priorities of the Senate’s new Republican majority.
- To advance to a vote on final passage, the Keystone measure required 60 “yeas” in a Monday cloture vote. The bill fell short, by a vote of 53-39.
- Three centrist Democrats crossed party lines to join all 50 present Republicans in support of the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet (CO), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Manchin (WV). Five other Democrats –Sens.Tom Carper (DE), Bob Casey (PA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), and Mark Warner (VA) – voted for a similar bill approving the Keystone pipeline in November 2014 (although the party normally opposes the pipeline, the bill was brought up by Democrats, which many saw as a ploy to help then-Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was in a tough runoff).
- The bill’s chances were hurt by the large number of absences Monday (eight). Absent senators included Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Minority Leader, who was undergoing eye surgery; John McCain (R-AZ) and Mark Warner (D-VA), traveling with President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia as part of the bipartisan congressional delegation to pay respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah; Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was fundraising in the run-up to a potential presidential campaign; and Mark Kirk (R-IL), who had the flu. McCain, Warner, Rubio, and Kirk, as well as Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) all have supported the Keystone bill in the past.
- With this procedural roadblock, GOP plans to green-light the Keystone oil pipeline, which would run from Canada to America’s Gulf Coast, by legislative means are vanquished. Republicans argue the pipeline will create jobs, although Democrats cite a State Department report stating just 35 permanent jobs would be created by the pipeline. Many Democrats also cite adverse environmental effects when opposing the pipeline.
- The Senate is now back to “square one” with the bill, as negotiations between the two parties will have to reach an agreement before it can start the process again. Either way, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk – which at this point, seems unlikely.
- Senate: Status Update Senate Republicans, not willing to give up on Keystone, are keeping the bill at the top of the chamber’s agenda.
- Before recessing at 12:30 PM for weekly caucus lunches, the chamber will debate the bill to approve the Keystone pipeline, with the time equally divided between Democratic and Republican speakers.
- After the lunches, there may be some movement on Democratic amendments that never got a vote during the initial process. This could help assuage some anger on the Democratic side, and pick up centrist votes from the left when the bill comes up for a vote next.
- Once it was clear Monday that the bill would not advance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) switched his vote to “nay,” based on a procedure that will allow him to bring the measure up to a vote again. This is a sign the GOP is going to keep on trying with Keystone, and vote on it again and again until enough Democrats fall in line.
- House: Status Update The U.S. House today continues voting on human trafficking bills, some of which could not get votes Monday after the chamber adjourned early over worries of a snow storm.
- On the committee side, the Select Committee on Benghazi will hold its third public hearing today. There will be two witnesses: Neil Higgins, Director of Congressional Affairs at the CIA; and Joel Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs. The hearing comes as chairman Trrey Gowdy (R-SC) has come under fire from Democrats over his handling of the committee’s investigation of the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
- Also today, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Ecnomic Outlook, an annual report released Monday by the CBO. The panel will hear testimony from CBO director Douglas Elmendorf. The CBO reported a shrinking deficit and a strong ecnomy bucking expectations, but also projections of the federal deficit going beyond $1 trillion by 2025, due to America’s population consisting of more seniors and less working-age citizens to support them. More on the CBO report, from NPR here.White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule This morning in New Delhi, India, President Obama will meet with Kailish Satyarthi, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the rights of all children to education.”
- After meeting with Satyarthi, Obama will speak at Siri Fort Auditorium in India, as the First Lady attends.
- In the afternoon, the Obamas will travel to Ridyadh, Saudi Arabia. They had planned to spend another full day in India touring the Taj Mahal, but changed their plans to go to Saudi Arabia. In Ridyadh, President Obama will meet with King Salman, the newly appointed Saudi monarch, and pay his respects after the passing of Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah, who died Thursday.
- The president and the monarch will participate in a number of events together, including delegation introductions, a bilateral meeting, and a dinner. President Obama is leading a bipartisan delegation to Saudi Arabia from the United States, including former U.S. National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft (who served under Ford and Bush I), Sandy Berger (who served under Clinton), Stephen Hadley (who served under Bush II); and former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III (who served under Bush I) and Condoleezza Rice (who served under Bush II).
- Obama will also bring along members of his administration, including Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, and Gen. Lloyd Austin II, the head of U.S. Central Command; and members of Congress including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
- Finally, the Obamas will depart Saudi Arabia for Washington, D.C. (where he will arrive Wednesday morning, after a refueling stop in Ramstein, Germany).
- ---LINK: Obama upends his plans to go to Saudi Arabia, where there are strategic interests (oil), but not to stand with America’s longest ally, France, in Paris: “Je suis Abdullah” by Politico’s Edward Isaac-Dovre is here.
- 1945 Auschwitz-Birkenau, a Nazi concentration camp, is liberated.
- The United Nations has declared January 27 to be Holocaust Commemoration Day, and to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation, a ceremony with a number of world leaders will be held in front of the camp’s gates in Oświęcim, Poland today. Led by Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, the ceremony will also include the presidents of France, Germany, Austria, and of other countries.
- A U.S. delegation to the ceremony in Poland will be led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and also include the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; the State Department’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues; the Health and Human Services Department’s Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services; the executive director of the American Jewish Committee; and two Auschwitz survivors.