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GOP Focus for Congress; Cut Deficit, Don’t Stumble

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides to the House chamber  on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides to the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Alan Fram, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the first Republican-dominated Congress to confront President Barack Obama, GOP leaders will focus on bolstering the economy and cutting the budget — and oh yes, avoiding self-inflicted calamities that make voters wonder if the party can govern competently.

When the new Congress raises the curtain Tuesday, Republicans will run both the House and Senate for the first time in eight years. GOP leaders want to showcase their legislative priorities, mixing accomplishments with showdowns with Obama but shunning government shutdowns and other chaotic standoffs.

Another priority is minimizing distractions like the recent admission by No. 3 House leader Steve Scalise, R-La., that he addressed a white supremacist group in 2002.

“Serious adults are in charge here and we intend to make progress,” incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Associated Press recently.

McConnell says the Senate’s first bill would force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which Republicans call a job creator but Obama and many Democrats say threatens the environment.

The House leads off with legislation letting small companies sidestep some requirements of Obama’s prized health care overhaul by hiring veterans, followed by other measures weakening that law and pushing the Keystone pipeline.

Other bills likely early would block Obama’s executive actions on immigration and ease environmental and business regulations that the GOP contends stifles job growth. Additional bills would cut spending, squeeze Medicare and other benefit programs, revamp tax laws, finance highway construction and speed congressional approval of trade treaties.

“We’re focused on job creation,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and running “a more efficient, effective, accountable government.”

Democrats say the GOP’s goal is cutting taxes on the rich while crippling Obama’s accomplishments, including expanded health coverage and restrictions on financial institutions.

“In the minority, your role is to play defense and stop the worst from happening,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

Republicans captured Senate control in November’s midterm elections, adding nine seats for a 54-46 advantage that includes two Democratic-leaning independents. A 13-seat gain swelled their House majority to a commanding 246-188 with one vacancy, the result of New York Republican Michael Grimm’s planned resignation following his guilty plea on a tax evasion charge.

With McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, jointly mapping an agenda and scheduling long congressional work periods, goals and potential pitfalls include:

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DISTRACTIONS AND THE CALENDAR

GOP leaders still face tea party lawmakers. Their recalcitrance helped produce stalemates with Obama that excited conservative Republican voters but appalled others, causing GOP approval to plummet. Top Republicans want to ensure that Scalise’s 2002 speech, for which he has apologized, doesn’t hurt their efforts to appeal to more diverse voters.

Another complication: By autumn 2015, the developing presidential race could distract voters from congressional Republicans’ messaging.

“We want things arriving at the president’s desk, and a lot of those things happening sooner rather than later,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “It’s not helpful to us if we drag into spring or summer and the stories are, ‘It’s a do-nothing Congress’ or a confrontation.”

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ENOUGH REPUBLICANS?

McConnell will often need at least six Democrats for the 60 Senate votes required to overcome filibusters, procedural delays aimed at scuttling bills. Republicans will need two-thirds majorities in each chamber, impossible without Democratic support, to override Obama vetoes that await bills threatening his health care law and his actions easing immigration rules.

McConnell says at an upcoming House-Senate Republican retreat, he will warn, “Don’t get your expectations so high that you’re inevitably going to be disappointed.”

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IMMIGRATION

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces immigration laws, runs through late February.

House Republicans plan to quickly vote to finance that agency through September but are still discussing how to use that bill to block Obama’s executive actions deferring deportation for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally. That measure’s Senate fate and GOP strategy for an Obama veto remain unclear.

Republicans rule out a sweeping immigration overhaul like the Senate-passed, bipartisan 2013 measure. They plan narrower bills that could attract Democrats, bolstering border security and easing immigration restrictions on highly skilled and farm workers.

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HEALTH CARE

Republicans are itching to vote to repeal Obama’s 2010 health care law, knowing that would never get his signature.

They’re preparing measures repealing the medical device tax and ending the requirement that people buy medical coverage. They would also exempt companies from providing coverage to employees who work under 40 hours weekly, up from the current 30 hours.

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BUDGET AND TAXES

The new House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., expects his chamber to approve a budget similar to blueprints written by former chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ending deficits in a decade, trimming spending and overhauling benefits like Medicare. Senate Republicans want belt-tightening, but McConnell didn’t promise a balanced budget in 10 years.

Republicans want to rewrite tax laws but progress is uncertain. They want to lower rates for corporations and for businesses whose owners pay individual taxes, with lost revenue recovered by eliminating unspecified tax breaks. Democrats want the exercise to raise fresh revenue, partly to boost dwindling highway funds.

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ALSO PLANNED

Price wants to use legislation preventing a federal default, around summer, to pressure Obama to cut spending, calling such bills “pinch points to get good policy.” McConnell said with GOP congressional control, a default showdown is unneeded because of other opportunities, such as must-pass spending bills, that the GOP can use to constrain agencies.

Republicans want to send Obama measures that the GOP-led House passed the past two years but died in the Democratic-run Senate. These include bills blocking Environmental Protection Agency curbs on pollution and easing business regulations. The GOP calls these measures job creators; Democrats call them favors for special interests.

Republicans also want to consider legislation blocking Obama’s normalized relations with Cuba, penalizing Iran and authorizing force against Islamic State militants.

 
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Politics

After Winning Recall Election, Newsom Says “Let’s Get Back to Work”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Speaking, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

It looks like Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in the office he won in 2018 after he secured an insurmountable lead in votes counted so far in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.

Several media outlets projected shortly before midnight Tuesday that the attempt to remove Newsom from office failed.

About an hour after thanking Californians for keeping him in office, Newsom tweeted, “Now, let’s get back to work.”

Larry Elder, a conservative Republican Los Angeles-based talk show host, who was the leading candidate vying to remove Newsom from office conceded the race. A total of 46 candidates were on the ballot to replace Newsom.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” Elder said after the results started pouring in and it was obvious he had no chance of winning.  “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

With about 67% of all votes counted on September 14, only a little over 35% voted ‘yes’ on the recall.

Reactions on social media included the following:

Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), Assembly Speaker Pro Tem tweeted, “A $276 million waste just to reaffirm 2018’s results with an election coming in 2022. The CA recall process must be reformed including elevating the Lt. Guv in the event of a recall. But to avoid partisan power grabs the Governor/LG should be a ticket of the same party (like NY).”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis wrote, “Thank you California for recognizing that @GavinNewsom is exactly where he needs to be, in the Governor’s office! His commitment to the people of California is unwavering and I look forward to his continued leadership of our great state!”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA 37) tweeted, “Proud of our governor. Proud of our people. Proud of California.”

Newsom told supporters, although Californians voted “no” to the recall, he wants to focus on all the things they were saying ‘yes’ to by their votes.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said ‘yes’ to science. We said ‘yes’ to vaccines. We said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic. We said ‘yes’ to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

The gubernatorial recall was the fifth statewide vote Dr. Shirley Weber has overseen since she was appointed Secretary of State on January 19. Throughout the process, Weber, a former assemblymember who represented the 79th District in San Diego County, says she worked hard to make sure that voter fraud or the talk of fraud of would not interfere in the results of this election.

“We worked hard to secure our elections. There’s no evidence of fraud or miscounting,” Weber said on CNN. “As Secretary of State, we’ve been even-handed in how we’ve handled every issue. I was sued by the governor as well as by others because of some of the decisions we made that were fair and just.”

Weber’s office has 30 days to certify the recall election once all of the votes have been counted. If there are any discrepancies, Weber said those issues will be addressed.

“I like to say to those that continue to challenge this issue of fairness and so forth, I always say, ‘where’s the evidence?’” Weber said. “We are willing to accept the evidence as it is not just to simply (claim) open-ended allegations of fraud and deceptions. Those things are easy to say. But we have yet to get evidence of fraud and deception.”

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Bay Area

New Assemblymember Mia Bonta to Caucus With 3 Legislative Groups

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

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Assemblymember Mia Bonta, (third from left), with (left to right) Senator Steve Bradford, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurman, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, assemblymembers Isaac Bryan Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Kevin McCarty.

Soon after Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) was sworn in last week to represent California’s 18th Assembly District — which covers parts of East Bay — she signed on as a member of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (CLWC), the California Latino Legislative Caucus (CLLC), and the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC).

Bonta is the 11th member of the Black Caucus and the only lawmaker representing a district in the Bay Area. In the Latino Caucus, she is the 30th member, and out of 120 lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature, she is the 39th woman.

“Special congratulations to our newest member @MiaBonta, who was sworn into the Assembly this morning! #AD18 has chosen a fantastically fearless representative, and I look forward to working with you Assemblymember Bonta! #CALeg,” wrote Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D- San Diego).

Mialisa “Mia” Tania Bonta, who is Puerto Rican of African descent, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1993 and a Master of Education (Ed.M.) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1996. Bonta also received a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1999.

Her work experience includes over 20 years working with nonprofits, including serving as CEO of Oakland Promise, a college and career prep program for Alameda County high school students.  She was also president of the Alameda Unified School District Board from 2018 to 2021.

“Congratulations to @MiaBonta on her election to the Assembly, which not only made her the first Afro Latina in the Legislature, but also raised the number of women in the Legislature to an all-time high,” California Lt. Gov., Eleni Kounalakis stated on Twitter.

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

“I am deeply honored to represent the 18th Assembly District. Our district has a long history of bold, progressive, leadership and I plan to continue this work in our diverse district,” Bonta tweeted September 7. “I’m ready to fight for bold solutions to issues like homelessness, housing affordability, climate change, and criminal justice reform for AD-18 and all Californians. I am ready to get to work.”

Bonta steps in to replace her husband, Rob Bonta, who vacated the AD 18th seat in April after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him California Attorney General, replacing Xavier Becerra, who is now United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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