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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Senators Schumer, Barrasso Spar on Looming Sequester - Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted Sunday that Republicans would eventually accept Democrats’ combination of closing tax loopholes and spending cuts to replace sequestration.

“I think that the Democrats have the high ground both substantively and politically, and we will win on this issue. … I believe that just like on the ‘fiscal cliff,’ Republicans will come on board. They have no choice,” Schumer said on CNN’s
State of the Union.

But Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) rejected the notion that Republicans would need to accept new tax hikes to replace the $85 billion of cuts slated for March 1.

He said a Senate Democratic package released last week had little chance of passing. That plan called for $55 billion in spending cuts and another $55 billion in tax code changes. Of the spending cuts, half would come from the Defense Department, and half from ending direct farm subsidies.

It also would have called for an income tax increase on Americans making at least $1 million per year, which Republicans have resisted. has more here.


First Details of White House Immigration Reform Emerge - An overhaul of the nation’s immigration system being drafted by the White House would allow illegal immigrants to seek permanent legal residency — the first step to citizenship — within eight years.

The draft bill would allow the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to seek a “lawful prospective immigrant” visa, if they paid fees, submitted biometric information and passed a criminal background check. That would allow them to live and work freely in the country without fear of deportation, as well as to travel for brief time periods out of the country.

In eight years, they could then seek a green card, which would afford them permanent residency if they learned English and paid back taxes. Currently, those who hold a green card for at least five years can then seek citizenship. USA Today has more here.


Hagel Inches Forward to Confirmation - on the Sunday morning political talk shows, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indicated Hagel was likely to receive confirmation next week.  They both had supported the filibuster against the confirmation of Chuch Hagel for defense secretary.

"I'm confident that Sen. Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of defense," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Graham announced on "Fox News Sunday" that Hagel sent him a letter, saying that he did not recall making the remark in a 2007 speech at Rutgers University. In that speech, the former Republican senator from Nebraska reportedly said the State Department was an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister's office. Graham, also a Republican, called that alleged remark "disturbing," as critics said it was part of a pattern where President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of defense has taken stances seen as hostile to Israel.

"He did not recall saying that," Graham said of Hagel's letter. "He disavows saying that. ... If that's true, that would end that matter."


Menendez Ethics Continue to Receive Scrutiny - Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has been embroiled in a controversy involving his relations with a Miami campaign contributor and the awarding of a security contract at a port in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez, whose relationship with Melgen is the subject of a Senate ethics inquiry, was a major beneficiary of the doctor’s generosity, repeatedly flying on his private plane to the Dominican Republic, staying as a guest at his seaside mansion and receiving large campaign contributions. Melgen donated $700,000 to Menendez and other Senate Democrats last year. The senator was also the most powerful champion of the port deal, publicly urging U.S. officials to pressure Dominican authorities to enforce the contract.  The Washington Post has more here.


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