Tales from the Trail

U.S. government shutdown bad for courts, judges warn

Nearly all trials and other federal court proceedings might come to a halt if the U.S. government shuts down because Congress cannot agree on the budget, the federal judiciary’s policy-making body warned.

The 27-member group, which is made up of judges from around the country and which meets twice a year, received a report warning of “potentially dire consequences” for the federal judiciary if a funding measure is not adopted soon. USA/

David Sentelle, chief judge of the U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., told reporters a shutdown would mean court personnel, jurors, pretrial services and others in the judiciary would not get paid.

“Litigation might be grinding to a halt for awhile,” he said after the meeting, in which members of Congress briefed the group on efforts to reach an agreement on spending.

A stopgap funding measure to keep the government operating through April 8 is expected to be approved by Congress this week. But a deal has yet to be reached on keeping the government funded through the rest of the fiscal year.

Obama, lawmakers may lose own paychecks in government shutdown

President Barack Obama and members of Congress may soon have added incentive to reach a budget deal and avert a possible government shutdown: their own six-figure salaries.

OBAMA-SPEECH/The Democratic-led Senate unanimously passed a bill on late Tuesday to deny pay to the president and U.S. lawmakers during government shutdowns. The measure now goes to the Republican-led House for final congressional approval, which would clear the way for Obama to sign it into law.

“If we fail to keep the government operating, which is our basic responsibility, then we don’t deserve a paycheck,” said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, a chief sponsor of the bill.

from Summit Notebook:

Hensarling proud of fiscal conservative creds, embraces Tea Party allies

It is clear that House Financial Services Committee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling is proud of his credentials as a fiscal conservative.

He may have more competition for that label after the November election swept in members of the Tea Party. But he sees that as a good thing. FINANCE-SUMMIT/HENSARLING

Hensarling eased into the position of  House Republican Conference chair after avoiding an internal battle for the fourth highest slot in House Republican leadership when Michele Bachmann, who started the congressional Tea Party Caucus, stepped aside.

Washington Extra – Action or inaction

Pizza as a predictor?

CONGRESS GUNFIRECongress returns next week and will decide by action or inaction whether the federal government shuts down.

The White House sounded a note of optimism (which at this point is the only way to go — best to save the podium pounding for when it gets down to the wire).

“All of us agree that a government shutdown would be bad for the economy,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We believe that a compromise can be reached. But I’m not going to speculate on a position, what position we may or may not hold down the road.”

Washington grow up? Don’t hold your breath

President Barack Obama said he wants a mature discussion between politicians of all stripes as the White House and members of Congress try to make tough decisions on spending and taxes necessary to run the government and deal with a ballooning budget deficit.obama1

“My hope is that what’s different this time is, is we have an adult conversation where everybody says here’s what’s important and here’s how we’re going to pay for it,” Obama told a news conference Tuesday.

Don’t hold your breath.

Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 with a pledge to seek common ground between Democrats and Republicans, but his time in office has been marked by bitter fighting and few issues garnering bipartisan support.

Washington Extra – Wave goodbye

Might be time for a remake of an old classic film, with a contemporary twist: Mr. Smith gets out of Washington (or should that be Dodge?)

More and more lawmakers are deciding it’s time, enough is enough, see ya. The Number 2 Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl, today announced he won’t seek reelection next year, with a quaint “my heart says it is time to go.”  USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

While not an elected official, Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh said today he was stepping down from the central bank’s powerful board.

Is Rand Paul a U.S. Senate action hero?

RTR9KH6_Comp-150x150It didn’t take Rand Paul long to become Captain America of the U.S. Senate. He’s tough-minded, strong-willed and he’s ready to battle the most dangerous titans on the political landscape, like Social Security and Medicare.

In fact, the Republican Tea Party favorite from Kentucky tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a courageous and comprehensive plan for fixing America’s public finances will soon be on the march. And if all goes as planned, much may be accomplished before the start of this year’s Major League Baseball season.

“Within two to three weeks, I’m going to propose a fix for Social Security,” says Rand, son of Ron, who has already far surpassed the fiscal aims of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill by proposing $500 billion in budget cuts.

California Democrat Jane Harman plans to step down from Congress

Democrat Jane Harman plans to resign from her congressional seat representing California’s 36th district if she is named to head a Washington think tank.

USA/In a letter to constituents, Harman said she had filed paperwork notifying the House that she is in discussions to succeed Lee Hamilton as president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “I send this note because a decision is imminent and I wanted you to hear the news from me first,” Harman writes.

“This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress.  But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge,” Harman writes.

Americans want Tea Party ideas in Republican brew – poll

Americans think Republicans should listen to their Tea Party colleagues, not ignore them.

In the aftermath of November elections that gave some Tea Party supported candidates seats in Congress, a Gallup poll finds that most Americans believe that Republicans should take into account Tea Party ideas when they tackle the problems facing the country. OBAMA-SPEECH/

The poll found that 71 percent of adults, and 88 percent of Republicans, say it is important that Republican leaders in Congress consider Tea Party movement ideas. The survey was conducted Jan. 14-16, more than a week before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25.

Washington Extra – Laundry list

The White House is promising that tomorrow’s State of the Union address will be something different.

And by that, they apparently mean it will not be a dry recitation of all the things that need to be done. “I don’t think you’ll see a laundry list of issues,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declared. OBAMA/

Well then, how will President Barack Obama get his points across about all that’s on the plate for this year and all the help he’s going to need from a politically divided Congress?