Tales from the Trail

In House, bipartisanship is in eye of the beholder

A top Democrat is fed up with House Republican Leader John Boehner citing their work together years ago as an example of Boehner’s commitment to bipartisanship.

Representative George Miller says Boehner — in line to become House speaker if Republicans win the chamber in the Nov. 2 election — is long-time partisan and everyone should know it.

“The fact is, the only bipartisan moment Representative Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago” on an education bill that Republican President George W. Bush “had made a priority,” Miller said. “Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class.” BUSH TAXES

Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, on Friday accused Miller of “revisionist history,” and charged that President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have been the ones shutting Republicans out of the legislative process the past two years.

Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, issued his statement on Thursday, shortly after Boehner publicly pointed to their joint efforts from 2001 to 2006 while Boehner was chairman of the Education committee and Miller was its top Democrat.

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

OBAMA/

CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he’s not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

The poll, which has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, comes at a time when many voters are angry about the country’s economic straits, including high unemployement and an exploding fiscal deficit. Clinton’s two-term presidency was marked not only by impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal but also by buoyant growth and a balanced budget.

Obama sounds note of optimism about Democrats and November

AFGHANISTAN/OBAMAPresident Barack Obama sounded an optimistic note about the Democratic Party’s prospects in upcoming congressional midterm elections, saying in an NBC interview  that Democrats would “do just fine” if they could keep the focus on issues of substance.   

“The question for voters over the next five weeks is: Who is putting forward policies that have a chance to move our country forward so that our schools have improved, so that we have a world-class infrastructure, so that we’re serious about helping small business, we’re serious about getting a handle on our spending, and who’s just engaging in rhetoric?” the president said near the end of a half-hour interview devoted mainly to education issues.

“And I think that if that debate is taking place over the next five weeks, we are going to do just fine,” he said. 

from Summit Notebook:

If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

"She'll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it's the middle that's anticipated to get cratered in this election," Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  "Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes."

from Summit Notebook:

Berman: House may be “lame” after elections but won’t be paralyzed

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs hasn't lost his sense of humor...yet.

USA/Representative Howard Berman said he has been struggling for 24 years to get Congress to ease up on travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba. He's determined to get it through his committee this year, even if it doesn't happen until after the November election when the lawmakers are in "lame duck" session.

"We're lame but we're not paralyzed," he told the Reuters Washington Summit when asked if it was possible to still get bills out of committee and to the full House for a vote during the time between the November election and the beginning of the new session in January.

Cleveland was no accident, Gibbs confirms

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed what had been suspected.

USA/OBAMAThere was a reason for choosing Cleveland as the venue for President Barack Obama’s economy speech on Wednesday and his name is John Boehner — the man who would likely be House Speaker if Republicans oust the Democrats from control on Nov. 2.

Cleveland was where House Republican leader Boehner gave his economy speech two weeks ago in which he suggested Obama toss out his economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House economic adviser Larry Summers.

And it’s no accident that Boehner and Obama are paying so much attention to Ohio less than two months before the congressional elections – it’s a swing state with a crucial Senate race and several competitive House races.

House investigators recommend reprimand for Rangel

USA-CONGRESS/RANGELSome of Representative Charles Rangel’s colleagues thought the New York Democrat merited a reprimand rather than a more serious punishment of censure or expulsion for alleged violations of ethics rules in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The recommendation we had was a reprimand,” Representative Gene Green, who led the two-year House ethics committee investigation into Rangel, told reporters on Friday.

The investigation by a subcommittee of four members of the House Ethics Committee has ended and Rangel, 80, has been charged with 13 counts of violating House rules.

Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker

Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of  the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.

For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.

USA-HEALTHCARE/“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.

Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party

There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.

The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus. USA-HEALTHCARE/

“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.

Don’t tell anyone, but Pelosi upset her criticism of Gibbs leaked

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear she’s upset — “ticked off” — that her private criticism of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs leaked out. OBAMA/

That’s the word from one of Pelosi’s fellow Democrats who attended another closed-door meeting with her on Thursday, two days after her now well-publicized complaints about President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman.

“She said these meetings should be an opportunity for us to speak candidly with each other,” said the Democrat, asking not to be identified by name. “She was ticked off it leaked out.”