Tales from the Trail

Boehner confident on getting budget deal, but admits it won’t be easy

House Speaker John Boehner, facing somewhat of a revolt in Republican ranks, says “it is not going to be easy” to craft and win passage of a bipartisan deal to cut spending and fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSBut the top U.S. Republican said he remains confident that it will be done — somehow, some way.

“We never thought it was going to be easy,” Boehner said a day after the House passed a short-term funding bill that 54 of his 240 House Republican colleagues opposed.

Many of these Republicans — some veteran conservatives along with a number of newly elected lawmakers backed by the Tea Party — voted no because they felt that the $6 billion in proposed cuts over three weeks are woefully inadequate.

They also worry that the major policy changes they’re hoping to attach to a spending-cut bill this year will be thrown overboard. They include preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and stopping implementation of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Potential Republican candidates not quite household names

At least they know his name.

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President Barack Obama’s job approval rating fell to 49 percent in March from 51 percent in February, and dropped among independent voters to 37 percent from 47 percent over the same period, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Separate from their view on Obama’s job performance, a majority of Americans — 55 percent — had a favorable opinion of the president personally, according to the poll. That number was unchanged from December, when the question was last asked.

Potential Republican candidates who may seek to challenge Obama in the 2012 presidential race have their work cut out in the name recognition department.

Washington Extra – Two weeks

Perhaps the fifth time will be the charm. (Don’t hold your breath).

OBAMA-SPEECH/Looks like legislation to keep the government funded for another two weeks is heading for approval. “I think we’ll have a vote on that in the next 48 hours,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

But then what?

This would be the fifth temporary measure passed by Congress to prevent a government shutdown this fiscal year. The last one is set to expire on Friday.

That’s a half year the government has functioned on continuing resolutions, with another half year to go. (Yes it adds up).

Boehner gets a taste of Republican budget-cutting zeal in Congress

House Speaker John Boehner got hit by the deep budget-slashing he advocates as the top Republican in Congress.

Many of Boehner’s fellow House Republicans, including a number of those backed by the anti-establishment Tea Party, voted on Wednesday to end a weapons project backed by Boehner in his home state of Ohio.
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Boehner, who promised to bring wide-open debate to the House when he was elected its speaker last month, tried to brush off the setback.

“I am committed to the House working it’s will, and it did yesterday,” Boehner told his weekly news conference on Thursday.

Washington Extra – Let’s do lunch

Mending fences is clearly the White House play of the week.

USA/First a visit to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, now lunch with Republican leaders from Capitol Hill. What next?

President Barack Obama at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow will host House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (that’s two of the three “Young Guns” of Capitol Hill).

Discussion will be heavy on the economy and spending. But if the Republicans are hoping for a heads-up on Obama’s budget proposal, they will be disappointed. “We will save that for them and for you for Monday,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Guess who’s not coming to dinner with Hu

Usually politicians flock to a high-profile event like moths to a flame.

But we’re learning that isn’t quite the style of the new Speaker of the House.

OBAMA-CHINA/The White House is rolling out the red carpet for China’s President Hu Jintao with one of the most formal of all events — the State Dinner.

This will be only the third hosted by President Barack Obama during the two years of his presidency — the previous ones were for the leaders of India and Mexico.

Washington Extra – Circle that date

Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States accepts your invitation.

The pomp and circumstance that surrounds the president’s annual State of the Union address to Congress has begun with the delivery of the invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to President Barack Obama at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. (It’s still on paper, not an Evite). OBAMA/

“A new Congress provides us a renewed opportunity to find common ground and address the priorities of the American people,” Boehner said in the invitation for Obama to address a Joint Session of Congress on January 25.

“Recent events have reminded us of the imperfect nature of our representative democracy, but also how much we cherish the ideal that our government exists to serve the people,” he wrote.

And on the second day, they read…

Day Two of Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives was highlighted with a reading of the 223-year-old Constitution — the document that formed the American government and guides it to this day.

USA-CONGRESS/It’s often a raucous scene on the House floor. Today, it was raucous in the visitors’ gallery, when a woman calling herself “Theresa” disrupted the recitation of the Constitution at the exact point in which a lawmaker read that the president must be a “natural born citizen.”

“Except Obama,” Theresa inserted as her own 28th Amendment to the Constitution and invoking Jesus. It may have been the most prominent performance so far by “birthers,” who claim Barack Obama has no right to be in office because they believe he was born in Africa and not Hawaii.

Washington Extra – hello goodbye

She says goodbye and he says hello.

The House Speaker’s (HUGE) gavel changed hands today, symbolizing the transfer of power to Republicans. Outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi, attacked by Republicans as a symbol of Democratic excesses, took the high road as she repeatedly congratulated new House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican majority.

Boehner started off with some levity and humility — “It’s still just me.” And he didn’t disappoint those watching for his now trademark show of emotion when he dabbed his eyes with a white handkerchief while standing behind Pelosi before the handover. Reuters photojournalist Kevin Lamarque captured the moment, you can see it on our politics blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/ OBAMA/STAFF-GIBBS

There were goodbyes emanating from the White House too. President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs is stepping down from the White House press room podium. “What I’m going to do next is step back a little bit, recharge some … I will have an opportunity I hope to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this president.”

Pelosi says Congress must create jobs, while giving up hers

As she handed over the House Speaker’s gavel to the other party, Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the shoe was now on the other foot and the new Republican-led Congress would be judged by whether it creates jobs.

USA-CONGRESS/The California Democrat, now House minority leader, probably would  like her old job back, and setting such a high performance bar for the Republicans now in charge of the House of Representatives might be one way to get it.

Lessons from the November elections are still burning — it was public anger and anxiety about the economy and job losses that partly led to Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives.