Republicans willing to drop the ‘Norquist Pledge’ and hear out Susan Rice

November 25, 2012
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing in Washington, D.C. on March 10, 2011. (Washington Post/Linda Davidson)

Two high-profile Republicans Sunday joined a growing chorus of GOP officials willing to part ways with at least part of the anti-tax pledge pushed in recent years by activist Grover Norquist, more evidence that lawmakers appear willing to part ways with party orthodoxy in order to strike a deal averting the “fiscal cliff.”

“I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “What do you do with the money?  I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”

 On the same ABC program, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pushed again to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but added that reforming Medicare and Medicaid should also be part of the debate over paying down the federal deficit.

Over on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also pushed for increased taxes on high-income earners, saying that they are necessary to raise revenues.

Levin appeared just before Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who said he agreed with recent comments by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) that the Norquist pledge is outdated and detrimental to paying down government debt.

“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King told NBC. “For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed and the economic situation is different.”

Watch Levin and King below.

Sustained Republican criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice also was a topic of discussion Sunday. Graham and King once again pressed Rice to better explain her justifications for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared to lessen his critique of Rice, telling “Fox News Sunday” that he’s willing to meet with her — and possibly vote to confirm her — if she’s willing to answer some questions.

“I’d give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. I’d be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her,” McCain told Fox. “Why did she say that — why did she say that al-Qaeda has been decimated in her statement here on this program?”

“I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself and her position, just as she said,” McCain added later.

There was a special edition of CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, as moderator Candy Crowley conducted a joint interview with retiring Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). The quartet discussed the declining popularity of Congress, partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, the unexpected resignation of former CIA director David Petraeus and what they plan to do once they retire.

Continuing its interview series with newly-elected Hispanic lawmakers, “Al Punto with Jorge Ramos” spoke Sunday with Rep.-elect Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) about the ascension of him and his brother and about Mitt Romney’s comments suggesting that President Obama gave “gifts” to key constituencies to ensure his reelection. Check out the clip below.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Ed O'Keefe | November 21, 2012