Was it really only a year ago that we were gearing up for the big unveil of HealthCare.gov, where the uninsured could seamlessly go online and shop for health care as they would for cheap flights?
It was September 2013 when Republicans last sparred with Democrats over the future of President Obama’s health-care law, a disagreement that prompted a 17-day shutdown of the federal government. It was pretty much all anyone on Capitol Hill talked about. Republicans wanted you to know how terrible it was for America, and Democrats wanted you to remember to sign up on Oct. 1.
In that month, the word “Obamacare” was uttered on the House and Senate floors 2,753 times, according to the Sunlight Foundation database of speeches from the Congressional Record.
But with just one full week of work left this month, members of Congress have brought up Obamacare in floor speeches all of 27 times.
(Sunlight’s most current results do not include Thursday’s floor speeches, and the House passed an under-the-radar bill to undermine a part of the law related to employer health plans, so the number of mentions is probably a bit higher.)
With so many other issues at center stage this fall, the health-care law is simply not on voters’ minds. Our colleague Aaron Blake noted this month that polls show voters are generally unhappy with the country’s direction, but few cite Obamacare as the reason why. The issue still galvanizes the Republican base, which is why it’s the subject of many campaign attacks on Democrats, but it’s lost its boogeyman edge.
Congress is spending significantly less time in session this September, so there are fewer words being spoken on the floor overall. But the explosive opposition to the law is now much subdued.
Democrat Michelle Nunn often touts her close relationship with George H.W. Bush when describing her credentials working across party lines. But there had been signs for some time that the former president intended to endorse Republican David Perdue over her in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race. He said as much in the spring and later signed on to a national GOP fundraising letter for Perdue.
The final twist of the knife came Monday, when Bush spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted a statement from the former president saying that any Georgia voter who cares about “America’s future” should vote Perdue.
In Nunn’s first TV ad, she mentioned “leading President Bush’s Points of Light Foundation” and included a photo of the elder Bush standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder.
But as it goes in politics, party often trumps any other allegiance. Bush wants the GOP to take back the majority in the Senate, and the Georgia race is a key piece of that equation.
Nunn has benefited from some GOP support — namely endorsements and financial support from two former Republican senators, Richard Lugar of Indiana and John Warner of Virginia, who served in the Senate with her father, Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).
In a statement Monday, Nunn said that despite the dis from Bush 41, her work with his organization is evidence of her cross-party appeal.
A recent Perdue TV ad aimed at undercutting her work for Bush said the organization gave money to groups associated with terrorists. (FactCheck.org debunked that claim last week.)
Not sure if that “palling around with terrorists” shot came up when Perdue was at the Bushes’ Maine compound over the weekend talking about the endorsement.
No matter. Bush put his endorsement where his party is.
Maybe before we extend the airstrikes against the Islamic State, the White House might want to double-check the geography.
Administration officials, briefing reporters before the president’s Wednesday-night speech, made it clear that borders, especially the one between Syria and Iraq, will not be an impediment to airstrikes.
Speaking “on background,” one official said, “We are dealing with an organization that operates freely across the border, so we will not be restrained by that border in our determination to conduct airstrikes against ISIL.” (Or ISIS. Or the Islamic State.)
Then a second official reemphasized that a number of countries in the region were worried about the group’s threat moving across borders. One of the briefers noted that the terrorist army “has been, I think, a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.”
This was truly news. So we checked our own maps. No, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have an extensive border with Syria. Jordan has a rather large chunk of land between them, as does Iraq.
Pretty sure this must have been just a slip from some exhausted folks, but it doesn’t leave you with a warm and toasty feeling about where this is all going.
Prominent civil rights lawyer and former Senate Judiciary Committee senior counsel Debo Adegbile, whose nomination to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division was blocked in March after a bitter battle in the Senate, has become a partner in Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the firm announced Monday.
Adegbile’s involvement as an NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer in a 2009 appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, sparked furious opposition by police groups and Republicans, eventually pushing seven Democrats to join Republicans in voting 52 to 47 to oppose the nomination.
The intense controversy over the nomination of the former “Sesame Street” child actor included personal appeals by the officer’s widow. Opponents argued that his participation in Abu-Jamal’s appeals disqualified him from holding any position in the justice system. Democrats countered that his legal representation was proper and that his civil rights work made him exceptionally well qualified.
The defeat was the first for an Obama nominee under new procedures requiring a simple majority vote on most nominees. Adegbile will be based in the law firm’s New York office.
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz