When Jay-Z and Beyonce became the subject of a White House press conference, the politics of spring in Washington must be on hand.
As Jay-Z laid down a rap about his family’s controversial trip to Cuba, the cherry blossom trees bloomed back home, here, in D.C. Here are the political issues that bloomed this week on Capitol Hill:
John Kerry to South Korea: In the continuing saga of “Will He or Won’t He?” North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un is leading the headlines over his threat to fire a nuclear missile. Secretary of State John Kerry is in South Korea and said Friday it would be a “huge mistake” if North Korea launches a nuclear-armed missile. The world awaits North Korea’s next moves, but Kerry and South Korea’s allies believe much of North Korea’s tough talk cannot be backed by an actual successful attack. This followed a meltdown on Capitol Hill after Rep. David Lamborn (R-CO) revealed classified information that is believed to have been mistakenly labeled as unclassified information, saying the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has “moderate confidence” that North Korea has nuclear-armed missiles.
Gun package will go to a vote in Senate: At his State of the Union address in February, President Obama invoked the victims of American gun violence who “deserve a vote.” Now, they’re getting one – at least in the Senate. This Sunday, we’ll have on our show the two men, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), largely responsible for making this upcoming vote possible and avoiding a Senate filibuster on the issue. The bipartisan tandem put forward a gun package compromise, which will be open to amendments that would require background checks for buyers of guns purchased privately at guns shows and online.
Immigration reform waiting in the wings? Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Gang of 8 member, will join us this Sunday on where immigration reform is headed in the Senate. The group’s goal of introducing legislation this week came and went.
With Congress largely silent on the matter this week, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, became the biggest name around the talks of immigration reform this week. He, along with several other technology CEOs, announced an advocacy group to call for a pathway to citizenship and increases in legal immigration.
Obama budget: The president released his budget this week – though two months late – that is leaving the GOP and the left in a squabble over the president’s priorities. It seems neither side is perfectly happy – then again, are they ever? Obama’s proposal would cut $400 billion from Medicare and other federal health programs over the next ten years. The cut, typically supported broadly by the GOP base as necessary entitlement reforms, bothered Democrats and went so far as even to perturb the Republican’s top congressional campaign man. Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who called the proposal a “shocking attack on seniors.”
The president pushed Democrats further toward the edge by calling for “Chained CPI,” a move embraced by the GOP. But – and a big but – the president, once again, called for tax reform that would bring in more revenue from those earning the highest incomes and corporations. The Buffett Rule is back in the cards. Let the poker game begin – again.
All this and more will be the focus of this Sunday’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. ET.