By Tracey Webb Follow @WebbWriterguru
Get your daily scoop of what State of the Union is watching today, October 24, 2013
1. Obamacare website hearing. Contractors for the problem plagued federal health care website faced a grilling from lawmakers Thursday. The contractors denied any culpability and instead blamed the government for the website's failures. Meanwhile angry exchanges erupted between Republicans who oppose Obamacare and Democrats who defended it. Rep. Fred Upton, the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the website rollout "nothing short of a disaster." One of the committee's Democrats, Rep. Frank Pallone accused Republicans of not having "clean hands" on the issue. "Their effort is not to make things better," said Pallone.
2. Red state Senate Democrats. They're lining up behind a proposal to extend Obamacare's enrollment period. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is going a step further. He's co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) that would delay the individual mandate penalty for a year. "What we've said is there should be a transition year for one year," Manchin told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "There should be no fines. Let's work through the problems. We've got a lot of problems, they've been identified I think everybody's recognized them. Let's fix it. Let's get together and fix things."
3. Obama's pivot. As much of the focus in Washington remained on the Obamacare website fiasco, the President attempted to shift the conversation to immigration reform. At a White House event, he urged Congress to pass a comprehensive legislation that includes a path to citizenship for some 11 million illegal immigrants. "We should pass immigration reform." Obama said. "It's good for our economy, it's good for our national security, it's good for our people, and we should do it this year." The Senate passed an immigration bill back in July, but the measure was dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.
4. Grayson's analogy. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), is standing by his comparison of the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan. A fundraising email sent out by Grayson earlier this week included a picture of Klan members burning a cross, with the worlds "Tea Party," written across the image. Republicans, as well as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel, have criticized Grayson for the email. So far, the Florida congressman hasn't issued an apology.
5. Maryland's Attorney General. State A.G. Doug Gansler, who has made public service announcements warning against underage drinking, is under fire for being at a party where there was... underage drinking. Gansler took a photo of himself at party attended by his son in Delaware last June. Some of the party attendees confirmed that alcohol was served. Gansler said he didn't intervene at the time but in retrospect, that was a mistake. "In hindsight maybe I should have assumed there was drinking and talked to the chaperones about what they thought was appropriate." Gansler, who is running for governor of Maryland is already in hot water for allegedly abusing state trooper resources.