Washington, D.C. is the worst when a storm hits.
Federal offices and school districts across D.C. were shut down Wednesday as threats of a storm dropping up to a foot of snow on the region loomed. Just how much snowfall did the District see? Pretty much zilch.
Surprisingly, what the so-called "Snowquester" didn’t stop was the Hill’s efforts to find a solution to its namesake – the dreaded forced budget cuts. On Wednesday night, President Obama picked up the tab for a high-profile dinner with a group of Senate Republicans in the chief executive’s most recent effort to find a bipartisan solution to the forced budget cuts that began to take effect March 1. The President followed up with a second day of outreach to Republicans, lunching Thursday with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the top Democrat on the committee, at the White House.
So, what's next?
That's the question on the minds of everyone here in Washington as we head into the weekend.
Over the past week, we saw Congress struggle with how to avoid the looming automatic budget cuts, Catholics worldwide flock to the Vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI say farewell in his final public address, and the House pass the Violence Against Women Act in a rare bipartisan push. The most pressing issue in our minds? $85 billion in government spending cuts is at stake if Congress and the president fail to deal with the budget crisis by... well, today. With all this uncertainty going on in Washington and abroad, we are wondering – where do we go from here?
By State of the Union Intern Vaughn Hillyard
There is no shortage of stories dominating the news this week, but what will be leading the headlines on Sunday morning?
With one week away from the sequester deadline – or what we prefer to call the start of automatic spending cuts – we’ll look into what we should expect for the week ahead on Capitol Hill. And particularly, if March 1 passes without a deal, is the country truly in for a crisis situation? Or is Congress trying to compete with Lincoln for Sunday night’s Oscars?
There’s little activity around the Capitol, this week. Congress is on recess, leaving the visitor center staff, the interns and us on hand.
In his State of the Union address to the nation Tuesday, President Obama laid out an agenda for his second term. The President was back on the road bright and early the next morning, visiting U.S. towns to talk about the goals he set the night before. In Asheville, North Carolina, he spoke with factory workers about raising the minimum federal wage. In Decatur, Georgia, on Thursday, he visited a preschool classroom to discuss the need for early public education. These are the kind of trips the President made in his campaign, and we will likely see many more of these in coming weeks, as he gets to work on his second-term goals.
The big question after hearing President Obama’s address Tuesday is how he will go about juggling so many lofty goals. With Congress still deeply divided, and many issues to tackle, the President is facing a long road ahead. We will talk Sunday about the most pressing tasks Washington faces – here’s some of what we are looking at this week.
Hagel nomination up in the air: Following unsuccessful efforts to reach a compromise on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, members of the Senate voted Thursday afternoon to try and stop a filibuster on his nomination, but were unable to reach the 60 vote threshold. Republicans raised doubts over the nomination as questions surfaced on Hagel’s finances and the administration’s refusal to release details on the president’s actions the night of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Hagel’s nomination will likely be put off until after the Senate’s recess next week, when only a simple majority of 51 votes will be required.
Pres. calls for raise in minimum wage: In his State of the Union address, Obama said he found “an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on” – tying the minimum wage to the cost of living. He proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour from the current rate of $7.25, a plan he says will help working families – especially those living below the poverty line. Some economists, however, argue that in our still-fragile economy, bumped-up wages could ultimately cut jobs for low-wage workers. For many families, this may bring more struggles instead of boosting their economic situation if the legislation were to go through.
Make sure to check back on Friday for our full Rundown and don’t forget to tune in Sunday at 9am & Noon ET.
A sneak peek of Sunday's show... Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey will sit down with Candy Crowley in a rare joint appearance to talk about ongoing threats around the world and what it means in an era of potential defense cuts.
With the inauguration now over, it’s time for DC to return to normal. Well, easier said than done. Yes, the nets and fences and road closure that tangled the nation’s capital last weekend have gone away, but this city has a way of never really reaching that condition called “normal” – rather, it tends to flit from event to event and mess to mess.
Three months ago, we were in full Election Mode. Three weeks ago, we were falling off the fiscal cliff. January began with fleets of moving trucks bringing new members to Capitol Hill and carrying away the belongings of those who had retired or lost. Three days ago, we were ushering in the second presidency of Barack Obama; and three hours ago the area was still trying to gain its footing after an inch – yes, an inch – of snow. Normal DC? We don’t even know what that is anymore.
Here are the stories we are looking at this week.
Fiscal cliff negotiations continue. President Obama and Congressional Republicans are struggling to try to reach a deal with the “fiscal cliff” before the end of the year. The president on Wednesday demanded that the Bush tax cuts be extended for everyone but the top two percent of earners. More Republicans are also coming public with being open to revenue increases, with high-ranking Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) suggesting that House Republicans extend the tax cuts for only people making below $250,000, which Democrats have been pushing for. However, House Speaker John Boehner has publicly disagreed with that approach and said Thursday that "no substantive progress" on solving the fiscal cliff had been made in the last two weeks and want major spending cut concessions from the White House. Political watchers will be looking to see if both sides will be willing to compromise before years end when the cliffs’ spending cuts and tax increases occur.
Rice under fire after meetings with Senators. Susan Rice, who continues to be criticized for her comments to the media after the attacks on the Benghazi consulate in September, could be in even bigger trouble after meeting with Republican senators on Tuesday and Wednesday. Rice had met with Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) to answer their concerns about Rice’s statements, but after the meeting the Senators said they were "significantly troubled" by Rice’s answers . Rice also met on Wednesday with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also said she was not satisfied with Rice’s responses and said she could not confirm Rice for Secretary of State. Political watchers will be looking to see if Rice will still have enough support to be confirmed as the next Secretary of State if nominated by President Obama or if her nomination would be blocked.
Much more to come, make sure to check back on Friday for our full Rundown and don’t forget to watch Sunday on CNN at 9am & Noon ET.
For people who work in the news business, Election Week is like the Super Bowl.
For most of us in Washington, DC, politics is the reason we’re here. And every four years, we start ticking down the clock to Election Day. We started covering this race about 18 months ago, and now here we are, just six days left, and we are no closer to knowing who might actually win this thing. The pollsters tell us one thing, the campaigns might tell us something different. We can read twenty news stories about Ohio and come away with twenty different reasons why one candidate or the other might win.
There is no shortage of stories dominating the news this week, but what will be leading the headlines on Sunday morning? These are some of the stories in the news this week.
Can Biden get Obama back on track? On Thursday night Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan will face-off in a debate that has taken on increasing significance in the wake of Romney’s aggressive and vibrant debate performance last week. Although polls show most voters expect Ryan to win the debate, there are potential risks for him. His Medicare reform plan may come under attack by Vice President Biden, who has proven to be an effective attack dog for democrats.
Here's our lineup so far for Sunday's big show:
The conventions gave us a clear picture of two distinct visions for the country. We'll talk to two national figures who represent both sides.
We have an exclusive interview with California Governor Jerry Brown (D). We'll get his take on the DNC, and look at the hard decisions he's made such as approving billions in cuts to social services to close the state's budget gap.
And we’ll have an exclusive with former presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich. We'll get his unique insights on President Clinton's role in the Obama Campaign, and ask what advice he'd give to Mitt Romney's campaign heading into the fall.
Sunday, 9a & 12p ET