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First Read Flash: Changing the rules

The Senate looks ready to strike down filibuster rules on presidential nominations after Republicans have blocked recent judicial nominees from President Obama.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

The Senate looks ready to strike down filibuster rules on presidential nominations after Republicans have blocked recent judicial nominees from President Obama.

Washington Post: ”The Senate is on the verge of striking down the long-standing filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, potentially doing so on a party-line vote that would alter nearly 225 years of precedent. Democrats, infuriated by what they see as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama’s nominees, expect to trigger the showdown by bringing up one of the recent judicial nominees whom Republicans blocked by a filibuster. According to senior Democratic aides, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will set in motion a complicated parliamentary process that ends with a simple-majority vote setting a new rule that will allow for swift confirmation of executive branch nominees and most selections for the federal judiciary without having to clear a 60-vote hurdle.”

The New York Times looks at the “increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault. The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic. For a House more used to disarray than methodical game plans, the success so far has been something of a surprise, even to the campaign’s organizers.”

The Hill: “Republican lawmakers who pushed the government shutdown to stop ObamaCare say their new plan is to sit back and watch the law self-destruct. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and other Tea Party allies of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say the threat of a shutdown is no longer necessary to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now that the administration’s rollout is flailing. While Cruz is not ruling out another attempt to use government funding as leverage, his allies think they already have the political support they need to repeal the healthcare reform law.”

Politico: “Conservative leaders from more than a dozen outside groups warned congressional Tea Party Caucus members against another government shutdown. A heated discussion broke out Wednesday at a closed-door Tea Party Caucus meeting organized by the group, according to a source in the room. The consensus in the meeting was that House Republicans should work to avoid another government funding fight when current funding levels expire on Jan. 15 — “though there was a vocal minority cheering it on,” according to an attendee who was not authorized to speak about an off-the-record meeting.”

Wall Street Journal: “Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that the crucial security deal with the U.S. should be deferred until after his successor is elected, a surprise move that may scuttle the just-reached agreement altogether.”

Washington Post: “As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals. The Obama administration made it a priority to keep down the cost of insurance on the exchanges, the online marketplaces that are central to the Affordable Care Act. But one way that insurers have been able to offer lower rates is by creating networks that are far smaller than what most Americans are accustomed to.”

Roll Call: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised at least $2 million more than its GOP counterpart in October. The National Republican Congressional Committee will report it raised $4.6 million in October and had $18.2 million in cash on hand at the end of the month that included the 16-day government shutdown.”

NBC’s Ali Weinberg: “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R, sought to tread a fine line between the GOP’s warring foreign policy factions on Wednesday in a speech burnishing his own credentials on global matters.  During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank generally known to favor a robust American presence around the world, Rubio tried to maintain a balance between disparate foreign policy views within the Republican Party.  He said that at home, “foreign policy is too often covered in simplistic terms,” and that the two most recognized points of view – “hawks” and “doves” – were obsolete terms. “

Politico: “Scott Walker hates Obamacare. But Scott Walker also needs Obamacare. The Wisconsin Republican governor, a potential 2016 contender for the White House, has drawn national attention to his ambitious health reform effort to cover the poor in his state without buying into the president’s health care plan. But his approach is nevertheless yoked to the new insurance exchange, a core component of Obamacare, and the federal law’s early nosedive already has claimed collateral damage in the Badger State.”

FLORIDA: NBC News: “Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., who earlier in the day pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, announced Wednesday night he would be taking a leave of absence to get “intensive in-patient treatment.’ ‘I have no excuse for what I’ve done,” a visibly shaken Radel said at a news conference. “I have let down our country, I have let down our constituents, I have let down my family, including my wife, and, even though he doesn’t know it, I have let down my 2-year-old son.’”

Washington Post: Radel “had been in Congress just 10 months when the arrest came. But he already had made a name in the House as an ener­getic and media-savvy freshman, willing to battle party elders to cut spending. And, in the same 10 months, he also had become connected to the city’s drug trade: Court documents say he bought cocaine on several occasions. Radel, it turned out, had managed to attract the attention of the Capitol press corps and the Drug Enforcement Administration before Congress even took its Thanksgiving break.”

LOUISIANA: In a new web video shared first with First Read, Rep. Bill Cassidy’s campaign is hitting back at Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) despite her bill that was designed to hault some cancellations of health care policies under Obamacare. The video, which is part of a targeted online buy, calls Landrieu “Obama’s rubber stamp” and says she’s “trying to wiggle out of her vote” for health care reform initially. “When Barack Obama and Mary Landrieu choose, you lose,” says the ad. 

SOUTH CAROLINA: CNN: “Sen. Tim Scott is passing on throwing his support behind Lindsey Graham, his fellow South Carolina Republican senator, who faces four conservative primary challengers as he runs for re-election next year. Instead, Scott, who was appointed to the Senate late last year, said he would focus on his own election next year. “As you three have just heard recently, I am up for re-election next year myself,” Scott said, appearing on CNN’s “Crossfire” on Wednesday. “I’m going to allow for all the other folks on the ballot to represent themselves very well. I’m going to continue to work hard for my election.”

VIRGINIA: Washington Post: “Virginia’s inspector general began an investigation Wednesday into why the son of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds was released from psychiatric care the day before he apparentlystabbed his father and then fatally shot himself. And Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said he has directed his top health official to conduct a review of state and local mental-health services in the wake of the incident.”

WYOMING: Politico Magazine has more on the growing feud between Liz Cheney and her sister, Mary, over her opposition to gay marriage in her Senate race: “In a series of emails to me this week, as the news of her break with her sister spread, Mary wrote, “I’m not supporting Liz’s candidacy.” She later clarified: “By supporting, I mean not working, not contributing, and not voting for (I’m registered in Virginia not Wyoming).” The best she could say of the sister who was once her close friend and confidante was a final postscript: “I am not saying I hope she loses to Enzi.”