Congress: Another ‘nuclear’ standoff?

Roll Call: “Democrats inched closer to another ‘nuclear’ rules standoff Tuesday evening on the heels of another filibuster vote on one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) blasted Republicans for blocking yet another Obama nominee – Nina Pillard -- to the DC Circuit Court and wondered if there’s a double standard for women who are nominated: “I’m disappointed Senate Republicans have chosen to block the nomination of another highly-qualified nominee to the D.C. Circuit. … [Pillard] successfully argued the Supreme Court case that opened the Virginia Military Institute to women – a historic decision that has served Virginia well, even turning a one-time adversary in that case, then-VMI Superintendent Josiah ‘Cy’ Bunting III, into a strong supporter of her nomination. The filibuster of Ms. Pillard’s nomination again raises the question – is there a double standard against women nominees to the D.C. Circuit? … I’m very concerned that women nominees to the D.C. Circuit – the second-highest court in the land– are being blocked over concerns about workload that are not being applied in an evenhanded way. If senators have concerns about their qualifications, let’s have that debate. But we shouldn’t allow these candidates to be blocked from consideration based on reasons that don’t stand the light of day.”

“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney torched a House Republican bill aimed at fulfilling President Barack Obama’s promise that people can keep their health care plans if they like them — even as Obama continues to look for a fix of his own,” Roll Call writes. “Carney said that the proposal by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., would allow insurance companies to keep signing up new customers for substandard plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act, not just the people who already have such plans.”

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are opposed to Upton’s plan. Said a Steny Hoyer (D-MD) aide: “The Upton legislation would create a new insurance market where people with pre-existing conditions would be discriminated against and women would pay more. The bill would increase premiums and undermine the health reform law. While we have not seen the final text, the leadership will oppose this legislation as it is the 46th attempt to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act.”

Upton’s bill is expected to be voted on Friday.

Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has offered an alternative that Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California signed onto yesterday. Kasie Hunt: “Feinstein will co-sponsor legislation that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced last week. The bill would extend the so-called ‘grandfather’ clause and require insurance companies to keep offering insurance plans they sold before the health care exchanges opened on Oct. 1.”

Bonding with baseball… Roll Call: “Republican coach Roger Williams of Texas and Democratic manager Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania are forming the first-ever Congressional Baseball Caucus ‘with the idea being to take the edge off the tension that we have every day’ by talking sports, sharing baseball stories and maybe having ‘hot dogs and apple pie,’ Williams said. The freshman member of Congress, who played for three years in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system, pitched the idea to Doyle, currently serving his 10th term, after reflecting on how baseball lightened the mood of the body even in the midst of budget bickering and assorted scandals.”