Behind Cantor's Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama
The National Journal
, 3/7) reports, "Laying a wreath during a moving ceremony at a Civil Rights Memorial where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor locked arms with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and held hands Rep. John Lewis -- that's not a picture
that is common in highly partisan Washington. Cantor, along with Hoyer and Lewis, joined more than 30 members of the House and Senate on the annual bipartisan Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama over the weekend, led by Lewis and organized by the nonprofit Faith and Politics Institute. Cantor is the highest ranking Republican to have ever gone on the trip, a notable development at a time when the GOP is figuring out how to make inroads with minorities and how to expand its appeal."
Obama Tries Charm Offensive to Woo Republicans on DeficitBloomberg
(Lerer and Hunter, 3/7) reports, "The president broke bread [Wednesday] night with a dozen Republican senators .. Next week, he'll visit Capitol Hill to meet separately with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Obama has also spoken by telephone with at least a half-dozen Republican lawmakers over the past few days about the budget and other priorities of his second term, including immigration and gun control. ... With $1.2 trillion in spending cuts mandated over the next nine years and short-term government funding set to expire on March 27, lawmakers say the coming weeks could provide the chance for a long-term deficit-reduction bargain that has eluded Congress and Obama. Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who spoke to Obama by phone last weekend, said there's 'a window of opportunity between now and the end of the summer,' when Congress is projected to need to raise the federal debt ceiling again. 'This is the last, best chance to do the right thing,' Portman said. The two-hour and fifteen minute meal took place on neutral territory -- a private room at the ... Jefferson hotel. ... Obama ... picked up the check."Immigration talks gain momentumPOLITICO
(Sherman and Nocera, 3/5) reports, "With the Senate moving full-steam ahead on a comprehensive immigration bill, House Republicans are finding their way on their own strategy meant to position Washington for reform in the 113th Congress. The House GOP leadership kicked off its efforts in earnest on Tuesday when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy - a former prosecutor - began briefing their colleagues on the basics of U.S. immigration policy in Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's office. ...But behind the scenes, a parallel process is playing out. A cluster of previously unknown GOP working groups - which are working with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan - are reviewing immigration issues ranging from agricultural to high-tech visas, to border security and dealing with illegal immigrants already in the country. These proposals will supplement the main House bipartisan talks on immigration, which are being led by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from Florida. Ryan has also been in contact with the bipartisan group, according to sources."
White House cancels tours, citing sequester
NBC News (Thomas and Welker, 3/5) reports, "The White House is canceling tours of the president's famous abode starting next week, saying the budget cuts that went into effect last week are to blame. A phone recording on the call line for White House visitors informs callers that White House tours will be canceled, starting this weekend. 'Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House tours will be canceled effective Saturday March 9, 2013 until further notice,' the recording says. 'Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours. We very much regret having to take this action particularly during the popular spring touring season.' The reason for the cancellations, an official with the Secret Service told NBC News, is because the Uniformed Division Officers normally tasked with securing the tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House."
Boehner - Capitol Open for Business
Speaker John Boehner wrote in an email to constituents this week: "While I'm disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I'm pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue. Under the leadership of the House officers and their teams, who oversee daily operations in the Capitol in consultation with the Office of the Speaker, planning for the possibility of sequestration has been underway for some time. Consequently, alternative spending reductions have been implemented within the Capitol complex to ensure public tours and other regular activities can proceed as they normally would. I encourage you and your family to visit the U.S. Capitol during your trip to Washington D.C. If you haven't already made arrangements through my office for a Capitol tour, I encourage you to do so. Simply contact Maddie Milam in my congressional office at 202-225-6205 or email her at Maddie.Milam@mail.house.gov."