Senate approves budget deal to avert fiscal cliff
Vice President Biden Swears in Brian Schatz as Senator from Hawaii
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced tonight Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye as the U.S. senator from Hawaii — not Sen. Inouye’s first choice.
On the day he died, the late senator wrote a letter to Abercrombie asking that he pick Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, to replace him.
Hanabusa made it to the final round of consideration, but she did not win the nomination.
“The charge of the central committee was to take all points of view into account, from Sen. Inouye and from the rank and file — the Democratic grass roots,” Abercrombie said during a news conference on Wednesday evening. “No one and nothing was preordained.”
Schatz served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006. In 2006, he launched an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress.
Schatz served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 to 2010. He was sworn in as lieutenant governor in December 2010.
The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Monday naming Sen. Patrick Leahy the new president pro tempore, following the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.
Inouye, 88, was the previous pro tempore and the Senate’s longest serving member. Now both designations belong to Leahy, who was first elected to the Senate in 1974.
Leahy is also third in line for succession following Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner.
Far too often, we’ve seen good ideas stall in the Senate because a single Senator can stop everything without a single word uttered on the Senate floor.
In a few short weeks, we can reform the filibuster. But it won’t be easy. And it’s going to require that the American people speak with one, clear, loud voice.
Take action now: Tell the Senate to fix the filibuster.
Freshman Democrats of the 113th Congress - Senate
- Chris Murphy of Connecticut
- Mazie Hirono of Hawaii
- Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
- Joe Donnelly of Indiana
- Martin Heinrich of New Mexico
- Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
- Tim Kaine of Virginia
- Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on Wednesday to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority party has fewer tools to obstruct legislative business.
In his first post-election press conference, the Nevada Democrat said he wouldn’t go so far as to eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for the chamber to enter and exit the amendment and debate process. But in remarks meant to preview a more combative approach during the next session, he warned Republicans that obstructionism as a tactic won’t be tolerated — or as technically feasible.
“I want to work together, but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around. We want to work together,” Reid said.
“I do” have plans to change the Senate rules, he added. “I have said so publicly and I continue to feel that way … I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done.”
Obama: End tax breaks for big oil
President Barack Obama’s plea to Congress to end $4 billion in tax subsidies to oil companies was rebuffed Thursday as the Senate turned back a Democratic bill to repeal the tax breaks.
Moments after Obama made his election-year appeal in the White House Rose Garden, the Senate failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote to proceed to a measure that would have ended the subsidies. Obama had argued that Americans are getting hit twice - once at the gas pump, and once more by sending billions of dollars in tax subsidies to oil companies.
“I think it’s time they got by without more help from taxpayers who are already having a tough enough time paying the bills and filling up their gas tank,” the president said. “And I think it’s curious that some folks in Congress, who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy, are the ones that are fighting the hardest to maintain these giveaways for the oil companies.”
The Senate vote was 51-47, short of the 60 votes necessary. Two Republicans voted to proceed to the legislation - Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. But four Democrats rejected the effort - Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Begich of Alaska.
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Senator Patty Murray is leading an aggressive new strategy to expand the Senate map by focusing on Republican held seats in states across the country. A mix of rapidly changing demographics, heavily Democratic electorates and strong Tea Party challenges to incumbent Republican senators makes these races ripe pick-up opportunities for Democrats. Across the country, Democratic Senators and challengers are already running strong campaigns and are together out-raising Republicans by almost 50 percent.