TPM News

Let's be clear that the reforms Tom Udall introduced today aren't radical at all. Sure, Republicans are in high dudgeon about them, calling the move an unprecedented power grab, etc, etc.

But going through them one by one, you'll see just how modest they really are.

1). Eliminating Anonymous Holds: This has broad bipartisan support, and wouldn't change much of anything -- at the very least, anybody who might drop a hold out of embarrassment could just as easily enlist a shameless proxy to place the hold for them.

2). The Talking Filibuster: This doesn't eliminate the 60 vote requirement. It just makes the minority work harder to sustain its filibuster. But rotating people on and off the floor in brief intervals isn't an insuperable hurdle, even for a modestly determined minority.

3). No Filibustering Debate: This privileges the motion to proceed to debate. Unlike the above changes, it actually does reduce the minority's leverage, particularly to demand votes on amendments, or changes to a bill before it hits the floor. But the idea of allowing the majority to debate whatever they want doesn't eliminate the minority's right block debate from ending. And, for what it's worth, the notion of blocking debate in what is supposedly the world's greatest deliberative body is ridiculous to everyone but, well, senators themselves.

4). Guaranteed Amendments: This actually strengthens the minority's hand...slightly. If the majority leader "fills the tree" and files for cloture on a bill, the minority still gets one more shot at changing it...but only after cloture. Then they're promised up to three germane amendments. Not a huge bonus, but not bad.

5). Expedited Confirmations: This saves about 28 hours for every nominee, or group of nominees, that gets filibustered. Since the 30-hour "post-cloture" clock is designed to allow for more amendments, and you can't amend a nominee, this winnows that time down to two hours. No wasting time for wasting-time sake.

Taken together, these reforms would grease things a little bit. But even if they were all adopted, it wouldn't end the era of the de-facto 60 vote requirement. Not even close.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) -- the man Democrats chose to go toe-to-toe with incoming House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) -- is making the rounds on cable news and showing off the aggressive style that helped him win the spot.

Cummings said that he expects to see the tougher version of Issa -- in other words, not the Issa who walked back his harshest statements and said he wanted to work with the administration -- and said his staff is ready for an "avalanche of subpoenas coming out and all kinds of inquires" similar to what happened during the Clinton administration.

Read More →

Keep in mind that while it's not terribly common for 19 members of a minority party to vote against their chosen leader in the Speaker election, Nancy Pelosi isn't your typical minority leaders. She's taking a step down from the Speakership. That doesn't usually happen. Typically when Speakers lose the majority they resign or recede out of leadership. The fact that she decided to hang tough, despite her unpopularity, and the tough political climate, explains just about everything you saw today.

The right-wing site World Net Daily and conservative columnist Frank Gaffney came up with a new reason this week to hate the Conservative Political Action Conference, arguing that it has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood thanks to Grover Norquist, the Republican group Muslims For America, and Ex-Bush staffer Suhail Khan.

In an interview with TPM today, Khan described how "every few months there's a different iteration of [Gaffney] and his cohorts' wild accusations," but it is simply untrue, and a part of Gaffney's "tempter tantrum" that he has been marginalized by the conservative movement.

Read More →

Paul Ryan may be the new budget guru in the House, but today he seems more interested in basking in GOP victory than talking about the tough legislation ahead.

In a gaggle with reporters just now, Ryan was asked if "in a couple months" he could envision the new majority in the House voting to raise the debt ceiling.

"I'm not talking about that stuff today," Ryan said as he walked out of the Speaker's lobby behind the podium that is now Boehner's to control.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The New House Republican Leadership]

1||January 5, 2011: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announces that he'll step down from his post in February, ending his run as the President's official spokesman. Gibbs has served alongside Obama since April 2004 -- when he worked on the virtually unknown Democrat's bid for the United States Senate -- and says he plans to remain a close adviser to the President despite his departure from the White House.

Here, Gibbs is pictured at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in May 2010.||Ron Sachs-CNP-PHOTOlink.net/Newscom&&

2||Gibbs and the president's personal secretary, Katie Johnson, at an Oval Office meeting in May 2009.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

3||Gibbs is the latest member of Obama's administration to step down. Here, he's pictured with President Obama, former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Obama's former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

4||Following a town hall meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, President Obama is presented with a picture of a young Robert Gibbs, who played soccer for North Carolina State.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

5||Gibbs concluded his March 12, 2010 briefing by removing a Canadian hockey jersey to reveal an American team jersey. He'd begun the day wearing the Canadian colors after losing a bet with his Canadian counterpart over an Olympic hockey game.|| Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.COM/Newscom&&

6||Gibbs, not fighting Luke Skywalker, but in costume for Halloween at the White House.||Newscom/UPI/Kristoffer Tripplaar&&

7||Gibbs, again dressed as Darth Vader, alongside his son Ethan, who dressed as Boba Fett.||Kristoffer Tripplaar/ABACAUSA.COM/Newscom&&

8||Gibbs with President Obama at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner in Washington in June 2009.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

9||President Obama speaks to Gibbs and other members of his staff at a NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

10||Gibbs and President Obama watch First Lady Michelle Obama break ground on the White House garden.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

11||Gibbs and other members of Obama's staff planning a visit to Baghdad in April 2009.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

12||Gibbs with President Obama after a town hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in May 2009.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

13||President Obama, Gibbs, and Rahm Emanuel, following a June 2009 meeting with South Korean Presidnet Lee Myung-bak.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

14||Gibbs and President Obama, with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), at a Washington Nationals game in April 2010.|| KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom&&

15||Gibbs stands with President Obama as he warms up before throwing out the first pitch at the 2010 MLB All Star Game.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

16||Gibbs sits in the dunk tank at the Congressional Luau in June 2009.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

17||President Obama and Gibbs laugh with aide Reggie Love prior to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception in October 2009.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

18||Gibbs walks with President Obama, Senior Adviser David Axelrod, and aide Reggie Love after Obama taped an appearance on The Daily Show.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

19||Gibbs and President Obama with members of his staff in November 2009.||Official White House photo by Pete Souza&&

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs held his regular press briefing today -- the first since he announced that he will be stepping down. And as such, the subjects of his departure and the overall changes in White House staffing were quite prominent among reporters' questions.

"It is -- and you all know this because you do this as well -- it is an honor and a privilege to stand here, to work inside this building, to serve your country, to work for a president that I admire as much as President Barack Obama," said Gibbs. "I have been a member of his staff for almost seven years, and again it's a remarkable privilege. It is in many ways the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will be forever thankful and grateful for."

"What I am going to do next is step back a bit, recharge some. We've been going at this pace for at least four years. I will have an opportunity to give some speeches, I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and this president. And I look forward to continuing to do that."

Read More →

Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell challenged Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) knowledge of the Constitution, after Goodlatte boasted of his plans to read the document in its entirety on the House floor Thursday.

Goodlatte -- who will become the first congressman to read the Constitution in its entirety on the House floor -- says it will "begin the process of debating" the meaning and role of the Constitution today.

Read More →

LiveWire