Top Stories for Monday, December 8, 2014

CRomnibus Negotiations Hit Snag

From RollCall, “Cromnibus Stalling Behind Closed Doors (Updated)”: “Among the issues remaining are a bevy of EPA riders. Republicans are looking to constrain the agency through a number of provisions, but with Democrats pushing back, negotiators were running into a mathematics question: If you gain five conservatives with this EPA rider, will you lose 10 Democrats?

It’s precisely the leverage Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has alluded to when discussing the cromnibus. If Republicans are leaning on Democrats to pass the bill, the measure will have to reflect some degree of compromise…

[S]ome members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are already prepared to say they’ll vote against any spending package that sunsets funding for the DHS, which would oversee the president’s immigration order, at an earlier date.

One such member who plans to hold out on that front is Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., for whom the deal would represent “a misguided response … in order to make a political point,” according to his spokesman.

Several sources familiar with internal CHC conversations told CQ Roll Call the group, which consists of more than 20 voting House Democrats, could actually decide as a bloc to oppose a cromnibus that targets DHS funding specifically. But a final decision has not been made.

Conservatives and other Democrats also were threatening an uprising over issues such as abortion.”

On Monday, Democratic Reps. Louise M. Slaughter of New York and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, who are co-chairwomen of the Pro-Choice Caucus, wrote to House leaders asking the cromnibus not include a “conscience clause” that would allow businesses to deny some reproductive health insurance benefits.

But if that rider is left out, conservatives may balk, with some pro-life groups already weighing a campaign against the cromnibus if it does not include such language.”

From TheHill, “Conservatives complain House GOP leaders ramming through spending bill”: ““Here we are doing the appropriations bill the last couple days” before a government shutdown, conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said in an interview this week. “That’s not to squeeze Harry Reid. That’s to squeeze us.”

Boehner critics say there’s no reason the Speaker couldn’t have brought the spending package to the floor this past week, giving the House more time to consider it.

But doing so would also give more time for the right to build a case against it.

“They don’t want you to read it, that’s why! You think they want you to analyze all the mischievous items in there?” Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)  told The Hill.

Asked if the timing of the plan was aimed at jamming the Senate or House conservatives, Jones replied: “I think its aimed at screwing over the American people. You can quote me on that.”

Pushing a government funding bill through Congress at the 11th hour is nothing new.

What’s striking this time, however, is that Boehner and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are mostly in agreement on how to do it.

And the Speaker, fresh off a big midterm victory, seems in no mood to kowtow to conservatives who’ve been agitating for a lame-duck spending fight to stop President Obama’s executive action on immigration.”

U.S.-NATO Command in Afghanistan Shuts Down

From The New York Times, “Misgivings by U.S. General as Afghan Mission Ends”: “Shortly after the speeches concluded, the flags were folded and the band silenced, the last American general to lead combat operations in Afghanistan offered his candid assessment of the war.

“I don’t know if I’m pessimistic or optimistic,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the departing commander, considering the United States military’s reduced role next year. “The fact that we are in less places, the fact that there are less of us as a coalition, is obviously concerning.”

In an interview Monday in his office after the lowering of the flag that signaled the official end of the coalition’s war-fighting mission, General Anderson offered a nuanced take on the final year of America’s longest war.

The record casualties of Afghan forces are not sustainable, and neither are their astounding desertion rates, he said. Political meddling, not intelligence, drives Afghan military missions. The police and the army do not work together.

It was a reflection on the mission that was in stark contrast to the unbridled renditions of success offered during the ceremony by commanders, including General Anderson.

Lena Dunham Ducks Questions Over Rape Allegations

From Breitbart, “GONE GIRL: LENA DUNHAM DODGING HOLLYWOOD TRADE PAPER”: “It is unusual for Dunham and her representatives to be silent in the wake of negative stories. Recently, Dunham herself publicly lashed out at National Review and Truth Revoltover two separate unflattering stories. In the case of Truth Revolt, within hours of publishing a story about Dunham’s bizarre behavior towards her younger sister, the Website (run by our own Ben Shapiro) received a cease and desist letter and threat of suit from Dunham’s high-powered attorney.

The “Barry One” story took a sharp turn Saturday night when the man Breitbart News identifies as “Barry One” opened a defense fund and released a statement through his attorney, Aaron Minc. Due to the detailed description of her alleged rapist in Dunham’s memoir, Barry One has been falsely identified as her attacker. Almost a half-dozen details point to Barry, although he clearly isn’t the man in question:

1. Barry One’s real first name is Barry.

2. Barry One attended Oberlin College during the time in question.

3. Barry One is a Republican.

4. Barry One was a prominent campus conservative.

5. Barry One worked at one of Oberlin’s libraries.

Whatever her intentions, Dunham’s memoir has pointed a finger at an innocent man who says he is now incurring legal fees in an attempt to clear his name.

Barry One’s attorney says that for more than two months, and to no avail, he has asked Dunham’s representatives to issue a statement clearing his client’s name. Thus far, they have refused.”

Protestors Look to Maintain Momentum Nationwide

From Reuters, “New York protest organizers look to keep momentum from fading”: “Demonstrators have demanded that police officers involved in the Garner case and in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and in other cases be held accountable.

In the first three nights of protests, thousands of people took to the streets of Manhattan, blocking traffic and briefly invading Apple and Macy’s stores. But few protesters were out on Saturday night, when a cold, steady rain fell in New York.

By contrast, crowds overnight threw rocks and attacked police in Seattle. In Berkeley, California, windows were smashed, stores looted and tear gas fired at protesters.

About 150 people came to the organizing session on Sunday afternoon in a meeting room behind the church organ’s pipes.

The organizing group, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, said that it was staging a “week of outrage” against

“police murder, brutality and the criminalization of Black and Latino people.”

Travis Morales, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, said at the gathering that “America must be brought to a halt.”

Demonstrators, he said, must make clear that “this holiday season, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to be thankful for. As long as this continues to be business as usual, there can be no business as usual.””

From AP, “CALIFORNIA PROTESTERS CALM AND PEACEFUL WEDNESDAY MORNING”: “A small group of demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to shut down Oakland’s federal courthouse Wednesday following four nights of large, often violent protests in Berkeley against the killings of black men by white police officers.

About 50 nonviolent protesters blocked the courthouse’s front and back entrances, but employees entered through side doors.

The protest involved white community members who joined religious leaders under the message “white silence equals violence, black lives matter.”…

The protest was quiet compared to activity a night earlier.

Authorities arrested at least 19 people in the East Bay area Tuesday night. Berkeley police arrested five adults and one juvenile, and the California Highway Patrol apprehended 13 others.”