Breaking: John Boehner has agreed to stay on as Speaker

Per Bret

Having Talked to several senior aides on Capitol Hill  (along with Chris Stirewalt and his sources on the Hill tied to the leadership) here is the picture that is beginning to form.

Speaker John Boehner has agreed to stay on as Speaker--not just until the Caucus nominates someone --but, until that person can confirm 218 votes on the House floor (needed to take the Speaker’s gavel).  Short of that – Boehner will stay on for the rest of this Congress and steer legislation that is pending.

What does this mean?   Moderates and leadership types are cheering and saying Boehner is the only one they will support.   Conservatives will go ballistic since they know this signals that Boehner will make ALL kinds of deals to get big ticket legislation through the House even if it means using Democrats votes to do it.

The news… short of another candidate that can get 218 votes (and that looks like a long shot with leadership and moderates lining up behind Boehner)

Looks like he may be here to stay to handle the very tough debt ceiling and next CR.


Rand Paul: "polls don't represent organizational strength"

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told viewers on Special Report with Bret Baier that he will remain in the presidential race while running for re-election as senator despite his single digit showing in recent polls.

The Senator boasted his ground game in the first caucus state of Iowa, "I'm going to let people vote and I think the polls don't accurately represent our organizational strength in Iowa."

"We have chairmen in all 99 counties in Iowa, we have hundreds of precinct chairmen, we have thousand students rallying for us," Paul said.

He continued his appeal to young voters and millenials offering an alternative to establishment candidates from the republican and democratic parties, "I would hate to, you know,  give up and say the students aren't going to get a chance to vote for someone who truly thinks he shouldn't be putting everybody in jail for marijuana, that really we shouldn't be at war everywhere around the world all the time and that really there isn't another way, there isn't a third way." 

Donald Trump on why he is running and his late night tweets

State of Play on Vote for Speaker in the House

Per Pergram-Capitol Hill

Perhaps the most-important event in the race to succeed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) comes tonight at the Capitol Hill Club, just down the block from the U.S. capitol.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will make their respective appeals to some of the most-conservative blocs of Republicans in the House. The Tea Party Caucus, The House Freedom Caucus, the Conservative Opportunity Society, and the House Liberty Caucus will all meet tonight at 7:30 pm et (or a little later, depending on floor votes) to listen to each candidate.

McCarthy clearly has the lion's share of support in the now-247 member House Republican Conference. But House Rules require an absolute majority of the entire House voting on the floor to become Speaker. So, if McCarthy or any other member say secures a simple majority in the Republicans' closed door conclave to tap a Speaker candidate on the floor (124 backers and higher), that person is presumably who the GOP will run on the floor. McCarthy is believed to have anywhere from 170-200 backers. But that is FAR from an absolute majority of the entire House. Generally, 218 is considered the magic number to win on the floor…although that figure could be slightly lower on October 29, the day of a Speaker election.

McCarthy and all candidates face a major, uphill battle getting to 218. There is a bloc of rebellious GOP’ers who simply won't vote for any conventional figure for Speaker because that's what their districts dictate. There could be votes for members besides those candidates officially in the race. That could suppress the vote total.

However, McCarthy is well thought of among rank-and-file GOP’ers and this window of time, starting with tonight's meeting, gives him a chance to close the deal.

That said, if McCarthy or anyone else comes out of Thursday's nominating conclave with fewer than 218 votes, but is the "GOP nominee" for Speaker on the floor, that result gives us a yardstick to see how far they have to go to get to 218.

This debate is further complicated by the need to raise the debt ceiling by November 5. Conservatives are already agitated for McCarthy voting for the stopgap spending bill last week to avoid a government shutdown. That measure funded Planned Parenthood.  Chaffetz and Webster voted no.

Various GOP’ers say it's one thing to SAY they're conservative. It's another to actually vote a given way. Conservatives may try to extract a promise from McCarthy and others to either NOT raise the debt limit (which is a big problem) or get some sort of a deal to make MAJOR spending cuts. Another possibility could be a promise not to bust the mandatory set of budget cuts imposed under sequestration. Boehner has already said they would must the caps. The deadline on that issue may be a little later, perhaps tied to the December 11th shutdown date. But either way, this puts all of these issues on the table and could further complicate the chances getting an agreement if the successful candidate cuts a deal with conservatives (which may resonate with them) but does little to get an operational deal with the Senate/Democrats/White House on the debt ceiling/funding government/broader budget deal.

Keep in mind Boehner is technically expected to step down on October 30th. The House CANNOT conduct any business without a Speaker. There is a slight precedent here for a resigning Speaker to actually stick around for a bit. In 1989, House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) announced his resignation amid ethics allegations in late May. The House took a few days to promote then-House Majority Leader Tom Foley (D-WA) to Speaker. There was little question that Foley would assume the gavel from Wright and Foley won the vote on the floor. However, to make sure there was an orderly transition, Wright remained the Speaker for a few days into early June before making his resignation effective. Only then was Foley sworn-in as Speaker.

Based on this precedent, it's possible that Boehner COULD actually linger for a bit, especially if there is a deadlock on the floor for Speaker. And ironically, that MIGHT make it easier for the House to deal with the debt ceiling hitting November 5th. Boehner could then cut a deal and pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling with lots of Democrats and some Republicans (ala last week's vote to sidestep a government shutdown). Then, whatever agreement Boehner arranged doesn't wash up on the leg of any of the Speaker candidates. Again, that scenario only comes to pass if the vote for Speaker remains at an impasse.

Donald Trump on Eminent Domain: I Think It's Wonderful

Businessman and presidential candidate Donald Trump sat down for an extended interview with Bret for Special Report. Here is the entire exchange on eminent domain--share your thoughts with us here or via Twitter @BretBaier.

Special Report Grapevine: Zombie 101

Up In Flames: It has been another brutal and costly wildfire season in California, but it seems the state's fire prevention account had a $43,000,000 surplus as of July 1st. The Sacramento Bee reports $300,000,000 in fees were collected through the end of June. Officials say they proceeded cautiously on spending. A state finance spokesman says "Given the fact that it is a relatively new fund there is not a long track record on receipts. We do want to maintain a prudent reserve for unforeseen circumstances." More than 800,000 Californians pay the controversial fee  which was pushed through by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011. The California Board of Equalization says the state spent almost $9,000,000  just collecting the fee from property owners.

Zombie 101:  Speaking of disaster preparation Kansas is currently in its first full week of Zombie Preparedness Month.  Governor Sam Brownback signed the declaration last week , saying in a statement  "If you're prepared for zombies, you're prepared for anything. Although an actual zombie apocalypse will never happen the preparation for such an event is the same as for any disaster." The state's public safety agencies are providing emergency management information as well as zombie preparedness challenges  on social media.

Deck The Halls: And final--you better watch out, you better not cry because Santa Claus may be coming to the city council. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports  a man whose legal name is Santa Claus is running a write-in campaign in the small Alaskan town of north pole. The election takes place tomorrow. Mister Claus previously served as the president of North Pole's chamber of commerce.

Interview with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy


Emily B. Cyr, College Associate

Amidst Obama and Putin clashing at the United Nations, the Taliban seizing a major city in Afghanistan and the Head of Planned Parenthood testifying on Capitol Hill, you may have missed the news in social media this week. Twitter, a company who already has over 500 million accounts, welcomed another user this week: Edward Snowden.

On Tuesday September 29th, the former National Security Agency contractor made his debut with the tweet, “Can you hear me now?” In less than 24 hours, Snowden, currently living as an exile in Russia, has already amassed over half a million followers. Like his first tweet, Snowden’s twitter profile proudly touts his reputation as an American government whistleblower, with a cover photo displaying the front page news stories on the government classified documents he leaked. His short biography also references his whistle blowing fame, saying “I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.”

Sources have confirmed that the account is, in fact, being run by Snowden himself, and the blue check mark next to his Twitter handle means that Twitter has confirmed this as well. As of Tuesday afternoon, he has already posted a handful of tweets that range from sarcastic to serious. For instance, Snowden makes light of the fact the United States revoked his passport by asking if “they’ll check passports at the border” for Mars, since the planet has recently been discovered to have signs of flowing water. On the other hand, he also responded to questions from followers asking if he considers himself a traitor or a hero. Snowden neither affirmed nor denied these labels, and simply stated “I’m just a citizen with a voice”.

 Snowden’s choice of timing to come to Twitter poses a problem for its social media rival, Facebook. Just two weeks ago, Facebook launched a new media platform called Signal, with the intent of making Facebook the main source for live coverage of news events, as opposed to Twitter.  Unfortunately for Facebook, Snowden’s debut on Twitter helps affirm its role as the leader in online news gathering. In fact, Twitter tweeted from its own account a map tracking the response to Snowden’s debut on their site.

Snowden has not ever been an ally for Facebook, as just last October he warned those concerned about privacy to stay away from Facebook and other consumer sites.  However, privacy is clearly not Snowden’s goal in using Twitter.

So far Snowden only follows one other person on Twitter and from the tongue-in-cheek manner of his own account so far, it should be no surprise that the only account Snowden follows? @NSAGov. 

George Will: "I'd bet on [Putin's] side"

George Will said Monday on 'Special Report'  that Russian President Vladimir Putin has a stronger strategy to fighting the civil war in Syria. This after President Obama met with the Russian leader today in New York.

"The president says [Assad] must go. Putin says he must stay, and Putin says it with tanks and fighter planes and what we call boots on the ground," the syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor said. "I'd bet on [Putin's] side."

Will added that he couldn't think of another civil war that ended in compromise, "We're in the 5th year of a civil war, which by civil war standards is uncommonly savage. 220, 000 people perhaps dead by now and the president's idea is that we should compromise...I don't think civil wars end with compromises."

We the People and the Papacy

By Emily Cyr

In case you missed it, Pope Francis arrived this Tuesday in Washington for his six day tour in the United States. Though the pope-mania in America makes it feel like this is the first papal visit to the United States, Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of his predecessors.

The Papacy has a long and rich history which includes 266 popes stretching from St. Peter to Francis. Since the founding of the United States, there have only been 15 different popes, of which four (including Francis), have travelled to the United States. The first visit was made in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, followed by Saint Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. The only pope in recent history who did not make the journey was Pope John Paul I, who died after a month as pope. It may seem strange that papal visits to America have such a short history, but this reflects a large change in both America’s religious life as well as the role of the papacy internationally.

When Pope Paul VI arrived in New York City in 1965, it was not only a great moment for America but a great moment for the papacy as well. Nicknamed the “Pilgrim Pope”, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to leave Italy since 1809 as well as the first pope to board an airplane. It was his third visit out of Italy in 1965 that led the pope to New York where he addressed the United Nations and led a mass at Yankee stadium.  Pope Paul VI became an example of a pope active in foreign relations, hoping to ease international tensions and foster peaceful relations. Pope John Paul II, one of the longest serving popes in history, travelled greatly as well, including seven trips to the United States and the first ever to Washington DC. Though all popes have been welcomed with open arms, there is speculation if Pope Paul VI would have been welcome to the United States in 1965 if JFK had still been president.

On September 12th, 1960, presidential hopeful Kennedy made a speech before Protestant ministers in Houston, during which he had to both defend and downplay his Catholic faith. He said, “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens to be Catholic.” He stated firmly that his faith would not be what drove his presidency, but that if the time came that he could not lead without a violation of his conscience, he would resign from office. However, he followed saying that “I do not intend to apologize for these views”.  As history shows, Americans were able to see past religion to elect the first ever Catholic American president in history.

In another sign of progress, Pope Francis was the first pontiff to ever address a joint meeting of Congress on his last day in DC. In his speech, Pope Francis expressed concerns about climate change, poverty and the sanctity of life before a packed House chamber. He then made his way to the Speaker’s balcony to address the thousands watching the telecast from the West Lawn, and after blessing the crowd, asked them to pray for him and if they did not believe, to send him good wishes. He will continue his trip in New York City and finish it in Philadelphia.




Coming Up

McCarthy withdraws from speaker race, vote postponed

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