Senate Republicans just wrapped up a news conference in which the leader, Mitch McConnell, R-KY, laid out what he would like to hear from President Obama tonight: a shelving of the healthcare bill and hope that President "will begin to clear up the considerable confusion we have in regard to the interrogation of detainees."
Republicans are amping up the later point, sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today demanding answers as to why the Christmas Day bomber was mirandized soon after his capture and placed under FBI control ahead of a civilian trial, rather than military commission. Some Democrats have also questioned this decision, and it's clear this issue is not over --- rather just beginning.
McConnell was asked about NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s request today that the civilian trials for the 9/11 co-conspirators be moved AWAY from his city, saying trials would be as much as $1 billion. McConnell, with great disdain in his voice said, "The thought of trying KSM in NY in the first place is stunning," adding, "The American people don't get it. They don't understand it."
While saying "what the President could do is move to the political middle" and that Republicans are "prepared to meet him," it did not sound as if there is much common ground on the agenda ahead. McConnell wants to shelve healthcare reform efforts, and while he might get his way, as Democrats find themselves short of votes, it is not an agreement in principle and liberals are pushing hard to make Democrats fight even harder for a bill.
"To reconnect with the American people, (Obama) needs to focus on the economy like a laser and focus on the war on terror in safe and effective way" McConnell said.
But it is not likely many Democrats and Republicans will agree on much in the area of national security, particularly detention and interrogation policies.
The next priority for Dems is a jobs bill, and while Republicans have not seen details, it is not likely they will support the full package, particularly more money for infrastructure fixes.
It is also unclear if Republicans will vote to support a $1.9 trillion increase in the debt limit, so the U.S. does not default on its financial obligations. McConnell, when asked for his position, smiled ruefully and said, "We're going to have that vote this week." Numerous Senate GOP aides have said they want to have votes throughout the year on smaller increases to the limit; a move that could be politically untenable during a crucial midterm election year.