Senate Democrats dropped the filibuster bomb Thursday, and now the question is what kind of fallout will result from the so-called nuclear option.
By a 52-48 vote, the Senate ended the ability of minority Republicans to continue using filibusters to block some of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominations, despite the vehement objections of Republicans.
Majority Democrats then quickly acted on the change by ending a filibuster against one of Obama's nominees for a federal appeals court.
“The historic rules change strips Republicans of their power to block the president's executive and judicial nominees, except the Supreme Court.
“Instead of 60 votes to break a filibuster, it’s now 51 votes – a simple majority,” CNN’s Dana Bash reports.
Obama later cited what he called "an unprecedented patter of obstruction in Congress" during his presidency for the move led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal," Obama said of the change. "And for the sake of future generations, it cannot become normal."
U.S. Rep. Trey Radel said Wednesday night he will take a leave of absence for an unspecified time and donate his salary.
"I have no excuse for what I have done. I have let down our country," he said at a news conference.
Radel spoke to reporters after returning home to southwest Florida, hours after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession.
The 37-year-old first-term Republican from Florida said he will enter an inpatient drug treatment program to get treatment for substance abuse.
He hopes to set an example for those who struggle with addiction, CNN's Alina Machado reports.
The cocaine possession charge came after authorities said he bought a small amount of cocaine in a sting in the nation's capital last month
During the brief news conference, Radel said he "grew up with a mom who struggled with alcoholism."
"I don't want my son to struggle with that," he said.
The plea and sentence were part of a deal that Radel's attorney struck with federal prosecutors. He could have received a maximum sentence of 180 days imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both. Instead, he was placed on one year probation, and if it is "successfully completed," his guilty plea will be cleared from his record.
In the middle of his first congressional hearing as the new head of the embattled Internal Revenue Service, Daniel Werfel was asked Monday how he would restore public trust in the agency after revelations that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were targeted for extra scrutiny.
"It is going to be a difficult process," acknowledged Werfel, a career public servant appointed by President Barack Obama last month to clean up the mess that is dominating news headlines early in his second term.
Werfel described a process of identifying what happened, who was responsible and steps to ensure it can never happen again to address what Republicans depict as politically motivated harassment that abused constitutional rights of conservative groups.
Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif has released partial transcripts into the IRS scandal regarding Tea Party applications. IRS workers in Cincinnati are heard "telling congressional investigators about why they targeted conservative groups," Dan Lothian reports.
“But two democratic sources involved complain Issa released the transcripts before making them available to democrats in what they say is supposed to be a bipartisan investigation,” he says. “The sources tell CNN the excerpts are taken out of context, and Issa's claim they indicate direction from Washington is misleading.”
FROM CNN WIRES:
Washington (CNN) - On one side were pegboard panels mounted with various assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons - including a Bushmaster similar to the one used in last month's Newtown school massacre.
Behind the stage stood police officers supporting a renewed ban on such firepower. One by one, victims of gun violence told their brief stories and expressed support for a new federal ban being proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein on some assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.
Almost six weeks after the Connecticut shooting rampage that killed 20 first graders, Feinstein said she planned to introduce her measure later Thursday, with Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado doing the same in the House.
Feinstein's proposal would upgrade an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and also outlaw ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
She said the goal is to "dry up the supply of these weapons over time."
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Paul Steinhauser looks at the details of Sen. Feinstein's plan and the public support for this type of assault weapons ban.
It was like the first day of school on Capitol Hill yesterday as new members of the 113th Congress were sworn into the Senate and the House. Among the freshmen joining the House was Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida's 6th Congressional District. DeSantis was one of less than a dozen newly elected members of the house who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. He's also a Jag Officer in the U.S. Navy. Hopefully, he's prepared for upcoming battles in the House. Representative DeSantis joins us now to talk about his first day on the job, and what he plans to work on. First off, he says he would not have voted for the fiscal cliff deal passed earlier this week.
Members of the 113th Congress will be sworn in today. There will be twelve new members in the Senate, adding three Republicans, and eight Democrats with one Independent. Eighty three new members will be joining the House, 34 Republicans, and 49 Democrats. Democrats retain control of the Senate and Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress. Among the 49 newly elected Democratic freshman representatives is Representative-elect Ami Bera, from the 7th Congressional District in Sacramento County, California. He joins “Early Start” live from Washington this morning.
The House passed the Senate approved fiscal cliff legislation late last night with a 257 to 167 vote. Rep. Jeff Landry is a Republican from Louisiana and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He voted against the bill and joins “Early Start” this morning to explain his reasons.
Landry says he was opposed to raising taxes on anyone, “but we're hiding the fact that we're spending way more than we're taking in.” He stresses the failure of the bill to work on the “16.8 trillion deficit and debt we acquired on the backs of future generations;” the looming debt ceiling fight ahead. “The sad part about it,” he says, “all we did was basically take us off one cliff, only to put us on one that's much higher.”
Landry also expresses disappointment in Speaker Boehner, criticising him for allowing the president to undo the promises he made after the 2010 elections. “The president was able to get the speaker to undo everything he promised he would do for the American people over the last Congress.”
All eyes are on the House this morning. Shortly after ringing in the New Year and plunging off the fiscal cliff, the Senate voted on a plan to avert it. But the question of 2013 is whether the House will follow suit. Congressman Jason Altmire is a Democrat from Pennsylvania. He's a Blue Dog Democrat, and therefore a fiscal conservative. Altmire, who is considered to be one of the most independent voters in the house, has crossed party lines before and is willing to do so to work with getting stuff done. He's also retiring at the end of this session. We hear from him live from D.C. this morning.
Rep. Altmire confidently says he will vote for the Senate approved fiscal cliff bill if it comes to the floor unamended. "I think you will get most all Democratic votes on the house, if they allow it to come to the floor. I think half the Republicans, maybe slightly more. This will pass if they allow it to come up to a vote.”
This morning, we wait with bated breath to see if a fiscal cliff deal worked out between Vice President Biden and Senate Republicans can pass the House later today. Ron Meyer is Spokesperson for the conservative group, American Majority Action. Long critical of how Boehner has been handling fiscal cliff negotiations, his group has suggested that Speaker Boehner resign for proposing his Plan B. Meyer weighs in live from D.C. this morning.
Meyer had correctly predicted very early on that the House would not pass Speaker Boehner’s Plan B measure. He offers his ideas about whether the bill that passed the Senate last night will pass the House this time around. “It could pass the House, but it definitely doesn’t have the majority of the GOP caucus right now,” Meyer says. He predicts that “at least 100 Republicans...will vote against this if they bring it up as proposed by the Senate.”
Meyer also speaks about the impact this fiscal cliff deal will have on young Americans who will feel the consequences down the road. “For people who actually care about saving my generation from a huge amount of debt, this bill is a complete joke,” Meyer says. “That's one of the things where I think House Republicans get it, where at least I mean the majority of our caucus gets it, where we're going to stand up against this plan because it's bad for young people, bad for our future. It's bad for the rest of America too.” Meyer believes a core group of Republicans will defend the idea that “this plan is gonna hurt and bankrupt our generation…and try to get a real solution done.”
Meyer also criticizes Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, for his role in the fiscal cliff talks. “He endorsed Plan B. And guess what?” he asks. “We shot it down. We had more than 50 Republicans against that bill. Grover Norquist’s power…it’s just Washington created. It’s media created.” Meyer further says the idea that Norquist is “some sort of magician behind the curtain is an absolute fallacy.”