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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 16, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EST

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>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris with a look at today's top stories. the program violated the fourth amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures and failed to demonstrate how the phone taps helped. >> the syrian army dumps barrels on the city of aleppo.
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and hearings for five who are accused of the september 11th attack. their lawyers will focus on motions aimed at trying to find out what happened to the detainees when they were in c.i.a. custody. the. the fda is demanding proof that antibacterial soups actually work, and more importantly they are safe. there is currently no evidence that antibacterials help from spreading germs and scientists say it can hurt hormone levels. al jazeera i. >> the senate is back in session with the budget still not settled. that's tonight's "inside story."
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>> hello, i'm ray suarez. the u.s. house is already home for the holidays, now all eyes are on senate to see this they can pass the budget deal. if they can, it will mark achievement in a year of rankle. on this edition of our program we will an ask a ask what cost s compromise. first this background. the senate is race to go wrap up its work for the year and the
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pressure is on senators to pass a budget before heading home for the holidays. democrats know they need a handful of republicans to pass the spending plan. some senators indicated they would vote to end debate. >> i hope it will pass the senate. i'll do anything, but not anything but we must not shut down the government again. >> reporter: last week the house passed a 1 trillion-dollar budget that would ease cuts from the sequester and avoid risking another government shutdown. >> i'm glad to report that senator murray and i have reached an agreement. >> reporter: months in the making this compromise came together from budget leaders in both chambers. democrats lost the fight on extended long-term unemployment insurance and republicans did not get the spending cuts they were looking for. it will be the first budget that was passed under normal order rather than emergency legislation. also in this final sprint in the senate long-awaited votes on
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judicial nominations. last month senate invoked the nuclear option. now it will be senate majority instead of requiring 60 votes to get a nomination to the floor. last week was the nomination of two, and it's been a scramble to overcome the view of that do-nothing senate. the senate worked a total of 99 days, close to a 1991 non-election year low of 95 voter days. still unfinished, key legislation such as immigration reform, a farm bill that will cut billions from the food stamp program and oversight into the national security agency's data collection. the vote on the budget showed an
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unfamiliar partisan spirit. >> one of the things had a hasn't happened is people listening to each other. we had to listen to each other, respect each other and trust each other. >> reporter: the vote was unpopular among the hard right members and saw the bottom line shrinking the government. house speaker john boehner blasted. >> they're misleading their followers. they're pushing our members in places they don't want to be, and frankly i think they have lost all credibility. to defund obamacare and shut down the government. most of you know my members know
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that was not the strategy that i had in mind. but as you'll recall the day before the government reopened one of the people of one of these groups stood up and said, we never thought it would work. are you kidding me? >> the last of officials years, with votes expected on the budget and approval of jay johnson to head homeland security and janet yellen to be the new chair of the federal reserve. >> here to talk with us over the senate's final days the turn wa. norm, unprecedented low ratings for both chambers from the public, has it provided the outside pressure that would have
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forced these men and women to do something different. >> the last poll showed a 6% approval rating. i heard john mccain at an event, he said we're down to blood relatives and paid staffs, and then he said my mother who is 101, just called me. we're down to paid staff. so there is nobody left. most members in the house and a lot of them in the senate especially those who are not up are less concerned about over all ratings and more concerned about the activist base. and for the ten republican seats that are up, nine incumbents running most of them have primary challenges, and that's what is driving this process in a different way.
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>> john, what is the calculation? you can actually be serene about losing the public as long as you keep the base? >> at this time it's coming to an end. republicans voting for this even though the base was against t they're saying enough is enough. by passing this budget they get back to a regular process. you see the appropriation process has broken down. they have not been passing their normal routine bills getting them back home and being able to explain what they've been doing for the constituents. i think once this budget passes they'll get back to the normal routines. if they can do that hopefully they can get their approval ratings up 10%. is that important to them? >> i think its important when they go home and they here at their local grocery stores all the griping. norm is right, they want to be re-elected, but when the rank and file aren't politically active come and say you got to get back to work.
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this is ridiculous, they feel the heat. that's why so many republicans voted for this budget process. >> norm, the names have dressed origin hatcdriftedin orrin hatcn mccain, the numbers are getting up there, close to 60. what does that tell you where things stand in the senate. >> what is so odd about this, ray, if you look at the dynamics of this entire year mostly it was the senate republicans who behaved like grownups, swallowed hard and passed legislation, and john boehner had enormous headaches getting his own members on board. 89 senators including almost all of the republicans who are strong conservatived voted for it, and they could barely get the third of the republicans in the house.
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>> what happened? why the flip? >> well, this was a deal put together by the house republicans majority with paul ryan and the senate democratic majority, and the senate republicans felt left out. that's a part of it. then you put into that as well continueds grumbling over the change of the rules. it was not at all clear until a few days ago that they had the 60 votes needed. now i think what you're seeing is you don't have very many senate republicans who are suicidal, and they recognize if you didn't let this go through, even if it was a vote against it in the end they would look like complete fools and their ratings by go from the 6% into the negative. >> there is another year to run in this congress, and it's an election year, what changes
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after january 1st. >> what changes for a lot of republicans in the house the primary days are through and they have to worry about general elections. and in the senate, they have their general elections and there are nine, at some point you have to win a general election. if you're so unpopular you're really vulnerable to a general election challenge even with redistricting. i think there are issues like immigration reform that could happen in april or march. get the appropriations bills done, the farm bill needs to get done, you'll see these members who want to go in accomplishment mode. >> the primary loomed large in the later part of this year. >> it loomed very large. you have outside groups who have mprimaries, they're raising
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money, and there isn't vested interest in having a functioning congress. all the interest is complete dysfunction, strife and to raise money from outside groups. >> in the predictability of the opposite institution when your own party can come gunning for. >> yoit is your own party now, d there is a real question whether this budget deal was an one-off deadeal or a sign of what is to come. what i can also tell you one of the major maters for a lot of those republicans who voted for this in the house is they didn't want to have anything now that takes the focus off the obamacare. there was a deep-seeded sense among house republicans that they went through threw weeks of what would have been the initial
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changes of meltdown with healthcare.gov , and then they put everything on obamacare. if that doesn't work there is no particular plan b. and we know one thing, paul ryan, the artful master of this deal, and his support brought along a lot of republicans. he's now saying we wan are tryio figure out what to ask for in the debt ceiling. so we could be back to crisis mode. it's not clear that there is a whole lot of congressional republicans who have much from to do much else. so there is a real threat for next year. >> we'll look at the nuclear option and what it means day-to-day for the senate. we'll take a break, and this is inside story.
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>> welcome back to "inside story," and our discussion of the legislative achievements or the lack ther there of this yean the united states senate. we touched on it, but i want to
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talk about it ail bit more. john, i know you're a house guy but looking across from the other side of the capitol, does this strike people as the kind of earthquake that it's been portrayed as. >> senator republicans are upset, and i think it adds an additional urgency in this election for a lot of republicans. republicans will have to get much more unified and much more aware of this going into the election. >> so did they kick a hornets nest by picking this fight? >> i think they changed a lot of precedent, and i think it was unwise for those if nominees tt the president is pushing for. the republicans are not going to change the rules back. if there is a republican president in the republican senate, they're going to rue the
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day that they did this. >> on the very day that this debate went ahead, there was that, well, they all do it. was there not only a quantitative, but qualitative change in what happened this year leading up to harry reid's fateful issue. >> why i would take issue is that the democrats picked the fight. it was something a little bit different. first, filibustering executive nominees. the first time sitting member of the house had been filibustered or blocked in a hundred years. it was after the republicans in the senate promised they would do so only under extraordinary circumstances. if you look at circuit court of appeals nominees blocked for the district of columbia, you didn't have even the fig leave, which we had the last time that
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republican leader bill frisk threatened this action, well, this person is extreme, or this person didn't qualified. the republicans in the senate said they're not extreme, they're not qualified, we're not going to confirm anybody. it was daring democrats to go further. one big difference from 2005 2005-2006 is back then when the republicans in the senate came close to actually doing something much more significant in terms of the rules changes, we had 14 senators, seven on each side, form a gang of 14, and reach an agreement that left a lot of nominees go there. this time there were seven democrats ready to do a compromise. it would have been two out of the three dc circuit nominees, but you had two republicans. susan collins and john mccain. >> and you couldn't get any more than that. >> no, and you know, my thesis, frankly s that mitch mcconnell, who faces his own significant primary fight, but
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also looking ahead is worried that the base will not turn out in a tough general election campaign. at the same time kentucky is the one state where obamacare is working pretty well, so he has a tough time making that his major focus was happy to have a villain out there, a democratic party that will throw the constitution aside and i'm the guy standing in the way. >> just to undermine that "they all do it" narrative a little bit more. during the gang of 14, they put through some conservative judges through. >> it let through janice rogers brown who is probably way over at the right end of the spectrum, and at least priscilla owen, another couple of judge who is are nowhere near the middle. having said that, democrats abused the filibuster power with previous judicial nominees,
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including miguel estrada, he was very conservative. but blocking that nomination by filibuster helped to trigger this action. they drew back from it. this time the other side did not draw back. >> when we come back we'll talk with john nichols from at i nation" and you're watching "inside story."
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>> welcome back to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. joining our conversation now from madison, wisconsin, joni coles, washington correspondent for the nation.magazine.
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we were talking about the behavior of the united states senate, and talked about almost an identify switch between incouragible house and. >> i and i respect what he has to say. what i will tell you is that the budget deal that's come through, and all of the fights that are going on have really been reflections of a big change in general. money has been given to both chambers, in addition we have a
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24-7 news cycle. and so little fights that in the past might have been significant now become amplified in a fundraising standpoint. that becomes tough. to me the most disappointing thing in the current moment is that the suggestion that the ultimate goal should be corporation, and it does trouble me that we sometimes measure success or failure by whether these folks aren't fighting with one another rather than stepping back and asking ourselves is the legislation that they're putting forward, are these budget deals and other initiatives sufficient at the moment. i would suggest by and large they are not. >> john, can you get both things? both make your point as an
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elected officials and legislator and make sure that the institution runs. we've set. dichotomy if you do one you can't do the other, and vice versa. >> i think you're speaking to a real crisis of the moment. one of the big changes has been a real dramatic shift in the nature of the two political parties. do you remember historically both parties had multiple wings within them. if you will, a left, right, and a center. that was true not just in the democratic party but also the republican party. but now again because of massive inflows of money these parties have become more and more deferent to donors and a pressure to fit into a specific mold. it's problematic because anyone will tell you in the past, we're
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losing those diversity within the parties. and unless we figure out a way to kind of restore that by changing redistricting, by doing meaningful changes in how we finance campaigns i'm afraid of what we see now is really just in anticipation of the future. >> what do you make of this? >> i would disagree, especially on the republican side members of congress are more attuned to their grassroots than they ever have been, and maybe to the extent that it's not that healthy. the donors don't have nearly as much influence. it's all or not. they don't want compromise and that led to the government
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shutdown. >> is that the institutionalists, are they pushing back now. >> the institutionalists are looking forward to honorable compromise. they're frustrated at the grassroots who are manipulating things and really misleading the voters on what is appropriate. you need to have government work. that's what john boehner is saying. >> is there a reasonable expectation that 2014 will be different than 2013? >> i don't think there is a reasonable expectation. and i think that there is a subtly. the grassroots, what have been referred to as the grassroots of the republican party is making demands, they're heavily funded and there is a lot of money backing up the extreme positions of the republican party.
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for john boehner trying to deal with this it's very difficult, but it's true that both parties face a huge challenge in this record. i have to believe that until we see another wave at election or so, something that pushes congress one way or the other, it is unlikely that you're going to see that level of functionality that i think some of the institutionalists want. >> well, to close, there is money and then there is money. we saw the chamber of commerce step in and say wait a minute we'll primary you guys if you keep this from going into a ditch. >> the most heartening thing in terms of the future of the republican party you're starting to see establishment conservatives fight back a little bits, and it's only a little bit,ed a big business does not have the influence that it used to have. the dominant force is the old old fight between the main streeters and the wall streeters, and the main streeters have taken over.
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a good part of the frustration that boehner expressed in talking about these groups is, in fact, they push people apart because of money. this is a great fundraising tactic for them. that's what heritage action with jim demint and michael nedham have done. he's go a two-front war. he has crazy ideologues i who he no desire to compromise. >> thank you for being with us. in washington, i'm ray suarez.
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