WBEZ | congress http://www.wbez.org/tags/congress Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en White House asks Congress for war powers to fight ISIS http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-asks-congress-war-powers-fight-isis-111537 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP439279241343.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In a move that is sure to set off a new round of debate over how the U.S. should fight ISIS, the Obama administration has sent Congress a request for formal authorization to use military force against the extremist group.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/02-11-15_White_House_AUMF_Text.pdf">copy of the new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF</a>, has been posted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; it says ISIS &quot;poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.&quot;</p><p>We&#39;ve updated this post to reflect the news. <em>Post continues:</em></p><p>Discussing draft versions of the request earlier this morning, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/02/11/385396486/sen-kaine-pushes-for-vote-on-military-strikes-against-isis">told NPR&#39;s Morning Edition</a> that President Obama will ask Congress to authorize ground troops, with a prohibition on their use in &quot;enduring offensive combat missions.&quot;</p><p>A similar provision is in the request for war powers; it also sets a three-year limit on the powers and repeals the 2002 authorization for using force in Iraq.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not good to have these previous war authorizations kind of floating out there&quot; to be used years later, he said.</p><p>White House officials framed the request for war powers after meeting with members of both parties in Congress, where it will come under close scrutiny.</p><p>The effort has been a balancing act, with a key issue being the possible role of ground troops: Republicans say they don&#39;t want to limit the Pentagon&#39;s approach, while Democrats are wary of giving the OK to an open-ended conflict.</p><p>&quot;On Capitol Hill, there is going to be an extended debate, discussion, and argument over exactly what the Authorization for the Use of Military Force should say, what the limits should be,&quot; NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith reports.</p><p>The new AUMF would replace the authorization that was provided to President Bush in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. It would set new parameters for the U.S. to follow as it tries to combat ISIS, the violent group that has claimed territory in Iraq and Syria.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s high skepticism on Capitol Hill that the earlier authorizations cover&quot; the military operations the U.S. has already conducted against ISIS, Kaine said.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/10/385215395/white-house-seeking-support-of-congress-in-fight-against-isis">As Tamara reported for the Two-Way yesterday</a>, the effort to shape the legislation has included a wide range of administration officials, from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/11/385411567/white-house-will-request-war-powers-from-congress-today-senator-says" target="_blank">NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-asks-congress-war-powers-fight-isis-111537 State Of The Union: 5 things to watch http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-5-things-watch-111419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap107344952338_custom-5a245bf3a994f32a35a8bf64bfc05290653e9088-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Even in the era of declining television audiences, President Obama&#39;s state of the union address is still the biggest audience he&#39;ll have all year. Historically, seventh-year state of the union speeches have a short shelf life. Every one of the five lame duck presidents (that is, presidents constitutionally barred from running again &mdash; Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama &mdash; have all had opposition congresses, making the prospects for passing major parts of the president&#39;s agenda slim to none.</p><p>But on Tuesday Obama will try to use his speech to frame the debates for the next two years and set the table for the 2016 election.</p><p>Here are 5 things to watch:<br /><br /><strong>1. How does the president talk about the economy?</strong><br /><br />We know he will make &quot;Middle Class Economics&quot; the centerpiece of his speech, with a tax plan that raises taxes on the wealthiest and the biggest banks in order to pay for tax breaks for working families. How will he convince the country that his policies have led to an economy that&#39;s growing fast enough that it&#39;s now time to move beyond the debate about deficits and stimulus?<br /><br /><strong>2. What tone will he take toward Congress?</strong><br /><br />The president&#39;s tax plan is a not-so-subtle populist challenge to the new Republican majority. Will they dare to defend tax breaks for inherited wealth &mdash; like what the White House is now calling the &quot;trust fund loophole?&quot; The president&#39;s tone is important. Will he reach out to his old golf buddy John Boehner in the spirit of compromise? Or will he treat the GOP leadership the way he did the Supreme Court in his state of the union address after the&nbsp;<em>Citizens United</em>&nbsp;ruling (the one that prompted much head shaking from Justice Samuel Alito)?<br /><br /><strong>3. Will Obama challenge his own party?</strong><br /><br />With his tax proposals, the president is finally giving Democrats the middle class economic agenda they&#39;ve been missing. Will he also challenge them on trade? Getting &quot;fast track authority &quot; through Congress is one area where there is potential for bipartisan action. But most Democrats are opposed. On Tuesday night the president can show he&#39;s willing to push his own party on this issue, or he can make it clear he&#39;d rather let Republicans do all the heavy lifting on trade votes.<br /><br /><strong>4. How does the president avoid looking like the &quot;small-ball&quot; president?</strong><br /><br />President Obama famously said he didn&#39;t want to play &quot;small-ball&quot; &mdash; referring to Bill Clinton&#39;s agenda of narrowly focused items like midnight basketball, or school uniforms. Now, though, the president has rolled out a series of bite size proposals and executive actions like expanded access to high speed broadband, mortgage relief, and free community college tuition. Can he wrap them all into a compelling agenda for the middle class that is bigger than the sum of its parts?<br /><br /><strong>5. How does he talk about Iran, ISIS, and the new terrorist threats?</strong><br /><br />This was going to be the year that Obama ended two wars and made a legacy-cementing deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. But the world isn&#39;t cooperating. Watch how the president talks about the attacks in France, the negotiations with Iran and the so far unsuccessful efforts to degrade and destroy ISIS in Syria and Iraq.</p><p><strong>NPR&#39;s reporters will be covering the speech, and here is some of our related coverage:</strong></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/19/378289335/white-house-rolls-out-tax-proposals-before-state-of-the-union-address">White House Rolls Out Tax Proposals Before State Of The Union Address</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/18/378080969/obamas-trouble-articulating-the-economy">Obama&#39;s Trouble Articulating The State Of The Economy</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/17/378028524/obama-to-propose-tax-changes-in-state-of-the-union-address">Obama To Call For Tax Hike On The Wealthy In State Of The Union</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/20/377715976/working-3-jobs-in-a-time-of-recovery">Working 3 Jobs In A Time Of Recovery</a></p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/01/16/377611438/iowas-sen-ernst-grabs-spotlight-thats-often-proven-too-hot">Iowa&#39;s Sen. Ernst Grabs Spotlight That&#39;s Often Proven Too Hot</a></p><p><em>-via <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/01/20/378486364/state-of-the-union-5-things-to-watch">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-union-5-things-watch-111419 Feds set to divert refugee funds to deal with unaccompanied minors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee cuts 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Refugee assistance agencies in Illinois are steeling themselves for dramatic cuts in federal funding, which threaten to gut core services aimed at helping newcomers adjust and integrate to life in the U.S. The money instead is slated to go toward dealing with a crisis of unaccompanied minors streaming over the southern border, overwhelming temporary shelters that the U.S. is scrambling to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;This is really an impossible situation that we&rsquo;re being put in, in which we have to rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, and have to choose between two vulnerable groups of people,&rdquo; said Erol Kekic, chair of the Refugee Council USA and Director of Immigration and Refugee services at Church World Service.</p><p>&ldquo;This is happening against the backdrop of this incredible upheaval that is plaguing our world at this point in time with (the) refugee crisis getting way out of hand in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Somalia, etc,&rdquo; he added, &ldquo;and (the) U.S. has to do its part to assist in this process.&rdquo;</p><p>In Illinois, resettlement agencies and refugee support organizations stand to lose a total of $2.7 million in funds from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency is responsible for services rendered to refugees from their point of arrival in the U.S., to up to five years after. Refugees, unlike unaccompanied minors, are legally present in the U.S., and have already undergone rigorous background checks by the Department of Homeland Security and immigration authorities before they are admitted to the U.S. by the State Department.</p><p>Statewide, the cuts represent $1.3 million in core programming for refugees, and an additional $1.4 million in discretionary grants which fund services for K-12 children, seniors, preventative health care, and intensive case management for refugees with particularly acute need of assistance. Currently, Illinois provides these services to about 3,500 refugees, according to Deborah Covington, Vice President of Planning and Allocation for Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. That organization is Illinois&rsquo;s prime contractor for distributing and overseeing the bulk of ORR refugee funds.</p><p>Covington said programs funded by the discretionary grants will be completely eliminated. The state&rsquo;s seven refugee resettlement agencies, and two additional resettlement support organizations, will have discretion as to how to accommodate the cuts in core programming.</p><p>&ldquo;When budgetary crises happen, and we have a humanitarian crisis that&rsquo;s going on on the border, it&rsquo;s inappropriate to pit one deserving group against another,&rdquo; said Covington. &ldquo;The pie needs to be expanded, not simply rearranging the pie that&rsquo;s there.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We would pretty much be gutting our services,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, which resettles the largest number of refugees in the City of Chicago. &ldquo;We have nine programs. Of the nine programs, four would totally shut down, and two programs would be drastically reduced.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said unless Congress passes an emergency supplemental funding bill that replenishes the cuts, she will likely have to eliminate core services as soon as October 1. Slated for the chopping block would be programs for youth, seniors, intensive case management, medical case management, and English language training. In addition, she will drastically reduce regular case management services with bilingual staff and employment services. Kano anticipates she will have to cut 10 of her 33 full-time employees, and 7 of her 11 part-time employees.</p><p>&ldquo;Now, what that translates into in terms of service provision is that you have to have intensive services to help single mothers, to help individuals who perhaps don&rsquo;t have significant literacy skills, to help individuals who have been warehoused in refugee camps for several years, to be able to adjust to life in Chicago and become self-sufficient,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Kano and others said cuts would also come at a time that refugees need them more than ever. In accord with a <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/10/02/presidential-memorandum-refugee-admissions-fiscal-year-2014">Presidential Determination</a>, which announces the number of refugees that the U.S. may accept in a given fiscal year, and from which area of the world, the U.S. has increasingly been taking refugees from countries such as the Congo, Iraq, Bhutan, and starting next year, Syria.</p><p>&ldquo;These are definitely individuals who have been through war and trauma,&rdquo; said Kano, &ldquo;and without the important programs that we are here to provide for them, they would really have (a) hard time to integrate into society here and become self-sufficient.&rdquo;</p><p>Refugee advocates are hopeful that federal lawmakers will reach an agreement on a supplemental funding bill to replenish the cuts by September 30. While a proposal by President Barack Obama to provide $3.7 billion toward handling the unaccompanied minors crisis would have made the refugee services whole, neither the House nor Senate have shown an appetite for such a large allocation. In particular, funding contemplated by House GOP leaders doesn&rsquo;t appear to come close to restoring the cuts for refugee services.</p><p>&ldquo;The House leadership is interested in passing legislation that provides much less funding and is much more focused on border enforcement and limiting the President&rsquo;s authority than they are in really solving the humanitarian crisis,&rdquo; said Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still hoping that some kind of resolution will take place,&rdquo; he added, &ldquo;but obviously the clock is running.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594 Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jazz photo for 5-5 Flickr pedrosimoes7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We mark Teacher Appreciate Week with NEA head Dennis Van Roekel. We take a look at the race for Congress in the 10th Congressional District which includes an attempt at a comeback. And, we celebrate jazz in Paris.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 05 May 2014 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133 Morning Shift: Black vocal techniques http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-19/morning-shift-black-vocal-techniques-108712 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Microphone Flickr pictureorpictures.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk about non-partisan group &quot;No Labels&quot; and how they are looking to bridge the gap between democrats and republicans. Also, Richard Steele and Tony play some tunes and discuss black vocal techniques.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Black vocal techniques" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 19 Sep 2013 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-19/morning-shift-black-vocal-techniques-108712 Morning Shift: Reinterpreting Beethoven's compositions http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-09/morning-shift-reinterpreting-beethovens-compositions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Piano 2 - Flickr- Cameron.T.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Beethoven has been an inspiration for musicians from many genres. A festival taking place in Chicago this week features the famous composer&#39;s work re-imagined and re-purposed. We hear some of those interpretations.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Reinterpreting Beethoven's compositions" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 08:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-09/morning-shift-reinterpreting-beethovens-compositions Where was Rep. Aaron Schock at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-aaron-schock-25-107295 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP080205045166.jpg" style="float: right; height: 278px; width: 350px;" title="Rep. Aaron Schock in 2008. (AP/File)" />At 31, (soon-to-turn 32 in late May), Congressman Aaron Schock is the youngest participant of the Year 25 series.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a designation he&rsquo;s pretty used to. He was once the youngest Illinois state representative and school board president&mdash;at the same time.</p><p>At 25, Schock lived in an old house that was supposed to be condemned by the city of Peoria, Illinois.</p><p>But Schock bought it and flipped it himself when he finished college.</p><p>He was also a few years into his stint as an Illinois state rep, but that was only a part-time gig. Most of his days were spent in the private sector, working in real estate.</p><p>Schock says he had no idea as a 25-year-old that he&rsquo;d live most of his days in Washington as a federal lawmaker. But as he told WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian, he&rsquo;s pleased with how things have turned out so far.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is&rsquo; WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p><p><strong>More from this series</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25-0/year-25-dan-savage-105358" target="_blank">Dan Savage</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104" target="_blank">Sen. Dick Durbin</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rick-bayless-25-106967" target="_blank">Rick Bayless</a></p></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-aaron-schock-25-107295 Where was Rep. Tammy Duckworth at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-tammy-duckworth-25-107159 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/duck.png" alt="" /><p><p>At 25, U.S. representative <a href="http://duckworth.house.gov/" target="_blank">Tammy Duckworth</a> was just beginning her career as a helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard - a bit sooner than she originally expected.</p><p>Usually, she says, it was about a&nbsp; year-long wait before you could get into flight school.</p><p>But when she got the call in 1993 that a spot was open last minute at Fort Rucker, Alabama, she packed up her bags and left Chicago, reporting to duty just three days later.</p><p>That is, after a quick stop to the Justice of the Peace to marry her then-boyfriend.</p><p>&ldquo;I did not want to go to flight school and do something that dangerous and my husband not have rights in case I was injured or wounded or hurt,&rdquo; Duckworth said.</p><p>They had a full wedding ceremony later that summer.</p><p>So off she went, incredibly focused on becoming a helicopter pilot and not at all thinking about the office on Capitol Hill she sits in now.</p><p>The Illinois Congresswoman sat down with WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian in Washington, D.C., to tell the story of 25-year-old Tammy Duckworth.</p><p>She reflects on what flight school was like, some of her favorite memories from that year and how it got her where she is today.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought I would be commanding an assault helicopter battalion,&rdquo; Duckworth said. &ldquo;I have, you know a little ache in my heart when I think of my peers who are now at that point and I&rsquo;m not. But this is a pretty good gig I have now, too.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer and Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p><p><object height="300" width="400"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633495888176%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633495888176%2F&amp;set_id=72157633495888176&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633495888176%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633495888176%2F&amp;set_id=72157633495888176&amp;jump_to=" height="300" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400"></embed></object></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 13:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rep-tammy-duckworth-25-107159 Where was Senator Dick Durbin at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin mid 30s (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>At 68 years old, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin is one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. First elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin now serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate.</p><p>His memories of being 25, however, might be classified as his more humble beginnings.</p><p>Durbin was a young father and husband&mdash;he had one young daughter, with another baby on the way. He was graduating from Georgetown Law School and had just accepted a job offer in then Lt. Governor Paul Simon&rsquo;s office in Springfield.</p><p>And, as he&rsquo;ll tell you himself, he had hardly any money to his name.</p><p>&ldquo;I skipped my graduation ceremony,&rdquo; Durbin recalls. &ldquo;I needed to get on to payroll and get a paycheck so fast that I just skipped it and said send me the diploma in the mail.&rdquo;</p><p>So, he packed up a U-Haul truck with his few belongings and his Newfoundland dog (the dog&#39;s full name, for the record, was Johann Sebastian Black. Durbin says they called him Bassy, for short. He didn&rsquo;t explain further.) and headed across the country to Springfield. His brother followed the U-Haul in Durbin&rsquo;s old Volkswagon.</p><p>Durbin says he spent his last dime putting his wife and baby on a plane, so he spent the nights of this road trip in the back of the U-Haul with his brother and Bassy.</p><p>He thinks even the people who know him well now would be pretty surprised to hear how poor he was when he was 25.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s morning producer and reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 14:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 With FAA, Democrats lose the sequester battle http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/faa-democrats-lose-sequester-battle-106870 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7216_AP118705097809-scr.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Sequester cuts caused travel delays at airports across the country before Friday's congressional votes. (AP/File)" /></div><p>Not that Democrats have ever been particularly good negotiators, but it&rsquo;s possible President Barack Obama&rsquo;s namby pamby adjudicating may have rubbed off on them, to bad effect.</p><p>Just last Friday, finally given a chance to show their courage in the sequester battle, the Democrats blinked &mdash; hard. by agreeing to a bill that allows the Federal Aviation Administration to bypass, at least for now, sequester-mandated cuts, the Democrats actually agreed to a strategy that basically hands the budget battle victory to the Republicans.</p><p>Do you remember the sequester? It was supposed to be so damn bad both sides in Washington were going to be forced back to the negotiating table, bipartisanship would have no choice but to emerge from the bitter pill of automatic cuts to the federal budget, without regard to need or politics: Head Start, the military &mdash; every favorite program was going to be guillotined.</p><p>When the Republicans didn&rsquo;t fall for that and allowed the sequester to go into effect, the White House &mdash; which unconvincingly disavows the sequester as its idea &mdash; went on a campaign to warn about the hardships the cuts would cause. Things were going to get so bad, we were all going to be really sorry. And, in fact, things were going to get so terribly bad, the people would rise up and blame the GOP and then the Dems would have the upper hand and things would get fixed, probably.</p><p>There&rsquo;s still a <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester" target="_blank">White House page</a> with many dire warnings such as this: &ldquo;Harmful automatic budget cuts &mdash; known as the sequester &mdash; threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform. These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.&rdquo;</p><p>Except it hasn&rsquo;t happened that way. Not that the sequester isn&rsquo;t slicing and dicing: It is. But the very nature of the cuts means the pain is being administered slowly, over a huge swath of programs, and most people haven&rsquo;t seen a big change in their lives post-sequester.</p><p>Still, the damage is real. In Illinois alone, the <a href="http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/politics/sequester-cuts-illinois/309/" target="_blank">sequester affects</a> funding for teachers, funding for special education for kids with disabilities, work study jobs, Head Start programs, child care, vaccines, nutrition programs for seniors, mental health programs, cuts to the FBI, emergency responders, veteran services, senior meals, housing voucher programs, AIDS and HIV services and many more programs.</p><p>So you&rsquo;d think once the cuts actually started to squeeze people in a noticeable way &mdash; like say, hours long delays at the nation&rsquo;s airports because of furloughed air traffic controllers &mdash; that the Dems would turn around and say, &ldquo;See? This is what we mean. And it&rsquo;s going to get worse.&rdquo;</p><p>And then, you know, maybe the Republicans would at least have to explain their position.</p><p>But no. In fact, not at all. The Democrats completed caved. The <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/national_world&amp;id=9079898" target="_blank">vote wasn&rsquo;t even close</a>: unanimous in the Senate and 361 to 41 in the House.</p><p>The Dems agreed to a Republican bill that allows the FAA to shift funds to keep air traffic controllers working, and to keep travelers from being inconvenienced. And in doing so, the Democrats have given the GOP a blueprint on how to get around any other cuts to favored programs they&rsquo;d like to alleviate.</p><p>In other words, the Democrats have given away whatever leverage they might have had had &mdash; especially because Obama has agreed to sign this bill, as is his wont, without concessions (like, say, Head Start in exchange for the air traffic controllers).</p><p>Let me be even clearer: The Republicans have figured out how to save programs important to their relatively privileged constituencies. The Democrats have completely sold their constituencies &mdash; especially the poor, young people, and women &mdash; down the river.</p><p>Obama and the Democrats are back out there now <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/congress-sends-obama-bill-to-end-delays/2013/04/26/27f94706-ae81-11e2-a986-eec837b1888b_story.html" target="_blank">talking</a> about ending the sequester, how it&rsquo;s unfair to this and that program, and that the Republicans need to come back to the negotiating table. But why would be the GOP ever do that?</p><p>The Republicans are enjoying the sequester. It is, after all, what they wanted: cuts to government programs. Sure, they would have preferred more say in what to cut, what to preserve. But in the long run &mdash; in terms of goals &mdash; the sequester, which both parties signed on to as a strategy, is actually doing what the Republicans &mdash; and only the Republicans &mdash; wanted.</p></p> Sun, 28 Apr 2013 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/faa-democrats-lose-sequester-battle-106870