Rep. Anthony Weiner seeks a leave of absence after Twitter scandal
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner announced this weekend he wants to take a leave of absence from the House in the wake of the Twitter scandal. The process is generally pretty straightforward, says Hawkings.
A letter is submitted to the Speaker, and then is read on the floor. Little attention is paid, and the leave of absence is granted.
"It's one of these small little parliamentary niceties that's almost always granted," Hawkings says. "It's never not been granted in my 25 years of paying attention to the House. It is actually a debatable motion. So if Republicans decided they wanted to make hay with this, they could reject to the granting of a leave of absence and actually force a debate on this, and make some trouble for the democrats who seem to not be able to stick a fork in Anthony Weiner's career."
The democrats have plenty of trouble on their hands right now, and there’s potential that they could make more with this move by Weiner.
Additional photos have come out overnight that have been posted on the website, including one of the Congressman in an inappropriate pose. But short of calling him to resign, they really can’t get rid of him unless they go through the whole ethics process, Hawkings says.
There is extreme frustration among the democrats on the Hill
"Obviously they want to be talking about legislative stuff," he says. "They want to be talking about job creation, they want be talking about their differences with the Republican Party on the economy. And they can't essentially get their message out because he’s totally in the way."
Congressional Republicans hold back on endorsements
Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the Republican presidential debate takes place in New Hampshire tonight.
"It's been surprising to me how few endorsements have been made of any of the presidential candidates," says Hawkings. "A couple of members have endorsed almost everybody in the emerging field, but generally by this time there are more of them, so there’s sort of a wait and see attitude to see if the seven people debating tonight will constitute the entire field, which they almost certainly won’t."
John Huntsman, one of the more prominent members of Congress, won’t be in attendance tonight. But he’s expected to formally announce sometime this week that he’s in the race.
"And then they will slowly, but surely, members of Congress will ask not only for their endorsement, but what that essentially means is their organizational power. And then what we really got to wait for is sooner or later as the nominee emerges, he or she will start talking with Speaker Boehner about how to use the legislative agenda to promote his or her campaign."
It's too early for the endorsement process and the legislative agenda process, says Hawksing.
"Generally this debate will be forgotten unless somebody makes an extraordinary faux pas, or says something so clever it enters the national lexicon."
Meetings planned for deficit reduction and debt ceiling negotiations
The likelihood of seeing real progress for a deficit reduction deal is stronger, says Hawkings.
"The so-called Biden summit meetings, which is Vice President Biden has been leading this group of six negotiators from Congress. They've only met six times in about the last six weeks, but they’re going to meet three days in a row – tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday. The rhetoric going into these talks appears to have been eased a little bit. There's a certain pattern to these negotiations, where people bray about their bargaining positions for a while and then get down to business. And we’re almost to the getting down to business part."
Both the President and Speaker Boehner have said they want a deal by the end of this month to ease the worries of the financial markets that a debt ceiling will be threatened by the end of August.
The President and Speaker Boehner are meeting at the end of this week to play golf, and everyone expects them to be talking about more than golf.
"More and more republicans, including some of the freshman who ran, said they would never ever vote to increase the debt ceiling are now becoming persuaded that their interest in economic growth both exceeds that campaign rhetoric, and they are trying to find a way to vote yes."