Negotiations were possible during Obama and Boehner "golf summit"
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner paired up with Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich last Saturday for a game of golf at Andrews Air Force Base golf course. The big question is what sort of talks went on during the game, specifically whether or not any progress on debt negotiations were made.
"The President and the Speaker ended up being playing partners, and I believe feeding Vice President Biden and Gov. Kasich on the 18th hole, and as a result they collected a $4 dollar-bet,” says Hawkings. “But no big money deal yet. It’s definitely possible, however, that the four of these men decided to keep their discussions to themselves, or at least keep it out of the press until farther on down the line, close to the end."
The Biden Summit – the Vice President's meeting with six senior members of Congress – will resume work this week. The group plans to unveil something next week. July 1 is their self-imposed deadline, because they say they want a deal unveiled with plenty of time to get it through the Congress before the Treasury announces the August 2 deadline before the debt ceiling hits.
It's possible that negotiations could result during friendly talks on the golf course, Hawkings says.
"I think we sometimes undervalue the value of personal connections in this town, especially at that high level. To this point the President and the Speaker are said to have a cool, cordial relationship – not antagonistic, but not friendly. You spend three hours playing sports with somebody, especially golf, which is sort of a great way to get an understanding of your playing partners interpersonal skills and mind games. You get a good idea of whom they are, and I think both of these men definitely want to get a deal. I think that all the atmospherics are that both sides are stretching themselves to not say no right away. And so yes, I would say that these two have every impetus to get something done, and a golf game like this could probably only help."
Congress appalled at Obama's actions regarding War Powers Act and Libya
The New York Times has reported in recent days the President disregarding the view of two top lawyers who said he needed Congressional authorization for participation in the military operation in Libya, while others have said he did not need that authorization.
"I think members of Congress are generally appalled to be curt about it," says Hawkings. "They're appalled that the President reached this conclusion. In the minds of Congress, the War Powers Act is clear, and the notion that we would be participating in bombing another country that wouldn't be considered hostilities doesn't pass the straight-face test. That’s the phrase the Speaker himself used. To go back a minute ago, probably they would be on better ground if they kept the discussion about budget, and not about Libya because the Speaker is frustrated that the President has not asked for formal authorization. It puts him in a bit of a bind because I think he wants to stick up for Congress' prerogatives, knows that his own troops – the Republicans – are getting antagonistic toward this. There may be little he can do to stop a vote later this week in the House – maybe Thursday or Friday, that would essentially be a vote in favor of blocking anymore funds being spent in this session."
There were a couple of quotes from Sen. John McCain, saying that partisanship plays into this debate. However, Hawkings disagrees.
"From what I can sense, this is not partisanship. I mean it is true that the party in power generally is more interventionist, and the party out of power is generally more isolationist, so there is certain partisan dynamic here, so I think it’s more of an institutional prerogative that they’re fighting for than anything else."