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President Obama and Vice President Biden are meeting with Senate leaders today on deficit reduction and extending the debt ceiling. Biden has been working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who hadn’t been able to reach a comprehensive deal, and there’s been a lot of anticipation for the President getting involved.
"The big decisions in negotiations like this were always going to be made by the President," says Hawkings. "There were some who I think who maybe thought Biden and his six congressional negotiating colleagues could get this done by themselves. That was never going to be the case. The six members of Congress did not include the very tip top leaders, and of course, Vice President Biden is number two, not number one. So now Biden is taking Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid into the Oval Office at 10:30 a.m. and Sen. McConnell goes into the Oval Office at 5:30 p.m. for separate meetings."
"It's why Canter got out of the talks last week. The President is really going to have to be the one who says we're going to have to have some tax increases or not."
There are some differences between raising taxes and raising revenue. Hawkings thinks the republicans would be dead set against increases in tax rates, but they have shown some willingness to allow the closing of some tax loopholes and tax breaks for businesses, which they could described as revenue raisers or closing tax breaks.
Rep. Michele Bachman launches her campaign for presidential nomination
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman is expected to officially launch her campaign for the presidential nomination today.
Hawkings doesn’t think she’ll receive a ton of support from her colleagues in Congress.
"She is the chairwoman of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. There are a few members of the freshman class, especially those who won with her support, and they maybe could back her. But I continue to see a surprising distance that the members of Congress have from any presidential candidates – very few endorsements so far. And of the places she will not be able to go for support is the leadership of the House republicans."
She has succeeded in raising her national profile by being an outsider, says Hawkings. "She's only been in Congress since 2007, and ever since she got to the House, she made clear she wanted to become a national figure by sort of playing the outside game and actually hammering on the status quo. This annoys the leadership."
On Friday, the U.S. House rejected two measures regarding U.S. involvement with Libya. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is going to be debating a similar resolution to the one the House dismissed.
"Sen. McCain and Sen. Kerry continue to say they want to push forward with this," says Hawkings. "And then when the House gets back next week – they're on recess this week – there may be still more votes, when the House picks up the defense budget bill."