The power of the (auto) pen
In this handout photo from the White House President Obama swims in Hawaii on his holiday vacation last year. He directed the signing of the fiscal cliff bill via "auto pen" Wednesday while vacationing in Hawaii.
January 3rd, 2013
11:23 AM ET

The power of the (auto) pen

Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - If you are a president who desperately wants to salvage your Hawaiian vacation, why stick around Washington to sign a bill when an automatic pen can do it for you?

That’s what happened Wednesday when the long-haggled over bill to avert the fiscal cliff was delivered to the White House for the president’s signature. With Obama 5,000 miles away in Hawaii, aides decided to prepare the president with an electronic version of the document for his review rather than commission a special flight to currier over the document.

Upon review of the electronic copy, the president directed his signature be affixed to the bill – via that auto pen back in Washingon. It’s a move that, while convenient, raised questions over just how a president can make a bill become a law.

After all, Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution provides that a bill must be presented to the president and “[i]f he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it” (emphasis added).

So can an auto-pen, where the president himself is not technically signing, conform to what the Constitution demands? FULL POST


Topics: Congress • Economy • Fiscal Cliff • President Obama
Finally the deal is done
January 2nd, 2013
08:02 AM ET

Finally the deal is done

Late Tuesday night the House passed the Senate bill avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff. President Obama and Vice President Biden appeared in the White House briefing room to to tout a campaign promise kept.

"A central promise of my campaign for President was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class Americans. Tonight we've done that. Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while preventing a middle-class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America."

President Obama wasted no time boarding M1 just before midnight to begin the trip back to his vacationing family in Hawaii.

He'll need to take advantage of this brief vacation in the sun. This bill only delayed the automatic cuts in federal spending by two months and by then the debt ceiling will need to be addressed, two very thorny issues.

OFFICIAL SCHEDULE
10:15AM ET THE PRESIDENT arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hickam Air Force Base

Is the deal ready yet?
January 1st, 2013
08:18 AM ET

Is the deal ready yet?

No done deal just yet. The House has yet to vote on the package. And it doesn't seem like the members are in a huge hurry to do so, The House reconvenes today at 12 noon.

As for the President he is waiting at the White House. He has urged House members to pass the package "without delay".

The latest CNN wire explaining the in and the outs of the deal is below.

(CNN) - A full two hours after a midnight deadline, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a deal Tuesday to avert the feared fiscal cliff on an 89-8 vote.

The Senate package would put off budget cuts for two months and preserve Bush-era income tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 or couples earning less than $450,000.

The measure now goes to the House where it faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled body.

"Glad it's over," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, after the vote. "We'll see if the Republicans in the House can become functional instead of dysfunctional."

Full Story

Waiting waiting waiting....
December 31st, 2012
07:56 AM ET

Waiting waiting waiting....

Everyone is back early from their holiday vacations , the president, the vice president, the Senate and even the House of Representatives. The whole gang is here in D.C. So with everybody in town and focused on the issue at hand, will lawmakers avert what has been described by some as a national crisis?

So far the public schedule is empty. We can only hope the leaders will have something to announce later in the day.

Here is the latest CNN wire on the negotiations.

(CNN) - With only hours left Monday to avert what economists predict will be a one-two punch to the U.S. economy, Senate Democrats and Republicans were trying to negotiate a last-minute deal aimed at heading off a year-end combination of spending cuts and tax increase that could trigger a new recession.

The Senate was scheduled to reconvene at 11 a.m. ET on Monday when Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped to have an announcement despite acknowledging on Sunday that there was "still significant distance between the two sides."

The negotiations hit a major stumbling block Sunday over a Republican demand that a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" include changes to Social Security benefits, even as the two sides appeared close to agreeing on who would be required to pay more taxes once the Bush-era tax cuts expire.

Republicans have since dropped a demand that changes to how Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation be included in a deal, but not before Democrats and Republicans accused one another of gamesmanship in the negotiations.

Full story

POTUS's day ahead: Meeting with Congressional leaders
December 28th, 2012
08:06 AM ET

POTUS's day ahead: Meeting with Congressional leaders

President Obama returned from Hawaii yesterday and today he has last minute talks with the four Congressional leaders- Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Senate Minority Leader McConnell. The meeting is behind closed doors and not opened to cameras.  With four days left we’ll all be waiting to see if any announcement will come on the foundations of a deal.

Here's the schedule, as released by the White House:

10:00AM In-Town Pool Call Time

3:00PM THE PRESIDENT hosts the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress at the White House; THE VICE PRESIDENT also attends

Oval Office (Closed Press)

###

Thursday December 20, 2012 at the White House
December 20th, 2012
08:48 AM ET

Thursday December 20, 2012 at the White House

Today Vice President Biden will meet with law enforcement leaders for the first time as the head of an interagency effort to curb gun violence. Yesterday in the briefing room President Obama announced the initiative to shape the administration's response to the tragic shooting in Newtown Connecticut. Also attending the meeting, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

The fiscal cliff is looming over the nation and President Obama has promised to veto the latest effort called "plan B" by Majority Leader John Boehner. Boehner on Tuesday proposed a "plan B," which would extend Bush-era tax cuts on income of up to $1 million. He described it as a fallback option to prevent a sweeping tax hike while negotiations continue on a broader plan.

In less than two weeks the nation's taxpayers would face automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts if no agreement is reached.

A senior administration official said no talks or meeting with Rep Boehner are scheduled at this point but continued "Anything's possible".

White House Schedule:
The President will attend meetings at the White House. These meetings are closed press.

Briefing Schedule
12:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

POTUS's Tuesday: More closed-door meetings
December 18th, 2012
08:58 AM ET

POTUS's Tuesday: More closed-door meetings

As the news continues to be centered on the tragedy in Connecticut and the looming fiscal cliff, President Obama will spend another day at the White House with no public events. We'll wait to see if another unannounced meeting with Speaker Boehner is in the works, or possibly just more behind the scenes conversations. The only meeting on the president's schedule today is a closed-door meeting with Secretary of Defense Panetta. We'll hear from the White House during the 12:30p briefing with press secretary Jay Carney.

Here is the schedule, as released by the White House:

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

Oval Office (Closed Press)

4:35PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Secretary of Defense Panetta

Oval Office (Closed Press)

Briefing Schedule

12:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

Boehner and Obama meet again
FILE/President Obama and Rep. John Boehner meet about fiscal cliff negotiations on November 16, 2012.
December 17th, 2012
12:13 PM ET

Boehner and Obama meet again

A White House official tells Dan Lothian that “The President and the Speaker are meeting at the White House to continue their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction.” Boehner's spokesman released the exact statement. We'll hopefully get a readout of the meeting in today's briefing.


Topics: Fiscal Cliff • John Boehner • White House
POTUS day ahead: another day away from cameras
December 17th, 2012
08:01 AM ET

POTUS day ahead: another day away from cameras

After returning late last night from Newtown, CT where he gave an emotional speech to the community at a memorial service, President Obama spends his Monday away from the sight of cameras.  Of course, there are many issues on his plate that will most likely be discussed in closed-door briefings and meetings. Over the weekend, there was some movement in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff when Speaker Boehner put forth an offer that would allow income tax rates for wealthy Americans to increase in exchange for spending cuts, tax reform and entitlement reform. We'll see what the next step is when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs reporters this afternoon at 12:30p.

Here is the full schedule, as released by the White House:

EST

9:30AM In-Town Pool Call Time

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

Oval Office (Closed Press)

12:30PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch

Private Dining Room (Closed Press)

Briefing Schedule

12:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

##

Wednesday: Another day of closed-door meetings
December 12th, 2012
08:19 AM ET

Wednesday: Another day of closed-door meetings

President Obama has another day of behind-closed-door meetings with receiving his presidential daily briefing this morning and then later at noon holding a conference call with mayors and community leaders.  He'll discuss the impending fiscal cliff situation with the mayors but we can only guess if there are other meetings about the issue on his schedule today. We also assume he's being briefed on the launch of the North Korean missile yesterday. We'll get to ask White House Press Secretary Jay Carney questions about these issues and more at the briefing, scheduled for 12:30p today.

Guidance from the White House:

9:45AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

Oval Office (Closed Press)

12:00PM THE PRESIDENT holds a conference call with a bipartisan group of mayors and community leaders

Roosevelt Room (Closed Press)

Briefing Schedule

12:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney