TIME 2014 Election

Cantor Says He’ll Resign Before Term Ends

Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., left, arrives for a House Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The former House Majority Leader asked that a special election be held to expedite his replacement

Rather than finish out his full final term in Congress, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective August 18, the Republican congressman said Thursday.

Cantor, whose term in office would have extended through a lame duck session until January of next year, asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to schedule a special election to be held on Election Day, November 4, to pick his replacement. With Cantor stepping down early, the winner of that special election will take Cantor’s old seat immediately rather than having to wait until the next Congress convenes to begin the new term.

“I want to make sure that the constituents in the Seventh District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents (because) he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said.

A once-rising star in the GOP and likely next in line for Speaker of the House, Cantor’s political fortunes were reversed after his stunning defeat in a June GOP primary.

In the contest to take over Cantor’s seat, economics professor Dave Brat—who defeated Cantor for the GOP nomination in June—will square off against Democrat Jack Trammell. Both men are professors at the same school, Randolph-Macon College.

[Richmond Times-Dispatch]

TIME Congress

As Time Runs Out, Congress Is Gridlocked on Immigration Reform

John Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner, center, walks to the House chamber on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2014 J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The House of Representatives has consequently had to delay its recess by a day

On Thursday, Republicans in the Senate stymied the bill that would have allotted $2.7 billion to resolving the issue of Central American minors illegally crossing the border into the U.S., which many politicians have deemed a national crisis.

The bill received 50 yeas and 44 nays, falling short of the 60 it needed in order to end up on President Barack Obama’s desk. In July, Obama had asked legislators for a comprehensive emergency plan dedicated to resolving the immigration issue.

Republicans, according to a CNN report, took issue with the legislation’s dearth of provisions concerning the deportation of illegal immigrants. A bloc of far-right Congressmen within the party also managed to successfully suspend the vote on a bill in the House of Representatives intended to facilitate the deportation process, deeming the legislation too moderate.

The squabbling has forced the House to delay its August recess by one day.

Not all was gridlocked in Congress, though. The Senate voted almost unanimously in favor of a bill that will provide the Department of Veterans Affairs with over $16 billion to address some issues concerning health care services for veterans, including reduction of delays and the hiring of more doctors.

TIME Congress

New House Leadership, Same Old Problems

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner leaves after a press briefing July 31, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner leaves after a press briefing July 31, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The new House Republican leadership team pulls its bill to address the border crisis before leaving for a five-week recess

The House of Representatives rose to bid farewell to outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday, but if the GOP had hopes his passing might usher in a new era of comity between the party’s leadership and its right wing, they were short lived. Less than 3 hours after the symbolic farewell (he’ll serve out the rest of his term as a rank and file member), the GOP House leaders, lacking the votes they needed for passage, pulled a much-touted bill that was meant to address the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied minors streaming across the country’s southwest border by the thousands.

It seems the new Republican House leadership will have no better luck delivering unity than the last one.

Over the past two weeks, conservatives pushed House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise to move the border bill to the right. The leadership’s proposal, originally set to cost around $1.5 billion last week, shrank to $659 million by Tuesday in response to conservative spending complaints. On Wednesday night, leadership further sweetened the deal by offering conservatives a separate, largely symbolic vote aimed at blocking an expected move by President Barack Obama to expand deportation relief to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

But the efforts to win the right wing irked some moderate Republicans, including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who worked on the House GOP committee tasked with creating the border bill’s guidelines. “If you start adding a number of different issues to this bill, it’s just going to weigh down and kill it,” he told TIME Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did his best to make the GOP leadership’s job harder, suggesting that the chambers could discuss merging the House border bill with the Senate’s immigration reform bill from last year, which would create a pathway to citizenship for some of the 11.7 million illegal immigrants. House Speaker John Boehner called it a “nutso scheme” Thursday and added that the House would not take up the Senate bill “in any fashion, including in this border bill.”

When asked if he thought the border crisis was an example of how the House and Senate are not making the requisite hard choices to govern, Speaker John Boehner tried to shift blame to the White House. “The crisis on the border is going to continue until the President acts—and he’s surely not going to act—that means that Congress has to act,” said Boehner. “And so, I believe it’s important for us to act. And I hope that we’ll do that.”

GOP rank and file members were somewhat sheepish about the predicament they had put their leaders in. “They didn’t have the votes,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on why the House leadership didn’t bring the bill to the floor. Jordan, who was leaning “yea” on the bill, praised Scalise’s effort to attract enough votes for passage. “I thought he worked hard,” said Jordan. “I mean jeepers, I was in three meetings for fifteen hours last week…He was reaching out to all kinds of folks.”

Others just wanted to get out of town for the imminent five week summer recess. “It’s complicated,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a conservative who opposed the bill said by way of explanation for his opposition. “I’m going to try and catch my plane,” he added.

After the bill’s failure, the GOP leadership released a statement saying the intended to “continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing the country.”

TIME

House Republicans Abandon Vote on Border Security Bill in Face of Tea Party Opposition

(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans abandon vote on border security bill in face of tea party opposition.

TIME Congress

Eric Cantor and John Boehner: The Bromance Is Over

As told through the lyrics of Alan Jackson's "Remember When"

On Thursday, Congressman Eric Cantor will step down from his post as House majority leader, following his shocking primary defeat in June, thus ending his Capitol Hill bromance with House Speaker John Boehner — a relationship that captivated so many hearts across the nation.

When Cantor first assumed the role of HML in 2011, some speculated that the up-and-comer was angling for Boehner’s job, but the GOP’s two top dogs were not to be defined by acrimony — after all, what good romance doesn’t begin with a little tension? (Have you seen The Notebook?)

Here, we’ve assembled a scrapbook that illustrates the bromance heard round the Beltway, each photo captioned with a lyric from Alan Jackson’s “Remember When,” because obviously. It is highly advisable to play the song as you click through the photos.

TIME justice

Exclusive: Attorney General Eric Holder to Oppose Data-Driven Sentencing

US-JUSTICE-RIGHTS-HOLDER
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at Howard University in Washington on July 15, 2014 Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

Statistics can predict criminal risk. Can they deliver equal justice?

Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 1:35 p.m.

Citing concerns about equal justice in sentencing, Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to oppose certain statistical tools used in determining jail time, putting the Obama Administration at odds with a popular and increasingly effective method for managing prison populations. Holder laid out his position in an interview with TIME on Tuesday and will call for a review of the issue in his annual report to the U.S. Sentencing Commission Thursday, Justice department officials familiar with the report say.

Over the past 10 years, states have increasingly used large databases of information about criminals to identify dozens of risk factors associated with those who continue to commit crimes, like prior convictions, hostility to law enforcement and substance abuse. Those factors are then weighted and used to rank criminals as being a high, medium or low risk to offend again. Judges, corrections officials and parole officers in turn use those rankings to help determine how long a convict should spend in jail.

Holder says if such rankings are used broadly, they could have a disparate and adverse impact on the poor, on socially disadvantaged offenders, and on minorities. “I’m really concerned that this could lead us back to a place we don’t want to go,” Holder said on Tuesday.

Virtually every state has used such risk assessments to varying degrees over the past decade, and many have made them mandatory for sentencing and corrections as a way to reduce soaring prison populations, cut recidivism and save money. But the federal government has yet to require them for the more than 200,000 inmates in its prisons. Bipartisan legislation requiring risk assessments is moving through Congress and appears likely to reach the President’s desk for signature later this year.

Using background information like educational levels and employment history in the sentencing phase of a trial, Holder told TIME, will benefit “those on the white collar side who may have advanced degrees and who may have done greater societal harm — if you pull back a little bit — than somebody who has not completed a master’s degree, doesn’t have a law degree, is not a doctor.”

Holder says using static factors from a criminal’s background could perpetuate racial bias in a system that already delivers 20% longer sentences for young black men than for other offenders. Holder supports assessments that are based on behavioral risk factors that inmates can amend, like drug addiction or negative attitudes about the law. And he supports in-prison programs — or back-end assessments — as long as all convicts, including high-risk ones, get the chance to reduce their prison time.

But supporters of the broad use of data in criminal-justice reform — and there are many — say Holder’s approach won’t work. “If you wait until the back end, it becomes exponentially harder to solve the problem,” says former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram, who is now at the nonprofit Laura and John Arnold Foundation, where she is building risk-assessment tools for law enforcement. Some experts say that prior convictions and the age of first arrest are among the most power­ful risk factors for reoffending and should be used to help accurately determine appropriate prison time.

And data-driven risk assessments are just part of the overall process of determining the lengths of time convicts spend in prison, supporters argue. Professor Edward Latessa, who consulted for Congress on the pending federal legislation and has produced broad studies showing the effectiveness of risk assessment in corrections, says concerns about disparity are overblown. “Bernie Madoff may score low risk, but we’re never letting him out,” Latessa says.

Another reason Holder may have a hard time persuading states of his concerns is that data-driven corrections have been good for the bottom line. Arkansas’s 2011 Public Safety Improvement Act, which requires risk assessments in corrections, is projected to help save the state $875 million through 2020, while similar reforms in Kentucky are projected to save it $422 million over 10 years, according to the Pew Center on the States. Rhode Island has seen its prison population drop 19% in the past five years, thanks in part to risk-assessment programs, according to the state’s director of corrections, A.T. Wall.

The spread of data analysis in criminal justice is a relatively new phenomenon: not long ago, reckoning a criminal’s debt to society was the work of men. For much of the 20th century judges, parole boards and probation officers made subjective decisions about when and whether a criminal was ready to return to society. Then in the 1970s and ’80s, as lawmakers sought to eradicate racial bias and accommodate victims’ rights, jail terms increasingly became a matter of a fixed formula set by law in a process that boiled down to the adage, “Do the crime, do the time.”

The result was a huge surge in prison populations, jail for low-risk offenders and often freedom for unrehabilitated inmates. The number of U.S. prisoners has risen 500% since 1980, to more than 2.2 million in 2012; 95% of them will be released at some point. Evidence collected everywhere from conservative Texas to liberal Vermont shows that statistical analysis used to rank prisoners according to their risk of recidivism can reduce prison populations and reduce repeat offending.

The federal Bureau of Prisons says it uses an assessment tool to gauge risk of misconduct among inmates and determine the security conditions under which they are held. Holder says he wants to ensure that the bills that are moving through Congress, which require broader use of assessments in federal prisons, account for potential social, economic and racial disparities in prison time. “Our hope would be to work with any of the Senators or Congressmen who are involved and who have introduced bills here so that we get to a place we ought to be,” Holder said.

With reporting by Tessa Berenson and Maya Rhodan / Washington

The original version of this story has been updated to reflect comment from the federal Bureau of Prisons provided after publication

TIME Congress

House Grants Boehner Authority to Sue Obama

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on June 19, 2014 Kevin Dietsch—UPI/Landov

The measure passed 225 to 201 on the backs of House Republicans

The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday granting House Speaker John Boehner the authority to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time the legislative branch has endorsed such a lawsuit.

The measure, which passed 225 to 201 without a single Democrat “yea,” underscores the burning frustration of House Republicans, who believe that the President has failed to execute the law properly on a number of measures. Boehner has said that the lawsuit will focus on the President’s decision to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which Republicans oppose. That July 2013 decision gave companies with at least 50 full-time employees an extra year — until 2015 — to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Earlier this year, the Administration delayed the mandate again, until 2016, for companies employing between 50 and 99 workers.

“I oppose the employer mandate in the president’s health care law,” Boehner wrote in a USA Today op-ed published this week. “The House of Representatives has voted to delay or eliminate it (and we will do so again if we prevail in court). But it is the letter of the law that was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. He simply cannot unilaterally rewrite it.”

Democrats are furious at the lawsuit and have called it a political stunt.

“This is the least productive Congress in decades,” wrote White House Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer in an email to supporters. “And instead of doing their job, they are suing the President for doing his.”

“This resolution is a waste of time and money,” Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, said on the House floor Wednesday. “Today, Mr. Speaker, we’ve reached a low, a very low point. This resolution to sue the President just goes a little too far. It is a shame and a disgrace that we’re here debating the suing of the President.”

The House will have a difficult time winning the lawsuit. In a letter to the House Rules Committee two weeks ago, Harvard constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe wrote that the House “cannot plausibly allege, much less demonstrate, any distinctive injury to itself or its members.” He called the activity a “wholly meritless attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary.”

“We’ll find out” whether or not the House has legal standing,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican.

“I would tell you that on many occasions, this President has overstepped his authority,” Diaz-Balart told TIME. “Now whether that gives us standing to sue is the big question. But we won’t know until we try.”

— With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME Congress

House Approves VA Health Care Overhaul

Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald of Ohio is sworn in during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearings to examine his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 22, 2014.
Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald of Ohio is sworn in during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearings to examine his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 22, 2014. AP

(WASHINGTON) — The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans’ health care.

The 420-5 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where approval is expected by Friday.

The $16.3 billion measure is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make firing senior executives at the VA easier.

The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff and about $1.3 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

The House vote came one day after the Senate confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency, which provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation to nearly 4 million veterans.

McDonald, 61, of Cincinnati, will replace Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over in May after Eric Shinseki resigned amid a growing uproar over reports of long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

McDonald has pledged to transform the VA and promised that “systematic failures” must be addressed. He said improving patient access to health care was a top priority, along with restoring transparency, accountability and integrity to the VA.

Congressional budget analysts estimated the bill would cost about $16.3 billion over three years, slightly less than a $17 billion estimate provided by the bill’s sponsors.

The bill is expected to add $10 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years after cost-savings such as changes in a veterans’ retirement program and reimbursements by insurance companies are included, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the reform bill was urgently needed in the wake of what he called “the biggest scandal in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

While the bill’s cost is steep, it is needed to ensure that veterans receive proper care, Miller said.

“The VA has caused this problem and one of the ways that we can help solve it is to give veterans a choice, a choice to stay in the system or a choice to go out of the system” to get government-paid health care from a private doctor, he said.

“No veteran should be forced to wait for the health care or benefits they have earned,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., adding that the bipartisan bill “will help us serve our veterans as well as they have served us.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said he was concerned about a provision in the bill that makes it easier to fire senior executives judged to be negligent or underperforming. Hoyer, whose suburban Washington district includes thousands of government workers, said the bill “undermines civil service protections that have been in place for decades.”

Existing protections “strike the right balance between giving agencies the authority to remove personnel without trampling on the due process rights of (senior) employees that they need to do their job without fear of political reprisal or arbitrary removal,” Hoyer said.

The VA has been rocked in recent months by reports of patients dying while awaiting treatment and mounting evidence that workers falsified or omitted appointment schedules to mask frequent, long delays. In many cases, high-ranking officials received bonuses for meeting performance goals that later proved to be based on false information.

The compromise measure would require the VA to pay private doctors to treat qualifying veterans who can’t get prompt appointments at the VA’s nearly 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics, or those who live at least 40 miles from one of them. Only veterans who are enrolled in VA care as of Aug. 1 or live at least 40 miles away would be eligible to get outside care.

The proposed restrictions are important in controlling costs for the program. Congressional budget analysts had projected that tens of thousands of veterans who currently are not treated by the VA would likely seek VA care if they could see a private doctor paid for by the government.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Joe Lieberman: Obama Administration “Has Gone Off The Track” On Israel

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT., during a press conference in the Senate Studio in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 31, 2012.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT., during a press conference in the Senate Studio in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 31, 2012. Douglas Graham—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

The former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee-turned-independent also says he is watching the rise of Rand Paul "with concern."

After 24 years representing Connecticut in the Senate, Joe Lieberman left Washington in Jan. 2013 as a man without a party—a Democrat-turned-independent-turned-GOP-endorser.

Speaking to TIME 18 months later, Lieberman is content with his decision to quit the Senate, but still has doubts about Washington’s handling of domestic issues and global crises. “I do feel that the Obama administration has gone off the track in the efforts to broker a ceasefire,” he says, saying that the reported terms of a U.S.-offered agreement would have left Hamas stronger from its ongoing conflict with Israel.

The former Democratic vice presidential nominee said he takes issue with the growing “neo-isolationism” within the Democratic and Republican parties, saying he’s watched the rise of Sen. Rand Paul “with concern.” “The world suffers and the American people suffer eventually both in terms of our security and our prosperity—and ultimately our freedom—if we’re not engaged in problems elsewhere,” he says.

Lieberman said he has yet to make a decision about who to endorse in 2016, after drawing fire from Democrats for his outspoken support for Sen. John McCain over then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. But he said he believes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would keep the Democratic Party engaged in the world.

Lieberman was recently named the inaugural Joseph Lieberman Chair in Public Policy and Public Service at Yeshiva University where he will deliver lectures and teach in the upcoming academic year. Lieberman says he hopes to convince young people to pursue public service despite the gridlock in Washington.

The following conversation has been lightly condensed and edited:

Looking at the dysfunction in Washington today, are you glad you left Congress? How do you plan on encouraging young people to go into public service in this political climate?

I didn’t leave because of the partisanship and the lack of getting anything done, but it made it a lot easier to leave. I will tell you that my last two years was the least productive of my 24 for me and for the Congress really. And I watch it needless to say from here with a sense of, oh, disappointment, frustration, and in some sense embarrassment because I still feel an identity with the institution. And I know how important it is that it gets some problems solved.

Notwithstanding all of that, or maybe in some sense because of all the dysfunction in the federal government and government generally, but the federal government particularly, people like me have to try to convince students that it’s worth getting involved and that they can still make a difference and maybe together with others of like mind and heart they can actually change things for the better. I look back on my years in public service with a lot of gratitude for the various things that I was able to do. Part of my message to the students at YU is going to be I never got, honestly, anything significant done without the support of people in the Republican Party. In other words, I never felt that I could do it alone as a Democrat, and obviously in my last term as an independent I needed support of people in both parties. It’s all about a willingness to put—as formalistic as it sounds—to put the interests of country ahead of the interests of party or ideology.

How do you view the turmoil in the world today and the American response, particularly to the conflict in Gaza?

These events have occurred of their own momentum. They have a life of their own. On the other hand, I’m afraid that the U.S. has sent a message that we’re going to be less engaged in the world than we have been at other times in our history and I’m afraid that encourages some others to try to take advantage of us and our allies. It’s not just President Obama and the U.S. government, I think in many ways it’s the Europeans as well. And I’m afraid that may have encouraged Putin to seize the moment and seize Crimea. So the world suffers and the American people suffer eventually both in terms of our security and our prosperity—and ultimately our freedom—if we’re not engaged in problems elsewhere. So that’s a general statement.

I think in the Hamas-Israel conflict, which is just one of a broader series of conflicts going on in the middle east, the administration has been strong in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas missile attacks and the Hamas terrorist attacks. But lately, I do feel that the Obama administration has gone off the track in the efforts to broker a ceasefire, as much as everybody would like to see the violence stop. Because I think those efforts, if they had been pushed any harder—it seems like they have fallen by the wayside now—would have really allowed Hamas to emerge from this much stronger than they went into it and they began this. Israel is our ally and Israel is a democracy and Israel is governed by the rule of law. Hamas is a terrorist organization that is a declared enemy of the U.S. as well as Israel. And the last proposal made by Secretary Kerry, who I greatly admire and like, but nonetheless if the proposal was as it was reported, it really would have strengthened Hamas and weakened Israel. And in some sense coincidentally strengthened Qatar, Turkey, and Iran who are backing Hamas and weakened our other allies in the Arab world like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and the Palestinian Authority who don’t want to see Hamas strengthened. So I think it was a mistake and I’m glad it seems to have fallen by the wayside and I hope the Secretary tries again but with another plan.

Looking ahead to the 2016 election, what do you make of the field. Many Democrats are coalescing around former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, do you think you will as well?

I don’t know yet. It’s good to be out of active politics and watching it. I’ve known Secretary Clinton for a long time. We met briefly, though I got to know President Clinton much better, when they were both at Yale Law School. And I’ve known them well. So I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton and some of the things that I’ve worried about in both the Obama administration and the drift of the Democratic party which is away from American international leadership, I hope and believe would not be true with Hillary Clinton as the candidate, and if she’s elected, as the president. But it’s much too early for me, anyway, to decide what or whether or if anybody cares I will do in this campaign. The more fascinating part of the campaign, of course, will be the Republican presidential primaries.

What do you make of the rise of Sen. Rand Paul and the Republican Party’s isolationist wing.

I’ve watched it with concern, because honestly, as a pro-defense Democrat, there’s a way in which I relied for some period of time on the Republicans—and some Democrats, but not other Democrats—to support strong defense, muscular foreign policy, etc. Now there is a certain attrition happening on the Republican side, mostly among the so-called libertarians and to a certain extent among tea party people who are so focused on reducing taxes that they seem more willing than Republicans have in recent years to cut back on support of America’s defense. There is—I don’t think any of us have found the right word for it, so I opt for neo-isolationism. There is a kind neo-isolationism, certainly a retrenchment from internationalism going on in both parties and to me it’s troubling. It’s troubling for the future of the country.

How did this appointment come about? What are you hoping to accomplish?

It ended up with an unexpected result. Richard Joel, the president of YU, reached out to me last year about wanting to do something in my name at YU in public policy. For the obvious reason, I suppose, that I am both Orthodox Jewish and was involved in public service. I was touched and honored by that. Because I hoped and still do that it’s going to be a permanent, endowed chair, but then they surprised me toward the end of the process asking me to be the first occupant of the chair, which I’ll do for a while as long as it’s working for me and the students, but i’m exciting about it. It’s very much part time. I’m going to give three public lectures in the fall semester in various schools of the university, probably starting with one Yeshiva College, one at Stern [College for Women], and then one at Cardozo [Law School]. And then in the second semester I will teach an undergraduate course in public policy, public service. So I’m looking forward to it. I actually taught this last semester at Columbia law School and I’m going to repeat that course this fall and I enjoyed it immensely, more than I expected actually. It was just very rewarding to try to convey what I experienced and learned to the next generation of students, some of whom, hopefully, will consider public service.

I’ve taught college courses way back to the late 70s and early 80s at Yale. So those were residential college seminars and I enjoyed that too. But I must say that I’m at a different stage of my life. I finished my time in elected office, I look back at it with great gratitude that I had the opportunities I did. There is no question I was influenced by people who were in once sense or another teachers of mine. So I view this as an opportunity both to try to inform students today about public policy, but also to hopefully attract some of them into public service.

TIME Congress

Congress Plays Chicken With Highway Funding

National Labor Leaders Held Rally To Urge Congress To Replenish The Highway Trust Fund
Transit workers participate in a rally to urge Congress to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, on Capitol Hill, May 20, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Galloping towards a five-week break, the two chambers race to stick the other with their version

The House and Senate have two competing versions of a temporary fix for the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money at the beginning of August if nothing is done.

The House passed its version of the $10.9 billion fund bailout on July 15, while the Senate passed a bill of its own Tuesday night. The problem, however, is that House Republicans object to how the Senate pays for its bill, arguing the upper chamber has left a $2 billion hole that’s unpaid for.

“I just want to make clear: If the Senate sends a highway bill over here with those provisions, we’re just going to strip it out,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday.

The legislative friction comes just as both chambers are expected to recess for five weeks at the end of this week, setting up a game of congressional chicken. The House plans to re-pass its version and send it back to the Senate before breaking for recess, thus leaving the Senate with the choice of defaulting or passing the House bill. If there’s enough time, however, the Senate could turn the tables on the lower chamber, passing its version of the bill and daring the House to not come back to work and prevent a default.

Such games of chicken are common before recess breaks. In this case, what will most likely happen is the slower-moving Senate will likely accept and pass the House version. But all the ping-ponging doesn’t endear Congress to the states and companies depending on Highway Trust Fund money for projects—or to the American people at large.

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