Review Category : Poltics

Negative Attacks Fly in Kentucky Senate Race

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a new television ad in Kentucky, unveiling the beginning of what they call a series of Bluegrass State voters posing questions directly to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The ad, titled “Question from Don,” is Grimes’ first explicitly negative ad against McConnell and features retired coal miner Don Disney questioning McConnell.

“Senator, I’m a retired coal miner,” Disney says to the camera with Grimes seated next to him. “I want to know how you could’ve voted to raise my Medicare costs by $6,000. How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?”

Disney and Grimes — Kentucky’s secretary of state — wait for a long pause before she turns to Disney and says, “I don’t think he’s gonna answer that.”

This is the Grimes campaign’s third television ad this cycle and although the Grimes campaign would not comment on exactly how much the buy is, they say it is six figures.

The McConnell campaign fired back to Tuesday’s ad saying it’s not McConnell who is raising Medicare costs, but because of Grimes’ tepid support of Obamacare she’s the one who backs the cutting.

“It says a lot about the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes that she’s a full four months away from the election and she already hit the panic button by resorting to the oldest, most cynical attack in the Obama playbook to scare Kentucky seniors,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. “The simple reality is that Senator McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

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What’s God Got to Do with Arkansas Senate Race?

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — God is front and center in the Arkansas Senate race this week as Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton tangle over religion.

In a new ad titled “Heart,” Pryor takes on his opponent Cotton for recent comments he made questioning the Democratic senator’s faith.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God, and I believe in His word. The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers, only God does,” Pryor says directly to camera while holding a Bible. “This is who I am and what I believe.”

The ad also features a graphic reading “No one should judge another’s heart,” and uses footage of Pryor from a television spot he ran last year in which he called the Bible his “compass” and “North Star.”

Pryor’s six figure statewide ad buy is a direct response to Cotton’s suggestion last week that Pryor thinks “faith is something that only happens at 11 on Sunday mornings.” Cotton’s comments came during an interview about the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case last week.

This isn’t the first time religion has come to the forefront of the Arkansas Senate Race. Last year, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Pryor’s faith following the “North Star” ad.

“So is the Bible Mark Pryor’s compass, providing the ‘comfort and guidance to do what’s best for Arkansas?’ Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate? Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask,” NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in December.

The Cotton campaign quickly jumped to Pryor’s defense and denounced Dayspring’s criticism.

“That is an incredibly bizarre and offensive email from the NRSC’s press secretary. We should all agree that America is better off when all our public officials in both parties have the humility to seek guidance from God,” Cotton campaign spokesman David Ray told The Hill in December.

Cotton released an ad of his own Tuesday, hitting Pryor and outside Democratic groups for saying the Arkansas Republican voted against disaster relief. The ad, titled “Recovery,” features Andy Shock, the sheriff of Faulkner County, which was ravaged by tornadoes earlier this year.

“Shame on anyone who uses our tragedy for their own political gain. It’s just wrong,” Shock says in the ad. “Senator Pryor, start focusing on the real issues. Leave our community and our family out of the campaign.”

Pryor and Cotton will be back in Washington, D.C., for the majority of July until the next Congressional recess in August, but their six figure ad buys might make it seem like they never left. Additionally, the Pryor campaign is employing the help of Mark Pryor’s political parents — David Pryor, a former senator and governor of Arkansas, and Barbara Pryor, who will tour the state this week.

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What’s God Got to Do with Arkansas Senate Race?

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — God is front and center in the Arkansas Senate race this week as Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton tangle over religion.

In a new ad titled “Heart,” Pryor takes on his opponent Cotton for recent comments he made questioning the Democratic senator’s faith.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God, and I believe in His word. The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers, only God does,” Pryor says directly to camera while holding a Bible. “This is who I am and what I believe.”

The ad also features a graphic reading “No one should judge another’s heart,” and uses footage of Pryor from a television spot he ran last year in which he called the Bible his “compass” and “North Star.”

Pryor’s six figure statewide ad buy is a direct response to Cotton’s suggestion last week that Pryor thinks “faith is something that only happens at 11 on Sunday mornings.” Cotton’s comments came during an interview about the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case last week.

This isn’t the first time religion has come to the forefront of the Arkansas Senate Race. Last year, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Pryor’s faith following the “North Star” ad.

“So is the Bible Mark Pryor’s compass, providing the ‘comfort and guidance to do what’s best for Arkansas?’ Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate? Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask,” NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in December.

The Cotton campaign quickly jumped to Pryor’s defense and denounced Dayspring’s criticism.

“That is an incredibly bizarre and offensive email from the NRSC’s press secretary. We should all agree that America is better off when all our public officials in both parties have the humility to seek guidance from God,” Cotton campaign spokesman David Ray told The Hill in December.

Cotton released an ad of his own Tuesday, hitting Pryor and outside Democratic groups for saying the Arkansas Republican voted against disaster relief. The ad, titled “Recovery,” features Andy Shock, the sheriff of Faulkner County, which was ravaged by tornadoes earlier this year.

“Shame on anyone who uses our tragedy for their own political gain. It’s just wrong,” Shock says in the ad. “Senator Pryor, start focusing on the real issues. Leave our community and our family out of the campaign.”

Pryor and Cotton will be back in Washington, D.C., for the majority of July until the next Congressional recess in August, but their six figure ad buys might make it seem like they never left. Additionally, the Pryor campaign is employing the help of Mark Pryor’s political parents — David Pryor, a former senator and governor of Arkansas, and Barbara Pryor, who will tour the state this week.

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Republicans Choose Cleveland as 2016 Convention Site

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Republican National Committee chose Cleveland on Tuesday as their city to host the 2016 presidential convention, knocking out Dallas in the final round.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made the announcement on Fox News, calling it a “city that’s on the rise” and calling it a “business decision.”

“In the end it’s Cleveland, Ohio,” Priebus said. “As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race.”

Cleveland is in the swing state of Ohio — one critical reason it was chosen, but far from the only one. Denver, Kansas City, Missouri, Cincinnati and Las Vegas were all eliminated earlier in the process.

Priebus said on Tuesday that the start date would be either June 28 or July 18.

Dallas may have had more hotels, but the GOP this year is committed to holding the convention earlier to try and eliminate a long GOP primary season full on intra-party fighting.

Moving up the date of the convention also comes with its own particular needs. One is the possibility that the convention could go into basketball playoff season and sources with knowledge of the decision say it did play into the final selection.

In Cleveland, the owner of the Cavaliers is also the owner of the Quicken Loans Arena, Dan Gilbert. Sources say if the team goes far into the playoffs they can move their team to another location. But in Dallas, American Airlines arena is owned by the City of Dallas so the Mavericks would have a harder time moving their games if they made it far enough in the post-season.

Moving the convention earlier also allows the party’s nominee to raise more money in the general election.

“The reason that conventions kept getting pushed closer and closer to Election Day was because candidates always took public money and they could always spend the public money between the convention and the actual election,” Priebus said on Tuesday. “But now, the candidates don’t take this money. So what ends up happening is, a candidate can be broke but they’re not able to raise general election money until the convention is held. So if you have a candidate that’s broke after a primary in May, that candidate is basically a duck in the pond until you get nominated. Therefore if you have an August or September convention, you’re basically sitting there with no money — no ability to raise money. So that’s why we moved the convention back to the end of June, mid-July, so now the whole process can move forward without hamstringing your candidate.”

Dallas was thought to have had the better financial package, but GOP officials visited Cleveland last week for a follow-up visit to assess if the city could make the bid work.

Cleveland was also one of the six cities up to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. A full vote will come from the DNC next month.

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Obama’s Plans for $3.7 Billion Immigration Crisis Funds

iStock/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Tuesday is requesting $3.7 billion to cope with the humanitarian crisis on the border and the spike in illegal crossings by unaccompanied minors from Central America.

Roughly half of the funding would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for the surge of children crossing the border, including additional beds.

The rest would be split between several departments to tackle the issue on both sides of the border, including $1.6 billion to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to boost law enforcement at the Southwest border and pay for additional immigration judge teams, among other things, and $300 million to the State Department to tackle the root causes of this crisis and to send a clear message to these countries not to send children illegally to the U.S.

Tuesday’s funding request is separate from policy changes that the administration is also seeking to speed up the deportation of the children, most of whom are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The White House sent a letter to Congressional leadership last week requesting the legal changes to make it easier to send them home.

According to a White House official, greater administrative authority as well as the additional resources will help make it more efficient and expeditious to process and return the children.

What remains unclear is how much faster this additional funding would make the process to send children back to their home countries. White House officials on Tuesday declined to speculate on such timing, but the administration has said that most of the unaccompanied minors will likely be “sent home.”

“Based on what we know about these cases, it is unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief. And what that means is it means that they will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The White House has yet to say how many of the roughly 52,000 children that have been apprehended this year have been sent back to Central America. On Tuesday, officials offered only the total figure, including adults. So far this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed almost 233,000, that includes over 87,000 to Central American countries.

Here’s a detailed look at some of the ways the president wants to spend $3.7 billion to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors, according to the White House.:

$364 MILLION:

To pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangement.

$39.4 MILLION:

To increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.

$109 MILLION:

To provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

$879 MILLION:

To pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.

$45.4 MILLION:

To hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 Budget request for 35 additional teams, would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually.

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Obama’s Plans for $3.7 Billion Immigration Crisis Funds

iStock/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Tuesday is requesting $3.7 billion to cope with the humanitarian crisis on the border and the spike in illegal crossings by unaccompanied minors from Central America.

Roughly half of the funding would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for the surge of children crossing the border, including additional beds.

The rest would be split between several departments to tackle the issue on both sides of the border, including $1.6 billion to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to boost law enforcement at the Southwest border and pay for additional immigration judge teams, among other things, and $300 million to the State Department to tackle the root causes of this crisis and to send a clear message to these countries not to send children illegally to the U.S.

Tuesday’s funding request is separate from policy changes that the administration is also seeking to speed up the deportation of the children, most of whom are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The White House sent a letter to Congressional leadership last week requesting the legal changes to make it easier to send them home.

According to a White House official, greater administrative authority as well as the additional resources will help make it more efficient and expeditious to process and return the children.

What remains unclear is how much faster this additional funding would make the process to send children back to their home countries. White House officials on Tuesday declined to speculate on such timing, but the administration has said that most of the unaccompanied minors will likely be “sent home.”

“Based on what we know about these cases, it is unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief. And what that means is it means that they will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The White House has yet to say how many of the roughly 52,000 children that have been apprehended this year have been sent back to Central America. On Tuesday, officials offered only the total figure, including adults. So far this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed almost 233,000, that includes over 87,000 to Central American countries.

Here’s a detailed look at some of the ways the president wants to spend $3.7 billion to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors, according to the White House.:

$364 MILLION:

To pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangement.

$39.4 MILLION:

To increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.

$109 MILLION:

To provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

$879 MILLION:

To pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.

$45.4 MILLION:

To hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 Budget request for 35 additional teams, would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually.

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Republicans Choose Cleveland as 2016 Convention Site

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Republican National Committee chose Cleveland on Tuesday as their city to host the 2016 presidential convention, knocking out Dallas in the final round.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made the announcement on Fox News, calling it a “city that’s on the rise” and calling it a “business decision.”

“In the end it’s Cleveland, Ohio,” Priebus said. “As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race.”

Cleveland is in the swing state of Ohio — one critical reason it was chosen, but far from the only one. Denver, Kansas City, Missouri, Cincinnati and Las Vegas were all eliminated earlier in the process.

Priebus said on Tuesday that the start date would be either June 28 or July 18.

Dallas may have had more hotels, but the GOP this year is committed to holding the convention earlier to try and eliminate a long GOP primary season full on intra-party fighting.

Moving up the date of the convention also comes with its own particular needs. One is the possibility that the convention could go into basketball playoff season and sources with knowledge of the decision say it did play into the final selection.

In Cleveland, the owner of the Cavaliers is also the owner of the Quicken Loans Arena, Dan Gilbert. Sources say if the team goes far into the playoffs they can move their team to another location. But in Dallas, American Airlines arena is owned by the City of Dallas so the Mavericks would have a harder time moving their games if they made it far enough in the post-season.

Moving the convention earlier also allows the party’s nominee to raise more money in the general election.

“The reason that conventions kept getting pushed closer and closer to Election Day was because candidates always took public money and they could always spend the public money between the convention and the actual election,” Priebus said on Tuesday. “But now, the candidates don’t take this money. So what ends up happening is, a candidate can be broke but they’re not able to raise general election money until the convention is held. So if you have a candidate that’s broke after a primary in May, that candidate is basically a duck in the pond until you get nominated. Therefore if you have an August or September convention, you’re basically sitting there with no money — no ability to raise money. So that’s why we moved the convention back to the end of June, mid-July, so now the whole process can move forward without hamstringing your candidate.”

Dallas was thought to have had the better financial package, but GOP officials visited Cleveland last week for a follow-up visit to assess if the city could make the bid work.

Cleveland was also one of the six cities up to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. A full vote will come from the DNC next month.

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President Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to Meet in Dallas

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images | Stewart F. House/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry will meet with President Obama Wednesday when the president visits Dallas, a spokesman for the governor tells ABC News.

“Governor Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” Perry spokesman Felix Browne said in a statement.

The president had been facing some criticism for opting not to visit the Mexican border during his trip to Texas.

In a letter sent to Perry’s office by White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on Monday, President Obama offered to meet with the Texas governor and former Republican presidential candidate to discuss the influx of undocumented children crossing the border into the U.S.

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Cory Booker, Rand Paul Team Up on Criminal Justice Reform

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., find themselves on opposite sides of the aisle in most legislative fights, but the two senators are putting aside party differences to tackle the criminal justice system in the U.S.

Booker and Paul unveiled new legislation Tuesday called the REDEEM ACT, short for the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, to address criminal justice reform.

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration. Many of these young people could escape this trap if criminal justice were reformed, if records were expunged after time served, and if non-violent crimes did not become a permanent blot preventing employment,” Paul said Tuesday.

“I will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey and this bipartisan legislation does just that,” Booker said. “The REDEEM Act will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders re-offend.”

The REDEEM Act will offer ways for adults to seal their non-violent criminal records; encourage states to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old; permits the sealing and expungement of juvenile records for kids who commit non-violent crimes; restricts the use of solitary confinement for juveniles; and lifts the ban on SNAP and TANF benefits for low-level drug offenders.

The senators’ offices noted that while the U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

The two senators have shared mutual interests in the past. When Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was elected to the Senate last year, he specifically said he was interested in working with Paul to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

In recent months, Paul has joined Democrats on other initiatives, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to overhaul how the military handles sexual assault cases, and he has visited urban areas, such as Detroit, in an attempt to broaden the Republican Party’s outreach ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run.

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‘Cuban TV Airplane’ Report Reveals $36M US Boondoggle

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA, Cuba) — Remember “Cuban Twitter,” the ill-fated United States test program that would have tried to get Cubans to text each other with subversive anti-government messages?

Well, then this is “Cuban Television Airplane” – except it was an actual U.S.-funded project, and existed for almost a decade, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, before it was quietly canned in April 2014, a State Department Office of Inspector General report revealed Monday.

Called Aero Martí and purchased in 2006, the program included a single 1960s turboprop plane that tried to transmit U.S. government broadcast signals to Cuba – except for the fact that the Cuban government easily jammed its signal every day so it never really worked.

For several years, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S. government media abroad, called for Congress to end the program but vocal anti-Cuba members of Congress refused to cut funding.

Then the plane became the victim of budget sequestration, so it was grounded in 2013 but its storage and maintenance was still paid for, to the tune of $79,524 per year – “just enough money to do nothing,” the Washington Post wrote last year.

The doomed program was finally cancelled for good in April 2014, the OIG report released Monday said.

The plane, whose programming was nicknamed by Cubans as la TV que non se ve (“the TV that can’t be seen”), cost taxpayers a total of almost $36 million in the nine years it was funded.

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