Review Category : Poltics

Senate Passes Clean DHS Funding Bill; All Eyes on House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate passed a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30 with a vote of 68 to 31.

But over in the House of Representatives, lawmakers are preparing to vote on an entirely different plan — one that would keep DHS funded for three weeks. There are currently no plans for them to even take up the clean DHS bill the Senate just passed.

House Democrats are actively whipping against the short term bill, and Senate Democrats have not revealed whether they will agree to it. Less than 13 hours remain until the Department of Homeland Security shuts down.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black had a particularly fitting prayer for lawmakers Friday morning.

“Remind them that lawmakers can work miracles with cooperation, but accomplish little with legislative brinksmanship,” Black said.

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Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Budget Removes Sexual Assault Reporting Mandates for Colleges

ABC News(MADISON, Wisc.) — Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., has proposed alterations to the state of Wisconsin’s budget that would remove the mandate requiring colleges to report sexual assaults to the Department of Justice.

On page 508 of the governor’s budget recommendations posted to the Wisconsin state legislature’s website, Walker recommended “[deleting] language related to sexual assault information and reporting.”

The document specifically details changes Walker would enact, including deleting “the requirement that each institution report annually to the Department of Justice statistics on sexual assaults and on sexual assaults committed by acquaintances of victims that occurred on the campus of that institution in the previous years.”

Walker’s recommendations also include ending a mandate that requires colleges to provide oral and written or electronic information on sexual assault to newly entering and already enrolled students.

The proposal would also “delete the requirement that any person employed at an institution who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student enrolled in the institution that the student has been sexually assaulted report the assault to the dean of students.”

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“House of Cards”: How the Real-Life Frank Underwood Is Staring Down the DHS Showdown

U.S. Congress(WASHINGTON) — What would Frank Underwood do?

As the House of Representatives’ majority whip — a role famously depicted in the Netflix hit series House of Cards — it’s a question Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., ponders as Capitol Hill faces a showdown over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“I think he’d storm over to the Senate chamber and just start maybe voting some people’s machines ‘yes’ to get the bill brought up,” Scalise joked of the fictional character played by Kevin Spacey. “He’d take matters into his own hands over in the Senate.”

Scalise, who didn’t start watching House of Cards until after he became majority whip in August, said the fictional Washington depicted in the show bears only a limited semblance to reality.

“They depict the Capitol and the hectic schedule. I mean everybody is running around from meeting to meeting and votes,” he said in an interview with The Fine Print. “But when it comes to the interaction between members, it’s a lot more collegial than I think is depicted there.”

But on the real-life battle over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to run out of funding at midnight Friday unless Congress reaches a last-minute deal, Scalise described the current impasse as “disappointing.”

“We moved by the second week in January to get a bill passed out of the House that had a strong Republican vote that not only funded the Department of Homeland Security but also made it clear that the president doesn’t have the legal authority to go and issue some kind of executive amnesty on his own in the Oval Office,” Scalise said.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives proposed funding the Department of Homeland Security, while simultaneously halting the implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. But Senate Democrats have effectively blocked that House bill from being considered.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently proposed passing a clean bill that would leave the president’s action on immigration out of the equation, Scalise said the Senate’s attempts at compromise are too little, too late.

“We’re not going to pass bad policy just because the Senate waits and waits until the midnight hour,” Scalise said. “If a kid just doesn’t do his homework and then just shows up and expects the teacher to give him a break, I mean, at some point everybody’s got responsibilities. “

Scalise also gave The Fine Print a tour of a rarely seen room on Capitol Hill that was once frequented by President Abraham Lincoln. Recently renamed by Scalise as the “Lincoln Room,” the room was actually the House cloakroom during Lincoln’s one term in Congress before the Civil War.

“When Abraham Lincoln was a member of the House, he actually sat right here in this spot, by this fireplace, and this is where he would read and tell stories and meet with members, because they didn’t have offices during those times in the 1840s,” Scalise said.

To hear more about Scalise’s thoughts on the fight over Homeland Security, and to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Lincoln Room, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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Missouri State Auditor Dead in Apparent Suicide

Office of the Missouri State Auditor(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon mourned the death of state auditor Tom Schweich on Thursday, calling him “a brilliant, devoted and accomplished public servant.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Schweich, the Republican state auditor and a contender for governor in next year’s election, apparently committed suicide in his home on Thursday.

Nixon highlighted Schweich’s contributions both locally and abroad, mentioning specifically “his courageous work to combat the illegal drug trade abroad in Afghanistan” and “his tireless efforts to protect the interests of taxpayers here in Missouri.”

“Tom Schweich’s exceptional intellect and unwavering dedication to public service left a legacy that will endure for many years to come,” Nixon said in a statement.

Darlene Green, City of St. Louis Comptroller, offered prayers for “one of our great leaders here in Missouri,” calling it “a day to put politics aside and reflect on the life and legacy of Tom Schweich,” in a statement.

Schweich leaves behind a wife and two children.

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Eric Holder Reveals His Worst Day on the Job

Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Eric Holder’s days as attorney general are numbered. And in an interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas, he reflected on his six years leading a department that he first started working for at the age of 25, as a lawyer fresh out of Columbia Law School.

Leaving the department is “bittersweet…in the truest sense of the word,” Holder said, adding there’s some “satisfaction” in being the nation’s first African-American attorney general.

“I am aware of the historical significance of my appointment,” Holder conceded. “I am hoping that I’ve done a job that would make proud the people who made it possible; the people who sacrificed, the people who struggled, the people who dreamed, the people who gave their lives. I owe a special something to them.”

Nevertheless, Holder, 64, has had his ups and downs, and his share of controversies. Here’s how he described to ABC News some particular moments of his tenure:

WORST DAY ON THE JOB

Dec. 14, 2012: The day a 20-year-old opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six others. “I cried. The men and women who were up there that day cried. We hugged each other,” Holder told ABC News, recounting his visit to the school, where the carpets and bathroom were still stained with blood. “Those little angels were piled up almost like cord wood. …That was, without question, the worst day.”

BEST DAY ON THE JOB

“It’s hard to pick out any one day,” Holder said. “I have certainly liked the visits I’ve made around the country. I’ve had the opportunity to go to every district in this country. I think I’m the first attorney general to have done that.” Holder said other “good days” are those that let him “sit down with the career people, take pictures with them, hear about what it is they’re doing, the problems that they are facing.”

DINING WITH THE ENEMY?

Holder has been a lightning rod for Republican critics, who Holder suggested differ from him in that he’s “a person who likes to talk about facts and talk about policies that are going to change things that have too long been unaddressed.” But while he and many Republican have “butted heads,” they’ve also sat down for many meals together, according to Holder. “What you don’t know about are the breakfasts I’ve had in my conference room with some of the same people who were yelling at me a couple of days before,” Holder recalled. “The lunches that we’ve had, the phone calls that we make, the progress that we’ve made, the legislation that we’ve passed by working together.”

SETTING A RECORD

“If you look at the work of this Justice Department, we have brought record numbers of cases against police departments around the country,” Holder told ABC News when asked about the department’s response to high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and Sanford, Florida. The Justice Department announced this week federal charges would not be filed against George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in 2012 after a confrontation with the unarmed teenager in Sanford. The outcomes of two federal probes tied to the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson last year are still pending. “I’d say that in all the cases that we do, we’ve conducted an independent, thorough, investigation,” Holder said, adding his department has been “very aggressive” in bringing charges when appropriate. He promised to announce the results of the Ferguson probes before he leaves.

ADVICE FOR HIS SUCCESSOR

Holder had these words of advice for his successor: “Follow your experience, follow your heart, be a student of history, be unafraid.” Holder said Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, who’s waiting to be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate, has all those qualities “in spades.” “I’m going to try to leave for Loretta as little [leftover work] as I possibly can, which is why I have been as active as I’ve been over these last few weeks,” Holder said. “I think she’s going to be a great attorney general.”

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Boehner: ‘Government Bureaucrats’ Should ‘Keep Their Hands Off the Internet’

ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) — After the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to impose “net neutrality” regulations, House Speaker John Boehner responded to the “misguided plan” by urging “overzealous government bureaucrats” to “keep their hands off the Internet.”

“Today, three [bureaucrats] appointed by President Obama approved a secret plan to put the federal government in control of the Internet,” Boehner said in a press release. Noting that the text of the proposal was kept hidden from the public and Congress, the speaker argued that the “total lack of transparency and accountability does not bode well for the future of a free and open Internet, not to mention the millions of Americans who use it every day.”

Boehner’s office notes that House Republican leaders sent a letter to the FCC chairman nearly a year ago calling for him to drop the consideration of such regulations. In November 2014, Boehner’s office adds, the speaker warned that net neutrality regulations would hurt the American economy.

“The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency,” Boehner continued, “but the White House has once again meddled where it shouldn’t in order to advance what one commissioner has described as ‘a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.'”

Boehner further compared the regulations to Obamacare, saying that the plan “may not work, but it will create years of uncertainty and lead to expensive legal fights.”

Across the aisle, both Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi supported the FCC’s decision.

I support the FCC’s decision to adopt strong net neutrality rules, and I’ll work to preserve them.

— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 26, 2015

New @FCC rules will help the Internet ensure that success is founded on the best ideas, not the deepest pockets. http://t.co/syfaot2UGT

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 26, 2015

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Boehner: ‘Government Bureaucrats’ Should ‘Keep Their Hands Off the Internet’

ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) — After the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to impose “net neutrality” regulations, House Speaker John Boehner responded to the “misguided plan” by urging “overzealous government bureaucrats” to “keep their hands off the Internet.”

“Today, three [bureaucrats] appointed by President Obama approved a secret plan to put the federal government in control of the Internet,” Boehner said in a press release. Noting that the text of the proposal was kept hidden from the public and Congress, the speaker argued that the “total lack of transparency and accountability does not bode well for the future of a free and open Internet, not to mention the millions of Americans who use it every day.”

Boehner’s office notes that House Republican leaders sent a letter to the FCC chairman nearly a year ago calling for him to drop the consideration of such regulations. In November 2014, Boehner’s office adds, the speaker warned that net neutrality regulations would hurt the American economy.

“The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency,” Boehner continued, “but the White House has once again meddled where it shouldn’t in order to advance what one commissioner has described as ‘a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.'”

Boehner further compared the regulations to Obamacare, saying that the plan “may not work, but it will create years of uncertainty and lead to expensive legal fights.”

Across the aisle, both Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi supported the FCC’s decision.

I support the FCC’s decision to adopt strong net neutrality rules, and I’ll work to preserve them.

— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 26, 2015

New @FCC rules will help the Internet ensure that success is founded on the best ideas, not the deepest pockets. http://t.co/syfaot2UGT

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 26, 2015

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Obama Celebrates Black History Month, Ahead of Selma Visit

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama celebrated African American History Month with an East Room reception at the White House on Thursday.

Obama thanked the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy whose death three years ago sparked a movement against racial profiling, for attending the reception at the White House.

“Today on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death, showing all of our kids, all of them, every single day that their lives matter, that’s a part of our task,” he said.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday closed a three-year investigation into the case, saying it would not file hate-crime charges against Trayvon’s shooter, George Zimmerman.

Obama also said on Thursday that progress in the U.S. happens only because seemingly ordinary people find the courage to stand up for what is right.

“When I take Malia and Sasha and Michelle next week down to Selma, part of what I’m hoping to do is to remind of their own obligations because there’s going to be marches for them to march,” he said.

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Why Ben Carson Thinks It’s Important For a Black Man To Run for President

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has captivated the conservative community and thrown himself into the pool of potential 2016 presidential contenders, told ABC News on Thursday that when it comes to politics, his race and upbringing give him “a great deal of perspective.”

“Having grown up in the lowest rungs, economically, of society and being able to rise through every level to the top and seeing what concerns people at all those different levels,” Carson told ABC’s Rick Klein. “The things that concern black people are really the same things that concern white people or brown people or yellow people.”

In an interview on the first day of this year’s Conservative Political Action conference being held outside Washington, D.C., Carson said it is “extremely important” to have leaders in the Republican Party who can speak to underrepresented communities.

He also cast himself as a person who is not “very partisan.”

“I think that partisanship is actually destroying our nation,” he said.

Carson weighed on the recent moves in some states to legalize marijuana (he is not a fan) as well as the recent debate over vaccinations.

In his speech to the conservative gathering, the Maryland doctor called on people to become more engaged in politics.

“We need to talk to our uncle who hasn’t voted in 20 years, go to your grandma who’s an invalid and make sure she has an absentee ballot, help her fill it out. The baton is ours, freedom is not free, it must be fought for.”

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In CPAC Speech, Scott Walker Says He Can Take on ISIS

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared the nation’s fight against ISIS with the thousands of protesters that came to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011, telling attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that he is equipped to take on the terrorist group because of his experience during those protests.

Walker said as governor he gets a “threat assessment” from the FBI and he has been “concerned about the threat” posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups, saying he wants a commander-in-chief who will “do everything in their power to ensure the threat from radical Islamic terrorists will not come to American soil,” adding the country needs a “leader with confidence.”

“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” said Walker, wearing his sleeves rolled up, referring to his high-profile face-off with public-employee unions.

Walker focused on foreign policy during his CPAC speech in National Harbor, Maryland, with cheers from the crowd. His speech to the group of conservative activists was highly anticipated after his well-received speech to the Iowa Freedom Summit last month. Supporters chanted “Run, Scott, Run” at the end of his address.

“I’ve run three time in the last four years, so I’m getting pretty used to it,” he responded.

The Democratic National Committee responded to Walker’s comments, with DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee saying in a statement, “If Scott Walker thinks that it’s appropriate to compare working people speaking up for their rights to brutal terrorists, then he is even less qualified to be president than I thought. Maybe he should go back to punting.”

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