US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann is saying goodbye to Congress in the most contemporary of ways — through listicles, tweets and videos, including one that involved her rapping.

Bachmann, R-Minn., looked back this week on her eight years in Congress in a BuzzFeed post titled, “16 Things I’ll Miss About Being in Congress,” with GIFs, pictures and YouTube videos from the Capitol.

Bachmann, a conservative who made a feisty run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, also used the listicle to take some jabs at her opponents. She says she’ll miss “friendly chats” with Democratic House leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi alongside a photo of the two congresswomen with their backs turned to each other.

A photo of Bachmann and Vice President Joe Biden is accompanied with a caption that says she’ll miss “access to some of the greatest minds.”

But her most striking farewell so far may be a video of her rapping along to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” which she called “speech prep with my staff.”

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US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is making yet another legislative push to reform the way the military handles sexual assault cases by removing the chain of command from the prosecutions.

Joined by a bipartisan group of her Senate colleagues on Tuesday, Gillibrand announced that she and other senators are asking for the adjudication measure to be voted on as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act this month.

“We will continue to fight to strengthen our military because it’s our duty in our oversight role. It’s Congress’ responsibility to act as if the brave survivors of sexual assault are our sons, our daughters, our husbands and our lives who are being betrayed by the greatest military on earth,” Gillibrand said.

“The military has not been able to demonstrate that they have made a difference and they need to be held to the scrutiny and that standard this year,” she added. “The DOD has failed on this issue for 20 years and the scandals of the last 12 months show that they still don’t get it.”

Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Col. Don Christensen joined the senators in advocating for a change in procedures, noting that “the system is set up for failure.”

This renewed push comes less than a year after Gillibrand’s measure failed in the Senate, falling five votes shy of the 60 votes needed to clear the first procedural hurdle.

Gillibrand’s proposal currently has the support of 55 senators including prominent Republicans like Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“To me I’ve never quite understood why you would have to report something to your boss. If you had a problem at work, if you were in a corporation, you would not report to your boss, you’d go to the police,” Paul said. “In the military it’s a little different but you still wouldn’t want to go to your boss directly or you wouldn’t want your boss to be making the decisions, particularly if your boss was buddies with the person who was the perpetrator. You would want it to be people you don’t know outside the chain of command.”

Later this week, the Department of Defense is expected to release last year’s figures for the number of sexual assaults in the military. Additionally, the Pentagon will release a report commissioned by President Obama about how to deal with sexual assault within the military ranks.

Gillibrand says she has spoken with Obama about the possibility of issuing an executive action to implement her measure. When asked whether she would consider placing a hold on the upcoming secretary of defense nominee in order to advance her proposal, Gillibrand said, “I will think about it.”

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama intends to nominate former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as the new secretary of defense, ABC News has confirmed. A formal announcement is likely to come by the end of the week.

If confirmed, Carter would replace Chuck Hagel, who announced last week that he was stepping down as defense secretary.

Sen. John McCain, who will become chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says he does not anticipate Carter will face a tough confirmation fight to be defense secretary.

“He’s not controversial,” McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News Tuesday. “He’s qualified and he’s the last man standing, but he’s been around long enough to know he will have little or no voice in the crucial decisions on national security.”

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the outgoing chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told ABC News that Carter was “highly qualified.” He said confirmation hearings should begin immediately.

McCain said he wouldn’t object to the hearings starting before Republicans take control of the Senate next month. But he said the hearings would likely focus less on Carter’s qualifications than on Obama’s strategy on ISIS.

McCain, who has been one of the loudest critics of the president’s foreign policy, said that it barely mattered who the president selected as his fourth defense secretary, because all decisions are made inside the West Wing.

“All decision making is amongst a handful of people in the White House who only have one thing in common — that they don’t know anything about the military,” McCain said.

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Angela Weiss/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Senate confirmed a producer of the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful on Tuesday to serve as ambassador to Hungary — and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is not pleased with the decision.

Prior to the vote, McCain went on a tirade about how Colleen Bell, a soap opera producer and bundler for President Obama’s campaigns, is “unqualified” to represent the United States as an ambassador to Hungary.

“We’re about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interest,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “Her qualifications are as a producer of the television soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful, contributed $800,000 to Obama in the last election and bundled more than $2.1 million for President Obama’s re-election effort.”

“I am not against political appointees…I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and we’re going to send the producer of The Bold and The Beautiful as the ambassador,” he continued. “I urge my colleagues to put a stop to this foolishness. I urge a no vote.”

Regardless of McCain’s urging, the Senate confirmed Bell to the ambassador post with a vote of 52-42.

McCain’s displeasure with Bell’s qualifications stems from a contentious confirmation hearing last February where multiple ambassador nominees bungled questions from senators. In her questioning with McCain, Bell struggled to name the U.S. strategic interests in Hungary.

After McCain’s rant on the Senate floor, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., defended Bell, saying she is “intelligent,” “successful” and “knows how to make friends.”

“You would think this is the first time that any president nominated someone that’s a political appointee. Just because somebody is a producer of a very popular show that doesn’t disqualify them. It’s ridiculous,” Boxer said on the Senate floor in response to McCain. “I could point out people you supported senator who perhaps didn’t work at all, so let’s be clear here. She’s an intelligent woman. She knows how to be successful. She’ll do a good job and she’ll do very well I think in this position because I know her well and she knows how to make friends and she’s not angry.”

In addition to Bell’s confirmation, the Senate approved Noah Mamet to be the next ambassador to Argentina. Mamet also had faced scrutiny at the same confirmation hearing as Bell when he admitted he had never set foot in Argentina.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — It’s not even 2015, and the 2016 presidential race already has its first dropout.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who was once considered a top contender to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, said in a statement early Tuesday morning that he would not seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Instead, he said, “I have decided to run for re-election in 2016. I am excited about continuing to serve, especially with the change in the Senate leadership.”

“With the new Republican majority, I see a real opportunity over the next two years to break the gridlock in Washington and actually get things done to help Ohioans and all Americans. That’s where I believe I can play the most constructive role,” he said. “I don’t think I can run for president and be an effective senator at the same time.”

In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl earlier this fall, Portman said he was “taking a look” at a White House bid in 2016.

“I am concerned about the country, and I want to see who else jumps in,” the Ohio Republican told ABC News. “I think it’s a pivotal election so I am concerned enough that I am taking a look at it.”

In 2013, Portman, a former budget director in President George W. Bush’s administration, became the lone GOP senator at the time to support same-sex marriage when he revealed he made the decision because his son, Will, is gay.

For now, Portman said, “I’m excited to roll up my sleeves to make a difference for the people of Ohio and the country. While I appreciate the encouragement I have received from many to run for president, my focus will remain on Ohio and running for re-election to the Senate in 2016. I look forward to formally announcing my re-election campaign in the new year.”

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Brown Family / Facebook(WASHINGTON) — Americans divide evenly on last week’s grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri – with vast racial, political, and generational gaps defining public attitudes on the volatile issue.

Overall, 48 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve and 45 percent disapprove of the grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges against police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown last August.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables here.

Underlying divisions are profound. Fifty-eight percent of whites approve of the grand jury action, compared with 9 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanics, the nation’s two main racial and ethnic minorities. Eighty-five percent of blacks and six in 10 Hispanics disapprove.

Indeed, 73 percent of blacks “strongly” disapprove of the decision not to charge Wilson, a remarkable level of strong sentiment on any issue. Forty-five percent of Hispanics also strongly disapprove — while among whites, 42 percent strongly approve of the grand jury’s decision.

There’s also an even split, 48-47 percent, on whether the federal government should bring civil rights charges against Wilson. In this case 85 percent of blacks say they’d approve, as do 67 percent of Hispanics — falling to 38 percent among whites.

This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, highlights the stark social divisions in opinions of the case, many of which mirror broader attitudes about the criminal justice system. Views divide sharply not only by race, but also by political party affiliation, ideology and age, among other factors.

Seventy-six percent of Republicans, for example, approve of the grand jury’s decision, while half of political independents and just 27 percent of Democrats agree. Views on civil charges run just as sharply in the opposite direction: Nearly three-quarters of Democrats say they’d approve, dropping to fewer than half of independents and just 21 percent of Republicans.

There’s a similar divide by ideology, with approval for the grand jury action ranging from 74 percent among strong conservatives to 47 percent of moderates and 29 percent of liberals. At the same time 62 percent of liberals say they’d approve of the federal government bringing civil rights charges; 51 percent of moderates agree, dropping to 29 percent of strong conservatives.

The generational differences are equally sharp, with 62 percent of seniors approving of the grand jury decision, compared with 30 percent of those under age 30. And while two-thirds of millennials approve of efforts to pursue a civil case, just a third of seniors agree.

Other gaps also appear, with support for the grand jury action and opposition to filing federal civil charges rising with income and higher among college graduates than non-graduates. Also, men are more likely than women to approve of the grand jury decision.

OFFICIAL RESPONSE – Majorities, meanwhile, look askance at the way local officials and Barack Obama alike have handled the situation. By 52-39 percent, the public disapproves of how the police and other local authorities in Ferguson have dealt with the protests there. Obama’s handling of the situation gets an identical score.

Views on both these questions are marked by further (but less sharp) racial and political gaps. Disapproval of the local response is highest among blacks, Democrats and liberals. These same groups are disproportionately likely to approve of Obama’s efforts, as are political moderates.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellphone Nov. 25-26 and 28-30, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,011 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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US Senate(WASHINGTON) — In the one and only debate before Louisiana’s Dec. 6 runoff election, Sen. Mary Landrieu and her GOP challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy sparred over which candidate has committed the greater crime.

While Landrieu made the case that Cassidy has padded his own payroll at the expense of the poor patients who he was supposed to help as a part-time professor of medicine at LSU, Cassidy battled back that Landrieu caused greater harm with her use of taxpayer funds to charter flights to campaign events.

“My opponent has told us he is a doctor for the poor, but he is not a doctor for the poor, he’s a doctor for himself,” said Landrieu, who sought to distinguish her misuse of taxpayer funds on campaign related expenses — a mishap revealed earlier this year, which Landrieu has since corrected by reimbursing the misspent funds — as a book-keeping error compared to what she said was an intentional lack of record-keeping on Cassidy’s part.

“One was a book-keeping error, which I took full responsibility and turned over a complete set of records … and the other is a situation of a congressman whose take $20,000 a year in addition to his Congressional salary, and it may be even more than that if they paid for his medical malpractice insurance, without reporting it properly, without handing over any records.”

Landrieu, who is widely considered the underdog headed into Saturday’s election, repeatedly called on Cassidy to release the full records of his 63 months working at LSU to supplement the 16 months of time sheets that were made public in a surprise document release a week ago. But Cassidy said Landrieu is the one who needs to be more forthcoming with voters.

“If what Sen. Landrieu wants is transparency, then I’ll ask the question: When I treat patients in the public hospital system, clearly those patients benefit. When she takes chartered jets on taxpayer dime to campaign events, who is it that benefits?” Cassidy said.

Just hours before the debate began Monday night, LSU announced that it would conduct “a review” of Cassidy’s employment with the university.

“Based on concerns that have surfaced in the news media, we will review any information we have regarding Dr. Bill Cassidy’s employment with LSU, just as we would any other employee,” LSU Director of Media Relations Ernie Ballard told ABC News in a statement.

Cassidy, who has been on a leave of absence from LSU since April, defended his work as a part-time professor in the debate and called the allegations that he was paid for work he didn’t do “false.”

“These charges are false and my direct supervisor and I have made numerous statements regarding this,” Cassidy said. “The work I’ve done working with LSU, teaching medical students, actually benefits the poor and uninsured. There’s an irony here: Sen. Landrieu justifies her vote for Obamacare, it would not have passed without her, by saying she’s for the poor and uninsured, even though demonstrably Obamacare has hurt the economic prospects of the poor.”

Another heated exchange in the debate was on whether race relations have improved in the United States over the last several decades.

While Landrieu cited Ferguson as a recent example of race relations having “deteriorated a bit” in the country, Cassidy disagreed and said there has been progress. Cassidy then went on to criticize Landrieu for an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd in the days before November’s election, during which she said that President Obama’s unpopularity in the South is attributable, in part, to the color of his skin. She also cited the president’s energy policies as a reason for his unpopularity.

“Sen. Landrieu made statement that somehow Barack Obama wasn’t being viewed favorably because we have a history of racism in the South,” Cassidy said. “I think just because you disagree with the president doesn’t make you a racist. And I will point out that when Landrieu said by implication that we’re racist and sexist, she’s been elected to public office since I was in college, so I think we’ve made progress.”

Landrieu fired back, saying that Cassidy was misconstruing her comments and pivoted back to the allegations against Cassidy’s position at LSU.

“One of the problems that Bill Cassidy has is he makes things up as he goes along,” Landrieu said. “He’s made up this story about him being a doctor for the poor when he’s padding his own payroll and he’s made up the statement that I’ve said that anyone was a racist. Do you know what I said? I said the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans, and it’s also been a region that’s not quickly recognized the leadership of women. I will make no apology for something that is a historical fact.”

Cassidy then attempted to follow up, but Landrieu quickly silenced him. “Excuse me Bill, that is what I said,” and went on to remind Cassidy that she also discussed Obama’s energy policies in the interview. “I am not the only one tired of listening to his rhetoric.”

When asked what he would want to do if elected to Congress, Cassidy said that repealing Obamacare would be one of his top priorities.

But when asked if there are some aspects of the Affordable Care Act worth keeping, Cassidy said the measure that allows adult children to stay on the parents’ healthcare plan until age 26 should stay — and claimed the GOP deserves credit for that particular idea. “The provision for someone who’s 26 and younger to stay on their parents was actually a Republican idea,” Cassidy postured.

But Landrieu quipped that fighting the Affordable Care Act will be the least of Cassidy’s concerns if he is elected. “If he is [elected] he’ll be doing a lot more than fighting President Obama. He’ll be fighting subpoenas, because he padded his payroll,” Landrieu sniped.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — In a speech in Atlanta, Attorney General Eric Holder assured Americans that the Department of Justice’s investigation into both the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer and the allegations of unconstitutional policing matters by the Ferguson Police Department remain ongoing.

The investigations, Holder said, “have been rigorous and independent from the very beginning.” Noting that “while federal civil rights law imposes an extremely high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted prejudging the evidence of forming premature conclusions.”

“I want to assure the American people that they will continue to be conducted both thoroughly and in a timely manner,” Holder added. “We will see these investigations through to their appropriate conclusions, so that we can continue to work with the community to restore trust, to rebuild understanding, and to foster renewed cooperation between law enforcement and community members.”

Holder also said that in the coming days, he would, “announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards — and robust safeguards — to help end racial profiling once and for all.”

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State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) — In an address to an environmental group that fiercely opposes the Keystone XL pipeline Monday evening, Hillary Clinton made no mention of the project.

At a fundraising dinner for the League of Conservation Voters, Clinton spent most of her speech expressing support for the president’s environmental policies, the need to stay vigilant in combating climate change and the risks around natural gas drilling, but she ignored the pipeline. The group has worked to kill its construction.

She praised the “unprecedented action” President Obama has taken on climate change saying it “must be protected at all costs.”

“The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say, sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc,” Clinton claimed. “The political challenges are also unforgiving, there is no getting around the fact the kind of ambitious response required to affectively combat climate change is going to be a tough sell at home and around the world at a time when so many countries including our own are grappling with slow growth and stretched budgets.”

Clinton said technological advancements are likely the key to solving climate change urging the crowd to, “dare greatly and lead boldly” in order to, “protect our heritage and preserve our future.”

“If we act decisively now we can still head off the most catastrophic consequences,” Clinton claimed. After her speech, Clinton sat with environmental activists including Democratic donor and Keystone opponent Tom Steyer.

The decision to ignore Keystone was especially interesting because earlier Monday evening she appeared at a New York City fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu who is in a tough run-off in Louisiana. Landrieu strongly supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, on the other end of the environmental issue spectrum to the League of Conservation Voters.

Clinton has not weighed in on whether she supports Keystone, dodging questions on the issue previously, despite pressure from both Republicans to state her position as well as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to not only weigh in, but to oppose the pipeline. Clinton has said since she oversaw the permitting process for the project it would be inappropriate for her to state her position.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, spoke before Clinton and mentioned Keystone deeming the un-built pipeline “dirty and dangerous,” but speaking to the reporters after the event he said “it’s not critical at this moment” for Clinton to express support for their side of the issue.

“She’s already made it clear this is a decision the president should make in consultation with the secretary of state and she’s not going to offer her opinion,” Karpinski said. “I wouldn’t have expected anything different than that.”

When asked if it would be a deal breaker in supporting a candidate in 2016, Karpinski pointed to 2014 candidates they supported that also backed Keystone including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who both lost in November.

Landrieu is in a re-election battle that has gone to a run-off against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, also a proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and a critic of the president’s environmental policies. The run-off is this Saturday and Landrieu has been trailing in the polls. The Monday evening fundraiser was held at the New York City home of longtime Democratic donors and Clinton supporters Sarah and Victor Rozner. Tickets started at $1,000, but the next two tiers were $2,600 and $12,600, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News.

Clinton also headlined a New Orleans rally for Landrieu just before Election Day in early November. Landrieu not only supports Keystone, but she tried to save her seat pushing a bill through the Senate approving the pipeline, but the legislation failed by one vote earlier this month. The League of Conservation Voters openly opposed the legislation.

The pipeline would carry tar sand oil from Canada to the United States Gulf Coast, making it a key issue in Louisiana. It’s also an important issue in Canada and Clinton has dodged questions on the pipeline at different events in the country. She will travel there again next month speaking in Winnipeg.

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State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) — In an address to an environmental group that fiercely opposes the Keystone XL pipeline Monday evening, Hillary Clinton made no mention of the project.

At a fundraising dinner for the League of Conservation Voters, Clinton spent most of her speech expressing support for the president’s environmental policies, the need to stay vigilant in combating climate change and the risks around natural gas drilling, but she ignored the pipeline. The group has worked to kill its construction.

She praised the “unprecedented action” President Obama has taken on climate change saying it “must be protected at all costs.”

“The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say, sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc,” Clinton claimed. “The political challenges are also unforgiving, there is no getting around the fact the kind of ambitious response required to affectively combat climate change is going to be a tough sell at home and around the world at a time when so many countries including our own are grappling with slow growth and stretched budgets.”

Clinton said technological advancements are likely the key to solving climate change urging the crowd to, “dare greatly and lead boldly” in order to, “protect our heritage and preserve our future.”

“If we act decisively now we can still head off the most catastrophic consequences,” Clinton claimed. After her speech, Clinton sat with environmental activists including Democratic donor and Keystone opponent Tom Steyer.

The decision to ignore Keystone was especially interesting because earlier Monday evening she appeared at a New York City fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu who is in a tough run-off in Louisiana. Landrieu strongly supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, on the other end of the environmental issue spectrum to the League of Conservation Voters.

Clinton has not weighed in on whether she supports Keystone, dodging questions on the issue previously, despite pressure from both Republicans to state her position as well as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to not only weigh in, but to oppose the pipeline. Clinton has said since she oversaw the permitting process for the project it would be inappropriate for her to state her position.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, spoke before Clinton and mentioned Keystone deeming the un-built pipeline “dirty and dangerous,” but speaking to the reporters after the event he said “it’s not critical at this moment” for Clinton to express support for their side of the issue.

“She’s already made it clear this is a decision the president should make in consultation with the secretary of state and she’s not going to offer her opinion,” Karpinski said. “I wouldn’t have expected anything different than that.”

When asked if it would be a deal breaker in supporting a candidate in 2016, Karpinski pointed to 2014 candidates they supported that also backed Keystone including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who both lost in November.

Landrieu is in a re-election battle that has gone to a run-off against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, also a proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and a critic of the president’s environmental policies. The run-off is this Saturday and Landrieu has been trailing in the polls. The Monday evening fundraiser was held at the New York City home of longtime Democratic donors and Clinton supporters Sarah and Victor Rozner. Tickets started at $1,000, but the next two tiers were $2,600 and $12,600, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News.

Clinton also headlined a New Orleans rally for Landrieu just before Election Day in early November. Landrieu not only supports Keystone, but she tried to save her seat pushing a bill through the Senate approving the pipeline, but the legislation failed by one vote earlier this month. The League of Conservation Voters openly opposed the legislation.

The pipeline would carry tar sand oil from Canada to the United States Gulf Coast, making it a key issue in Louisiana. It’s also an important issue in Canada and Clinton has dodged questions on the pipeline at different events in the country. She will travel there again next month speaking in Winnipeg.

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