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November 30, 2015

Posts in "Foreign Policy"

November 30, 2015

Congress Has a List of Deadlines, Is Checking It Twice

Ryan speaks to reporters.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ryan has a long month ahead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress returns this week for a pivotal work period with multiple deadlines, a busy schedule for an institution that tends to wait until the very last minute to get things done.

House lawmakers will spend the next four legislative days laying the groundwork on crucial pieces of legislation for the rest of the month, negotiating terms and conditions among themselves and with their counterparts across the aisle and Rotunda.

Full story

November 19, 2015

Democrats Slam White House Messaging On Refugee Bill

Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly on camera news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pelosi, D-Calif. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 24 hours, House Democrats have gone from opposing the GOP  proposal to tighten the United States’ screening of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to supporting the bill in large numbers.

The shift is due to a number of factors, including pressure from constituents to take action this week — as well as frustration with the White House’s inability to offer a compelling reason to wait. Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 12:07 p.m.
Foreign Policy

Watch Live: House Judiciary Hearing on Syrian Refugee Crisis

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security holds a hearing on the Syrian refugee crisis and the U.S. admission program for refugees. Officials from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are expected to testify.

Coverage begins at 9 a.m.

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November 18, 2015

House Democrats Plan Alternative to Syrian Refugee Bill

3: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lofgren tried to get changes made to the GOP refugee bill due on the floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:15 p.m. | House Democrats will use procedural gambits to get a vote on their proposal aimed at easing concerns about Syrian refugees coming to the United States but without completely blocking their resettlement.

The partisan maneuvering has the potential to weaken support for a Republican-backed bill set to come to the floor Thursday. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, but the bill is expected to pass with GOP votes and some from fiscally conservative Democrats.

Full story

Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later

Jackie Speier, an aide to Congressman Leo Ryan, being taken from a plane at Georgetown on November 19, 1978, after its arrival from Jonestown where Speier was shot five times and Ryan and four others were ambushed and killed by members of the People's Temple.  Congressman Leo Ryan was leading a group that went to Guyana to investigate reports of abuse and human rights violations by the People's Temple and its leader, Jim Jones.  Fearing the results of the murders and further investigations into Jonestown, despite Leo Ryan's assertion that he was going to give a largely positive review of the People's Temple, Jim Jones led his followers in a ?revolutionary suicide?.  On November 18, 1978, 909 Temple members died, all but two of which from cyanide poisoning, forming the largest mass suicide in modern history. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

(Bettmann/Corbis /AP Images)

Rep. Jackie Speier knows exactly how it feels to be left for dead.

On Nov. 18, 1978, she was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America. Her boss, Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others lay dead nearby, killed by gunfire as they tried to escape Jonestown, the commune built by cult leader Jim Jones.

Nearly 40 years later, Speier still remembers why she decided to get on a plane to go down on the ill-fated congressional trip.

“Back in 1978, there were not many women in high-ranking positions in Congress,” said Speier, who was legislative counsel for Ryan at the time. “I felt if I didn’t go, it would be a step back for women holding these high positions. I thought, ‘I can’t not go.’”

So she went, accompanying Ryan and 23 other people to Guyana, on the northeastern coast of South America, attempting to visit Jim Jones and nearly 1,000 followers he’d amassed.

By the end of the trip, Ryan was dead — the first and only congressman to be assassinated in office — along with three journalists and one cult defector. Speier and nine others had been shot and left for dead at a remote airstrip; they waited 22 hours for help to arrive.

Immediately following the shootings, Jones and more than 900 of his followers died from self-inflicted cyanide poisoning in what was seen as a mass suicide at the time, but is now widely considered a mass murder.

The Ryan congressional delegation had no military escort. The State Department had given neither a warning nor protection.

Speier has occupied Ryan’s former seat in Congress since 2008. In an interview with CQ Roll Call, she noted that while much has changed, some fundamental questions about Jonestown remain unanswered. Full story

Congress Scrambles for Response to Refugees, Paris Attacks

Ryan speaks Tuesday before signing the defense policy bill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan speaks Tuesday before signing the defense policy bill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Top Republican leaders in Congress called for a “pause” in allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States, as lawmakers in both chambers scrambled for a response to the Paris terrorist attacks.

A House task force released a bill Tuesday directed at the vetting of refugees from Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State extremists have found safe havens.  While Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a halt to the refugee program, the House legislation instead seeks to enhance the certification process for these refugees.

Full story

November 17, 2015

House Bill Drafted to Enhance Vetting of Refugees

CQ Roll Call File Photo

CQ Roll Call File Photo

The House will vote Thursday to enhance oversight of the screening process for refugees from Syria and Iraq, but it will not consider legislation to “pause” the program sought by Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters a post-Paris attacks task force has crafted a bill to create “a new certification process” for these refugees. It will be posted online later tonight and go before the Rules Committee Wednesday.

Full story

Ryan Calls for ‘Pause’ on Syrian Refugees

paris attacks

McCarthy is forming a legislative task force in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has asked the House to put together legislation this week responding to the Paris attacks and called for a “pause” in Syrian refugees coming to the United States.

“The way we look at this issue is … we have a refugee situation that we think requires a pause and a more comprehensive assessment on how to guarantee members of ISIS are not infiltrating themselves among the refugee population,” Ryan said Tuesday after the weekly closed-door GOP Conference meeting. Full story

House’s Muslim Members Brace for Charged Terror Debate

UNITED STATES - MARCH 10: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., arrives to testify during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" on Thursday, March 10, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Ellison, in 2011, arrives to testify at a Homeland Security Committee hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Updated 5:30 p.m. | The two Muslim members of the House share the sentiments of their fellow Democrats: Under no circumstances should the United States block Syrian refugees from this country in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris..

But for Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and André Carson of Indiana, there’s a greater sense of urgency in how Congress responds to the violence at the hands of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, that has a stranglehold in Syria. Full story

November 16, 2015

Ryan Calls for Classified Briefings After Paris Attacks

paris terrorist attack

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is laying the groundwork for the House’s active engagement in the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The Wisconsin Republican asked the Obama administration to provide lawmakers with classified briefings in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 shootings and bombings carried out by Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, he said Monday morning in an interview on Bill Bennett’s radio program. Full story

October 22, 2015

Clinton Evades GOP Blows in Benghazi Hearing (Video)

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22 - Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Clinton is being investigated by a Republican-led committee on the deadly 2012 Benghazi, Libya attacks. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans tried to paint Clinton as either out of the loop about Benghazi or unresponsive to calls to add security at U.S. facilities. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)


Updated 6:19 p.m. | Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton appears headed back to the campaign trail politically unscathed, after being peppered for hours by Republicans with questions about the deadly Benghazi attacks.

In fact, Republicans’ lack of any hard evidence linking the former secretary of State directly to the department’s admitted missteps before and during the terrorist strikes that killed four Americans could give Clinton new campaign-messaging fodder.

Full story

Watch Live: Hillary Clinton Testifies Before Benghazi Committee

Former secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi about the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Coverage begins at 10 a.m. Full story

October 6, 2015

House Democrats Brace for Round Two of Trade Fight

Kind, D-Wisc., speaks during the bipartisan news conference outside of the Capitol to unveil "a major proposal aimed at modernizing America's regulatory system to reduce compliance costs, encourage growth and innovation, and improve national competitiveness" on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kind helped the president whip House votes on TPA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats who fought unsuccessfully earlier this year to withhold Trade Promotion Authority from the White House are gearing up for round two: an effort to undo the sweeping 12-nation Pacific trade deal announced Monday that TPA authorized the administration to negotiate.

“The deal … is the result of negotiations between corporate interests and trade representatives, which ignored the voices of working families in all twelve countries,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairmen Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota declared in a statement. Full story

October 1, 2015

Boehner Weighs In on Benghazi Without Mentioning McCarthy

Boehner, R-Ohio, conducts a news conference in the Capitol after a meeting of the House Republican Conference, March 24, 2015. Also attending is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at left. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boehner conducts a news conference in the Capitol earlier this year with McCarthy in the background. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Democrats continued Thursday to hammer Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for his Benghazi committee comments, Speaker John A. Boehner decided to step in.

Not once in his four-paragraph statement, however, does the Ohio Republican mention McCarthy. Full story

September 19, 2015

The Congressional Wish List for the Pope’s Speech

(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Every lawmaker on Capitol Hill has a cause that could use a boost from a powerful person’s endorsement — and next week there won’t be a more influential seal of approval than one from Pope Francis.

Since taking on the papacy in March 2013, the leader of the world’s largest church has shown a willingness to wade into some of the thorniest political debates around the globe, from economic equality to climate change to immigration.

Catholics and non-Catholics alike want to hear what he has to say, and his scheduled Sept. 24 address to a joint session of Congress will afford him a soapbox from which to deliver a message to, basically, the world. Full story

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