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October 25, 2014

Posts in "Republicans"

October 22, 2014

Coburn’s ‘Wastebook’ Targets Include Mountain Lions, Sheep, Beer (Video)

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Coburn, pictured here unveiling the 2013 Wastebook. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tom Coburn and his investigators have been busy in their most recent effort to unveil what they view as government waste and abuse.

The 2014 edition of the Oklahoma Republican’s annual “Wastebook” runs almost 250 pages and features more than 1,100 footnotes. It’s presumably the last such report Coburn will issue from his Senate perch, as he’s resigning his seat early at the end of the current Congress.

As in previous editions, the report highlights billions of dollars of projects that Coburn views as wasteful government spending.

“This report, the fifth annual Wastebook, gives a snapshot of just a fraction of the countless frivolous projects the government funded in the past twelve months with borrowed money and your tax dollars,” Coburn wrote in the report’s introduction. “Every year taxpayers, regardless of their personal political leanings, raise their eyebrows and shake their heads in disbelief at how billions of dollars that could be been better spent — or not spent at all — were squandered.” Full story

October 20, 2014

Mikulski Sets Senate Ebola Hearing Two Days After Elections (Updated)

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Mikulski will hold a post-election Ebola hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:15 p.m. | As the threat of the Ebola virus in the United States appears to be easing, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski announced she would hold a hearing on the issue two days after voters are scheduled to go to the polls.

The hearing is set for Nov. 6, and would be the first in the Democratic-run Senate since the first U.S. Ebola case was discovered in Dallas. The hearing could take on increased urgency if the Obama administration follows through on sending over a supplemental spending request. A Democratic aide said appropriators were told to expect a request for Ebola funding as soon as this week but did not have any details on its scope or whether it would be designated as emergency funding.

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the top Republican on the subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, has been pushing for a new hearing on Ebola. Moran visited the University of Kansas hospital last week, where he said the situation had changed since a joint hearing last month of the Appropriations subcommittee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Full story

October 10, 2014

Senate GOP Leaders Hit the Campaign Trail (Updated)

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Barrasso and Thune are among the GOP leaders hitting the stump to try and win the majority. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:38 p.m.| With the majority hanging on a handful of Senate races, Republican leaders not facing re-election have been fanning out across the nation to help stump for their candidates.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas have been focused on their re-election campaigns, though Cornyn, who has an easier race, has traveled to raise money for Senate Republican contenders.

But Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri and Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming have all been active as well in trying to give GOP candidates the edge in intensely contested races.

Barrasso has been particularly energized, but he is not expected to seek a different post within the Senate Republican leadership, such as the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He plans to keep his leadership slot chairing the Policy Committee, according to a Republican source. Full story

September 26, 2014

Cruz, Paul Make Early Presidential Pitches at Values Voter Summit

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Cruz and Paul each courted Values Voter Summit conservatives. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).

In a preview of what Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire can expect to see a lot of over the next year, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul reached out to conservatives at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

While neither Cruz nor Paul have officially announced a bid for the Republican nomination, both speeches laid out the fundamentals for a presidential run.

For Paul, it was allaying the concerns of many in the religious right that the Kentucky Republican is too libertarian for their Christian beliefs.

“Where there is liberty, there is always plenty of space for God,” Paul said, drawing on Corinthians 3:17, which states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Paul said America was in a “full-blown crisis — a spiritual crisis,” and he said the nation’s moral compass was “wavering.”

“Those of us who love freedom must realize that freedom is not a license to do as you please,” he said. “Freedom can only be realized when citizens know self-restraint, or, put another way, virtue.” Full story

September 18, 2014

Senate Republicans Pass Out Campaign Talking Points

Senate Republicans are being sent home for election season with a tri-fold card that provides talking points on health care, taxes, the economy — even Senate procedure.

The list of priorities on the back of the card prepared by the Republican Conference reads like an early to-do list for a possible Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

It does not explicitly call for a full repeal of the health care overhaul law often called Obamacare, but focuses generically on “health care reforms that lower costs & put patients in charge.” Full story

August 28, 2014

Republicans Warn of ‘Dark and Dangerous’ Future if Putin Isn’t Confronted on Ukraine (Video)

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Ayotte, McCain and Graham (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama on Thursday dismissed any suggestion of military intervention to address Russia’s further incursion into Ukrainian territory, as Republican lawmakers renewed calls for stronger action.

“We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we’re doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia,” Obama said. “But I think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming.”

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned of a “dark and dangerous” future if Russia and President Vladimir Putin are not confronted about the action in Ukraine.

Full story

August 21, 2014

McCaskill to Hold Police Militarization Hearings

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McCaskill will hold hearings on the militarization of local police in wake of Ferguson events. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With lawmakers on the left and right questioning the militarization of law enforcement after two weeks of violence in Ferguson, Mo., Sen. Claire McCaskill announced she will hold hearings next month on the federal programs supplying local authorities with surplus military gear.

The Missouri Democrat, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, plans to take a broad look at programs like the Defense Department’s 1033 program that have steered surplus equipment to local police departments.

That DOD program has come under particular scrutiny from other lawmakers.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, last week said he would review the program, which is part of the defense authorization bill, before it gets to the Senate floor “to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.” Full story

August 18, 2014

Jim Jeffords, Veteran of Three Decades in Congress, Dead at 80

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Jeffords served more than three decades in Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, a longtime Republican who flipped control of the Senate to the Democrats after switching parties in 2001, has died.

Jeffords, who had been in declining health, was 80. The Burlington Free Press first reported his death.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was sad to hear of Jeffords’ passing and called him a man of conscience.

“Throughout Jim’s time in the Senate he left an important mark on the history of the institution,” Reid said. “He was a strong supporter of helping people with disabilities and always fought for the underdog. Jim was a model of a great legislator who avoided partisan politics and fought for what was best for the people of Vermont. In 2001 he changed the makeup of the Senate by switching from a Republican to an Independent and caucusing with the Democrats. History will remember Senator Jeffords as a courageous man who listened to his conscience, and I will always respect him for doing so.”

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., also lauded Jeffords’ career.

“He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend,” Leahy said in release. “He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate’s history.”

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who won the election to replace Jefford after he retired in 2006, praised his demeanor and his dedication to the state.

“Jane and I join all Vermonters in sending condolences to the family of Jim Jeffords,” Sanders said in a statement. “Jim was one of the most popular elected officials in the modern history of the state — serving at the local, state and federal levels. Vermonters admired him because of his low-key and down-to-earth qualities, and because of his obvious and strong love of the state and the Vermont way of life. He was an effective champion of education, disability rights, the environment and the arts — and millions of Americans have benefited from his efforts.”

Sanders acknowledged Jeffords’ strength when he changed the Senate in 2001 and became an independent. “He displayed enormous courage by leaving a party that, he often said, had left him because of its dramatic move to the right,” Sanders said. “Jim was a friend and he will be sorely missed.”

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said that Jeffords and his wife Liz Daley, who died in 2007 of ovarian cancer, were mentors during his early days as the state’s at-large House member.

“While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation,” Welch said in a release. “With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress.”

“Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education,” Welch said. “Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.”

“And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions,” Welch said.

Jeffords endorsed Welch in his 2006 campaign over GOP candidate Martha Rainville.

Education was a legislative passion for Jeffords and Republican leaders decision not to include a school funding provision in a $1.6 trillion tax cut bill led him down the path to renouncing his party affiliation.

At the time of his decision to become an independent who would caucus with Democrats, the Senate was split 50-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney the deciding vote giving Republicans control of the chamber.

Following Jeffords’ switch, the Democrats controlled the chamber, 51-49. Until 2001 he identified as a Republican his entire political career, including 14 years in the House of Representatives and all but the last six years of the 18 years he spent in the Senate.

“It was a unique time in history,” Jeffords once recalled. “It was the first time you had a situation of a 50-50 Senate. That opened up an opportunity for one individual, myself or any other Republicans that wanted to, within the rules, to change the whole thing. And then I got to thinking. … I said, ‘If you don’t do it, you’re going to be to blame for everything that happens from now on — Supreme Court appointments — all of that. Because you had the power to make that change, to stop the abuse of power.’ So that’s when I decided I had to do it.”

August 5, 2014

Ron Johnson Appealing Obamacare Ruling, Will ‘Exhaust Every Legal Recourse’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Johnson isn’t giving up his legal fight to toss health benefits for members of Congress and their staff participating in Obamacare.

The Wisconsin Republican formally notified a federal court Monday of his intent to appeal a ruling that he doesn’t have standing to sue the Obama administration over health benefits for members and staff.

In court documents filed Monday in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Johnson made official what he had announced in an Aug. 2 opinion piece for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. In that piece, he refers to District Judge William C. Greisbach’s opinion against him on the standing question as part of his motivation for continuing the legal challenge to the Office of Personnel Management’s decision that members and staff accessing health insurance through the District of Columbia exchange can continue to get an employer contribution.
Full story

Sessions Warns Obama’s Immigration Plans ‘Unlawful’ (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Prior to effectively adjourning for five weeks, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., used Tuesday’s Senate session to hammer President Barack Obama for proposing changes to immigration enforcement at the end of the summer without consent from Congress.

The administration is reportedly considering an executive order to provide deportation relief and work authorization cards to 5 million to 6 million of the more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, which Sessions called “unlawful.”
Full story

July 18, 2014

Mark Kirk Says Obama Iran Policy is Path to Nuclear War (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark S. Kirk said in a jarring video circulated late Friday that President Barack Obama’s Iran policy is leading to nuclear war.

The video, posted on Youtube and available through the Illinois Republican’s official website, features a background of a “60 Minutes”-style ticking clock and highlights news reports about the state of the negotiations between the international community and Iran on nuclear programs.

“The administration policy is the quickest policy that leads to war, nuclear war. That is a horrible fate to condemn American children to witness,” Kirk said in the video.

Full story

July 14, 2014

Senators Blast NCAA, ESPN in Review of College Athletics (Video)

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Rockefeller criticized ESPN at a hearing on the NCAA and student-athletes last week, saying the network was “undermining our commitment to education.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A century-old debate over the commercialization of college athletics is under renewed scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers could face the issue in the coming months, and held little back when the leader of the NCAA testified recently before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senators hammered NCAA President Mark Emmert on July 9, as questions about student-athlete compensation, graduation rates, health care and sexual assault took center stage.

Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., kicked off by reminding Emmert of the committee’s jurisdiction over intercollegiate athletics, before taking aim at the NCAA.

“College athletes and athletics are rooted in the notion of amateurism, and the history of that is very interesting and important,” Rockefeller said. “Playing college sports is supposed to be an avocation. There’s a growing perception that college athletics, particularly Division I football and basketball, are not avocations at all. What they really are is highly profitable commercial enterprises.”

Full story

June 26, 2014

Howard Baker, Known as ‘Great Conciliator,’ Dies at 88

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Baker, fourth from left, at the Watergate hearings. (Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 6:25 p.m. | Former Republican Sen. Howard H. Baker, Jr. of Tennessee, known for asking during the  Watergate hearings “What did the president know and when did he know it,” died Thursday from complications of a stroke he suffered on Saturday.

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, the law firm where he had worked since finishing his term Ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush in 2005, announced the news. Baker’s grandfather had founded the firm and he had previously practiced law there with his father, the late Rep. Howard H. Baker.

Baker, who was 88 years old, had an illustrious political career beginning with being the first elected Republican senator from Tennessee since Reconstruction. Full story

Senate Mourns Passing of Former Majority Leader Howard Baker (Video)

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is mourning the loss of one of the chamber’s great leaders.

Former Majority Leader Howard Baker Jr., R-Tenn., has died. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement on the floor of the Senate.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of one of the Senate’s most towering figures: Senator Howard Baker. The Senate sends its sincere condolences to the family of Senator Baker,” the Kentucky Republican said. “In particular, we wish to pass along our deep sympathies to his wife, Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker. Many of us served alongside Nancy here in the Senate. We know this must be a most difficult moment for her.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:57 p.m.
Republicans

GOP Won’t Shut Down Government to Block ‘War on Coal,’ Thune Predicts

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A top Senate Republican predicted the GOP’s fight against the EPA’s “war on coal” won’t lead to a government shutdown.

Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota predicted Thursday that a proposal from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to effectively halt the EPA’s regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants won’t go away.

But Thune didn’t think there was any appetite to threaten a government shutdown over climate change rules or any other issue in October, just before the 2014 mid-term elections.

“No Republican is talking about using that as leverage to shut the government down,” he said. ”I don’t think anybody — we’ve got a budget number that’s been put in place now that we’re operating under and any continuing resolution that gets adopted this year, I assume, would meet that number.” Full story

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