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Posts by Steven Dennis
August 30, 2014
President Barack Obama may not have a strategy yet for striking ISIS in Syria, but he’s widening his campaign against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq.
The United States launched airstrikes against the group — which the administration calls ISIL — and new humanitarian airdrops to the besieged town of Amirli, which has held out for two months against the terror group. But the administration is careful to say that its latest mission will be limited — as Obama already faces calls from members of both parties for congressional authorization of any sustained military campaign.
Here’s the statement from the Pentagon: Full story
August 28, 2014
Updated 6:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday it’s premature to go to Congress to authorize a strategy to defeat ISIS — because he doesn’t have one yet.
“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama told reporters after being asked about striking ISIS in Syria, saying he didn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.”
The line — sure to be repeated often by his critics — came as Republicans have been repeatedly demanding a strategy to defeat ISIS.
Obama said he’s asked the military for options to take on ISIS, but a decision to expand strikes into Syria isn’t imminent and he suggested it would not happen before Congress returns from recess.
He said there was a role for Congress to play once that strategy is in place. But he said that he didn’t wait for Congress before launching airstrikes in Iraq because he had a responsibility to protect the American people and could not wait. He said that he has consulted with Congress on his actions to date and that feedback has been positive. Full story
It’s been more than five months since CQ Roll Call asked Jay Carney about the stock market in Russia — and he talked about shorting it. You’d have lost a bundle if you followed that advice.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now — unless you’re going short,” Carney responded to the question posed at his March 18 daily press briefing.
But despite incremental sanctions and new reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine, the Russian stock market is still up substantially since CQ Roll Call asked the question. Full story
Facing decisions on crises in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, President Barack Obama will meet with his National Security Council this afternoon at the White House in the Situation Room.
The White House announced the 4 p.m. meeting — with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joining by telephone — early Thursday. The meeting comes as the president is considering whether to expand airstrikes against the Islamic State group into Syria, as well as Iraq, and faces a decision on how to respond to reports of Russian military incursions in Ukraine. Full story
August 27, 2014
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest warned Republicans against trying to defund the president’s coming executive actions granting deportation relief to illegal immigrants.
“We would hope that Republicans wouldn’t do the same thing again,” Earnest said Wednesday, referring to last year’s failed effort to defund Obamacare.
The threat articulated by some congressional Republicans in recent days won’t affect the president’s thinking, Earnest said.
“The president has determined to take the kinds of common sense steps that are required to address the worst problems of our broken immigration system. Nothing the president does is a replacement for the kind of robust solution that passive bipartisan support through the United States Senate, but the president is determined to act where House Republicans won’t, and there is strong support for that all across the country. … So, again, it would be a real shame if Republicans were to engage in an effort to shut down the government over a common sense solution like that. But they’ve done it before. Hopefully they won’t do it again.”
The administration has reportedly been considering granting deportation relief and work permits to as many as 5 million people here illegally. Full story
August 7, 2014
President Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil and to shield about 40,000 people trapped on Sinjar Mountain from genocide.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been on the march and has traveled close to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq.
“Today, America is coming to help,” Obama said.
“The United States of America cannot turn a blind eye” to the prospect of genocide on Sinjar Mountain, he said. “We must act and act now.”
But he insisted that combat troops will not be returning to the battlefield.
Obama said that he consulted with Congress on his actions and will continue to do so.
President Barack Obama signed the overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday at Fort Belvoir in Virginia — but not before dinging the Senate for failing to confirm more of his nominees for senior VA jobs.
Several members of Congress received shoutouts from the president: Sens. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., and Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Michael H. Michaud, D-Maine.
Obama called the long wait times “outrageous” and suggested the bill would help newly appointed VA Secretary Robert McDonald get rid of employees who have engaged in misconduct.
“If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired, period. It shouldn’t be that difficult,” Obama said. Full story
August 6, 2014
President Barack Obama pushed back on the idea that he’s an imperial president Wednesday, saying that while he is considering additional executive orders on immigration and in other areas, he is “bound by the Constitution.”
A reporter asked the president about a quote from his campaign railing against then-President George W. Bush acting on his own without going to Congress. Obama said he doesn’t have “a green light” to act as he chooses.
“I’m bound by the Constitution. I’m bound by separation of powers. There’s some things we can’t do,” he said at a news conference tied to a major U.S.-Africa summit. “Congress has the power of the purse, for example.” Full story
July 31, 2014
Long-term unemployed people still wondering if Congress will act on an unemployment extension restoring benefits for millions before going home for the August recess are going to be disappointed again.
The expired emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program is still dead, and shows no real signs of life beyond weekly press events from Democrats and the occasional long shot proposal from a senator or two.
The House Rules Committee left an unemployment extension off of its final schedule ahead of the break. Senate Democrats aren’t planning to force another vote before heading out, either. President Barack Obama has occasionally spoken out about unemployment benefits in his economic speeches, but mainly to attack Republicans. There is no strategy from the White House or Senate Democrats to force action on an unemployment extension, and there’s no expectation that will change.
The White House torched House Republicans’ plan to vote to block President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to any new people in the country illegally.
Republicans say the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has acted as a magnet for the surge in unaccompanied children across the border, even though recent immigrants are not eligible. And Republicans are demanding that Obama not expand that relief amid reports he’s considering granting “administrative amnesty” and work permits to as many as 5 million more unauthorized immigrants.
Here’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s statement: