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February 10, 2016

Posts in "Executive Orders"

February 1, 2016

Is Cancer Task Force Another Placebo?


Vice President Joe Biden on Dec. 3, giving remarks in the Capitol Visitors Center. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Biden is heading up Obama’s task force to fight cancer. The group will meet this week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

History suggests the White House’s new high-level task force to fight cancer could prove more placebo than antidote, despite its broad bipartisan support.

The same Republicans who sat dismissively as President Barack Obama ticked off a wish list of stalwart Democratic policy desires during his final State of the Union address joined Democrats in a standing ovation when he announced he was placing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in charge of a new task force charged with curing cancer in 10 years.

In doing so, Obama added to a long list of such groups he has created during his presidency. But the use of presidential task forces and their big brother, the presidential commission, is as old as the office itself. Electronic searches show presidents as far back as William Howard Taft have turned to these hodgepodge, government-wide entities to get something or, in most cases, nothing done. Full story

January 28, 2016

Bernie’s Big Day in D.C.


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a media gaggle in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 26. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a media gaggle in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 26. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had a big, but mixed day in Washington Wednesday, meeting one-on-one with President Barack Obama at the White House, but also getting blasted by another key Democrat, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who criticized the presidential hopeful’s health care plan as unrealistic.

Just days before the crucial Iowa caucuses, Sanders also got a chance to reversee a previous stand on gun legislation, as Democrats on Capitol Hill pushed to roll back a 2005 law that protects firearms manufacturers from liability when their guns are used to commit crimes. Full story

January 26, 2016

Rand Paul Applauds Obama’s Solitary Confinement Changes


US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 18, 2015. Obama addressed the press before flying to San Bernardino to meet families of the victims of the December 2 attack, before continuing to Hawaii for a two-week family vacation. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds        (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama acting on his own on solitary confinement rules rather than wait for Congress. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama has opted to make some changes to the federal criminal justice system on his own, rather than waiting for Congress to pass an overhaul measure during an election year. And his new solitary confinement rules have already won the praise of one GOP presidential candidate.

Solitary confinement will no longer be used on juveniles or individuals accused or convicted of low-level crimes, Obama announced  Monday in a newspaper op-ed. He also is expanding treatment for the mentally ill and ramping up the amount of time inmates subjected to solitary confinement get to spend outside their cells. Collectively, the changes will affect 10,000 federal prisoners, according to the White House. Full story

January 25, 2016

Will Obama Issue Executive Action on Cap-and-Trade?


Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., speaks with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inhofe. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Obama administration is refusing to make his final year in office as uneventful as Republicans would like. In fact, lawmakers expect executive action on everything from terrorist detention to campaign finance to environmental issues.

One possibility is an executive action setting up a carbon cap-and-trade system, says Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla. President Barack Obama “has legacy things and he doesn’t have as much time as he would like to have,” Inhofe said in an interview. “Cap-and-trade and closing Gitmo, those are the things he wants to do.”

Full story

January 16, 2016

Democrats Join GOP Warnings On Iran As Sanctions Eased


Obama speaks from the G20 summit in Turkey. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Obama faces new political fire for Saturday’s developments in Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama’s legacy became further tied to Tehran on Saturday when Iran released four American prisoners and U.N. inspectors cleared the way for the easing of some painful sanctions on the Middle Eastern power.

Obama is taking new political fire from Republican presidential hopefuls and lawmakers — joined by some notable Democrats — over the nuclear deal his administration and other world powers inked with Iran that made the sanctions lifting possible. Now, he is under new attacks after swapping seven Iranians for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Americans.

White House officials hailed Saturday’s developments as major victories — “a demonstration of what diplomacy is able to achieve,” as one put it Saturday — but warned the sanctions could be put back in place if Iranian leaders’ violate the nuclear pact.

Full story

January 13, 2016

Biden, McDonough Defend Obama’s Last SOTU


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Behind him Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan listen. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Behind him, Biden and Ryan listen. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Obama deployed two of his closest advisers to defend his final State of the Union address, and they championed his shots at Donald Trump and calls for economic adjustments.

During his likely final address to a joint session of Congress, Obama landed some not-so-subtle jabs on Trump’s chin. White House aides said the speech was not crafted as a political document meant to influence the presidential election cycle, but the president clearly wanted voters to hear an anti-Trump message from perhaps the most powerful bully pulpit in American politics.

Denis McDonough, Obama’s chief of staff, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast near the White House, that Obama wanted to put on display an “alternative argumentation to rebut the prevailing wisdom in some of the public debate right now.”

But, by criticizing the Republican front-runner on such a bright stage, was Obama failing to live up to his own call for politicians and citizens to behave better when participating in the political system? Full story

January 8, 2016

4 Surprises From Obama’s Town Hall


FAIRFAX, VA - JANUARY 7:  (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens to a question from Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu during  a live town hall event with CNN's Anderson Cooper  (R) at town hall at George Mason University on January 7, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia. The president this week announced new, relatively mild executive actions to regulate the gun industry.  (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

Obama listens to a question from Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu during Thursday’s town hall. (Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama took his plea for gun control to prime time on Thursday, but it is unclear how many minds his CNN town hall will change.

Obama took questions for just over an hour from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and audience members, some gun-rights advocates and others from the firearms-control community. The event came several days after Obama unveiled a series of executive actions to beef up the federal background check system and other moves intended to curb mass shootings.

“This is not a proposal to solve every problem,” Obama said. “It’s a modest way of getting started on improving the prospects for young women and young men … the same way we try to improve every other aspect of our lives. That’s all it is.”

Obama’s presidency has been marred by a series of mass shootings, including Newtown, Conn., in 2012 and San Bernardino, Calif., this past November. The former, which left 20 children dead at Sandy Hook elementary school, has touched Obama personally. On Tuesday, he teared up while speaking about these tragedies as he announced his executive actions.

Yet, recent polls suggest that Americans’ feelings about firearms are hardening.

The White House and CNN insisted the network — not the Obama administration — conceived the idea for the national broadcast and selected the attendees and those asking questions of the president. The unscripted nature of the event led to several surprising moments:

1. Obama admits “conspiracy” — sort of: When asked by Cooper if it is “fair” that some gun advocates believe the administration is conducting a “conspiracy” aimed at confiscating all firearms, Obama had a surprising — if tongue-and-cheek — answer.

“Yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy,” he said. “Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everyone’s guns away so we can impose martial law, yes, that is a conspiracy.”

The president was alluding to a conspiracy theory, but for some reason, left off the theory part. As he said after 9 p.m., “it’s kind of late.” Still, expect gun advocates and the far right to run with that line.

“I’m only going to be here for another year,” Obama said, his voice cracking at times. “When would I have started on this enterprise?”

2. Gun makers heart Obama?: In an early exchange with Cooper, Obama acknowledged that many gun rights advocates believe he is intent on taking away their firearms. Obama wasted no time taking on that claim, noting that gun sales have increased during his presidency.

“I’ve been very good for gun manufacturers,” he said.

In fact, firearms sales have doubled since Obama took office in January 2009. In a July 2015 report, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found gun sales spiked 140 percent to 10.8 million in 2013, the most recent year data was available. In 2008, gun manufacturers produced 4.5 million firearms.

3. NRA no-show: The country’s largest firearms advocacy organization, the National Rifle Association, was invited to participate in the town hall, according to CNN. But the group opted against sending a representative.

“There’s a reason why the NRA’s not here,” the president said. “They’re just down the street. And since this is the main reason they exist, you’d think they would be prepared to have a debate with the president.

“If you listen to the rhetoric” of the NRA and congressional Republicans, “it is so over the top, so overheated,” Obama said. He added that he would be “happy to meet with” NRA officials. He said White House officials have tried to set up meetings with the association multiple times.

The NRA’s Fairfax, Va., headquarters is located about three miles from George Mason University, where the town hall was held. A call to the association’s public affairs office was not returned by publication time. On Wednesday, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN that “the National Rifle Association sees no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House.”

4. Obama gets personal: The president did not repeat the emotional scene from Tuesday in the East Room of the White House, when he shed tears while talking about the slain Newtown students. But he did strike personal tones at times.

Obama told Tre Bosley, a teenage questioner from Chicago whose brother was shot dead 10 years ago, that he was not that different as a teenager — though the president said he likely goofed off more. Obama said he grew up in a more forgiving environment, one that did not yield concerns about being shot if something went wrong.

At another point, Obama talked about living in Illinois and befriending people from the rural, southern part of the state.

“Everybody hunts down there. And a lot of folks own guns. This is not, like, alien territory to me,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of friends … who are hunters.”

Obama also said, during a recent trip to Alaska, he ate moose. The big game animal was taken down by a gun.

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December 18, 2015

Presented by Proctor and Gamble

Praise, Criticism for GOP as Obama Wraps 2015


US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 18, 2015. Obama addressed the press before flying to San Bernardino to meet families of the victims of the December 2 attack, before continuing to Hawaii for a two-week family vacation. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds        (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama delivered a downright upbeat 2015 legislative victory lap and 2016 pep talk before leaving the White House. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

During his year-end news conference, President Barack Obama took the kinds of partisan shots that for years have so frustrated congressional Republicans. But he also flashed the pragmatic streak that helped him notch several legislative victories in 2015.

On one hand, Obama praised Republicans for crafting several high-profile bills that met his muster. But on the other, he clubbed the GOP for bucking the rest of the world for its rejection of the very concept of climate change. Full story

Obama Poised to Tighten Gun Laws After Holidays


WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office on December 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama is addressing the terrorism threat to the United States and the recent attack in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Congressional Republicans and Obama are at a standoff over access to guns. . (Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images File Photo)

Senior congressional aides and sources in the gun-control community expect the White House to use its executive powers to tighten federal gun laws shortly after President Barack Obama returns from a Hawaiian vacation in early January.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday he anticipates a legal review to continue through the holidays.

Full story

December 6, 2015

Changes to Gun Laws Appear to Be Beyond Obama’s Reach


WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03:  U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the news media after receiving a briefing from his national security team in the Oval Office at the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama talked about Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead and 17 others injured.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Obama seemed resigned on Thursday that gun law reform might be beyond his reach. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Despite his pleas that changes could help prevent mass shootings like the one that killed 14 on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., President Barack Obama seems resigned that he’s mostly powerless to overhaul the country’s gun laws.

Obama has urged stricter gun laws for much of his tenure, doing so during funerals and vigils for victims during his presidency. But with just 13 months remaining in office, even Obama appears resigned that the “common-sense gun safety laws” for which he often has advocated are out of his reach.

Full story

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