News Briefing for Friday, December 5, 2014


HEALTHCARE: average premiums increasing in 2015

“Obama officials say the average prices for healthcare coverage on will increase in 2015, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The Department of Health and Human Services says customers purchasing the lowest cost “silver” plans, which are the most popular type of plans in the states using the federal exchanges, should see an average increase of five percent. The second-lowest cost “silver” plans, meanwhile, are expected to only increase in cost by two percent, on average. HHS is urging customers to shop around, claiming that more than seven in 10 can find lower prices before tax credits. The department also claims that nearly two-thirds of current Marketplace enrollees can find coverage for $100 or less in 2015. The HHS report also claims customers will have more choices when shopping around, with 90 percent enjoying at least three options this year, compared to 74 percent in 2013. “The Health Insurance Marketplace is open for business, and consumers have affordable choices for renewing their coverage and signing up for the first time,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “In today’s Marketplace, issuers are competing for business. With additional quality, affordable plans available, returning customers may find an even better deal if they shop and save.” Total healthcare spending in the United States grew at the slowest rate in 50 years in 2013, according to data released Wednesday. That data does not include the insurance expansion created by Obamacare.”


Obama Administration Finally Admits Obamacare Premiums Are Rising

“The Obama administration conceded that health insurance premiums on federal Obamacare exchange are rising in 2015 — but proposed that customers deal with the problem by again getting rid of their plans. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a report Thursday concluding that average premiums will rise by five percent in the 35 states where the federal government runs the exchanges. The Obama administration has continued to tout the line that Obamacare is lowering the cost of health insurance, but even after many individual market customers saw cost increase when Obamacare launched in 2014, customers are likely in for more hikes. “Consumers have affordable choices for renewing their coverage and signing up the first time,” HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “With additional, affordable quality plans available, returning customers may find an even better deal if they shop and save.” But the fine print with Obamacare exchanges is that if you like your plan, you still shouldn’t keep it. The report found that the “benchmark” plan, the second-lowest cost silver plan which determines the amount of premium subsidies available to all Obamacare customers, rose by a smaller margin, just two percent on average. That will leave customers who choose any different plan with a larger share of their costs than last year, with a premium that’s growing faster than the subsidy. Avalere Health, a top consulting firm, found earlier this year that if Obamacare customers do keep their plans, they’ll be in for much larger rate hikes. While insurers who have grabbed a customer base in the first year of the exchanges are driving up their rates, new insurers are entering the marketplaces to pick off new customers with a lower rate.”


Obamacare Customers Urged to Shop for Cheaper Health Plan

“Americans can save money by shopping for new health insurance plans through Obamacare, U.S. officials said, in a push to keep people from getting surprised by bigger bills when the coverage they have now through the program renews automatically. Of the 765,135 people who applied for insurance during the two weeks starting Nov. 15, about half were customers who had coverage this year through the marketplaces created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a result, millions of people will be renewed in their current plans. The deadline to change plans or pick a new one is Dec. 15 for coverage that starts in January. Not switching could be costly. More than 7 in 10 people who have insurance through the marketplaces can get the same level of coverage for less if they shop around, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said today in a report. If all returning customers bargain-shopped for a new plan, they could save more than $2 billion on premiums, according to the report. Bills for people who let their plans auto-renew are likely on the way now and may upset those who didn’t look for a better deal, said Bob Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant in Alexandria, Virginia. “These premium statements are about to arrive and people are going to hit the roof,” he said. Health officials stressed it will take people only 30 minutes to re-enroll in plans. The U.S. report included data from 35 states and doesn’t include those that run their own insurance markets. “It’s so important for our customers to come back and shop and see what their options are,” Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of the U.S. marketplace,, said on a call with reporters today. “We strongly strongly encourage people to come back to the website and shop.”


Correction officers’ union claims ObamaCare will bankrupt them

“The union representing the city’s correction officers has quietly filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, claiming ObamaCare will bankrupt its health-care fund, The Post has learned.

The Correction Officers Benevolent Association maintains a supplemental medical fund for members that sets a $10,000 annual cap per family on prescription-drug benefits. The fund also provides optical and dental benefits. But the new federal heath-care law bars the union from imposing annual limits on drug purchases — in essence, making the Affordable Care Act unaffordable, the lawsuit alleges. “ObamaCare will bankrupt us,” said COBA President Norman Seabrook. The lawsuit, which lists President Obama and other federal officials as defendants, said the lifting of the cap has resulted in “skyrocketing costs.” The union estimated that two dozen members exceeded the previously imposed $10,000 cap and two participants were running up prescription bills of more than $50,000 each. The union said in the June suit that the cap — coupled with 30 percent co-payments and mandatory use of generic drugs — was put in place to control costs and keep the fund solvent. The city is the main source of funding — kicking in $1,780 per member. COBA complained that its petition to the Obama administration seeking an exemption “fell on deaf ears” — hence, the lawsuit. The suit, before Judge Shira Scheindlin, claims ObamaCare is anti-union and unconstitutional.”


Our Fragmented Approach to Health-Care Costs


Team Obama Sues CEOs over Obamacare

EEOC tells companies that complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act violates the ACA.

“The federal government has grown so gargantuan, all-encompassing, and self-contradictory that one must break the law in order to obey it. The CEOs of Honeywell International, Inc. and two smaller companies are learning this lesson the hard way. These firms are complying with Obamacare, which lets them offer wellness programs to their employees. These activities help workers lose weight, quit smoking, receive regular checkups, and otherwise become healthier. As an incentive, Obamacare offers participating employees as much as a 50 percent reduction in out-of-pocket medical expenses. Workers who avoid such programs, however, could face resulting surcharges of up to $4,000. The comically titled “Affordable Care Act” requires that employees in these programs undergo medical tests to qualify for lower premiums. Unfortunately, such exams violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. In short, the ADA is allergic to the ACA. So, in a truly staggering plot twist, Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued New Jersey–based Honeywell, as well as Orion Energy Systems and Flambeau. The latter two enterprises are headquartered in Wisconsin. These companies’ efforts to follow Obamacare have landed them in federal court. In Obama’s America, even cooperative companies face federal wrath. “The fact that the EEOC sued is shocking to our members,” Business Roundtable vice president Maria Ghazal told Reuters, which broke this story. “They don’t understand why a plan in compliance with the ACA is the target of a lawsuit. . . . This is a major issue to our members.”



“Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer wants more details about controversial MIT professor Jonathan Gruber’s billing practices.  To date, the administration of Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) has provided little evidence that it has exercised any accounting oversight of the $280,000 contract it signed with Gruber in July. Nor does it appear eager to provide the documentation Hoffer has requested that would make the contract more transparent to the public. The Vermont State Auditor is a constitutional officer elected every two years. Hoffer, a graduate of Williams College and the University of Buffalo School of Law, was first elected to the office in 2012 and re-elected last month. Under Vermont law, the State Auditor has broad authority to review and audit most aspects of the state government’s activities. For one thing, Hoffer wants to know who’s been paid as part of Gruber’s contract. “That’s just standard procedure for monitoring any contract,” Hoffer told the Vermont Digger when it broke the story on Wednesday. The Vermont Digger reported that Hoffer’s request “but was made in response to incomplete documentation of the work being done” by Gruber. The contract calls for Gruber to provide financial and economic modeling assistance to the Shumlin administration as it develops a report on the financial viability of the proposed Green Mountain Care single-payer health care system. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, Hoffer confirmed the details of the Vermont Digger report. Hoffer told Breitbart News that he initiated the request for more information on the details of the Gruber contract, specifically the names, employment status, and contact information for the research assistants Gruber says he is paying $100 per hour to assist him in conducting the work of the contract because “there’s a lot of concern in the community for the information that has not yet been provided about this contract.”


Former GOP leader turned lobbyist wants Congress to fix Obamacare

“Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott wants Republicans in Congress to pass a law restoring subsidies to the Obamacare exchanges if they’re struck down by the Supreme Court. The Mississippi Republican, who is now a lobbyist, said Thursday that it was normal procedure for Congress to pass technical fixes to big bills. “I would think they should work at that,” he told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, according to TPM. The Supreme Court decided in early November to take up King v. Burwell, which challenges subsidies helping residents of 36 states purchase insurance. The case involves whether Congress intended for subsidies to be available to people signing up on the federal Obamacare exchange — as the IRS ultimately decided — or to only people signing up on state exchanges, as conservatives argue the text of the law indicates.”

Trent Lott advises Republicans to fix Obamacare, not kill it


How Democrats’ Obamacare Headaches Are Just Beginning


After midterm drubbing, senior Dems voicing regret over ObamaCare

“But Schumer isn’t the only Democrat with buyer’s — or lawmaker’s — remorse. In an interview published Wednesday, retiring Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa told The Hill newspaper that ObamaCare didn’t go far enough, arguing that the party should have pushed harder for a government-run, single-payer system while it had a filibuster-proof majority — or dropped it altogether.  “We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,” Harkin said, according to the Hill. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.”  The retiring chairman of the Senate health panel, who helped write the law, also laid blame on the White House for not pushing centrist Democrats hard enough on the so-called public option. Harkin later told reporters on Wednesday that the law “should have been done in the first 100 days” but it “drug on and drug on and drug on.”  The remarks are striking, coming from some of Capitol Hill’s most senior and influential Democrats.  But they come after the party has suffered two midterm election drubbings — the most recent of which handed control of the Senate to Republicans — and the emergence of videos where ObamaCare co-architect Jonathan Gruber is heard claiming the law’s authors took advantage of Americans’ “stupidity.”  Since the law’s passage, ObamaCare has been a major theme of Republican campaigns and critics pounded incumbent senators for their votes in favor of the massive law, which remains unpopular among voters (the most recent Real Clear Politics average shows 52.5 percent disapproving of the law with 37.9 percent in favor).  Republican leaders were only too happy to pounce on Schumer’s remarks.  “It was fairly remarkable to have the number-three Democrat in the Senate say last week that Obamacare was a mistake,” Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, told reporters Tuesday. “That is a really, really remarkable statement if you think about it.”  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy likewise declared: “I agree with Chuck Schumer.”  For their part, Democrats — including former Obama aides and a former top staffer for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — didn’t hesitate to push back against Schumer’s comments.  Several noted that, as a member of leadership, he not only voted for the bill but was deeply involved in its route to passage.”


There Has Been an Awakening… to Obamacare’s Forceful Dark Side

“The Dark Side of Obamacare’s… er, force is real. And some Democrats are awakening to it, and what they have done to themselves, and the nation: “The views of Democratic advocates of Obamacare notwithstanding, public opinion has generally sided with Schumer. A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional connection poll of 1,013 adults in mid-November 2013 found that by a 25-point margin, 59-34, respondents said that the health care law (which includes a major expansion of Medicaid to cover anyone up to 133 percent of the poverty line, and subsidies for the purchase of private insurance for those between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line) would make things better for the poor. But respondents also said, by a 16-point margin, 49-33, that the law would make things worse for “people like you and your family.” White respondents were even more critical, with 58 percent saying that Obamacare would make things worse for people like you and your family, and 63 percent saying it would make things worse “for the middle class.” … During a September pre-election panel discussion on the continuing political repercussions of the Affordable Care Act, Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Report, put his finger on the health care problem facing Democrats when he pointed out that the public perception of the party has been indelibly imprinted by Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act has “framed where the Democratic Party is,” Cook said. “If I would sum up my assessment, it was huge, it did play a central role in framing everything.” By 2014, health care reform “lost a little bit of its oomph, but it still is more important in setting things up than any other issue was over the last six years.” … As if Democrats do not already have enough trouble, data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that many, if not most, of the seven million people who purchased insurance through the A.C.A. will either have to pay higher premiums or higher deductibles, or submit themselves to the complex process of switching plans.” Oh, Democrats…. you don’t know the power of the dark side… of this law. But you will.”


The Two Faces of Chuck Schumer

Schumer’s message to the Democratic Left: I’m with you, until you start losing.


Dems on ObamaCare: Was it worth it?

“Influential Democrats who have strongly defended Obama-Care for years are now publicly questioning whether the law was worth the political fallout. Passage of the Affordable Care Act marked the start of a political unraveling for the Democratic Party, which lost huge majorities in Congress and control of a majority of state governorships in the last four and a half years. Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said last week that ObamaCare was not worth the political cost. And he’s not alone. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, told The Hill that Democrats should have enacted a single-payer healthcare system or a public option. In retrospect, Harkin said, Democrats should have not passed the bill they did. While he says the ACA enacted some good reforms, he bemoans its daunting complexity. Schumer’s and Harkin’s recent remarks are quite different than in prior years. After the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare’s individual mandate, Harkin hailed the ruling as “great news for America’s families, businesses and our economy. The Affordable Care Act moves us forward where every person has affordable, quality healthcare in America.” Schumer, meanwhile, in 2010 said, “I predict … by November those who voted for healthcare will find it an asset; those who voted against it will find it a liability.” But the law has struggled to gain traction with the public and has been a boon to the GOP politically. In short, many Democrats are tired of waiting. The public criticism of the law, the centerpiece of President Obama’s legacy, has ignited a debate within the Democratic Party. Democrats are arguing among themselves about whether to focus on the poor, who are not reliable voters, or the middle class, who have started to turn to the Republican Party. Schumer argued at a speech at the National Press Club that Democrats “blew the opportunity the American people gave them” by passing healthcare reform in 2009 and 2010 instead of working on economic legislation designed to help middle-class voters. He estimates that uninsured Americans who were the primary beneficiaries of healthcare reform made up only about 5 percent of the electorate in 2010, when Republicans captured the House. ObamaCare was a huge rallying cry of Republicans in the 2010 midterms, which helped them rack up support from white, middle-class voters. In 2014, ObamaCare was less front and center, though it certainly helped the GOP. Harkin, who co-authored the law and is retiring at the end of this Congress, said, “We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly, and we didn’t do it, So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all. “What we did is we muddled through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections and still rewards the insurance companies extensively,” he added. These critiques have spawned a sharp debate among Democrats. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), another architect of ObamaCare, hailed the law as a historic achievement and strongly disagreed with Schumer and Harkin. “Healthcare has been a subject of debate in this country for a hundred years, and when you had the opportunity to rationalize the system and to get people covered who were never covered, you have to take that opportunity,” he said. Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle, said he agrees with Schumer that the party should focus on the middle class. “But I do not believe that we should relitigate the political strategies in passing the Affordable Care Act,” he said. Miller, who is close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said people approach him “every day” to thank him and relate their personal stories of gaining access to healthcare.”


Could King vs. Burwell Save Democrats from Obamacare?

“If you accept…

  1. A) Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act is an extraordinarily complicated, interlocking, jenga-tower-like piece of legislation that will not work if any significant part is removed, particularly the the individual mandate or the subsidies for those purchasing on the federal exchange, and…
  2. B) President Obama will never, ever, ever allow Obamacare to be repealed, or for Republicans to repeal a portion that would lead to the collapse of the entire initiative, and…
  3. C) That certain Democrats are beginning to realize that Obamacare is a political albatross that will only worsen with time…

Will certain Democrats secretly hope that the Supreme Court rules in King vs. Burwell that the text of the law only allows for subsidies on state-run exchanges, and that the IRS cannot allow subsidies on federal exchanges? That decision would effectively destroy Obamacare. The consequences would be instant and severe, with millions of people losing their subsidy, determining their insurance policies are now unaffordable, and cancelling them. There’s an argument that eliminating the subsidies in states using the federal exchange would be a backdoor way of rescinding the individual mandate: ”The mandate includes an exemption for people who can’t afford coverage, and without subsidies, millions more people would qualify for that exemption.” Insurers would have millions of canceled policies, with former customers who can’t afford a new policy. The consequences of unsubsidized Obamacare might be so bad that there might be bipartisan agreement to repeal the whole thing and start over. If you’re a Democrat, this is a way to get rid of the political costs of Obamacare without ever having to admit that the law was badly conceived, written, implemented, administered, and so on.”



“For 175 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor have been inspired by their faith to take care of the elderly poor. But now the federal government wants them to choose between their faith and their ministry and is pushing hard in federal court to force them to decide. The stakes couldn’t be much higher for people who care about and enjoy religious liberty.”




Republicans Water Down Bill to Fight Obama’s Immigration Action

“House Republicans on Wednesday night watered down legislation that is aimed at nullifying President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, prompting one Republican to grumble that the House needs to take a tougher stance against Obama. The House is on track to pass the bill by the end of the day Thursday — so far, it’s the GOP’s only legislative response to Obama’s immigration action. The bill attempts to nullify Obama’s decision to give millions of illegal immigrations protected status and let them work temporarily in the United States. The bill has already faced criticism from within Republican ranks, because it will not be attached to a must-pass spending bill that will come up next week. That means the Senate will be free to ignore the immigration bill after it clears the House. New criticisms came up Thursday morning, after it became clear that House Republicans made several tweaks to the bill before it was approved by the House Rules Committee. For example, the original bill from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) was called the “Executive Amnesty Prevention Act.” But the Rules Committee version is now called the “Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act.” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on the House floor that he wasn’t happy with the name change. “Tones it down a little bit, for me,” he said. King also made a more substantive complaint — that a new section inserted in the bill states that “prosecutorial discretion generally ought to be applied on a case-by-case basis and not to whole categories of persons.” King argued that legally, prosecutorial discretion can only be applied on a case-by-case basis, and said the “ought to be” language weakens that legal concept. King indicated that this language seems to conflict with language later on in the bill that says the government “shall not” exempt whole categories of people from immigration laws. “This bill amounts to a resolution of disagreement with the president,” King said. “I don’t think it makes it clear enough that the president clearly violated the Constitution of the United States. I don’t want this to be into the record as something that’s ambiguous.” The Rules Committee made another change relating to when the law would take effect. The legislation would essentially prevent the executive branch from violating immigration laws, including by exempting categories of people from these laws. Yoho’s original version said the bill is retroactive, and would apply to “any such exemption made at any time.” But the new bill as approved by the Rules Committee said the bill would take effect as of November 20, the date Obama announced his immigration decision.”


House GOP bill admonishes Obama’s immigration reforms

“House Republicans took a swipe at President Obama’s immigration reforms Thursday, pushing through legislation that declares his recent executive action “null and void and without legal effect.” The measure, drafted by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and passed along partisan lines, is largely symbolic since it stands little if any chance in the Senate, which Democrats run until Republicans take control in early January. And the White House issued a veto threat Thursday for the bill, which would block the president’s unilateral mandate to lift the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented people. But the measure, which passed 219 to 197 with three lawmakers voting “present,” is just the first legislative salvo of an overall and evolving GOP strategy aimed at stopping the president’s immigration reforms. “Two weeks ago, President Obama declared war against the Constitution by changing our immigration laws on his own, and Congress today began its fight against this unprecedented power grab by passing the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. “Today’s vote is just the beginning of our fight against President Obama’s power grab.” The Republicans’ next step — and likely fight — will take place next week, when Congress takes up a must-pass measure to keep the government funded and open past Dec. 11. Conservative lawmakers want the measure to include language that would block the president’s move to allow more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally. House Republican leaders, however, fear that such a hardline move could trigger a stalemate in the Senate and lead to a partial shutdown of federal agencies, something they’re eager to avoid after the party was accused of causing last year’s 16-day government shutdown. But some Tea Party conservatives in the House say such an approach doesn’t go far enough, demanding that the government funding bill include language to strip Homeland Security of funds needed to implement the president’s unilateral immigration reforms. “We aren’t, with our vote, going to give him one dime to execute his illegal action, and we believe the American people are going to stand with us,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Democrats, meanwhile, said congressional Republicans instead should focus their efforts on passing comprehensive immigration reform, a move that could render the president’s executive action void. “We have a responsibility to fix [the immigration] system the American people have elected people to do so,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “In light of the fact that the Congress of the United States has shirked its responsibility, the president acted.”


House votes to bar Obama from limiting immigrant deportations

“The House on Thursday voted to bar the executive branch from deferring the deportation of undocumented workers, taking its first direct action against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The 219-197 vote was largely symbolic as the measure is headed for certain death in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he won’t take up the legislation. The White House has also threatened to veto the measure. The vote on legislation sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) is intended to help Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) move a bill next week that would fund most of the government through next September and avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 12. Republicans are up in arms over Obama’s actions on immigration, which could provide legal status and work permits to up to five million people.

Conservative groups have pressed the GOP to defund agencies implementing Obama’s order in response to the president’s actions. But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team have settled on a strategy that would fund most of the government through September 2015, while only funding the Department of Homeland Security for a few months. Appropriators are expected to release the legislation on Monday. Dozens of Republicans are expected to vote against the funding measure next week, which will force Boehner to win Democratic votes for the measure. Only 7 Republicans voted against Yoho’s bill, while three others voted present. Only three Democrats supported it. Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler said the influential conservative group didn’t issue a key vote for the Yoho bill because “it is purely symbolic.” The group is urging Republicans to oppose the House GOP leadership’s funding plan.”


Breaking: House passes symbolic bill to block Obama’s executive amnesty; Update: Roll added

“Here’s the roll. Republicans voting no include the five named above by Benjy Sarlin plus Louie Gohmert and Marlin Stutzman. The three Republicans who voted “present” are Paul Gosar, Steve King, and Raul Labrador. And the three Democrats who voted yes are John Barrow of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Colin Peterson of Minnesota. Barrow lost his reelection bid and McIntyre is retiring so neither had anything to lose.”

House Roll Call: Executive action on immigration


House Votes Down Obama’s Immigration Plan

“The bill had been criticized by some Republicans as an empty threat, since Senate Democrats don’t have to consider the bill at all. These Republicans argue the House should try to defund Obama’s immigration action as part of a larger, must-pass spending bill, a step that GOP leaders do not appear willing to take. Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to say whether that tougher action would be coming, although he said Republicans would have more leverage over Obama next year, when Republicans run both the House and the Senate. Boehner has continued to signal that his first job is to avoid a government shutdown, which would happen late next week of Congress can’t pass a funding bill. Including language that defunds Obama’s immigration action would cause objections in the Senate, which is why Boehner at this point does not appear likely to try it. Republicans such as Steve King have said Boehner’s plan is a mistake, since it means Obama will be free to implement his plan for the next few months. Once that happen, King argues, it will likely become much harder for Congress to stop it. The GOP has not released a final draft of the spending legislation, but it’s widely expected to fund the entire government for the rest of fiscal year 2015, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, which may only be funded for a few months. Short-term funding for DHS would let Republicans revisit the fight early next year, when, as Boehner said, “we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate, and we’ll be in a stronger position to take actions.”


House GOP Votes to Undermine Obama Executive Immigration Orders


House rebukes Obama on immigration

“Outraged Democrats, immigrant advocates and the White House said the GOP was voting to tear families apart and eject parents. “Rather than deport students and separate families and make it harder for law enforcement to do its job, I just want the Congress to work with us to pass a commonsense law to fix that broken immigration system,” Obama said ahead of the vote. Even supporters acknowledged that the bill by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., which says Obama was acting “without any constitutional or statutory basis,” was mostly meant to send a message. It stands no chance in the Senate, which remains under Democratic control until January, and faces the veto threat from Obama. The real fight may lie ahead as conservatives push to use must-pass spending legislation to block Obama. For now, Republicans insisted they must go on record denouncing what they described on the House floor as an outrageous power grab by Obama. “The president thinks he can just sit in the Oval Office and make up his own laws. That’s not the way our system of government works,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. “This legislation says you can’t do that, Mr. President. There is a rule of law.” The vote was 219 to 197, with three Democratic “yes” votes and seven Republican “no” votes. Three Republicans voted “present.”


House Republicans repudiate Obama’s immigration actions


House votes to block Obama’s immigration actions

“The White House issued a veto threat Thursday, saying that the bill “would make the Nation’s communities less safe” by trying to restrict the government’s ability to conduct national security and criminal background checks on undocumented immigrants, and added that the bill would also hurt the economy by make it more difficult for those immigrants to register and pay taxes. And it said the legislation would have “devastating consequences” for families that would be separated as a result of the Republican bill. A few top Democrats sought to underscore that point ahead of the vote at a press conference Thursday. “The Republicans are demanding that we deport hundreds of thousands of young dreamers who know no country but the United States,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who called on Republicans once again to take up the Senate-passed immigration bill. But Boehner said that Democrats would be displaying “an act of monumental arrogance” if they ignored the bill. “The House will make clear today that we are rejecting his unilateral actions. And then the United States Senate should take this bill up and pass it. For the outgoing Senate Democrat majority to do anything less would be an act of monumental arrogance. The American people elected us to heed their will, not to bow to the whims of a White House that regards the legislative process established by the constitution as little more than a nuisance,” he said. Yoho’s bill was essentially a pressure valve that would allow angry Republicans to express their opposition to the president while preventing a government shutdown when funding runs out on Dec. 11. Some lawmakers want to block funding for the immigration enforcement agencies as a way to stop them from carrying out the presidents’ orders, although shutting down the entire government carries negative political consequences, as the GOP learned last year. To avoid that, the House is likely to vote next week on a one-year funding bill for most of the government as well as a shorter spending bill to fund DHS for a few months until Republicans control the House and Senate. Conservatives are not unilaterally pleased with the move. Heritage Action, one of the outside conservative groups, said they would not give lawmakers credit for voting in favor of the Yoho bill because it is “purely symbolic.”


House rebukes Obama over immigration actions, spending fight looms

“House Republicans voted Thursday to block President Obama’s immigration executive actions, though it was unclear whether the largely symbolic step would be enough to prevent a risky budget stand-off next week.  The House voted 219-197 for the bill, by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., that declares Obama’s actions “null and void and without legal effect.”  The legislation is part of a three-step plan by House GOP leaders to both address Obama’s immigration maneuvers and approve a new spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown. Next week, the chamber is set to vote on a bill funding most of the government through fiscal 2015, and the Department of Homeland Security through early next year. That would tee up a new fight over funding for Obama’s immigration policies when Republicans control both chambers.  However, many conservative lawmakers want to wage that battle now, and use the looming Dec. 11 deadline — when current government funding expires — as leverage to defund the immigration plan.  They worry Yoho’s legislation is an ineffective tool for doing that, as the stand-alone bill approved Thursday stands little chance of passing the Senate. The White House also has issued a veto threat, calling the bill “non-sensical.” “I’m not happy,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said. He said he’s concerned that if Republicans don’t fight the immigration policy now, it could send the wrong signal ahead of the new Congress.  Conservative sources indicate there are between 30 and 40, or more, conservatives who would bolt on any spending bill next week. “There’s a higher risk of more [members] bolting,” said one source. “Let us sort of vent. I don’t think [GOP leaders] thought this was going to be as big an issue.” But despite that concern, one source said GOP leaders think would-be defectors will come back to favor the plan at the end. Asked if he was concerned that opposition could torpedo the spending bill, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said: “I don’t think so. I’m hearing good things about it.” Still, House Speaker John Boehner might need Democratic support to carry the spending package across the finish line next week. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who had been coy about whether she’d help pass a spending plan, said Thursday she’s reached out to Boehner to extend a “hand of friendship” to keep the government open — as long as Democrats see a bill they can support. It’s unclear whether the legislation in the works meets that criteria. She indicated Thursday that Democrats might make demands if Boehner needs their help.”


House sends Obama message with immigration vote

“The question is whether the vote will grease the wheels for a deal on a government-funding measure next week. Some conservatives had wanted to tie Obama’s action on immigration to a funding deal and Speaker of the House John Boehner and his allies in leadership hope the vote today will satisfy them, instead. Leaders are considering a measure that would fund nearly all federal agencies except the Department of Homeland Security through September 2015 with DHS — which handles immigration issues — funded only until February. Conservatives have yet to rally around the plan, which will likely be unveiled early next week, just days before the Dec. 11 deadline to avert a government shutdown. Tea party star Rep. Ted Yoho, a large-animal veterinarian from Florida, drafted the legislation. He explained it’s meant to send Obama a message. “This bill’s not about border security, work visas, E-Verify or immigration reform,” Yoho said on the House floor. “This is about the [administration] overstepping its bounds and unilaterally challenging the laws of this great nation of ours.”

Yoho’s bill says presidents cannot categorically exempt immigrants from being subject to deportations; such actions would be declared “null and void and without legal effect” under the legislation. Even the bill’s biggest supporters admit the vote is more about symbolism than substance. When asked by a reporter whether Republicans were taking the Yoho bill seriously, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) replied: “I don’t even know if Ted [Yoho] is.” “I think people believe that it’s a very symbolic gesture,” Salmon added. “Everybody knows it’s going to end up in Harry Reid’s drawer anyway.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stressed again Thursday that he wouldn’t bring the bill up for a vote in his chamber — arguing that it “tears families apart while doing nothing to fix the real problems we face.” “Unfortunately for anyone who wants to see Congress fix our broken immigration system, the Republican approach is being dictated by the most extreme voices in their party,” Reid said. “Republicans’ knee-jerk resistance to working with Democrats to fix this problem left the president with no option but to take action to protect families from being separated.”


On War and Immigration, Obama Faces Tests of Authority From Congress


White House issues veto threat for House immigration measure

“The White House issued a veto threat on Thursday for a bill that would block President Barack Obama’s recent executive action to lift the threat of deportation for about 4 million undocumented people. The symbolic measure, sponsored by Republican Representative Ted Yoho from Florida, would allow lawmakers to cast a vote against Obama’s immigration move, effectively declaring it illegal. The House vote is scheduled for later on Thursday.”

Obama would veto bill challenging immigration move

“The Obama administration on Thursday warned that the president would veto a bill designed to nullify his executive action protecting up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Office of Management and Budget said the bill sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., “would make the broken immigration system worse, not better.” “By attempting to restrict the administration’s ability to conduct national security and criminal background checks on undocumented immigrants, H.R. 5759 would make the nation’s communities less safe,” OMB added. The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday. But the legislation has no chance of moving through the Democrat-led Senate. Separately, Republicans are uniting behind a budget plan that would fund virtually all of the government through the end of the fiscal year, but provide money to the Department of Homeland Security for just a few months. Conservatives believe that with a GOP Congress, and without the threat of a government shutdown, Republicans would have more leverage to confront Obama on immigration. The White House has not issued a veto threat of that funding plan, which would essentially postpone the immigration fight until next year. However, Obama’s advisers are adamantly opposed to the Yoho bill.”

Obama Threatens to Veto Congressional Rebuke Of His Unilateral Actions

“President Obama issued a veto threat against a rebuke of his recent executive orders on immigration. “The bill’s objective is clearly to nullify and block implementation of these executive actions, which would have devastating consequences,” a statement of administration policy says of the bill authored Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.) that bars Obama from refusing to enforce immigration laws against whole categories of people. “By attempting to restrict the Administration’s ability to conduct national security and criminal background checks on undocumented immigrants, H.R. 5759 would make the Nation’s communities less safe.  By attempting to make it more difficult for undocumented workers to register and pay taxes, the bill would hurt the Nation’s economy as well.” Yoho filed the bill last month. “He’s like a kid in the sandbox,” the Republican lawmaker told the Florida Times-Union. “I don’t like what you’re doing so I’m going to leave the sandbox and do my own thing.” The Yoho bill gives Republicans a way to register their disapproval of Obama’s executive actions, but some rank-and-file members regard it as a toothless measure that — in conjunction with passing other appropriations bills — weakens their ability to block the implementation of the executive orders.”



“Despite criticism from his party’s conservative wing that House Leadership’s government funding plan does not got far enough to combat President Obama’s executive amnesty, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) argues that the current strategy has the “best chance for success.” “I think we’ve laid out a reasonable course of action, suggested by our members. We did a lot of listening,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “This didn’t just happen overnight. I didn’t just wake up and have this idea in my head. We worked with an awful lot of our members and frankly I’m pretty comfortable with where we are.” By next week, the House must pass a government funding measure to keep the government open beyond Dec. 11. Boehner’s proposal is to fund most of the government through September 2015, except for the Department of Homeland Security. DHS would only receive short-term funding, in order to allow the newly-elected Congress to take up the fight against unilateral amnesty. The approach has been dubbed a “crominbus” — a combination of the word “omnibus” with “CR” or “continuing resolution.”  “Next week the House will work to keep the government open while keeping our leverage so that when we have reinforcements in the Senate, we’re in the strongest position to take additional actions to fight the president’s unilateral actions,” Boehner explained.  The Speaker stressed that the current plan of attack has been based on “numerous” conversations with members and argues that he believes “it gives us the best chance for success.”  Addressing critiques from more conservative members that House leadership’s plan is not aggressive enough Boehner reiterated: “We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s actions and frankly we listened to our members and we listened to some members who are frankly griping the most. This was their idea of how to proceed.” He added that he does expect to “have bipartisan support to pass the omnibus appropriation bill.”  Of some members’ ideas of more aggressive tactics, including not inviting Obama to deliver a State of the Union address next year, Boehner said, “Listen: the more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes. Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?” Shortly before Boehner spoke to reporters, the conservative Heritage Action announced it would be scoring next week’s funding vote. “Heritage Action will key vote against the bill unless it contains legislative language that stops the implementation of the President’s unlawful amnesty program,” the group’s Dan Holler said in a statement.

Boehner told reporters that he does not foresee any more changes to the funding plan. “I do know this: come January, we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and we’ll be in a stronger position to take actions,” he said.”


Boehner defends tactic to stop Obama immigration move

““We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s action,” the Ohio Republican told reporters Thursday. “We listen to our members, and we listen to some members who are, frankly, griping the most. This was their idea of how to proceed.” Boehner’s hybrid approach includes holding a Thursday afternoon vote on legislation that declares the president’s recent executive actions on immigration “null and void and without legal effect.” The bill, written by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is expected to pass the House along partisan lines but die in the Democratic-controlled Senate… Some conservative House GOP members want Boehner to take a harder-line approach, including possibly threatening to shut down the federal government unless the president rescinds his executive action on immigration. Boehner suggested that while “there are a lot of options on the table,” shutting down the government isn’t a preferred move. “There are options out there, and we’re going to continue to pursue those options,” he said. The speaker added that Republicans have “limited options” to push back at Obama’s immigration mandate until the party takes control of the Senate next month. “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals of what we could or couldn’t do,” he said.”But I do know this. Come January we’ll have a Republican House and Republican Senate, and we’ll be in a stronger position to take actions.” If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ignores the House’s immigration bill as expected, Boehner said such an act would show “monumental arrogance.” “The American people elected us to heed their will and not to bow to the whims of a White House that regards the legislative process established by the Constitution as little more than a nuisance,” he said.”


Boehner says House will have ‘leverage’ on Obama and immigration

“U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said the House will act to fund the federal government next week and avoid a shutdown while still maintaining “leverage” over President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. Boehner said an omnibus spending bill will have bipartisan support in the House while limiting funding for the Department of Homeland Security with a temporary measure would be “the most practical way to fight the president” on immigration.”


Boehner Won’t Withhold SOTU Invitation for Obama: Why Deprive Him of Opportunity to Become More Unpopular?

“Earlier this week, Georgia Republican congressman Paul Brown called on Boehner to keep Obama from addressing Congress, a sentiment echoed by some conservatives — including the editor of National Review. But when Boehner was asked about the plan, he dismissed the idea with a brutal shot at the president. “Listen, the more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes,” the speaker quipped. “Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?” Other GOP lawmakers, including Kansas’s Tim Huelskamp, want the House to defund Air Force One and other White House functions in retaliation for Obama’s perceived executive overreach on immigration.”

Boehner: Yes, we’re still going to invite Obama to deliver a State of the Union address


Ground Air Force One? GOP Proposals to Stop Obama on Immigration

“And yet conservatives inside and outside the Capitol are loudly denouncing House Speaker John Boehner’s two-track plan to hold separate votes on funding the government past Dec. 11 while holding a symbolic vote to block implementation of Mr. Obama’s immigration plan. Here are some of the options conservatives have proposed recently:

–Shut down the government

The last time Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas.) organized House conservatives to block federal funding for one of Mr. Obama’s programs – health care – it shut down the government and briefly traumatized the Republican Party. Mr. Cruz is at it again, albeit with a smaller group of allies. This time he has immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa) and outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) with him. They are likely to attract just enough Republicans to require Democratic cooperation to pass a funding resolution.

–Block ambassador nominations

Sure it wouldn’t do anything to stop executive actions on immigration, but Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) suggested on Fox News Wednesday that Senate Republicans use their power to refuse to confirm Mr. Obama’s nominees to represent the United States abroad. Of course, Mr. Gowdy sits in the House, so he doesn’t get a vote. Mr. Boehner put the kibosh on a conservative media outlet’s suggestion to cancel the State of the Union Reuters

–Block executive branch nominees — just about all of them

Mr. Cruz again: ”The new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, should stand up and say if you disregard the Constitution, if you disregard the law…the new Congress for the next two years will not confirm a single nomination, judicial or executive, other than vital national security positions, until you end this illegal amnesty.”

–Ground the president

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.) suggested to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa that Congress try to reduce funding for Air Force One – and for the White House staff.

–Start the immigration fight earlier

Some Republicans, including Rep. John Fleming (R., La.) want to shorten the extension of Homeland Security funding just until January, so that the GOP can immediately resume the fight over immigration next year. “It would be a tremendous statement if the first day we’re back we voted” on the issue, he said.

–File a lawsuit

Republicans riled up over the president’s immigration action want to sue him, arguing he overstepped his legal authority. A lawsuit has “the greatest probability of success,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R., Ala.)

–Cancel the State of the Union

Mr. Huelskamp also echoed an idea first floated last month by the right-wing Breitbart News outlet: Don’t invite the president to deliver the annual State of the Union address, denying Mr. Obama a platform to speak to the nation. Mr. Boehner shot down the proposal. “The more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes,” Mr. Boehner said Thursday. “Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity.”


In the fight against Obama’s amnesty, the GOP has no good options… for now


Gowdy Warns Republicans: Do “Not To Take The Bait” on Obama’s Immigration Executive Action

“REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): I think it’s careful that we not take the bait. What the president wants us to do is to overrespond so our public approval ratings are as low as his. My personal preference in terms of strategies is for the Senate to use advice and consent. You just spoke about ambassadors who can’t find the country they’rre going to on a globe. That’d be a great place to start, where John McCain said, “You know what, Mr. President? You want to act like an emperor? We’re going to do our job and not confer advice and consent and not approve some of your nominees.” That is where I would start if I were calling the shots, but I’m not.”


Taking Obama’s Immigration Bait

Republicans can’t win by shutting down the government.

“Then Republicans will attempt to pass a bill funding the government through September 2015, except for the Homeland Security Department, which they will fund for only a couple of months. The idea is to take a large-scale government shutdown off the table while leaving the possibility to fight more narrowly next year, with the Senate in GOP hands, over funding for the department that handles immigration enforcement. You know what’s coming: A handful of Republicans are calling this a cowardly abdication. “Congress must respond to the President’s unlawful action by funding the government but not funding illegal amnesty,” says Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. “This is a perfectly sound and routine application of congressional authority. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that last year’s omnibus spending bill included 16 such funding restrictions on fee-based programs.” He’s right that it’s routine—when a bill passes the Senate and is signed by the President. But Senate Democrats will kill any bill that defunds Mr. Obama’s order. What happens then? That’s the question we never seem to get an answer to. A budget stalemate means a government shutdown after Dec. 11. As far as we can tell, Mr. Sessions believes that if Republicans hold firm during a shutdown, the public will eventually side with the GOP, Senate Democrats will roll over, and the President will surrender. Does this sound remotely plausible? Our guess is that a run off the rails is precisely what Mr. Obama wants, so he can blame Republicans for a shutdown and diminish their political standing before the 114th Congress even begins. For proof, look no further than the many liberal pundits who sound like Mr. Sessions in mocking the House leadership. After the election, they’re begging for a return to GOP suicide. Republicans will have more spending leverage next year when they run the Senate, but even then an immigration showdown will be dicey. Spending bills require 60 Senate votes, and Democrats are unlikely to go along with a bill that defunds Mr. Obama’s order. Perhaps the GOP can tailor a spending bill narrowly enough to avoid shutting down all of Homeland Security. But we’ll believe that when someone shows us the details and lays out a plan to get from here to there. Usually the GOP strategy is to dive off the cliff and hope for a soft landing. The larger question is how Republicans want to use their new majority. The polls show that voters want the GOP to lead on policy in the wake of the election. The goal should be to use this opening to form coalitions with as many Democrats as possible to put pro-growth reforms on Mr. Obama’s desk. He may veto them, but the public will see that Republicans are capable of more than rejecting the President. This is true even on immigration. Republicans aren’t likely to overturn his immigration decree unless they take the White House, but in Congress they can minimize its political damage by passing individual reforms that solve discrete immigration problems. Democrats would be hard-pressed to oppose a bill expanding H-1B visas or green cards for tech grads lest they lose support in Silicon Valley. Ditto for a guest-worker program for agriculture. Republicans would be seen to be solving an economic problem while being open to immigrants. Fighting solely over the immigration order plays into the hands of Democrats who want to portray the GOP as negative and blinkered. Part of Mr. Obama’s calculation in issuing his edict was to induce Republicans to overreact. They shouldn’t give him what he wants.”


Boehner: The Senate should reject Obama’s executive actions on immigration

“If the Senate does not take up the House bill blocking Obama’s immigration moves, it will be an “act of monumental arrogance,” House Speaker John Boehner said.”


Senate Conservatives Huddle With House Members to Plot Immigration Revolt

“A trio of senators crossed the Capitol last night to discuss the congressional response to President Obama’s recent executive orders on immigration. The consensus: Republican leadership doesn’t want to fight Obama, so the lawmakers have to hope that grassroots activists can goad their colleagues into a more aggressive posture. “I hope that the American people will speak up and share their views with Congress and good strong language will come out of the House,” Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) told National Review Online Thursday afternoon.  Sessions demurred when asked about coordination with House colleagues — “all of us are curious about what they’re doing,” he said — but multiple sources tell NRO that Sessions, Senator David Vitter (R., La.), and Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) met with a group of House members last night in the office of Arizona representative Matt Salmon. Vitter also organized a conference call with some House Republicans Wednesday afternoon. The purpose of the two encounters, which happened on the same day that Texas senator Ted Cruz met with Iowa representative Steve King, was to emphasize that “the first bill that you guys do was really our best and only chance,” according to one Senate aide; the Senate hawks won’t be able to instigate a fight if the House passes a bill that provides long-term funding for the entire government. In the evening meeting, the lawmakers compared notes about their distrust for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). “There is a general belief that, despite the rhetoric from leadership after the executive order was announced, they really have no desire to do anything substantive to fight this,” one lawmaker who attended the meeting explained to NRO in a series of text messages. “Part of it is that leadership (as proxies for the Chamber [of Commerce]) wants the amnesty; Obama’s order provides a way to deliver cheap labor to the Chamber without having to vote for it. Part of it is an absolute fear of any conflict, including even a partial ‘shutdown.’” Members of the small group believe that about 50 or 60 House Republicans are opposed to the House leadership’s current plan (a CRomnibus bill that passes several long-term appropriations bills but leaves the Department of Homeland Security operating on a short-term continuing resolution of as-yet-undetermined length).”



“On Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) accused President Barack Obama of trying to implement his executive amnesty that “stains our legal system and our country” before the American people figure out that the consequences are “graver than a lot of people think” right now.

He urged Congress to use its power of the purse to stop Obama from unilaterally wiping out the nation’s immigration laws. “It’s already starting,” Sessions said on the Senate floor of the implementation Obama’s executive amnesty, while referring to reports that the Obama administration is already hiring thousands of agents who will be responsible for issuing temporary work permits and federal identification cards and Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants. Sessions accused Obama of trying to “impose his immigration views before the Congress can contain it or restrain it” and “before the American people fully understand what’s happening, and to make it so it can’t be stopped.” He said Obama has issued executive orders that “violate the laws of Congress,” because Obama wants to” implement laws he wishes Congress had passed, but Congress has refused to pass.”



“On Thursday, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) said that President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty will only encourage employers to replace American workers with illegal immigrants who will be exempt from Obamacare mandates.  On the House floor, Barletta, who has introduced the Defense of Legal Workers Act (H.R. 5761), which prevents the federal government from issuing work permits to illegal immigrants, mentioned that the “toxic intersection” of Obamacare and Obama’s executive amnesty gives employers a $3,000 per worker incentive to hire illegal immigrants who have just received work permits. Under federal law, since illegal immigrants who receive work permits cannot receive Obamacare, employers will not have to pay $3,000 in “penalties” for each illegal immigrant employee not provided health insurance. “That will drive companies to hire illegal immigrants instead of legal American workers,” Barletta said, noting that employers will want to get rid of American workers for cheaper illegal immigrant replacements. He said the country has been put in this position is because the “Yes we can” campaigner is governing by the philosophy of “Because I want to.”  Earlier in the week, Barletta grilled Homeland Security Security Jeh Johnson about the impact of Obama’s executive amnesty on American workers. “When it comes to illegal immigration, the conversation is always focused on how to help the illegal immigrants, who have broken our laws,” Barletta said earlier in the week. “No one ever wants to talk about how granting them amnesty will affect legal American workers. It’s about time someone stood up for the millions of people who are looking for work, but who will now find millions of new competitors for jobs that are already scarce.”



“increasing the number of foreign workers in the US “will keep down the wages of American workers” and that “you would have to get a psychiatrist” to explain the GOP’s support for increased foreign labor on Thursday’s “Laura Ingraham Show.” “The competition will keep down the wages of American workers, I mean, this is not a new principle. I mean this has been known for hundreds of years,” he stated. When asked why the GOP would support such a policy, he responded “you would have to get a psychiatrist or someone like that to explain that. There are cleaning women who say ‘I don’t do windows. I don’t explain Republicans.'” On the issue of giving the president fast-track authority on trade, Sowell argued that while “by and large free trade does benefit the country,” “a lot of what is called free trade is not free trade.”


Boehner Won’t Commit to Defunding Executive Amnesty Next Year

“John Boehner said he would not commit to bringing up a bill to strip critical funding from the Department of Homeland Security in the next Congress. Instead, the speaker of the House says there are “lots of options” for blocking President Obama’s executive order on immigration. At a Thursday press conference in the Capitol, Boehner did not guarantee the House would vote to block or cut off funding from DHS once Republicans had control of both houses of Congress in 2015. “There are a lot of options on the table,” said Boehner in response to a question from THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals of what we could or couldn’t do. But I do know this. Come January, we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate, and we’ll be in a stronger position to take actions.” Boehner and House Republican leaders are pushing to pass a short-term funding package before the end of the current budget resolution next week. The package would allow Congress to revisit the funding for DHS, which is implementing the order, early next year. The Ohio Republican emphasized the current plan to address the immigration executive order in the next Congress gives the GOP the best chance for “keeping our leverage.” But, Boehner said, “we have limited options in how we can deal with this.” The speaker’s remarks came on the day the House is expected to vote for a bill, sponsored by Florida Republican Ted Yoho, that would bar the administration from exempting certain categories of unlawful residents from deportation. Some conservatives have argued the bill can do little to roll back the executive order because it fails to target any funding. Homeland Security has already secured office space and is currently hiring full-time employees and contractors dedicated to processing cases falling under President Obama’s executive order.  The House will return for the final days of its lame-duck session next week to vote on the funding package before the December 11 deadline. Failing to pass the short-term spending bill will result in a government shutdown, but a small number of Republican House members have expressed their opposition to the plan and support cutting off funding from DHS during before next week’s deadline. To pass his bill, Boehner will likely need Democratic votes. “I expect that we’ll have bipartisan support to pass the omnibus appropriations bill,” Boehner told reporters Thursday.”


It’s Ted Cruz versus John Boehner again as new shutdown looms

“Speaker John Boehner’s new plan to avoid a government shutdown over immigration is running into a major hurdle: Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz, who played a key role organizing House conservatives in the run up to the 2013 shutdown over health care, made clear that he’ll be taking up a similar role on immigration this week as well. The Texas senator appeared at a rally with House conservatives outside the Capitol Wednesday in which he called on Republican leaders to threaten Senate Democrats and President Obama with a partial government shutdown if they don’t accept a funding bill blocking the president’s immigration order. The senator also urged incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to block all of Obama’s judicial and executive nominations, minus vital national security positions, until Obama relents. “The simple thing that I would urge to every Republican who spent the last year campaigning across this country saying ‘If you elect me, we will stop President Obama’s amnesty,’ do what you promised,” Cruz said. “Doing what you promised doesn’t mean, as it so often does in Washington, sending a really stern letter and having a meaningless show vote.” The “meaningless show vote” could be interpreted as a thinly veiled reference to the current plan Boehner is floating in which the House passes a bill funding almost all of government for the year, a short-term bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through March, and a bill by Congressman Ted Yoho blocking Obama’s ability to carry out his latest executive action that the Senate is almost certain to kill and the president would surely veto. “Frankly, we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly,” Boehner told reporters on Tuesday. Cruz is a significant force in the debate because Boehner needs conservative Republicans to help pass spending bills if Democrats withhold their support, which is likely. The House GOP’s right wing has a long history of bucking the speaker on critical votes and sending leaders scrambling for a backup plan, especially when Cruz and allied groups like Heritage Action – which also opposes Boehner’s plan – are egging them on. Legislation funding the government expires on Dec. 11, leaving Congress and the White House just over a week to resolve their differences and pass a bill.”


Trent Lott rips Ted Cruz for standing his ground, compares to Elizabeth Warren

“First Democrats, now a former Senate GOP leader is attacking Sen. Ted Cruz for standing his ground instead of compromising on key issues. Trent Lott, a former Senate majority leader from Mississippi and now a lobbyist, dubbed Cruz one of the “problems” in the Senate and urged incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to quickly “co-opt” new Republican senators before Cruz and others in the “Far Right” deputize them. “There are problems,” said Lott, pushing bipartisanship at a media roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Yes, we’ve got the Ted Cruzes in the Republican Party, and we’ve got Elizabeth Warrens in the Democratic Party,” he said answering a question about which party is gumming up the Senate more. He urged McConnell to lower the boom on the outspoken Republicans who won’t follow the GOP leadership. Top Republicans, said Lott, have to “deal with some of these members.” He blasted the government shutdown that Cruz had a role in orchestrating. “That shutdown was one of the dumbest things I ever saw, it was a total fraud,” said Lott, who added that “I just don’t think you can tolerate that.” He also ruled Cruz out as a potential presidential candidate. “I hope it’s a governor or a former governor. Period. In other words, no senators,” he barked. Lott said McConnell should go to work fast on the new Republican senators. “I think the leadership should move quickly to co-opt them, bring them into the loop, pull them close to leadership, don’t let ’em drift over to the far right,” he said. That comment won support from his colleague Tom Daschle, himself a former Senate Democratic leader. Daschle, in a reference to McConnell’s team, said, “There are a lot more people in his caucus who come with the belief that standing your ground is the right thing to do, who don’t want to compromise.”



“House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says she is encouraging House Speaker John Boehner to work with Democrats to pass the upcoming government funding measure. “I have reached out to the Speaker and said, ‘Extend the hand of friendship. We want to work together to pass a bill to keep government open as we had to supply the votes last year to open up government — let us supply the votes to keep government open. But we can’t do it unless we have a bill that is worthy of our support,’” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. House Republican Leadership is considering a proposal — dubbed a “cromnibus” — to fund most of government through September 2015 except for the Department of Homeland Security, which would only be funded for a short amount of time. That would allow the new Congress to take up the fight against President Obama’s executive amnesty when it takes office in January. Some in the GOP’s more conservative wing have balked at the idea of providing any funding to Obama’s “lawless” executive actions, and conservative protestations could result in House leadership needing to rely on some Democratic votes to get the spending measure passed next week to avoid a shutdown.  Some Democrats, including outgoing-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), have expressed an openness to go along with the cromnibus plan.  “[House Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and I have talked,” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters. “I don’t want to say he’s reached out to me for votes but we’ve talked about how they’re proceeding.” “I don’t know,” Hoyer said, when asked if he expects Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass the government spending measure. He added, however, that Democrats do not think short term funding for DHS is “the best policy.”


One Republican Leader Who’s Offering Hope for an Immigration Bill

“The House of Representatives voted today to block President Obama’s executive action on immigration, but in a different room of the Capitol Republicans may have been offering a brief glimmer of hope. The powerful Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions of Texas, said on the record that only the extreme members of his party want to deport non-criminal undocumented workers. “There is no one in responsible Republican leadership, elected officials, who has said we should deport 13 or 11 million people,” Sessions said Thursday at a hearing on the president’s executive actions on immigration. “That is not what this effort is about.” Sessions went on to promise that he and Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would work on a bill in the new year. “To have a well-understood agreement about what the law should be and how we should as communities, and farm communities, and tech communities create circumstances where we can have people be in this country and work,” he said. “And where not one person is quote ‘thrown out or deported.’ Where we do keep families together, but we do so under a rule of law of understanding.” The Texas congressman vigorously opposes the action taken by Obama, asserting that it oversteps presidential power. But he invited Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois to help develop an immigration reform bill to replace it. Speaking directly to Gutierrez, who attended the Rules Committee hearing as a witness, Sessions vowed to work together. “I’d ask that you to come back to the table… and work on this and I think you will find reasonableness will abound,” he said. But Gutierrez remains skeptical about Republican action. “Every time we have another vote to deport all 11 million immigrants and their families someone on the Republican side says, ‘Oh, Luis. Just wait. The day when Republicans seriously address immigration, visas, border security and legal status is coming someday soon.’ But it never seems to come,” Gutierrez told ABC News. “It is always a higher priority to send a symbolic but meaningless message to the base that they are ‘getting tough’ rather than a serious message to the American people that they are getting serious about the immigration issue.”

Top GOP Leader Promises Total Amnesty In 2015

“House Speaker John Boehner’s top committee chairman says he wants an immigration bill that would allow millions of foreign migrants to stay and work jobs sought by Americans. “I’m going to use my assets and resources in the new year to work with this Congress… to have a well-understood agreement about what the law should be, and how we as communities, and farm communities, and tech communities, create circumstances where we can have people be in this country and work, and where not one person is quote ‘thrown out’ or ‘deported,’” said Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House rules committee, told a group of Democratic legislators. The committee has the power to kill or boost members’ bills because it decides how each bill will be considered in floor votes. Sessions’ promise of de-facto amnesty to Democrats was welcomed by Chicago Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who frequently describes unauthorized migrants as members of his community. “My heart was filled with a lot of joy when you said that people who are working here, who don’t present a danger, basically should be set aside, that those aren’t the people we should be going after,” said Gutierrrez, four hours and 16 minutes into the hearing. The Dec. 3 hearing took place the evening before Boehner announced he would not even try to defund Obama’s Nov. 21 amnesty.”


White House: Executive Amnesty Implementation ‘Well Underway’

“A senior White House official says the implementation of President Obama’s executive order on immigration is “well underway” and that the administration would “proceed” regardless of congressional efforts to block the order. On a Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters, the official, speaking on background, was asked about the implementation of the order. The officials referred specific questions to the Department of Homeland Security, but added: “Their plans are well underway.” The official added that the DHS implementation would be “based on what they learned on the successful implementation of DACA,” the acronym for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The department has already secured office space in Arlington, Virginia, and plans on hiring 1,000 employees and contractors to process the qualifying illegal immigrants. Administration officials also pushed back against the passage in the House of Representatives of a bill to roll back the executive order. “The United States House of Representatives is voting to prioritize of breaking up families,” said an official. The White House issued a veto threat on the bill earlier Thursday. And asked about efforts by Republicans to block or strip funding from the executive order’s provisions, the White House insisted, “We are going to proceed with implementation.”


Reid: House immigration bill ‘tears families apart’

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday rejected a House bill that would have blocked President Obama from stemming deportations or allowing millions of illegal immigrants to obtain work permits and federal benefits. “I will not bring this bill up for a vote in the Senate since it tears families apart while doing nothing to fix the real problems we face,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said after the House vote. The House voted along party lines, 219-197, to declare that Obama’s Nov. 20 directive on immigration was unconstitutional. It’s a largely symbolic move, however, since Democrats back Obama’s executive action and it won’t be considered in the Senate. Democrats Thursday criticized the GOP for failing to take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill that Obama said would have made executive action unnecessary. “In the face of Republicans’ failure to act, President Obama has used his well-established legal and constitutional authority to bring our immigration system back into line with our needs as a nation and our values as a people,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during the debate on the measure.”



“Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said “birthers” and “Tea Partiers” would be unhappy with more government bailouts and higher taxes that would result from the deportation of more illegal immigrants.  Gutierrez said that “when hundreds of thousands of homes come on the market all at once, the U.S. government would cope with massive bankruptcies and cries to bail out the U.S. farmers whose crops are rotting in the fields of this nation from coast to coast.” Speaking before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday evening, Gutierrez blasted the “Tea Party and the Birthers who oppose everything the President is for” by saying:  When the economy takes a severe hit because the government is removing roughly 5 percent of the American workforce… how is the Tea Party going to feel about a government bail out? How much is the Republican majority willing to raise taxes to pay for deporting 11 million people? “Yes, the Republican Party is betting the farm on the idea that the American people think deporting all 11 million people is not only realistic, but desirable,” he continued. “Oh, and don’t forget we will have to hire and buy fuel for 55,000 airplanes, pack them with 200 immigrants each and fly them out.” Gutierrez did not note that the Obama administration found the money to offer some prospective federal government employees six-figure salaries to implement Obama’s executive amnesty.”



“Immigration reform activists met with Obama administration officials at the White House today, as House Republicans voted to on a House bill to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty. Following the meeting, the activists challenged Republicans for trying to roll back President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as well as his recent decision to offer amnesty to at least 5 million illegal immigrants. “Bring it on. We are ready. We are not afraid to take you on. We have won this victory,” said Lorella Praeli, the Director of Advocacy and Policy of “United We Dream,” a group representing children of illegal immigrants.

The group of activists defended the president outside the White House, after meeting with Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “When Republicans and other members of Congress make this personal, when they try to say this about the president and executive overreach and the Constitution but it is really an attack on our communities, then it becomes a real fight for us,” Praeli asserted. Praeli admitted that Obama’s order was a “bittersweet moment” because it was only temporary and didn’t apply to the entire community of illegal immigrants.”



“The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is launching a series of Spanish-language ads this week urging Latinos to ask Senate Republicans in six states to steer clear of “extremist” Senators who want to defund President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and who it claims keep “insulting our families.” According to USA Today, the SEIU will spend “six figures” on the ads this week and will target Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Sen.-elect Cory Gardner (R-CO). Sens. Johnson, Kirk, Portman, Rubio, and Toomey are up for reelection in 2016… The Spanish-speaking narrator says the following in the commercials (English translation): In the battle for immigration reform, President Obama took a bold step forward to keep our families together. But Republican politicians respond with more opposition… and keep insulting our families. Enough! Our families deserve respect and a better future. Call Senator Rob Portman. Tell him to stand with our families and not with Republican extremists. Paid for by SEIU.”

Labor-backed ads target GOP senators on immigration


Immigration Activist Suggests Race May Be Why GOP Opposes Obama Executive Action — Then It Was Trey Gowdy’s Turn

“Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) interrogated Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, during a Tuesday House hearing on President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration reform after she seemingly suggested race may be the basis behind the GOP’s opposition to the unilateral action. “I could’ve sworn in response to a question you received… you suggested race is the basis for why we may have this constitutional perspective,” Gowdy said to Hincapie. “Did I understand you correctly?” “I believe I was responding to the question about, is there an explanation about why…” Hincapie began before being cut off. “Well let me offer another explanation to you, OK? Not a single Republican who is here right now has ever served under a Republican president — not one. So I hope I do live long enough to hold a Republican president to the exact same standard that I am holding this one. But for you to run to race as the explanation for why we hold the position that we do.”



“Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson declared that “our borders are not open to illegal migration” in an interview on Thursday’s broadcast of “The Lead” on CNN. Johnson stated “the numbers [of illegal immigrants] are actually way down from where they were last summer when we had that unprecedented spike. We put a very aggressive campaign in place to address it, the numbers fell off dramatically. The numbers in the Rio Grande Valley in particular, South Texas, are the lowest they have been in almost two years and a point that needs to be emphasized about the executive actions that we announced…is that a large component of them is border security.”  He continued “the president has said, you have the opportunity to come forward and submit to a criminal background check and be accountable. But as to the future, we are prioritizing the removal of those who come here in the future because our borders are not open to illegal migration.” Johnson concluded “what we have done is simple common sense. We have a broken immigration system. We were hoping to have Congress as our partners in fixing that, but we waited over a year for Congress to act. in the meantime, we identified a number of things that, through executive action, we could do ourselves to fix the system, to deal with the tremendous backlog of cases, to deal with border security in the future. We’re beefing up border security in the future.”



“Democratic leaders say they do not think President Obama’s executive amnesty will inspire more illegal immigration. “No, I’m not concerned,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday, when asked about the prospect of more illegal immigration in the wake of President Obama’s executive actions.  Republicans have highlighted that since President Obama announced (in 2012) his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) — which shielded certain illegal immigrants from deportation, if they arrived in the United States as children — the border has experienced an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. That migration reached a fever pitch this year when tens of thousands of UACs — largely from Central America — illegally entered the U.S. They overwhelmed government resources and caused a humanitarian crisis. A lawsuit introduced by 17 states Wednesday challenging Obama’s executive actions on immigration — which included granted legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants — highlighted that the actions will “will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education.” But according to Pelosi and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Obama’s most recent amnesty will not serve to incentivize more illegal immigration. “No one qualifies unless they have a long-standing tenure in this country and have a direct link to a U.S. citizen in the country,” Becerra said. “So it would be impossible for somebody who is not in the country to think that this is an opportunity for them to stay. And so no, I don’t think there is any concern that this is going to bring someone not in the country.”


Backlash: 17 states suing Obama administration over executive amnesty


Illegal Immigrants Meeting at the White House Say Obama’s Executive Action Is Not Enough

“Young illegal immigrants had a meeting at the White House Thursday following President Barack Obama’s recent executive action to shield about 5 million people from deportation The group of eight, who were brought to the United States by their parents as children, met with Obama domestic policy advisor Cecilia Munoz on the day that the House approved an essentially symbolic measure to roll back the president’s actions. “Republicans have taken votes to deport dreamers by voting to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” Lorella Praeli, the advocacy and policy director for United We Dream, told TheBlaze after the meeting. “They have now voted today to block the executive action from happening. Even though they are taking those votes, every time we go to the Hill, many of the leaders around me right now, and they stand in front of a Republican member of Congress, and ask, ‘Can you just tell me if you want to deport me or if you want to deport my parents?’” Praeli, who was brought to the U.S. from Peru when she was 11, called Obama’s executive action last month to focus deportations on illegal immigrants who committed serious crimes a victory, but an incomplete one. “This is a tremendous victory, yet it is not enough. It is temporary. It is not permanent. It leaves millions of people out, which is why we are committed to fight until no one in our community feels the threat of deportation,” Praeli said. “When Republicans and other members of Congress make this personal, when they try to say this is about the president and executive overreach and the Constitution, but it is really an attack on our communities, then it becomes a real fight for us.” Obama expanded his 2012 deferred action for illegals who arrived in the United States as children, eliminating the age cap that had been limited to people under 31 and opening the program to anyone who came United States before January 2010, instead of January 2007.”


Tech Industry Continues Push for More Visas

“CQ Roll Call’s Shawn Zeller reports that advocacy groups for the tech industry are looking to “challenge the conventional wisdom that Congress won’t move forward with immigration legislation” as a result of President Barack Obama’s executive actions. In his story (subscription), Zeller reports: They’re making it clear that they, at least, are willing to break from the coalition of businesses and immigrants’ rights advocates that have championed a comprehensive immigration bill, to try to persuade Congress to enact narrower legislation providing more guest worker visas for the businesses they represent. He also lays out the landscape for such legislation going forward.”


DHS on hiring spree to carry out Obama immigration orders, opening ‘operational center’

“The Department of Homeland Security is on a hiring spree for 1,000 full-time workers to carry out President Obama’s executive actions on immigration — even as Republicans in Congress battle each other over how to stall the “amnesty” before it starts.  According to an internal memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is hiring for 1,000 full-time positions at a new “operational center” in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Many of the openings were posted the day after Obama announced he’ll offer work authorization and temporary legal status to up to 5 million illegal immigrants. While that move is now the subject of congressional and legal battles, the job postings indicate the administration was well-prepared to quickly carry out the orders.  Critics said the hiring binge is another sign the administration is openly defying the law, as they challenge his actions. “This facility is a clear symbol of the President’s defiance of the American people, their laws, and their Constitution,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said in a statement. “He is hiring federal employees to carry out a directive that violates the laws Congress has passed in order to foist on the nation laws Congress has repeatedly refused to pass.”  He added that while some suggest the “amnesty” does not have a financial cost, “this action unmistakably demonstrates otherwise.” Sessions echoed past warnings from the USCIS union that the agency may “rubber stamp” applications. Many of the job openings listed on, and in the internal memo, have expired but more openings are expected to be announced. The positions range from special assistant to program analyst to immigration services officer and more. Salaries go as high as $157,000.”



President accused of ‘sleight of hand’ to protect self from impeachment

“Did President Obama just set up Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to be a candidate for impeachment instead of himself if conservatives convince the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate that his “executive actions” on immigration are unconstitutional? The inquiry begins with the question: Where are the executive orders Obama supposedly signed to permit up to 5 million parents of young illegal aliens to remain in the United States for three years? The White House appears to have engaged in administrative sleight of hand, changing U.S. immigration law not by executive order but by a memorandum “exercising prosecutorial discretion” Johnson signed the day of Obama’s Nov. 20 nationwide address that so far has not been filed in the Federal Register. Tom Fitton, president of Washington-based watchdog institution Judicial Watch, told WND in an interview the legal status of Johnson’s memo is a serious constitutional question that deserves to be adjudicated. “The entire implementing authority involves a memorandum published by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson that changes the immigration law, directing federal money to be spent that has not been appropriated by Congress,” he said. “In my view, there is a serious question whether Jeh Johnson should be impeached for taking this action, and a criminal investigation should be initiated to determine how and why federal funds are being misappropriated,” he declared. Fitton said DHS “is being hijacked to implement actions Congress has neither authorized nor appropriated funds to accomplish.” “All remedy options need to be on the table when attacking this threat to the Constitution,” he said… According to the White House website, on Nov. 21 Obama signed a presidential proclamation titled “Creating Welcoming Communities Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees” and a presidential memorandum titled “Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigration Visa System for the 21st Century.”




Defense bill hits snag over land swaps, wilderness

“Quick passage of a sweeping defense policy bill hit a snag on Wednesday over public lands, dividing Senate Republicans. The $585 billion measure authorizing funds for the military includes several unrelated bills to expand wilderness areas in the West and expand the program streamlining oil and gas permits, a popular step with western state lawmakers. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected to their inclusion and promised to block any attempt to quickly finish the bill next week in the final days of the lame-duck session. “A bill that defines the needs of our nation’s defense is hardly the proper place to trample on private property rights,” Coburn wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “Nor is it the place to restrict access to hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities on massive swaths of taxpayer-supported lands.” The House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday. Senate leaders hoped to finish it next week but need the consent of all senators to act quickly. Coburn, in his letter, said he would “utilize all procedural options at my disposal as a United States senator” to block such action. Sen. James Inhofe, Coburn’s Oklahoma colleague and the top Republican on the Armed Service Committee, said he expected senators to work out their differences and pass the bill, which authorizes funds for ships, aircraft and military personnel while expanding U.S. military operations to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. In a closed-door GOP lunch, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski argued that the wilderness expansion and other changes create jobs, according to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., a proponent of the legislation. “It’s a real economic engine for some of the rural western states,” Heller said in an interview. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joined Coburn in criticizing the legislation, complaining about the designation of 250,000 acres of new wilderness, in addition to 15 new national park units or expansions and three new wild and scenic river designations. The provisions also include transferring management of a 140-square-mile national preserve in northern New Mexico to the National Park Service and making a land swap in Arizona that would clear the way for a much-disputed copper mine. “With the military’s shrinking budget, it is offensive that this bill would be used to fund congressional pork. And, at a time where jobs are scarce and the federal government has removed billions of acres of land from productive use, Congress should not be restricting more than a half-million new acres,” Cruz said in a statement. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, which represents thousands of ranchers in the state and has been a vocal critic of what she considers federal overreach in the West. “This is a continuation of the governance by blackmail,” Cowan said. “The national defense authorization is vital to our nation and those who serve in the military. It should not be used as a bargaining chip for land grabs. Working on land packages in this manner is a disservice to the land and the people who enjoy it.”

Conservatives Train Fire on Government ‘Land Grab’ in Key Defense Bill

“However, what has upset Cruz and other critics are non-military provisions to:

–Add 250,000 acres of wilderness.

–Withdraw 400,000 acres designated for commercial use.

–Add 15 national parks or expansions and three designations for wild and scenic rivers.

–Commission 11 studies for potential national parks and wild and scenic rivers.

–Commission a study for a National Women’s History Museum on the National Mall.

–Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who retires at the end of the year, took to his Twitter account to criticize the provisions, which he said are the result of backroom deal-making.”


House passes defense bill, OKs military campaign against Islamic militants

“The Republican-controlled House approved a $585 billion defense policy bill that grants President Barack Obama the authority to expand the U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria despite misgivings about a new American combat role after more than a decade of war. The vote on Thursday was 300-119, a reflection of the popularity of the sweeping, bipartisan measure that authorizes funds for American troops as well as ships, planes and other war-fighting equipment built in congressional districts nationwide. The measure heads to the Senate where passage is expected next week, although some GOP senators are angry over the bill’s unrelated provisions to expand wilderness areas. The legislation endorses Obama’s latest request to Congress in the 4-month-old war against extremists who brutally rule large sections of Iraq and Syria. The bill provides $5 billion for the stepped-up operation of air strikes and the dispatch of up to 1,500 more American troops. It also reauthorizes the Pentagon plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels battling the forces of President Bashar Assad, with that mandate expiring Dec. 11. The legislation would extend that authority for two years. Still, war-weary lawmakers expressed considerable unease about a slippery slope for the American military after years of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We’re getting more deeply involved in the war in Iraq and Syria,” complained Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, insisted that U.S. involvement was limited. “The train and equip mission is just that,” Smith said. “I don’t want U.S. combat troops fighting this ground war …. By training and equipping the Syrians and Iraqis, we can empower them to fight their own ground war with our support from the air.” Unity on a new legal justification for U.S. military operations against the extremists remains elusive in Congress, underscored by the divisions displayed across the Capitol.”



“The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) agreement, reached by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers, will lower the pay raise for troops, slow the growth in housing allowances, and increase co-pays for most of their prescriptions. Critics argue that the defense budget should not be balanced at the expense of benefits for soldiers. The White House and the Pentagon backed the cuts in an effort to bring down personnel costs. “Personnel costs are currently budgeted at $177 billion for 2015, or more than a third of the Pentagon’s non-war budget of $496 billion,” reports  The 1,648-page NDAA agreement clears about $577 billion in spending for fiscal 2015, including nearly $496 billion for base Pentagon programs, about $64 billion for U.S. combat operations, including an estimated $5 billion for the anti-Islamic State mission in Iraq and Syria. It also includes about $18 billion for national security programs in the Department of Energy. Troops’ pay raises will be lowered to 1 percent, from the 1.8 percent set by a formula that Congress established. The 1 percent pay raise is in line with what President Obama had proposed.   “We note that the President has exercised his authority… to implement an alternative across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services for calendar year 2015 of 1 percent rather than the 1.8 percent that would otherwise be required,” states an explanatory statement of the NDAA compromise.

“For an E-3 with three years of service, the lower raise is a loss of about $195 a year. For an E-7 with 10 years, it comes out to $356. For an O-5 with 12 years of service, it’s $667 in annual salary,” reports the Military Times. The NDAA also cuts basic allowances for housing (BAH) by 1 percent for one year. Soldiers will now have to pay out-of-pocket for some housing costs.”


Bill to stop Nazi benefit payments heads to Obama

“A bill that would block suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving Social Security benefits is heading to President Barack Obama for his signature. By voice vote late Thursday, the Senate gave final congressional approval to a measure that would shut a loophole that allowed suspected Nazis to be paid millions of dollars in benefits, clearing it for the White House. Under the bill, benefits would be terminated for Nazi suspects who have lost their American citizenship, a step called denaturalization. U.S. law currently requires a higher threshold — a final order of deportation — before Social Security benefits can be stopped. The legislation was introduced after an Associated Press investigation published in October revealed that Social Security benefits have been paid to dozens of former Nazis after they were forced out of the United States.”


Spending Bill Expected Monday

“House and Senate appropriators are hammering out the final details to a $1 trillion spending bill that funds most of the government through September, CR Roll Call’s Tamar Hallerman reports: House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and his Senate counterpart, Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said Thursday they are making significant headway and are hoping to have all outstanding issues resolved by Friday evening. Rogers said appropriators are aiming to finalize the bill by 6 p.m. Friday to allow for a final version to be drafted by staff over the weekend and then posted by Monday morning. “That’s the timetable and we’re on track,” Rogers told reporters Thursday.”


It’s official: America is now No. 2

“Hang on to your hats, America. And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it. There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet. It just happened — and almost nobody noticed. The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.”


Hackers are threatening the US economy

“U.S. businesses are the target of continuous attacks from cyber criminal gangs and state sponsored hackers. While high-profile incidents such as the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack may mark a trend in new, highly destructive attacks, there are also plenty of less high-profile threats that could damage the American economy. Last week Sony Pictures uffered a major data breach when its corporate network was taken offline. The incident caused great alarm within law enforcement and intelligence agencies amid fears that a destructive cyberattack could seriously compromise the business processes of other companies operating on U.S. soil. The Sony Pictures hack certainly creates a dangerous precedent. Similar attacks have targeted multinational companies in the past, but not with the same consequences for a U.S.-based company. The attack is similar to the hack that blocked operations of the Saudi Aramco oil company in 2012.  In that case, a computer virus dubbed Shamoon infected nearly 30,000 of the firm’s workstations. The Saudi Arabian company’s operations were also disrupted while all the targeted servers were cleaned and restored. The Shamoon malware was subsequently used in an attack against Qatar-based RasGas that knocked its systems offline.”


U.S. Birthrate Declines for Sixth Consecutive Year; Economy Could Be Factor



“The holiday shopping season is always a make-or-break period for struggling retailers. But this year, the fight to grab shoppers has intensified, making it difficult for stores to use the season that accounts for about 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales to bounce back. Stores face cautious shoppers who are juggling stagnant wages and higher costs for food and health care. And Web-savvy customers are using information easily available on their smartphones to hold out for ever-better deals. All of that means that stores have had to discount more – and earlier – this holiday shopping season. “If you’re a retailer on the edge, it’s harder to maintain your viability and return to profitability because of the intense promotional environment,” said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC., a retail research firm. He expects fourth-quarter earnings for the 123 retailers he tracks will rise 7.7 percent, down from a projected 16 percent increase in June. Here, four retailers with years of sales declines that could use a good holiday season:”




Jeb: ‘I’ve Lost Patience’ with Common Core Complaints

‘If you don’t measure, you really don’t care’


Obama Wants Kids to Learn About Global Warming

The administration wants students and teachers to toe the line on climate change.

“Perhaps unable to convince older Americans of the severity of global warming, President Barack Obama is hoping to have better luck with the next generation by turning to the classroom. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Wednesday announced it will launch a new initiative aimed at climate education and literacy that will distribute science-based information – in line with the administration’s position on the issue – to students, teachers and the broader public. Educators, government officials, philanthropic leaders and those from the private sector will participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House Wednesday. The participants will focus on how to spread more resources to teachers and increase professional development and training related to climate change for educators, federal employees and informal educators, such as those working in national parks, museums, aquariums or botanic gardens. “If you believe, like I do, that something has to be done on this, then you’re going to have to speak out,” Obama said in June at the University of California–Irvine commencement ceremony. “You’ve got to educate your classmates, and colleagues, and family members and fellow citizens, and tell them what’s at stake.” With many states transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards, opposition to issues such as climate change and evolution has resurfaced with a new intensity. At least 12 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, which place an increased emphasis on the controversial topics and were developed by a group of national science and education organizations – including one also involved in developing the Common Core State Standards. A Gallup analysis in April showed that 1 in 4 Americans are global warming skeptics and are not worried much or at all about it. All of those deemed skeptics said the rise in the Earth’s temperature is due to natural changes in the environment, rather than pollution, and that global warming will not pose a serious threat in the future.”


Common Core tests have started – for real – in Ohio




Tea Party Group: White House Hiding Truth By Refusing To Release IRS Documents

“The tea party organization FreedomWorks blasted the Obama administration for “hiding the truth” after it refused to release thousands of documents pertaining to the White House’s role in the IRS scandal. The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, formerly White House chief of staff, withheld more than 2,400 pages of documents that chronicle investigations into the White House’s coordination with the IRS during the conservative targeting scandal. The documents will not be released by the Obama administration pursuant to the legal advocacy group Cause of Action’s lawsuit against the Treasury Department inspector general. Lew is claiming “possible” Title 26 liability: essentially, releasing confidential taxpayer information like the kind released by the IRS to the White House would be illegal. FreedomWorks released a statement following TheDC’s report blasting the White House for hiding the truth. “The Obama administration, after promising to be the most transparent in history, is once again hiding the truth. Apparently warrantless surveillance of American civilians is an acceptable federal practice, while documents that potentially show illegal activity between the IRS and the White House hide under the veil of privacy and disclosure laws,” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe stated. “The White House should step out of the shadows and volunteer these documents- if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.”


Utah to seize own land from government, challenge federal dominance of Western states

‘Transfer of Public Lands Act’ demands Washington relinquish 31.2 million acres by Dec. 31

“In three weeks, Utah intends to seize control of 31.2 million acres of its own land now under the control of the federal government. At least, that’s the plan. In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31. So far, however, the federal government hasn’t given any indication that it plans to cooperate. Still, state Rep. Ken Ivory, who sponsored the legislation, isn’t deterred. “That’s what you do any time you’re negotiating with a partner. You set a date,” said Mr. Ivory. “Unfortunately, our federal partner has decided they don’t want to negotiate in good faith. So we’ll move forward with the four-step plan that the governor laid out.” In other words, there won’t be any escorting of federal officials by state troopers to the eastern border. Instead, he said, state officials will proceed with a program of education, negotiation, legislation and litigation. “We’re going to move forward and use all the resources at our disposal,” said Mr. Ivory, who also heads the American Lands Council, which advocates the relinquishing of federal lands to the control of the states.”


Mark Levin: State Legislatures Have ‘Duty’ to ‘Restore Our Republic’


McCain blocks Obama’s pick for diplomatic post

“Sen. John McCain is blocking the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee to be America’s second-highest ranked diplomat. McCain says Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, is “totally unqualified” to serve as Secretary of State John Kerry’s understudy. McCain also criticizing Blinken Thursday for comments he made more than two years ago touting Iraq’s security, prosperity and democracy. McCain has been among Obama’s fiercest foreign policy critics. He will assume the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee next month when Republicans take control. Senators can put a hold on a nominee, blocking final action.”


Obama to announce defense secretary nominee Friday

“President Obama will announce his nominee for the next Defense Secretary at the White House on Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday. The nominee is expected to be former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who became the sole focus of White House efforts to fill the post earlier this week. If nominated and confirmed by the Senate to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who resigned last month, Carter would be President Obama’s fourth secretary of defense. Carter was deputy secretary of defense between 2011 and 2013, serving as the Pentagon’s chief operating officer under both Hagel and Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta. Before that, he’d served in a variety of roles within the Pentagon under Mr. Obama and former President Bill Clinton, along with lengthy stints in academia and the private sector.”

Obama to announce Defense secretary pick Friday


Hagel: Resignation mutual decision based on discussions with President Barack Obama


Loretta Lynch, Racially Charged Justice and Me


Cassidy crushing Landrieu by 24 points

“Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is poised for a landslide victory over Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a Saturday runoff election in Louisiana, according to a GOP poll shared with the Washington Examiner. Cassidy led Landrieu 57 percent to 33 percent in the survey conducted Nov. 24-25 by WPA Opinion Research for Independent Women’s Voice. His victory would bring the number of Republican Senate seats captured in this year’s midterm elections to nine, topping off the new GOP majority at 54 seats. The poll of 500 likely voters had an error margin of 4.4 percentage points. “Cassidy has the lead among all gender age groups and enjoys a [sizable] lead among independent voters,” WPA Opinion Research said in a memo. “Moreover, based on current projections, even if African-Americans support Landrieu at 95% and turnout in record numbers, she will still lose on Election Day.” Landrieu has managed to defy expectations and win Republican-trending Louisiana in the past. The third-term senator’s family is steeped in Cajun politics; her brother Mitch Landrieu is the mayor of New Orleans. But the state has made what appears to be a hard right turn since President Obama took office in 2009, and Landrieu’s support for his agenda has damaged her political standing.”


A.B. Stoddard: Jeb stalling in neutral

“Guess who isn’t running for president? Jeb Bush. Just listen to him. The GOP presidential race is frozen until the former Florida governor makes his decision, and he sounds like a man ready to run for the hills. Asked about his thinking this week, Bush was blunt: “It’s a big sacrifice because it’s a pretty ugly business right now,” he said. In addition, Bush has not abandoned or amended his support for immigration reform and Common Core education standards, and both are deal-breakers with the far right. Though he said he knows how a Republican can win — a candidate must be more “uplifting” and “positive,” and willing to “lose the primary to win the general” without violating your principles” — Bush conceded, “It’s not an easy task, to be honest with you.” He wondered aloud if he could “lift people’s spirits and not get sucked into the vortex.”

Voices on the right are growing louder, hoping to drive him from the race. Conservative talk show host Mark Levin recently called Bush “a very good moderate Democrat,” while conservative activist Richard Viguerie said he doesn’t know of any conservatives who are supporting Bush. Bush’s viability has always focused on this question: Did the party move past the divisive issue of immigration, after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to President Obama, when he won only 27 percent of Latino support to Obama’s 71 percent? And the answer is no. After much hand-wringing about the impact of GOP opposition to immigration reform, and the burgeoning influence of Latino votes on the path to 270 electoral votes, the GOP is more divided over the issue now than it was in 2012.  Sure, many important Republican leaders want reform. But can Bush count on the desire of Speaker John Boehner, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wall Street Journal editorial board and Karl Rove to help attract conservatives to a bill that goes far enough to neutralize this issue against a Democrat appealing to larger Latino electorate in 2016? Nope. Those Republicans want a broad bill, but the new GOP majorities are only more opposed to reform, not less. And the president’s executive order on immigration, as well as the recent border crisis, makes it more difficult, not less.”


Hillary Camp Tries To Appeal To Blue-Collar Voters With Cringe-Inducing Country Music Ad


Stand with Hillary Country Music Video Is Predictable and Inauthentic (a Lot Like Hillary)


On social media Clinton, Cruz lead 2016 potential presidential candidates


DCCC With $12 Million Debt After Midterms

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended the midterm election cycle $12 million in debt, $3.2 million more than its Republican counterpart. The committees released the figures ahead of filing their post-general election reports, which are due Thursday to the Federal Election Commission. The DCCC’s debt is $2.3 million less than it took out in the 2012 cycle, when it picked up more than a half-dozen seats. But it’s more than the $8.8 million debt the National Republican Congressional Committee announced earlier in the day. This cycle, House Democrats may lose as many as 13 seats, depending on the outcome of a recount in Arizona. The DCCC also reported raising $18.7 million from Oct. 16 through Nov. 24. It had $4.3 million in cash on hand as of Nov. 24. The NRCC had $3.1 million left in the bank.”

NRCC Ending 2014 With $8.8 Million Debt


‘Express your hate!’ The Dems spread their special brand of Christmas cheer [photo]


Reports: Obama Mulling Sanctions on Israel

White House, State Department refuse to confirm or deny


Eric Garner’s widow: “Somebody needs to pay”

“The widow of Eric Garner, who died after he was put into a chokehold by a New York police officer, appeared on “CBS This Morning” Thursday, a day after a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officer. “We need justice,” said Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner. “Somebody needs to pay.” A video detailing the entire incident has been shared across the Internet, a video many believed would certainly be enough to charge officer Daniel Pantaleo. Instead, outrage has spread across the country over the grand jury’s decision not to charge him. “They wasn’t looking at the same

we was,” Garner said. In the video, the officer apparently put Garner in a chokehold, and Garner repeatedly told officers he couldn’t breathe. His widow told the co-hosts, “It’s been really hard since July 17. I’m just trying to, you know, make sure his death is not in vain.”




Ferguson Activist Who Met With Obama Charged With Assault [VIDEO]