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TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:

COALITION BLASTS IDEA OF GIVING OBAMA MORE POWER

‘Fast track’ for trade agreement would be ‘height of irresponsibility’

“A group letter urging opposition to passage of fast track trade authority has been delivered to Congress, and American for Limited Government promised a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power. In addition to those at the press conference, others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.”

http://www.wnd.com/2015/01/coalition-blasts-idea-of-giving-obama-more-power/

 

Raging Elephants Radio – Interview with Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJCLCr-XM-w

 

 

HEALTHCARE:

How Obamacare Is ‘Working’

Increased insurance coverage does not mean increased access to medical care.

“No matter how badly you want something to be true, simply wishing will not make it so. This is a lesson that Obamacare supporters need to learn, as they tell us yet again that the Affordable Care Act “is working.” The latest claims stem in part from evidence that the number of uninsured Americans has been steadily declining. It is true that the most recent poll from Gallup found that the uninsured rate fell to 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from 16.3 percent before the ACA passed. Of course, it would be a mistake to attribute all of that improvement to the ACA. A large portion may be due to falling unemployment as the economy finally emerges from the recession. Since most Americans get their health insurance through their jobs, lower unemployment should naturally reduce the number of uninsured. Still, the ACA can rightly be credited with some of the gains. If you subsidize something, you should expect to get more of it. And Obamacare heavily subsidizes health insurance. The problem is, that statement uses the term “insurance” very loosely. In actuality, roughly 60 percent of those newly “insured” through Obamacare are actually being enrolled in Medicaid. And Medicaid is hardly the same as real insurance. While Medicaid costs taxpayers a lot of money, it pays doctors little. As a result, many doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they serve, or refuse to take them at all. An analysis published in Health Affairs found that only 69 percent of physicians accept Medicaid patients. Another study, in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that Medicaid recipients were six times more likely to be denied an appointment than people with private insurance. And, according to a third study, when they do get an appointment, they wait an average of 42 days to see a doctor, twice as long as the privately insured. Just last month HHS’s Office of Inspector General released a report showing how difficult it was for Medicaid patients to gain access to care through Medicaid managed-care programs. IG inspectors posed as Medicaid patients and called designated Medicaid managed-care providers. More than half of listed providers could not be found at the location listed. Others were found but were not participating in the plan, while still others were no longer taking new Medicaid patients. When the investigators were able to get appointments, they faced lengthy average wait times. In 28 percent of cases, they had to wait longer than a month to see a doctor. Ten percent of the time, the wait exceeded two months. A 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that Medicaid patients faced serious accessibility problems. And things are about to get even worse.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396311/how-obamacare-working-michael-tanner

 

Medicaid expansion may contract

After the midterms, there is a renewed assault in some states.

“Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is under renewed assault in the states even as the health law faces threats in Washington from the Supreme Court and a Republican Congress.

A handful of Republican governors said that after the November elections, they’d be open to taking billions of federal dollars to cover millions of their low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. Instead, Medicaid faces possible retrenchment after a Republican tide swept emboldened Obamacare foes into every level of government. Arizona and Arkansas, for instance, seemed like the top trophies in the expansion push. But the governors who embraced that part of Obamacare are gone, and hundreds of thousands of people could be stripped of their coverage if their successors don’t show the same zeal to defend it. And the handful of Republican governors who are eyeing some form of expansion face roadblocks. For instance, Mike Pence of Indiana, a potential 2016 presidential contender, is attaching conservative policy elements unacceptable to the Obama administration. His potential 2016 rival John Kasich did expand Medicaid in Ohio but now must whip Republican support to keep it going. The governors of Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming all released proposals, as promised, after the elections. But so far in the two Western states, legislators are balking at taking on any part of Obamacare, even if the feds pick up the tab. The architects of the Affordable Care Act intended for every state to expand Medicaid up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, less than $32,000 for a family of four. But the Supreme Court in 2012 made the expansion optional as it upheld the rest of the health law. In the 27 states (and District of Columbia) that have chosen to expand in some form, broader Medicaid coverage has proved to be a fast way of achieving the law’s central goal of insuring more Americans. In 2014, the Urban Institute found the uninsured rate dropped 36 percent in expansion states, versus 24 percent in the holdouts. The possible backward movement on Medicaid comes amid uncertainty over the law’s other primary tool for reducing the uninsured: marketplace subsidies. The Supreme Court will decide, probably in June, whether the financial assistance is legal in the 37 states using the federal exchange on HealthCare.gov. Just a few months ago, advocates anticipated that a new wave of pro-expansion gubernatorial candidates, like Democrats Charlie Crist in Florida and Mike Michaud in Maine, would bring new momentum and electoral mandates to the debate. They expected some new GOP governors to be more open to Medicaid, too. Instead, ascendant Republicans — many driven into office on anti-Obamacare planks — remain as hostile as ever. And their states still have the bizarre coverage gaps created by the Supreme Court ruling. Many of the poorest Americans have no coverage, while people who are just above the poverty line are getting subsidized through the health insurance exchanges. Advocates of expansion have touted possible economic benefits for the states, predicting job gains through more demand for health services and hospital solvency. A study by Missouri state officials, for example, found that health-sector jobs grew three times as much in states that expanded than in those that did not. But a December report by the nonpartisan Altarum Institute cast doubt on whether that job growth had anything to do with Medicaid.

“Lots of these states are looking at the numbers and saying, no, they have not produced the jobs, they have not produced the economic growth that everybody thought they would,” said Dennis Smith, CMS’ top Medicaid official in the George W. Bush administration. In Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer twisted arms to pass Medicaid expansion, leaving conservatives seething and suing. Tea party-aligned legislators argued that Brewer needed a supermajority to pass the expansion financing and a state court gave the case the green light to go ahead a few weeks ago. Brewer attended a recent hearing in person, but her successor, Republican Doug Ducey, has been conspicuously silent about whether he’ll defend the state’s position.

Arkansas saw the sharpest decrease in its uninsured rate in the country after Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe worked with statehouse Republicans and the federal government to craft an innovative alternative approach. The so-called private option, which uses the federal Medicaid expansion funds to buy private plans on the Obamacare marketplace, was seen as a model for other conservative states looking for an ideologically palatable way to move ahead. But the plan barely squeaked through the Arkansas Legislature in 2013, and voters fired many of its supporters in November. GAO figures show the program coming in over budget, and it’s hard to see right now how supporters can muster the three-fourths majorities they need in both chambers to continue the program, as required by the Arkansas constitution. “The people basically said, ‘We don’t want the private option anymore,’” said Republican state Rep. Joe Farrer, analyzing the election results. “I don’t think it will be in the current form it is now.”

Foes are crafting a plan to freeze enrollment as both sides wait for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to weigh in. He’s promised to do so in a major address slated for Jan. 22.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/medicaid-expansion-contract-114235.html

 

What’s Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Giving Workers in Return for Less Hours? According to One CEO, Not Much (continuation of previous article)

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396385/whats-obamacares-employer-mandate-giving-workers-return-less-hours-according-one-ceo

 

3 Reasons Filing Taxes Sucks? Obamacare, Obamacare & Obamacare

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/01/15/3-reasons-filing-taxes-sucks-obamacare-obamacare-obamacare/

 

‘There Is Just So Much Confusion Out There’: How Obamacare Figures Into Your 2014 Taxes

“But for others, here are several situations to keep in mind. If you were uninsured for some or all of the year –  If you had health insurance for only part of 2014 or didn’t have coverage at all, it’s a bit more complicated. In that case, you’ll have to file Form 8965, which allows you to claim an exemption from the requirement to have insurance or calculate your penalty for the months that you weren’t covered. On page 2 of the instructions for Form 8965 you’ll see a lengthy list of the coverage exemptions for which you may qualify. If your income is below the filing threshold ($10,150 for an individual in 2014), for example, you’re exempt. Likewise if coverage was unaffordable because it would have cost more than 8 percent of your household income, or you experienced a hardship that prevented you from buying a marketplace plan, or you had a short coverage gap of less than three consecutive months. These are just some of the circumstances that would allow you to avoid the penalty. In addition, you don’t have to pay a penalty if you live in a state that didn’t expand Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level $16,104.60 for an individual in 2013) and your income falls below that level. Some of the exemptions have to be granted by the health insurance marketplace, but many can be claimed right on your tax return. The tax form instructions spell out where to claim each type of exemption. If you do have to go to the marketplace to get an exemption, be aware that it may take two weeks or more to process the application. Act promptly if you want to avoid bumping up against the April 15 filing deadline, says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who is an expert on the health law…”

http://dailysignal.com/2015/01/14/just-much-confusion-obamacare-figures-2014-taxes/?utm_source=heritageaction&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=011415HAFAFB2

 

Need help filing out your tax return? Don’t call the IRS

“Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama’s health law. But they shouldn’t expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service. Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person. Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions. “Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed,” said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says budget cuts are forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions. The number of audits will decline, technology upgrades will be delayed and the agency might be forced to shut down and furlough workers for two days later this year, Koskinen said. The IRS will no longer help low-income taxpayers fill out their returns, and tax refunds could be delayed for people who file paper returns… For the first time, tax filers will have to report information about their health insurance during the previous year. For most people who get health coverage through work or through government programs like Medicaid, it will mean simply checking a box. Others who got insurance through state and federal marketplaces will have to file a new form, while people who received subsidies will have to provide more detailed information. People who didn’t have health insurance last year face fines unless they qualify for a waiver, which requires more paperwork. The subsidies were based on projected incomes, so families will need to report if actual incomes were higher or lower. If higher, they might have to pay back some of the subsidy, either through a smaller tax refund or a payment. If their incomes were lower, they might qualify for a larger tax refund. Taxpayers who get subsidies are supposed to notify the health exchanges during the year if their incomes change or if they have some other life event that changes their eligibility, said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “If somebody got married or divorced, had a baby, got a job, lost a job, anything that changes their income, those consumers needed to go back to the marketplace and update their information,” Pickering said. “Most people didn’t know to do that or didn’t think to do it.” Koskinen said he is “reasonably confident — very confident” the IRS has successfully upgraded its computer systems to handle additional taxpayer information required by the health law, even though Congress refused to pay for it, rejecting the agency’s $600 million request. “In some ways the Congress appeared to be trying to do its best to keep us from being able to get operational this time,” Koskinen said.”

http://news.yahoo.com/irs-cuts-taxpayer-services-filing-returns-gets-harder-150035056–finance.html

 

IRS partly to blame for ObamaCare issues

“The IRS likely will have to shoulder some of the blame this year for problems related to its role in President Obama’s healthcare law, an in-house watchdog said Wednesday. Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, generally praised the IRS’s ObamaCare efforts in her annual report, saying that the agency’s work is heavily reliant on the job done by other parts of the federal bureaucracy and that many problems that might arise won’t be the IRS’s fault.

“The IRS will certainly bear much of the public blame because many of the problems will arise in the context of return filing,” the taxpayer advocate’s report said. “Conversely, taxpayers and the IRS will experience problems created specifically by IRS policies or processes, some of which are exacerbated by the general reduction in funding for taxpayer service.” Olson has long criticized congressional efforts to roll back the IRS’s budget, which include a $346 million cut enacted in December. She also noted that the IRS resources going toward implementing the agency’s role in the Affordable Care Act would help cause a decline in taxpayer services.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/229547-irs-partly-to-blame-for-obamacare-issues

 

Congress Prepares to Target the Medical Device Tax

“Since the start of the year, the House has been quick to pass legislation that parse elements of the Affordable Care Act. On Monday, lawmakers advanced a bill (HR 33) exempting volunteer emergency services workers from employer insurance coverage requirements. Last week, the House passed a measure culling the employer mandate to aid in the hiring of veterans (HR 22) and changed the workweek threshold of a full-time employee (HR 30). Waiting in the wings, are recently prepared House and Senate bills seeking to repeal the health law’s medical device excise tax  (HR 160 and S 149). The medical device tax was inserted into the Affordable Care Act primarily to raise money to fund other parts of the law. Repealing the health law’s imposition of a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices has long fostered some Democratic lawmaker interest, particularly from states and districts that are home to major medical device manufactures. However, the IRS has struggled to collect the medical device tax and Congress will be challenged to recoup lost expected funding. Separately, the Congressional Research Service weighed in last year with an economic analysis of the tax noting that an excise levy is not an efficient way to raise revenue and most of the impact of the tax will fall on consumers. The report also notes the tax will likely have a minimal impact increasing overall health spending.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/healthopolis/congress-prepares-to-target-the-medical-device-tax/?dcz=

 

GOP’s Sen. Vitter: ObamaCare repeal is ‘still a real possibility’

“Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is redoubling his efforts to expunge ObamaCare completely, which he said is “still a real possibility.” Vitter introduced five pieces of legislation targeting ObamaCare on Wednesday, including one bill that would “fully repeal” the president’s signature healthcare law. The repeal bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — two of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers that have led the charge against ObamaCare.

“Instead of waiting until costs become completely unbearable, it makes sense to flat out repeal Obamacare,” Vitter wrote in a statement Wednesday.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229497-gop-senator-obamacare-repeal-is-real-possibility

 

Chamber of Commerce leader vows repeal of ObamaCare taxes

“The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made a pitch Wednesday to repeal multiple taxes under ObamaCare as well to change the law’s much-criticized definition of a full-time employee. “In healthcare, we support congressional efforts to restore the 40-hour workweek to define who must be covered under the employer healthcare mandate,” the group’s president and CEO, Thomas Donohue, said during the annual State of American Business address. He said the group would work to repeal the medical device tax, the “Cadillac” tax and the individual insurance tax — all pieces of ObamaCare that have been long condemned by the GOP. The House passed a bill last week that would raise the threshold for a full-time workweek to 40 hours, from its current definition of 30 hours. Senate leaders have said the bill will also see a vote in that chamber. GOP lawmakers have also reintroduced bills to repeal the medical device tax and the individual mandate in the last week. In Donohue’s wide-ranging speech Wednesday, he called on Congress to rein in entitlement costs, which he said was driving the government’s “massive debt.” “The entitlement crisis is entirely predicable. We know it’s going to happen,” he said. “It demands action.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229461-chamber-of-commerce-leader-vows-repeal-of-obamacare-taxes

 

Let’s stop pretending Obamacare repeal is the big business agenda

“”We are not working for repeal,” Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue said today, when asked about the Affordable Care Act. Barney Frank, the Democratic former congressman, told the New York Times today about Obamacare: “Nobody who makes their money in health care is going after that bill.” These statements jibe with my observations. The insurance companies and hospitals sided with the Obama administration in the crucial individual mandate case. On the state level, the push to create exchanges and expand Medicaid has been led by hospitals, with insurers and other providers chipping in. This undermines a central bit of rhetorical defense of Obamacare. Congressional Democrats attack repeal efforts as “do[ing] the bidding of insurance companies.” Other Obamacare defenders paint the repeal effort as the agenda of Big Business. These arguments are false. Nobody should take them seriously.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/lets-stop-pretending-obamacare-repeal-is-the-big-business-agenda/article/2558659?custom_click=rss

 

The Blueprint For Getting Rid Of Obamacare

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/the-blueprint-for-getting-rid-of-obamacare/

 

Obamacare’s little secret

Meet the most important person you don’t know.

“Elizabeth MacDonough holds no elected office. Few people outside of Capitol Hill even know her name. And forget about knowing her political leanings or loyalties. But she may very well be the most powerful person in Washington in determining how far Republicans can go in trying to repeal Obamacare. As the Senate parliamentarian, MacDonough will make the decisions on which pieces of the law qualify to be repealed using a complicated budget procedure called reconciliation. Her decisions would allow Senate Republicans to vote to kill major provisions of the health care law under a simple 51-vote majority without giving Democrats a chance to filibuster. Republicans have not yet decided whether to use reconciliation — and whether to use it for Obamacare or tax reform. MacDonough would have a pivotal role in either scenario.

MacDonough started out as a Senate library clerk, moved up to become the “assistant morning business editor to the Congressional Record” and then, after law school, spent much of her working life in the nonpartisan parliamentarian office. She was named parliamentarian three years ago, the first woman to hold the position. The parliamentarian is typically a little-known person — at most, MacDonough can sometimes be spotted on C-SPAN quietly advising the Senate’s presiding officer. But when the post has become controversial in the past, it’s often been over the thorny decisions around reconciliation. Republicans protested decisions by then-parliamentarian Alan Frumin in the 2010 health care reform fight, when Democrats used the budget fast-track tool to pass a small part of the Affordable Care Act. In 2001, Republicans fired Robert Dove as parliamentarian after he ruled against them on how many reconciliation bills could be used. That was actually his second stint in the job: Democrats had fired Dove when they took the majority in 1987. MacDonough doesn’t grant interviews or drop hints about how she might rule on Obamacare — or anything else, for that matter. Her tenure has been so free of controversy that many lawmakers interviewed said they didn’t know much about her, or even her name. But those who do know her — Democrats and Republicans — describe her as even-keeled, friendly, smart and willing to listen. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said parliamentarians — or “parls,” as they’re known — have to make some tough calls that aren’t always black and white. “I think they do their best to use the facts and use the rules and follow the book,” he said. “She’s been around a long time, so she’s very steeped in the traditions of the Senate and understands how it works here. If and when the time comes, I’m sure she’ll be ready to do her job.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) had a similar assessment: “I have no question about her ability to read the rules and make the right decisions.” Those decisions are fought out in the so-called Byrd bath, the closed-door sessions when Republican and Democratic staff make their case to the parliamentarian about what goes in the bill and what stays out. It’s named for former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd, who created the complicated system years ago. That process could significantly raise MacDonough’s profile if the Republicans use reconciliation for either tax reform or Obamacare. Both would be hugely controversial. President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he would veto any GOP bill that guts Obamacare.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/senate-parliamentarian-elizabeth-macdonough-obamacare-114274.html

 

States Could Benefit If Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies

“State economies could get a big boost if the Supreme Court rules that the government cannot offer subsidies through federally-run Obamacare exchanges. In March, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a lawsuit claiming that the Affordable Care Act only authorizes tax credits for individuals purchasing health insurance through state-run exchanges. If the court agrees with that interpretation, the 34 states that declined to set up their own exchanges would lose the “free” federal subsidies they currently receive, but would also be liberated from the employer mandate requiring companies to offer health care to all employees working at least 30 hours per week. According to Don Susswein, a managing director at the consulting firm McGladrey LLP, such a ruling would present states with a difficult choice between establishing an exchange in order to preserve subsidies for low-income residents and shielding companies from the mandate as a way to promote job growth. “Jonathan Gruber famously said, in effect, that no state in their right mind would give up free tax breaks,” Susswein told The Daily Caller News Foundation, and the obvious implication is that if tax credits were the only issue, states would “bite the bullet and set up their own exchanges. However, while “some people are going to argue that it’s unfair for low-income people to lose their tax credits, there are others who will point out that there would be more jobs, and higher-paying jobs, available for those people” in the absence of an employer mandate. In some cases, he predicts, companies might respond by physically relocating to a state without an Obamacare exchange, taking jobs with them. Another possibility, especially for larger companies that do business in multiple states, would be to shift jobs around “so that all residents of non-mandate states work for a single subsidiary that is effectively exempt from Obamacare.” Because the mandate would still apply for workers directly employed by the parent company, firms would have a strong incentive to move as many jobs as possible to the mandate-free subsidiary. Removing the employer mandate would also benefit workers whose job status is not affected, Susswein argues, because those who lose access to employer-provided coverage would see a corresponding increase in their cash wages. “If you impose a per-job cost on an employer,” he explains, “the cost is really borne by the workers in reduced cash wages.” In fact, he says, the employer mandate is an unwanted burden for many low-income workers, because “they may prefer cash, or they may prefer a less generous insurance plan,” yet neither of those options is allowed under Obamacare.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/states-could-benefit-if-court-strikes-down-obamacare-subsidies/

 

White House just assuming they’ll win Obamacare case at SCOTUS

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/01/14/white-house-just-assuming-theyll-win-obamacare-case-at-scotus/

 

Transcending King v. Burwell: With The Supreme Court’s Blessing, The GOP Can Replace Obamacare’s Exchanges

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/01/15/transcending-king-v-burwell-with-the-supreme-courts-blessing-the-gop-can-replace-obamacares-exchanges/

 

Obamacare targets Latinos

“The Obama administration is allocating more of its Obamacare media budget this year to reaching Latinos, but won’t give a final goal for how many Latinos it wants enrolled in health coverage by the end of signup season. Nearly one-third of spending to spread the news about Affordable Care Act benefits is going to Hispanic media, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday. Last year, just 10 percent of the media budget targeted Spanish-language outlets, she said. Officials said that in the final few weeks of ACA enrollment, they’re doubling down on outreach to the Latino community, which remains the least-insured group in the country. Efforts to reach Latinos have floundered at times, with the administration twice delaying the launch last year of CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov. “As one of the fastest-growing communities in our nation, Latinos’ health is vital to the overall health of our country,” Burwell said on a call with leaders of Latino groups. But when asked how many Latinos she hopes will sign up by this year’s Feb. 15 enrollment deadline, Burwell gave only the administration’s overall goal: 9.1 million Americans enrolled in private coverage through the marketplaces. So far, Latinos make up a slightly larger percentage of total enrollees this year. Eight percent of plan selections have been made by Latinos, compared to 7 percent in 2014. Affordable Care Act advocates will be “kicking it into overdrive” over the next few weeks, said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America. “We know there’s a lot of work to be done to engage Latino communities in the last few weeks,” Filipic said. Officials said a key part of the strategy is meeting Latinos where they are. Research shows that they’re more likely than other groups to ask for personal assistance when signing up, and they overwhelmingly want to use the Spanish-language website. Latinos are also more likely to visit the marketplace using a mobile device. Nearly one-third of visitors to healthcare.gov use a phone or tablet; with CuidadoDeSalud, it’s nearly half, Burwell said. “We’re working to meet consumers where they are,” she said.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obamacare-targets-latinos/article/2558653?custom_click=rss

 

ObamaCare outreach to Hispanics in ‘overdrive’

“ObamaCare advocates are intensifying their efforts to bring Hispanics into the health insurance exchanges before the sign-up deadline on Feb. 15. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Enroll America and other national groups are focused on reaching Spanish speakers with more than 600 local enrollment events scheduled in the next four weeks, the coalition announced Wednesday. The movement to increase ObamaCare enrollment is also reaching out to Hispanics with advertisements and in cyberspace. HHS roughly tripled the amount of paid media dollars focused on Spanish speakers this year, according to Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.  Enrolling Hispanics represents a test for the Obama administration in the exchanges’ second year. Spanish speakers remain the most likely group to be uninsured in the United States despite targeted efforts to bring them into the marketplaces last year. “Because this community’s uninsured rate was so high to begin with, it is still true today that Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than other Americans,” said Enroll America President Anne Filipic on a call with reporters Wednesday. “We will be kicking our efforts into overdrive starting this week … [as] we expect that many people will once again wait until the final days to make their decisions.”  The additional focus on Hispanics comes as the administration nears its enrollment target for this year. Nearly 6.8 million people have picked plans or re-enrolled in coverage at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, a figure that is starting to approach the goal of 9 million sign-ups.  The share of Hispanics picking plans appears to be slightly higher than last year: as of Dec. 15, 8 percent of enrollments on the federal marketplace were from people who identified themselves as Hispanic compared with 7 percent in 2014, according to HHS.  The administration cautioned that these figures are incomplete, because not everyone who enrolls gives their ethnicity. But it was clear Burwell is seeking stronger enrollment from the Hispanic community prior to Feb. 15.  Health officials are taking advantage of their experience from last year to make smarter outreach decisions, she said, including increasing Spanish-language outreach and in-person assistance. HHS has also learned that a higher proportion of Hispanics access the enrollment website through mobile technology, Burwell said.  At the same time, she would not name a specific enrollment target for Hispanics. “We view the number in the context of the progress we’ve made for all of open enrollment,” Burwell said. “We want to make even more progress in the next four weeks.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229491-obamacare-outreach-to-latinos-in-overdrive

 

HHS makes last-minute Obamacare pitch to Hispanics

Advocates deem House vote against amnesty ‘not helpful’

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/14/hhs-makes-last-minute-obamacare-pitch-hispanics/

 

HealthCare.gov blankets consumer inboxes

“The tempo of notices from HealthCare.gov is increasing ahead of Thursday’s deadline for coverage that begins Feb. 1.  The federal health insurance exchange sent four reminders in the last 24 hours to some individuals with unfinished applications, reminding them to revisit the site. Several emails played up the decreasing number of days left before the deadline, a strategy to bring people into the exchange as soon as possible.  Sign-ups typically increase close to deadlines, though the largest rush is not expected until next month prior to the final cutoff date of Feb. 15.  After that time, people will not be able to buy health insurance on the exchanges unless they qualify for a special enrollment period.  The notices from HealthCare.gov signal the Obama administration’s focus on consumer outreach now that the website is functionally smoothly for most users.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell is also emphasizing the looming coverage deadlines.  “There are just over four weeks before the February 15 deadline and the end of open enrollment. For those who are thinking about getting health coverage, take a look at your options on HealthCare.gov or contact the call center,” Burwell said in a statement Wednesday.  Nearly 6.8 million people have picked plans or re-enrolled in coverage at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, HHS said Wednesday. The department’s goal prior to Feb. 15 is to sign up 9 million people.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229483-healthcaregov-blankets-consumer-inboxes

 

290,000 In Michigan Sign Up For Health Insurance Marketplace

“The federal government says more than 290,000 Michiganians have signed up for the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, one day ahead of Thursday’s enrollment deadline. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicessaid Wednesday that 290,439 people had signed up by Friday. Thursday is the deadline for people to get insurance starting Feb. 1. The government provides subsidies based on income. Another enrollment period runs through Feb. 15 for coverage that takes effect March. 1. After that, people may have to wait until 2016 to enroll. The federal agency says that about 6.5 million people nationwide have signed up or automatically renewed their participation in the marketplace since Nov. 15.”

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2015/01/14/290000-in-michigan-sign-up-for-health-insurance-marketplace/

 

1.2M sign up for Obamacare plans in Florida

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article6506187.html

 

Feds: 19,338 Delawareans choose Obamacare plans

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2015/01/14/feds-delawareans-choose-obamacare-plans/21771817/

 

Obamacare enrollment in Wisconsin running ahead of last year

http://www.jsonline.com/business/obamacare-enrollment-in-wisconsin-running-ahead-of-last-year-b99426235z1-288579381.html

 

Obamacare 2015: Texas enrollment nearly 860K

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/prognosis/article/Obamacare-2015-Texas-enrollment-nearly-860K-6015057.php

 

More than 15,000 Alaskans sign up for ACA insurance

http://www.adn.com/article/20150114/more-15000-alaskans-sign-aca-insurance

 

ObamaCare enrollment climbs higher

“Nearly 6.8 million people have selected a plan or re-enrolled at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, federal health officials announced Wednesday.  The latest figures show an increase in roughly 163,000 plans between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was gearing up for another sign-up rush ahead of Thursday, the cutoff for coverage that begins Feb. 1.  HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell also emphasized the final enrollment deadline for avoiding a penalty for 2015: Feb. 15.  “Nearly 6.8 million Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage for 2015 through the federally facilitated health insurance marketplace,” Burwell said in a statement.  “There are just over four weeks before the February 15 deadline and the end of open enrollment. For those who are thinking about getting health coverage, take a look at your options on HealthCare.gov or contact the call center.”  A total of 8,768,448 applications for insurance coverage have been submitted on the federal exchange since Nov. 15, and more than 18 million people have visited HealthCare.gov. HHS is shooting for 9 million enrollments by Feb. 15.  Burwell continued to emphasize the financial assistance available to many consumers on the marketplaces. Some exchanges, including California’s, have started to center their messages on the individual mandate penalties.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229481-obamacare-enrollment-climbs-higher

 

Where Obamacare Is Still Struggling

Some states haven’t recovered from low enrollment in the law’s first year.

“Obamacare enrollment is doing fine nationally, but it’s still lagging in a handful of key 2016 battlegrounds. Nevada is having an especially rough time. Iowa is making slow progress. And Ohio still has some work to do as well. They’re among the handful of states that got off to especially rocky starts when Obamacare enrollment began, and—at least for now—haven’t been able to fully turn things around in the law’s second year, according to new figures from the Obama administration. There’s still time: Open enrollment doesn’t end for another month, and most experts are expecting a surge in sign-ups ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline to buy coverage. And no state is doing as poorly as the law’s critics have predicted: No one’s insurance market is in danger of collapsing. But the first state-by-state breakdown of 2015 enrollment—which the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday—shows big variations in enrollment growth, particularly among states that didn’t do well during the first open-enrollment period. States like Texas and Florida, which enrolled especially large portions of their uninsured populations last year, don’t need to see a big spike in the number of people signing up for coverage this year—they’re already on the right track. But other states fell far short of their enrollment goals last year, signing up only a fraction of their uninsured residents. Those states need to see significant growth this time around. Each state is its own insurance market; premium increases vary from state to state, as will Obamacare’s success or failure. Wyoming, for example, is making up for lost time. It ranked near the bottom last year in terms of signing up eligible residents. But sign-ups in the state have already increased by 42 percent since then—the biggest growth rate in the country. North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are also seeing at least a 30 percent increase in sign-ups after poor showings in 2014. “Some of the highest growth is in markets that did less well last year,” said Larry Levitt, senior adviser for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. But some of the lowest growth is also coming from states that did poorly last year: Nevada ranked 43rd last year in the number of eligible residents who actually signed up for coverage. Since then, sign-ups have grown at an anemic 5.3 percent—the lowest rate of growth in any state. Nevada’s exchange has been beset by technical problems, and its total number of sign-ups as of last week was only about 2,000 higher than its totals in April. That growth rate is so small, it might not even make up for the people who signed up but never paid their premiums, Levitt said. Similarly, Iowa was second-to-last in 2014, signing up only about 13 percent of eligible residents. Sign-ups are 18 percent higher this year, compared with 24 percent nationally. The latest data cover only the 37 states that are relying on HealthCare.gov to operate their exchanges. Four of those states were in the bottom 10 performers last year and are also in the bottom 10 states for growth this year. It’s not entirely clear why enrollment is growing faster in certain states, Levitt said. But he said the discrepancies raise an important point about Obamacare’s future: While big, populous states like California and Florida propelled the law to an enrollment success in its first year, and will add millions more people to the rolls in 2015, the law will need higher enrollment from “unlikelier places” to truly keep growing in the long term.”

http://www.nationaljournal.com/health-care/where-obamacare-is-still-struggling-20150114

 

 

IMMIGRATION:

‘Enough Is Enough!’ Boehner Blasts Obama on House Floor as GOP Votes to Block Amnesty

“Speaker of the House John Boehner lambasted President Obama for his failure to respect the constitutional limits of his authority, striking a defiant tone as the GOP-controlled House voted to block the White House’s push for executive amnesty. The Republican majority leader took the House floor moments before the successful 236-191 vote, which funded the Department of Homeland Security past February while simultaneously moving to block unilateral executive initiatives granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. “Today I rise, and the House rises, to support and defend our Constitution,” Boehner began, saying there is “no alternative . . . This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law, and to the Constitution itself.” “What we’re dealing with is a president who has ignored the people, who has ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” the Speaker said – proceeding to list 22 occasions where President Obama explained his own constitutional limitations on immigration reform. “To think that the President of the United States actually studied constitutional law is one thing,” Boehner said, referring to the president’s time as a constitutional law scholar at Harvard. “He didn’t just learn constitutional law, he taught it as well. But now his actions suggest that he’s forgotten what these words even mean. Enough is enough!” The vote comes after intense conservative criticism of Boehner’s leadership earlier this month, with many accusing the Speaker of failing to confront President Obama’s overreach by funding the government through last December’s “cromnibus” spending bill. The bill now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate, where it must pass the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster. The White House is threatening to veto the bill, betting that blame for an unfunded Department of Homeland Security will fall squarely on Republican shoulders.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396368/enough-enough-boehner-blasts-obama-house-floor-gop-votes-block-amnesty-brendan

 

John Boehner mocks Obama’s knowledge of Constitution

“Escalating the immigration battle to a war of constitutional proportions, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that Congress was canceling President Obama’s deportation amnesties in order to keep faith with the founders’ vision of a government where laws are made by Congress, not the White House. Mr. Boehner, taking to the House floor, said the votes the House will take later Wednesday morning are a signal that Congress means to recapture the powers that have flowed from Capitol Hill to the White House in recent years. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” he said. “This is not a dispute between parties, or even between the branches of government. This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself.” The Ohio Republican went on to question Mr. Obama’s knowledge of the Constitution, which the president taught to classes at the University of Chicago’s law school. “To think that the president studied constitutional law at Harvard,” Mr. Boehner said. “But now his actions suggest he’s forgotten what these words even mean.” Minutes earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Mr. Obama on the floor, saying other presidents had taken the same kinds of actions, granting stays of deportation to other categories of illegal immigrants.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/14/boehner-mocks-obamas-knowledge-constitution/

 

Boehner: 22 Times Obama Said He Couldn’t Ignore Or Create His Own Immigration Law

“Here are the 22 times cited by Boehner:

–March 31, 2008: “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to … not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President…”

–May 19, 2008: “I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.”

–May 5, 2010: “Anybody who tells you … that I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention to how this town works.”

–July 1, 2010: “[T]here are those … who have argued passionately that we should … at least ignore the laws on the books… I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair.”

–October 14, 2010: “I do have an obligation to make sure that I am following some of the rules. I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there.”

–October 25, 2010: “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. … I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”

–March 28, 2011: “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law.”

–April 20, 2011: “I can’t solve this problem by myself. … I can’t do it by myself.”

–April 29, 2011: “Some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how democracy works”

–May 10, 2011: “They wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”

–July 25, 2011: “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. … But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”

–September 28, 2011: “We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it.”

–September 20, 2012: “What I’ve always said is, as the head of the executive branch, there’s a limit to what I can do.”

–October 16, 2012: “We’re … a nation of laws. … And I’ve done everything that I can on my own.”

–January 30, 2013: “I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law.”

–January 30, 2013: “I’m not a king. You know, my job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law.”

–February 14, 2013: “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States.”

–July 16, 2013: “I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative.”

–September 17, 2013: “My job in the executive branch is supposed to be to carry out the laws that are passed. … But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law…”

–November 25, 2013: “The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. … That’s not our tradition.”

–March 6, 2014: “And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore … any of the other laws that are on the books.”

–August 6, 2014: “I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/boehner_22_times_obama_said_he_couldnt_ignore_or_create_his_own_immigration_law.html

 

House passes bill to defund Obama’s immigration orders

“The House voted Wednesday to block funding for President Obama’s immigration orders, firing the first shot in a high-stakes battle over deferred deportations for the millions of people who are in the country illegally. The measure passed in a 236-191 vote, with 10 Republicans voting against it and two Democrats voting in favor. Democrats rallied against the bill, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September, after Republicans adopted a series of contentious amendments that take aim at facets of Obama’s immigration policy. One of the amendments would choke off funding for Obama’s executive action announced in November, which would allow some illegal immigrants to stay in the country and obtain work permits. A second amendment would halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which lifts deportation for some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. The defunding amendment was adopted in a 237-190 vote, with seven Republicans voting no, while the DACA amendment was approved 218-209, with 26 Republicans defecting. House Democrats were unified in opposition to both provisions. The 10 Republican no votes on the final legislation came from Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Mario Díaz-Balart (Fla.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and David Valadao (Calif.). The two Democrats voting in favor were Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.). Before the votes began, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a rare speech on the House floor in support and quoted 22 times when Obama said he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally rewrite immigration law. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” Boehner said. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), one of the co-sponsors of the amendment to defund the November actions, said lawmakers needed to stand up to avoid setting a new precedent where the executive branch is allowed to flout the will of Congress. “Law is not made because Congress fails to act. Law is made in this room when we do act,” Mulvaney said during floor debate. Mulvaney pledged that he would join Democrats in opposing similar unilateral action from a Republican president. “I will the first to be here with you to stand against that to fight back,” Mulvaney said. Three other amendments that were folded into the spending bill would prioritize deportation for illegal immigrants convicted of sexual abuse and domestic violence; promote the hiring of U.S. citizens above those who are in the country illegally, and express the sense of Congress the administration should “stop putting the interest of immigrants who worked within the legal framework to come to the US behind those who came here illegally.” All five amendments were attached to a nearly $40 billion bill that would fund DHS through September. Congress must fund the department by Feb. 27 or it could shut down. House Republicans say they are acting well ahead of the deadline to give the Republican Senate enough time to consider the package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the upper chamber would focus on the bill in February, which could lead to a showdown with Democrats at the eleventh hour. The White House has already promised that President Obama would veto the DHS bill if “ideological provisions” were tied to it.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/229469-house-votes-to-defund-obamas-immigration-orders

 

House Roll Call: Obama’s executive action on immigration

“The 237-190 roll call Wednesday by which the House agreed to a measure that would undo executive actions that President Barack Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the measure. Voting yes were 0 Democrats and 237 Republicans. Voting no were 183 Democrats and 7 Republicans.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-roll-call-obamas-executive-action-on-immigration-n1943042

 

House Roll Call: Passage of Homeland bill with immigration

“The 236-191 roll call Wednesday by which the House passed a bill that would provide nearly $40 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year. The bill includes provisions rolling back President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill. Voting yes were 2 Democrats and 234 Republicans. Voting no were 181 Democrats and 10 Republicans.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-roll-call-passage-of-homeland-bill-with-immigration-n1943070

 

House Votes to Defund Obama’s Immigration Action

“The House voted Wednesday to defund President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, a step Republicans promised to take after Obama said in November he would provide legal protection for up to 5 million illegal immigrants. Members voted 237-190 in favor of a defunding amendment brought by Rep. Bob Aderholt (R-Ala.). All but seven Republicans supported it, and it was opposed by all Democrats. Republicans voting against it were Reps. Carlos Curbello (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Bob Dold (Ill.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and David Valadao (Calif.). With that vote, Aderholt’s language was attached to a Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which the House then passed shortly after noon in a 236-191 vote. Aderholt’s language would block funding for Obama’s executive action, even those funds that agencies collect on their own through fees. It would prevent enforcement of memos DHS released in 2011 and 2012 that allow agencies to halt immigration enforcement on various classes of illegal immigrants. It would also block any effort to carry out similar policies, and prevent the executive branch from giving any benefit to illegal immigrants that aren’t prescribed under law. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised to fight Obama’s action “tooth and nail,” and attaching the defunding language to the DHS spending bill is one of the stronger steps the GOP could take. Many conservatives feared the House might pass a defunding bill as a separate item, which would have made it much easier for Obama to ignore. Attaching it to the DHS spending bill sets up an immediate challenge to Obama, who has said he would veto the bill if it defunds his immigration plan. It also raises questions about how the Senate will handle the bill. It’s possible that Republicans may have to consider tweaking the language in order to find the 60 votes needed to start work on the bill, and failure to do so could effectively kill the bill in the upper chamber. But this week, at least, House Republicans were holding firm, and were led by Boehner himself in the effort to fight back against Obama’s attempt to go around Congress. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply, there is no alternative,” Boehner said, making one of his rare appearances on the House floor to speak about specific legislation. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.” “Enough is enough,” Boehner added. “By their votes last November, the people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today, we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-defund-obamas-immigration-action/

 

House votes to roll back Obama’s immigration actions

But this version of the Homeland Security spending bill has no hope of getting through the Senate.

“House Republicans mounted a furious assault on four years of President Barack Obama’s immigration policies Wednesday — satisfying hard-liners on the issue but prompting resistance among some moderates concerned that the party’s leadership has gone too far. The GOP-led chamber voted 236-191 to pass legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of September, with measures attached that would effectively kill the administration’s efforts to unilaterally shield millions of undocumented immigrations from deportations. It would also thwart Obama administration enforcement policies that limited deportations of people who weren’t criminals or serial immigration violators.

Story Continued Below But given the qualms of moderates in the Senate and a presidential veto threat, the all-out rollback doesn’t stand a chance of becoming law. So even with the legislation passing the House, Republican leadership — in both chambers — will face the complicated calculus of trying to keep DHS funded while registering the GOP’s broad disapproval of Obama’s unilateral moves on immigration. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on the floor Wednesday. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.” Potential signs of trouble began erupting Tuesday, when House Republicans began telling the leadership’s whip operation that they planned to vote against an amendment from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That program, which Obama announced in 2012, has stopped some 600,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported and allowed them to work legally. Ultimately, 26 House Republicans voted against the measure killing DACA — mostly moderates on immigration who represent states with significant Latino populations, such as California, Florida, Nevada and New York. Some members were also irritated at the leadership’s courting of the hard-liners — particularly those who had mounted a failed coup against Boehner on the vote for speaker last week.

“This is rewarding bad behavior,” one frustrated GOP lawmaker said. Still, the Blackburn amendment passed narrowly, 218-209. DACA was the model for an even broader executive action announced by Obama last November, in which similar protections would be offered to roughly 4 million immigrants without legal status who have been here for at least five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or green-card holders. The administration also expanded DACA itself to a much larger pool of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States illegally at a young age. To be sure, Wednesday’s plan had broad support from the GOP conference. But with near-unanimous Democratic opposition, the Republican leadership had to ensure it didn’t lose too many of its moderate members on the immigration policies, or else the overall bill could have sunk. “If President Obama’s unilateral immigration amendments are not stopped, future presidents will continue to expand the power of the executive branch and encroach upon individual liberty,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who helped craft the party’s response to Obama’s executive action, said on the House floor Tuesday. “The time is now for Congress to take a stand against these abusive actions.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/immigration-reform-republicans-house-114251.html

 

House votes to undo Obama immigration actions

“The 236-191 vote came on a broad bill that would provide $39.7 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year, legislation that lawmakers of both parties said was sorely needed to pay for counterterrorism, cybersecurity and other priorities at a moment when the Paris terror attacks have underscored dire threats. Democrats accused Republicans of putting that money at risk by attaching veto-bait amendments on immigration, and some Republicans voiced the same concern. But House GOP leaders and most of their rank and file accused Obama in turn of reckless and unconstitutional actions on immigration that had to be answered. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.” But Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the Republicans were simply pandering to the far right. “Shame on Republicans for attacking the Latino community,” Sanchez said. “Republicans are consciously targeting millions of families who work hard, contribute to our communities and are just trying to give their children a chance at the American dream.” One of the immigration amendments, approved 237-190, would undo executive actions that Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief and work permits to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally, mostly people who have children who are citizens or legal permanent residents. The amendment also would cancel earlier directives to immigration agents aimed at giving them discretion in focusing deportations on criminals.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-takes-broad-aim-at-obama-on-immigration-n1942798

 

House votes to undo Obama’s executive amnesties as part of new funding bill for Homeland Security

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-undo-obamas-executive-amnesties-as-part-of-new-funding-bill-for-homeland-security/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration policies

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-votes-to-block-obamas-immigration-policies/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration action

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/14/dhs-spending-bill-immigration-executive-order/21740293/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration actions — but exposes new GOP divisions

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-block-obamas-immigration-actions-but-exposes-new-gop-divisions/

 

26 REPUBLICANS VOTE AGAINST BLACKBURN AMENDMENT TO DEFUND OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS

“A whopping 26 Republicans joined the Democrats in Congress to vote against an amendment to the DHS funding bill sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). That amendment aims to block funds for President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), largely believed to be the root cause of the border crisis last summer. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) was the first Republican to break ranks. “Ellmers is [the] first GOP no vote,” Politico’s Seung Min Kim Tweeted as the vote began. The other Republicans who voted against the measure, which passed, are: Reps. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Bob Dold (R-IL), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Crescent Hardy (R-NV), John Katko (R-NY), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Peter King (R-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Fred Upton (R-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA). Blackburn described her amendment as something that cuts off the magnet for future illegal immigration by Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC’s) to the United States. “Last year, I had the opportunity to visit an unaccompanied alien children (UAC) facility at Fort Sill and also traveled to the southern border where I was briefed by U.S. Border Patrol agents,” Blackburn said. “These visits confirmed what we have known all along — DACA is the magnet drawing Central American children here. UAC’s believe they will receive amnesty, as those before them have.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/01/14/26-republicans-vote-against-blackburn-amendment-to-defund-obamas-executive-amnesty-for-illegal-aliens/

 

Centrists break in deportation vote

“More than two dozen House Republicans broke with their party on Wednesday to oppose defunding a program that lets those who entered the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country, a sign of tension within the party on immigration. A total of 26 GOP lawmakers bucked leadership and voted with Democrats against an amendment to defund Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Many hail from swing districts or districts with large Hispanic populations, and they include many of the House Republicans who have been advocating for the party to tackle immigration reform in a comprehensive way. Many GOP strategists are worried the amendment could hurt the party in next year’s elections, and the party split, which included several likely Democratic targets for 2016, shows several members agree. Freshman Reps. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Crescent Hardy (R-Nev.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) all voted with Democrats on the amendment, as did perennial Democratic targets including Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.). The rest of the list features more centrist Republicans from slightly safer districts that have either large Hispanic populations, like Reps. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), or are in more suburban Northeastern and Midwestern territory, like Reps. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The lone exception who might be taking on more political risk with her vote is Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who warded off a challenge from a conservative border hawk in 2014. The 26 Republicans who voted against the amendment were:…”

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/229477-centrist-republicans-break-with-party-on-deportation-vote

 

Our Fight’s With the President, Not DREAMers (Jeff Denham)

“My colleagues in both chambers of Congress rightfully feel the moral necessity of responding to such unaccountable overreach from this president. His actions were purely political and designed to drive a wedge between burgeoning minority communities and a center right country which prefers its government focus on economic issues and growing a stagnant economy. We must respond to the president’s assault on the democratic process by exercising our constitutional powers. Toward this end, this week the House will consider a bill appropriating funds for the Department of Homeland Security. These funds are necessary to keep our nation safe from terrorism, enable us to respond to natural disasters and strengthen the security of our borders. The efforts of the DHS protect Americans lives on a daily basis and strengthen state and local law enforcement efforts, and I fully support the DHS funding bill that has been proposed. However, I am concerned that Congress will overreach in taking action against a large swath of individuals in our communities who should be protected. Some of my colleagues insist on a series of amendments designed specifically to penalize a class of immigrants who never elected to break our laws in the first place. I have voted repeatedly in Congress to protect children who were brought into this country by their parents or guardians through no fault of their own. The current Administration began allowing this group of individuals (popularly called DREAMers) to apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals status (DACA) in 2012. Shielding young people from deportation, most of whom were brought to this country at a very young age and have gone to school and worked alongside our children, is the right thing to do. Most Americans and their members of Congress agree. Had the president worked with Congress then on a legislative solution, we would not be having this debate today.

In order to obtain the DACA paperwork and receive recognition by DHS, the DREAMers have passed background checks, have clean criminal records, earned high school and college degrees, and have worked towards achieving the American dream. DREAMers are contributing members of our society. Some of the proposed amendments to the DHS funding bill would prohibit DHS from renewing DACA applications, and will subject our DREAMers to deportation, pulling them from their jobs, colleges, and families. Where would they go? Many know no other country to call home. The same federal government that told children as young as four and five years old to come forward will then turn around three years later and deport these young people to countries they have never known.”

http://www.rollcall.com/news/our_fights_with_the_president_not_dreamers_commentary-239264-1.html

 

Dems Were Asked to Support the Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Convicted of Violence and Sexual Abuse. Here’s How They Voted.

“Dozens of House Democrats on Wednesday voted against a legislative proposal aimed at ensuring that illegal immigrants convicted of domestic violence, sexual abuse or child abuse are a priority for deportation. The vote suggests that immigration-related issues trump other traditional Democratic priorities, such as efforts to protect people from sex or violence-related crimes, especially against women. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) proposed the language as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill. He argued it was needed because Obama’s executive action on immigration created different priorities for deportation that need to be adjusted. For example, illegal immigrants suspected of terrorism or espionage or other felonies are top priorities for deportation. But illegal immigrants who are convicted of three or more misdemeanors, or one “significant” misdemeanor such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, are on a second tier priority for deportation. On Wednesday, House Republicans put forward the DeSantis amendment to prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants convicted of domestic violence, sexual abuse or child abuse. But they were met by significant Democratic opposition, including from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is widely seen as a champion of women’s issues. Pelosi explained that she opposed the amendment because it was opposed by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops… Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) also explained that in many domestic violence cases involving illegal immigrants, police arrest both the abuser and the victim, and both can end up pleading to a misdemeanor just to speed up the process. “This happens all the time, all around the country,” she argued. As a result, she said the GOP language could end up hurting victims as well as abusers. Those arguments were met with disbelief from Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who sponsored the amendment. DeSantis said he was “perplexed” why anyone would vote against the amendment. “Why would we have any tolerance for child molesters?” Desalts said. “If you’re not in our country legally, and you get convicted of an offense like that, you should be gone. We shouldn’t even be discussing this.” “I think the people who are going to vote ‘no’ on this are basically saying, ‘we don’t want a zero-tolerance policy against child molesters and sexual offenders,’ ” he added. In the end, the House approved the DeSantis amendment 278-149 vote. Thirty-five Democrats voted with Republicans on this measure, and one Republican voted against it. But that left 148 Democrats voting against it. Below are all the “no” votes on the DeSantis amendment — all but one of them, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), are Democrats:”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/dems-were-asked-to-support-the-deportation-of-illegal-immigrants-convicted-of-violence-and-sexual-abuse-heres-how-they-voted/

 

House votes to overturn Obama immigration actions, bill heads to Senate

“Even with Republicans in control of the Senate the bill faces tough chances there, especially because House GOP leaders decided to satisfy demands from conservative members by including a vote to undo the 2012 policy that deals with younger immigrants known as “Dreamers.” The amendment, which is opposed by some of the more moderate Republicans in the House, would ultimately expose those young people to deportation.  Security-minded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also are worried about using the DHS funding bill to wage the immigration fight, saying security funding should not be put at risk, particularly in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. Current DHS funding expires at the end of next month.  In the Senate, Republicans would have to rally a 60-vote majority to advance the legislation, and they have only 54 members.  With even some Republicans voicing reservations, the Senate may have to strip out the immigration provisions and send a straight DHS funding bill back to the House, as the Feb. 27 deadline looms.  This, then, could set up another fight between GOP leadership and the conservative reaches of the party.  One senior House GOP aide told Fox News, “I don’t know how this one ends.” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, in a written statement, said the bill would not pass the Senate. “Republicans have only been in control for a week and already they are picking an unnecessary political fight that risks shutting down the Department of Homeland Security and endangering our security,” he said, urging Republicans to pass a “clean” funding bill. Some House Republicans acknowledged that the Senate is likely to reject their approach. “They’re not going to pass this bill,” Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said in predicting the Senate outcome.  Obama has threatened to veto the House bill, and Democrats roundly denounced it, even as immigrant advocates warned Republicans they risked alienating Latino voters who will be crucial to the 2016 presidential election.  “Just two weeks into this new Congress, Republicans have turned a bipartisan issue, funding our Department of Homeland Security, into a cesspool of despicable amendments that cater to the most extremist anti-immigrant fringe,” Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said in a House debate.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-overturn-obama-immigration-actions-bill-now-goes-to-senate/

 

Rep. Gowdy on Stopping Executive Action on Immigration: “It’s About Damn Time” We Use The Power Of The Purse

“REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): This is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. This is not even a fight over immigration reform. This is a fight over whether this branch of government will ever find the courage to stand up for itself. The same document that this and all presidents swear to defend gives this body certain tools. Tools like the power of the purse and it’s about damn time we use that tool.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/rep_gowdy_on_stopping_executive_action_on_immigration_its_about_damn_time_we_use_the_power_of_the_purse.html

 

Voters Beat Donors In House Immigration Debate

“The House passed a tough anti-amnesty bill Wednesday, marking a major victory for poll data over donor pressure. Only 26 GOP members objected to some of the anti-amnesty measures, which are designed to block Obama’s plan to largely effectively halt deportation of unauthorized migrants and to hand out roughly 5 million work-permits to illegals. That’s a big turnaround from December, when House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders ignored the GOP’s anti-amnesty base as they pushed through a 2015 budget that funded Obama’s amnesty until the end of February. The budget bill passed Wednesday would fund the Department of Homeland Security from February to October, but it also bars any spending to implement Obama’s amnesty, which was announced in November. The bill will be sent quickly over to the Senate. That will create a headache for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has usually supported business groups’ call for expanded immigration of low-wage workers. Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions will likely be the leading Senate champion for the bill. “This vote represents one of the most important constitutional votes that has ever come before this body,” he said in a statement after the House vote. “I would encourage every Senate Democrat to pause and consider this question before acting: to whom do you owe your allegiance? To party leaders, to donors, to the citizens of other countries, or to the American citizens who elected you and the Constitution that protects their rights?” he said. This week, Sessions sent a polling memo to his fellow senators saying GOP opposition to Obama’s amnesty can help elect a Republican to the White House in 2016. But many of the 54 GOP senators are reluctant to support the bill, and a handful will likely vote against the bill. These opponents likely include South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Arizona’s Jeff Flake. McConnell will need support from roughly 10 Democratic senators to get the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected Democratic filibuster. That’s unlikely, though. Polls show lopsided opposition among Republican and Democratic voters for laws that allow companies to hire guest-workers and immigrants prior to Americans. For example, a September poll by Paragon Insights showed that large slices of the Democratic coalition would be “much more likely” to vote for a GOP candidate who says that “the first goal of immigration policy needs to be getting unemployed Americans back to work — not importing more low-wage workers to replace them.” 38 percent of African-Americans, 39 percent of Democratic women, 36 percent of Latinos and roughly 47 percent of midwesterners said they would be much more likely to support a GOP candidate who favors the employment of Americans. But a push is unlikely because the GOP Senators are under intense pressure from business groups to avoid any criticism of immigration. GOP leaders may succumb to business pressure, and only make a weak effort to push the bill through the Senate. White House officials say the president will veto the budget bill because his amnesty policy makes sense. Also, they argue that the GOP bill undermine border security because the president’s veto will limit research and equipment maintenance by the border agency. ”The most important thing to do is to fund these agencies so they can do their job,” Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s top domestic policy director, told reporters after the House passed the bill.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/voters-beat-donors-in-house-immigration-debate/

 

A Risky Immigration Vote for the GOP

The House vote to block President Obama’s executive actions was another step back in the party leadership’s fitful quest for reform.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/01/House-Republicans-Vote-to-Block-Obama-on-Immigration/384513/

 

How Quickly the Senate Acts on the DHS Bill Will Say a Lot About Whether They Want to Stop Amnesty

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396369/how-quickly-senate-acts-dhs-bill-will-say-lot-about-whether-they-want-stop-amnesty

 

Filibuster Of DHS Spending Bill Looms in the Senate

“The next hurdle: a filibuster by Senate Democrats. Just as House Republicans gained support by dividing the language defunding Obama’s actions into separate amendments, Senate Democrats will try to weaken Republicans by rolling them into one, a Senate Republican aide predicts. There are some Republicans who will vote to withhold funding for the most recent orders, but not for the DACA program. Democrats will likely file a single motion to strip all of the amendments out of the base DHS funding bill — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has already said that they should pass a “clean” bill without any of the anti-amnesty language. Senate Republicans should be able to muster the 51 votes needed to table that motion, even if some vulnerable members of the conference fear that this tabling vote will be portrayed in political attack ads as tantamount to a vote against DACA. “After we table their amendment, we’ll need to get cloture (60 votes) to proceed to a vote on final passage,” a conservative Senate aide explains to NRO. “That’s when they can filibuster. We feel good there are enough Democrats who will not walk this plank for the president and the Senate will send the bill to the president’s desk for him to veto. If they do hold (unlikely), and we can’t get to 60, then we’re stuck on the bill. Nothing we can do at that point to get it passed.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396374/filibuster-dhs-spending-bill-looms-senate-joel-gehrke

 

Immigration endgame not in House’s favor

Many Republicans fear the Senate will come back with a ‘clean’ funding bill, with no immigration language attached.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/immigration-house-114278.html

 

Hoyer: Not all GOP immigration amendments are ‘killers’

“Not all of the Republican provisions to scale back President Obama’s executive actions are deal-breakers for a broader deal on Homeland Security funding, the second-ranking House Democrat said Wednesday. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that, although Democrats overwhelmingly oppose all five immigration amendments accompanying the homeland security debate, only two are “killers.” One would end Obama’s 2012 deferred action program halting deportations for younger illegal immigrants, and another blocks an expansion of that program to roughly five million more people. Those “are clearly unacceptable,” Hoyer said, because “they simply reverse everything that’s been done.” The other three, Hoyer said, simply don’t carry the same weight. “All three of them have deficiencies,” he said. “[But] those amendments, while not good amendments, are not the killer amendments in that they undermine the entire program.” Hoyer’s comments suggest that Democratic leaders might be willing to accept something other than a clean DHS funding bill in order to keep the agency up and running beyond Feb. 27, when funds are set to expire. That support could be crucial if the Senate sends a scaled-back version of the DHS bill that alienates conservative Republicans and leaves House GOP leaders in need of Democratic votes to get it to Obama. The three amendments Hoyer referenced include provisions to prioritize deportation for domestic violence and sexual abuse offenders; to promote the hiring of U.S. citizens and legal residents over those in the country illegally; and to prioritize people who came to the U.S. legally ahead of those who arrived illegally. The latter two are so-called “sense of the Congress” resolutions, meaning they have no binding influence over policy.  House GOP leaders on Wednesday passed the DHS funding bill with all five amendments attached, but Senate Republicans are not expected to have the 60 votes to move it through the upper chamber.  Furthermore, the White House has threatened to veto the package if it includes “any amendments to the legislation that would place restrictions on the Department’s ability to set smart enforcement priorities focused on criminals, national security threats, and recent border crossers, hold undocumented immigrants accountable, and modernize the legal immigration system.” Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), says it will oppose any DHS funding package that includes any of the five immigration provisions.   “I won’t vote for it, and [that] is the position of the CHC,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) added Wednesday.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/229538-hoyer-not-all-gop-immigration-amendments-are-killers

 

Democrats Blast GOP Over Homeland Security Bill

Republicans tie bill funding Department of Homeland Security to a block on spending for Obama’s immigration order.

““You think it would have heightened the urgency to pass a homeland security bill, but Republicans still say ‘no’ to passing a clean bill unless they can be a menace to immigration,” Pelosi said. However, the legislation has the potential to hurt both Democrats and Republicans, said John Hudak, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. He said if Republicans are viewed as playing politics and the DHS is not funded, there will be political consequences. “But if they can get a bill to the president’s desk, that creates a difficult scenario for the president because it’s hard for the president, especially in the environment we’re in right now, to veto a homeland security funding bill,” Hudak said. “The politics around the legislation are difficult for both sides because neither side can look like the ones who are negatively affecting the Department of Homeland Security broadly.” With the 2016 presidential election looming, immigration policies are becoming increasingly important as parties look to capture the Latino vote. Democrats will look to build on their strong Latino support from 2012, which played a key role in many swing states.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/01/13/democrats-blast-gop-over-homeland-security-bill?google_editors_picks=true

 

White House blasts House on immigration

“The White House on Wednesday blasted House Republicans for a vote that would block implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration in exchange for funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said amendments that would prohibit the government from providing deportation protection and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants were “not relevant” to funding for the department, and argued “nothing” that had been proposed by House Republicans “makes any sense from a policy perspective.” In addition to halting the president’s recently announced executive action on immigration, the House bill would prevent new applications and renewals under the deferred action program unveiled in 2012 for those who were brought to the country illegally as children. According to the White House, some 600,000 people have taken advantage of that program already. The legislation would also prioritize deportation for illegal immigrants convicted of sexual abuse and domestic violence; promote the hiring of U.S. citizens above those who are in the country illegally; and express the sense of Congress that the administration should “stop putting the interest of immigrants who worked within the legal framework to come to the U.S. behind those who came here illegally.” But Muñoz insisted that “there’s no reason to tinker with the administration’s actions at all.” She also reiterated the president’s intention to veto any legislation that tries to alter his executive actions. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said such prosecutorial prioritization was “critical to any law enforcement agency.” Other administration officials argued that the gambit of tying immigration legislation to DHS funding was tantamount to a dangerous game of legislative chicken. White House press secretary Josh Earnest appeared to invoke the recent terror attacks in Paris while arguing his case. “There’s never a good time to muck around with the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, but given the events of the last week, this seems like a particularly bad time to do so,” Earnest said. Andrew Mayock of the Office of Management and Budget noted that without new funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service would be unable to enact a series of new security policies prescribed in a review conducted after repeated breaches of White House security. Mayock also noted that FEMA would be prevented from distributing emergency grants to state and local governments in need. Republicans have defended the legislation as necessary after Obama moved aggressively to broaden the deferred action program — despite previously indicating he did not believe he had the executive authority to do so. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a rare floor speech Wednesday.  The White House repeatedly refused to say how they hoped Senate Democrats, who should have enough votes to filibuster the House legislation, should approach the House funding bill. Officials said they did not expect the Senate to announce a path forward until after this week’s policy retreats. Muñoz also refused to say whether immigration would play a prominent role in the president’s State of the Union address next week. Obama’s approval rating has jumped — particularly among Hispanic voters — in the aftermath of the actions, and the president may use his primetime address to chastise Republicans over the issue. “It’s always dangerous to get ahead of the president and his speech,” Muñoz said.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/229526-white-house-blasts-house-on-immigration

 

White House Calls House Immigration Vote ‘Political Theater’

“The White House said vowed that President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration will be implemented, despite “political theater” by House Republicans to defund them. “The president knew when he announced these executive actions, we would have this debate,” White House domestic policy director Cecilia Muñoz told reporters Wednesday. “The concerns about people coming forward were experienced during the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.” She said Obama’s deferred action has been successful with about 600,000 young immigrants coming forward. “He encouraged us to be inspired by that example,” she said. “That example is stronger than the political theater we are seeing in the House.” The House voted Wednesday to defund the executive actions Obama took in November that would shield about 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. The 237-190 House vote, mostly along partisan lines, was for an amendment to a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Once adopted, the Homeland Security funding bill passed the House by a vote of 236-191. “If this legislation reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it,” Munoz vowed. She said the “House of Representatives also voted restore the broken immigration system to the status quo.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said the budget could interfere with funding border guards as well as important technology used to secure the southern border. “Technology has to be repaired, and there are contracts,” he said. “There aren’t many contractors or research and development organizations that want to work with you for a month or two.” He stressed the need for a fully funded fiscal year budget and defended Obama’s executive actions. “If we are going to be successful in protecting this country at every level we need a budget and we need America’s broken immigration system fixed,” he said. “We’ve done prioritization in every level of law enforcement I’ve ever worked in and this is no different.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/white-house-calls-house-immigration-vote-political-theater/

 

Border fight shifts to GOP event

“While the overall bill, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed 236-191, the resistance to the most controversial deportation amendment exposed a growing divide in the party over how to confront the White House. The legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats are united in opposition and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seeking to protect the 24 GOP incumbents who are up for reelection in 2016. The question of what to do next will be front and center in Hershey, Pa., where Republicans from both chambers of Congress arrived Wednesday evening for a joint retreat aimed at plotting strategy and legislation for the year.

Leaders are hoping to project unity at the event, but the Feb. 27 deadline for the DHS funding looms large. Senate Democrats wasted no time in declaring the funding bill dead on arrival. “Republicans should stop playing games and pass a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security because the pointless, political bill passed in the House today will not pass the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. The White House, buoyed by Obama’s rising approval ratings, jumped into the fray as well, and appeared to relish the chance to do battle with the GOP on immigration. Domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said amendments adopted by the House were “not relevant” to funding the DHS and said “nothing” that had been proposed by House Republicans “makes any sense from a policy perspective.” “There’s no reason to tinker with the administration’s actions at all,” Muñoz said. House Republicans begged to differ. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a rare speech from the House floor, said Obama’s unilateral moves to delay deportations are trampling the rule of law. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” he said.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/229570-border-fight-shifts-to-gop-powwow

 

Obama’s Amnesty Faces Skeptical Judge In Texas

“State officials and allied activists are cautiously optimistic that a Thursday hearing will help a Texas judge issue a decision that would block President Barack Obama’s unpopular amnesty. Officials in 25 states have a solid legal claim that President Barack Obama’s actions are unconstitutional, said lawyers working for the coalition of plaintiffs. They’re also optimistic because the appeals court isn’t stacked with progressive judges, and because the judge has previously criticized the White House’s rollback of border enforcement, the lawyers told The Daily Caller. The plaintiffs’ coalition is also diverse, which allows them to make a variety of legal claims, including some that vote-seeking politicians wouldn’t want to make, said Michael Hethmon, senior counsel at the immigration Law Reform Institute. The stakes are high, partly because Obama’s Nov. 20 amnesty announcement is the only surviving portion of his two-year, top-priority second-term push to expand immigration. Some Democrats are worried that any legal setback will cripple the amnesty program. Any unfavorable courtroom outcome could deter millions of illegals from filing for amnesty. Many illegals worry that their applications for amnesty could be used later to arrest and repatriate them. “We need to convey the message that it is here to stay,” said Rep. Jared Polis, a wealthy Democratic politician from Colorado. On Tuesday, he joined other Democrats in a rally intended to boost illegals’ confidence in the amnesty program, according to The Hill. The lawsuit gets a formal hearing in Brownsville, Texas on Thursday, when the judge can ask the various lawyers to explain aspects of their many written claims, which have already been delivered electronically to the judge. Obama’s legal claim is also online. Federal officials say the president has the legal authority to offer work permits to five million illegals, and also to stop the required repatriation of nearly 12 million migrants living illegally in the United States. The judge is U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who was nominated to the court in 2002 by President George W. Bush. The Texas lawyers who are leading the case wanted Hanen to be the judge, and so they filed their lawsuit in his two-judge district. By a fifty-fifty chance, the lawsuit was randomly assigned to Hanen.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/obamas-amnesty-faces-skeptical-judge-in-texas/

 

Report: Obama’s Executive Action Already Blocking ICE from Carrying Out Some Deportations

“The president’s executive actions on immigration are already preventing law enforcement from deporting illegal immigrants who are in custody and scheduled for removal, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer who spoke with CIS says the president’s executive action has blocked the agency from deporting illegal immigrants that are awaiting their removal. Many of these illegal immigrants will instead be released and qualify for work permits, the officer says. Some ICE officers are even spending time on the phone answering calls from illegal immigrants about whether they’re eligible for the president’s executive action rather than focusing on enforcement, according to CIS. A number of illegal immigrants with pending criminal cases, previous deportations, and traffic violations such as drunk driving were let go at the end of 2014, the report says. More than 600 illegal aliens in all were released from the federal government at the end of the year, according to the report. Some ICE officials were disgruntled during the child-migrant crisis last summer because they were essentially being forced to stay at their desks rather than go out and do their jobs. Now, the CIS report says, ICE officials are getting orders: Release illegal immigrants it had planned to deport.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396390/report-obamas-executive-action-already-blocking-ice-carrying-out-some-deportations

 

ICE Begins Releasing Deportable Aliens to Work in the U.S.

“Most of the attention directed toward the president’s executive actions on immigration has been focused on the plan to issue work permits to potentially five million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). But these are not the only illegal aliens who are getting work permits as part of the executive amnesty. Starting almost immediately after the president’s announcement in November, ICE offices around the country were directed to go through their caseload of illegal aliens in the process of being deported and start releasing all those who, by the stroke of the president’s pen, were no longer priorities for enforcement. And, under current policy, many illegal aliens who have criminal records and/or prior deportations also are getting work permits. According to media reports, as of the end of 2014, more than 600 detained illegal aliens were freed by the executive action, 200 of whom were in Arizona. Who gets a “get out of jail free” card?

–Illegal aliens with pending criminal cases;

–Illegal aliens with criminal charges that were dismissed or dropped (sometimes local prosecutors drop charges because they believe the alien will be deported);

–Illegal aliens with significant traffic violations, usually drunk driving, but also vehicle theft and hit-and-run;

–Illegal aliens who have been deported once or many times before, but who have minor or no criminal convictions, and who are often filing last-ditch asylum claims;

–Illegal aliens without criminal convictions who are contesting deportation in protracted court cases (at taxpayer expense), which will now be dropped;

–Illegal aliens already ordered deported who are awaiting travel documents, which in some cases are deliberately delayed by their home countries.

One ICE officer tells me: “These aren’t even necessarily people with family, kids, ties, or equities in the United States. This directive/policy toward ‘non-priorities’ applies to anyone simply in the United States as of January 1, 2014, with no significant criminal convictions. Yet even if they were ordered deported by a court and are actually in custody, awaiting removal, per this order, we now cannot execute that order or detain them, as a ‘non-priority’. And yes, many will qualify in some way for work permits and leave to remain in the United States.” ICE officers report that a large part of their time is now spent handling dozens of calls every day by detainees to ICE’s new “community hotline” established by ICE headquarters, in which detainees claim to be eligible for one of the various forms of executive amnesty; responding to follow-up calls to headquarters personnel assigned to review decisions made by field officers, who have all the details on the case; and answering communications from attorneys and organizations who are in contact with headquarters about these cases. According to one source, these include “complaints about every imagined slight, grievance, or emotional injury”. Detainees are informed of the process to submit these complaints and grievances in new glossy posters that adorn detention centers. As in the case of tens of thousands of criminal releases in the past, neither local law enforcement agencies nor the victims are alerted. ICE has a victim notification program, but it is not widely publicized. Reportedly, ICE is working on system to notify local authorities when it releases felons. ICE does keep track of aliens who are released, and can disclose to the public and to local authorities the details on the number of releases, the aliens’ criminal histories, the severity of the aliens’ crimes, the zip code of the aliens’ last known address, the nature of any supervision, and the reason for release — including specification of those aliens released under provisions of the various executive amnesty categories. FOIA requests from the public can be submitted here. Journalists can make requests directly to the ICE Office of Public Affairs, and members of Congress can use the appropriate channels to learn the details on ICE releases in their districts.”

http://cis.org/vaughan/ice-begins-releasing-deportable-aliens-work-us

 

Martin Luther King Jr. enlisted to fight illegal immigration, Obama amnesty

“The late Martin Luther King Jr., and his “I have a dream” speech are being used in an effort to fight President Obama’s executive action to grant worker amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. At issue: Jobs taken by illegals that America’s minorities, specifically blacks and legal Hispanics, need. “Was that Dr. King’s dream?” asks the ad produced by Californians for Population Stabilization and launched this week on national cable news networks leading up to Monday’s celebration of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. The ad is the latest anti-Obama move by his critics of immigration reform and follows recent polls showing that African-Americans and other minorities worry that illegals are taking jobs, housing and healthcare they should get. The announcer asks how Dr. King “would feel about 19 percent of African-Americans unemployed or underemployed? About giving amnesty and work permits to four million illegal aliens with so many Americans jobless? About admitting one million more immigrant workers in 2015 when 13 percent of Hispanic Americans are having trouble finding work? About Americans of all races not seeing a real wage increase in decades?” It also notes that the unemployment rate among African-Americans is 19.2 percent, and 13.6 percent for Hispanics, way above the national average and that for whites.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/martin-luther-king-jr.-enlisted-to-fight-illegal-immigration-obama-amnesty/article/2558628

 

Flashback: Corretta Scott King warned illegals would take black jobs

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/flashback-coretta-king-warned-illegals-would-take-black-jobs/article/2558647

 

Diaz-Balart Describes an Immigration Deal Undone

“Through most of last year, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart asked dozens of members, aides, advocates and reporters to trust him: He had a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill that could actually pass the House. The proposed legislation that drove the Florida Republican for months ultimately came up short. But one week into the 114th Congress, with tensions around the immigration debate as high as ever, Diaz-Balart said there are rumblings about reviving the bill — the details of which were never shared publicly — that imploded last summer. “It’s already started,” he told CQ Roll Call last week, seated in his Capitol Hill office across from the rumpled pages of a draft bill some skeptics have dismissed as imaginary. The dog-eared pages were overflowing from the white, industrial-sized binder typically locked safely inside a desk drawer belonging to Diaz-Balart’s chief of staff, Cesar Gonzalez. As Gonzalez flipped through the binder, the characteristic spacing and style of the bill text was unreadable at a distance, but it was instantly recognizable as the real thing. The story of Diaz-Balart’s immigration bill in the 113th Congress — how it was born, how it thrived and how it died — has always been kept under close wraps. But he recently shared with CQ Roll Call the details of his efforts in 2013 and 2014 — and his thoughts on whether 2015 could be a year when something actually happens.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/immigration-heats-up-diaz-balart-revisits-2014-effort/?dcz=

 

Will Tech Back Immigration Reform Measures That Address Only Its Needs?

http://www.siliconbeat.com/2015/01/14/will-tech-back-immigration-reform-measures-that-address-only-its-needs/

 

 

SPENDING/BUDGET/ECONOMY:

‘Austerity’ spending cuts stimulate growth more than ‘austerity’ tax increases

“Keynesian and other liberal economists have been attacking various government’s “austerity” programs. They argue that to stimulate or speed up economic growth, governments should spend without as much regard for holding down budget deficits; many decry the Obama Democrats’ 2009 stimulus package as being too small. But “austerity” is a label that can cover two different types of policies, as Tyler Cowen points out in his Marginal Revolution blog. One is to hold down spending. The other is to increase tax rates. Both types of policies tend to reduce government budget deficits. But, as Cowen points out, Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and four co-authors point out in a September 2014 National Bureau of Economic Research paper entitled “Austerity 2009-2013” argue that those two policies have quite different effects. In summary, as they write in their abstract, quoted by Cowen, “Fiscal adjustments based upon cuts in spending appear to have been much less costly, in terms of output losses, than those based upon tax increases. The difference between the two types of adjustment is very large.” In other words, spending cuts (with taxes held down or reduced) tend to increase economic growth much more than tax increases (with spending maintained or increased). This obviously isn’t the last word on the subject, as some of the acerbic comments to Cowen’s blog post indicate. And it may not even be the first word; Cowen believes the paper “will be ignored rather than responded to.” But his words that follow sound persuasive to me: “For a while now it has been the practice to criticize ‘austerity’ rather than to disaggregate the policies, or describe them with greater specificity, even though that is easy to do. And it is incorrect to describe this paper as defending austerity, rather I read it as being anti-tax hike, and suggesting that ‘austerity’ is not a very useful concept.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/austerity-spending-cuts-stimulate-growth-more-than-austerity-tax-increases/article/2558679?custom_click=rss

 

Four Steps on the Road to a Balanced Budget

“Here are four things that members of Congress have to consider as they try to balance the budget:

  1. Discretionary spending. This is the amount that the federal government spends through the appropriations process, the 12 bills that should be passed individually but are often packaged in one big omnibus. Conservatives rightly hate the omnibus, but they also insist on unrealistic spending levels that make it impossible to pass the individual bills. Getting real on discretionary numbers would help make it possible to return to regular order.
  2. Entitlement spending. The real problem in the out-years comes with automatic spending that makes up the biggest portion of the federal budget. Social Security and Medicare are popular middle-class programs, and it’s politically risky for Republicans to tinker with them. The GOP usually tries to root out waste and fraud in welfare programs aimed at helping the poor; but in the process, Republicans are often accused of being insensitive to the needs of the poor. Yet you can’t balance the budget by not touching entitlements.
  3. Revenue. Republicans usually like to cut taxes in their budgets, and they argue that the economic growth that comes from those taxcuts will help spur greater revenue. They are likely to hire a scorekeeper who generally agrees with this philosophy, though there is a limit to how much that scorekeeper–the head of the Congressional Budget Office–can help. In the 1995 budget, the taxcut proposed by Republicans equaled exactly the Medicare cuts that they also proposed. It would be helpful if the GOP didn’t replicate that decision this time around.
  4. Reconciliation. The House usually likes to tell the Senate what to do on budget reconciliation, but it is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide whether he is going to need those instructions and for what items he would use them. The Senate used this budget procedure to pass Obamacare, so it seems fair to use reconciliation to put a repeal of the health-care law on the president’s desk. But using reconciliation for tax reform could be mistake and precipitate a White House veto.”

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/01/14/four-steps-on-the-road-to-a-balanced-budget/?mod=WSJBlog

 

Taxes, regulations targets for new House committee chairman

“Cutting regulations and taxes are on Rep. Steve Chabot’s must-do list for small businesses. The Ohio Republican, who became chairman of the House Small Business Committee when Congress took office last week, plans to continue the committee’s focus on how the government burdens small companies. “If there’s one thing government can do for small business it’s to get the heck off their backs,” Chabot says. “We do over-regulate them. We do overtax them.” PRIORITIES – Chabot plans to hold hearings to advocate for small businesses, as did his predecessor Sam Graves, R-Mo. Chabot says the committee will focus on the health care law and regulations issued by the IRS and Environmental Protection Agency. Chabot also plans to push for tax relief for small businesses. He noted that when the Republican-led House passed tax bills in the past, the legislation stalled in the then-Democratic led Senate. He’s looking for more progress in a Congress now controlled by the GOP. “We think we have a much better chance at advancing a whole range of tax reform issues,” Chabot says. Among them: a drop in personal tax rates as well as corporate rates and a permanent increase in tax deductions on equipment and property purchases. Chabot also wants an end to the estate tax, which has forced some families to sell a business when the owner dies because they don’t have enough cash to pay the government. But he doesn’t expect Republicans to get a free ride. Democrats have enough seats in the Senate to block legislation. And President Barack Obama has made it clear he’ll continue to use executive orders to make policy changes like one he issued last year to shield about 4 million immigrants from deportation. While the committee acts as an advocate, its primary jurisdiction is over the Small Business Administration. Chabot wants to see the agency’s lending process streamlined to make it easier to get loans. “It’s cumbersome, it takes too long, there’s far too much paperwork. It just intimidates a lot of people,” he says.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/taxes-regulations-targets-for-new-house-committee-chairman-n1942977

 

Dems Propose a 3.8 Percent Pay Raise for Federal Workers

“Several House Democrats have introduced legislation that would give federal workers a 3.8 percent pay hike, a raise that would take effect in 2016. The lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), said his Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or the FAIR Act, is needed because federal wages have not kept up with inflation over the last five years.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/dems-propose-a-3-8-percent-pay-raise-for-federal-workers/

 

House Passes Legislation to Ease Some Dodd-Frank Financial Rules

“The House on Wednesday easily passed legislation to ease some of the banking regulations adopted after the financial crisis, with 29 Democrats shrugging off President Obama’s veto threat to join united House Republicans. The bill, which passed 271 to 154, follows two other measures approved in the last month that made changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, but this one would be the broadest effort to shift course. It would delay by two years a Dodd-Frank mandate that financial firms sell off bundled debt, known as collateralized loan obligations; exempt some private equity firms from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission; loosen regulations on derivatives; and allow some small, publicly traded companies to omit historical financial data from their financial filings. Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called those changes “modest clarifications of the Dodd-Frank Act,” noting that almost all of the provisions had previously passed the House with bipartisan majorities over the last two years, if not by unanimous agreement. He said the recent Democratic “change of heart” against the proposals was “because the left hand doesn’t know what the far left hand is doing.” Democrats, led by Mr. Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, said they intended to draw the line against legislation that further erodes Dodd-Frank. “The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is helping prevent the kinds of excessive financial risk-taking that caused the worst recession in more than 70 years, left millions of Americans unemployed, and resulted in trillions of dollars in lost wealth,” the White House’s official statement of policy said, charging that the House bill would raise risks while “benefiting Wall Street and other narrow special interests.” For Wall Street lobbyists, Wednesday’s vote followed a pattern they have helped develop: Pass legislation in the House with some Democratic support, then come back on major must-pass bills like spending measures and attach the financial legislation as a noncontroversial rider. Two such provisions have passed within the last month: a measure that repealed Dodd-Frank’s requirement that banks push the trading of derivatives into subsidiaries that are not eligible for deposit insurance and other government support; and another that exempted some users of derivatives from certain regulations. Advocates for the banking industry argued that there should be little controversy over what they characterized as minor adjustments to Dodd-Frank, but that Democrats were imposing a new litmus test in response to demands from the party’s ascendant populist wing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/business/house-passes-measure-to-ease-some-dodd-frank-rules.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

 

Norquist: IRS budget complaints bogus

“The IRS is employing scare tactics by slowing refunds in the face of budget cuts, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Wednesday. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, told agency staffers this week that a $346 million budget cut could even force the IRS to shut down for two days, and raised the specter of reducing efforts to rein in tax cheats and identity thieves. But Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform said Wednesday that Koskinen was going out of his way to make the cuts more painful than they had to be. “Koskinen is telling the world that he’s not competent and capable enough to manage the IRS with the budget that Congress gave him,” Norquist said. “He should apologize for taking a job he’s not ready for and step down and be replaced by somebody capable.  The organization charged the commissioner with using what they called the “Washington Monument Strategy,” comparing the IRS’s moves to the National Park Service cutting off tours to the monument in response to a budget cut.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/229492-norquist-irs-budget-complaints-bogus

 

Dismal report on US retail spending hits the stock market

“Stocks recovered much of a midday swoon but still ended lower following some discouraging news on the global economy and retail sales in the U.S. The price of copper plunged Wednesday, and investors seeking safety piled into bonds. The World Bank lowered its forecast for global growth this year. It blamed sluggish economies in Europe and Japan, and a slowdown in China. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 186 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,427. It was down as much as 348 points earlier. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11 points, 0.6 percent, to 2,011. The Nasdaq composite fell 22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,639. Bank stocks fell after JPMorgan Chase reported weaker results. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 1.84 percent.”

http://townhall.com/news/us/2015/01/14/dismal-report-on-us-retail-spending-hits-the-stock-market-n1943152

 

Retail Sales Drop 1% in December – Sell Walmart, Buy Amazon

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2015/01/14/retail-sales-drop-1-in-december-sell-walmart-buy-amazon/

 

U.S. Retail Sales Reflect Consumer Caution Despite Lower Gas Prices

Merchants Largely Remain Optimistic as Year-Over-Year Numbers Look Solid

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-retail-sales-fall-0-9-in-december-1421242433?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

 

Judge overturns home health care wage, overtime rules

“A federal judge on Wednesday overturned Labor Department regulations requiring overtime and minimum wage protection for 2 million home health care workers. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon had scrapped part of the rules in December, and Wednesday he completed the process. In his decision, Leon said that the Labor Department’s concerns about wages for home care providers are understandable, but that Congress is the appropriate forum in which to debate a complex issue affecting so many families. President Barack Obama announced the rules in 2011, avoiding a trip through a hostile Congress that would have been required had the administration chosen the legislative path. Obama presented the rules with fanfare as part of a campaign to boost the economy through executive branch action. The law Congress wrote in 1974 exempted home health care workers from wage and overtime requirements, Leon wrote, and nothing has happened to change that. “Here, yet again, the department is trying to do through regulation what must be done through legislation,” he said, adding that the exemption was meant to ensure affordability for the maximum number of families. Wednesday’s ruling scrapped a provision in the Labor Department’s rules that had broadened the number of workers eligible for minimum wage and overtime. In response to the judge’s ruling, the Labor Department said in a statement that it was considering all of its legal options. The rule was “legally sound and the right policy,” the department said, “both for those employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services, who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.” Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of PHI, a group advocating for home care workers, said “we are deeply disturbed by Judge Leon’s decision. After three full years, the regulatory process has run its course, and America’s 2 million home care workers should not have to wait any longer for fair pay.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/judge-overturns-home-health-care-wage-overtime-rules-n1943192

 

 

COMMON CORE:

Maryland Bill Would Effectively Nullify Common Core in the State

“A bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates would ban the state from participation in the Common Core educational standards, effectively nullifying them in practice in the state. House Bill 34 (HB34), introduced by Del. Kelly Schulz, would stipulate that the Maryland State Board of Education may not enter into an “agreement or join a consortium or other organization that gives control over educational matters to any entity other than the State.” The bill would also require the board of education to rescind its adoption of Common Core Standards the state’s membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers by July 1, 2015, while placing restrictions on county boards from establishing curriculum guidelines based on Common Core. The state board and the state superintendent, working in conjunction with county boards, would replace Common Core standards with their own educational goals and objectives for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies.”

http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2015/01/maryland-bill-would-effectively-nullify-common-core-in-the-state/

 

Senator Rand Paul blasts Common Core education program in New Hampshire swing

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/senator-rand-paul-blasts-common-core-education-program-in-new-hampshire-swing-n1943209

 

CATCH-22: Could Reforming No Child Left Behind Actually Save Common Core?

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/catch-22-could-reforming-no-child-left-behind-actually-save-common-core/

 

UPDATE: School Board Scraps Controversial Rule on Religious Homeschooling

“On “Fox and Friends” Wednesday, Heather Nauert brought us an update on a controversial homeschooling policy in one Virginia town. The Goochland County School Board has now voted down a new policy that would have forced homeschooled children justify their religious beliefs within 30 days of their 14th birthday. The board’s vote was in response to a flood of outrage by parents in the area. There is one more vote left to be taken on this issue… Read the original story below. Virginia parents are outraged over a new policy that demands homeschooled children justify their religious beliefs to a school board within 30 days of their 14th birthday. The controversial rule passed by the Goochland County School Board states, “Any student who together with his/her parents seeks an exemption from compulsory attendance due to their bona fide religious training or beliefs must submit a written application to the school board, setting forth the reasons for the request.” Doug Pruiett, a Virginia father who is homeschooling his children under the religious exemption, said on “Fox and Friends” that he was stunned and disgusted when he heard of this new policy. Pruiett said that he and his wife contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the organization began representing them in this case. The HSLDA says the school board’s policy violates Virginia state law, which allows children undergoing religious training to be taught at home without having to defend their beliefs. “We’ve been homeschooling our children in Goochland County for over 10 years under the religious exemption,” Pruiett explained. “We were granted a very clear and unconditional approval to homeschool our children, and so when this letter came, it really surprised us.” According to Pruiett, the letter says that now when homeschooled children turn 14, they must submit a sworn affidavit of their own personal religious beliefs within 30 days. He added that they are also subject to being brought before the board for interrogation regarding their beliefs. Pruiett said that failure to comply within 30 days could result in a fine and criminal prosecution.”

http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/01/13/new-virginia-state-policy-forces-homeschoolers-justify-their-religious-beliefs-or-face

 

 

MISC.:

Docs: Ahead of 2012 Presidential Election Lois Lerner Begged Supervisor Not to Visit IRS Office

“New emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit show former IRS official Lois Lerner begged her supervisor not to visit the Cincinnati office or ask specific questions related to Congressional inquiries into whether the agency was improperly targeting conservative groups just ahead of the 2012 presidential election. As a reminder, it wasn’t until May 2013 when Lerner admitted inappropriate targeting had occurred and plead the Fifth in front of the House Oversight Committee.  “Please don’t ask them about closures, pipelines, wait time for full development cases, or the c4 application letter … can we put this off please?” Lerner sent on April 4, 2012 to her then supervisor Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant shortly after he announced a planned visit to the Cincinnati office. “We just gor an very extensive information request from Imraan [Imraan Khakoo, TE/GE official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please?” (Judicial Watch notes the typos are in the original emails) More from the email exchange:…”

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/01/14/under-congressional-investigation-lois-lerner-begged-her-supervisor-not-to-ask-stressful-questions-just-before-2012-presidential-election-n1943112

 

IRS Ignores Phone Calls, Does Not Let Elderly People Leave Messages

“Elderly and disabled people cannot leave messages for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the IRS fails to pick up the phone to serve them. The National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent oversight organ within the IRS, detailed the agency’s phone practices in its 2014 Annual Report to Congress Wednesday. “The IRS does not answer the phone at local offices and has even removed the option it once provided for taxpayers, including the elderly and disabled, to leave a message,” according to the report.“If you are disabled or elderly and require special accommodations for service, please email us at…,” the Taxpayer Advocate had to state. “Demographic research data show only 57 percent of adults over age 65 use the Internet compared with 87 percent of all adults. According to 2010 Census data, only 41 percent of those with a non-severe disability use the Internet and only 22 percent of those with a severe disability age 65 and older use the Internet. For those without Internet access, the only viable ways to reach the IRS are by phone, or in person,” the report stated.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/irs-ignores-phone-calls-does-not-let-elderly-people-leave-messages/

 

IRS Could Shut Down For Two Days

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/irs-could-shut-down-for-two-days/

 

Fox News Poll: Voters want Obama to sign bill approving Keystone pipeline

“Most Americans of all political stripes support construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, and want President Obama to sign legislation approving it, according to a new Fox News poll.  The pipeline would transport oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.  A 65-percent majority says Obama should sign the Keystone legislation, according to the poll.  That includes 82 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats. Overall, only 22 percent of voters think the president should veto it — which he has threatened to do. The U.S. House passed a bill approving the pipeline Friday.  The Senate is now considering Keystone legislation, but there won’t be a final vote this week. Support for Keystone has held steady for years:  68 percent of voters backed it at the end of 2014, 70 percent in 2013 and 67 percent in 2012. Here again, support comes from more than half of Democrats, most independents and almost all Republicans.  The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,018 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 11-13, 2015. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/fox-news-poll-voters-want-pres-obama-to-sign-bill-approving-keystone-pipeline/

 

Obama moves to create first methane limits for gas drilling

“The Obama administration laid out a blueprint Wednesday for the first regulations to cut down on methane emissions from new natural gas wells, aiming to curb the discharge of a potent greenhouse gas by roughly half. Relying once again on the Clean Air Act, the rules join a host of others that President Barack Obama has ordered in an effort to slow global warming despite opposition to new laws in Congress that has only hardened since the midterm elections. Although just a sliver of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, methane is far more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The White House set a new target for the U.S. to cut methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. To meet that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency will issue a proposal affecting oil and gas production, while the Interior Department will also update its standards for drilling to reduce leakage from wells on public lands. How much will the regulations cost the energy industry? The White House said it won’t have specific estimates until later. “There are significant, highly cost-effective opportunities for reducing methane emissions from this sector,” said Dan Utech, Obama’s climate and energy advisor. “We’re confident we can do this in a cost-effective way.” Methane, which leaks during production of natural gas, has grown as a concern for environmentalists amid the ongoing boom in drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. Yet these rules will target new or modified natural gas wells, meaning thousands of existing wells won’t have to comply. The Obama administration left open the possibility it could regulate methane from existing wells in the future while asking the energy industry to take voluntarily steps to curb emissions in the meantime. Though long in the works, the methane plans come at a particularly sensitive moment for Obama’s environmental agenda. Republicans, incensed that Obama has made copious use of executive action to sidestep Congress on climate and other issues, have made rolling back those actions one of their first orders of business this year now that they control both chambers of Congress. Obama’s intention to eventually force industry to cut methane emissions has long been part of his broader strategy on climate change, and Wednesday’s announcement may prove to be incremental. Last year, the White House said the EPA would study how methane is released during drilling and determine whether it needed new regulations. That the administration has now decided it does need more regulations will surprise few. But the key details — how the regulations will affect industry’s bottom line and how deeply they’ll reduce greenhouse gases — won’t come until the government formally proposes the rule. That won’t come until later this year, with plans to finalize it in 2016 — the last year of Obama’s presidency.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-moves-to-create-first-methane-limits-for-gas-drilling-n1942885

 

Obama moves on methane emissions

“The Obama administration unveiled the first regulations targeting methane emissions from industrial sources on Wednesday, seeking to add to the president’s legacy on climate change. The administration is setting a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 percent by 2025 from 2012 levels, which is sure to be met with hostility from Republicans and the industry. The new rules will target oil and gas wells, and improve drilling equipment to reduce venting and flaring, helping the administration achieve the goal. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 25 times more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. In 2012, methane emissions accounted for roughly 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are said to contribute significantly to global warming.”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/229450-obama-moves-to-regulate-methane-emissions-from-oil-and-gas

 

Obama administration unveils new methane emission rules

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/methane-emissions-rules-epa-114249.html

 

5 things to know about Obama’s next climate move: methane

“The Obama administration on Wednesday announced its latest move to combat global warming, this time trying to rein in heat-trapping methane gas that escapes from oil and gas fields. The plan relies on voluntary steps and new rules to reduce leaks from oil and gas production by 40 percent to 45 percent over the next decade. In a way, the proposal is an effort to plug what many viewed as a hole in the overall global warming strategy. Rules to clean up carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants have helped shift electricity generation from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas. But without tackling the methane leaks, the climate benefits from the switch are diminished. Emissions from oil and gas are projected to rise by more than 20 percent by 2025 without any controls. Five things to know about the White House’s plans:

–AWAITING THE RULES – The new plan is a broad outline of how the administration hopes to curb methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The main rules are not yet proposed, so it’s not fully clear how the 40 percent to 45 percent range of reductions from 2012 levels would be achieved. The plan says the Environmental Protection Agency this summer will propose the first standards for methane from new or modified oil and gas sites. The Interior Department this spring will propose new standards on venting, flaring and leaks from national gas sites on federal land. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said it “reserves judgment on the plan until it sees more details.” David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, said stronger and faster curbs were needed. “It’s disappointing that the EPA issued a plan to regulate rather than proposing an actual rule,” he said…”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/5-things-know-about-obamas-next-climate-move-methane

 

5 QUESTIONS ABOUT METHANE EMISSIONS

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the first-ever federal standards to cut methane emissions from the nation’s oil and natural-gas industry as part of President Barack Obama’s climate-change agenda. Here are five questions about the gas.

http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2015/01/14/5-questions-about-methane-emissions/

 

PAY THE MAN: Electricity Rates Soar To Record Levels As Obama Shutters Coal Plants

“Gasoline prices are plummeting and natural gas prices are relatively low, but electricity prices are still climbing. Not only that, residential electricity prices are expected to hit record levels in 2015 and 2016, according to federal government projections. U.S. average electricity rates will hit a record high, this year, at 38 percent higher than they were in 2001, according to the Energy Information Administration. That record is expected to be beaten in 2016, as prices hit 12.86 cents per kilowatthour (kWh)– the highest annual average price in the 21st century. Electricity prices have been creeping up since 2001, according EIA data, and prices are set to rise even further as coal-fired power plants are shut down due to Environmental Protection Agency clean air regulations. So far, 381 coal-fired generators are slated to shutdown over the coming years due to EPA rules. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects retail electricity prices to “increase by 1.1 percent in 2015 and by 1.8 percent in 2016.” Pretty much the whole country will see their electricity rates rise in 2015, says EIA, with the highest rises — nearly 4 percent — hitting New England residents. U.S. residential electricity rates are projected to average 12.50 cents per kWh for 2014, according to EIA. But that electricity rates are set to rise to 12.63 cents per kWh in 2015 and 12.86 cents in 2016.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/pay-the-man-electricity-rates-soar-to-record-levels-as-obama-shutters-coal-plants/

 

Obama leads push for one week of paid sick leave

“President Obama on Thursday will call on Congress, the states and cities to pass measures to allow millions of workers to earn up to a week of paid sick time a year, the White House said.

He’ll also ask Congress for more than $2 billion to encourage states to create paid family- and medical-leave programs. In addition, Obama will take steps to provide federal employees with up to six weeks of paid sick leave to care for a new child. And he’ll propose that federal workers be given an additional six weeks of paid parental leave. Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that has been sponsored since 2005 by Rep. Rosa ­DeLauro (D-Conn.).”

http://nypost.com/2015/01/15/obama-leads-push-for-one-week-of-paid-sick-leave/

 

Obama Plans to Push Paid Family and Sick Leave for Workers

“President Obama will announce Thursday that he is directing federal agencies to give their employees up to six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, a benefit he wants to extend to all American workers. He will also call on Congress to pass a bill that would allow workers across the United States to earn up to seven paid sick days a year and would create a $2 billion incentive fund to help states pay for family leave programs, officials said late Wednesday. The president needs congressional approval to require federal agencies to provide the six weeks of paid parental leave to both men and women. But in the absence of that legislation, employees will have to make up the time they take by using vacation or sick days, White House officials said. The White House described the plans — the latest in a series that have been proposed in the days leading up to the president’s State of the Union address on Jan. 20 — as part of Mr. Obama’s focus on improving the lives of middle-class Americans. “The truth is, the success and productivity of our workers is inextricably tied to their ability to care for their families and maintain a stable life at home,” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser, wrote Wednesday in a posting on the employment network LinkedIn, where the White House shared the first details of the proposal. “The president intends to ensure that the federal government is a model employer,” Ms. Jarrett wrote. “We’ll have the most skilled and productive work force possible as a result.” They are likely to face an uphill battle in Congress, where Republicans are focused on reining in spending and have opposed Mr. Obama’s proposals to increase pay and benefits, arguing that it is not the government’s role to issue such mandates. More than half of American workers are eligible for parental or sick leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows them to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without losing their jobs. But employers are not required to pay their workers during leave, and often do not. The plan, which Mr. Obama will include in his budget, would provide $2.2 billion in mandatory funding — not subject to annual congressional appropriations — to reimburse states that initiate paid leave programs, the White House said. The president will also request $35 million in grants to assist states working toward creating such programs. “The fact that the United States is one of just a handful of countries that does not require paid family or sick leave is nothing short of shameful,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, an architect of the sick-leave legislation that Mr. Obama is seeking. The president will call on states to pass similar legislation. Betsey Stevenson, a member of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said evidence showed that paid-leave programs had helped workers in several states and localities, including California, Connecticut and San Francisco, without harming employers’ bottom lines. Ms. Jarrett noted that Massachusetts voters, who elected a Republican governor in November, also endorsed an initiative to allow workers to earn paid sick leave. “This is not a partisan issue; this is a family issue, and it’s an economic issue,” she said in a conference call to detail the plan.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/us/politics/obama-plans-to-push-bill-for-providing-paid-leave-to-workers-.html

 

President Obama to expand paid sick leave

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/paid-sick-leave-expansion-114284.html

 

Obama will offer paid parental leave to federal workers

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article6569367.html

 

Obama Calls For Paid Sick Days and Family Leave

“…The White House’s announcement includes:

–Calling on Congress, as well as states and cities, to pass legislation that would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick time per year.

–Proposing more than $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs and announcing that the Department of Labor will use $1 million in existing funds to help states and municipalities conduct feasibility studies.

–Modernizing the Federal workplace by signing a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child and calling on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees an additional six weeks of paid parental leave.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/annabahney/2015/01/14/obama-calls-for-paid-sick-days-and-family-leave/

 

Obama to Call for Paid Leave Law, Extra Time Off for Federal Workers

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/obama-to-call-for-paid-leave-law-extra-time-off-for-federal-workers/

 

Obama to renew push for paid leave for working parents

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-to-renew-push-for-paid-leave-n1943183

 

One year after ruling, FCC web regs hang in balance

“One year after an appeals court tossed the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Internet regulations, the agency is preparing to release its new rules — and interested parties are growing restless. “We are on the first anniversary right now of the rules having been struck down,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), an advocate for reclassifying the Internet as a utility, said on the Senate floor. “There is nothing.” A year ago Wednesday, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia struck down the FCC’s rules requiring that all Internet traffic be treated equally, setting off a yearlong battle over the rewrite. The court ruled that because broadband Internet had been classified as an information service, as opposed to a telecommunications service, the FCC’s regulations were invalid. Since then, Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued an initial proposal for new rules, the public submitted nearly 4 million comments on the subject, President Obama inserted himself into the debate and service providers threatened further litigation. Wheeler appears poised to issue regulations to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility, similar to traditional telephones, in order to impose the strongest rules possible to ensure that Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast do not treat traffic to various websites differently. Verizon prevailed in its lawsuit a year ago when the court found the FCC had overstepped its authority. Advocates believe reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will put the rules on more stable legal footing. And those advocates appear to be getting their way, to the chagrin of Internet service providers and Republicans, who say the rules will stifle innovation and raise taxes on consumers. The new proposal is slated to be circulated internally among members of the commission on Feb. 5 and voted on later that month. “The past year has confirmed two things,” Michael Glover, Verizon’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “First, this debate really hasn’t been about an open Internet, but about how heavily broadband networks should be regulated.” The second, he said, is that Congress itself should settle the debate by creating a clear policy for today’s Internet. Multiple providers have indicated that the FCC’s newest regulations could land it right back in court. Below are the five biggest developments from the net neutrality debate in the last year…”

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229417-one-year-after-ruling-fcc-web-regs-hang-in-balance

 

Sony hack gives Obama political capital to push cybersecurity agenda (+video)

In gridlocked Washington, the aftereffects of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures may ultimately forces Republicans and Democrats to come together on an information-sharing bill.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Passcode/2015/0114/Sony-hack-gives-Obama-political-capital-to-push-cybersecurity-agenda-video

 

Obama Security Proposals ‘Will Create Cyber Police State’

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2015/01/14/obama-wants-cyber-police-state/

 

Obama criticizes state laws that hurt broadband competition

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-pitching-more-access-to-fast-internet-n1942805

 

Obama to push for better Internet access in rural areas

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-to-push-for-better-internet-access-in-rural-areas/article/2558632?custom_click=rss

 

Barack Obama broadband moves stoke tension with GOP

His efforts anger Republicans who see it as an attempt to over-regulate industry.

“President Barack Obama is delving more deeply into broadband issues as he tries to put his stamp on the nation’s Internet policy — setting up more conflict with congressional Republicans and telecom giants that dominate the industry. When Obama laid out his plans to boost community broadband networks in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Wednesday, it marked the second time in two months he’s put his administration at the forefront of the debate over the future of the Web. The president late last year called on the FCC to treat broadband like a public utility as part of new net neutrality rules. Obama’s speech Wednesday — backing efforts to spur city-run broadband networks as an alternative to private-sector providers like Comcast and Verizon — incensed Republicans who see it as just another attempt to over-regulate the industry with a Washington power-grab. “Each day we see more policies coming out of this White House that attempt to wield greater power and control for the federal government,” Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said in a statement, describing the president’s stances as a “new federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet.” The president — speaking at Cedar Falls Utilities, which runs a municipal network with some of the fastest Internet in the country — called for the FCC to knock down state laws that restrict community-run broadband. He also unveiled plans to unleash about $50 million more in government funds for rural cities that want to expand broadband access for their citizens, as well as a new Commerce Department effort to share best practices with towns that want to boost broadband. Obama isn’t just pitching faster Internet as a win for techies; he’s touting it as essential for the middle class. His remarks previewed proposals he’ll make during next week’s State of the Union address. “Today high-speed broadband is not a luxury; it’s a necessity,” he said. “This isn’t just about making it easier to stream Netflix or scroll though your Facebook news feed, although that’s fun. … This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he supports overriding state laws that stand in the way of municipal broadband. Agency officials said the commission will vote in February on two petitions — from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. — asking the FCC to intervene on their behalf. The White House is facing opposition not just from Republicans. Incumbent telecoms like AT&T and Time Warner Cable have worked state legislatures to install barriers to city-run Internet services. The industry says local government-run broadband networks often fail, leaving local taxpayers on the hook. But it also threatens their business models — Internet-service providers usually face little competition in individual markets. The president’s net neutrality and municipal broadband proposals, “taken together, call for the federal government to regulate the Internet, and for municipal governments to own the Internet,” said Walter McCormick, president of the industry trade group USTelecom. “If acted upon by the Federal Communications Commission, they would be sweeping exercises of authority — raising constitutional concerns related to separation of powers, the scope of an independent agency’s congressionally delegated authority, and the role of the states in our federal system.” Republicans have previously registered their dismay with the idea of FCC acting on community broadband networks. During an appropriations battle last year, all but four of the House’s Republican members voted to block the agency from pre-empting state laws. “We don’t need unelected bureaucrats like FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler dictating to our states what they can and can’t do with respect to protecting their limited taxpayer dollars and private enterprises,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.

She was the leader of the Republican effort to block the FCC from wading into state laws — an effort she said Wednesday she plans to continue.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/barack-obama-broadband-internet-republicans-114265.html

 

Obama’s calls for government-run Internet service stoke GOP ire

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229527-obama-stokes-gop-ire-with-call-for-government-run-web

 

Obama pushes broadband plan, critics see ‘federal takeover’

“President Obama is diving deeper into the debate over Internet control, urging the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt state laws that restrict local governments from building broadband services.  The president unveiled his plans Wednesday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, one of a handful of American cities — along with Chattanooga, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo. — offering government-provided, high-speed Internet. The White House touts these networks as a fast and affordable option for consumers. And Obama sees them as local models for so-called net neutrality — his plan to preserve an open Internet, free of tiered pricing and restrictions imposed by commercial providers. “Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Obama said Wednesday. “This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in the global economy.” But the move has angered Republicans and others who worry the federal government is trampling on the ability of states to set their own rules. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., on Wednesday accused the president of pushing a “federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet.” According to the White House, 19 states have laws restricting municipal broadband networks. Fischer and other lawmakers worry about the impact an array of local government-run broadband networks would have on the private sector. She and 10 other Republican senators wrote to the FCC last summer urging the commission not to “force taxpayer funded competition against private broadband providers — against the wishes of the states.” Advocates of those state laws say they are designed to protect taxpayers from municipal projects that are expensive, can fail or may be unnecessary. The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have urged the FCC not to pre-empt state laws on broadband. But the administration argues these state measures stifle competition.  Obama wants to expand access to broadband communications services, siding with local communities that want either to expand competition or provide municipal services themselves. To promote it, he announced that his administration will provide technical and financial assistance to towns and cities that want to improve Internet service for their residents.  The proposals do not require congressional approval and are part of a series of measures Obama is rolling out before his State of the Union address next week.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/obama-wants-expanded-access-to-fast-internet/

 

House chairman eyes Web rules, immigration reform

“The head of the House Judiciary Committee has big plans to focus on U.S. spying, immigration and net neutrality in the new Congress. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told reporters on Wednesday that he was committed to policies that would help companies grow on the Internet. At the top of the list are expected new rules out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would limit Internet service companies such as Comcast from interfering with people’s access to various websites. Instead of issuing new rules next month, which are expected to declare that Internet service should be regulated like a public utility, Goodlatte has said that existing antitrust rules give regulators all the power they need to prevent unfairness on the Web. “The Internet doesn’t need an inflexible ‘one-size-fits-all’ government mandate to ensure net neutrality,” he said. “These time-trusted [antitrust] laws allow for maximum flexibility and consistently demonstrate their ability to prevent discriminatory and anti-competitive conduct in the marketplace.” The stance could point toward an intraparty dispute over net neutrality. Even while Goodlatte spoke with reporters in a breakfast organized by The Christian Science Monitor, fellow Republican leaders issued an op-ed outlining their plan to write a law codifying new limitations for the Internet. Goodlatte has also begun work on a new online sales tax bill, after Senate-passed legislation was unable to reach the House floor in December. “We should create a level playing field so that online, bricks-and-mortar and bricks-and-clicks businesses can compete under fair rules,” he said on Wednesday, while hoping to “move forward quickly.” Goodlatte also outlined plans to reform the nation’s patent laws — another issue that failed to reach the finish line last year — and continue a “comprehensive review” of copyright law. The chairman pressed for a “step-by-step approach” to immigration, including increased enforcement and “common-sense changes” to allow more high-skilled workers into the country.”

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229468-house-chairman-eyes-web-rules-immigration-reform

 

Audit: Homeland Security Has No Strategy for Dealing With Cyberthreats to Federal Buildings

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/audit-homeland-security-has-no-strategy-for-dealing-with-cyberthreats-to-federal-buildings/

 

Conservatives’ wish list for GOP retreat includes citizenship, voting bills

They also want to require a balanced budget, block Obama’s immigration policies and support Israel’s right to attack Iran.

“A group of hardline conservatives will use this week’s GOP retreat to pressure their colleagues into adopting an agenda that includes bills to end “birthright” citizenship, let states impose new requirements for voting and support Israel’s right to launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s office sent an email Wednesday to chiefs of staffs encouraging lawmakers involved with the Conservative Opportunity Society — a group founded by former Speaker Newt Gingrich — to “stand up at the microphones” during the retreat to advocate for 14 bills they want the GOP-controlled chambers to vote on. House and Senate Republicans were heading to Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday for their annual three-day issues retreat. Leaders have billed the confab as a way to bring Republicans from both chambers together and to lower expectations on how quickly the Senate will be able to pass legislation favored by House members. Ahead of the retreat, King and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) urged fellow conservatives to advocate a series of national security and economic bills. “Mr. King and Ms. Blackburn would like all members of COS to help advance these measures at the Retreat,” wrote Christopher Hull, King’s chief of staff. “Specifically, my boss is asking members who attend the Retreat to stand up at the microphone and advance this agenda. He has sent an email to all COS members’ personal emails. Please do what you can to lend a hand.” Hull wrote that at the society’s breakfast meeting this week, Blackburn helped craft a “conservative ‘Security Agenda,’” which includes bills mandating a balanced budget and stopping President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The list of favored bills also includes a wholesale repeal of Obamacare — a measure widely backed by the bulk of congressional Republicans. Reps. Brian Babin of Texas, Dave Brat of Virginia, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Harris of Maryland, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Richard Nugent of Florida, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Ted Yoho of Florida also helped assemble the agenda. The bills, which Hull said in the email have at least “60% public support from the American people,” are a wish-list of conservative Republicans priorities. The legislation includes a balanced budget amendment — a long-held priority for Republicans — along with measures to alter how the government calculates its budget based on inflation and a bill to forbid employers from deducting wages paid to illegal immigrants from income for tax purposes. The lawmakers also want their colleagues to advocate on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security spending bill that the House passed Wednesday by a vote of 236 to 191. That measure would fund the department while effectively halting Obama’s executive order to shield nearly 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. The legislation’s path in the Senate is precarious.

The list also includes a bill King introduced in the last Congress that would change the rules determining who is considered a U.S. citizen, plus legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that would require a “proof of citizenship” for Americans looking to vote in federal elections.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-retreat-conservative-wish-list-114261.html

 

Michele Bachmann is Gone, But the Tea Party Caucus Lives On

It is unclear how many House members will join the third iteration of the limited-government caucus.

“Michele Bachmann is retired and gone from the U.S. House of Representatives, but her once-prominent House Tea Party Caucus is about to tea-off again under new management. “I’m going to be chairman of the Tea Party Caucus. We’re taking that over. We are going to reinvigorate that,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, in an interview about the planned re-boot today. Huelskamp would not say how many other House members will to be listed on the group’s inaugural roster. The required paperwork for official congressional membership and recognition is still to be processed with the Committee on House Administration, he said. Launched in 2010, the Tea Party Caucus saw its members swell to 60 before 10 of them were defeated in the 2012 elections and the group went on hiatus.  A re-launch in 2013 failed to attract the same level of initial support.  Notable House members of the limited-government caucus have included such conservatives as Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, Texas’ Louie Gohmert.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-01-14/michele-bachmann-is-gone-but-the-tea-party-caucus-lives-on

 

 

The tea party is alive and well — in spirit, at least

“The Republican Party brand has recovered somewhat in recent months, thanks in large part to fellow Republicans themselves warming to their own side. A new Pew Research Center poll provides evidence. It shows 86 percent of Republicans now view their own party favorably — up from 69 percent shortly after the 2012 election. So then how does something like the unprecedented revolt against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) happen? Well, despite the tea party movement waning — including its failure to upend any Senate incumbents in primaries last year — its beliefs are still very much alive in today’s GOP. And even as an increasing number of Republicans approve of their own party, the vast majority remain at least somewhat skeptical that GOP leaders are standing up for the party’s traditional positions. The same Pew poll shows 27 percent of Republicans believe their leaders are doing an “excellent” or “good” job on that front, while 72 percent rate them either “fair” or “poor.” That’s the biggest split at any point since shortly after the 2008 election. They are also still significantly more suspect of their leaders than are Democrats. And as long as that’s the case, leaders like Boehner are going to have to mind a wing of the party that just won’t quite trust them to do the right thing.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/14/the-tea-party-is-alive-and-well-in-spirit-at-least/

 

Can Jeb Bush Defy the Tea Party and Win?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/14/opinion/can-jeb-bush-defy-the-tea-party-and-win.html

 

Cash Is Piling Up for Ben Carson, With a Tea Party Tilt

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/upshot/cash-is-piling-up-for-ben-carson-with-a-tea-party-tilt.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

 

Rupert Murdoch weighs in on 2016, calls Romney ‘a terrible candidate’

“Rupert Murdoch weighed in on the 2016 presidential race during a public appearance at the Manhattan Institute on Wednesday, praising Jeb Bush and writing off Mitt Romney as “a terrible candidate.” In a conversation with Fox News analyst Judith Miller, a senior fellow at the Institute, the News Corp/21st Century Fox Chairman talked extensively about the prospective Republican field, excerpts of which were relayed to us by our colleague Maggie Haberman. Asked if he had a favorite candidate yet, Murdoch replied, “No.” But he did say, “I like Jeb Bush very much.”  Murdoch also expressed admiration for Rand Paul: “”I personally like Rand Paul very much and I am very impressed by his brain,” he said. Though he was skeptical about Paul’s foreign policy platform, “which is frankly a major issue,” he commended the Kentucky Senator for “campaigning on the theory that Washington is too big.” “I think he will do well enough to move the debate,” Murdoch said. He added, “I don’t think he will win… I would be very surprised if he won the nomination.”

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/01/rupert-murdoch-weighs-in-on-calls-romney-a-terrible-201107.html

 

Guantanamo inmates sent to Oman, Estonia as military moves ahead with closure push

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-inmates-sent-to-oman-estonia-as-military-moves-ahead-with-closure-push/2015/01/14/018d8240-9c3b-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage

 

Recidivism rate for Guantanamo detainees in dispute

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/fact-check-recidivism-rate-for-terror-subjects-in-dispute-n1943161

 

Giuliani: Obama’s Refusal To Say Radical Islam ‘A Signal Of Cowardice And Weakness’ [VIDEO]

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/giuliani-obamas-refusal-to-say-radical-islam-a-signal-of-cowardice-and-weakness-video/

 

Fox News Poll: 55% Believe Obama Doesn’t Have What It Takes To Defeat Islamic Extremists

“In a new FOX News poll released Wednesday night, 64% of voters think the threat of radical Islam is on the rise while 4% say it has gone down. About half the country believes the Obama administration as mostly failed to make the U.S. safer and 55% believe Obama has what it takes to defeat Islamic extremists. “One thing we know tonight, the bold claim the president’s been making for several years about al Qaeda being on the run, it’s a claim he can’t make anymore,” Ed Henry said.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/fox_news_poll_55_believe_obama_doesnt_have_what_it_takes_to_defeat_islamic_extremists.html

 

Fox News Poll: Obama gets low marks on fighting Islamic extremists

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/fox-news-poll-obama-gets-low-marks-on-fighting-islamic-extremists/

 

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION UNDERMINES MUSLIM REFORMERS WITH EXCUSES FOR RADICAL ISLAM

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/14/obama-administration-undermines-muslim-reformers-with-excuses-for-radical-islam/

 

MUSLIM CALL TO PRAYER TO BE CHANTED EVERY FRIDAY AT DUKE UNIVERSITY

“In a new initiative to promote religious pluralism, Duke University will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer every Friday on campus. The call to prayer—also known as “adhan”—will be chanted by the Duke Muslim Student Association. The prayer itself is set to start this Friday at 1:00 p.m. and will be broadcast and amplified from the Chapel bell tower on campus. As campuses continue to foster political correctness, they use it as a way to favor religions seemingly at war with Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian beliefs. Frequently, we see students fighting for their religious freedom on campus—especially Christians. We hope that Duke University will also allow equal opportunity for Christian students to gather to pray and respect their religious freedom. Duke University has a long history of fostering political correctness and hypersensitivity, from Chick-Fil-A’s removal from campus, to hosting a the national Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference, and to canceling a pro-life event in their Women’s Center on campus. Young America’s Foundation called and emailed Duke University’s associate dean of religious life, Christy Lohr Sapp, for comment but has yet to hear back. Ashley Pratte, spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, spoke with the associate dean’s assistant who confirmed this story.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/01/14/muslim-call-to-prayer-to-be-chanted-every-friday-at-duke-university/

 

OUTCRY OVER COMING ‘STAND WITH THE PROPHET’ RALLY AT TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL CENTER

“Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect, an event that asks “Ready to defeat Islamophobia?” is coming to the Dallas area Curtis Culwell Center  on Saturday, January 17, 2015, at 6pm. Until recently, few knew anything about this conference and now that many more do, residents are not just upset about the event and its speakers, they are upset that it is being held on the publicly-owned property of the Garland Independent School District (ISD) in a facility that was built and paid for with property taxpayer funded school bonds. Stand with the Prophet is described in its promotional materials as “not an event. It is the beginning of a movement. A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.” According to ACT! for America Houston, the conference is a fundraiser to establish aStrategic Communication Center for the Muslim community, which will “develop effective responses to anti-Islamic attacks, as well as to train young Muslims in media.”

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/14/outcry-over-coming-stand-with-the-prophet-rally-at-texas-public-school-center/

News Briefing for Thursday, January 15

 

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:

COALITION BLASTS IDEA OF GIVING OBAMA MORE POWER

‘Fast track’ for trade agreement would be ‘height of irresponsibility’

“A group letter urging opposition to passage of fast track trade authority has been delivered to Congress, and American for Limited Government promised a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power. In addition to those at the press conference, others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.”

http://www.wnd.com/2015/01/coalition-blasts-idea-of-giving-obama-more-power/

 

Raging Elephants Radio – Interview with Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJCLCr-XM-w

 

 

HEALTHCARE:

How Obamacare Is ‘Working’

Increased insurance coverage does not mean increased access to medical care.

“No matter how badly you want something to be true, simply wishing will not make it so. This is a lesson that Obamacare supporters need to learn, as they tell us yet again that the Affordable Care Act “is working.” The latest claims stem in part from evidence that the number of uninsured Americans has been steadily declining. It is true that the most recent poll from Gallup found that the uninsured rate fell to 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from 16.3 percent before the ACA passed. Of course, it would be a mistake to attribute all of that improvement to the ACA. A large portion may be due to falling unemployment as the economy finally emerges from the recession. Since most Americans get their health insurance through their jobs, lower unemployment should naturally reduce the number of uninsured. Still, the ACA can rightly be credited with some of the gains. If you subsidize something, you should expect to get more of it. And Obamacare heavily subsidizes health insurance. The problem is, that statement uses the term “insurance” very loosely. In actuality, roughly 60 percent of those newly “insured” through Obamacare are actually being enrolled in Medicaid. And Medicaid is hardly the same as real insurance. While Medicaid costs taxpayers a lot of money, it pays doctors little. As a result, many doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they serve, or refuse to take them at all. An analysis published in Health Affairs found that only 69 percent of physicians accept Medicaid patients. Another study, in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that Medicaid recipients were six times more likely to be denied an appointment than people with private insurance. And, according to a third study, when they do get an appointment, they wait an average of 42 days to see a doctor, twice as long as the privately insured. Just last month HHS’s Office of Inspector General released a report showing how difficult it was for Medicaid patients to gain access to care through Medicaid managed-care programs. IG inspectors posed as Medicaid patients and called designated Medicaid managed-care providers. More than half of listed providers could not be found at the location listed. Others were found but were not participating in the plan, while still others were no longer taking new Medicaid patients. When the investigators were able to get appointments, they faced lengthy average wait times. In 28 percent of cases, they had to wait longer than a month to see a doctor. Ten percent of the time, the wait exceeded two months. A 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that Medicaid patients faced serious accessibility problems. And things are about to get even worse.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396311/how-obamacare-working-michael-tanner

 

Medicaid expansion may contract

After the midterms, there is a renewed assault in some states.

“Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is under renewed assault in the states even as the health law faces threats in Washington from the Supreme Court and a Republican Congress.

A handful of Republican governors said that after the November elections, they’d be open to taking billions of federal dollars to cover millions of their low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. Instead, Medicaid faces possible retrenchment after a Republican tide swept emboldened Obamacare foes into every level of government. Arizona and Arkansas, for instance, seemed like the top trophies in the expansion push. But the governors who embraced that part of Obamacare are gone, and hundreds of thousands of people could be stripped of their coverage if their successors don’t show the same zeal to defend it. And the handful of Republican governors who are eyeing some form of expansion face roadblocks. For instance, Mike Pence of Indiana, a potential 2016 presidential contender, is attaching conservative policy elements unacceptable to the Obama administration. His potential 2016 rival John Kasich did expand Medicaid in Ohio but now must whip Republican support to keep it going. The governors of Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming all released proposals, as promised, after the elections. But so far in the two Western states, legislators are balking at taking on any part of Obamacare, even if the feds pick up the tab. The architects of the Affordable Care Act intended for every state to expand Medicaid up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, less than $32,000 for a family of four. But the Supreme Court in 2012 made the expansion optional as it upheld the rest of the health law. In the 27 states (and District of Columbia) that have chosen to expand in some form, broader Medicaid coverage has proved to be a fast way of achieving the law’s central goal of insuring more Americans. In 2014, the Urban Institute found the uninsured rate dropped 36 percent in expansion states, versus 24 percent in the holdouts. The possible backward movement on Medicaid comes amid uncertainty over the law’s other primary tool for reducing the uninsured: marketplace subsidies. The Supreme Court will decide, probably in June, whether the financial assistance is legal in the 37 states using the federal exchange on HealthCare.gov. Just a few months ago, advocates anticipated that a new wave of pro-expansion gubernatorial candidates, like Democrats Charlie Crist in Florida and Mike Michaud in Maine, would bring new momentum and electoral mandates to the debate. They expected some new GOP governors to be more open to Medicaid, too. Instead, ascendant Republicans — many driven into office on anti-Obamacare planks — remain as hostile as ever. And their states still have the bizarre coverage gaps created by the Supreme Court ruling. Many of the poorest Americans have no coverage, while people who are just above the poverty line are getting subsidized through the health insurance exchanges. Advocates of expansion have touted possible economic benefits for the states, predicting job gains through more demand for health services and hospital solvency. A study by Missouri state officials, for example, found that health-sector jobs grew three times as much in states that expanded than in those that did not. But a December report by the nonpartisan Altarum Institute cast doubt on whether that job growth had anything to do with Medicaid.

“Lots of these states are looking at the numbers and saying, no, they have not produced the jobs, they have not produced the economic growth that everybody thought they would,” said Dennis Smith, CMS’ top Medicaid official in the George W. Bush administration. In Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer twisted arms to pass Medicaid expansion, leaving conservatives seething and suing. Tea party-aligned legislators argued that Brewer needed a supermajority to pass the expansion financing and a state court gave the case the green light to go ahead a few weeks ago. Brewer attended a recent hearing in person, but her successor, Republican Doug Ducey, has been conspicuously silent about whether he’ll defend the state’s position.

Arkansas saw the sharpest decrease in its uninsured rate in the country after Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe worked with statehouse Republicans and the federal government to craft an innovative alternative approach. The so-called private option, which uses the federal Medicaid expansion funds to buy private plans on the Obamacare marketplace, was seen as a model for other conservative states looking for an ideologically palatable way to move ahead. But the plan barely squeaked through the Arkansas Legislature in 2013, and voters fired many of its supporters in November. GAO figures show the program coming in over budget, and it’s hard to see right now how supporters can muster the three-fourths majorities they need in both chambers to continue the program, as required by the Arkansas constitution. “The people basically said, ‘We don’t want the private option anymore,’” said Republican state Rep. Joe Farrer, analyzing the election results. “I don’t think it will be in the current form it is now.”

Foes are crafting a plan to freeze enrollment as both sides wait for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to weigh in. He’s promised to do so in a major address slated for Jan. 22.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/medicaid-expansion-contract-114235.html

 

What’s Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Giving Workers in Return for Less Hours? According to One CEO, Not Much (continuation of previous article)

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396385/whats-obamacares-employer-mandate-giving-workers-return-less-hours-according-one-ceo

 

3 Reasons Filing Taxes Sucks? Obamacare, Obamacare & Obamacare

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/01/15/3-reasons-filing-taxes-sucks-obamacare-obamacare-obamacare/

 

‘There Is Just So Much Confusion Out There’: How Obamacare Figures Into Your 2014 Taxes

“But for others, here are several situations to keep in mind. If you were uninsured for some or all of the year –  If you had health insurance for only part of 2014 or didn’t have coverage at all, it’s a bit more complicated. In that case, you’ll have to file Form 8965, which allows you to claim an exemption from the requirement to have insurance or calculate your penalty for the months that you weren’t covered. On page 2 of the instructions for Form 8965 you’ll see a lengthy list of the coverage exemptions for which you may qualify. If your income is below the filing threshold ($10,150 for an individual in 2014), for example, you’re exempt. Likewise if coverage was unaffordable because it would have cost more than 8 percent of your household income, or you experienced a hardship that prevented you from buying a marketplace plan, or you had a short coverage gap of less than three consecutive months. These are just some of the circumstances that would allow you to avoid the penalty. In addition, you don’t have to pay a penalty if you live in a state that didn’t expand Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level $16,104.60 for an individual in 2013) and your income falls below that level. Some of the exemptions have to be granted by the health insurance marketplace, but many can be claimed right on your tax return. The tax form instructions spell out where to claim each type of exemption. If you do have to go to the marketplace to get an exemption, be aware that it may take two weeks or more to process the application. Act promptly if you want to avoid bumping up against the April 15 filing deadline, says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who is an expert on the health law…”

http://dailysignal.com/2015/01/14/just-much-confusion-obamacare-figures-2014-taxes/?utm_source=heritageaction&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=011415HAFAFB2

 

Need help filing out your tax return? Don’t call the IRS

“Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama’s health law. But they shouldn’t expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service. Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person. Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions. “Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed,” said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says budget cuts are forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions. The number of audits will decline, technology upgrades will be delayed and the agency might be forced to shut down and furlough workers for two days later this year, Koskinen said. The IRS will no longer help low-income taxpayers fill out their returns, and tax refunds could be delayed for people who file paper returns… For the first time, tax filers will have to report information about their health insurance during the previous year. For most people who get health coverage through work or through government programs like Medicaid, it will mean simply checking a box. Others who got insurance through state and federal marketplaces will have to file a new form, while people who received subsidies will have to provide more detailed information. People who didn’t have health insurance last year face fines unless they qualify for a waiver, which requires more paperwork. The subsidies were based on projected incomes, so families will need to report if actual incomes were higher or lower. If higher, they might have to pay back some of the subsidy, either through a smaller tax refund or a payment. If their incomes were lower, they might qualify for a larger tax refund. Taxpayers who get subsidies are supposed to notify the health exchanges during the year if their incomes change or if they have some other life event that changes their eligibility, said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “If somebody got married or divorced, had a baby, got a job, lost a job, anything that changes their income, those consumers needed to go back to the marketplace and update their information,” Pickering said. “Most people didn’t know to do that or didn’t think to do it.” Koskinen said he is “reasonably confident — very confident” the IRS has successfully upgraded its computer systems to handle additional taxpayer information required by the health law, even though Congress refused to pay for it, rejecting the agency’s $600 million request. “In some ways the Congress appeared to be trying to do its best to keep us from being able to get operational this time,” Koskinen said.”

http://news.yahoo.com/irs-cuts-taxpayer-services-filing-returns-gets-harder-150035056–finance.html

 

IRS partly to blame for ObamaCare issues

“The IRS likely will have to shoulder some of the blame this year for problems related to its role in President Obama’s healthcare law, an in-house watchdog said Wednesday. Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, generally praised the IRS’s ObamaCare efforts in her annual report, saying that the agency’s work is heavily reliant on the job done by other parts of the federal bureaucracy and that many problems that might arise won’t be the IRS’s fault.

“The IRS will certainly bear much of the public blame because many of the problems will arise in the context of return filing,” the taxpayer advocate’s report said. “Conversely, taxpayers and the IRS will experience problems created specifically by IRS policies or processes, some of which are exacerbated by the general reduction in funding for taxpayer service.” Olson has long criticized congressional efforts to roll back the IRS’s budget, which include a $346 million cut enacted in December. She also noted that the IRS resources going toward implementing the agency’s role in the Affordable Care Act would help cause a decline in taxpayer services.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/229547-irs-partly-to-blame-for-obamacare-issues

 

Congress Prepares to Target the Medical Device Tax

“Since the start of the year, the House has been quick to pass legislation that parse elements of the Affordable Care Act. On Monday, lawmakers advanced a bill (HR 33) exempting volunteer emergency services workers from employer insurance coverage requirements. Last week, the House passed a measure culling the employer mandate to aid in the hiring of veterans (HR 22) and changed the workweek threshold of a full-time employee (HR 30). Waiting in the wings, are recently prepared House and Senate bills seeking to repeal the health law’s medical device excise tax  (HR 160 and S 149). The medical device tax was inserted into the Affordable Care Act primarily to raise money to fund other parts of the law. Repealing the health law’s imposition of a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices has long fostered some Democratic lawmaker interest, particularly from states and districts that are home to major medical device manufactures. However, the IRS has struggled to collect the medical device tax and Congress will be challenged to recoup lost expected funding. Separately, the Congressional Research Service weighed in last year with an economic analysis of the tax noting that an excise levy is not an efficient way to raise revenue and most of the impact of the tax will fall on consumers. The report also notes the tax will likely have a minimal impact increasing overall health spending.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/healthopolis/congress-prepares-to-target-the-medical-device-tax/?dcz=

 

GOP’s Sen. Vitter: ObamaCare repeal is ‘still a real possibility’

“Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is redoubling his efforts to expunge ObamaCare completely, which he said is “still a real possibility.” Vitter introduced five pieces of legislation targeting ObamaCare on Wednesday, including one bill that would “fully repeal” the president’s signature healthcare law. The repeal bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — two of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers that have led the charge against ObamaCare.

“Instead of waiting until costs become completely unbearable, it makes sense to flat out repeal Obamacare,” Vitter wrote in a statement Wednesday.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229497-gop-senator-obamacare-repeal-is-real-possibility

 

Chamber of Commerce leader vows repeal of ObamaCare taxes

“The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made a pitch Wednesday to repeal multiple taxes under ObamaCare as well to change the law’s much-criticized definition of a full-time employee. “In healthcare, we support congressional efforts to restore the 40-hour workweek to define who must be covered under the employer healthcare mandate,” the group’s president and CEO, Thomas Donohue, said during the annual State of American Business address. He said the group would work to repeal the medical device tax, the “Cadillac” tax and the individual insurance tax — all pieces of ObamaCare that have been long condemned by the GOP. The House passed a bill last week that would raise the threshold for a full-time workweek to 40 hours, from its current definition of 30 hours. Senate leaders have said the bill will also see a vote in that chamber. GOP lawmakers have also reintroduced bills to repeal the medical device tax and the individual mandate in the last week. In Donohue’s wide-ranging speech Wednesday, he called on Congress to rein in entitlement costs, which he said was driving the government’s “massive debt.” “The entitlement crisis is entirely predicable. We know it’s going to happen,” he said. “It demands action.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229461-chamber-of-commerce-leader-vows-repeal-of-obamacare-taxes

 

Let’s stop pretending Obamacare repeal is the big business agenda

“”We are not working for repeal,” Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue said today, when asked about the Affordable Care Act. Barney Frank, the Democratic former congressman, told the New York Times today about Obamacare: “Nobody who makes their money in health care is going after that bill.” These statements jibe with my observations. The insurance companies and hospitals sided with the Obama administration in the crucial individual mandate case. On the state level, the push to create exchanges and expand Medicaid has been led by hospitals, with insurers and other providers chipping in. This undermines a central bit of rhetorical defense of Obamacare. Congressional Democrats attack repeal efforts as “do[ing] the bidding of insurance companies.” Other Obamacare defenders paint the repeal effort as the agenda of Big Business. These arguments are false. Nobody should take them seriously.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/lets-stop-pretending-obamacare-repeal-is-the-big-business-agenda/article/2558659?custom_click=rss

 

The Blueprint For Getting Rid Of Obamacare

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/the-blueprint-for-getting-rid-of-obamacare/

 

Obamacare’s little secret

Meet the most important person you don’t know.

“Elizabeth MacDonough holds no elected office. Few people outside of Capitol Hill even know her name. And forget about knowing her political leanings or loyalties. But she may very well be the most powerful person in Washington in determining how far Republicans can go in trying to repeal Obamacare. As the Senate parliamentarian, MacDonough will make the decisions on which pieces of the law qualify to be repealed using a complicated budget procedure called reconciliation. Her decisions would allow Senate Republicans to vote to kill major provisions of the health care law under a simple 51-vote majority without giving Democrats a chance to filibuster. Republicans have not yet decided whether to use reconciliation — and whether to use it for Obamacare or tax reform. MacDonough would have a pivotal role in either scenario.

MacDonough started out as a Senate library clerk, moved up to become the “assistant morning business editor to the Congressional Record” and then, after law school, spent much of her working life in the nonpartisan parliamentarian office. She was named parliamentarian three years ago, the first woman to hold the position. The parliamentarian is typically a little-known person — at most, MacDonough can sometimes be spotted on C-SPAN quietly advising the Senate’s presiding officer. But when the post has become controversial in the past, it’s often been over the thorny decisions around reconciliation. Republicans protested decisions by then-parliamentarian Alan Frumin in the 2010 health care reform fight, when Democrats used the budget fast-track tool to pass a small part of the Affordable Care Act. In 2001, Republicans fired Robert Dove as parliamentarian after he ruled against them on how many reconciliation bills could be used. That was actually his second stint in the job: Democrats had fired Dove when they took the majority in 1987. MacDonough doesn’t grant interviews or drop hints about how she might rule on Obamacare — or anything else, for that matter. Her tenure has been so free of controversy that many lawmakers interviewed said they didn’t know much about her, or even her name. But those who do know her — Democrats and Republicans — describe her as even-keeled, friendly, smart and willing to listen. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said parliamentarians — or “parls,” as they’re known — have to make some tough calls that aren’t always black and white. “I think they do their best to use the facts and use the rules and follow the book,” he said. “She’s been around a long time, so she’s very steeped in the traditions of the Senate and understands how it works here. If and when the time comes, I’m sure she’ll be ready to do her job.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) had a similar assessment: “I have no question about her ability to read the rules and make the right decisions.” Those decisions are fought out in the so-called Byrd bath, the closed-door sessions when Republican and Democratic staff make their case to the parliamentarian about what goes in the bill and what stays out. It’s named for former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd, who created the complicated system years ago. That process could significantly raise MacDonough’s profile if the Republicans use reconciliation for either tax reform or Obamacare. Both would be hugely controversial. President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he would veto any GOP bill that guts Obamacare.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/senate-parliamentarian-elizabeth-macdonough-obamacare-114274.html

 

States Could Benefit If Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies

“State economies could get a big boost if the Supreme Court rules that the government cannot offer subsidies through federally-run Obamacare exchanges. In March, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a lawsuit claiming that the Affordable Care Act only authorizes tax credits for individuals purchasing health insurance through state-run exchanges. If the court agrees with that interpretation, the 34 states that declined to set up their own exchanges would lose the “free” federal subsidies they currently receive, but would also be liberated from the employer mandate requiring companies to offer health care to all employees working at least 30 hours per week. According to Don Susswein, a managing director at the consulting firm McGladrey LLP, such a ruling would present states with a difficult choice between establishing an exchange in order to preserve subsidies for low-income residents and shielding companies from the mandate as a way to promote job growth. “Jonathan Gruber famously said, in effect, that no state in their right mind would give up free tax breaks,” Susswein told The Daily Caller News Foundation, and the obvious implication is that if tax credits were the only issue, states would “bite the bullet and set up their own exchanges. However, while “some people are going to argue that it’s unfair for low-income people to lose their tax credits, there are others who will point out that there would be more jobs, and higher-paying jobs, available for those people” in the absence of an employer mandate. In some cases, he predicts, companies might respond by physically relocating to a state without an Obamacare exchange, taking jobs with them. Another possibility, especially for larger companies that do business in multiple states, would be to shift jobs around “so that all residents of non-mandate states work for a single subsidiary that is effectively exempt from Obamacare.” Because the mandate would still apply for workers directly employed by the parent company, firms would have a strong incentive to move as many jobs as possible to the mandate-free subsidiary. Removing the employer mandate would also benefit workers whose job status is not affected, Susswein argues, because those who lose access to employer-provided coverage would see a corresponding increase in their cash wages. “If you impose a per-job cost on an employer,” he explains, “the cost is really borne by the workers in reduced cash wages.” In fact, he says, the employer mandate is an unwanted burden for many low-income workers, because “they may prefer cash, or they may prefer a less generous insurance plan,” yet neither of those options is allowed under Obamacare.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/states-could-benefit-if-court-strikes-down-obamacare-subsidies/

 

White House just assuming they’ll win Obamacare case at SCOTUS

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/01/14/white-house-just-assuming-theyll-win-obamacare-case-at-scotus/

 

Transcending King v. Burwell: With The Supreme Court’s Blessing, The GOP Can Replace Obamacare’s Exchanges

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/01/15/transcending-king-v-burwell-with-the-supreme-courts-blessing-the-gop-can-replace-obamacares-exchanges/

 

Obamacare targets Latinos

“The Obama administration is allocating more of its Obamacare media budget this year to reaching Latinos, but won’t give a final goal for how many Latinos it wants enrolled in health coverage by the end of signup season. Nearly one-third of spending to spread the news about Affordable Care Act benefits is going to Hispanic media, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday. Last year, just 10 percent of the media budget targeted Spanish-language outlets, she said. Officials said that in the final few weeks of ACA enrollment, they’re doubling down on outreach to the Latino community, which remains the least-insured group in the country. Efforts to reach Latinos have floundered at times, with the administration twice delaying the launch last year of CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov. “As one of the fastest-growing communities in our nation, Latinos’ health is vital to the overall health of our country,” Burwell said on a call with leaders of Latino groups. But when asked how many Latinos she hopes will sign up by this year’s Feb. 15 enrollment deadline, Burwell gave only the administration’s overall goal: 9.1 million Americans enrolled in private coverage through the marketplaces. So far, Latinos make up a slightly larger percentage of total enrollees this year. Eight percent of plan selections have been made by Latinos, compared to 7 percent in 2014. Affordable Care Act advocates will be “kicking it into overdrive” over the next few weeks, said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America. “We know there’s a lot of work to be done to engage Latino communities in the last few weeks,” Filipic said. Officials said a key part of the strategy is meeting Latinos where they are. Research shows that they’re more likely than other groups to ask for personal assistance when signing up, and they overwhelmingly want to use the Spanish-language website. Latinos are also more likely to visit the marketplace using a mobile device. Nearly one-third of visitors to healthcare.gov use a phone or tablet; with CuidadoDeSalud, it’s nearly half, Burwell said. “We’re working to meet consumers where they are,” she said.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obamacare-targets-latinos/article/2558653?custom_click=rss

 

ObamaCare outreach to Hispanics in ‘overdrive’

“ObamaCare advocates are intensifying their efforts to bring Hispanics into the health insurance exchanges before the sign-up deadline on Feb. 15. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Enroll America and other national groups are focused on reaching Spanish speakers with more than 600 local enrollment events scheduled in the next four weeks, the coalition announced Wednesday. The movement to increase ObamaCare enrollment is also reaching out to Hispanics with advertisements and in cyberspace. HHS roughly tripled the amount of paid media dollars focused on Spanish speakers this year, according to Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.  Enrolling Hispanics represents a test for the Obama administration in the exchanges’ second year. Spanish speakers remain the most likely group to be uninsured in the United States despite targeted efforts to bring them into the marketplaces last year. “Because this community’s uninsured rate was so high to begin with, it is still true today that Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than other Americans,” said Enroll America President Anne Filipic on a call with reporters Wednesday. “We will be kicking our efforts into overdrive starting this week … [as] we expect that many people will once again wait until the final days to make their decisions.”  The additional focus on Hispanics comes as the administration nears its enrollment target for this year. Nearly 6.8 million people have picked plans or re-enrolled in coverage at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, a figure that is starting to approach the goal of 9 million sign-ups.  The share of Hispanics picking plans appears to be slightly higher than last year: as of Dec. 15, 8 percent of enrollments on the federal marketplace were from people who identified themselves as Hispanic compared with 7 percent in 2014, according to HHS.  The administration cautioned that these figures are incomplete, because not everyone who enrolls gives their ethnicity. But it was clear Burwell is seeking stronger enrollment from the Hispanic community prior to Feb. 15.  Health officials are taking advantage of their experience from last year to make smarter outreach decisions, she said, including increasing Spanish-language outreach and in-person assistance. HHS has also learned that a higher proportion of Hispanics access the enrollment website through mobile technology, Burwell said.  At the same time, she would not name a specific enrollment target for Hispanics. “We view the number in the context of the progress we’ve made for all of open enrollment,” Burwell said. “We want to make even more progress in the next four weeks.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229491-obamacare-outreach-to-latinos-in-overdrive

 

HHS makes last-minute Obamacare pitch to Hispanics

Advocates deem House vote against amnesty ‘not helpful’

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/14/hhs-makes-last-minute-obamacare-pitch-hispanics/

 

HealthCare.gov blankets consumer inboxes

“The tempo of notices from HealthCare.gov is increasing ahead of Thursday’s deadline for coverage that begins Feb. 1.  The federal health insurance exchange sent four reminders in the last 24 hours to some individuals with unfinished applications, reminding them to revisit the site. Several emails played up the decreasing number of days left before the deadline, a strategy to bring people into the exchange as soon as possible.  Sign-ups typically increase close to deadlines, though the largest rush is not expected until next month prior to the final cutoff date of Feb. 15.  After that time, people will not be able to buy health insurance on the exchanges unless they qualify for a special enrollment period.  The notices from HealthCare.gov signal the Obama administration’s focus on consumer outreach now that the website is functionally smoothly for most users.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell is also emphasizing the looming coverage deadlines.  “There are just over four weeks before the February 15 deadline and the end of open enrollment. For those who are thinking about getting health coverage, take a look at your options on HealthCare.gov or contact the call center,” Burwell said in a statement Wednesday.  Nearly 6.8 million people have picked plans or re-enrolled in coverage at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, HHS said Wednesday. The department’s goal prior to Feb. 15 is to sign up 9 million people.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229483-healthcaregov-blankets-consumer-inboxes

 

290,000 In Michigan Sign Up For Health Insurance Marketplace

“The federal government says more than 290,000 Michiganians have signed up for the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, one day ahead of Thursday’s enrollment deadline. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicessaid Wednesday that 290,439 people had signed up by Friday. Thursday is the deadline for people to get insurance starting Feb. 1. The government provides subsidies based on income. Another enrollment period runs through Feb. 15 for coverage that takes effect March. 1. After that, people may have to wait until 2016 to enroll. The federal agency says that about 6.5 million people nationwide have signed up or automatically renewed their participation in the marketplace since Nov. 15.”

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2015/01/14/290000-in-michigan-sign-up-for-health-insurance-marketplace/

 

1.2M sign up for Obamacare plans in Florida

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article6506187.html

 

Feds: 19,338 Delawareans choose Obamacare plans

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2015/01/14/feds-delawareans-choose-obamacare-plans/21771817/

 

Obamacare enrollment in Wisconsin running ahead of last year

http://www.jsonline.com/business/obamacare-enrollment-in-wisconsin-running-ahead-of-last-year-b99426235z1-288579381.html

 

Obamacare 2015: Texas enrollment nearly 860K

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/prognosis/article/Obamacare-2015-Texas-enrollment-nearly-860K-6015057.php

 

More than 15,000 Alaskans sign up for ACA insurance

http://www.adn.com/article/20150114/more-15000-alaskans-sign-aca-insurance

 

ObamaCare enrollment climbs higher

“Nearly 6.8 million people have selected a plan or re-enrolled at HealthCare.gov since Nov. 15, federal health officials announced Wednesday.  The latest figures show an increase in roughly 163,000 plans between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was gearing up for another sign-up rush ahead of Thursday, the cutoff for coverage that begins Feb. 1.  HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell also emphasized the final enrollment deadline for avoiding a penalty for 2015: Feb. 15.  “Nearly 6.8 million Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage for 2015 through the federally facilitated health insurance marketplace,” Burwell said in a statement.  “There are just over four weeks before the February 15 deadline and the end of open enrollment. For those who are thinking about getting health coverage, take a look at your options on HealthCare.gov or contact the call center.”  A total of 8,768,448 applications for insurance coverage have been submitted on the federal exchange since Nov. 15, and more than 18 million people have visited HealthCare.gov. HHS is shooting for 9 million enrollments by Feb. 15.  Burwell continued to emphasize the financial assistance available to many consumers on the marketplaces. Some exchanges, including California’s, have started to center their messages on the individual mandate penalties.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229481-obamacare-enrollment-climbs-higher

 

Where Obamacare Is Still Struggling

Some states haven’t recovered from low enrollment in the law’s first year.

“Obamacare enrollment is doing fine nationally, but it’s still lagging in a handful of key 2016 battlegrounds. Nevada is having an especially rough time. Iowa is making slow progress. And Ohio still has some work to do as well. They’re among the handful of states that got off to especially rocky starts when Obamacare enrollment began, and—at least for now—haven’t been able to fully turn things around in the law’s second year, according to new figures from the Obama administration. There’s still time: Open enrollment doesn’t end for another month, and most experts are expecting a surge in sign-ups ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline to buy coverage. And no state is doing as poorly as the law’s critics have predicted: No one’s insurance market is in danger of collapsing. But the first state-by-state breakdown of 2015 enrollment—which the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday—shows big variations in enrollment growth, particularly among states that didn’t do well during the first open-enrollment period. States like Texas and Florida, which enrolled especially large portions of their uninsured populations last year, don’t need to see a big spike in the number of people signing up for coverage this year—they’re already on the right track. But other states fell far short of their enrollment goals last year, signing up only a fraction of their uninsured residents. Those states need to see significant growth this time around. Each state is its own insurance market; premium increases vary from state to state, as will Obamacare’s success or failure. Wyoming, for example, is making up for lost time. It ranked near the bottom last year in terms of signing up eligible residents. But sign-ups in the state have already increased by 42 percent since then—the biggest growth rate in the country. North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are also seeing at least a 30 percent increase in sign-ups after poor showings in 2014. “Some of the highest growth is in markets that did less well last year,” said Larry Levitt, senior adviser for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. But some of the lowest growth is also coming from states that did poorly last year: Nevada ranked 43rd last year in the number of eligible residents who actually signed up for coverage. Since then, sign-ups have grown at an anemic 5.3 percent—the lowest rate of growth in any state. Nevada’s exchange has been beset by technical problems, and its total number of sign-ups as of last week was only about 2,000 higher than its totals in April. That growth rate is so small, it might not even make up for the people who signed up but never paid their premiums, Levitt said. Similarly, Iowa was second-to-last in 2014, signing up only about 13 percent of eligible residents. Sign-ups are 18 percent higher this year, compared with 24 percent nationally. The latest data cover only the 37 states that are relying on HealthCare.gov to operate their exchanges. Four of those states were in the bottom 10 performers last year and are also in the bottom 10 states for growth this year. It’s not entirely clear why enrollment is growing faster in certain states, Levitt said. But he said the discrepancies raise an important point about Obamacare’s future: While big, populous states like California and Florida propelled the law to an enrollment success in its first year, and will add millions more people to the rolls in 2015, the law will need higher enrollment from “unlikelier places” to truly keep growing in the long term.”

http://www.nationaljournal.com/health-care/where-obamacare-is-still-struggling-20150114

 

 

IMMIGRATION:

‘Enough Is Enough!’ Boehner Blasts Obama on House Floor as GOP Votes to Block Amnesty

“Speaker of the House John Boehner lambasted President Obama for his failure to respect the constitutional limits of his authority, striking a defiant tone as the GOP-controlled House voted to block the White House’s push for executive amnesty. The Republican majority leader took the House floor moments before the successful 236-191 vote, which funded the Department of Homeland Security past February while simultaneously moving to block unilateral executive initiatives granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. “Today I rise, and the House rises, to support and defend our Constitution,” Boehner began, saying there is “no alternative . . . This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law, and to the Constitution itself.” “What we’re dealing with is a president who has ignored the people, who has ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” the Speaker said – proceeding to list 22 occasions where President Obama explained his own constitutional limitations on immigration reform. “To think that the President of the United States actually studied constitutional law is one thing,” Boehner said, referring to the president’s time as a constitutional law scholar at Harvard. “He didn’t just learn constitutional law, he taught it as well. But now his actions suggest that he’s forgotten what these words even mean. Enough is enough!” The vote comes after intense conservative criticism of Boehner’s leadership earlier this month, with many accusing the Speaker of failing to confront President Obama’s overreach by funding the government through last December’s “cromnibus” spending bill. The bill now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate, where it must pass the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster. The White House is threatening to veto the bill, betting that blame for an unfunded Department of Homeland Security will fall squarely on Republican shoulders.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396368/enough-enough-boehner-blasts-obama-house-floor-gop-votes-block-amnesty-brendan

 

John Boehner mocks Obama’s knowledge of Constitution

“Escalating the immigration battle to a war of constitutional proportions, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that Congress was canceling President Obama’s deportation amnesties in order to keep faith with the founders’ vision of a government where laws are made by Congress, not the White House. Mr. Boehner, taking to the House floor, said the votes the House will take later Wednesday morning are a signal that Congress means to recapture the powers that have flowed from Capitol Hill to the White House in recent years. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” he said. “This is not a dispute between parties, or even between the branches of government. This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself.” The Ohio Republican went on to question Mr. Obama’s knowledge of the Constitution, which the president taught to classes at the University of Chicago’s law school. “To think that the president studied constitutional law at Harvard,” Mr. Boehner said. “But now his actions suggest he’s forgotten what these words even mean.” Minutes earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Mr. Obama on the floor, saying other presidents had taken the same kinds of actions, granting stays of deportation to other categories of illegal immigrants.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/14/boehner-mocks-obamas-knowledge-constitution/

 

Boehner: 22 Times Obama Said He Couldn’t Ignore Or Create His Own Immigration Law

“Here are the 22 times cited by Boehner:

–March 31, 2008: “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to … not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President…”

–May 19, 2008: “I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.”

–May 5, 2010: “Anybody who tells you … that I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention to how this town works.”

–July 1, 2010: “[T]here are those … who have argued passionately that we should … at least ignore the laws on the books… I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair.”

–October 14, 2010: “I do have an obligation to make sure that I am following some of the rules. I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there.”

–October 25, 2010: “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. … I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”

–March 28, 2011: “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law.”

–April 20, 2011: “I can’t solve this problem by myself. … I can’t do it by myself.”

–April 29, 2011: “Some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how democracy works”

–May 10, 2011: “They wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”

–July 25, 2011: “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. … But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”

–September 28, 2011: “We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it.”

–September 20, 2012: “What I’ve always said is, as the head of the executive branch, there’s a limit to what I can do.”

–October 16, 2012: “We’re … a nation of laws. … And I’ve done everything that I can on my own.”

–January 30, 2013: “I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law.”

–January 30, 2013: “I’m not a king. You know, my job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law.”

–February 14, 2013: “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States.”

–July 16, 2013: “I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative.”

–September 17, 2013: “My job in the executive branch is supposed to be to carry out the laws that are passed. … But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law…”

–November 25, 2013: “The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. … That’s not our tradition.”

–March 6, 2014: “And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore … any of the other laws that are on the books.”

–August 6, 2014: “I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/boehner_22_times_obama_said_he_couldnt_ignore_or_create_his_own_immigration_law.html

 

House passes bill to defund Obama’s immigration orders

“The House voted Wednesday to block funding for President Obama’s immigration orders, firing the first shot in a high-stakes battle over deferred deportations for the millions of people who are in the country illegally. The measure passed in a 236-191 vote, with 10 Republicans voting against it and two Democrats voting in favor. Democrats rallied against the bill, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September, after Republicans adopted a series of contentious amendments that take aim at facets of Obama’s immigration policy. One of the amendments would choke off funding for Obama’s executive action announced in November, which would allow some illegal immigrants to stay in the country and obtain work permits. A second amendment would halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which lifts deportation for some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. The defunding amendment was adopted in a 237-190 vote, with seven Republicans voting no, while the DACA amendment was approved 218-209, with 26 Republicans defecting. House Democrats were unified in opposition to both provisions. The 10 Republican no votes on the final legislation came from Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Mario Díaz-Balart (Fla.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and David Valadao (Calif.). The two Democrats voting in favor were Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.). Before the votes began, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a rare speech on the House floor in support and quoted 22 times when Obama said he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally rewrite immigration law. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” Boehner said. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), one of the co-sponsors of the amendment to defund the November actions, said lawmakers needed to stand up to avoid setting a new precedent where the executive branch is allowed to flout the will of Congress. “Law is not made because Congress fails to act. Law is made in this room when we do act,” Mulvaney said during floor debate. Mulvaney pledged that he would join Democrats in opposing similar unilateral action from a Republican president. “I will the first to be here with you to stand against that to fight back,” Mulvaney said. Three other amendments that were folded into the spending bill would prioritize deportation for illegal immigrants convicted of sexual abuse and domestic violence; promote the hiring of U.S. citizens above those who are in the country illegally, and express the sense of Congress the administration should “stop putting the interest of immigrants who worked within the legal framework to come to the US behind those who came here illegally.” All five amendments were attached to a nearly $40 billion bill that would fund DHS through September. Congress must fund the department by Feb. 27 or it could shut down. House Republicans say they are acting well ahead of the deadline to give the Republican Senate enough time to consider the package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the upper chamber would focus on the bill in February, which could lead to a showdown with Democrats at the eleventh hour. The White House has already promised that President Obama would veto the DHS bill if “ideological provisions” were tied to it.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/229469-house-votes-to-defund-obamas-immigration-orders

 

House Roll Call: Obama’s executive action on immigration

“The 237-190 roll call Wednesday by which the House agreed to a measure that would undo executive actions that President Barack Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the measure. Voting yes were 0 Democrats and 237 Republicans. Voting no were 183 Democrats and 7 Republicans.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-roll-call-obamas-executive-action-on-immigration-n1943042

 

House Roll Call: Passage of Homeland bill with immigration

“The 236-191 roll call Wednesday by which the House passed a bill that would provide nearly $40 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year. The bill includes provisions rolling back President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill. Voting yes were 2 Democrats and 234 Republicans. Voting no were 181 Democrats and 10 Republicans.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-roll-call-passage-of-homeland-bill-with-immigration-n1943070

 

House Votes to Defund Obama’s Immigration Action

“The House voted Wednesday to defund President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, a step Republicans promised to take after Obama said in November he would provide legal protection for up to 5 million illegal immigrants. Members voted 237-190 in favor of a defunding amendment brought by Rep. Bob Aderholt (R-Ala.). All but seven Republicans supported it, and it was opposed by all Democrats. Republicans voting against it were Reps. Carlos Curbello (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Bob Dold (Ill.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and David Valadao (Calif.). With that vote, Aderholt’s language was attached to a Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which the House then passed shortly after noon in a 236-191 vote. Aderholt’s language would block funding for Obama’s executive action, even those funds that agencies collect on their own through fees. It would prevent enforcement of memos DHS released in 2011 and 2012 that allow agencies to halt immigration enforcement on various classes of illegal immigrants. It would also block any effort to carry out similar policies, and prevent the executive branch from giving any benefit to illegal immigrants that aren’t prescribed under law. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised to fight Obama’s action “tooth and nail,” and attaching the defunding language to the DHS spending bill is one of the stronger steps the GOP could take. Many conservatives feared the House might pass a defunding bill as a separate item, which would have made it much easier for Obama to ignore. Attaching it to the DHS spending bill sets up an immediate challenge to Obama, who has said he would veto the bill if it defunds his immigration plan. It also raises questions about how the Senate will handle the bill. It’s possible that Republicans may have to consider tweaking the language in order to find the 60 votes needed to start work on the bill, and failure to do so could effectively kill the bill in the upper chamber. But this week, at least, House Republicans were holding firm, and were led by Boehner himself in the effort to fight back against Obama’s attempt to go around Congress. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply, there is no alternative,” Boehner said, making one of his rare appearances on the House floor to speak about specific legislation. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.” “Enough is enough,” Boehner added. “By their votes last November, the people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today, we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-defund-obamas-immigration-action/

 

House votes to roll back Obama’s immigration actions

But this version of the Homeland Security spending bill has no hope of getting through the Senate.

“House Republicans mounted a furious assault on four years of President Barack Obama’s immigration policies Wednesday — satisfying hard-liners on the issue but prompting resistance among some moderates concerned that the party’s leadership has gone too far. The GOP-led chamber voted 236-191 to pass legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of September, with measures attached that would effectively kill the administration’s efforts to unilaterally shield millions of undocumented immigrations from deportations. It would also thwart Obama administration enforcement policies that limited deportations of people who weren’t criminals or serial immigration violators.

Story Continued Below But given the qualms of moderates in the Senate and a presidential veto threat, the all-out rollback doesn’t stand a chance of becoming law. So even with the legislation passing the House, Republican leadership — in both chambers — will face the complicated calculus of trying to keep DHS funded while registering the GOP’s broad disapproval of Obama’s unilateral moves on immigration. “We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on the floor Wednesday. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.” Potential signs of trouble began erupting Tuesday, when House Republicans began telling the leadership’s whip operation that they planned to vote against an amendment from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That program, which Obama announced in 2012, has stopped some 600,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported and allowed them to work legally. Ultimately, 26 House Republicans voted against the measure killing DACA — mostly moderates on immigration who represent states with significant Latino populations, such as California, Florida, Nevada and New York. Some members were also irritated at the leadership’s courting of the hard-liners — particularly those who had mounted a failed coup against Boehner on the vote for speaker last week.

“This is rewarding bad behavior,” one frustrated GOP lawmaker said. Still, the Blackburn amendment passed narrowly, 218-209. DACA was the model for an even broader executive action announced by Obama last November, in which similar protections would be offered to roughly 4 million immigrants without legal status who have been here for at least five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or green-card holders. The administration also expanded DACA itself to a much larger pool of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States illegally at a young age. To be sure, Wednesday’s plan had broad support from the GOP conference. But with near-unanimous Democratic opposition, the Republican leadership had to ensure it didn’t lose too many of its moderate members on the immigration policies, or else the overall bill could have sunk. “If President Obama’s unilateral immigration amendments are not stopped, future presidents will continue to expand the power of the executive branch and encroach upon individual liberty,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who helped craft the party’s response to Obama’s executive action, said on the House floor Tuesday. “The time is now for Congress to take a stand against these abusive actions.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/immigration-reform-republicans-house-114251.html

 

House votes to undo Obama immigration actions

“The 236-191 vote came on a broad bill that would provide $39.7 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year, legislation that lawmakers of both parties said was sorely needed to pay for counterterrorism, cybersecurity and other priorities at a moment when the Paris terror attacks have underscored dire threats. Democrats accused Republicans of putting that money at risk by attaching veto-bait amendments on immigration, and some Republicans voiced the same concern. But House GOP leaders and most of their rank and file accused Obama in turn of reckless and unconstitutional actions on immigration that had to be answered. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.” But Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the Republicans were simply pandering to the far right. “Shame on Republicans for attacking the Latino community,” Sanchez said. “Republicans are consciously targeting millions of families who work hard, contribute to our communities and are just trying to give their children a chance at the American dream.” One of the immigration amendments, approved 237-190, would undo executive actions that Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief and work permits to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally, mostly people who have children who are citizens or legal permanent residents. The amendment also would cancel earlier directives to immigration agents aimed at giving them discretion in focusing deportations on criminals.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/house-takes-broad-aim-at-obama-on-immigration-n1942798

 

House votes to undo Obama’s executive amnesties as part of new funding bill for Homeland Security

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-undo-obamas-executive-amnesties-as-part-of-new-funding-bill-for-homeland-security/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration policies

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-votes-to-block-obamas-immigration-policies/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration action

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/14/dhs-spending-bill-immigration-executive-order/21740293/

 

House votes to block Obama’s immigration actions — but exposes new GOP divisions

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-block-obamas-immigration-actions-but-exposes-new-gop-divisions/

 

26 REPUBLICANS VOTE AGAINST BLACKBURN AMENDMENT TO DEFUND OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS

“A whopping 26 Republicans joined the Democrats in Congress to vote against an amendment to the DHS funding bill sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). That amendment aims to block funds for President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), largely believed to be the root cause of the border crisis last summer. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) was the first Republican to break ranks. “Ellmers is [the] first GOP no vote,” Politico’s Seung Min Kim Tweeted as the vote began. The other Republicans who voted against the measure, which passed, are: Reps. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Bob Dold (R-IL), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Crescent Hardy (R-NV), John Katko (R-NY), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Peter King (R-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Fred Upton (R-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA). Blackburn described her amendment as something that cuts off the magnet for future illegal immigration by Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC’s) to the United States. “Last year, I had the opportunity to visit an unaccompanied alien children (UAC) facility at Fort Sill and also traveled to the southern border where I was briefed by U.S. Border Patrol agents,” Blackburn said. “These visits confirmed what we have known all along — DACA is the magnet drawing Central American children here. UAC’s believe they will receive amnesty, as those before them have.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/01/14/26-republicans-vote-against-blackburn-amendment-to-defund-obamas-executive-amnesty-for-illegal-aliens/

 

Centrists break in deportation vote

“More than two dozen House Republicans broke with their party on Wednesday to oppose defunding a program that lets those who entered the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country, a sign of tension within the party on immigration. A total of 26 GOP lawmakers bucked leadership and voted with Democrats against an amendment to defund Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Many hail from swing districts or districts with large Hispanic populations, and they include many of the House Republicans who have been advocating for the party to tackle immigration reform in a comprehensive way. Many GOP strategists are worried the amendment could hurt the party in next year’s elections, and the party split, which included several likely Democratic targets for 2016, shows several members agree. Freshman Reps. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Crescent Hardy (R-Nev.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) all voted with Democrats on the amendment, as did perennial Democratic targets including Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.). The rest of the list features more centrist Republicans from slightly safer districts that have either large Hispanic populations, like Reps. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), or are in more suburban Northeastern and Midwestern territory, like Reps. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The lone exception who might be taking on more political risk with her vote is Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who warded off a challenge from a conservative border hawk in 2014. The 26 Republicans who voted against the amendment were:…”

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/229477-centrist-republicans-break-with-party-on-deportation-vote

 

Our Fight’s With the President, Not DREAMers (Jeff Denham)

“My colleagues in both chambers of Congress rightfully feel the moral necessity of responding to such unaccountable overreach from this president. His actions were purely political and designed to drive a wedge between burgeoning minority communities and a center right country which prefers its government focus on economic issues and growing a stagnant economy. We must respond to the president’s assault on the democratic process by exercising our constitutional powers. Toward this end, this week the House will consider a bill appropriating funds for the Department of Homeland Security. These funds are necessary to keep our nation safe from terrorism, enable us to respond to natural disasters and strengthen the security of our borders. The efforts of the DHS protect Americans lives on a daily basis and strengthen state and local law enforcement efforts, and I fully support the DHS funding bill that has been proposed. However, I am concerned that Congress will overreach in taking action against a large swath of individuals in our communities who should be protected. Some of my colleagues insist on a series of amendments designed specifically to penalize a class of immigrants who never elected to break our laws in the first place. I have voted repeatedly in Congress to protect children who were brought into this country by their parents or guardians through no fault of their own. The current Administration began allowing this group of individuals (popularly called DREAMers) to apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals status (DACA) in 2012. Shielding young people from deportation, most of whom were brought to this country at a very young age and have gone to school and worked alongside our children, is the right thing to do. Most Americans and their members of Congress agree. Had the president worked with Congress then on a legislative solution, we would not be having this debate today.

In order to obtain the DACA paperwork and receive recognition by DHS, the DREAMers have passed background checks, have clean criminal records, earned high school and college degrees, and have worked towards achieving the American dream. DREAMers are contributing members of our society. Some of the proposed amendments to the DHS funding bill would prohibit DHS from renewing DACA applications, and will subject our DREAMers to deportation, pulling them from their jobs, colleges, and families. Where would they go? Many know no other country to call home. The same federal government that told children as young as four and five years old to come forward will then turn around three years later and deport these young people to countries they have never known.”

http://www.rollcall.com/news/our_fights_with_the_president_not_dreamers_commentary-239264-1.html

 

Dems Were Asked to Support the Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Convicted of Violence and Sexual Abuse. Here’s How They Voted.

“Dozens of House Democrats on Wednesday voted against a legislative proposal aimed at ensuring that illegal immigrants convicted of domestic violence, sexual abuse or child abuse are a priority for deportation. The vote suggests that immigration-related issues trump other traditional Democratic priorities, such as efforts to protect people from sex or violence-related crimes, especially against women. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) proposed the language as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill. He argued it was needed because Obama’s executive action on immigration created different priorities for deportation that need to be adjusted. For example, illegal immigrants suspected of terrorism or espionage or other felonies are top priorities for deportation. But illegal immigrants who are convicted of three or more misdemeanors, or one “significant” misdemeanor such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, are on a second tier priority for deportation. On Wednesday, House Republicans put forward the DeSantis amendment to prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants convicted of domestic violence, sexual abuse or child abuse. But they were met by significant Democratic opposition, including from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is widely seen as a champion of women’s issues. Pelosi explained that she opposed the amendment because it was opposed by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops… Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) also explained that in many domestic violence cases involving illegal immigrants, police arrest both the abuser and the victim, and both can end up pleading to a misdemeanor just to speed up the process. “This happens all the time, all around the country,” she argued. As a result, she said the GOP language could end up hurting victims as well as abusers. Those arguments were met with disbelief from Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who sponsored the amendment. DeSantis said he was “perplexed” why anyone would vote against the amendment. “Why would we have any tolerance for child molesters?” Desalts said. “If you’re not in our country legally, and you get convicted of an offense like that, you should be gone. We shouldn’t even be discussing this.” “I think the people who are going to vote ‘no’ on this are basically saying, ‘we don’t want a zero-tolerance policy against child molesters and sexual offenders,’ ” he added. In the end, the House approved the DeSantis amendment 278-149 vote. Thirty-five Democrats voted with Republicans on this measure, and one Republican voted against it. But that left 148 Democrats voting against it. Below are all the “no” votes on the DeSantis amendment — all but one of them, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), are Democrats:”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/dems-were-asked-to-support-the-deportation-of-illegal-immigrants-convicted-of-violence-and-sexual-abuse-heres-how-they-voted/

 

House votes to overturn Obama immigration actions, bill heads to Senate

“Even with Republicans in control of the Senate the bill faces tough chances there, especially because House GOP leaders decided to satisfy demands from conservative members by including a vote to undo the 2012 policy that deals with younger immigrants known as “Dreamers.” The amendment, which is opposed by some of the more moderate Republicans in the House, would ultimately expose those young people to deportation.  Security-minded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also are worried about using the DHS funding bill to wage the immigration fight, saying security funding should not be put at risk, particularly in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. Current DHS funding expires at the end of next month.  In the Senate, Republicans would have to rally a 60-vote majority to advance the legislation, and they have only 54 members.  With even some Republicans voicing reservations, the Senate may have to strip out the immigration provisions and send a straight DHS funding bill back to the House, as the Feb. 27 deadline looms.  This, then, could set up another fight between GOP leadership and the conservative reaches of the party.  One senior House GOP aide told Fox News, “I don’t know how this one ends.” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, in a written statement, said the bill would not pass the Senate. “Republicans have only been in control for a week and already they are picking an unnecessary political fight that risks shutting down the Department of Homeland Security and endangering our security,” he said, urging Republicans to pass a “clean” funding bill. Some House Republicans acknowledged that the Senate is likely to reject their approach. “They’re not going to pass this bill,” Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said in predicting the Senate outcome.  Obama has threatened to veto the House bill, and Democrats roundly denounced it, even as immigrant advocates warned Republicans they risked alienating Latino voters who will be crucial to the 2016 presidential election.  “Just two weeks into this new Congress, Republicans have turned a bipartisan issue, funding our Department of Homeland Security, into a cesspool of despicable amendments that cater to the most extremist anti-immigrant fringe,” Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said in a House debate.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/house-votes-to-overturn-obama-immigration-actions-bill-now-goes-to-senate/

 

Rep. Gowdy on Stopping Executive Action on Immigration: “It’s About Damn Time” We Use The Power Of The Purse

“REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): This is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. This is not even a fight over immigration reform. This is a fight over whether this branch of government will ever find the courage to stand up for itself. The same document that this and all presidents swear to defend gives this body certain tools. Tools like the power of the purse and it’s about damn time we use that tool.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/rep_gowdy_on_stopping_executive_action_on_immigration_its_about_damn_time_we_use_the_power_of_the_purse.html

 

Voters Beat Donors In House Immigration Debate

“The House passed a tough anti-amnesty bill Wednesday, marking a major victory for poll data over donor pressure. Only 26 GOP members objected to some of the anti-amnesty measures, which are designed to block Obama’s plan to largely effectively halt deportation of unauthorized migrants and to hand out roughly 5 million work-permits to illegals. That’s a big turnaround from December, when House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders ignored the GOP’s anti-amnesty base as they pushed through a 2015 budget that funded Obama’s amnesty until the end of February. The budget bill passed Wednesday would fund the Department of Homeland Security from February to October, but it also bars any spending to implement Obama’s amnesty, which was announced in November. The bill will be sent quickly over to the Senate. That will create a headache for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has usually supported business groups’ call for expanded immigration of low-wage workers. Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions will likely be the leading Senate champion for the bill. “This vote represents one of the most important constitutional votes that has ever come before this body,” he said in a statement after the House vote. “I would encourage every Senate Democrat to pause and consider this question before acting: to whom do you owe your allegiance? To party leaders, to donors, to the citizens of other countries, or to the American citizens who elected you and the Constitution that protects their rights?” he said. This week, Sessions sent a polling memo to his fellow senators saying GOP opposition to Obama’s amnesty can help elect a Republican to the White House in 2016. But many of the 54 GOP senators are reluctant to support the bill, and a handful will likely vote against the bill. These opponents likely include South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Arizona’s Jeff Flake. McConnell will need support from roughly 10 Democratic senators to get the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected Democratic filibuster. That’s unlikely, though. Polls show lopsided opposition among Republican and Democratic voters for laws that allow companies to hire guest-workers and immigrants prior to Americans. For example, a September poll by Paragon Insights showed that large slices of the Democratic coalition would be “much more likely” to vote for a GOP candidate who says that “the first goal of immigration policy needs to be getting unemployed Americans back to work — not importing more low-wage workers to replace them.” 38 percent of African-Americans, 39 percent of Democratic women, 36 percent of Latinos and roughly 47 percent of midwesterners said they would be much more likely to support a GOP candidate who favors the employment of Americans. But a push is unlikely because the GOP Senators are under intense pressure from business groups to avoid any criticism of immigration. GOP leaders may succumb to business pressure, and only make a weak effort to push the bill through the Senate. White House officials say the president will veto the budget bill because his amnesty policy makes sense. Also, they argue that the GOP bill undermine border security because the president’s veto will limit research and equipment maintenance by the border agency. ”The most important thing to do is to fund these agencies so they can do their job,” Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s top domestic policy director, told reporters after the House passed the bill.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/voters-beat-donors-in-house-immigration-debate/

 

A Risky Immigration Vote for the GOP

The House vote to block President Obama’s executive actions was another step back in the party leadership’s fitful quest for reform.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/01/House-Republicans-Vote-to-Block-Obama-on-Immigration/384513/

 

How Quickly the Senate Acts on the DHS Bill Will Say a Lot About Whether They Want to Stop Amnesty

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396369/how-quickly-senate-acts-dhs-bill-will-say-lot-about-whether-they-want-stop-amnesty

 

Filibuster Of DHS Spending Bill Looms in the Senate

“The next hurdle: a filibuster by Senate Democrats. Just as House Republicans gained support by dividing the language defunding Obama’s actions into separate amendments, Senate Democrats will try to weaken Republicans by rolling them into one, a Senate Republican aide predicts. There are some Republicans who will vote to withhold funding for the most recent orders, but not for the DACA program. Democrats will likely file a single motion to strip all of the amendments out of the base DHS funding bill — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has already said that they should pass a “clean” bill without any of the anti-amnesty language. Senate Republicans should be able to muster the 51 votes needed to table that motion, even if some vulnerable members of the conference fear that this tabling vote will be portrayed in political attack ads as tantamount to a vote against DACA. “After we table their amendment, we’ll need to get cloture (60 votes) to proceed to a vote on final passage,” a conservative Senate aide explains to NRO. “That’s when they can filibuster. We feel good there are enough Democrats who will not walk this plank for the president and the Senate will send the bill to the president’s desk for him to veto. If they do hold (unlikely), and we can’t get to 60, then we’re stuck on the bill. Nothing we can do at that point to get it passed.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396374/filibuster-dhs-spending-bill-looms-senate-joel-gehrke

 

Immigration endgame not in House’s favor

Many Republicans fear the Senate will come back with a ‘clean’ funding bill, with no immigration language attached.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/immigration-house-114278.html

 

Hoyer: Not all GOP immigration amendments are ‘killers’

“Not all of the Republican provisions to scale back President Obama’s executive actions are deal-breakers for a broader deal on Homeland Security funding, the second-ranking House Democrat said Wednesday. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that, although Democrats overwhelmingly oppose all five immigration amendments accompanying the homeland security debate, only two are “killers.” One would end Obama’s 2012 deferred action program halting deportations for younger illegal immigrants, and another blocks an expansion of that program to roughly five million more people. Those “are clearly unacceptable,” Hoyer said, because “they simply reverse everything that’s been done.” The other three, Hoyer said, simply don’t carry the same weight. “All three of them have deficiencies,” he said. “[But] those amendments, while not good amendments, are not the killer amendments in that they undermine the entire program.” Hoyer’s comments suggest that Democratic leaders might be willing to accept something other than a clean DHS funding bill in order to keep the agency up and running beyond Feb. 27, when funds are set to expire. That support could be crucial if the Senate sends a scaled-back version of the DHS bill that alienates conservative Republicans and leaves House GOP leaders in need of Democratic votes to get it to Obama. The three amendments Hoyer referenced include provisions to prioritize deportation for domestic violence and sexual abuse offenders; to promote the hiring of U.S. citizens and legal residents over those in the country illegally; and to prioritize people who came to the U.S. legally ahead of those who arrived illegally. The latter two are so-called “sense of the Congress” resolutions, meaning they have no binding influence over policy.  House GOP leaders on Wednesday passed the DHS funding bill with all five amendments attached, but Senate Republicans are not expected to have the 60 votes to move it through the upper chamber.  Furthermore, the White House has threatened to veto the package if it includes “any amendments to the legislation that would place restrictions on the Department’s ability to set smart enforcement priorities focused on criminals, national security threats, and recent border crossers, hold undocumented immigrants accountable, and modernize the legal immigration system.” Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), says it will oppose any DHS funding package that includes any of the five immigration provisions.   “I won’t vote for it, and [that] is the position of the CHC,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) added Wednesday.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/229538-hoyer-not-all-gop-immigration-amendments-are-killers

 

Democrats Blast GOP Over Homeland Security Bill

Republicans tie bill funding Department of Homeland Security to a block on spending for Obama’s immigration order.

““You think it would have heightened the urgency to pass a homeland security bill, but Republicans still say ‘no’ to passing a clean bill unless they can be a menace to immigration,” Pelosi said. However, the legislation has the potential to hurt both Democrats and Republicans, said John Hudak, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. He said if Republicans are viewed as playing politics and the DHS is not funded, there will be political consequences. “But if they can get a bill to the president’s desk, that creates a difficult scenario for the president because it’s hard for the president, especially in the environment we’re in right now, to veto a homeland security funding bill,” Hudak said. “The politics around the legislation are difficult for both sides because neither side can look like the ones who are negatively affecting the Department of Homeland Security broadly.” With the 2016 presidential election looming, immigration policies are becoming increasingly important as parties look to capture the Latino vote. Democrats will look to build on their strong Latino support from 2012, which played a key role in many swing states.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/01/13/democrats-blast-gop-over-homeland-security-bill?google_editors_picks=true

 

White House blasts House on immigration

“The White House on Wednesday blasted House Republicans for a vote that would block implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration in exchange for funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said amendments that would prohibit the government from providing deportation protection and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants were “not relevant” to funding for the department, and argued “nothing” that had been proposed by House Republicans “makes any sense from a policy perspective.” In addition to halting the president’s recently announced executive action on immigration, the House bill would prevent new applications and renewals under the deferred action program unveiled in 2012 for those who were brought to the country illegally as children. According to the White House, some 600,000 people have taken advantage of that program already. The legislation would also prioritize deportation for illegal immigrants convicted of sexual abuse and domestic violence; promote the hiring of U.S. citizens above those who are in the country illegally; and express the sense of Congress that the administration should “stop putting the interest of immigrants who worked within the legal framework to come to the U.S. behind those who came here illegally.” But Muñoz insisted that “there’s no reason to tinker with the administration’s actions at all.” She also reiterated the president’s intention to veto any legislation that tries to alter his executive actions. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said such prosecutorial prioritization was “critical to any law enforcement agency.” Other administration officials argued that the gambit of tying immigration legislation to DHS funding was tantamount to a dangerous game of legislative chicken. White House press secretary Josh Earnest appeared to invoke the recent terror attacks in Paris while arguing his case. “There’s never a good time to muck around with the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, but given the events of the last week, this seems like a particularly bad time to do so,” Earnest said. Andrew Mayock of the Office of Management and Budget noted that without new funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service would be unable to enact a series of new security policies prescribed in a review conducted after repeated breaches of White House security. Mayock also noted that FEMA would be prevented from distributing emergency grants to state and local governments in need. Republicans have defended the legislation as necessary after Obama moved aggressively to broaden the deferred action program — despite previously indicating he did not believe he had the executive authority to do so. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a rare floor speech Wednesday.  The White House repeatedly refused to say how they hoped Senate Democrats, who should have enough votes to filibuster the House legislation, should approach the House funding bill. Officials said they did not expect the Senate to announce a path forward until after this week’s policy retreats. Muñoz also refused to say whether immigration would play a prominent role in the president’s State of the Union address next week. Obama’s approval rating has jumped — particularly among Hispanic voters — in the aftermath of the actions, and the president may use his primetime address to chastise Republicans over the issue. “It’s always dangerous to get ahead of the president and his speech,” Muñoz said.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/229526-white-house-blasts-house-on-immigration

 

White House Calls House Immigration Vote ‘Political Theater’

“The White House said vowed that President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration will be implemented, despite “political theater” by House Republicans to defund them. “The president knew when he announced these executive actions, we would have this debate,” White House domestic policy director Cecilia Muñoz told reporters Wednesday. “The concerns about people coming forward were experienced during the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.” She said Obama’s deferred action has been successful with about 600,000 young immigrants coming forward. “He encouraged us to be inspired by that example,” she said. “That example is stronger than the political theater we are seeing in the House.” The House voted Wednesday to defund the executive actions Obama took in November that would shield about 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. The 237-190 House vote, mostly along partisan lines, was for an amendment to a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Once adopted, the Homeland Security funding bill passed the House by a vote of 236-191. “If this legislation reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it,” Munoz vowed. She said the “House of Representatives also voted restore the broken immigration system to the status quo.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said the budget could interfere with funding border guards as well as important technology used to secure the southern border. “Technology has to be repaired, and there are contracts,” he said. “There aren’t many contractors or research and development organizations that want to work with you for a month or two.” He stressed the need for a fully funded fiscal year budget and defended Obama’s executive actions. “If we are going to be successful in protecting this country at every level we need a budget and we need America’s broken immigration system fixed,” he said. “We’ve done prioritization in every level of law enforcement I’ve ever worked in and this is no different.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/white-house-calls-house-immigration-vote-political-theater/

 

Border fight shifts to GOP event

“While the overall bill, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed 236-191, the resistance to the most controversial deportation amendment exposed a growing divide in the party over how to confront the White House. The legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats are united in opposition and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seeking to protect the 24 GOP incumbents who are up for reelection in 2016. The question of what to do next will be front and center in Hershey, Pa., where Republicans from both chambers of Congress arrived Wednesday evening for a joint retreat aimed at plotting strategy and legislation for the year.

Leaders are hoping to project unity at the event, but the Feb. 27 deadline for the DHS funding looms large. Senate Democrats wasted no time in declaring the funding bill dead on arrival. “Republicans should stop playing games and pass a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security because the pointless, political bill passed in the House today will not pass the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. The White House, buoyed by Obama’s rising approval ratings, jumped into the fray as well, and appeared to relish the chance to do battle with the GOP on immigration. Domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said amendments adopted by the House were “not relevant” to funding the DHS and said “nothing” that had been proposed by House Republicans “makes any sense from a policy perspective.” “There’s no reason to tinker with the administration’s actions at all,” Muñoz said. House Republicans begged to differ. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a rare speech from the House floor, said Obama’s unilateral moves to delay deportations are trampling the rule of law. “We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” he said.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/229570-border-fight-shifts-to-gop-powwow

 

Obama’s Amnesty Faces Skeptical Judge In Texas

“State officials and allied activists are cautiously optimistic that a Thursday hearing will help a Texas judge issue a decision that would block President Barack Obama’s unpopular amnesty. Officials in 25 states have a solid legal claim that President Barack Obama’s actions are unconstitutional, said lawyers working for the coalition of plaintiffs. They’re also optimistic because the appeals court isn’t stacked with progressive judges, and because the judge has previously criticized the White House’s rollback of border enforcement, the lawyers told The Daily Caller. The plaintiffs’ coalition is also diverse, which allows them to make a variety of legal claims, including some that vote-seeking politicians wouldn’t want to make, said Michael Hethmon, senior counsel at the immigration Law Reform Institute. The stakes are high, partly because Obama’s Nov. 20 amnesty announcement is the only surviving portion of his two-year, top-priority second-term push to expand immigration. Some Democrats are worried that any legal setback will cripple the amnesty program. Any unfavorable courtroom outcome could deter millions of illegals from filing for amnesty. Many illegals worry that their applications for amnesty could be used later to arrest and repatriate them. “We need to convey the message that it is here to stay,” said Rep. Jared Polis, a wealthy Democratic politician from Colorado. On Tuesday, he joined other Democrats in a rally intended to boost illegals’ confidence in the amnesty program, according to The Hill. The lawsuit gets a formal hearing in Brownsville, Texas on Thursday, when the judge can ask the various lawyers to explain aspects of their many written claims, which have already been delivered electronically to the judge. Obama’s legal claim is also online. Federal officials say the president has the legal authority to offer work permits to five million illegals, and also to stop the required repatriation of nearly 12 million migrants living illegally in the United States. The judge is U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who was nominated to the court in 2002 by President George W. Bush. The Texas lawyers who are leading the case wanted Hanen to be the judge, and so they filed their lawsuit in his two-judge district. By a fifty-fifty chance, the lawsuit was randomly assigned to Hanen.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/obamas-amnesty-faces-skeptical-judge-in-texas/

 

Report: Obama’s Executive Action Already Blocking ICE from Carrying Out Some Deportations

“The president’s executive actions on immigration are already preventing law enforcement from deporting illegal immigrants who are in custody and scheduled for removal, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer who spoke with CIS says the president’s executive action has blocked the agency from deporting illegal immigrants that are awaiting their removal. Many of these illegal immigrants will instead be released and qualify for work permits, the officer says. Some ICE officers are even spending time on the phone answering calls from illegal immigrants about whether they’re eligible for the president’s executive action rather than focusing on enforcement, according to CIS. A number of illegal immigrants with pending criminal cases, previous deportations, and traffic violations such as drunk driving were let go at the end of 2014, the report says. More than 600 illegal aliens in all were released from the federal government at the end of the year, according to the report. Some ICE officials were disgruntled during the child-migrant crisis last summer because they were essentially being forced to stay at their desks rather than go out and do their jobs. Now, the CIS report says, ICE officials are getting orders: Release illegal immigrants it had planned to deport.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/396390/report-obamas-executive-action-already-blocking-ice-carrying-out-some-deportations

 

ICE Begins Releasing Deportable Aliens to Work in the U.S.

“Most of the attention directed toward the president’s executive actions on immigration has been focused on the plan to issue work permits to potentially five million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). But these are not the only illegal aliens who are getting work permits as part of the executive amnesty. Starting almost immediately after the president’s announcement in November, ICE offices around the country were directed to go through their caseload of illegal aliens in the process of being deported and start releasing all those who, by the stroke of the president’s pen, were no longer priorities for enforcement. And, under current policy, many illegal aliens who have criminal records and/or prior deportations also are getting work permits. According to media reports, as of the end of 2014, more than 600 detained illegal aliens were freed by the executive action, 200 of whom were in Arizona. Who gets a “get out of jail free” card?

–Illegal aliens with pending criminal cases;

–Illegal aliens with criminal charges that were dismissed or dropped (sometimes local prosecutors drop charges because they believe the alien will be deported);

–Illegal aliens with significant traffic violations, usually drunk driving, but also vehicle theft and hit-and-run;

–Illegal aliens who have been deported once or many times before, but who have minor or no criminal convictions, and who are often filing last-ditch asylum claims;

–Illegal aliens without criminal convictions who are contesting deportation in protracted court cases (at taxpayer expense), which will now be dropped;

–Illegal aliens already ordered deported who are awaiting travel documents, which in some cases are deliberately delayed by their home countries.

One ICE officer tells me: “These aren’t even necessarily people with family, kids, ties, or equities in the United States. This directive/policy toward ‘non-priorities’ applies to anyone simply in the United States as of January 1, 2014, with no significant criminal convictions. Yet even if they were ordered deported by a court and are actually in custody, awaiting removal, per this order, we now cannot execute that order or detain them, as a ‘non-priority’. And yes, many will qualify in some way for work permits and leave to remain in the United States.” ICE officers report that a large part of their time is now spent handling dozens of calls every day by detainees to ICE’s new “community hotline” established by ICE headquarters, in which detainees claim to be eligible for one of the various forms of executive amnesty; responding to follow-up calls to headquarters personnel assigned to review decisions made by field officers, who have all the details on the case; and answering communications from attorneys and organizations who are in contact with headquarters about these cases. According to one source, these include “complaints about every imagined slight, grievance, or emotional injury”. Detainees are informed of the process to submit these complaints and grievances in new glossy posters that adorn detention centers. As in the case of tens of thousands of criminal releases in the past, neither local law enforcement agencies nor the victims are alerted. ICE has a victim notification program, but it is not widely publicized. Reportedly, ICE is working on system to notify local authorities when it releases felons. ICE does keep track of aliens who are released, and can disclose to the public and to local authorities the details on the number of releases, the aliens’ criminal histories, the severity of the aliens’ crimes, the zip code of the aliens’ last known address, the nature of any supervision, and the reason for release — including specification of those aliens released under provisions of the various executive amnesty categories. FOIA requests from the public can be submitted here. Journalists can make requests directly to the ICE Office of Public Affairs, and members of Congress can use the appropriate channels to learn the details on ICE releases in their districts.”

http://cis.org/vaughan/ice-begins-releasing-deportable-aliens-work-us

 

Martin Luther King Jr. enlisted to fight illegal immigration, Obama amnesty

“The late Martin Luther King Jr., and his “I have a dream” speech are being used in an effort to fight President Obama’s executive action to grant worker amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. At issue: Jobs taken by illegals that America’s minorities, specifically blacks and legal Hispanics, need. “Was that Dr. King’s dream?” asks the ad produced by Californians for Population Stabilization and launched this week on national cable news networks leading up to Monday’s celebration of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. The ad is the latest anti-Obama move by his critics of immigration reform and follows recent polls showing that African-Americans and other minorities worry that illegals are taking jobs, housing and healthcare they should get. The announcer asks how Dr. King “would feel about 19 percent of African-Americans unemployed or underemployed? About giving amnesty and work permits to four million illegal aliens with so many Americans jobless? About admitting one million more immigrant workers in 2015 when 13 percent of Hispanic Americans are having trouble finding work? About Americans of all races not seeing a real wage increase in decades?” It also notes that the unemployment rate among African-Americans is 19.2 percent, and 13.6 percent for Hispanics, way above the national average and that for whites.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/martin-luther-king-jr.-enlisted-to-fight-illegal-immigration-obama-amnesty/article/2558628

 

Flashback: Corretta Scott King warned illegals would take black jobs

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/flashback-coretta-king-warned-illegals-would-take-black-jobs/article/2558647

 

Diaz-Balart Describes an Immigration Deal Undone

“Through most of last year, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart asked dozens of members, aides, advocates and reporters to trust him: He had a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill that could actually pass the House. The proposed legislation that drove the Florida Republican for months ultimately came up short. But one week into the 114th Congress, with tensions around the immigration debate as high as ever, Diaz-Balart said there are rumblings about reviving the bill — the details of which were never shared publicly — that imploded last summer. “It’s already started,” he told CQ Roll Call last week, seated in his Capitol Hill office across from the rumpled pages of a draft bill some skeptics have dismissed as imaginary. The dog-eared pages were overflowing from the white, industrial-sized binder typically locked safely inside a desk drawer belonging to Diaz-Balart’s chief of staff, Cesar Gonzalez. As Gonzalez flipped through the binder, the characteristic spacing and style of the bill text was unreadable at a distance, but it was instantly recognizable as the real thing. The story of Diaz-Balart’s immigration bill in the 113th Congress — how it was born, how it thrived and how it died — has always been kept under close wraps. But he recently shared with CQ Roll Call the details of his efforts in 2013 and 2014 — and his thoughts on whether 2015 could be a year when something actually happens.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/immigration-heats-up-diaz-balart-revisits-2014-effort/?dcz=

 

Will Tech Back Immigration Reform Measures That Address Only Its Needs?

http://www.siliconbeat.com/2015/01/14/will-tech-back-immigration-reform-measures-that-address-only-its-needs/

 

 

SPENDING/BUDGET/ECONOMY:

‘Austerity’ spending cuts stimulate growth more than ‘austerity’ tax increases

“Keynesian and other liberal economists have been attacking various government’s “austerity” programs. They argue that to stimulate or speed up economic growth, governments should spend without as much regard for holding down budget deficits; many decry the Obama Democrats’ 2009 stimulus package as being too small. But “austerity” is a label that can cover two different types of policies, as Tyler Cowen points out in his Marginal Revolution blog. One is to hold down spending. The other is to increase tax rates. Both types of policies tend to reduce government budget deficits. But, as Cowen points out, Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and four co-authors point out in a September 2014 National Bureau of Economic Research paper entitled “Austerity 2009-2013” argue that those two policies have quite different effects. In summary, as they write in their abstract, quoted by Cowen, “Fiscal adjustments based upon cuts in spending appear to have been much less costly, in terms of output losses, than those based upon tax increases. The difference between the two types of adjustment is very large.” In other words, spending cuts (with taxes held down or reduced) tend to increase economic growth much more than tax increases (with spending maintained or increased). This obviously isn’t the last word on the subject, as some of the acerbic comments to Cowen’s blog post indicate. And it may not even be the first word; Cowen believes the paper “will be ignored rather than responded to.” But his words that follow sound persuasive to me: “For a while now it has been the practice to criticize ‘austerity’ rather than to disaggregate the policies, or describe them with greater specificity, even though that is easy to do. And it is incorrect to describe this paper as defending austerity, rather I read it as being anti-tax hike, and suggesting that ‘austerity’ is not a very useful concept.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/austerity-spending-cuts-stimulate-growth-more-than-austerity-tax-increases/article/2558679?custom_click=rss

 

Four Steps on the Road to a Balanced Budget

“Here are four things that members of Congress have to consider as they try to balance the budget:

  1. Discretionary spending. This is the amount that the federal government spends through the appropriations process, the 12 bills that should be passed individually but are often packaged in one big omnibus. Conservatives rightly hate the omnibus, but they also insist on unrealistic spending levels that make it impossible to pass the individual bills. Getting real on discretionary numbers would help make it possible to return to regular order.
  2. Entitlement spending. The real problem in the out-years comes with automatic spending that makes up the biggest portion of the federal budget. Social Security and Medicare are popular middle-class programs, and it’s politically risky for Republicans to tinker with them. The GOP usually tries to root out waste and fraud in welfare programs aimed at helping the poor; but in the process, Republicans are often accused of being insensitive to the needs of the poor. Yet you can’t balance the budget by not touching entitlements.
  3. Revenue. Republicans usually like to cut taxes in their budgets, and they argue that the economic growth that comes from those taxcuts will help spur greater revenue. They are likely to hire a scorekeeper who generally agrees with this philosophy, though there is a limit to how much that scorekeeper–the head of the Congressional Budget Office–can help. In the 1995 budget, the taxcut proposed by Republicans equaled exactly the Medicare cuts that they also proposed. It would be helpful if the GOP didn’t replicate that decision this time around.
  4. Reconciliation. The House usually likes to tell the Senate what to do on budget reconciliation, but it is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide whether he is going to need those instructions and for what items he would use them. The Senate used this budget procedure to pass Obamacare, so it seems fair to use reconciliation to put a repeal of the health-care law on the president’s desk. But using reconciliation for tax reform could be mistake and precipitate a White House veto.”

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/01/14/four-steps-on-the-road-to-a-balanced-budget/?mod=WSJBlog

 

Taxes, regulations targets for new House committee chairman

“Cutting regulations and taxes are on Rep. Steve Chabot’s must-do list for small businesses. The Ohio Republican, who became chairman of the House Small Business Committee when Congress took office last week, plans to continue the committee’s focus on how the government burdens small companies. “If there’s one thing government can do for small business it’s to get the heck off their backs,” Chabot says. “We do over-regulate them. We do overtax them.” PRIORITIES – Chabot plans to hold hearings to advocate for small businesses, as did his predecessor Sam Graves, R-Mo. Chabot says the committee will focus on the health care law and regulations issued by the IRS and Environmental Protection Agency. Chabot also plans to push for tax relief for small businesses. He noted that when the Republican-led House passed tax bills in the past, the legislation stalled in the then-Democratic led Senate. He’s looking for more progress in a Congress now controlled by the GOP. “We think we have a much better chance at advancing a whole range of tax reform issues,” Chabot says. Among them: a drop in personal tax rates as well as corporate rates and a permanent increase in tax deductions on equipment and property purchases. Chabot also wants an end to the estate tax, which has forced some families to sell a business when the owner dies because they don’t have enough cash to pay the government. But he doesn’t expect Republicans to get a free ride. Democrats have enough seats in the Senate to block legislation. And President Barack Obama has made it clear he’ll continue to use executive orders to make policy changes like one he issued last year to shield about 4 million immigrants from deportation. While the committee acts as an advocate, its primary jurisdiction is over the Small Business Administration. Chabot wants to see the agency’s lending process streamlined to make it easier to get loans. “It’s cumbersome, it takes too long, there’s far too much paperwork. It just intimidates a lot of people,” he says.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/taxes-regulations-targets-for-new-house-committee-chairman-n1942977

 

Dems Propose a 3.8 Percent Pay Raise for Federal Workers

“Several House Democrats have introduced legislation that would give federal workers a 3.8 percent pay hike, a raise that would take effect in 2016. The lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), said his Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or the FAIR Act, is needed because federal wages have not kept up with inflation over the last five years.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/dems-propose-a-3-8-percent-pay-raise-for-federal-workers/

 

House Passes Legislation to Ease Some Dodd-Frank Financial Rules

“The House on Wednesday easily passed legislation to ease some of the banking regulations adopted after the financial crisis, with 29 Democrats shrugging off President Obama’s veto threat to join united House Republicans. The bill, which passed 271 to 154, follows two other measures approved in the last month that made changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, but this one would be the broadest effort to shift course. It would delay by two years a Dodd-Frank mandate that financial firms sell off bundled debt, known as collateralized loan obligations; exempt some private equity firms from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission; loosen regulations on derivatives; and allow some small, publicly traded companies to omit historical financial data from their financial filings. Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called those changes “modest clarifications of the Dodd-Frank Act,” noting that almost all of the provisions had previously passed the House with bipartisan majorities over the last two years, if not by unanimous agreement. He said the recent Democratic “change of heart” against the proposals was “because the left hand doesn’t know what the far left hand is doing.” Democrats, led by Mr. Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, said they intended to draw the line against legislation that further erodes Dodd-Frank. “The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is helping prevent the kinds of excessive financial risk-taking that caused the worst recession in more than 70 years, left millions of Americans unemployed, and resulted in trillions of dollars in lost wealth,” the White House’s official statement of policy said, charging that the House bill would raise risks while “benefiting Wall Street and other narrow special interests.” For Wall Street lobbyists, Wednesday’s vote followed a pattern they have helped develop: Pass legislation in the House with some Democratic support, then come back on major must-pass bills like spending measures and attach the financial legislation as a noncontroversial rider. Two such provisions have passed within the last month: a measure that repealed Dodd-Frank’s requirement that banks push the trading of derivatives into subsidiaries that are not eligible for deposit insurance and other government support; and another that exempted some users of derivatives from certain regulations. Advocates for the banking industry argued that there should be little controversy over what they characterized as minor adjustments to Dodd-Frank, but that Democrats were imposing a new litmus test in response to demands from the party’s ascendant populist wing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/business/house-passes-measure-to-ease-some-dodd-frank-rules.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

 

Norquist: IRS budget complaints bogus

“The IRS is employing scare tactics by slowing refunds in the face of budget cuts, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Wednesday. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, told agency staffers this week that a $346 million budget cut could even force the IRS to shut down for two days, and raised the specter of reducing efforts to rein in tax cheats and identity thieves. But Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform said Wednesday that Koskinen was going out of his way to make the cuts more painful than they had to be. “Koskinen is telling the world that he’s not competent and capable enough to manage the IRS with the budget that Congress gave him,” Norquist said. “He should apologize for taking a job he’s not ready for and step down and be replaced by somebody capable.  The organization charged the commissioner with using what they called the “Washington Monument Strategy,” comparing the IRS’s moves to the National Park Service cutting off tours to the monument in response to a budget cut.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/229492-norquist-irs-budget-complaints-bogus

 

Dismal report on US retail spending hits the stock market

“Stocks recovered much of a midday swoon but still ended lower following some discouraging news on the global economy and retail sales in the U.S. The price of copper plunged Wednesday, and investors seeking safety piled into bonds. The World Bank lowered its forecast for global growth this year. It blamed sluggish economies in Europe and Japan, and a slowdown in China. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 186 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,427. It was down as much as 348 points earlier. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11 points, 0.6 percent, to 2,011. The Nasdaq composite fell 22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,639. Bank stocks fell after JPMorgan Chase reported weaker results. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 1.84 percent.”

http://townhall.com/news/us/2015/01/14/dismal-report-on-us-retail-spending-hits-the-stock-market-n1943152

 

Retail Sales Drop 1% in December – Sell Walmart, Buy Amazon

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2015/01/14/retail-sales-drop-1-in-december-sell-walmart-buy-amazon/

 

U.S. Retail Sales Reflect Consumer Caution Despite Lower Gas Prices

Merchants Largely Remain Optimistic as Year-Over-Year Numbers Look Solid

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-retail-sales-fall-0-9-in-december-1421242433?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

 

Judge overturns home health care wage, overtime rules

“A federal judge on Wednesday overturned Labor Department regulations requiring overtime and minimum wage protection for 2 million home health care workers. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon had scrapped part of the rules in December, and Wednesday he completed the process. In his decision, Leon said that the Labor Department’s concerns about wages for home care providers are understandable, but that Congress is the appropriate forum in which to debate a complex issue affecting so many families. President Barack Obama announced the rules in 2011, avoiding a trip through a hostile Congress that would have been required had the administration chosen the legislative path. Obama presented the rules with fanfare as part of a campaign to boost the economy through executive branch action. The law Congress wrote in 1974 exempted home health care workers from wage and overtime requirements, Leon wrote, and nothing has happened to change that. “Here, yet again, the department is trying to do through regulation what must be done through legislation,” he said, adding that the exemption was meant to ensure affordability for the maximum number of families. Wednesday’s ruling scrapped a provision in the Labor Department’s rules that had broadened the number of workers eligible for minimum wage and overtime. In response to the judge’s ruling, the Labor Department said in a statement that it was considering all of its legal options. The rule was “legally sound and the right policy,” the department said, “both for those employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services, who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.” Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of PHI, a group advocating for home care workers, said “we are deeply disturbed by Judge Leon’s decision. After three full years, the regulatory process has run its course, and America’s 2 million home care workers should not have to wait any longer for fair pay.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/judge-overturns-home-health-care-wage-overtime-rules-n1943192

 

 

COMMON CORE:

Maryland Bill Would Effectively Nullify Common Core in the State

“A bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates would ban the state from participation in the Common Core educational standards, effectively nullifying them in practice in the state. House Bill 34 (HB34), introduced by Del. Kelly Schulz, would stipulate that the Maryland State Board of Education may not enter into an “agreement or join a consortium or other organization that gives control over educational matters to any entity other than the State.” The bill would also require the board of education to rescind its adoption of Common Core Standards the state’s membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers by July 1, 2015, while placing restrictions on county boards from establishing curriculum guidelines based on Common Core. The state board and the state superintendent, working in conjunction with county boards, would replace Common Core standards with their own educational goals and objectives for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies.”

http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2015/01/maryland-bill-would-effectively-nullify-common-core-in-the-state/

 

Senator Rand Paul blasts Common Core education program in New Hampshire swing

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/senator-rand-paul-blasts-common-core-education-program-in-new-hampshire-swing-n1943209

 

CATCH-22: Could Reforming No Child Left Behind Actually Save Common Core?

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/catch-22-could-reforming-no-child-left-behind-actually-save-common-core/

 

UPDATE: School Board Scraps Controversial Rule on Religious Homeschooling

“On “Fox and Friends” Wednesday, Heather Nauert brought us an update on a controversial homeschooling policy in one Virginia town. The Goochland County School Board has now voted down a new policy that would have forced homeschooled children justify their religious beliefs within 30 days of their 14th birthday. The board’s vote was in response to a flood of outrage by parents in the area. There is one more vote left to be taken on this issue… Read the original story below. Virginia parents are outraged over a new policy that demands homeschooled children justify their religious beliefs to a school board within 30 days of their 14th birthday. The controversial rule passed by the Goochland County School Board states, “Any student who together with his/her parents seeks an exemption from compulsory attendance due to their bona fide religious training or beliefs must submit a written application to the school board, setting forth the reasons for the request.” Doug Pruiett, a Virginia father who is homeschooling his children under the religious exemption, said on “Fox and Friends” that he was stunned and disgusted when he heard of this new policy. Pruiett said that he and his wife contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the organization began representing them in this case. The HSLDA says the school board’s policy violates Virginia state law, which allows children undergoing religious training to be taught at home without having to defend their beliefs. “We’ve been homeschooling our children in Goochland County for over 10 years under the religious exemption,” Pruiett explained. “We were granted a very clear and unconditional approval to homeschool our children, and so when this letter came, it really surprised us.” According to Pruiett, the letter says that now when homeschooled children turn 14, they must submit a sworn affidavit of their own personal religious beliefs within 30 days. He added that they are also subject to being brought before the board for interrogation regarding their beliefs. Pruiett said that failure to comply within 30 days could result in a fine and criminal prosecution.”

http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/01/13/new-virginia-state-policy-forces-homeschoolers-justify-their-religious-beliefs-or-face

 

 

MISC.:

Docs: Ahead of 2012 Presidential Election Lois Lerner Begged Supervisor Not to Visit IRS Office

“New emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit show former IRS official Lois Lerner begged her supervisor not to visit the Cincinnati office or ask specific questions related to Congressional inquiries into whether the agency was improperly targeting conservative groups just ahead of the 2012 presidential election. As a reminder, it wasn’t until May 2013 when Lerner admitted inappropriate targeting had occurred and plead the Fifth in front of the House Oversight Committee.  “Please don’t ask them about closures, pipelines, wait time for full development cases, or the c4 application letter … can we put this off please?” Lerner sent on April 4, 2012 to her then supervisor Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant shortly after he announced a planned visit to the Cincinnati office. “We just gor an very extensive information request from Imraan [Imraan Khakoo, TE/GE official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please?” (Judicial Watch notes the typos are in the original emails) More from the email exchange:…”

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/01/14/under-congressional-investigation-lois-lerner-begged-her-supervisor-not-to-ask-stressful-questions-just-before-2012-presidential-election-n1943112

 

IRS Ignores Phone Calls, Does Not Let Elderly People Leave Messages

“Elderly and disabled people cannot leave messages for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the IRS fails to pick up the phone to serve them. The National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent oversight organ within the IRS, detailed the agency’s phone practices in its 2014 Annual Report to Congress Wednesday. “The IRS does not answer the phone at local offices and has even removed the option it once provided for taxpayers, including the elderly and disabled, to leave a message,” according to the report.“If you are disabled or elderly and require special accommodations for service, please email us at…,” the Taxpayer Advocate had to state. “Demographic research data show only 57 percent of adults over age 65 use the Internet compared with 87 percent of all adults. According to 2010 Census data, only 41 percent of those with a non-severe disability use the Internet and only 22 percent of those with a severe disability age 65 and older use the Internet. For those without Internet access, the only viable ways to reach the IRS are by phone, or in person,” the report stated.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/irs-ignores-phone-calls-does-not-let-elderly-people-leave-messages/

 

IRS Could Shut Down For Two Days

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/irs-could-shut-down-for-two-days/

 

Fox News Poll: Voters want Obama to sign bill approving Keystone pipeline

“Most Americans of all political stripes support construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, and want President Obama to sign legislation approving it, according to a new Fox News poll.  The pipeline would transport oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.  A 65-percent majority says Obama should sign the Keystone legislation, according to the poll.  That includes 82 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats. Overall, only 22 percent of voters think the president should veto it — which he has threatened to do. The U.S. House passed a bill approving the pipeline Friday.  The Senate is now considering Keystone legislation, but there won’t be a final vote this week. Support for Keystone has held steady for years:  68 percent of voters backed it at the end of 2014, 70 percent in 2013 and 67 percent in 2012. Here again, support comes from more than half of Democrats, most independents and almost all Republicans.  The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,018 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 11-13, 2015. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/fox-news-poll-voters-want-pres-obama-to-sign-bill-approving-keystone-pipeline/

 

Obama moves to create first methane limits for gas drilling

“The Obama administration laid out a blueprint Wednesday for the first regulations to cut down on methane emissions from new natural gas wells, aiming to curb the discharge of a potent greenhouse gas by roughly half. Relying once again on the Clean Air Act, the rules join a host of others that President Barack Obama has ordered in an effort to slow global warming despite opposition to new laws in Congress that has only hardened since the midterm elections. Although just a sliver of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, methane is far more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The White House set a new target for the U.S. to cut methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. To meet that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency will issue a proposal affecting oil and gas production, while the Interior Department will also update its standards for drilling to reduce leakage from wells on public lands. How much will the regulations cost the energy industry? The White House said it won’t have specific estimates until later. “There are significant, highly cost-effective opportunities for reducing methane emissions from this sector,” said Dan Utech, Obama’s climate and energy advisor. “We’re confident we can do this in a cost-effective way.” Methane, which leaks during production of natural gas, has grown as a concern for environmentalists amid the ongoing boom in drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. Yet these rules will target new or modified natural gas wells, meaning thousands of existing wells won’t have to comply. The Obama administration left open the possibility it could regulate methane from existing wells in the future while asking the energy industry to take voluntarily steps to curb emissions in the meantime. Though long in the works, the methane plans come at a particularly sensitive moment for Obama’s environmental agenda. Republicans, incensed that Obama has made copious use of executive action to sidestep Congress on climate and other issues, have made rolling back those actions one of their first orders of business this year now that they control both chambers of Congress. Obama’s intention to eventually force industry to cut methane emissions has long been part of his broader strategy on climate change, and Wednesday’s announcement may prove to be incremental. Last year, the White House said the EPA would study how methane is released during drilling and determine whether it needed new regulations. That the administration has now decided it does need more regulations will surprise few. But the key details — how the regulations will affect industry’s bottom line and how deeply they’ll reduce greenhouse gases — won’t come until the government formally proposes the rule. That won’t come until later this year, with plans to finalize it in 2016 — the last year of Obama’s presidency.”

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-moves-to-create-first-methane-limits-for-gas-drilling-n1942885

 

Obama moves on methane emissions

“The Obama administration unveiled the first regulations targeting methane emissions from industrial sources on Wednesday, seeking to add to the president’s legacy on climate change. The administration is setting a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 percent by 2025 from 2012 levels, which is sure to be met with hostility from Republicans and the industry. The new rules will target oil and gas wells, and improve drilling equipment to reduce venting and flaring, helping the administration achieve the goal. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 25 times more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. In 2012, methane emissions accounted for roughly 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are said to contribute significantly to global warming.”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/229450-obama-moves-to-regulate-methane-emissions-from-oil-and-gas

 

Obama administration unveils new methane emission rules

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/methane-emissions-rules-epa-114249.html

 

5 things to know about Obama’s next climate move: methane

“The Obama administration on Wednesday announced its latest move to combat global warming, this time trying to rein in heat-trapping methane gas that escapes from oil and gas fields. The plan relies on voluntary steps and new rules to reduce leaks from oil and gas production by 40 percent to 45 percent over the next decade. In a way, the proposal is an effort to plug what many viewed as a hole in the overall global warming strategy. Rules to clean up carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants have helped shift electricity generation from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas. But without tackling the methane leaks, the climate benefits from the switch are diminished. Emissions from oil and gas are projected to rise by more than 20 percent by 2025 without any controls. Five things to know about the White House’s plans:

–AWAITING THE RULES – The new plan is a broad outline of how the administration hopes to curb methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The main rules are not yet proposed, so it’s not fully clear how the 40 percent to 45 percent range of reductions from 2012 levels would be achieved. The plan says the Environmental Protection Agency this summer will propose the first standards for methane from new or modified oil and gas sites. The Interior Department this spring will propose new standards on venting, flaring and leaks from national gas sites on federal land. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said it “reserves judgment on the plan until it sees more details.” David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, said stronger and faster curbs were needed. “It’s disappointing that the EPA issued a plan to regulate rather than proposing an actual rule,” he said…”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/5-things-know-about-obamas-next-climate-move-methane

 

5 QUESTIONS ABOUT METHANE EMISSIONS

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the first-ever federal standards to cut methane emissions from the nation’s oil and natural-gas industry as part of President Barack Obama’s climate-change agenda. Here are five questions about the gas.

http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2015/01/14/5-questions-about-methane-emissions/

 

PAY THE MAN: Electricity Rates Soar To Record Levels As Obama Shutters Coal Plants

“Gasoline prices are plummeting and natural gas prices are relatively low, but electricity prices are still climbing. Not only that, residential electricity prices are expected to hit record levels in 2015 and 2016, according to federal government projections. U.S. average electricity rates will hit a record high, this year, at 38 percent higher than they were in 2001, according to the Energy Information Administration. That record is expected to be beaten in 2016, as prices hit 12.86 cents per kilowatthour (kWh)– the highest annual average price in the 21st century. Electricity prices have been creeping up since 2001, according EIA data, and prices are set to rise even further as coal-fired power plants are shut down due to Environmental Protection Agency clean air regulations. So far, 381 coal-fired generators are slated to shutdown over the coming years due to EPA rules. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects retail electricity prices to “increase by 1.1 percent in 2015 and by 1.8 percent in 2016.” Pretty much the whole country will see their electricity rates rise in 2015, says EIA, with the highest rises — nearly 4 percent — hitting New England residents. U.S. residential electricity rates are projected to average 12.50 cents per kWh for 2014, according to EIA. But that electricity rates are set to rise to 12.63 cents per kWh in 2015 and 12.86 cents in 2016.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/pay-the-man-electricity-rates-soar-to-record-levels-as-obama-shutters-coal-plants/

 

Obama leads push for one week of paid sick leave

“President Obama on Thursday will call on Congress, the states and cities to pass measures to allow millions of workers to earn up to a week of paid sick time a year, the White House said.

He’ll also ask Congress for more than $2 billion to encourage states to create paid family- and medical-leave programs. In addition, Obama will take steps to provide federal employees with up to six weeks of paid sick leave to care for a new child. And he’ll propose that federal workers be given an additional six weeks of paid parental leave. Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that has been sponsored since 2005 by Rep. Rosa ­DeLauro (D-Conn.).”

http://nypost.com/2015/01/15/obama-leads-push-for-one-week-of-paid-sick-leave/

 

Obama Plans to Push Paid Family and Sick Leave for Workers

“President Obama will announce Thursday that he is directing federal agencies to give their employees up to six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, a benefit he wants to extend to all American workers. He will also call on Congress to pass a bill that would allow workers across the United States to earn up to seven paid sick days a year and would create a $2 billion incentive fund to help states pay for family leave programs, officials said late Wednesday. The president needs congressional approval to require federal agencies to provide the six weeks of paid parental leave to both men and women. But in the absence of that legislation, employees will have to make up the time they take by using vacation or sick days, White House officials said. The White House described the plans — the latest in a series that have been proposed in the days leading up to the president’s State of the Union address on Jan. 20 — as part of Mr. Obama’s focus on improving the lives of middle-class Americans. “The truth is, the success and productivity of our workers is inextricably tied to their ability to care for their families and maintain a stable life at home,” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser, wrote Wednesday in a posting on the employment network LinkedIn, where the White House shared the first details of the proposal. “The president intends to ensure that the federal government is a model employer,” Ms. Jarrett wrote. “We’ll have the most skilled and productive work force possible as a result.” They are likely to face an uphill battle in Congress, where Republicans are focused on reining in spending and have opposed Mr. Obama’s proposals to increase pay and benefits, arguing that it is not the government’s role to issue such mandates. More than half of American workers are eligible for parental or sick leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows them to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without losing their jobs. But employers are not required to pay their workers during leave, and often do not. The plan, which Mr. Obama will include in his budget, would provide $2.2 billion in mandatory funding — not subject to annual congressional appropriations — to reimburse states that initiate paid leave programs, the White House said. The president will also request $35 million in grants to assist states working toward creating such programs. “The fact that the United States is one of just a handful of countries that does not require paid family or sick leave is nothing short of shameful,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, an architect of the sick-leave legislation that Mr. Obama is seeking. The president will call on states to pass similar legislation. Betsey Stevenson, a member of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said evidence showed that paid-leave programs had helped workers in several states and localities, including California, Connecticut and San Francisco, without harming employers’ bottom lines. Ms. Jarrett noted that Massachusetts voters, who elected a Republican governor in November, also endorsed an initiative to allow workers to earn paid sick leave. “This is not a partisan issue; this is a family issue, and it’s an economic issue,” she said in a conference call to detail the plan.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/us/politics/obama-plans-to-push-bill-for-providing-paid-leave-to-workers-.html

 

President Obama to expand paid sick leave

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/paid-sick-leave-expansion-114284.html

 

Obama will offer paid parental leave to federal workers

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article6569367.html

 

Obama Calls For Paid Sick Days and Family Leave

“…The White House’s announcement includes:

–Calling on Congress, as well as states and cities, to pass legislation that would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick time per year.

–Proposing more than $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs and announcing that the Department of Labor will use $1 million in existing funds to help states and municipalities conduct feasibility studies.

–Modernizing the Federal workplace by signing a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child and calling on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees an additional six weeks of paid parental leave.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/annabahney/2015/01/14/obama-calls-for-paid-sick-days-and-family-leave/

 

Obama to Call for Paid Leave Law, Extra Time Off for Federal Workers

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/obama-to-call-for-paid-leave-law-extra-time-off-for-federal-workers/

 

Obama to renew push for paid leave for working parents

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-to-renew-push-for-paid-leave-n1943183

 

One year after ruling, FCC web regs hang in balance

“One year after an appeals court tossed the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Internet regulations, the agency is preparing to release its new rules — and interested parties are growing restless. “We are on the first anniversary right now of the rules having been struck down,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), an advocate for reclassifying the Internet as a utility, said on the Senate floor. “There is nothing.” A year ago Wednesday, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia struck down the FCC’s rules requiring that all Internet traffic be treated equally, setting off a yearlong battle over the rewrite. The court ruled that because broadband Internet had been classified as an information service, as opposed to a telecommunications service, the FCC’s regulations were invalid. Since then, Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued an initial proposal for new rules, the public submitted nearly 4 million comments on the subject, President Obama inserted himself into the debate and service providers threatened further litigation. Wheeler appears poised to issue regulations to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility, similar to traditional telephones, in order to impose the strongest rules possible to ensure that Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast do not treat traffic to various websites differently. Verizon prevailed in its lawsuit a year ago when the court found the FCC had overstepped its authority. Advocates believe reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will put the rules on more stable legal footing. And those advocates appear to be getting their way, to the chagrin of Internet service providers and Republicans, who say the rules will stifle innovation and raise taxes on consumers. The new proposal is slated to be circulated internally among members of the commission on Feb. 5 and voted on later that month. “The past year has confirmed two things,” Michael Glover, Verizon’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “First, this debate really hasn’t been about an open Internet, but about how heavily broadband networks should be regulated.” The second, he said, is that Congress itself should settle the debate by creating a clear policy for today’s Internet. Multiple providers have indicated that the FCC’s newest regulations could land it right back in court. Below are the five biggest developments from the net neutrality debate in the last year…”

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229417-one-year-after-ruling-fcc-web-regs-hang-in-balance

 

Sony hack gives Obama political capital to push cybersecurity agenda (+video)

In gridlocked Washington, the aftereffects of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures may ultimately forces Republicans and Democrats to come together on an information-sharing bill.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Passcode/2015/0114/Sony-hack-gives-Obama-political-capital-to-push-cybersecurity-agenda-video

 

Obama Security Proposals ‘Will Create Cyber Police State’

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2015/01/14/obama-wants-cyber-police-state/

 

Obama criticizes state laws that hurt broadband competition

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/obama-pitching-more-access-to-fast-internet-n1942805

 

Obama to push for better Internet access in rural areas

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-to-push-for-better-internet-access-in-rural-areas/article/2558632?custom_click=rss

 

Barack Obama broadband moves stoke tension with GOP

His efforts anger Republicans who see it as an attempt to over-regulate industry.

“President Barack Obama is delving more deeply into broadband issues as he tries to put his stamp on the nation’s Internet policy — setting up more conflict with congressional Republicans and telecom giants that dominate the industry. When Obama laid out his plans to boost community broadband networks in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Wednesday, it marked the second time in two months he’s put his administration at the forefront of the debate over the future of the Web. The president late last year called on the FCC to treat broadband like a public utility as part of new net neutrality rules. Obama’s speech Wednesday — backing efforts to spur city-run broadband networks as an alternative to private-sector providers like Comcast and Verizon — incensed Republicans who see it as just another attempt to over-regulate the industry with a Washington power-grab. “Each day we see more policies coming out of this White House that attempt to wield greater power and control for the federal government,” Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said in a statement, describing the president’s stances as a “new federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet.” The president — speaking at Cedar Falls Utilities, which runs a municipal network with some of the fastest Internet in the country — called for the FCC to knock down state laws that restrict community-run broadband. He also unveiled plans to unleash about $50 million more in government funds for rural cities that want to expand broadband access for their citizens, as well as a new Commerce Department effort to share best practices with towns that want to boost broadband. Obama isn’t just pitching faster Internet as a win for techies; he’s touting it as essential for the middle class. His remarks previewed proposals he’ll make during next week’s State of the Union address. “Today high-speed broadband is not a luxury; it’s a necessity,” he said. “This isn’t just about making it easier to stream Netflix or scroll though your Facebook news feed, although that’s fun. … This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he supports overriding state laws that stand in the way of municipal broadband. Agency officials said the commission will vote in February on two petitions — from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. — asking the FCC to intervene on their behalf. The White House is facing opposition not just from Republicans. Incumbent telecoms like AT&T and Time Warner Cable have worked state legislatures to install barriers to city-run Internet services. The industry says local government-run broadband networks often fail, leaving local taxpayers on the hook. But it also threatens their business models — Internet-service providers usually face little competition in individual markets. The president’s net neutrality and municipal broadband proposals, “taken together, call for the federal government to regulate the Internet, and for municipal governments to own the Internet,” said Walter McCormick, president of the industry trade group USTelecom. “If acted upon by the Federal Communications Commission, they would be sweeping exercises of authority — raising constitutional concerns related to separation of powers, the scope of an independent agency’s congressionally delegated authority, and the role of the states in our federal system.” Republicans have previously registered their dismay with the idea of FCC acting on community broadband networks. During an appropriations battle last year, all but four of the House’s Republican members voted to block the agency from pre-empting state laws. “We don’t need unelected bureaucrats like FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler dictating to our states what they can and can’t do with respect to protecting their limited taxpayer dollars and private enterprises,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.

She was the leader of the Republican effort to block the FCC from wading into state laws — an effort she said Wednesday she plans to continue.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/barack-obama-broadband-internet-republicans-114265.html

 

Obama’s calls for government-run Internet service stoke GOP ire

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229527-obama-stokes-gop-ire-with-call-for-government-run-web

 

Obama pushes broadband plan, critics see ‘federal takeover’

“President Obama is diving deeper into the debate over Internet control, urging the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt state laws that restrict local governments from building broadband services.  The president unveiled his plans Wednesday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, one of a handful of American cities — along with Chattanooga, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo. — offering government-provided, high-speed Internet. The White House touts these networks as a fast and affordable option for consumers. And Obama sees them as local models for so-called net neutrality — his plan to preserve an open Internet, free of tiered pricing and restrictions imposed by commercial providers. “Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Obama said Wednesday. “This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in the global economy.” But the move has angered Republicans and others who worry the federal government is trampling on the ability of states to set their own rules. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., on Wednesday accused the president of pushing a “federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet.” According to the White House, 19 states have laws restricting municipal broadband networks. Fischer and other lawmakers worry about the impact an array of local government-run broadband networks would have on the private sector. She and 10 other Republican senators wrote to the FCC last summer urging the commission not to “force taxpayer funded competition against private broadband providers — against the wishes of the states.” Advocates of those state laws say they are designed to protect taxpayers from municipal projects that are expensive, can fail or may be unnecessary. The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have urged the FCC not to pre-empt state laws on broadband. But the administration argues these state measures stifle competition.  Obama wants to expand access to broadband communications services, siding with local communities that want either to expand competition or provide municipal services themselves. To promote it, he announced that his administration will provide technical and financial assistance to towns and cities that want to improve Internet service for their residents.  The proposals do not require congressional approval and are part of a series of measures Obama is rolling out before his State of the Union address next week.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/obama-wants-expanded-access-to-fast-internet/

 

House chairman eyes Web rules, immigration reform

“The head of the House Judiciary Committee has big plans to focus on U.S. spying, immigration and net neutrality in the new Congress. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told reporters on Wednesday that he was committed to policies that would help companies grow on the Internet. At the top of the list are expected new rules out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would limit Internet service companies such as Comcast from interfering with people’s access to various websites. Instead of issuing new rules next month, which are expected to declare that Internet service should be regulated like a public utility, Goodlatte has said that existing antitrust rules give regulators all the power they need to prevent unfairness on the Web. “The Internet doesn’t need an inflexible ‘one-size-fits-all’ government mandate to ensure net neutrality,” he said. “These time-trusted [antitrust] laws allow for maximum flexibility and consistently demonstrate their ability to prevent discriminatory and anti-competitive conduct in the marketplace.” The stance could point toward an intraparty dispute over net neutrality. Even while Goodlatte spoke with reporters in a breakfast organized by The Christian Science Monitor, fellow Republican leaders issued an op-ed outlining their plan to write a law codifying new limitations for the Internet. Goodlatte has also begun work on a new online sales tax bill, after Senate-passed legislation was unable to reach the House floor in December. “We should create a level playing field so that online, bricks-and-mortar and bricks-and-clicks businesses can compete under fair rules,” he said on Wednesday, while hoping to “move forward quickly.” Goodlatte also outlined plans to reform the nation’s patent laws — another issue that failed to reach the finish line last year — and continue a “comprehensive review” of copyright law. The chairman pressed for a “step-by-step approach” to immigration, including increased enforcement and “common-sense changes” to allow more high-skilled workers into the country.”

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/229468-house-chairman-eyes-web-rules-immigration-reform

 

Audit: Homeland Security Has No Strategy for Dealing With Cyberthreats to Federal Buildings

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/14/audit-homeland-security-has-no-strategy-for-dealing-with-cyberthreats-to-federal-buildings/

 

Conservatives’ wish list for GOP retreat includes citizenship, voting bills

They also want to require a balanced budget, block Obama’s immigration policies and support Israel’s right to attack Iran.

“A group of hardline conservatives will use this week’s GOP retreat to pressure their colleagues into adopting an agenda that includes bills to end “birthright” citizenship, let states impose new requirements for voting and support Israel’s right to launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s office sent an email Wednesday to chiefs of staffs encouraging lawmakers involved with the Conservative Opportunity Society — a group founded by former Speaker Newt Gingrich — to “stand up at the microphones” during the retreat to advocate for 14 bills they want the GOP-controlled chambers to vote on. House and Senate Republicans were heading to Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday for their annual three-day issues retreat. Leaders have billed the confab as a way to bring Republicans from both chambers together and to lower expectations on how quickly the Senate will be able to pass legislation favored by House members. Ahead of the retreat, King and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) urged fellow conservatives to advocate a series of national security and economic bills. “Mr. King and Ms. Blackburn would like all members of COS to help advance these measures at the Retreat,” wrote Christopher Hull, King’s chief of staff. “Specifically, my boss is asking members who attend the Retreat to stand up at the microphone and advance this agenda. He has sent an email to all COS members’ personal emails. Please do what you can to lend a hand.” Hull wrote that at the society’s breakfast meeting this week, Blackburn helped craft a “conservative ‘Security Agenda,’” which includes bills mandating a balanced budget and stopping President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The list of favored bills also includes a wholesale repeal of Obamacare — a measure widely backed by the bulk of congressional Republicans. Reps. Brian Babin of Texas, Dave Brat of Virginia, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Harris of Maryland, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Richard Nugent of Florida, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Ted Yoho of Florida also helped assemble the agenda. The bills, which Hull said in the email have at least “60% public support from the American people,” are a wish-list of conservative Republicans priorities. The legislation includes a balanced budget amendment — a long-held priority for Republicans — along with measures to alter how the government calculates its budget based on inflation and a bill to forbid employers from deducting wages paid to illegal immigrants from income for tax purposes. The lawmakers also want their colleagues to advocate on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security spending bill that the House passed Wednesday by a vote of 236 to 191. That measure would fund the department while effectively halting Obama’s executive order to shield nearly 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. The legislation’s path in the Senate is precarious.

The list also includes a bill King introduced in the last Congress that would change the rules determining who is considered a U.S. citizen, plus legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that would require a “proof of citizenship” for Americans looking to vote in federal elections.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-retreat-conservative-wish-list-114261.html

 

Michele Bachmann is Gone, But the Tea Party Caucus Lives On

It is unclear how many House members will join the third iteration of the limited-government caucus.

“Michele Bachmann is retired and gone from the U.S. House of Representatives, but her once-prominent House Tea Party Caucus is about to tea-off again under new management. “I’m going to be chairman of the Tea Party Caucus. We’re taking that over. We are going to reinvigorate that,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, in an interview about the planned re-boot today. Huelskamp would not say how many other House members will to be listed on the group’s inaugural roster. The required paperwork for official congressional membership and recognition is still to be processed with the Committee on House Administration, he said. Launched in 2010, the Tea Party Caucus saw its members swell to 60 before 10 of them were defeated in the 2012 elections and the group went on hiatus.  A re-launch in 2013 failed to attract the same level of initial support.  Notable House members of the limited-government caucus have included such conservatives as Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, Texas’ Louie Gohmert.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-01-14/michele-bachmann-is-gone-but-the-tea-party-caucus-lives-on

 

 

The tea party is alive and well — in spirit, at least

“The Republican Party brand has recovered somewhat in recent months, thanks in large part to fellow Republicans themselves warming to their own side. A new Pew Research Center poll provides evidence. It shows 86 percent of Republicans now view their own party favorably — up from 69 percent shortly after the 2012 election. So then how does something like the unprecedented revolt against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) happen? Well, despite the tea party movement waning — including its failure to upend any Senate incumbents in primaries last year — its beliefs are still very much alive in today’s GOP. And even as an increasing number of Republicans approve of their own party, the vast majority remain at least somewhat skeptical that GOP leaders are standing up for the party’s traditional positions. The same Pew poll shows 27 percent of Republicans believe their leaders are doing an “excellent” or “good” job on that front, while 72 percent rate them either “fair” or “poor.” That’s the biggest split at any point since shortly after the 2008 election. They are also still significantly more suspect of their leaders than are Democrats. And as long as that’s the case, leaders like Boehner are going to have to mind a wing of the party that just won’t quite trust them to do the right thing.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/14/the-tea-party-is-alive-and-well-in-spirit-at-least/

 

Can Jeb Bush Defy the Tea Party and Win?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/14/opinion/can-jeb-bush-defy-the-tea-party-and-win.html

 

Cash Is Piling Up for Ben Carson, With a Tea Party Tilt

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/upshot/cash-is-piling-up-for-ben-carson-with-a-tea-party-tilt.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

 

Rupert Murdoch weighs in on 2016, calls Romney ‘a terrible candidate’

“Rupert Murdoch weighed in on the 2016 presidential race during a public appearance at the Manhattan Institute on Wednesday, praising Jeb Bush and writing off Mitt Romney as “a terrible candidate.” In a conversation with Fox News analyst Judith Miller, a senior fellow at the Institute, the News Corp/21st Century Fox Chairman talked extensively about the prospective Republican field, excerpts of which were relayed to us by our colleague Maggie Haberman. Asked if he had a favorite candidate yet, Murdoch replied, “No.” But he did say, “I like Jeb Bush very much.”  Murdoch also expressed admiration for Rand Paul: “”I personally like Rand Paul very much and I am very impressed by his brain,” he said. Though he was skeptical about Paul’s foreign policy platform, “which is frankly a major issue,” he commended the Kentucky Senator for “campaigning on the theory that Washington is too big.” “I think he will do well enough to move the debate,” Murdoch said. He added, “I don’t think he will win… I would be very surprised if he won the nomination.”

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/01/rupert-murdoch-weighs-in-on-calls-romney-a-terrible-201107.html

 

Guantanamo inmates sent to Oman, Estonia as military moves ahead with closure push

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-inmates-sent-to-oman-estonia-as-military-moves-ahead-with-closure-push/2015/01/14/018d8240-9c3b-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage

 

Recidivism rate for Guantanamo detainees in dispute

http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/01/14/fact-check-recidivism-rate-for-terror-subjects-in-dispute-n1943161

 

Giuliani: Obama’s Refusal To Say Radical Islam ‘A Signal Of Cowardice And Weakness’ [VIDEO]

http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/giuliani-obamas-refusal-to-say-radical-islam-a-signal-of-cowardice-and-weakness-video/

 

Fox News Poll: 55% Believe Obama Doesn’t Have What It Takes To Defeat Islamic Extremists

“In a new FOX News poll released Wednesday night, 64% of voters think the threat of radical Islam is on the rise while 4% say it has gone down. About half the country believes the Obama administration as mostly failed to make the U.S. safer and 55% believe Obama has what it takes to defeat Islamic extremists. “One thing we know tonight, the bold claim the president’s been making for several years about al Qaeda being on the run, it’s a claim he can’t make anymore,” Ed Henry said.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/14/fox_news_poll_55_believe_obama_doesnt_have_what_it_takes_to_defeat_islamic_extremists.html

 

Fox News Poll: Obama gets low marks on fighting Islamic extremists

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/14/fox-news-poll-obama-gets-low-marks-on-fighting-islamic-extremists/

 

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION UNDERMINES MUSLIM REFORMERS WITH EXCUSES FOR RADICAL ISLAM

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/14/obama-administration-undermines-muslim-reformers-with-excuses-for-radical-islam/

 

MUSLIM CALL TO PRAYER TO BE CHANTED EVERY FRIDAY AT DUKE UNIVERSITY

“In a new initiative to promote religious pluralism, Duke University will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer every Friday on campus. The call to prayer—also known as “adhan”—will be chanted by the Duke Muslim Student Association. The prayer itself is set to start this Friday at 1:00 p.m. and will be broadcast and amplified from the Chapel bell tower on campus. As campuses continue to foster political correctness, they use it as a way to favor religions seemingly at war with Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian beliefs. Frequently, we see students fighting for their religious freedom on campus—especially Christians. We hope that Duke University will also allow equal opportunity for Christian students to gather to pray and respect their religious freedom. Duke University has a long history of fostering political correctness and hypersensitivity, from Chick-Fil-A’s removal from campus, to hosting a the national Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference, and to canceling a pro-life event in their Women’s Center on campus. Young America’s Foundation called and emailed Duke University’s associate dean of religious life, Christy Lohr Sapp, for comment but has yet to hear back. Ashley Pratte, spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, spoke with the associate dean’s assistant who confirmed this story.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/01/14/muslim-call-to-prayer-to-be-chanted-every-friday-at-duke-university/

 

OUTCRY OVER COMING ‘STAND WITH THE PROPHET’ RALLY AT TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL CENTER

“Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect, an event that asks “Ready to defeat Islamophobia?” is coming to the Dallas area Curtis Culwell Center  on Saturday, January 17, 2015, at 6pm. Until recently, few knew anything about this conference and now that many more do, residents are not just upset about the event and its speakers, they are upset that it is being held on the publicly-owned property of the Garland Independent School District (ISD) in a facility that was built and paid for with property taxpayer funded school bonds. Stand with the Prophet is described in its promotional materials as “not an event. It is the beginning of a movement. A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.” According to ACT! for America Houston, the conference is a fundraiser to establish aStrategic Communication Center for the Muslim community, which will “develop effective responses to anti-Islamic attacks, as well as to train young Muslims in media.”

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/14/outcry-over-coming-stand-with-the-prophet-rally-at-texas-public-school-center/