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Posts tagged ‘John Boehner’

Darrell Issa Hammers Rep. Cummings Over House Probe of Lois Lerner.


House Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa ramped up his feud with Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings on Friday, slamming him for hampering the panel’s probe of the IRS’s tea party-targeting scandal — and efforts to get retired official Lois Lerner to testify about it — out of loyalty to the White House and his own party.

In a scathing letter, Issa accused Cummings of acting like a defense lawyer for Lerner, who has twice refused to answer questions before the committee, most recently on March 5, by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, The Hill reported.

“Your tactics undermine the committee’s investigative prerogatives and harm the institutional interests of the House of Representatives,” the California Republican wrote.

“Even though the White House helped orchestrate your ascension to ranking member, I have encouraged, and continue to encourage, you to subordinate your political loyalties to the institutional interests of the committee and the House, especially in cases like this where obstructing the committee’s work risks permanently disadvantaging Congress in its interactions with the executive branch.”

Cummings has argued the GOP’s pursuit of a contempt charge against Lerner is politically driven and lacks legal standing. On Wednesday, he wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, contending Issa committed a “fatal error” at the end of the contentious March 5 hearing by not making it clear Lerner would face a charge of contempt by refusing to talk.

“You and your lawyers and consultants say, repeatedly, that our committee did not provide ‘certainty for the witness and her counsel that a contempt prosecution was inevitable,'” Issa wrote Cummings, The Hill reported.

“But as a longtime member of the House of Representatives, you know as well as I do that that is a certainty that neither I nor anyone else can provide.”

In a blistering response, Cummings shot back that “seven independent constitutional law experts have now concluded that Chairman Issa botched the contempt proceedings,” The Washington Examiner reported.

“The chairman’s letter today provides no House Counsel memo or opinion, even though he and Speaker Boehner claimed they had one this week, and it cites no experts who support his inaccurate view of the Constitution and the law,” he charged.

“The entire country has now seen firsthand how Chairman Issa runs this Committee in violation of House Rules, and no reasonable person would accept his legal views over those of the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Chairman Issa’s accusations, we are not defending Lois Lerner or her actions — we are defending the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to all Americans.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

‘Growing Crescendo’ in GOP to Hold Lerner in Contempt


There’s a “growing crescendo” to hold retired IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her repeated refusal to testify about the tax agency’s targeted scrutiny of tea party groups, one House Oversight Committee member said Wednesday.

In the wake of a contentious less-than-10-minute hearing where Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — triggering an angry exchange between committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said “The American people … want to hold those people accountable.. and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There is a growing crescendo that they should hold her in contempt of Congress and the American people get what they deserve,” Meadows told Fox News.

Among the GOP chorus calling for a contempt charge is House Speaker John Boehner.

“She has to testify or she should be held in contempt,” the Ohio Republican said after the hearing, saying he’d wait for a report from Issa.

A contempt vote could lead to a criminal prosecution — and fan the controversy that erupted last year when the agency’s extra scrutiny of tea party-backed nonprofits came to light.

Issa’s committee since then has held five hearings, issued three subpoenas for documents and interviewed IRS officials.

Democrats howled after the hearing, where Cummings had demanded he be given a right to speak before adjournment — but instead had his microphone turned off.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America,” Cummings yelled as Issa dismissed the meeting and cut of microphones. “I am tired of this.

“We have members over here, each who represent 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. And, it’s absolutely un-American,” Cummings yelled.

“We had a hearing. We are adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no questions,” Issa, a Republican from California, responded.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed Issa for conducting a “witch hunt.”

“What we’re seeing in the House today is a sign of larger dysfunction and partisanship on behalf of Republicans,” Van Hollen told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” according to Politico.

“Darrell Issa has been conducting this political witch hunt for a long time now. He’s frustrated because he hasn’t been able to come up with any evidence of intentional political wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration, and so he’s getting frustrated and making stuff up.”

Democratic National Committee chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, called Issa’s conduct at the Wednesday hearing comparable to oppression in Ukraine and Venezuela, according to Politico, saying she was “stunned” that Issa would try to silence Cummings by cutting off his mic.

Cummings continued speaking for about 10 minutes; Lerner remained seated.

Issa said he’ll decide by next week whether his committee will seek to hold Lerner in contempt.

Lerner first appeared before the committee last May, when she also invoked the Fifth Amendment after maintaining that she was innocent of wrongdoing. The committee determined the following month that Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination by making that statement.

A Treasury inspector general’s report has since determined the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups, though it found no evidence of a political motivation.

The Justice Department is involved in a criminal probe of the matter.

The IRS has since proposed new rules for handling social welfare groups engaged in political activity, though conservative groups have called them too restrictive.

Bloomberg news contributed to this report

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers and Cathy Burke

Boehner Snub at CPAC Highlights Party Rift.


Image: Boehner Snub at CPAC Highlights Party Rift

By Elliot Jager

The absence of an invitation to House Speaker John Boehner to take part in this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference reflects a rift between “movement ” and “establishment” conservatives, The Washington Times reported.

The conference, which takes place in Maryland on March 6-8, will hear from establishment figures such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, among others.

Boehner, though, seems to symbolize the rift between movement and government conservatives who are increasingly divided over tactics for promoting the conservative agenda, according to the Times.

He last addressed the gathering in 2010.

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Tea party activist Jenny Beth Martin has initiated a “Fire the Speaker” petition that has garnered 93,000 signatures.

Party strategist Ford O’Connell said, “There are not enough curse words in the English language to describe how movement conservatives think of John Boehner.” He added, “They see him as only slightly better than President Obama.

“John Boehner is wise not to attend CPAC because he does not want to become a distraction and fodder for the news media by highlighting the rift between establishment conservatives and the movement conservatives,” O’Connell said.

Republican strategist Mike McKenna said Boehner’s opponents are overwrought.

“In about two years, folks on the right are going to be complaining about whoever the next speaker is and remembering Boehner fondly. They are angry at the world. For some reason, they have focused some of this anger at Boehner. I have no clue why.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

DeMint: Republicans Had Little Choice on Debt-Limit Vote.


Last week’s debt-limit vote brought criticism from many conservatives, but Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said he believes Republicans did the only thing they thought they could do.

“It was a defining vote this week,” DeMint told NBC “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “I think it showed that all the Democrats in Congress were completely willing to give the president a blank check to borrow whatever he wanted. Most of the Republicans weren’t.”

However, the former South Carolina GOP senator said, Republican leaders, like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have figured out that they either give President Barack
Obama “all the money and debt he wants or he’s going to close the government down and blame it on them. So I think they did what they thought was the only thing they could do.”

Editor’s Note: 
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Story continues below video.

DeMint said he doesn’t blame Boehner or other Republicans for their vote, but he also does not believe people who share his brand of conservatism feel well-represented in the nation’s capital, and many Americans, “regardless of political labels,” feel the same way.

“I hear it all over the country and I think that’s why you see a stirring in the country,” DeMint said. “Frankly, people are less interested in the label of Republican and Democrat and they’re tired of that but they will unite around some principles that will give us a stronger economy, a strong society, a strong America… America’s not nearly as divided as it looks like they are in Washington.”

DeMint said he is concentrating on his work with the Heritage Foundation, which is working to promote conservative goals. He said he is not involved in the super PAC he founded, Senate Conservative Fund, which aims to oust moderate Republicans, including making a push this past week to remove Boehner as House speaker.

“We’re less involved with, really, trying to cram anything down the throats of congressman and senators,” said DeMint.

Editor’s Note: Secret ‘250% Calendar’ Exposed — Free Video

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Democrats Plan New End Run Around GOP House on Minimum Wage.


House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.

To try to accomplish that in the GOP-controlled House, Democrats are planning to rely on an infrequently used, rarely successful tactic known as a “discharge petition.”

It requires the minority party — in this case, Democrats, who are unable to dictate the House agenda — to persuade some two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership, join Democrats and force a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from its break Feb. 24. Forcing a vote on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws could occur in a few months.

Democratic leaders argue that a majority of Americans favor both steps, which are priorities for President Barack Obama, and say the House GOP is the obstacle. Republicans say Democrats are embarking on an approach that they know has little chance of success in an attempt to circumvent the will of the GOP-led House.

The odds are daunting for Democrats in what clearly is political maneuvering ahead of the elections this fall.

Some questions and answers on how it works.

___

Q: What does a discharge petition do?

A: It allows the minority or opposition party to bypass the House speaker and get a vote.

First, 217 members — one more than half the House’s current membership of 432 — have to sign a petition. A motion to consider the wage issue would then be placed on the legislative calendar, but it can’t be acted on for at least seven days. Any lawmaker can then call it up but only on the second or fourth Monday of the month. The motion is debated and if the House passes it, then lawmakers would consider and vote on the bill.

Currently there are 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats and three vacancies in the House. All 200 Democrats would have to sign the petition, but Democrats would have a tough time getting 17 Republicans to join them.

Signing a discharge petition would be a breach of loyalty for Republicans, certain to draw the wrath of the caucus, and a rebuke of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Republicans largely oppose any increase in the minimum wage. They say it’s an issue left to the states and that it could slow hiring in a struggling economy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, acknowledged that Democrats are unlikely to sway Republicans. Yet he also provided a preview of one of his party’s arguments on this issue.

“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition, but we apparently have 30 or 40 that are known over here,” Hoyer said at a news conference this past week at the party’s retreat in Cambridge, Md. “Our expectation is if they want to make sure that working people have an incentive to work, they will pay them to do so a wage that does not leave them in poverty.”

___

Q: What about immigration? A number of House Republicans back a comprehensive approach. Would they sign a discharge petition?

A: Highly unlikely. Republicans still are unwilling to break ranks with the party and Boehner, despite the distinctly different political forces on the issue.

Immigration overhaul has the support of an unusual coalition that includes some traditional backers of the GOP. They include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business groups, religious organizations such as the U.S. Catholic Bishops, evangelicals and labor unions.

A few Republicans have expressed support for a comprehensive bill similar to the Senate-passed measure and have pleaded for the House to act this year. They worry about the political implications in their swing districts back home. Yet it would be a remarkable step for some of the more moderate lawmakers from California and Florida to abandon Boehner.

Boehner has come out with principles on immigration that call for legal status for some of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and has expressed support for a piecemeal approach to the issue. Last week, however, the speaker all but ruled out the House acting on legislation this year, blaming GOP distrust of Obama to enforce any new law.

On the notion of a discharge petition, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “This scheme has zero chance of success. A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a major player on the bipartisan Senate measure, recently pushed the idea of a discharge petition, but the New York Democrat is unlikely to sway the nearly two dozen House Republicans necessary to sign on.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., made clear how Democrats will frame the issue for the Republicans who want immigration overhaul.

“Talk is one thing; actually doing something is another. And I’m sure they’ll have a chance between now and November to let their constituents know whether they’re serious on immigration reform, the comprehensive one, or not,” Van Hollen said.

___

Q: A discharge petition sounds like a tough sell. Has it worked recently?

The discharge petition worked in 1986, forcing a vote on a gun rights bill, and in 2002, ensuring a vote on campaign finance legislation.

The difficulty for a discharge petition in the current political climate was never more evident than last fall in the midst of the 16-day partial government shutdown. Even though several Republicans said they wanted to vote on a spending bill with no strings attached, they rejected the idea that they would join forces with the Democrats.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Report: Immigrants Improve in Fighting Deportation.


Immigrants facing deportation are increasingly finding success in immigration courts, according to a new analysis of court data.

Nearly half of immigrants facing deportation have won their cases in the last year, according to the Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which collects and studies federal prosecution records.

The government has been losing more deportation cases each year since 2009.

The analysis published Thursday does not say how many deportation cases Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose lawyers represent the government in immigration courts, successfully appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The government can appeal immigration court rulings to the Board of Immigration Appeals, part of the Justice Department.

Since the start of the 2014 budget year in October, immigration judges ruled in favor of immigrants in about half of the 42,816 cases heard, TRAC reported. In 2013 the government won about 52 percent of the cases.

Immigrants in California, New York and Oregon have been most successful recently, while judges in Georgia, Louisiana and Utah have sided more often with the government, according to TRAC.

“ICE’s enforcement strategies and policies are designed to prioritize its resources on public safety, national security and border security threats,” said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. “ICE continues to focus on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.”

Immigration supporters accuse the Obama administration of deporting too many people, but Republicans say the president is too lenient on immigrants living in the country illegally. Nearly 2 million immigrants have been removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Barack Obama.

It’s unclear what has prompted judges to side with a growing number of immigrants fighting to stay in the country. Immigration laws have not changed in recent years, but the Obama administration has changed how it enforces immigration laws.

In 2011, the government reviewed hundreds of thousands of cases pending in immigration courts. The effort was designed to curtail the backlog of more than 300,000 pending cases. Tens of thousands of cases were eventually dismissed, but there are now more than 360,000 cases pending, according to TRAC.

And the Obama administration has since issued policy orders directing immigration authorities to exercise discretion when deciding which immigrants living in the country illegally should be deported. Then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said discretion should be used for immigrants who didn’t pose a threat to national security or public safety.

In 2012 Obama also created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to allow tens of thousands of young immigrants living in the United States illegally to apply to stay in the country for up to two years and get a work permit.

Kathleen Campbell Walker, an El Paso, Texas, immigration lawyer, said it may be too soon to know what the TRAC data means for immigration enforcement. She said immigration court backlogs mean cases now being heard by immigration judges could be years old. And though immigration laws have not changed in recent years, some immigrants may be more successful in arguing that they should be allowed to stay in the country based on those discretion memos.

“The true implications of these numbers are murky and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet,” Walker said.

Obama pledged during both of his presidential campaigns to overhaul the country’s immigration laws.

The Democratic-led Senate passed a wide-ranging bill last year but similar legislation has stalled in the Republican-controlled House.

Last month, House Republicans announced immigration principles that touched on both border security and the fate of the more than 11 million immigrants thought to be living in the United States illegally. A week later, however, House Speaker John Boehner said it would be difficult for an immigration bill to pass this year.

“The American people, including many of our members, don’t trust that the reform we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference earlier this month.

The administration has made several immigration policy changes in recent years and during his State of the Union address last month, Obama pledged to keep using his authority to address a variety of issues that Congress hasn’t addressed.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote.


Image: Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote

 

By Todd Beamon

Rep. Doc Hastings on Thursday became the latest House Republican to announce his retirement — two days after he was part of a critical coalition of House leaders, made up of retiring GOP members and representatives primarily from Northeastern states, that backed a controversial bill to raise America’s debt ceiling without restrictions.

“Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rd birthday, and while I have the ability and seniority to continue serving central Washington, it is time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to represent them in the people’s House,” Hastings said in a statement.

First elected in 1995, Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and recently called for overhauling the Endangered Species Act, charging that the 40-year-old law has been abused by environmental groups seeking to restrict development in the name of species protection.

The announcement came a day after GOP Rep. Gary Miller, 66, of California said that he was retiring after more than 15 years in the House because of family issues.

Hastings is now the 24th member of Congress to say that this year would be his last. He joins 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats to disclose their impending departures from Capitol Hill.

In the House, he is the 11th Republican and 18th member overall to announce his retirement.

But on Tuesday, Hastings and Miller joined with Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and 23 other House Republicans to support a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing authority — agreeing to President Barack Obama’s demands for a debt-limit increase without any conditions.

Boehner backed the legislation, which won on a 221-201 vote. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

Besides splitting the House leadership — the No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking House GOP woman, was among the leaders to vote “no” — the vote rankled conservatives, tea party supporters and rank-and-file Republicans.

The Senate Conservatives Fund even charged that Boehner should be replaced as speaker.

These groups were further outraged the next day when the Senate voted — after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, led an assault on a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz — to pass a similar debt bill on a straight 55-43 party-line vote.

In the House, the 28 Republicans voting for the measure included six who are retiring at the end of the year. Besides Hastings and Miller, they are Howard Coble, N.C.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; and Frank Wolf, Va.

“You’ve got retirees, the leadership and Republicans in safe districts with a Northeastern bias,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen explained to Newsmax on Thursday.

“Basically, the votes they gave were enough to get it passed — and they didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” he added. “It was retirees, leadership, and Northeastern moderate Republicans who could take the vote without a problem.”

Others in the top House leadership who supported the debt ceiling bill included Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Mich.; Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Calif.; Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Ky.; and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Calif.

Those Northeastern Republicans on board included four from New York — Reps. Chris Collins, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna, Peter King — as well as three each from neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Seven California House members backed the measure.

“Put it another way: For the Republican base, this is toxic — and the way the process was organized was to insulate the party and its grass-roots as much as possible to avoid any political problems,” Schoen told Newsmax.

The primary problem was avoiding another federal government shutdown, similar to the partial one that lasted 16 days in October and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion — especially when the GOP could possibly retake the Senate in this fall’s congressional elections.

“It goes back to their basis thesis: We get through this. We don’t fight on an issue we can’t win because, ultimately, this election is moving in our direction — and we don’t need to have a problem like the problem we had with the government shutdown.”

Political strategist Dick Morris described the House skirmishing on Thursday as “phony” and “fraudulent.”

“Boehner went to his caucus and said: ‘Hey guys, let’s approve the debt limit in return for pretty-good spending cuts or other restorations,'” Morris told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “The House Republicans said, or enough of them said: ‘We’re not going to vote for a debt-limit increase under any circumstance. You could balance the whole budget and we’re not going to go for it.’

“He didn’t have his 218 votes to pass it — and he couldn’t get any Democratic votes if there were cuts,” Morris said of Boehner.

The Ohio Republican then put together the GOP coalition to support the clean bill.

“All of these Republican congressmen can now go to their primary opponents from the tea party and say, ‘Hey, I voted against raising the debt limit’ — knowing darn well that they were willing to vote for it if they needed it,” Morris said.

Schoen saw it another way.

“The Republican Party did not want to vote to increase the debt ceiling,” he said. “Because they are in the majority, they had to provide some votes — in this case, 28 — to go along with near-unanimous Democratic support to get it done.

“The leadership understood that it was in their interest, long-term, to increase the debt ceiling without any riders or any possibility of paralyzing the government,” Schoen added. “The vast majority of Republicans, for a variety of reasons, disagree.

“For John Boehner, this became a practical step to avoid more political harakiri.”

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