Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Chuck Schumer’

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

Advertisements

Cruz’s Obama Comments Edited Out of CBS Broadcast.


CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer interviewed Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday about his wish list for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, but many of the Texas Republican’s comments on the president’s “abuse of power” appear to have been edited out.

Video from Cruz’s You Tube page showed the senator’s criticism of the administration’s handling of the events surrounding Benghazi and, more recently, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, remarks that were not seen on the video that aired on “Face the Nation,” reports newsbusters.org.

After introducing Cruz as the tea party Republican who led the shutdown of the government last fall and then grilling the senator on the State of the Union address, Schieffer asked, “Will you run for president?”

Cruz responded, “Well, look, my focus is on the challenges facing this country right now. My focus, for example, is on the abuse of power from the president. Let’s take something like the IRS scandal …”

At which point Schieffer interrupted with “So, do I take that as a yes or a no? Or still thinking about it?”

“Well, what you can take that as, is that my focus is standing and fighting right now in the Senate to bring back jobs and economic growth. Economic growth is my No. 1 priority …”

That is where the CBS broadcast ended, with Schieffer’s abruptly saying, “Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll talk to you again.”

Story continues below video.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

That is not where the interview posted by Cruz ended.

In that video, Cruz continued, “And let me tell you something that is deeply concerning: the abuse of power from this administration. We’ve seen multiple filmmakers prosecuted, and the government’s gone after them. Whether it’s the poor fellow that did the film that the president blamed Benghazi and the terrorist attacks on, turns out that wasn’t the reason for the attack but the administration went and put that poor fellow in jail on unrelated charges.”

Story continues below video.

“Just this week it was broken that Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the president, is now being prosecuted by this administration,” he added.

Schieffer cut in, saying, “Senator,” but Cruz kept speaking.

“Can you image the reaction if the Bush administration had went, gone and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?” he asked.

Schieffer again tried to stop him, but Cruz went on to say, “It should trouble everyone the government uses government power and the IRS in particular to target their enemies, and you are talking in a few minutes to Chuck Schumer …”

It was then that the interview on Cruz’s video ended, with Schieffer breaking in to say, “We are going to leave this for another day, Senator. Thank you for joining us, and we’ll talk to you again.”

NewsBuster’s Jeffrey Mayer, who monitors liberal media for the Media Research Center, offered his take on the Schiefer’s interview that aired Sunday:

“Now, it is certainly plausible that CBS edited out the ending of the Cruz interview for time; however, given that Cruz’s comments were extremely critical of the president and came just two days before an embattled President Obama gives his State of the Union speech, the timing of such editing is highly inappropriate and unusual.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Related stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Lisa Barron

Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest.


Image: Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest

By Melissa Clyne

A fight is brewing among Democrats and the White House over a bill proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez that would impose additional sanctions against Iran if the country fails to make good on its promises regarding its nuclear program.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the New Jersey Democrat’s bill has drawn criticism from the White House, which fears that saber rattling over more sanctions could upset efforts to reach a final agreement with Tehran aimed at effectively ending its nuclear program. In December, a large group of Democratic Senate chairman also raised the same concern about threatening new sanctions before talks have even gotten well underway.

The U.S., along with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, struck a deal with Tehran to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of international sanctions for six months. Menendez and other liberal Democratic heavyweights, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, have voiced skepticism over the interim deal, arguing that it has no “end game” and is not stringent enough.

Two dozen senators – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans – are cosponsoring the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, introduced by Menendez and Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. Writing in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post last Thursday, Menendez argued that the U.S. needs to operate from a trust and verify stance with Iran, a historically untrustworthy nation.

“The American public supports diplomacy. So do I.” Menendez wrote. “The American public doesn’t trust the Iranian regime. Neither do I.”

The same day, the White House struck back with a statement from National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, who accused Menendez and other critics of the deal of being stealth war hawks.

“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action [against Iran’s nuclear development efforts], they should be up front with the American public and say so,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”

Meehan argued that the Menendez-Kirk bill would be counter-productive and “divide the international community . . . and possibly end negotiations.”

Also lining up against Menendez and his camp are 10 Senate committee chairmen, whopenned a Dec. 18 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to reject additional sanctions unless Iran violates the current agreement.

“We believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail,” the letter stated.

But Menendez wrote in his op-ed piece that Iran has already laid the groundwork for breaching terms of the deal reached in Geneva by doing things like firing a rocket into space and improving their ability to develop a long-range ballistic missile. Tehran has also proposed enriching uranium up to 60 percent, well beyond any potential use for peaceful purposes, according to Menendez.

His bill, he argues, “supports continued negotiations, gives the administration a year of flexibility to secure a comprehensive agreement, respects the sanctions relief Iran is set to receive and prevents any new sanctions from taking effect while good-faith negotiations are underway.”

He called measure a “diplomatic insurance policy” and “an act of reasonable pragmatism.”

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Schumer: Veterans Must Face Budget Cuts, Too.


It’s time for retired veterans to face cuts as the federal government looks for ways to trim expenditures, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday.

“Civilian federal employees have been cut, cut, cut. I think there was a feeling, if you’re going to cut them further, which was done, that the military retirees should have about an equal amount. It’s small,” the New York Democrat told MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe.”

In the budget plan brokered by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, military service personnel under the age of 62 would take a one percent cut to retirement benefits. The move has drawn fire from military and veterans organizations.

Story continues below.

“I think (Rep.) Paul Ryan and (Sen.) Patty Murray looked everywhere they could to try and find compromise. Everybody had to take a little,” Schumer said.

“They’re going to have to pay a tiny, little bit into it, which they never have,” he added.
But Schumer maintained members of Congress should not be forced to take a pay cut. He said they have already sacrificed, since they have not seen a pay raise “in a long time,” and explained most of them are paying more for healthcare insurance.

“We have taken pretty big cuts,” he said.

The bill will pass the Senate, Schumer predicted, and said Democrats would “reluctantly vote for it” because they realize the threat of a government shutdown is a “brutal alternative.”

The expiration of unemployment benefits in the proposed budget has been a sticking point for some Democrats. Schumer said it would be an issue that would be handled later.

“We’ll make a shot at trying to do unemployment insurance separately. And, then, work on it next year,” he said.

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Ralph Reed: I Would ‘Vote No’ on Budget Deal.


Conservative political activist Ralph Reed says he does not like the Ryan-Murray budget, but it was the only possible outcome given the current makeup of the government.

Speaking to Newsmax TV one day after House Speaker John Boehner lashed out at conservatives who have opposed the legislation, Reed said, “If I were a member of Congress, I would probably vote no in this deal, and I have a lot of good friends…who are already on record saying that they will vote against it.”

Story continues below video.

“But on the other hand,” he continued, “there are people of good will and conservative principles like Paul Ryan who are not trying to oversell this. They’re not saying this is a great deal. They’re not saying this is a perfect deal. They’re saying this is the best we can do with divided government and a liberal, Democratic-controlled Senate and a liberal Democrat president at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Reed, who was the first executive director of the Christian Coalition in the early 1990s, started the Faith and Freedom Coalition in June 2009. He sought the Republican nomination for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia in 2006 but lost the primary election to state Sen. Casey Cagle.

Reed declined to comment directly on Boehner’s remarks.

“I would just say that if we want to get a better budget, the only way to do it is to elect a Senate in 2014 and add a margin in House that will enable us to pass that incentive. I’d personally like to see us into balance a lot faster, three to five years, without raising taxes, through fiscal responsibility and reform of long-term entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

He continued, “We have the ideas, we have the solutions. The problem is the U.S. Senate today is controlled by Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, and it is the graveyard for our solutions for this country. If we can see a new Senate…where we could sit down with conferees in regular order and pass a better budget, send it to Barack Obama, then he’s got to either sign it or veto it. That will put us in a much stronger negotiating position.”

Turning to foreign policy, Reed said he thinks there will be new sanctions against Iran moving forward.

“The tougher sanctions that we helped pass over the objections of the Obama administration are what drove the Iranians to their knees economically, it is what has put some of the government-owned energy into bankruptcy in Iran, and it is what forced the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world to the table.”

He criticized the deal that was recently negotiated, explaining, “It allows them to keep their uranium enrichment program, it allows them to keep all of their nuclear installations, and I don’t think that the verification is invasive enough or trustworthy enough. If we want to be able to get to a deal, and all of us want to avoid military action if it is at all possible, the best way to do so is for the Congress to pass even tougher sanctions now.”

Asked why the Obama administration would resist that approach, Reed responded, “Their stated reason is because they believe that it has the potential to derail the diplomatic track. My argument on that is we’ve seen this movie before. They have argued this with sanctions passed previously and they have been proven wrong.”

“The only way to move them diplomatically is with the threat of additional pressure from additional sanctions,” he added.

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Lisa Barron and John Bachman

House Votes to Extend Ban on Undetectable Firearms.


Image: House Votes to Extend Ban on Undetectable Firearms

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday to extend for 10 years a ban against firearms that cannot be detected with metal detectors or X-ray scanners.

On a voice vote, the Republican-led House sent the measure to the Democratic-led Senate, which is expected to consider a tougher alternative before likely approving it.U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged Congress last month to extend the ban, citing a proliferation of plastic guns made with 3-D printers.

While the House has agreed on little this year, contributing to one of the most unproductive and unpopular Congresses ever, it passed the bill with bipartisan support despite reservations by a number of Democrats that it does not go far enough.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York has proposed plugging “a loophole” in the ban by requiring that all firearms include at least four ounces of metal that cannot be removed.

Without such a provision, Schumer and others warn, the metal could be taken off the firearm, allowing it to avoid detection and be carried into a supposedly secure area.

Schumer does not have much time to make his case. The ban expires on Monday, the day the Senate returns from a two-week recess.

On that day, Democrats may try to quickly approve Schumer’s proposal with the unanimous consent of the Senate.

If that fails, as anticipated, the Senate is expected to give final approval to the House passed bill, clearing the way for President Barack Obama to sign it into law.

Democratic Representative Steve Israel of New York joined Republican Representative Howard Coble of North Carolina in drafting the House bill. Like Schumer, Israel prefers a stricter measure, but said at a minimum wants an extension of the ban.

“We now have enough momentum to pass an extension of the ban before December 9. But we don’t have enough momentum to pass a modernization of the ban before December 9,” Israel said.

“But once we pass this bill, we need to make sure bad guys can’t skirt the law,” said Israel, voicing confidence that the law will be strengthened. “It’s common sense.”

Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, a leading Republican, expressed concerns of his own, and said, “I’ll be looking to tighten up the process.”

Israel has proposed requiring that two major components for a handgun and three major components for a rifle be made of unremovable metal.

Earlier this year, the U.S. gun lobby helped defeat tougher gun control sought by Obama in wake of a massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Overall, the gun industry has not said much about the drive to extend the ban on undetectable guns, but backers believe fear of the industry is a reason why the House bill was not tougher.

Winnie Stachelberg, an executive director of the Center for American Politics, a liberal advocacy group, denounced the House bill as inadequate.

“We urge Congress to put public safety ahead of craven politics by enacting comprehensive legislation,” Stachelberg said.

Israel said the National Rifle Association, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, had been essentially silent on the effort to renew the ban.

But the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, backed the extension in a letter to Congress.

“The current law has proven effective,” wrote Lawrence Keane, the foundation’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Keane said on Tuesday, however, that his group opposes proposals to toughen the ban, dismissing them as excessive and potentially harmful to the legal manufacturing of firearms.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

US Mulls Limits on Homemade Plastic Guns.


Lawmakers, divided over how to regulate home-made firearms, moved Tuesday to extend restrictions on guns that can slip past metal detectors into secure areas like passenger planes.

Some Republicans opposed to new gun-control measures nevertheless want to extend a decades-old law in order to prevent a lapse in a ban on weapons that can evade detection and pose nightmares for law enforcement.

But many Democrats want to go further to address the increasing concern of homemade plastic guns, whose production has been made possible by 3-D printing technology.

Debate about home-made guns took off earlier this year when a Texas-based group, Defense Distributed, posted its blueprints for a fully functional, 3D-printed firearm, a single-shot pistol made almost entirely out of hard polymer plastic.

The existing law, which bans firearms that have no metal, expires next week, and the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved by voice vote a 10-year extension.

“In 1988, when we passed the Undetectable Firearms Act, the notion of a 3-D printed plastic firearm slipped through metal detectors onto our planes and secure environments was a matter of science fiction,” said Democrat Steve Israel.

“The problem is that today it is a reality,” added the congressman, who has introduced legislation that expands the law to prohibit removing metal components of a firearm even if they are not essential to the weapon’s use.

Some Republicans have expressed concern that any tweaking of the law could be used to tighten other gun legislation down the road.

“The House bill is better than nothing, but it’s not good enough,” said Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Monday as he called for closing a loophole that allows “anyone to legally make a gun that could be rendered invisible by the easy removal of its metal part.”

Lawmakers will need to act quickly, something a divided Congress has difficulty doing. While the House is in session this week, the Senate does not return until December 9, the day the law expires.

The National Rifle Association has not taken a public position on the issue.

A smaller group, Gun Owners of America, argues against extending or updating the law, arguing that the blueprints have already been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of potential makers.

“That genie is out of the bottle,” Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for the group, told AFP.

He said people who intend to wreak havoc with a firearm likely would not turn to such weapons or care about violating the plastic gun ban.

He also noted that existing law already makes it a crime to build a gun that is not in the traditional shape of a firearm, which means airport security will be able to see and recognize guns even if made of plastic.

The House move comes days before the one-year anniversary of the massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults with a semi-automatic rifle.

© AFP 2013
Source: Newsmax.com

Tag Cloud