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Posts tagged ‘Jeff Flake’

Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer’s Hand.


Image: Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer's HandArizona Gov. Jan Brewer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a Super Bowl host committee handover ceremony in New York.

By Todd Beamon

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a religious protection bill concerning gay rights because she was pressured by the state’s business community and the National Football League, which is scheduled to hold the Super Bowl in the state next year, political analyst Dick Morris told Newsmax late Wednesday.

“I think she vetoed the bill because of pressure from the Arizona business community,” Morris, who served as an aide to President Bill Clinton, told Newsmax in an email. “When Sen. Jeff Flake, a tea party conservative from Arizona, joined his colleague John McCain in urging a veto, it gave her political cover on the right to veto the bill,” Morris said.

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“I think the [National Football League] had a lot to do with it also,” he said. “By threatening to move the Super Bowl, they epitomized the harm that would flow to Arizona had she signed the bill.

“I don’t think she realistically had any choice. It became a jobs issue — and she had to veto the bill.”

In vetoing the legislation, Brewer said the controversial measure could “create more problems than it purports to solve.”

State Senate Bill 1062 would have allowed business owners to cite their religious beliefs as legal grounds for refusing to serve same-sex couples or any other prospective customer. It was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature last week.

“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer said in a brief statement from her office as she announced her decision. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”

She then attacked the bill as a broadly worded proposal that “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

Brewer had come under mounting pressure to veto the measure after both McCain and Flake, both Republicans, opposed it. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, also spoke against the bill.

Three state Republicans who voted for the bill last week also reversed course and urged Brewer to veto it.

“I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” McCain said in a statement posted on his website. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful State of Arizona.”

Flake said on Twitter:

He added in a later post:

The legislation was backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage.

Cathi Herrod, the group’s president, said Brewer’s veto marked “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

The bill, she said, “passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.”

“Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits,” Herrod said. “Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”

Perhaps the strongest opposition to the legislation came from business leaders. Some who had opposed it threatened to boycott Arizona if Brewer approved it, similar to what many groups did after the state passed a tough anti-illegal immigration law in 2010.

That possibility worried some companies and business organizations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among the companies opposing the bill were Apple, American Airlines, Marriott International, and Delta Air Lines.

The Arizona Super Bowl Committee also voiced its opposition to the bill, contending that it would “deal a significant blow” to the state’s economy, the Times reports.

The 2015 Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, just outside Phoenix.

In addition, the Hispanic National Bar Association said on Wednesday that it would move its 40th annual convention, scheduled for September 2015 in Phoenix, to another city because of the legislation, the Times reported.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Ted Haggard: Brewer Right to Veto Bill.


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was right to veto a bill Wednesday that would have allowed business people to refuse service to gay couples, says an evangelical leader who was once caught up in a sex scandal with another man.

Ted Haggard told CNN after Brewer’s announcement that Christians, like everyone else, need to respect others.

“That was a broadly worded bill that had unintended consequences hidden in it that would have developed over the years,” Haggard told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Haggard was a mega-church pastor and president of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 when it was revealed that he had had a long-term sexual relationship with a male escort. Haggard was preaching and working against gay marriage when the allegations came to light.

Haggard told Burnett on Wednesday that it is “bigotry” for Christians to refuse to serve others based on a moral code.

“We as Christians are here to wash the feet of others and make life better, not to make life worse,” he said.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council disagreed. Sprigg told Burnett that current Arizona law doesn’t list gays as a protected class, so the new law would have given them added protections.

Sprigg said the battle won’t be over until the U.S. Supreme Court rules. It will take “a Roe v. Wade of same-sex marriage” before the fight will be over, he said.

Haggard responded, “There will be a Supreme Court decision that will make equality the law of the land.”

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage and pushed the legislation, said Brewer’s veto marked “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

The bill, she said in a statement, “passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.”

“Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits,” Herrod said. “Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo, appearing on MSNBC,  said the veto of SB1062 showed the will of the majority of Republicans to grant equality to same-sex couples.

Angelo’s group fights for gay rights within the GOP, and he said that even though it was Republicans who passed the bill, he was encouraged that it was vetoed by a Republican and that many powerful members of the party opposed it.

“I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” Republican Sen. John McCain said. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and as sure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful state of Arizona.”
McCain’s colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, thanked Brewer for her veto on Twitter:

Flake said in a later tweet:

Both senators had urged Brewer to veto the legislation.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the pressure on Brewer from big businesses and professional sports leagues is an example of how fundamental freedoms are being trampled.

“You create a stampede by spooking politicians and the public with misinformation,” Perkins said on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File.”

“This is going to continue to be a major problem, and it’s going to spread across the country,” Perkins said. “It’s now going to be incumbent upon Gov. Brewer to say how she’s going to protect the religious freedom of thousands of Arizonians.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Cruz: Debt Ceiling ‘Trickery’ Shows Why Americans Hate Congress.


Senators and their “trickery” on last week’s vote on the debt ceiling was “a perfect illustration of everything that is wrong in Washington,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says.

“Republican leadership said, we want this to pass but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote ‘no’ and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it,” the Republican freshman senator told CNN’s Dana Bash on Thursday.

That “show vote,” Cruz continued, is the “sort of trickery to the constituents [which] is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.”

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Story continues below video.

The Senate last week approved the “clean” debt-ceiling bill, but two key Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas voted to end Cruz’s filibuster on the legislation.

Cruz had called for a 60-vote threshold to end debate on the measure, but after discussions among GOP senators on the floor of the chamber, McConnell and Cornyn came forward to cast “aye” votes to end debate — a move called “cloture.”

A total of 12 Republican senators voted to invoke cloture, joining with 53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats. The bill then advanced to the floor and was approved 55-43 on a straight party-line vote.

Besides McConnell and Cornyn, the other Republicans voting against Cruz were Sens. John Barrasso, Wyoming; Susan Collins, Maine; Bob Corker, Tennessee; Jeff Flake, Arizona; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Mike Johanns, Nebraska; Mark Kirk, Illinois; John McCain, Arizona; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; and John Thune, South Dakota.

Cruz told Bash that he likes Cornyn and has agreed with him on many issues, but disagrees with him on the debt ceiling vote.

“What I said at the outset was that I am not going to affirmatively consent to giving [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid the authority to do this,” Cruz said. “It’s irresponsible, and it’s sending our nation’s future down the road.”

But he denies criticism that he “threw five Republicans under the bus.”

“My response is, I don’t want to throw any Republicans under the bus,” Cruz said. “I want to see all 45 Republicans stand together and actually do what we tell our constituents we are going to do.”

Overall, Cruz said, lawmakers need to be honest with their constituents.

“Last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz’s 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid.


Image: GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz's 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid

After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the “aye” votes came from Obama’s Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally — held open for more than an hour — in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. The Senate’s top two Republicans — both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year — provided crucial momentum after a knot of Republicans in the Senate well were clearly unhappy at having to walk the plank.

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After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, voted “aye” several other Republicans switched their votes in solidarity. Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to help the measure advance but the tally appeared to be in doubt for several anxious minutes.

“A lot of people stepped up and did what they needed to do,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted to advance the bill, as did Mark Kirk of Illinois, who said: “Members didn’t want to” vote for it.

The 12 Republicans who voted against Cruz’s measure were: John Barrasso, Wyo.; Susan Collins, Maine; Bob Corker, Tenn.; John Cornyn, Texas; Jeff Flake, Ariz.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Mike Johanns, Neb.; Mark Kirk, Ill.; John McCain, Ariz.; Mitch McConnell, Ky.; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; John Thune, S.D.

Cruz’s demands irritated Republicans because it forced several of them, particularly McConnell, to cast a difficult vote. McConnell faces a May primary against tea party candidate Matt Bevin, whose supporters adamantly oppose increasing the debt limit.

“In my view, every Republican should stand together against raising the debt ceiling without meaningful structural reforms to rein in our out of control spending,” Cruz said.

After the tally, Cruz said he had no regrets, saying the “Senate has given President Obama a blank check.”

Asked about forcing a difficult vote upon McConnell, Cruz said: “That is ultimately a decision … for the voters of Kentucky.”

The legislation would permit Treasury to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

It passed the House Tuesday after Republicans gave up efforts to use the debt ceiling measure to win concessions from Obama on GOP agenda items like winning approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday’s legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October’s 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party’s tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters’ attention on the implementation and effects of Obama’s health care law.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay all of its bills, including Social Security benefits, federal salaries, payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers and interest on the accumulated debt. Congress has never failed to act to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, which most experts say would spook financial markets and spike interest rates.

Most Republicans say any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by cuts to the spiraling costs of costly benefit programs like Medicare.

“We need some reform before we raise the debt ceiling. We need to demonstrate that we are taking steps that will reduce the accumulation of debt in the future,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Budget Committee. “And the president and the Democratic Senate have just flatly refused. So they’ve just said, `We’ll accept no restraint on spending’.”

Some Republicans seemed irked that Cruz wouldn’t let the bill pass without forcing it to clear a 60-vote threshold that required some Republicans to walk the plank and help it advance..

“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Orrin Hatch when asked if Republicans are annoyed with Cruz.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government’s borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

The debt measure permits Treasury to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, putting the issue off until after the November elections and setting it up for the new Congress to handle next year. If Republicans take over the Senate, they’re likely to insist on linking the debt ceiling to spending cuts and other GOP agenda items, but for now at least, the issue is being handled the old fashioned way, with the party of the incumbent president being responsible for supplying the votes to pass it but with the minority party not standing in the way.

“I think we will go back to the responsible way of making sure that our country does not default,” said Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.

Senate action Wednesday would safely clear the debt issue off of Washington’s plate weeks in advance of the Feb. 27 deadline set last week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The debt limit was reset to $17.2 trillion after a four-month suspension of the prior, $16.7 trillion limit expired last Friday. Lew promptly began employing accounting maneuvers to buy time for Congress to act.

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

Source: Newsmax.com

Senate Republicans Make New Jobless Benefits Offer.


Prospects of 1.4 million unemployed Americans getting their federal jobless benefits back soon brightened on Monday when U.S. Senate Republican negotiators offered a new plan to extend the emergency relief for three months.

Senate Democrats and Republicans planned to meet privately on Tuesday to evaluate the proposal. A vote on it could occur within days.

Long-term unemployment benefits expired on Dec. 28, and President Barack Obama and his Democrats in Congress have since pressed for an unpaid extension of up to one year.

Republicans have insisted on a shorter extension while also demanding that the $6.5 billion cost of extending benefits for three months be covered by government savings elsewhere.

According to a senior aides, the Republican offer would pay for the jobless benefits by extending across-the-board spending cuts, known as “sequestration,” for another year – into 2024.

The measure also would clamp down on some unemployment benefits to people who also collect federal disability payments.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith, and we are all encouraged that we are making progress on a package that could pass with bipartisan support,” said eight Republican senators who have taken the lead in trying to reach a deal.

The senators said in a statement the proposal included repeal of the recent cuts in the military retiree cost-of-living adjustment included in December’s budget agreement and offsets to pay for the unemployment extension and restoring military retiree benefits within the budget window.

If the Democratic-led Senate approves the proposal, it would have to be passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives before it could go to Obama to sign into law.

Since the Senate began wrangling over a possible extension last week, the number of long-term jobless, generally defined as those who have been out of work for at least six months, has grown to 1.4 million from 1.3 million.

“I can’t automatically agree to it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, declared in announcing that Republican negotiators had offered a three-month deal.

Assistant Senate Republican Leader John Cornyn declined to make a prediction, saying, “At this point, we don’t even know if Democrats will back it. … I’m not optimistic.”

Senator Orrin Hatch, senior Republican on the Finance Committee, which oversees jobless benefits, said he would support a bill if it is “done on a bipartisan basis.”

Senator John Thune, a member of Republican leadership, told Reuters that he expected the measure, if put to a vote, would garner enough votes to pass, even if most Republicans oppose it.

“I don’t know if there will be the votes for it … probably not mine,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake told Reuters, saying that paying for the program 10 years from now was “a gimmick.”

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.comOrrin Hatch

Lawmakers Press Holder to Explain Prosecution of Reddit’s Swartz.


Lawmakers are demanding answers from Attorney General Eric Holder over the Justice Department’s conduct toward late Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide one year ago, after he was slammed with federal charges over breaking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network.

A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers from the House and Senate wrote to Holder on Friday, one day before the first anniversary of Swartz’ suicide, calling him a “brilliant technologist and activist” and demanding that Holder explain how the Justice Department’s conduct toward the 26-year-old was “appropriate,” reports The Hill.

Lawmakers said they asked for details a year ago over the department’s treatment, but got no answers, “not even the sentencing memoranda that surely were prepared in a case such as this.”

Swartz’s family maintain he killed himself because of the overzealous federal prosecutors in his case. He was facing up to 35 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines after he was charged with wire and computer fraud, among other charges, for breaking into the MIT servers and downloading nearly 5 million documents from the JSTOR academic service.

The eight lawmakers, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; and Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.; James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.; Alan Grayson, D-Fla.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and Jared Polis, D-Colo., also said they “respectfully disagree” with Holder’s claims that the case represented “a good use of prosecutorial discretion.”

Beyond his legal troubles, Swartz was considered a computer genius who as a teenager helped create the publishing program RSS, which allows people to subscribe to website, blog, and news site updates. Swartz co-founded the social news website Reddit, which was later sold to Conde Nast, as well as the political action group Demand Progress, which campaigns against Internet censorship.

Meanwhile, web visionaries Saturday remembered Swartz and his legacy, reports Wired.com.

Story continues below video.

“I think Aaron was trying to make the world work – he was trying to fix it,” World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee said. “So he was a bit ahead of his time.”

And Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, who noted “he was just doing what he thought was right to produce a world that was better.”

Director Brian Knappenberger, whose documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” will debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, drew parallels between Swartz and National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

“Now we are all submerged in a massively networked world where every important part of our lives has an online component to it,” Knappenberger said. “Geeks and hackers already knew this but, thanks to Edward Snowden, now everyone realizes it.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

McConnell: Debt Ceiling Fight Will Bring ‘Republicans Together’.


Image: McConnell: Debt Ceiling Fight Will Bring 'Republicans Together'

With a U.S. budget deal behind them, Republicans now plan to extract something from President Barack Obama in exchange for raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

They just haven’t decided what yet.

The budget agreement the Senate is poised to pass today sets higher spending levels for two years, without raising the debt limit. Democrats want to increase U.S. borrowing authority without conditions. Republicans reject that.

“Every time the president asks us to raise the debt ceiling is a good time to achieve something significant for the country,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday. “The debt ceiling legislation is a time that brings us all together and gets the president’s attention.”

Congress suspended the debt limit through Feb. 7 as part of a deal to end a partial government shutdown in October. After that date, the government can use so-called extraordinary measures to prevent missed payments. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has said those steps can last for about a month.

Republicans want further spending cuts as the budget deficit’s share of the economy falls to its lowest level since November 2008. The deficit was 4 percent of the gross domestic product as of Sept. 30, down from a high of 10.1 percent in February 2010.

Republican leaders are considering several proposals to add any measure that would increase the debt limit, from a delay or repeal of the individual mandate in the health-care law to energy and tax-code changes. Republicans probably will set their plans after an annual policy retreat in late January.

$1.01 Trillion

The Senate is set today to pass the $1.01 trillion budget deal after 12 Republicans joined the chamber’s Democrats yesterday in voting to advance the measure to a final vote. Obama has said he’ll sign it into law.

House and Senate negotiators then must agree on, write and enact a spending bill to avert another government shutdown when U.S. funding authority expires Jan. 15.

The process of writing the legislation has already begun. Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the subcommittee on defense and the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, is basing decisions on a three-page memo that he said covers the “substantive issues” to be resolved. He declined to share the list.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that appropriators will work over the holiday break to translate the budget agreement into line-item spending decisions that would be part of a funding bill.

Republican Leverage

Republicans have leverage in the debt ceiling debate because they have the House majority and must provide at least five votes in the Senate to cut off debate on legislation.

“You can’t raise the debt limit without having a discussion on what’s driving our long-term debt,” Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake said in an interview.

The debt ceiling “can’t be played as a bargaining chip,” Durbin said. “If Republicans want to run the risk of shutting down the economy, not just the government but the economy over this issue, it’s a serious mistake.”

He added: “We are not negotiating on the debt ceiling.”

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters yesterday that he didn’t think Republicans would seek to force another fight by attaching conditions to an increase in borrowing authority.

“I can’t imagine the Republicans want another fight,” Reid said. “We’ve passed two debt ceilings in the very recent past, and we should do another one.”

McConnell, a chief architect of a 2011 law raising the debt ceiling and the Oct. 16 deal to suspend the limit and end a 16- day government shutdown, said he was eager to see what conditions the Republican-controlled House wants.

Health Law

“I can’t imagine it being done clean,” he said. “We’ll have to see what the House insists on adding to it as a condition for passing it.”

Republicans should at least demand changes to the health care law, such as delaying or repealing the mandate that individuals buy health care coverage and allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters.

“I’d like to think that Democrats are concerned enough with real Americans and their lives that they’d join us in those efforts,” Johnson said.

Other changes could include tax or energy provisions, he said.

Representative Paul Ryan, the lead Republican negotiator on the budget deal, said House and Senate Republicans would meet to discuss what they want to get out of the next debt limit debate.

“We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit,” Ryan of Wisconsin said in a Dec. 15 interview on the “Fox News Sunday” broadcast. “We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight.”
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

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