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Posts tagged ‘Lisa Murkowski’

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.


Coke’s Multilingual ‘America the Beautiful’ Ad Draws Fire.

Coca-Cola bought more than a Super Bowl ad when it aired a commercial featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in various languages – it also got a lot of controversy for its $8 million.

“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing ‘America the Beautiful’ in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition,” wrote former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., on his website.

West called the 60-second ad “truly disturbing” and included a lengthy quote by former President Teddy Roosevelt, which ended, “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

Story continues below video.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, liked the ad, tweeting:

Twitter lit up with people on both sides of the debate, some praising the ad for inclusiveness and others saying a patriotic American song should not be sung in other languages.

One Twitter photo showed someone pouring a can of Coke down the toilet.

“Apparently singing a song about America in any language other than English is totally unacceptable to a whole lot of TV viewers out there,” read a post on “And for the record, people… this is not the National Anthem, so stop calling it that.

Coke also aired the first Super Bowl ad featuring a gay couple Sunday night, but it sparked no noticeable controversy.

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


By Greg Richter

Heavily Armed EPA Raid for Clean Water Violations Prompts Uproar.

The raid on an Alaskan mining operation led by armed agents of the Environmental Protection Agency and numerous other agencies has prompted Alaska officials and members of Congress to demand an explanation for the show of force.

The invasion last month of the remote town of Chicken, Alaska, with a full-time population of 17, consisted of agents dressed in full-body armor to search for violations of the Clean Water Act, and included the Alaska Department of Public Safety, as well as federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, FBI, and Fish and Wildlife Service.

The incident has caused an uproar on both sides of the political aisle in Washington, and Alaska’s governor is calling for an investigation.

ObamacareMassive New Rules Revealed for 2013

Federal officials initially said gold mine raid was to search for instances of water pollution, but later told Capitol Hill lawmakers the decision to carry guns and wear body armor was based on information from Alaska State Troopers that drug and human trafficking operations in the tiny town were rampant.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Alaska Dispatch that explanation sounded “wholly concocted to me,” and the account also came as news to the state law enforcement agency.

“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity. We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter are demanding answers from federal agencies about the incident, while Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell is also demanding an investigation.

“This level of intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans is absolutely unacceptable,” Parnell said in a statement.

Fox News reported that 70 federal agencies have armed employees and that as of 2012 federal agencies employed 120,000 full-time officers who carry guns and are authorized to make arrests.

Formed just a decade ago, the Homeland Security Department employs nearly half of all federal law-enforcement officers, including the Secret Service, Transportation Safety Administration, Coast Guard, federal air marshals, and immigration and custom officials, according to a report cited by Fox News.

The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Park Service are among 24 agencies with more than 250 full-time armed officers.

However, the Interior Department employs fewer law enforcement officials than smaller or more obscure federal agencies, like the Library of Congress, Federal Reserve Board and the National Institutes of Health.

Armed law enforcement officials are also employed in 33 inspector general offices, the Government Printing office and Postal Service.

ObamacareMassive New Rules Revealed for 2013

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Audrey Hudson

Tea Party Pushes for Palin Senate Bid but GOP Less Eager.

Image: Tea Party Pushes for Palin Senate Bid but GOP Less Eager

By Melanie Batley

Tea party activists are pushing for Sarah Palin to run for the Senate, but Republican leaders remain lukewarm to the idea of encouraging a return by the former vice presidential nominee to the national stage.

According to The Hill, tea party supporters are running a “Draft Sarah” campaign and have already amassed more than 60,000 signatures on a petition calling for the former Alaska governor to run. They have been buoyed by a recent Harper Polling survey which showed Palin running ahead of GOP candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Begich‘s bid for re-election next year.

The Tea Party Leadership Fund has a broad audience of grass-roots conservative activists, and they feel very strongly that she’s a champion of their values and would love to see her run, and we’re doing everything we can to see her run,” said Dan Backer, treasurer of the group which commissioned the Harper Poll.

But GOP lawmakers in Washington question Palin’s dedication to the state because she resigned as governor with 18 months left in her term. Others say she would not prevail in a general election match-up with Begich. A poll earlier this year found that he would likely beat Palin by a margin of 47 percent to 40 percent.

“I think there are a lot of outside interests that would like to see Sarah Palin in some form of elected office. Most in Alaska recognize our former governor is really not involved in or engaged in the state anymore, that she’s moved to other interests,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been critical of Palin in the past. “In order for you to represent the state of Alaska, you’ve got to be in the state.”

But the GOP leadership acknowledges that Palin could likely raise the money needed to make herself a force in the race. Sen. Jerry Moran, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that while he has not reached out to Palin to gauge her interest in a Senate bid, he believes she could quickly raise millions of dollars for the race, The Hill reported.

“Sarah Palin has a wide following [and] national fundraising supporters,” Moran said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Biden Plans New Gun-Control Offensive.

Image: Biden Plans New Gun-Control Offensive

By Melanie Batley

Vice President Joe Biden is planning to renew his campaign for gun-control legislation with speeches around the country supporting expanded background checks and tougher gun-trafficking laws after similar measures failed to get through the Senate last month.

During a 90-minute meeting with South Carolina law-enforcement officials in advance of a speech he will give to the state Democrats Friday night, Biden said he has yet to discuss his plans with the president, Politico reported Friday.

The vice president said he would lead the effort to redirect the gun-control effort in a way that might win over senators who voted against the background-check bill put forward by Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey.

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“He was talking like he was going to be leading it,” a law-enforcement official told Politico. “He didn’t mention any other senators in terms of leading the charge.”

Biden also pointed to falling poll numbers for some senators targeted by gun-control groups for voting against expanded background checks. They include Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Lisa Murkowski, both of Alaska; and Democratic Max Baucus of Montana.

The vice president said he plans to travel to those states to push for background checks.

Biden hosted a similar session with leading gun-control groups last week, and discussed strategy to win over some of those who voted against the Senate bill.

Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, told Politico, “The vice president made it clear that he is, that many are trying, to understand why certain elected officials voted no.”

“And he has, as well as many of us, reached out to these individuals and are trying to understand, ‘Why did you vote no?’ And that effort is under way,” he said.

Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, was also at the meeting with Biden, and told Politico, “His candid request was for us to tell him what can be done differently. His sense was not to go back to the drawing board with the same thing that just lost.”

Added Adler, “You bet on a horse and lose, you’re not going to bet on the same exact horse in the same race.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Senators, White House Work to Resurrect Gun Legislation.

A bipartisan group of senators is in new talks about a strategy to resurrect gun-control legislation after a bill to overhaul the nation’s gun laws was voted down last week.

The lawmakers are drawing on lessons learned from the protracted fight to pass the Brady Bill, which was passed in 1993 and went into effect in February 1994. It established a five-day waiting period to buy a gun, the New York Times reported Friday.

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Toomey, who co-authored the gun-sale background-check legislation that failed two weeks ago, are looking at new ways to persuade fellow lawmakers to support expanded checks for gun buyers.

They’re considering a two-pronged approach that focuses on pressuring senators who voted against their bill while building a national campaign to highlight the public’s overwhelming support for such a measure, which nears 90 percent, according to most polls.

“We’re going to work it hard,” Manchin, told the Times.

A new bill would look to satisfy those senators who wanted a narrower background-check system. Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat, for example, felt that the requirement of checks on person-to-person sales was too onerous.

Separately, another group of senators plans to introduce an anti-trafficking bill, which would criminalize the shipping or transfer of guns to people who are barred from possessing firearms.

New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is working on the measure with Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Charles Grassley of Iowa. They hope it would the starting point for a broader bipartisan compromise, the Times reported.

“I think trafficking can be the base of the bill, the rock on which everything else stands,” Gillibrand said. “I also think it’s complementary to background checks because, let’s be honest, criminals aren’t going to buy a gun and go through a background check. So if you really want to go after criminals, you have to do both.”

“There’s a lot we have agreement on in terms of enforcing our current system,” said Ayotte. “And so I certainly think we should look for the common elements, including the mental-health piece, which I support as well, and try to move as much of that as possible forward.”

Among 22 senators from East Coast states north of Virginia, Ayotte was alone in voting no on the expanded background-check system. Her position has drawn the ire of gun-control advocates who have inundated her office with phone calls and have made their criticism clear in the media.

Meanwhile, the White House is launching its own efforts to renew momentum on a gun-control overhaul. Vice President Joe Biden gathered a group of high-profile gun-control supporters on Thursday, saying the issue is now his highest priority.

He said a number of senators have told him privately they’re feeling the backlash from the public and would consider changing their position if legislation was packaged differently and the political will was there.

“It’s not a question of really changing their minds for or against this policy,” said one of the participants at the meeting with the vice president. “It’s demonstrating that it’s safe to do the right thing and politically unsafe not to.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

TSA To Delay Lifting Ban on Small Knives.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has delayed a decision to allow pocket knives on airliners, according to an internal e-mail sent to agency employees today.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in the e-mail the agency wanted to further consult with the airline industry before making the change, according to a person familiar with its contents who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.

The proposed policy change, announced in March, was designed to align U.S. rules with those in Europe and better reflect intelligence on active terrorist threats, the agency said. Instead, the plan provoked protests from flight attendants, air marshals, executives of the largest airlines and the union representing airport screeners.

The decision to delay the April 25 change comes one week after two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 170.

“Last week’s events in Boston underscore our continued focus on explosive devices,” Pistole said in the note to employees.

Transportation security officer training will continue to emphasize these and other evolving threats.”

Pistole said he met today with an advisory committee of industry representatives, which includes flight attendants, pilots, airlines and other parties affected by TSA policy. The decision to “temporarily delay” changes to the prohibited- items list was made to incorporate suggestions and continue the necessary training, he said.

The TSA had said that it intended to ease cabin restrictions of items including knives less than 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) long, hockey sticks and golf clubs to match U.S. rules with those in other parts of the world.

Executives from Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. had condemned TSA’s proposed policy change. Unions representing flight attendants, pilots and airport screeners lobbied Congress for a reversal.

Appearing at a March 14 hearing of the House Transportation Security subcommittee, Pistole defended the new policy and the process that led to it, saying it was necessary for the agency to revise procedures as threats change. He also told lawmakers that responsibility to control passengers rested with the airlines, not the agency.

Pistole drew some key support from House Republicans, including Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas. A larger group of lawmakers from both parties, including Sens. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said they would support legislation to keep knives off planes.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Jeff Flake: GOP Presidential Candidate Backing Gay Marriage ‘Inevitable’.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says it is “inevitable” that his party will see one of its own run for president while supporting gay marriage.

The Arizona lawmaker on Sunday said the shifting political landscape will eventually yield a candidate who backs same-sex marriage and predicts that candidate would find support within the GOP.

Fellow Republican Senators Rob Portman of Ohio has announced his support for gay marriage in states that choose to allow such unions and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska says her position is “evolving.” Scores of Democrats in recent weeks have announced their support for gay marriages.

Flake says he still believes marriage should be restricted to straight couples and said he doesn’t imagine he would change his position.

Flake spoke to NBC’sMeet the Press.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Obama to Announce $2-Billion Plan to Get U.S. Cars off Gasoline.



  • President Obama visits the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, Calif., in 2009. Credit: White House/Lawrence JacksonView PhotoPresident Obama visits the Edison …

This afternoon, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to direct our cars, trucks and buses to a realm that doesn’t include gas stations. During a visit to Argonne National Laboratory, he will call for $2-billion energy security trust fund dedicated to research to boost automobile efficiency, enhance battery technology and expand the use of biofuels, among other clean-energy efforts. The ultimate goal: getting the country off oil.

Obama had briefly mentioned the idea of an energy security trust inhis State of the Union address in January, as a means of providing a long-term, reliable stream of money to researchers. The White House has argued that energy innovation is not only good for cutting carbon emissions to tame global warming, but that it also plays an important part in growing the economy.

Ahead of his March 15 announcement, White House officials offered a preview of the plan’s details. They said that the trust fund’s $2 billion, spread over 10 years, would come from leases of offshore oil drilling. The money for the fund, which would probably be dispersed in the way that the ARPA-E program does it, would come from an increase in expected revenue generated by a more efficient permit approval process and other reforms. One official emphasized that the administration had no intention of modifying existing plans for the outer continental shelf and does not support drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

Congress would have to approve the trust fund, and despite the ongoing sequester and other budget battles, White House officials seemed optimistic that the plan would get a bipartisan thumbs-up. The reason: the trust fund idea actually comes from a report by a coalition of business and military leaders and enjoys support from Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But whether bipartisanship also extends to the House of Representatives is another matter.

Weaning the nation off fossil fuels entirely for its transportation needs may not be practical or realistic. But the idea, as one administration official stated, is to “double down” on the opportunities for achieving a cleaner-energy future. As far as bets go, this one at least seems worthwhile.

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© 2013 All rights reserved.

By Philip Yam | Scientific American

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