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Posts tagged ‘State of the Union address’

McCain: Immigration Reform Crucial to GOP Success.


Sen. John McCain says he hasn’t yet given up on immigration reform – and he believes failure to pass anything will hurt GOP chances at the ballot box.

“States like mine, over time, the demographics will overtake, not only mine but throughout the whole Southwest and many other parts of the country,” the Arizona Republican said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

A failure to embrace Latino voters could spell doom as Republicans approach this years midterm congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign, McCain said.

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The Senate, where McCain serves, has already passed immigration reform, but the effort is stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

McCain said he will work see a bill passed through Congress for the president’s signature before the midterms.

“I have not given up hope that we will act, and we must act,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Desperate Senate Democrats Running from Obama, Obamacare.


When President Barack Obama solicits advice Wednesday from his party’s senators, the voices of some Democrats may come through louder than others.

Of the 53 Democratic senators, it’s the nearly two dozen facing re-election this year who are causing jitters for Obama and the party. With control of the Senate at stake, many of those Democrats are actively seeking ways to distance themselves from a president who is deeply unpopular in their home states.

After publicly exhibiting his goals for the year in his State of the Union address last week, Obama is making the pitch in more intimate settings now. A day after hosting House Democrats in the East Room, Obama will travel to the baseball stadium where the Washington Nationals play and where Senate Democrats are holding an annual private summit.

With prospects for capturing the House this year in doubt, Democrats have intensified their focus on the Senate, where their tenuous majority will be toppled in November if they lose more than five seats — out of 21 they are defending. Although Obama has had to rein in aspirations for ambitious second-term legislation due to Republican control of the House, his final years in office would be even more constrained were Democrats to lose the Senate.

Sensitive to the fact that many of Democrats’ toughest races this year are in conservative-leaning states that voted against Obama in 2012, the White House and Democratic leadership so far have given wide latitude to Democrats who have publicized their disagreements with Obama. But the criticism also serves as a nagging reminder that Obama’s ability to aid fellow Democrats this year is limited.

“I want him up in Alaska so I can show him where his policies haven’t worked,” said Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, whose re-election race is one of the toughest for Democrats this year. “I’ll drag him up there to show him what he needs to be doing. I don’t need him campaigning for me.”

Obama’s session with senators Wednesday will focus not on the election but on his legislative agenda, including an unemployment insurance extension, a minimum wage hike and an expansion of the earned income tax credit, White House officials said.

“It’s part of an overall approach, running up to and in the wake of the State of the Union address, where the president is meeting with Democrats who share his priorities and vision when it comes to taking action to strengthen the middle class and to provide ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Still, the White House has taken steps to show it is keenly attuned to the midterm dynamic that looms over every decision lawmakers will make this year. On Monday, Obama brought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., his campaign chairman and the head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee to the White House to talk strategy for 2014. And barely a week ago, Obama resurrected the White House political office that he disbanded in 2011, tasking top adviser David Simas with overseeing a team that will look out for the needs of Democratic candidates.

For some Democrats, it’s “Obamacare” that poses the clearest threat as Republicans vow to use the unpopular law as a cudgel in their campaigns against Democrats who voted for it. Speaking to House Democrats on Tuesday, Obama took full responsibility for what didn’t go right with the rollout of the HealthCare.gov enrollment website and said the focus now should be on law’s benefits and the millions getting covered, said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., who attended the meeting.

For other Democrats, niche issues like energy that acutely affect their states may play an outsize role in their campaigns. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana was one of five Democrats who joined Republicans on Tuesday at a rare bipartisan news conference to call on Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil on its way from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Landrieu said in addition to talking to Obama about America’s energy resurgence, she planned to urge Obama to support her push to delay a huge rate hike for flood insurance — a politically potent issue in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

“I’m hoping to convince him that if his administration could be a little more enthusiastic, it would be helpful not just to me and Louisiana, but to the whole country,” she said.

 

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

Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key Issues.


Image: Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key IssuesFrom left: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Martin Heinrich

By Melanie Batley

 

A growing number of Senate Democrats are speaking out publicly against a range of President Barack Obama’s policies in an attempt to distance themselves from theincreasingly unpopular president in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections.

According to Politico, the lawmakers appear to have become unusually comfortable with criticizing the president, particularly since the State of the Union Address. 

“You had two or three Democrats in the Senate who made statements after the president’s State of the Union speech that wouldn’t have been written any different if they had been written by the [National] Republican Senatorial Committee,” Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt told Politico.

Until recently, criticism of the president was concentrated among vulnerable red state Democrats, but now others are becoming vocal in their dissent on a range of issues including energy policy, Obamacare, the Nation Security Agency surveillance programs, and the Keystone XL pipeline. 

For example, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has taken issue with Obama’s insistence in his State of the Union Address that he would bypass Congress whenever necessary to advance his agenda.

“I don’t think that’s what he meant. I swear to God I don’t,” Manchin said in an interview with Politico. “Could he have picked these words better? I would have thought he could have, I would have hoped he would have. But it came out offensive to a lot of people.”

Manchin is also part of a faction in the Senate that would approve construction of the Keystone pipeline, a group that is also critical of the administration’s positions on coal and energy exports.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, another Democrat who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has called Obama’s energy policies “schizophrenic.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, a freshman, has been a persistent critic of the White House on NSA policy, according to Politico. 

“I think the framers did an incredible job of finding the right balance, so, we’ve gotten away from that. And when we get back to that, my outspokenness will diminish,” he said.

Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado have also been vocal about the need for changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs.

A number of Democrats have for months been attempting to distance themselves from the president on Obamacare, aware that the GOP is likely to highlight the program’s failures throughout the 2014 campaign. But as Blunt put it, it may be an uphill battle.

“The White House and the Senate leadership understand the need of senators in states where the president is not popular to differentiate themselves from the president when they can,” Blunt told Politico. 

“On the healthcare bill, it’s going to be particularly difficult because all of them voted for it, all of them supported it. And it’s not going to get better between now and Election Day.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton Warns New Iran Sanctions Could Upend Talks.


Image: Hillary Clinton Warns New Iran Sanctions Could Upend Talks

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is warning Congress that new unilateral sanctions against Iran could upend sensitive international negotiations over its nuclear development, imploring lawmakers to work with the Obama administration in presenting a unified front to Tehran.

Echoing President Barack Obama’s deep concerns about another round of tough economic penalties, Clinton said any congressional action could undercut U.S. work with its allies as well as American influence with Russia and China in forcing Tehran to negotiate after years of inconclusive talks.

“Now that serious negotiations are finally under way, we should do everything we can to test whether they can advance a permanent solution,” Clinton said. “As President Obama has said, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed, while keeping all options on the table.”

Clinton offered her assessment in a three-page letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Levin’s office released the letter, dated Jan. 26, on Sunday.

Levin and several other committee chairmen have expressed a willingness to hold off on sanctions to give diplomatic efforts a chance. However, 59 Republicans and Democrats back legislation to impose a new round of penalties on Iran, maintaining that crippling economic sanctions forced Tehran to make concessions.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., would blacklist several Iranian industrial sectors and threaten banks and companies around the world with being banned from the U.S. market if they help Iran export any more oil. The provisions would only take effect if Tehran violates the six-month interim deal or lets it expire without a comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Iran agreed in November to slow its uranium enrichment program to a level that is far below what would be necessary to make a nuclear bomb. It also agreed to increased international inspections to give world leaders confidence that it is not trying to build weapons in secret.

In exchange, the U.S. and five other nations — Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China — agreed to ease an estimated $7 billion worth of international sanctions against Iran’s crippled economy for a six-month period while negotiators try to broker a final settlement.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Clinton said the intelligence community has said new sanctions could undercut the chances for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.

“I share that view. It could rob us of the diplomatic high ground we worked so hard to reach, break the united international front we constructed and in the long run, weaken the pressure on Iran by opening the door for other countries to chart a different course,” said the former New York senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate.

In his State of the Union address this past week, Obama repeated his threat to veto any new Iran sanctions if Congress passes legislation.

Clinton, who said she repeatedly backed Iran sanctions during her eight years as senator, cautioned lawmakers.

“If the world judges — rightly or wrongly — that negotiations have collapsed because of actions in the United States Congress, even some of our closest partners abroad — to say nothing of countries like Russia and China — may well falter in their commitment. And without help from our partners in enforcing them, any new measures we put in place will not achieve maximum impact,” Clinton said.

Levin, who had written to Clinton Jan. 16 seeking her views, said her letter “is another strong signal to Congress that we should not take any legislative action at this time that would damage international unity or play into the hands of hard-liners in Iran who oppose negotiations.”

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

 

Ryan, Republicans Blame Obama for Stalling Immigration.


Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system fails to become law.

The GOP’s emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling voters that if the GOP-led House doesn’t take action this election year, it is Obama’s fault.

“If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we’d be further along in this discussion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.

House Republicans last week unveiled a road map for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system that calls for increased border security, better law enforcement within the U.S. and a pathway to legal status — but not citizenship — for millions of adults who live in America unlawfully. The proposal requires those here illegally to pay back taxes and fines.

But one of its backers, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said distrust of Obama poisons interest among some in his Republican caucus.

“Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don’t trust the president to enforce the law,” said Ryan, his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012.

Ryan said a plan that puts security first could only pass the House if lawmakers believe the administration would enforce it — an unlikely prospect given Republicans’ deep opposition to Obama. The president’s waivers for provisions in his 4-year-old health care law have increased suspicions among Republicans.

“This isn’t a trust-but-verify, this is a verify-then-trust approach,” Ryan said.

Asked whether immigration legislation would make its way to Obama for him to sign into law, Ryan said he was skeptical: “I really don’t know the answer to that question. That is clearly in doubt.”

The Senate last year passed a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that addressed border security, provided enforcement measures and offered a long and difficult path to citizenship for those living here illegally. The measure stalled in the GOP-led House, where leaders want to take a more piecemeal approach.

In the meantime, Republicans have started uniting behind a message that Obama won’t hold up his end of the bargain.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said “there’s a lot of distrust of this administration in implanting the law.” And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week warned that distrust of Obama would trump the desire to find a solution for the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally.

“We just don’t think government will enforce the law anyway,” Rubio said, recounting conversations he’s had with fellow Republicans.

Immigration legislation is a dicey political question for the GOP. The party’s conservative base opposes any measure that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, but many in the party worry that failing to act could strengthen support among many voters for Democratic candidates.

In 2012, Obama won re-election with the backing of 71 percent of Hispanic voters and 73 percent of Asian voters. The issue is important to both voting blocs.

The White House, meanwhile, is trying to give Republicans a chance to hammer out their intra-party differences in the hopes they find a way to give legal standing to those here illegally.

“We ought to see a pathway to citizenship for people,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday. “We don’t want to have a permanent separation of classes or two permanent different classes of Americans in this country.”

McDonough said the White House remains optimistic that legislation that includes citizenship could reach the president’s desk: “We feel pretty good that we’ll get a bill done this year.”

Jindal spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union.” Ryan appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Cantor was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” McDonough appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS.

 

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

Eric Cantor: Obamacare Living ‘on Borrowed Time’.


House Republicans plan a renewed push on healthcare reform, with a vote on an alternative plan before the end of the year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Sunday.

Further, party members held a “very robust discussion” about immigration during their annual retreat, held last week, Cantor told “Face the Nation” jost Major Garrett in an interview aired Sunday. Party members don’t trust the Obama administration to properly implement immigration reform.

“We just heard the President in his State of the Union address say, you know what, if he can work with Congress, he’s going to do it his own way,” said Cantor. “And that sort of breeds this kind of distrust and I think we’re going to have to do something about that in order to see a way forward on immigration.”

Editor’s Note: 22 Hidden Taxes and Fees Set to Hit You With Obamacare. Read the Guide to Protect Yourself. 

Story continues below.

Cantor said a successful immigration policy will have to ensure that the nation’s borders are controlled.

“This goes back to the distrust,” said Cantor. “There’s not been a determined sense that we are going to secure the borders and make sure that the laws on the books are being implemented now. I would say that is a precursor and has to happen first.”

Immigrants want to come to the United States because the nation’s laws create opportunity, and “we want to make sure, before anything else, that there is border security and implementation of the laws.”

Cantor said he believes both sides of the immigration issue should deal with one principle they can agree on — the children.

“Most people say this country has never held kids liable for the misdeeds of their parents,” said Cantor. “I think that in many instances, kids have been brought here and some, unbeknownst to themselves, and brought here illegally, and yet they know no other place is home. Certainly we ought to take care of that problem.”

Cantor said Republicans also want to help the nation’s problems with job growth.

“We know that 75 percent of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck,” said Cantor. “We’ve come up with some real solutions to help America work for those people too.”

Cantor said that Americans need to be able to trust that President Barack Obama will implement laws that are passed.

“Look what he’s done with Obamacare, said Cantor. “He has selectively enforced that law and some have raised constitutional questions whether he can even do some things like that.”

As a result, Cantor said, “Obamacare is on borrowed time. Policies are being canceled, prices are going up, access to hospitals are being limited … we want a healthcare system that works for all Americans.”

Part of the Republicans’ plan for health care reform deals with people with pre-existing conditions.

“We don’t want them to go without coverage,” said Cantor. “We just deal with it in a way, and provide high risk pools, so that we can limit the increase in costs for everybody else and do it in a much more effective manner.”

Further, Cantor said Republicans believe people should have their choice of insurers, and should be able to buy coverage across state lines.

“We ought to have patient-centered care, not care dictated by Washington, which is why we want to promote health savings accounts,” said Cantor. “These are the kind of things that are in our proposal.”

Editor’s Note: 22 Hidden Taxes and Fees Set to Hit You With Obamacare. Read the Guide to Protect Yourself. 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Jindal, Giuliani Defend Chris Christie.


Big-name Republicans are standing behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie days after a former loyalist said evidence exists that Christie knew about a politically motivated traffic jam last year even as it happened.

Christie has denied that claim and said he learned about the jam ordered by one of his aides only after it was over.

Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein hasn’t detailed the evidence.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says “nothing has been proven.” The 2012 vice presidential candidate appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

On other news talk shows, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said there was no reason for Christie to step down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Jindal, R-La., said Sunday that Christie should not step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.

“I think he ought to stay there,” Jindal said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“No one governor is more important than the other…What really matters is the RGA is a place where our governors come together,” he said.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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