Gun control measures fail to clear Senate hurdle

A series of dueling gun control measures in the Senate were defeated Monday evening in the first proposed legislation in the wake of the Orlando terror attack.

The four amendments all failed on procedural votes.

The first vote was on the amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to enhance funding for an existing gun background check system which needed 60 votes to pass. The final vote tally was 53 to 47.

The second vote was on a measure by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to expand gun background checks and close the so-called gun show loophole where firearm purchases are not tracked. The final vote tally was 44 to 56.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pushed a measure that would allow the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorrist for 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently. The National Rifle Associated backed the legislation, but it failed in a final vote of 53 to 47.

The fourth and final vote involved a measure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to keep people on a government terrorism watch list or other suspected terrorists from buying guns. The Justice Department endorsed her legislation, but it also failed with a final vote count of 47 to 53.

The votes came after Murphy filibustered for almost 15 hours last week seeking action in response to the killing of 49 people in the gay nightclub Pulse by Omar Mateen, a Florida man who pledged his loyalty to ISIS in the midst of the rampage.

Since lawmakers were unable to come together on a piece of compromise legislation, the individual bills faced long odds. Democrats helped block two Republican amendments, arguing that they fall short in controlling the sales of firearms. In turn, Republicans were able to block two Democratic amendments, contending they threaten the constitutional rights of gun owners.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Orlando attack shows the best way to prevent attacks by extremists is to defeat such groups overseas.

“Look, no one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” McConnell said. He suggested that Democrats were using the day’s votes “as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda or craft the next 30-second campaign ad,” while Republicans wanted “real solutions.”

Cornyn said after the votes that he thinks there may be other votes on terrorism or guns later this week.

Murphy said Sunday on ABC’s “The Week” that the passage of the measures was unlikely and focused on the response to the filibuster.

“It wasn’t just that 40 senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes but there were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort,” he said.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told “Fox News Sunday” that she also supported Cornyn’s proposal. Lynch said such an amendment would give the federal government the ability to stop a sale to somebody on the terror watch list.

However, she argued the federal government needs flexibility and the authority to protect the classified information used in denying a sale, if potential buyers exercise the constitutional rights to file an appeal.

“The American people deserve for us to take the greatest amount of time,” Lynch said.

The Pulse Orlando nightclub shooter was added to a government watch list of individuals known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in 2013, when he was investigated for inflammatory statements to co-workers. But he was pulled from that database when that investigation was closed 10 months later.

Both the Feinstein and Cornyn amendments would have tried to ensure that individuals like Mateen who had been a subject of a terrorism investigation within the last five years are flagged. Grassley’s would have required that law enforcement be notified if a person had been investigated in the last five years and attempted to purchase a gun.

Last week, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted that he would meet with the NRA about “not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.” Exactly what he would support was unclear.

Separately, moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is working with other Republicans, as well as talking to Democrats, on a bill that would prevent people on the no-fly list — a smaller universe than targeted by Democrats — from getting guns. But her bill had not been blessed by GOP leaders and it was unclear if it would get a vote.

In the GOP-controlled House, Republicans had no plans to act on guns and Democrats were unable to force any action, given House rules less favorable to the minority party than in the Senate.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

A Message from Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House

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Friend — This is a pivotal time in our nation’s history.

Americans firmly believe our country is headed down the wrong path, and we no longer see the promise for future generations that we once did.

It’s our responsibility in Congress to change that.

That’s why when I agreed to become the next Speaker of the House, I did it for the sole purpose of unifying our great nation and helping preserve it for our children.

Republicans in Congress can provide a vision to lead us towards a brighter tomorrow — but we need your help.

While House Republicans are hard at work trying to fix the many problems that plague our nation, we also need the grassroots support to maintain and grow our majority.

Will you chip in $20 right now to support and help grow our majority?

Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have their eyes set on retaking the House and the Senate. If they’re able to do that, then our great nation will continue down the path of divisive politics and out-of-control spending.

We can’t allow that to happen.

Will you stand by our side and help us restore the America you and I remember?

Thank you for your support.

God Bless,

Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House

P.S. We are one year out from the most important election of our lifetime. Will you join me and chip in $20 to ensure we have the resources for a victory in 2016? Use this secure link to chip in:https://www.nrcc.org/paul-ryan/ 

Republicans officially nominate Paul Ryan for House speaker

 October 28 at 4:29 PM
House Republicans on Wednesday nominated Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, long seen as one of the party’s brightest stars, to become their next speaker and standard-bearer.

The internal party vote to choose a successor for outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) took place behind closed doors in an afternoon meeting. According to a tally announced inside the room, Ryan won support from 200 of the 247-member GOP conference. A House floor vote to select the new speaker is set for Thursday morning, bringing an end to a five-week scramble to find Boehner’s replacement.

Thanking his fellow GOP members, Ryan called his nomination a “great honor” and said “this begins a new day in the House of Representatives.”

“Tomorrow, we are turning the page. We are not going to have a House that looks like it’s looked the last few years. We are going to move forward, we are going to unify. Our party lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision,” Ryan said. “We think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and we have an obligation here in the people’s house to do the people’s business to heal this country.”

Ryan also singled out the outgoing speaker, saying, “John Boehner served with humility and distinction, and we owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Newly nominated to be the next House speaker, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) thanked his colleagues and said this marks a new beginning for the House of Representatives. (AP)

Of Ryan’s nomination, Tom Cole of Oklahoma said, “I expected he would do very well, and he did.”

Bill Flores of Texas, Republican Study Committee chair, said he expected Ryan to lose no more than 20 votes on the floor Thursday. “That would show a united front,” he said.

“The only drama is going to be whether he loses 11 votes or 12,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) of Thursday’s floor vote.

Wednesday’s nomination vote comes hours before the House is set to vote on a controversial fiscal deal negotiated by Boehner that would increase government spending by $80 billion through September 2017 and raise the federal debt limit.

In a potential wrinkle to his recent effort to unify a divided House GOP, Ryan on Wednesday bucked pressure to oppose the deal from conservatives who worked to force Boehner from office, saying the agreement would help “wipe the slate clean” as he ascends to the top job.

Ryan, the 45-year-old chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that the deal has “some good, some bad, and some ugly” but will ultimately “go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us.”

“It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people,” he said.

That announcement came a day after he told reporters that the process that led to the deal “stinks” and pledged to handle these kinds of major fiscal negotiations in a different way.

Most conservatives said earlier in the week they were sharply opposed to the budget deal but also said that they did not intend to hold it against Ryan. Many, however, said they would like Ryan to oppose the deal as a sign of good faith — even though Ryan had personally negotiated a very similar budget deal back in 2013.

But there were signs that they might look past Ryan’s policy positions if he makes good on his process-oriented promises.

Ryan on Tuesday endorsed a GOP conference review of existing rules and said he was committed to implementing changes by January: “It’s clear that members of the House and the American people have lost faith in how this place works. And naming a new speaker alone isn’t enough to fix it. We need a robust dialogue about improving the process so that each member has a greater voice, and we need a firm deadline to implement changes.”

Ryan has also made attempts to quell doubts about some of his policy positions that have left conservatives wary — mainly his past support for immigration reform legislation. In a Wednesday morning conference meeting, Ryan rose and pledged not to pursue any immigration bill unless it had the support of a majority of House Republicans.

White House officials — who have privately welcomed the prospect of Ryan’s elevation to speaker but have been cautious about embracing him publicly — said Wednesday they hope he pursues a different course after claiming the gavel.

“The president has worked with Chairman Ryan on some key issues, like trade and on immigration, but there are a number of issues where we have vastly different approaches, vastly different policy positions,” White House principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force Once. “Our concern all along in this process is that Republicans spend a lot of time and energy consolidating their fractious caucus, instead of working to figure out how Congress can run in a more bipartisan way.”

“We hope that that processes of identifying and selecting a new speaker isn’t a precursor to a partisan way of governing, but rather that the next speaker . . . is positioned to work with Democrats,” Schultz added.

Ryan faced one opponent, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who has gained a small but loyal following among hard-right lawmakers and fellow Floridians who have been drawn to his promises for reforming House rules and procedures.

But many of those who supported Webster when he was pitted against the previous presumptive nominee, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), now say they are prepared to back Ryan after he reassured them over the past 10 days that he intends to move forward with many of the same reforms.

On Wednesday, Webster received 43 votes. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, a Freedom Caucus member, said he was not surprised by Webster’s relatively strong showing but conceded that Ryan had enough votes to win the speakership Thursday.

He said the Freedom Caucus could take credit for forcing Ryan to abandon some of his demands for agreeing to serve as a speaker, including reforms to the rule allowing a majority of House members to vote out a sitting speaker.

Huelskamp declined to say how he intended to vote personally: “I think you’ll find out.”

Another Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who backs Ryan, said most of the 43 Webster backers had committed earlier to backing the Floridian and would be likely to back Ryan now that he has secured the nomination.

Ryan’s support for the budget deal, he added, may also have contributed to a protest vote: ‘I don’t think that helped him any.”

“If he gets 219 or 220, we have a brand new speaker,” Duncan said. “Regardless of what the vote is, he’s a guy who can unify the conference.

Wednesday’s meeting is the second time Republicans have gathered to choose Boehner’s replacement. An Oct. 8 meeting was abruptly cut short when McCarthy told colleagues he would not in fact seek the speaker’s chair in the face of determined opposition from hard-line conservatives.

Rising to formally nominate Ryan on Wednesday was Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who enjoys a near-impeccable reputation among House conservatives that has been burnished in recent months by his leadership of a special committee investigating the 2012 attacks on U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya.

Gowdy’s nomination speech, and Wednesday’s vote, took place in the same House hearing room where, a week ago, Gowdy and the Benghazi panel questioned former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for 11 hours.

Rep. Kristi L. Noem (R-S.D.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), chairman of the Financial Services Committee, also spoke on Ryan’s behalf, a spokesman said.

Juliet Eilperin and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this article.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to

Opinion: Refugee Resettlement

 

October 1, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact:  Stephen Miller, 202.224.4124
 
Sessions Expresses Severe Concern Following Admin Refugee Testimony
 
“The testimony provided today only further erodes my confidence in our ability to vet Syrian refugees or to control the extraordinary expense imposed on taxpayers…
 
The responsible and compassionate course for the United States is to help assist in the placement of refugees as close to their homes as possible…Encouraging millions to abandon their homes in the Middle East only further destabilizes the region, while imposing enormous costs on an American public that is struggling with low pay, rising crime, high deficits, and overstretched community resources.”
 
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, issued the following statement today after the conclusion of the oversight hearing on the Administration’s planned refugee resettlement surge:
 
“Today the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest conducted an oversight hearing with four Administration officials responsible for administering America’s refugee programs.  The testimony provided today only further erodes my confidence in our ability to vet Syrian refugees or to control the extraordinary expense imposed on taxpayers.  The following facts were established conclusively:
 
·       We do not have access to any Syrian government database to learn the backgrounds of these refugee applicants.
·       We do not have adequate resources or records and will not conduct any meaningful investigation of each of the thousands of applicants.
·       The administration approves over 90 percent of all Syrian refugee applications.
·       We have no capacity to determine the likelihood that Islamist refugees, once admitted to the United States, will become involved with terrorist activity.
·       We are already struggling with a huge problem of prior Islamist refugees seeking to take up arms with terrorists, and we have every expectation that the Administration’s current refugee plans will exacerbate that problem.
·       It is not a probability, but a certainty, that among the more than 1 million migrants from Muslim countries we will admit over the next decade, a number will already be radicalized or radicalize after their entrance into the U.S.
·       With respect to cost, the $1.2 billion budget for refugee placement is only a minute fraction of the total expense, and does not attempt to measure the short-term or long-term costs of providing access to virtually all welfare, healthcare, and retirement programs in the U.S. budget, as well as community resources such as public education and local hospitals.
·       Robert Rector, with the Heritage Foundation, estimates the lifetime cost of benefits at $6.5 billion per 10,000 refugees.  In the most recent year, the Office of Refugee Resettlement provided services to some 140,000 newly-admitted refugees, asylees, and related groups.
 
The United States has let in 59 million immigrants since 1965, and is on pace to break all historical records within a few years.  We now face the enormous challenge of helping millions of our existing residents – prior immigrants, refugees, and the US-born – rise out of poverty.  Our first duty is always to those already living here.  The responsible and compassionate course for the United States is to help assist in the placement of refugees as close to their homes as possible.  Encouraging millions to abandon their homes in the Middle East only further destabilizes the region, while imposing enormous costs on an American public that is struggling with low pay, rising crime, high deficits, and overstretched community resources.”
 
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. Visit Sessions online at his website or via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Note: Please do not reply to this email. For further information, contact Sen. Sessions’ Press Office at (202) 224-4124.

American Action News

Liberal Harry Reid Won’t Seek Re-Election

Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”

He has already confounded the new Republican majority this year by holding Democrats united against a proposal to gut the Obama administration’s immigration policies as well as a human-trafficking measure Democrats objected to over an anti-abortion provision.

– See more at: http://americanactionnews.com/articles/liberal-harry-reid-won-t-seek-re-election#sthash.GCV3Uzws.dpuf

John Boehner ends stalemate

The House approved a nine-month funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, breaking a lengthy stalemate over President Barack Obama’s immigration policies that exacerbated the rift between Speaker John Boehner and the conservative wing of his conference.

The measure passed 257-167, with 182 Democrats and 75 Republicans voting to beat a Friday midnight deadline for DHS funding to expire. Voting against the measure were 167 Republicans, many in protest to the lack of language to block Obama’s immigration policies.

The vote ends a three-month battle over Obama’s decision to use executive powers to shield nearly 5 million immigrants from deportation, a move that enraged congressional Republicans. Boehner was only able to avoid a government shutdown last Friday after backroom negotiations with House Democrats led to a vote on a “clean” funding bill this week.

“After bringing our Homeland Security to the brink of a shutdown, I’m glad Republicans have finally realized the futility in refusing to protect the American people,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the vice chairman of the Democratic caucus. “Picking a fight with President Obama and jeopardizing the safety of American families was not only absurd, but it was downright dangerous.”

The Senate has already approved a bill to extend DHS funding through September, so the legislation now heads to Obama’s desk to be signed.

Boehner (R-Ohio) was forced to use an obscure procedural rule to reverse an earlier vote against a clean bill, after the House and Senate were unable to forge an agreement to enter conference negotiations before DHS funding expires. The vote allows the House to reverses its position of disagreeing with the Senate’s legislation.

When announcing his plan to Republicans Tuesday morning, Boehner told GOP House members his decision to allow a clean funding bill to come to the House floor was “the right one for this team, and the right one for this country.”

“I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” Boehner said.

Boehner received a standing ovation, according to a source in the room.

The speaker’s decision to allow a vote showed he is refusing to continue to be hamstrung on the DHS issue by a pocket of conservatives. Indeed, he invited their wrath by working with Democrats to fund the anti-terrorism agency through the remainder of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The stalemate emerged out of Obama’s November unilateral action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The House tried to gut those provisions, but the Senate was not able to get a matching bill through the chamber. Congress last week passed legislation to fund DHS through Friday.

Boehner told the gathering of Republicans that another short-term bill would not pass the House and said that Senate Republicans “never found a way to win this fight.”

“The three-week CR we offered would have kept this fight going and allowed us to continue to put pressure on Senate Democrats to do the right thing,” Boehner said in the meeting. “Unfortunately, that plan was rejected.”

A DHS shutdown, Boehner said, would be dangerous to national security.

“With more active threats coming into the homeland, I don’t believe that’s an option,” he said. “Imagine if, God forbid, another terrorist attack hits the United States.”

The Senate Monday rejected the House’s offer to enter formal conference negotiations between its clean bill and the House’s legislation, which attempted to stop President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration laws.

House Republicans are now turning their attention to the courts to oppose Obama’s executive actions. A federal judge ruled last month that Obama did not have the authority to halt the deportations. The administration quickly appealed, but several conservatives said Tuesday they now see the courts as the most effective way to halt the immigration policies.

Senate Poised to Pass DHS Funding

Erin Kelly          USA Today

WASHINGTON — The Senate appears poised to pass a homeland security spending bill before funding for the agency expires at midnight Friday.

A handful of conservative senators who object to the measure said Thursday they do not intend to use procedural moves to delay the Senate vote past the funding deadline.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Friday morning on its version of the bill.

Meanwhile, House Republicans may consider a three-week stopgap funding bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security from a partial shutdown, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., following a meeting with the House GOP Conference at the Capitol late Thursday afternoon. A vote on that measure could come Friday, according to Issa.

The stopgap measure would buy more time for House Republicans to decide how to respond to the Senate’s bill. The bill angers some House conservatives because it deletes House-passed provisions to derail President Obama’s immigration programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would not say earlier Thursday whether he will ultimately try to pass the Senate bill through the House or reattach the immigration amendments. Those amendments sparked a filibuster by Senate Democrats and have drawn a veto threat from Obama.

“We’re waiting to see what the Senate can or can’t do,” the Ohio Republican said at a news conference Thursday. “Then we’ll make decisions about how we’re going to proceed.”

The Senate this week reached a bipartisan compromise on DHS funding, but Boehner and other House leaders have not endorsed that plan so far.

Senators voted 98-2 on Wednesday to move forward on a “clean” DHS spending bill that is free of the immigration riders the House attached when it passed its funding bill for the agency last month.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered the compromise after Senate Democrats blocked passage of the House bill four times because they oppose the immigration riders. Those riders would cut off funding to carry out Obama’s executive orders to protect about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally in the USA.

A vote on a separate bill to defund Obama’s immigration actions will come after the DHS funding bill is passed, McConnell said.

A handful of conservatives who oppose separating the DHS funding bill from the immigration bill could have used procedural moves to delay a final Senate vote until Sunday — two days after the agency’s funding expires.

But Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said Thursday that they do not intend to delay the vote. They were the only two senators who voted against advancing the bill Wednesday.

“I don’t look to have any unnecessary delays in this process,” Sessions told reporters after a Republican lunch meeting.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said it is time for his GOP counterparts in the House to get the message and pass the DHS bill free of immigration provisions.

“We’ve got to fund DHS and say to the House: ‘Here’s a straw so you can suck it up,’ ” Kirk said Thursday.

If the House sends the bill back to the Senate with the immigration riders reattached, Democrats will object to creating a panel of negotiators to work out differences between the House and Senate bills, Reid said.

“We will not allow a conference to take place,” Reid told reporters Thursday. “It will not happen.”

Boehner dismissed any suggestion that he is in danger of losing his job as House speaker if he angers immigration hardliners in the House GOP caucus over the thorny immigration issue.

“No, heaven’s sake, no,” Boehner told reporters.

Some House conservatives see McConnell’s compromise as surrendering to the White House because it allows DHS to be funded without blocking Obama’s immigration actions.

But Boehner rejected Democrats’ contention that Republicans are at war with themselves over the issue.

“It is not a fight amongst Republicans,” Boehner said. “All Republicans agree that we want to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and we want to stop the president’s executive actions with regard to immigration.”

Boehner said he and McConnell get along well despite the difference in the way they are handling the DHS funding fight.

“We have two different institutions that don’t have the same body temperature every day and so we tend to try and work to narrow the differences,” Boehner said. “But sometimes there are differences. The House by nature and by design is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate. Much more.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the “gamesmanship must end” before it is too late to keep DHS funding from expiring.

“It’s about time for them to grow up and pass a bill,” Pelosi said, referring to House Republicans.

Contributing: Susan Davis

McConnell Proposes Immigration Vote to Resolve Impasse

GOP-Logo

Monday, 23 Feb 2015 09:30 PM

WASHINGTON — Days away from a Homeland Security Department shutdown, Senate Republicans sought a way out Monday by breaking contested immigration measures off the agency’s funding bill and offering them for a stand-alone vote.

It was not clear whether the gambit by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would succeed ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline to fund the department or see it shut down. It was far from certain whether it would win any Democratic support, and House conservatives remain firmly opposed to any funding bill for the Homeland Security Department that does not also overturn President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

But with Senate Democrats united against a House-passed bill that funds the agency while blocking Obama on immigration, McConnell said it was time for another approach.

“The new bill I described offers another option we can turn to. It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck from a Democrat filibuster and move the debate forward,” McConnell said on the Senate floor after a vote to advance the House-passed bill failed 47-46, short of the 60 votes needed. Three previous attempts earlier in the month had yielded similar results.

“This is our colleagues’ chance to do exactly what they led their constituents to believe they’d do: defend the rule of law, without more excuses,” McConnell said in a jab at the handful of Senate Democrats who’ve voiced opposition to Obama’s executive actions offering work permits and deportation deferrals for millions in the country illegally.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, immediately welcomed McConnell’s move, though without predicting its chances of success in the House.

“This vote will highlight the irresponsible hypocrisy of any Senate Democrat who claims to oppose President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration, but refuses to vote to stop it,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.