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Posts Tagged ‘Senate’
August 25th, 2014 at 7:06 pm
Pro-Amnesty Congressman: ‘Get Ready’ for Obama Executive Order

One of Congress’ biggest amnesty boosters is telling allies to “get ready” for a presidential announcement that could shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), an amnesty supporter who called on fellow Hispanics to “sign up to vote and punish those who speak ill and criminalize children who come to our border,” expects to hear very soon that President Barack Obama will issue an executive order to effectively legalize half of the United States’ illegal immigrant population.

“It’s music to my ears that someone would have a source at the White House that say it’s 5 million,” Gutierrez said on MSNBC today. “Let me just say, tomorrow, the next day, and all of this week we’re getting ready.”

By “getting ready,” Gutierrez means preparing to process 5 million quasi-legal residents into semi-permanent status. The problem is, Gutierrez has no idea what those structures will look like – or how they’ll be funded – because Congress has refused to pass any type of immigration reform that includes amnesty or anything like it.

Perhaps President Obama will opt for the complex “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status outlined in the Senate Gang of Eight bill that died in the House of Representatives. After all, Gutierrez and other amnesty supporters have “urged Obama to legalize all of the illegal immigrants that would have qualified under the Senate’s amnesty bill,” reports Breitbart News. If Obama can achieve the same policy goal as Congress, why can’t he do it using the same policy means?

Besides, just because the legislative branch won’t pass a law doesn’t prohibit the executive from doing whatever he wants, right?

Today, Gutierrez may be gleeful at the prospect of Obama violating the Constitution to benefit his pet issue, but he should remember: Once you brush aside the separation-of-powers, there’s no check on tyranny. Tomorrow, you lose.

August 4th, 2014 at 2:21 pm
Obama’s CIA Caught Spying on Congress

Obama’s CIA Director was caught lying to Congress about spying on a Senate investigative committee, and so far it looks like his only punishment will be an apology tour.

In March, CIA Director John Brennan took issue with a line of questioning by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) alleging that the agency had hacked into a computer system used by Senate investigators. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that,” he said.

His cover blown, Brennan is facing bipartisan calls for his resignation. Despite his earlier claim, the embattled director is hoping his apology will quiet the critics and spare him the same fate as David Petraeus, his predecessor who was hounded from office by revelations of an extra-marital affair.

I’m no fan of firing people to make a point, but one does wonder what Congress could and should do now that the CIA – an executive branch agency – has been shown to be spying on a portion of the legislative branch.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds provides some answers.

“Congress can, of course, charge Brennan with contempt of Congress, or refer him for prosecution under the False Statements Act. But in both cases, the decision to prosecute would be made by Attorney General Eric Holder, who seems to see his role not as administering justice, but as running interference for the Obama administration and protecting its officials from consequences.”

Perhaps better, then, to make the agency as a whole feel the brunt of punishment for acting badly. “Probably the best that Congress can do is to punish the entire CIA by using its budgetary power to make employees’ lives worse: Cutting back on bonuses, raises, conferences, and other perks.”

None of these answers are completely satisfying. Punishing everyone for the misdeeds of a few can be precisely as unjust as the initial bad act. The truth is we want and need competent, honest public servants whose tenure in office won’t trigger massive expenditures of time and money cleaning up their messes. Until the man in the Oval Office sets a better example for following the rule of law, we’ll likely continue to see his subordinates faithlessly executing their duties.

May 14th, 2014 at 12:56 pm
Add Sasse to the Senate’s Tea Party

The U.S. Senate’s Tea Party caucus will soon get a lot of Sasse.

Ben Sasse, that is.

Last night the 42 year old president of Midland University won the Nebraska GOP’s U.S. Senate primary election with 48 percent of the vote in a four-way race.

In deep-red Nebraska, Sasse is expected to win the November general election easily, and take his persona as a conservative health policy wonk with him.

Running hard against ObamaCare, Sasse convinced Republican primary voters that his background in health policy (Assistant Secretary at HHS under George W. Bush), his stint as a top flight business consultant for McKinsey and his turnaround success at Midland qualify him to work alongside the likes of other conservative reformers like Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

And like most of these, Sasse has ruffled some establishment feathers along the way. He angered Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky by accepting the endorsement and financial support of the Senate Conservatives Fund – a political action group that is helping McConnell’s primary opponent.

Winning changes everything though. Yesterday as it became apparent Sasse would win, he pledged to support McConnell as Leader, and McConnell’s camp reciprocated with some mostly nice words of encouragement.

If both Sasse and McConnell make it to the Senate in 2015, expect them to work well together.

For those unfamiliar with Sasse, a profile some months ago in the Weekly Standard provides excellent background reading.

Even if Sasse wins and retains Nebraska’s seat for the GOP, Republicans still need to capture 6 Democrat-held seats to win control of the U.S. Senate.

If that happens, expect Sasse to be the most visible and vocal freshman since, well, his soon-to-be Senate Tea Party colleagues.

January 13th, 2014 at 5:53 pm
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Constitutionally Suspect Recess Appointments Case

Two years ago President Barack Obama decided to appoint three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, even though none of them could clear the U.S. Senate.

Blocked from getting what he wanted, President Obama installed the nominees anyway, arguing that the Senate was on recess; a move allowed under the U.S. Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.

There was just one little problem. The Senate had not recessed.

Republicans in the chamber anticipated Obama’s move and negotiated an agreement with majority Democrats to keep the Senate open every three days during the Christmas and New Year’s break in order to conduct business. Thus, as far as the Senate’s own records are concerned, the body never went on recess. By refusing to give its consent, the chamber, in effect, told Obama to nominate three new people.

He declined.

The fight now is before the Supreme Court, which today heard oral arguments from the Obama administration and counsel representing 45 members of the Senate Republican caucus, among others.

While there are a host of arcane and at times interesting constitutional questions to consider this particular case boils down to whether the Court thinks the President or the Senate has the final say as to when the Senate is in session.

The answer should seem obvious, but don’t underestimate the Court’s ability to choose wrongly.

Victory for President Obama in this suit would be a body blow to the Constitution. The Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ role is designed to ensure that only those qualified for high governmental service actually serve in such posts. Yes, the confirmation process is political, but that’s the name of the game when one is a political appointee. Sometimes you lose.

Once again, we have an instance where President Obama, unwilling to compromise, is trying to impose his will by fiat, constitutional processes be damned.

The Court’s ruling is expected in late June. For the good of the republic, it should find a way to rein in an out-of-control executive.

November 19th, 2013 at 6:20 pm
Of Obama’s 27 Senate Dem Accomplices, 3 Might Lose Their Seats in 2014

Byron York has a potential sneak peak at some of the most devastating political ads in the upcoming 2014 election.

It’s a list of Democratic U.S. Senators parroting President Barack Obama’s promise that “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.”

The list comes with names, dates and the exact phrasing from 27 current Democratic Senators, courtesy of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Among those profiled, three are in tight reelection fights ahead of 2014: Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) and Kay Hagan (North Carolina).

If you live in one of these states, expect to see and hear the following statement as the campaign season heats up:

SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-Alaska): “If you got a doctor now, you got a medical professional you want, you get to keep that. If you have an insurance program or a health care policy you want of ideas, make sure you keep it. That you can keep who you want.” (Sen. Begich, Townhall Event, 7/27/09)

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-La.): “If you like the insurance that you have, you’ll be able to keep it.” (MSNBC’s Hardball, 12/16/09)

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-N.C.): ‘People who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it’ “We need to support the private insurance industry so that people who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it while also providing a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage.” (“Republicans Vent As Other Compromise Plans Get Aired,” National Journal’s Congress Daily, 6/18/09)

November 13th, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Boehner Nixes Immigration Deal on Senate Gang’s Bill

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is pulling the plug on the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration,” said Boehner, according to the Washington Times. “The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I’ll make clear we had no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”

That last line about having “no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill” might come as a surprise to those who remember the viability of that option prior to freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) unleashing a public and private remonstrance against it.

I’m sure there were a lot of factors that went into Boehner’s decision to put the kibosh on the Senate’s version of immigration; not least of which is politics. Immigration reform splits the GOP to the advantage of Democrats. Focusing on all of Obamacare’s failures unites Republicans ahead of the critical 2014 midterm elections.

Whatever the weight given to individual factors, it’s good to see House Republicans opting for unity over division. On both issues, the conservative perspective wins.

October 16th, 2013 at 4:11 pm
If I Were in the House of Reps…..

I would vote “no” on the Senate deal. I would insist that without a delay of at least six months in the ObamaCare individual mandate, I would not vote for it. In the end, it is the president who must make sure that the nation doesn’t go into default. He can only do so by meeting halfway with the House that holds the power of the purse. The failed ObamaCare rollout has proved that it makes no sense to require somebody to enroll in something they literally cannot enroll in, because the government isn’t ready to have them enroll. No, no, no.

September 23rd, 2013 at 5:31 pm
Senate Immigration Bill to Help Illegals Convicted of Other Crimes

Here’s the immigration reform version of “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Speaking to attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, Esther Olavarria, the White House’s director of immigration reform, highlighted some provisions of the Senate’s bill that she would like the public to ignore.

Making it easier for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes to stay in the country got special attention.

In Olavarria’s telling, the Senate bill reverses a 1996 law that says any criminal conviction can serve as the basis for deportation. The new language would exempt convictions followed by a suspended sentence, meaning that deportation would not be an option if the offender gets probation instead of jail time.

Bear in mind, the conviction referred to is for a crime separate from illegally entering the country.

Thus, if passed, the Senate bill would not only excuse the foundational illegality of unlawfully entering the country, it would further protect from prosecution those who have been convicted, but not yet served jail time.

But if you haven’t heard about this controversial change in law, Olavarria explains why.

“We haven’t played [them] up because we want to be able to maintain them as we go through the legislative process,” she told the conference attendees. “The bill has a number of other important provisions that have stayed under the radar, and we’d actually like to keep them under the radar.”

That’s because the White House knows it can’t win an open and honest debate about granting illegal immigrants not one, but (at least) two free passes when it comes to breaking the law.

This subterfuge is yet another reason to scrap the Senate’s bill and start over.

H/T: The Daily Caller

September 4th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Senate Lying to Self with ‘Tailored’ Syria Resolution

A highly regarded separation of powers expert says the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s oddly worded resolution to authorize military force in Syria might be more expansive than its drafters intend, according to the Washington Times.

At issue is the resolution’s use of the words “limited and tailored” in the phrase giving President Barack Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria…”

Louis Fisher, a former long-time expert at the Congressional Research Service and author of a leading treatise on presidential war powers, says the word choice is unprecedented and could be so vague that it creates space for an escalation.

“What could possibly be the meaning of ‘limited and tailored’? I doubt if I’ve ever seen the word ‘tailored’ in a bill,” Fisher told the paper. “Even if the ‘intent’ of Congress is a limited war, war has its own momentum.”

In other words, use of the word ‘tailored’ in the resolution can mean anything to the clever lawyers who will twist it however they please, so in reality that word, and any limiting effect it is designed to have, is meaningless.

It is impossible for me to imagine that the people drafting this resolution don’t know this. Therefore, it seems almost certain that the underlying intent here is to sound like they are limiting the President’s options while in fact not doing so at all.

If we’re going to bomb Syria then we are going to war with Syria. If that’s in America’s national security interest, Congress should declare it in unambiguous language.

To my mind it’s better to do nothing than to say something that means nothing.

Otherwise, Congress is just lying to itself so that it can act outraged when the President uses the resolution to wage a war the Senate and House impliedly authorized.

July 22nd, 2013 at 5:30 pm
Elizabeth Warren Errs Again with ‘Stand Your Ground’ Comment

If you wanted to know what a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts thinks about a Florida murder trial, the Huffington Post has you covered.

Speaking to the press in South Boston today, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that while she thinks people should accept George Zimmerman’s acquittal in Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, it is reasonable to criticize ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws.

Except that it’s completely unreasonable in Zimmerman’s case. As I pointed out in my column last week, Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law played absolutely no part in the trial for either the prosecution or the defense. Instead, Zimmerman argued that once Martin started beating him he was entitled to use deadly force to defend himself. Zimmerman relied on traditional self-defense, not ‘Stand Your Ground’ – a law which drops the requirement that a person reasonably fearing death or great bodily injury must first try to escape before engaging his attacker.

This isn’t the first time Senator Warren has played fast and loose with the facts. For decades she (at best) made misleading assertions about her alleged Native American ancestry, allowing her to get plumb academic jobs at Penn and Harvard Law ahead of other more qualified candidates. Earlier this year, Warren claimed that her brother lived solely on his Social Security checks – a claim she walked back after admitting that she and her millionaire husband give him assistance.

And so on with today’s politicization of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Warren, like other liberal elites, is turning a tragedy into an activist agenda to repeal a law that played no part in Martin’s death. It would be comical if it didn’t betray a serious disregard for reality. Warren and friends need to stop directing anger at the wrong source, and start acting with the competence and prudence their high offices demand.

July 19th, 2013 at 5:49 pm
Senate Dem Using ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearings to Target ALEC, NRA

In the days since a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, liberal politicians and pundits have tried to argue that without the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law providing a defense, Zimmerman would be guilty.

The problem with this argument is that Zimmerman’s lawyers never invoked ‘Stand Your Ground’ as a defense in the trial. ‘Stand Your Ground’ was irrelevant to the verdict.

But that hasn’t stopped liberals like Attorney General Eric Holder from using the mere existence of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws as a pretext for unmerited lawsuits. In a speech to the NAACP this week, Holder encouraged members of the NAACP to agitate for the repeal of such laws in the 30+ states where they exist.

Now, Congress is upping the ante.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) is promising to hold congressional hearings about the effects of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, including such topics as “when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix,” according to a press release.

Amid all the racially charged theater, Durbin also announced what has to be his real motive behind the hearings – scrutinizing the roles that the NRA and ALEC played in promoting ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation.

Durbin has no right to subject either organization to an investigative fishing expedition designed to criticize private groups for exercising their First Amendment rights. If Durbin follows through with his threat, someone in the Senate GOP needs to throw some brush-back pitches in Dick’s direction. After the politician-inspired IRS scandal, it’s time for liberals to be held accountable for their wild-eyed accusations.

July 18th, 2013 at 12:55 pm
On Immigration, Rubio Seems to Lack Conviction

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is surprisingly mum about whether House Republicans should pass, amend or kill his signature legislative achievement this year: Comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes up to 11 million illegal immigrants before securing the border.

According to an interview with Politico, Rubio said the House GOP deserves “the time and space… to come up with their ideas about how to reform immigration – and I hope they will – but that’s up to them.” But while Rubio obviously wants to create some distance between himself and a bill that his conservative base hates, now is precisely the time to put his influence to work if he really believes that his immigration reform is the right thing to do.

As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a co-author with Rubio on the bill says, “If he’s got some influence in the House, now is a good time to use it.”

That Rubio is refusing to gives the strong impression that much of his support for the Senate’s version of immigration reform is more about politics than policy. Now that his 2016 presidential aspirations look endangered because of his stance on immigration, the rising conservative is looking to bolster his image by talking about fiscal responsibility and social issues.

But the problem remains that his performance on immigration – for the bill when it seems to help him, against or at least ambivalent toward it when it hurts – indicates his most important criteria is whether a particular stance propels him closer to the White House.

That’s a fine way to operate if one is a paid consultant looking for any advantage to climb the ladder, but it’s the exact opposite of what people expect from a statesman. Rubio helped pass and craft the Senate’s immigration bill, so he either needs to defend it to the death or disown it for principled reasons. Enough calculating. Make a decision and own it.

June 28th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Passed in Senate, Gang’s Immigration Reform Will Die in the House

After the bipartisan back-slapping subsides, the Senators who passed the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill yesterday know one thing for sure – the House Republicans will ignore it.

In place of the ‘comprehensive’ scheme favored by the Senate, the House GOP is already making progress in passing piecemeal legislation that tackles specific immigration issues.

And, unlike the backroom deals used by the Senate Gang and its supporters, the House process is using an open and transparent committee process, reports National Review.

Last week, [House Immigration Committee Chairman Bob] Goodlatte approved two bills out of committee, an interior enforcement bill and an agricultural guest-worker program. This week, he is moving one bill to expand E-Verify nationwide and to reform the high-skill-visa system.

Breaking up a big issue like immigration reform into its constituent parts is the clearest and best way to solve problems. Focusing on specific policies and programs allows Members of Congress – and, just as importantly, the American public – to get their head around the main goal and the means to achieve it.

Kudos to the House GOP for treating the American people, and immigration reform, with the attention and respect they deserve.

June 25th, 2013 at 6:26 pm
Left & Right Agree: Immigration Bill Hurts Workers

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has been telling anyone who will listen that the immigration reform bill set to pass the U.S. Senate will hurt low-skill and entry-level workers. Flood the market with millions of cheap labor, and the results will be a dip in wages and a scarcity of jobs.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agrees. This week Sanders, the Socialist who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, got the Gang of Eight and their allies to include a program that will fund summer jobs for American youths (ages 16-24) displaced by the wave of legalized immigrants once the reform becomes law.

Cost to taxpayers: $1.5 billion over two years.

The Sanders program is one of the price-spiking changes made by the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

Besides the cost, including the provision undermines the Gang’s argument that legalizing 11 million people won’t have a negative impact on current legal workers.

If this bill becomes law, it’s almost certain that this won’t be Congress’ last attempt to spend its way out of an unemployment problem it is choosing to create.

H/T: Byron York

June 4th, 2013 at 2:36 pm
Rubio Sending Mixed Messages on Immigration Reform

So, will he or won’t be vote for his Gang of Eight’s version of comprehensive immigration reform?

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is starting to sound like a politician who knows he miscalculated on the public’s support for a legalization first approach to fixing America’s broken immigration system.

Consider these two statements from the Florida lawmaker as quoted by The Hill:

“There will have to be improvements [to the Gang’s bill],” Rubio said [after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it without substantial changes]. “Because the good thing is the American people, the vast majority of them throughout the political spectrum, have clearly said that they are prepared to responsibly deal with those that are here illegally, but they are only willing to do so if we can take measures that ensure that this problem will never happen again in the future. And so, if we can make sure we put in place enforcement mechanisms and a guest worker program that ensures this will never happen again in the future, we’re going to have responsible immigration reform. And if we don’t have that, then we won’t have immigration reform.”

But on Monday of this week, Rubio is sounding a different tune when explaining to a constituent why reform couldn’t be piecemeal as Republicans in the House of Representatives want:

“I give you my word, that if this issue becomes one of those old-fashioned Washington issues where they start horse trading, one part of it for another part of it,” Rubio said in a video response to a constituent’s concern. “If each of these are not dealt with as separate issues even though they are dealt with in one bill, then I won’t be able to support that anymore.”

The problem with immigration though is that it is complex because it is all interwoven,” Rubio said. “It’s all related to each other. It’s literally impossible to do one part without doing the other.”

So, which is it? Is immigration reform as the Gang envisions it in need of major changes to make it acceptable to the House, or is it a done deal that can’t be amended?

I suspect the answer for Rubio is both. The Gang’s bill as-is does not secure the border first, and therefore – among many other serious problems – will be dead on arrival when it hits the House, as it should be. The problem for Rubio, though, is that he is one of the Gang members, making him a co-author of everything that’s in the bill.  To walk away from it now, without any big changes, would indicate that his real problem with the bill is that it’s not popular. What conservatives want instead is for him to oppose it because, as written, it’s wrong on the merits.

Personally, I like Marco Rubio and hope he can find an honorable way to disassociate himself from the Gang of Eight, so that he can be a Senate champion for immigration reform that puts security and enforcement before amnesty.

It’ll be tough, but it’s worth the effort.

May 28th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Senate Republicans Petition Supreme Court to Smack Down Obama’s NLRB Appointments

It looks like there could be a Supreme Court showdown over whether President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board back in January.

All 45 Senate Republicans have filed a friend of the court brief asking the justices to uphold the D.C. and Second Court’s rulings that the president did just that. The Obama administration, of course, disagrees and wants to high court to reverse.

The constitutional question to be answered is whether the Senate or the President gets to decide when the former is in recess, and thus when the President can make recess appointments to bypass the Constitution’s advice and consent requirement.

Important? You betcha.

As the NLRB case shows, if the President gets to decide when the Senate is in recess then the advice and consent requirement becomes effectively a voluntary procedural hoop that the President can choose to ignore whenever a nominee can’t get the necessary votes for confirmation. Such a development would effectively nullify the Senate’s only real quality control measure in staffing the executive branch.

There’s also an added bonus. If the Court accepts the case, it will be one of the few decisions that deal with actual constitutional text, instead of the “penumbras” and other implied meanings that the justices have imported over the years.

Then again, that may be why this case gets snubbed.

H/T: Politico

April 26th, 2013 at 1:12 pm
House GOP to Make Immigration Reform Intelligible

The Los Angeles Times has a good piece outlining how House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a former immigration attorney whose committee has jurisdiction over immigration laws, is planning to contribute to the reform debate begun by the Senate’s Gang of Eight proposal.

In contrast to the Gang’s sprawling 844 pages, Goodlatte is opting for much smaller pieces of legislation that deal with specific issues, such as a guest worker program, border security, and expanding use of E-Verify among employers.

Goodlatte’s process also has another feature that commends it – education for deliberation.

“At the same time, however, the House bills could provide an important educational exercise for many newer GOP lawmakers as they learn the complexities of the immigration debate. Many Republicans represent congressional districts that have very small Latino or immigrant populations, leaving them unfamiliar with the issue. Republican leaders, however, believe that passing immigration reform legislation is vital to their future electoral strategy of attracting Latino voters.

“Goodlatte and others have been conducting study sessions attended by 100 Republican lawmakers to bring them up to speed on immigration issues.”

A big part of Paul Ryan’s popularity is derived from his emphasis on explaining how the current federal system works, where it needs to be fixed, and what solutions will fix the problems. Just like Ryan, Goodlatte seems to realize that Members of Congress, and the public too, will benefit from getting more time, more information, and more debate about how to fix our broken immigration system.

Besides, as ObamaCare has shown, there’s no virtue in “comprehensive” reform if its parts are unintelligible and unworkable. Better to get the policy right the first time.

April 9th, 2013 at 5:21 pm
Obama DHS Caught Misleading Congress About Border Crossing Data

Here’s everything you need to know about the corruption of border security under Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, helpfully summarized in two stats and one quote by Byron York.

“According to internal reports, Border Patrol agents used the airborne radar to help find and detain 1,874 people in the Sonora Desert between October 1 [2012] and January 17 [2013],” reported the Los Angeles Times last week. “But the radar system spotted an additional 1,962 people in the same area who evaded arrest and disappeared into the United States.”

That means officers caught fewer than half of those who made the crossing in that part of Arizona. If those results are representative of other sectors of the border, then everything the administration has said about border security is wrong.

“These revelations are in stark contrast to the administration’s declaration that the border is more secure than ever due to greater resources having been deployed to the region, and that lower rates of apprehensions signify fewer individuals are crossing,” Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote in an April 5 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

New information is coming to light almost daily as members of Congress try to assess whether the federal agencies responsible for ensuring the integrity of America’s borders are, in fact, doing their job.

These revelations of malfeasance are compounded by the secretive deliberations of the so-called “Gang of Eight” as they haggle over an estimated 1,500 page version of comprehensive immigration reform that Democrats are trying to rush through the Senate without formal debate.

The more we learn about how badly the Department of Homeland Security is failing to police the border, the less congressional Republicans should entertain any thoughts about comprehensive immigration reform.

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Tom Coburn Axes Taxpayer Money for Absurd Research

From Quin’s lips to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s ears…

Yesterday, Quin highlighted one of the many wasteful uses of taxpayer money funded by the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency that subsidizes some pretty dubious projects. (Such as the sex lives of ducks.)

Also yesterday Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma and a committed budget cutter, persuaded a majority of his Senate colleagues to limit NSF political science grants to only those studies that are certified as “promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

Citing just one example, Coburn said that “There is no reason to spend $251,000 studying Americans’ attitudes toward the U.S. Senate when citizens can figure that out for free.”

As I understand it, Coburn’s amendment only curtails political science-related research, meaning that the project Quin cited may still be allowed going forward. Even so, it’s a hopeful sign that Coburn established a precedent for at least one part of the federal budget that aligns national spending with the (true) national interest.

March 21st, 2013 at 8:54 pm
House Passes Ryan Budget 3.0

It’s a busy week on Capitol Hill for votes on the federal budget. Earlier today, House Republicans passed the third iteration of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity plan, 221-207.

In past years, House passage of Ryan’s plan would be the first, and last, serious congressional action on the federal budget, since Senate Democrats refused to support President Barack Obama’s proposal or submit one of their own.

But not this year. Tomorrow, Senate Democrats will begin debate on their first budget outline in four years. As an added twist, the Democrats will offer amendments that resemble Ryan’s plan to see if Senate Republicans will go on the record to support it.

Voting will likely stretch into the wee hours of Saturday morning before Congress adjourns for a two week recess.

Politics aside, the Miami Herald shows just how far apart the sides are from a bipartisan resolution:

Total spending

Senate Democrats: $46.5 trillion

House Republicans: $41.7 trillion

Total revenue

Senate Democrats: $41.2 trillion

House Republicans: $40.2 trillion

10-year deficit

Senate Democrats: $5.4 trillion

House Republicans: $1.4 trillion

National debt at end of 2023

Senate Democrats: $24.4 trillion

House Republicans: $20.3 trillion

Social Security

Senate Democrats: $11.3 trillion

House Republicans: $11.3 trillion

Medicare

Senate Democrats: $6.8 trillion

House Republicans: $6.7 trillion

Health, including Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Senate Democrats: $6.6 trillion

House Republicans: $4.0 trillion

Check out the entire list here.