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Senators lean toward review of NSA spying program

Written by  |  Sunday, 09 June 2013 18:30  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee member said Sunday the public needs to be better informed on the scope of government phone and Internet records access.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said while the National Security Agency's vast monitoring program had been vetted by the legal system, the political uproar will linger unless the public is provided with more details on how the intelligence was collected and used.

"I'm calling for a wholesome debate all over the country," Udall said on CNN's "State of the Union. "Maybe Americans think this is all OK, but I think the line has been drawn too far toward 'we're going to invade your privacy versus we're going to respect your privacy.'"

McCain Feinstein call for closing of Guantanamo

Written by  |  Saturday, 08 June 2013 20:55  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain have called for the closing of the Guantanamo, Cuba, detention center after touring the facility.

Feinstein, D-Calif., and McCain, R-Ariz., released a joint statement with Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, who joined them on the tour Friday.

Republican rips into Holder

Written by  |  Sunday, 02 June 2013 16:00  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- A Republican congresswoman said Sunday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has "lost the trust of the American people."

Republicans have been slashing at Holder because of a U.S. Justice Department investigation of reporters over leaks of national security matters.

Though Holder has withdrawn from supervising the investigation, two U.S. attorneys have subpoenaed the phone records of Association Press employees, and looked into a Fox News report, on the grounds of national security.

Michigans Dingell to become longest-serving US Congress member

Written by  |  Sunday, 02 June 2013 15:50  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is set to become the U.S. Congress' longest-serving member on Friday, records show.

Dingell, 86, of Dearborn, has represented the state in the House -- in the past, as speaker -- since Dec. 13, 1955, and has no immediate plans to retire, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday.

Dingell will surpass the late Robert Byrd of West Virginia -- who served as a House member from 1953 to 1959 and as a senator from 1959 to 2010 -- as the longest-serving member of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann won't seek re-election

Written by  |  Monday, 27 May 2013 17:29  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a Tea Party movement leader in Congress, announced Wednesday she wouldn't seek re-election.

"After a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term," Bachmann said in a video posted on her campaign website. "After serious consideration, I am confident this is the right decision."

She said the constitutional limit of eight years in office imposed on the president also was "long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district."

Todays GOP would have nixed Reagan Bob Dole says

Written by  |  Sunday, 26 May 2013 19:30  |  Published in POLITICS
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WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Republican Party has become so extreme it would reject GOP icon Ronald Reagan, former presidential candidate Bob Dole says.

"They ought to put a sign on the [Republican] National Committee doors that says 'Closed for Repairs' until New Year's Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas," the former Senate majority leader told "Fox News Sunday."

"Reagan wouldn't have made it. Certainly [Richard] Nixon couldn't have made it, because he had ideas. And we might have made it," the former Kansas senator said of his vintage of Republican, "but I doubt it."

"I just consider myself a Republican -- none of this hyphenated stuff," he said. "I was a mainstream conservative Republican, and most people are in that category."

Reagan was president from 1981 to 1989 and is widely credited with generating an ideological renaissance on the American political right. Nixon was president from 1969 to 1974 and is the only U.S. president to resign the office.

Dole, who turns 90 July 22, described Nixon as "brilliant" but a "criminal" who "could have been a great president -- he just threw it away."

Dole, in the Senate from 1969 to 1996 and the House from 1961 to 1969, criticized Washington's divisive standoff.

"It seems to be almost unreal that we can't get together on a budget or legislation," he said.

Those in office during his time "weren't perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done," he said, adding the Senate filibuster, used to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote, was being abused, "no doubt about it."

But Republican lawmakers aren't the only ones at fault for Washington's dysfunction, Dole told the program.

"The American people ... are partly at fault," he said.

Voters overwhelmingly say in opinion surveys they want spending cuts, Dole said, but they want those cuts only to apply to others.

"If you leave me, exempt me, I'm all for you," he said, referring to voters voicing support for fiscal conservatives.

"But if you cut something they have an interest in, they're over you like a wet blanket," Dole said. "They surely don't want to cut Medicare or Social Security."

Dole, who was the 1996 Republican presidential nominee who lost to incumbent Bill Clinton, also criticized President Barack Obama for Washington's deterioration, saying he hasn't worked closely enough with Congress to solve the country's problems.

"I'm not a critic of the president, but I think one mistake he's made was not getting together more with Congress earlier on, in his first administration," Dole said.

"There's nothing like knowing the person you're talking to on the telephone if you've had an opportunity to sit down with that person and visit, not about anything, but just visit," he said.

He called Obama "very articulate," but said, "As a president, he lacks communication skills with his own party, let alone the Republican Party. And he's on the road too much."

House sidesteps Obama on Keystone XL

Written by  |  Saturday, 25 May 2013 09:07  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama was the last obstacle to getting the Keystone XL oil pipeline built through the country, the chairman of a House committee said.

The House of Representatives passed the Northern Route Approval Act on a vote of 241-175, largely along party lines. Nineteen Democrats voted in favor of a measure that takes the Keystone XL decision out of the administration's hands.

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., sponsor of the bill, said there's been enough vetting of the project in more than four years and it was time to approve the pipeline.

Keystone XL needs federal approval as a cross-border project.

Holder Issa clash on Perez

Written by  |  Wednesday, 15 May 2013 07:53  |  Published in POLITICS
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WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and a top Republican got testy Wednesday over Thomas Perez, nominated to head the Labor Department.

Perez is the outgoing head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about several controversies that have erupted in recent days.

Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., played a recording at the hearing purporting to show Perez offering to withdraw the United States from a whistle-blower suit. Issa is a frequent critic of Perez.

Issa claimed Perez acted inappropriately in getting St. Paul, Minn., city officials to drop a lawsuit seeking to limit fair housing claims when intentional bias is missing -- trading the government withdrawal from the whistle-blower suit for the ending the St. Paul suit.

Issa repeatedly interrupted Holder's long answers to questions, demanding a yes or no.

At one point, Holder refused to stop talking and described Issa's method of questioning as "unacceptable" and "shameful" for a congressman.

A Senate panel was scheduled to hold a hearing on Perez' nomination Thursday.

Republicans on the committee attacked Holder on a number of fronts, from abortion to the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings.

GOP out to bully Clinton from White House run Axelrod says

Written by  |  Wednesday, 15 May 2013 08:11  |  Published in POLITICS
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WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- David Axelrod said Wednesday Republicans are attempting to bully Hillary Clinton out of running for president by attacking her on the Benghazi incident.

Speaking on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe," Axelrod, President Barack Obama's former chief political strategist, called "the Benghazi flare-up right now as throwing a high, hard one at Hillary Clinton to try and dissuade her from running for president. I really think that's a lot of what's motivating what's going on."

Republicans have sought to hold Clinton, widely regarded as the Democratic front runner in the 2016 presidential election, responsible for attack last year on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. They argue more could have been done to protect the consulate, and that the administration was not truthful about the nature of the attack, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Wednesday.

Reid House Republicans have truly lost their minds

Written by  |  Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:55  |  Published in POLITICS

WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday "House Republicans have truly lost their minds" under a popular definition of insanity.

Reid, speaking of House GOP leaders' plan to hold a 37th vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act -- commonly known as "Obamacare" -- cited a statement often attributed to Albert Einstein, that insanity is defined as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

"If that's true, the House Republicans have truly lost their minds," Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Noting that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the 2012 election "Obamacare is the law of the land," Reid said, "Tea Party extremists bullied the speaker into holding another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and roll back benefits for tens of millions of Americans."

Reid pointed out Boehner had said last week 70 freshmen members of Congress who had not previously had an opportunity to cast a vote to repeal the healthcare reform law have "been asking for an opportunity to vote on it."

He said House Republicans "will waste this week on yet another dead-end repeal vote."

"Perhaps Republicans think the 37th time is the charm." Reid said.

Citing a CBS News analysis putting the cost of the repeal votes at "$52.4 million and counting," Reid said that was enough money "to restore funding for 19 million meals for homebound seniors or 6,900 children dropped from the Head Start program" under federal spending cuts known as the sequester.

"Fortunately, Republicans' latest repeal effort -- their latest exercise in insanity, as described by Albert Einstein -- is doomed to fail like all the others," he said.

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(C) 2013 Theodore Myles