May 06, 2013

Menendez: Assad regime has "crossed a red line" and all options must be considered

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is moving quickly on legislation that would provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and "limited lethal and non-lethal weapons to vetted Syrian groups."

“The Assad regime has crossed a red line that forces us to consider all options,” Menendez said. “The greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in and around Syria, and the U.S. must play a role in tipping the scales toward opposition groups and working to build a free Syria.”

He insisted "there will be no greater strategic setback to Iran than to have the Assad regime collapse, and cause a disruption to the terror pipeline between Tehran and Hezbollah in Lebanon."

Here's his office's summary of his bill, which the full committee plans to begin considering next Tuesday:

Continue reading "Menendez: Assad regime has "crossed a red line" and all options must be considered " »

April 24, 2013

Inhofe: Reid sequestration plan "an irresponsible budget gimmick"

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, doesn't like the idea of cutting overseas contingency operations funding to help restore automatic spending cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is pushing the plan, but no resolution is expected this week.

Inhofe was not pleased with Reid's idea.

"Sen. Reid’s amendment to cut future Overseas Contingency Operation funding in order to offset current sequestration cuts is an irresponsible budget gimmick that undermines our national security and sends a terrible message to allies and adversaries alike at a time when we face the greatest array of threats in generations,” Inhofe said.

Here's the rest of his statement:

Continue reading "Inhofe: Reid sequestration plan "an irresponsible budget gimmick"" »

Reid pushes sequester replacement plan

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Wednesday pushed his plan to stop the automatic federal spending cuts that went into effect last month. But it was uncertain, and increasingly unlikely, the Senate will act until next month.

Reid made his case in his opening remarks to the Senate.

"We have seen the devastating impacts of these arbitrary budget cuts. Now it’s time to stop them," he said.  "Last night I introduced legislation that would roll back the sequester for the rest of the year. This bill would give Democrats and Republicans time to sit down at the negotiating table and work out an agreement to reduce the deficit in a balanced way."

Reid would pay for the restoration of funding with savings from the windown of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Before Republicans dismiss these savings, they should recall that 235 House Republicans voted to use these funds to pay for the Ryan Republican budget. They didn’t consider it a gimmick when it served their own purposes," Reid, D-Nevada, said.


March 11, 2013

Lieberman will join Jon Kyl in new bipartisan foreign policy project

Sen. Joseph Lieberman will join the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington research group, as co-chair of an effort to "rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement."

Lieberman, who represented Connecticut in the U.S. Senate before retiring earlier this year, has been considered one of the Democrats' strongest voices for a muscular defense. His co-chair at AEI will be former Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who also left the Senate in January.

"Senator Joseph Lieberman’s knowledge, deep commitment and vision for American greatness is all too rare in Washington," said AEI president Arthur C. Brooks. "The American Internationalism Project, under the leadership of Senator Lieberman and Senator Jon Kyl, is critical to opening a discussion about the challenges facing America in the coming decades--and strategizing about how to meet them."

Lieberman, the Democratic party's 2000 vice presidential nominee, had serious differences with the party over the Iraq war. Lieberman was a vocal supporter, and Democratic opposition cost him the party's 2006 Senate nomination. He ran as an independent and won, and caucused with Democrats during his term.

"There is an urgent need to rebuild a bipartisan -- indeed non-political -- consensus for American diplomatic, economic, and military leadership in the world," Lieberman said in a statement.

January 15, 2013

Inhofe, top Armed Services panel Republican, will oppose Hagel

Sen. James Inhofe, incoming top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, will oppose the nomination of former colleague Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.

"Chuck Hagel is a good person, and it was a pleasure to serve with him in the United States Senate.  I am so very appreciative of the sacrifices he and his brother made to serve this country during the Vietnam War," said Inhofe, R-Okla.

He met with Hagel Tuesday and said he told Hagel "we are simply too philosophically opposed on the issues for me to support his nomination."

Here's more from Inhofe's statement:

 “One of my biggest concerns is avoiding Obama’s sequestration that, as Secretary Panetta has said, would be devastating to our military.  However, Senator Hagel’s comments have not demonstrated that same level of concern about the pending defense cuts.

 “Senator Hagel has also been an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament and the Global Zero Movement.  At a time when North Korea is threatening our allies with their nuclear capabilities and Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it, the security of our own nation and that of our allies requires us to be vigilant with our own nuclear weapons and defense systems.  This administration has already put us in a more vulnerable position by drastically cutting our nuclear defense budget and eliminating our Third Site missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

 “On Iran and Israel, Senator Hagel’s record concerns me as well.  In 2000, he was one of just four senators who refused to sign a letter affirming U.S. solidarity with Israel.  In 2001 he was one of just two Senators who voted against extending the sanctions against Iran. A year later, he urged the Bush administration to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization.  Given the current tension in the Middle East that is largely being instigated by the Iranian regime, I am concerned with Senator Hagel’s views. 

 “Although we are opposed on issues, we are still friends.  This is one of those rare times when policy differences don’t stand in the way of personal relationships.”


September 11, 2012

On Sept. 11, Romney keeps remarks on a higher plane

 Mitt Romney tried to keep the spirit of Sept. 11 going as he spoke to the National Guard Association conference in Reno Tuesday.

"With less than two months to go before Election Day, I would normally speak to a gathering like this about the differences between my and my opponent’s plans for our military and for our national security.  There is a time and a place for that, but this day is not it," he told the audience.

"It is instead a day to express gratitude to the men and women who have fought – and who are still fighting – to protect us and our country, including those who traced the trail of terror to that walled compound in Abbottabad and the SEALs who delivered justice to Osama bin Laden."

He stressed what he said everyone could agree on -- promoting freedom, peace, and prosperity and having the United States lead the free world.

He turned to Afghanistan, where disagrees somewhat with Obama's plan.

"While the war in Iraq is over, nearly 70,000 American troops still remain in Afghanistan.  Our goal should be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.  We should evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders," Romney said. "We can all agree that our men and women in the field deserve a clear mission, that they deserve the resources and resolute leadership they need to complete that mission, and that they deserve a country that will provide for their needs when they come home. 

"Of course, the return of our troops cannot and must not be used as an excuse to hollow out our military through devastating defense budget cuts.  It is true that our armed forces have been stretched to the brink – and that is all the more reason to repair and rebuild.  We can always find places to end waste.  But we cannot cancel program after program, we cannot jeopardize critical missions, and we cannot cut corners in the quality of the equipment and training we provide." 

"We must recognize that when our troops come home, they should not have to struggle for work.  After all our veterans have done for us, they deserve the opportunity to find good jobs and the dignity of pursuing the American Dream." 

May 01, 2012

Republicans' Inhofe on Obama Afghanistan trip: "Clearly this trip is campaign related"

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Tuesday criticized President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan as a political move.

"Our troops on the front lines always appreciate a visit from the Commander-in-Chief. Obama’s last visit was in December 2010, and the last time he addressed the nation about Afghanistan was June 2011," Inhofe said. "Clearly this trip is campaign related.

"We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military."

Sen. Levin in Afghanistan

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., was in Afghanistan Tuesday to witness the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

Here's Levin's statement:

“Tonight’s agreement will help bring about an Afghanistan that is more secure from al Qaeda’s return and from Taliban domination. That is a real achievement for both our countries, for the region and for the world. It was an especially powerful moment to witness what I believe will be a big step toward ending a long war that has demanded so much sacrifice from the men and women who serve our nation and their families.”

Romney: Statesman and politician when discussing the bin Laden death anniversary

On the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is being both statesman and politician.

The statesman part was apparent Tuesday when he issued this statement:

“Today marks the one year anniversary of the mission that brought Osama bin Laden to justice. That mission was the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work and sacrifice by our men and women in the military and intelligence communities. I commend all those who planned and conducted the bin Laden raid, and I applaud President Obama for giving the go ahead for the mission. Let us never forget the thousands of innocents who perished on September 11, 2001, or the brave servicemen and women who have given their lives to defeat those who would do harm to our country. They, and their families, are forever in our thoughts and prayers.”

The more political part comes later, when he and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani visit a New York City fire station and expect to recall American efforts to fight terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

And Monday night on PBS' "Charlie Rose Show," Romney had this to say about President Barack Obama:

"I think what you’ve seen so far with the President and I won’t rehearse all of the attacks, but you began with Romney wouldn’t have gone after Osama bin Laden. These silly kinds of attacks, it’s like, what has that got to do with getting our economy going?

"Of course, I would have taken out Osama bin Laden, but what’s the right course for the economy? What should we do with taxes? What should we do with regulation? What should we do with trade overseas? What should we do with our energy policy? How about our labor policy? These are important issues people care about. The President’s not talking about them. My campaign is. And I mean, yesterday, you just had a clip of me at a fishing dock talking about the attack on small business. We need to encourage small business.”






December 22, 2011

White House condemns attacks in Iraq

From the Press Secretary: "We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis, which serve no agenda other than murder and hatred. We offer our condolences to those whose loved ones were lost or wounded. Attempts such as this to derail Iraq’s continued progress will fail. Iraq has suffered heinous attacks like this in the past, and its security forces have shown they are up to the task of responding and maintaining stability. Time and again, the Iraqi people have shown their resilience in overcoming efforts to divide them. We continue to urge leaders to come together to face common challenges.

"Vice President Biden has spoken to several senior Iraqi leaders over the past week. Today he called Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to offer our full support for his efforts, and those of other Iraqi leaders, to foster dialogue that will allow all Iraqi blocs to work through their differences together. The Vice President also reiterated the need for actions to be guided by the rule of law and Iraq’s Constitution. At this difficult time, the United States stands with Iraq as a strategic partner and a close friend."


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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