August 01, 2013

Boehner talks about Snowden

House Speaker John Boehner says it's up to President Barack Obama how to engage Russian President Vladmir Putin over the Edward Snowden matter.

Snowden, who leaked documents about secret American data gathering programs, was granted temporary asylum Thursday in Russia.

Here's the exchange with Boehner, R-Ohio, at his weekly news conference:

Q. Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport.  Senator McCain put out a statement saying that it's a slap in the face of America (and) fundamentally changes our relationship with Russia.  What do you think? 

SPEAKER BOEHNER:  Mr. Snowden's actions have hurt the ability of our country to protect our citizens.  And I would hope that President Obama would engage President Putin on this issue and resolve it in a way that's satisfactory to the American people. 

Q:  Could you be more specific?  Engage in what way?  I mean, how?   

SPEAKER BOEHNER:  I'll let him decide -- I'll let him decide the best way to engage the president.

July 25, 2013

Boehner spokesman hopes NSA vote will be "wake-up call to the White House"

In the wake of Wednesday's close vote to curb the National Security Agency's data collection programs, House Speaker John Boehner's office is warning the White House to be more forthcoming.

"Last night, the House defeated an amendment that would have gutted the president’s NSA surveillance program. It required a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats," said press secretary Brendan Buck. "The Speaker opposed the amendment, but allowed a vote as part of his commitment to run a more open House.  We’re pleased the amendment failed, because – as the Speaker has said repeatedly – this program is important to our national security and saves American lives."

But Buck noted, "The vote was close. Closer than it should have been. That’s because the president continues to demonstrate a troubling reluctance to sufficiently defend this program.  Like it or not, it is the president’s responsibility to explain – regularly and repeatedly if needed – the program’s focus, scope, and necessity to the American people.

"Hopefully this vote will serve as a wake-up call to the White House. Hopefully the president will now consider making a real, consistent effort to explain what would be at risk if this type of national security program went away. This is an obligation the president has and one only he can fulfill. Hopefully he’s up to it."

July 23, 2013

Senate intelligence panel leaders urge House not to defund NSA programs

The Senate Intelligence Committee's top ranking members Tuesday warned the House of Representatives to resist an effort to defund certain domestic surveillance programs.

A vote could come as soon as Wednesday.

“The FISA business records program has contributed to disrupting numerous terrorist attacks against our nation. It has been reviewed and authorized by all three branches of government and is subject to strict controls," said Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., in a statement.

"Since the public disclosure of the business records program, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has explored how the program can be modified to add extra privacy protections without sacrificing its effectiveness. We believe this debate in the congressional Intelligence and Judiciary committees should conitnue and that any amendments to defund the program on appropriations bill would be unwise."

July 22, 2013

Congress' Latino-Jewish caucus weighs in on immigration

The Latino-Jewish congressional caucus offered its views Monday on immigration, noting that "Latino and Jewish communities in the U.S. share interests and values that have been defined by their unique immigrant experiences which often navigate diverse identities, nationalities and cultures."

The House of Representativies is considering a series of measures. No timetable has been set for votes, but one that is unlikely is a vote on the Senate legislation to create a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The bipartisan Latino-Jewish group, launched two years ago, does mention a path to citizenship in its statement.

Here are its key points:

"In both communities, immigrants resettled in the United States with the hope of securing a better future for their families. Both Jewish and Latino immigrants have struggled to overcome discrimination and find a balance between integrating into the American culture and preserving their rich heritage. Our communities have built strong coalitions across a number of issues, based on this common historical experience; nowhere is that more evident than in our mutual work on immigration issues and reforming our nation’s broken immigration system.

Continue reading "Congress' Latino-Jewish caucus weighs in on immigration" »

July 21, 2013

Boehner: "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal"

The test of success in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner said Sunday, is how many laws are taken off the books.

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create.  We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal," the Ohio Republican told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don't do commemorative bills on the floor, we don't do all that nonsense.  We deal with what the American people want us to deal with."

That can be unpopular, Boehner conceded. "Why?" he asked. "We're in a divided government.  We're fighting for what we believe in.  Sometimes, you know, the American people don't like this mess.

"It's not about me.  It's not about what I want.  What I'm -- what I've committed to when I became speaker was to a more open and fair process.  And as difficult as this issue is, me taking a hard position for or against some of these issues will make it harder for us to get a bill."

Boehner talked about his leadership style, which involves letter the House work its will.

Continue reading "Boehner: "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal"" »

July 10, 2013

House GOP leaders: Republicans will pursue immigration overhaul step by step

House of Representatives Republicans met for two and a half hours Wednesday to discuss immigration, and afterwards, participants described the mood as polite, though no agreements were reached.

Here's a post-meeting statement from House Republican leaders, led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

"Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system.

"The American people want our border secured, our laws enforced, and the problems in our immigration system fixed to strengthen our economy. But they don’t trust a Democratic-controlled Washington, and they’re alarmed by the president’s ongoing insistence on enacting a single, massive, Obamacare-like bill rather than pursuing a step-by-step, common-sense approach to actually fix the problem. "

The president has also demonstrated he is willing to unilaterally delay or ignore significant portions of laws he himself has signed, raising concerns among Americans that this administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate."

Poll shows Americans see Snowden as whistleblower, not traitor

Edward Snowden is a whistleblower, not a traitor, say a majority of Americans in a new Quinnipiac poll.

By 55-34 percent, the public sees Snowden, who leaked documents detailing government programs that collect massive amounts of data from Americans, as someone exposing government secrets but not betraying his country.

The poll also found that by a 45-40 margin, voters thought the government's anti-terrorism policies went too far in curbing civil liberties. That's a change from a January, 2010, poll when voters said, by a 63-25 percent margin, that such measures did not go far enough.

"The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistleblower than traitor are the public reaction and apparent shock at the exytent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents, said Quinnipiac assistant director Peter Brown.

He noted that the poll found little differences along party lines, calling that "unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything."

July 08, 2013

Boehner reiterates House won't take up Senate immigration bill

Back from a Fourth of July recess, House Speaker John Boehner reitereated his view on immigration: "I've made it clear, and I'll make it clear again:  The House does not intend to take up the Senate bill," he said Monday.

The House of Representatives will write a bill, he said, but not like the Senate's path to citizenship.

"It's real clear, from everything that I've seen and read over the last couple of weeks, that the American people expect that we'll have strong border security in place before we begin the process of legalizing and fixing our legal immigration system," he said.

House Republicans plan to meet Wednesday to plot future strategy.

 "We have a broken immigration system.  We have undocumented workers here in record numbers.  We just can't turn a blind eye to this problem and think it's going to go away.  It is time for Congress to act, but I believe the House has its job to do. And we will do our job," Boehner said.

July 02, 2013

Democrats provide quick guide to GOP immigration quotes

Need a quick quote from a Republican on immigration? Democrats have your web site.

The Republican-run House of Representatives will consider immigration later this month, and Speaker John Boehner has said it won't take up the comprehensive plan passed last week by the Senate. Democrats don't like that idea.

So their congressional campaign committee has launched

Some Republicans are "attempting the Sisyphean task of convincing their colleagues to embrace truly comprehensive reform,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Whatever they’ve said, it’s archived and publicly available.”

No response from Republicans yet,but party officials insist they'll come up with a responsible plan that includes tougher border security.


June 26, 2013

Reid tells colleagues on immigration: "It's personal to me"

The Senate plans key votes later Wednesday on overhauling the nation's immigration system, and Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate's day by pleading for support.

"It's personal to me," he explained.

The Nevada Democrat flatly predicted passage, probably Thursday or Friday. "it’s crucial that Congress pass bipartisan immigration reform legislation that protects and preserves families right away. I am happy that the United States Senate will pass such a bill this week. A permanent, common-sense solution to our dysfunctional system is in sight."

Some more of his remarks:

"I hope our colleagues in the House of Representatives will follow the Senate’s lead, and work to pass bipartisan reform that both Democrats and Republicans can support. Because whether we serve in the House or the Senate, whether we hail from red states or blue states, we should all be able to agree the current system is broken. And we should all be able to agree that Congressional action is necessary.

"I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by our broken system. But each time I have the opportunity to speak with Nevadans about the urgent need for action on immigration I am reminded that this issue is personal. It’s personal to me, just as it is personal to Maria and Jorge. And it’s personal to 11 million other undocumented immigrants and tens of millions of their U.S. citizen relatives whose eyes are turned toward Washington and whose hearts are filled with hope."


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

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