September 06, 2013

Cummings' constitutents like Obama, but that doesn't mean they like Syria mission

Rep. Elijah Cummings represents a Baltimore district where President Barack Obama has strong support--but that doesn't automatically mean the Maryland Democrat will back the president on Syria."

"i think that that is a part of it, but I got to tell you it's not as much a part of it as you may think because I think what we are doing -- and I get the impression that a lot of people are looking at this -- I mean, I just think about my constituents," he explained after a briefing on Capitol Hill Friday.

"Just yesterday I walked through the district, and I asked those kind of questions.  I said, look, 80 percent of our district voted for the president.  We're very supportive.  And there were people who said, I love the president; I trust the president; he's like my son."


"As one lady said...I disagree with my husband, but I love him to life.  And so, you know, you're going to have those disagreements.  And so we all have to, I think, look at this not just in a vacuum of what's happening today, but what's going to happen with regard to future generations, and that's -- and I think that's how we have to look at it."

So, Cummings said, "It's very difficult."

September 02, 2013

Corker: "American people deserve to hear more from the administration" on Syria

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans a hearing Tuesday, starting at 2:30 p.m. on the Syria situation.

Monday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee's top Republilcan, offered a preview of his views. Corker has been a backer of limited strikes.

“Congress’s role in U.S. military force has too often been abdicated to presidential authority, so I look forward to a vigorous debate on this important authorization,” said Corker.

“The American people deserve to hear more from the administration about why military action in Syria is necessary, what it will achieve and how it will be sufficiently limited to keep the U.S. from being drawn further into the Syrian conflict.

"Now that the president has decided to use force and seek authorization, he must immediately use every resource appropriate in making his case to the public before this potentially defining vote in Congress.”

August 30, 2013

Levin offers views on Syria

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman wants no military strike in Syria until United Nations inspectors are done.

“I again expressed my view that the United States should not undertake a kinetic strike before the U.N. inspectors complete their work, and that the impact of such a strike would be weakened if it does not have the participation and support of a large number of nations, including Arab nations," the Michigan Democrat said in a statement Friday.

"I also urged the Administration to send a powerful message to the Assad regime by immediately getting lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.  Doing so can change the balance militarily and also contribute to a political solution in Syria.”

August 29, 2013

Levin: "Increase the military pressure" with "lethal aid"

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said after talking with Obama administration officials on Syria that the U.S. and its allies should "increase the military pressure on the Assad regime by providing lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition."

Here's some of the Michigan Democrat's statement:

"Tonight, I suggested that we should do so while UN inspectors complete their work and while we seek international support for limited, targeted strikes in response to the Assad regime’s large-scale use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

" I appreciate the administration’s continuing efforts tonight to consult with Congress about the situation in Syria, and its commitment to further consultations with Congress."

July 23, 2013

Reid: Take a look at NSA programs

The House of Representatives plans to vote on cutting off funds for certain National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

But the effort may not get far in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, doesn't like the process--the defunding is part of a massive defense spending bill.

"What they're doing to defense is really very, very bad.  And they're talking about sending us a sequester number on the so-called CR (continuing resolution) they're going to send us," Reid told a news conference Tuesday.

"I will say this about NSA.  There's nothing wrong at all about taking a look at these programs.  We need as much transparency as possible -- but their real strange way of legislating, which means nothing happens the way they legislate," Reid said.

July 16, 2013

Hagan: DOD says no more raises for foreign civilians

    The Department of Defense won’t give any more raises or bonuses to citizens of other countries who work as civilians at U.S. military bases abroad as long as Americans are being furloughed, Sen. Kay Hagan said Tuesday.

    Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month complaining that German civilian workers at U.S. bases got a bonus this year and a pay raise next year, while American civilian workers were being furloughed.

    She asked Hagel to suspend the pay increases in Germany. Hagan said that Hagel told her that the negotiations with the German workers’ union were far along before the decision to furlough American workers under sequestration was made. The Germans’ pay increases will proceed, but there won’t be others for foreign nationals as long as furloughs continue at home, Hagan said, citing a recent letter to her from Hagel.

Continue reading "Hagan: DOD says no more raises for foreign civilians" »

July 11, 2013

Americans want U.S. to stay out of Syria, poll finds

By an overwhelming margin, Americans think it's not in this country's interest to get involved in Syria, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

By 61-27 percent, people think it's not in the national interest to get involved in the war-torn nation. And by a 59-27 percent margin, they oppose giving arms and supplies to anti-government rebels.

But they do back using drones or cruise missiles against Syrian government targets, by a 49-38 percent edge.

Opposition to aiding the rebels crossed American political party lines, while Republicans and Democrats generally backed the use of drones.

To read more click here.

June 16, 2013

House Intelligence Committee Chairman offers strong defense of NSA spying

"It's against the law for the NSA to record and monitor Americans' phone calls. It's against the law, and the law is very clear on this," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

Rogers explained that the data is in a "lock box."

He called it "a lock box of only phone numbers, no names, no addresses." For that data to get further, "it would mean that the NSA have to conspire with the FBI, would have to conspire with both parties in Congress on the intelligence committees and the oversight functions in the executive branch to do something beyond what the law very narrowly allows. I just find that implausible."

But what, asked moderator Candy Crowley, about allegations someone from NSA had been listening in on a phone call without a warrant in on case.

"I can't tell you how strong we need to make this clear," Rogers said. "The NSA is not listening to Americans' phone calls, and it is not monitoring their e-mails. If it did, it's illegal. It's breaking the law."

And not recording them either, Crowley asked?

"I could go get a warrant on a criminal case, yes, absolutely," Rogers explained, "but that's very, very different. And I think they think that there's this mass surveillance of what you're saying on your phone call and what you're typing in your e-mails. That is just not happening. And it's important, I think, for people to understand because there's all this misinformation about what these programs are."


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"" »

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.


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

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