Senate Rejects, Reneges on Border Fence
The Washington Times
Senators on Tuesday rejected building the 700 miles of double-tier border fencing Congress authorized just seven years ago, with a majority of the Senate saying they didn’t want to delay granting illegal immigrants legal status while the fence was being built. The 54-39 vote to reject the fence shows the core of the immigration deal is holding. The vote broke mostly along party lines, though five Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and the rest of the bill’s authors, voted against the fence, and two Democrats voted for it. Republicans had offered the fence as a way to build the confidence of voters skeptical that the government will enforce its laws, but opponents said building more fencing is costly, would take too long, and shouldn’t be dictated by Washington. “I think we should leave that to the best judgment of the Border Patrol,” said Sen. John McCain (Ri-AZ).
House Votes to Limit Implementation
of Nuclear Pact with Russia
Washington Free Beacon
The House voted to restrict implementation of the 2010 New START arms treaty with Russia until the Obama administration outlines its plans for nuclear cuts. The restriction is contained in the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill that passed the House Friday. Section 1052 of the bill limits the Pentagon and Energy Dept. from spending any funds on nuclear forces reduction until two conditions are met. The limits would be lifted only after the Pentagon submits a plan required in law that outlines strategic nuclear cuts under New START. Additionally, all START arms cuts would be placed on hold until Pres. Obama certifies to Congress that any future strategic arms cuts would be carried out through a formal Senate-ratified treaty or agreement. Sec. of State John Kerry said during his nomination hearing that a future arms accord with Russia could be carried without Senate ratification.
Boehner Won't Back Immigration
Bill Without Majority GOP Support
The Washington Examiner
House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don't support it, sources familiar with his plans said. "No way in hell," is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him. Boehner (R-OH), does not view immigration in the same vein as the fiscal cliff last December, when he backed a bill that protected most Americans from a tax increase even though less than half of the GOP lawmakers were with him, said multiple sources. With economists warning that the deep cuts and higher taxes needed to avoid the fiscal cliff could devastate an already ailing economy, Boehner felt compelled to compromise with President Obama and allow taxes to rise on the wealthiest taxpayers.
Cruz to File Amendment Allowing
States to Validate Citizenship
The Daily Caller
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will propose an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would allow states to require ID before registering voters, after a Supreme Court announced a decision Monday striking down an Arizona law that required that people show proof of citizenship when registering to vote. "I'll file amendment to immigration bill that permits states to require ID before registering voters & close this hole in fed statutory law," Cruz tweeted Monday afternoon. Monday morning, the Supreme Court announced a 7-2 decision on Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona knocking down the state's law that officials must require proof of citizenship before registering someone as a voter. Critics of the law said that it discouraged Latinos and Native Americans from registering to vote. The court's ruling said that federal law trumped state law.
Obama Runs 'Gang of 8'
Immigration Bill from White House
The Daily Caller
The White House is playing a larger role in developing the Gang of Eight's immigration bill than its supporters publicly admit, according to a forthcoming. "'No decisions are being made without talking to us about it,' the official said of the Gang of Eight negotiations...'This does not fly if we're not OK with it,'" a senior Obama official told author Ryan Lizza. White House officials also believe the emerging bill will be a huge success for Pres. Obama. "If a Gang of Eight-style bill is signed into law by the President, it will probably be one of the top five legislative accomplishments in the last twenty years," the official said. "It's a huge piece of business." The report points out other evidence of close White House involvement. For example, Obama met with four top Democrats pushing the bill on Thursday, and White House lawyers are participating in the drafting of the bill.
NSA Spying Extends to Contents of US Phone Calls
The NSA has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (P-NY), disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney who serves on the House Judiciary committee. Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Dept. has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Video: IRS Official Who
Oversaw TEA Party Scrutiny Fired
The Daily Caller
Embattled IRS official Holly Paz is believed to have been fired from the scandal-ridden agency, indicating that the growing IRS scandal could end up implicating more IRS agents than previously thought. Paz, the director of the IRS Rulings and Agreements division, has virtually disappeared since her reported Friday firing, and her computer is now inactive. A Fox News anchor said Friday that Paz's firing has been confirmed. Paz, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School and a former private-practice attorney, personally sat in on 36 of the 41 interviews conducted for Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George's report last month on the IRS' improper targeting of conservative groups between 2010 and 2012. Paz contributed $2,000 to Barack Obama's first presidential campaign in 2008.
Immigration Bill 'Written to
Handcuff Law Enforcement'
Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents from the National ICE Council union wrote to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Tuesday to express their dissatisfaction with the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill. They specifically expressed concern that certain amendments may be just a political ploy to get the bill passed. "[I]nstead of cracking down on the Administration's abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement--making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous," ICE Council president Chris Crane, an ICE agent himself and former marine, wrote. "It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officials--binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens."
US Agencies Said to Swap Data
With Thousands of Firms
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with US national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence. These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the NSA. The role of private companies has come under intense scrutiny since his disclosure this month that the NSA is collecting millions of US residents' telephone records and the computer communications of foreigners from Google and other Internet companies under court order. Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide US intelligence organizations with additional data that don't involve private communications of their customers.
Cornyn Key to 70-Vote Threshold
for Immigration Reform
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is the big prize in the quest for more than 70 votes for immigration reform, but the Gang of Eight is split over whether he's worth wooing. Cornyn told Republican colleagues at a meeting Wednesday that he would consider making changes to his amendment to bolster the border-security provisions of the Senate bill. His willingness to negotiate left some Republicans convinced after the meeting that he would strike a deal with the Gang of Eight and vote for final passage. His support would help the legislation pass overwhelmingly. Republican members on the Gang of Eight think he is a gettable vote, even though they acknowledge some of their Democrat colleagues are skeptical. Democrats strongly doubt Cornyn will vote "yes," given his past record of opposing immigration reform plans.
Many in Congress, Aides to Retire
Early Due to Obamacare
Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting. The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the healthcare law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government healthcare exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive. Democrat and Republican leaders are taking the issue seriously, but first they need more specifics from the Office of Personnel Management on how the new rule should take effect -- a decision that Capitol Hill sources expect by fall, at the latest. The administration has clammed up in advance of a ruling, sources on both sides of the aisle said. If the issue isn't resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt.