TheBlaze - The Furnace Blog

Pete Kasperowicz turns up the heat in Washington, providing an inside look into Congress

  • Obama says the rich ‘really don’t need a tax cut’
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    President Barack Obama argued Thursday that Republicans should abandon their proposal to eliminate the estate tax on large inheritances, because wealthy people already have enough money and don’t need another tax cut.

    “These folks at the very top, the top one-tenth of one percent, are wonderful people,” Obama said at a speech before a community college in Birmingham, Alabama. “Warren Buffett’s a great friend of mine. They’ve done amazing things, they’ve invested, they’ve created businesses. They deserve great success.”

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    President Barack Obama spoke in Alabama Thursday and said the rich ‘really don’t need a tax cut,’ a comment that referred to GOP plans to eliminate the estate tax. Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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  • The administration’s surprising claim about how it will fund Obama’s immigration plan
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson claimed Thursday that President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration shouldn’t have to cost taxpayers any money, and said the plan is to fund it with user fees that illegal immigrants will pay to apply for the program.

    In November, Obama created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents Program, or DAPA, which would let illegal residents who are parents or guardians of legal residents get protected status and even work in the United States.

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    The Obama administration said its intent is to spare taxpayers the cost of his immigration plan. Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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  • DHS Won’t Fire a Top Official Who Did Political Favors for Democrats Because ‘We Need to Move On’
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Disgraced Rep. Aaron Schock looks to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration as he starts his ‘new chapter’ in life
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said Thursday that he would use President Abraham Lincoln as inspiration to overcome the adversity he now faces, after being forced to resign in the wake of charges that he improperly used campaign money to redecorate his office, and fraudulently claimed mileage reimbursements for miles he never drove.

    In his last speech on the House floor Wednesday, Schock noted that Lincoln held his seat for one term many years ago, and indicated that Lincoln also went through his share of troubles, although he didn’t compare Lincoln’s adventures to his own.

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    Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) cited God and Abraham Lincoln in his last speech on the House floor before resigning in disgrace. Image: AP Photo/Peoria Journal Star, Ron Johnson

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  • The House just voted to bust the balanced budget plan it approved less than 24 hours ago
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Just a day after the House passed a resolution calling for a balanced budget within the next 10 years, the House turned around and passed legislation that would increase budget deficits by $141 billion, putting a balanced budget out of reach once again.

    House Republican leaders worked with Democrats to bring up a bill to permanently end the threat of a steep cut to Medicare doctor reimbursement rates. Without a permanent resolution, Congress has had to pass “doc fix” bills every so often to ensure these payment reductions don’t take place.

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    Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated a deal to permanently avoid cuts to Medicare doctors, but at a $141 billion price tag. Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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  • Justice Dept. report finds DEA held ‘sex parties’ in Colombia, failed to cooperate in sexual misconduct probe
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 11:35 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General released a scathing report Thursday that said it has evidence that Drug Enforcement Administration officials routinely held “sex parties” in Colombia with prostitutes that were “funded by the local drug cartels.”

    According to the report, that charge was “alleged” by a former Colombian police officer, who also alleged that he was tasked with “providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties.” The parties took place at headquarters.

    DEA

    A new report says officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency engaged in sex parties while in Colombia. It also found the U.S. Marshals Service used prostitutes overseas, and that other law enforcement agencies have problems reporting sexual misconduct. Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

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  • House Dem: Global Warming Could Force Women to Trade Sex for Food
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 10:32 am by Pete Kasperowicz
    227 Comments »
  • ‘Endless conflict’: Key lawmaker warns Obama administration against backing Iranian militias fighting the Islamic State
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 9:00 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) warned the Obama administration Thursday against offering military support to Iran-backed Shiite fighters who are battling the Islamic State, and said doing so would only set up a later conflict with that force.

    Reports have surfaced over the last few weeks that the U.S. is offering air support to these Iran-backed forces. On Wednesday, the coalition fighting the Islamic State conducted airstrikes in Tikrit, Iraq, a sign that was widely interpreted as an effort to back Iranian forces.

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    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) warned it would be a mistake for the Obama administration to back Iranian militias in the fight against the Islamic State. Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

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  • For Republicans, the Bergdahl prisoner swap just went from bad to worse
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Republicans in the House and Senate reacted harshly to Wednesday’s news that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be charged with desertion and misbehavior, and said it compounds President Barack Obama’s error when he decided last year to swap Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners who were detained at Guantanamo Bay.

    Soon after the swap, many Republicans warned that Obama was telling the world that the U.S. would negotiate with terrorists. It quickly became evident that Bergdahl may have been an Army deserter, and today’s charges showed the deal was even worse than many believed at the time.

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    Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior on Wednesday, which for many Republicans made the prisoner swap deal for Bergdahl even worse.

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  • The House just gave the Defense Department a big spending boost
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:30 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Defense hawks defeated budget hawks in the House Wednesday night, by passing a 2016 budget plan that calls for more defense spending and doesn’t require that additional spending to be offset with cuts.

    The House vote on a 2016 budget plan followed a week in which Republicans fought among themselves about whether to stick to the budget caps that were set back in 2011, or find some way around those caps to boost funding for the military.

    pentagon

    Defense Department spending got a boost Wednesday night, when the House passed a budget favored by defense hawk.

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  • A top VA official just resigned — but wasn’t fired — over ‘unacceptable’ construction cost overruns
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    A senior Department of Veterans Affairs official who oversaw construction projects that have seen significant cost overruns and delays has resigned, according to the VA.

    But he wasn’t fired, a fact that was already drawing criticism from a Congress that believes the VA continues to be way too soft on corrupt and inept officials.

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    VA Secretary Robert McDonald no longer has to deal with Glenn Haggstrom, who watched as the VA racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns for various construction projects. Image: AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke

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  • GOP issues subpoena for thousands of texts the EPA chief won’t hand over
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 2:22 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, issued a subpoena on Wednesday for thousands of phone texts that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has refused to turn over to congressional investigators.

    The subpoena from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) follows several weeks of attempts by the committee to gain access to texts to and from McCarthy. But the EPA has decided not to give them up, and has instead handed over heavily redacted messages that haven’t helped the committee.

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    EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was subpoenaed on Wednesday for phone texts that she has refused to give to Congress. Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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  • Senate kills Elizabeth Warren’s plan to tax millionaires to pay for student loan relief
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    The Senate voted down a proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to raise taxes on millionaires in order to pay the cost of letting people with student loans refinance at lower rates.

    Warren’s amendment was proposed as an amendment to the Senate budget plan that’s expected to pass this week. Just before the vote, Warren tweeted that it’s time to save millions of Americans from their student loan debt:

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  • ‘I want to thank the American taxpayer’: Afghan president praises America, pledges to help fight terrorism
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked American taxpayers and their representatives in Congress for helping to rebuild his country, and promised that his refocused nation would become a reliable ally against the growing threat of Islamic State in the region.

    “I’d like to begin by thanking the people of the United States, whose generous support for my country has been of such immense value in advancing the cause of freedom,” he said to applause.

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    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani explicitly thanked U.S. taxpayers for helping to fight for and rebuild his country, and said Afghanistan would be a strong ally in the fight against terrorism. Image: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

    “More than 1 million brave Americans have served in Afghanistan,” he said. “In return, the people of Afghanistan recognize the bravery of your soldiers and the tremendous sacrifices that Americans have made to keep Afghanistan free.”

    Ghani graciously thanked the thousands of U.S. soldiers who were either killed or wounded in his country, the thousands of Americans who helped rebuild his nation, and explicitly thanked U.S. taxpayers for making those achievements possible.

    “We must acknowledge with appreciation, that at the end of the day, it’s the ordinary Americans whose hard-earned taxes have over the years built the partnership that has led to our conversation today,” he said. “I want to thank the American taxpayer, and you, their representatives, for supporting us.”

    He also thanked President Barack Obama. “I like and appreciate his clear and disciplined approach to American engagement,” he said.

    Ghani, who met with Obama on Tuesday, thanked Americans for keeping nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2015. Obama agreed to that extension on Tuesday, and in doing so, seemed to acknowledge the criticism he’s faced for pulling out of Iraq, a move some say led to the rise of the Islamic State.

    Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. would delay the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, “in part because we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help Afghan security forces succeed so we don’t have to go back, so we don’t have to respond in an emergency because … terrorist activities are being launched out of Afghanistan.”

    Ghani stressed that while his country was still making strides toward the rule of law and democratic reforms, he said Afghanistan stands ready to work with the U.S. to eliminate terrorist threats in the region.

    “Today I would like to return that gift of free-born hope, by offering the American people a partnership with a nation that is committed to the cause of freedom and that will join the fight against the growing threat of terrorism,” he said.

    “We are willing to speak truth to terror,” he added to applause.

    He said part of the mission is to help the Islamic civilization “reinvent itself,” and to remind the Islamic world of it’s “gloriously tolerant and inquisitive past.”

    He said Afghanistan’s goal is to let it’s people lead “ordinary lives.”

    “To go to school, and to come back,” he said. “To shop without being blown up. To play volleyball without being attacked.”

    He said empowering women is a big job for Afghanistan as well.

    “On September 10, 2001 — this will no longer shock you — there were no girls enrolled in school in Afghanistan,” he said. “It was illegal to educate girls. Today, more than 3 million girls in primary schools across the country are learning to openly and actively participate in the future of a democratic Afghanistan.”

    Ghani said the fate of America and Afghanistan were tied together on 9/11, and concluded by pledging to work with the U.S. to continue the fight.

    “Together, our two countries will finish the job that began on that clear, terrible September morning almost 14 years ago,” he said. “We have the will, and we have the commitment that will anchor our country and the world community of peaceful democratic nations.”

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  • After years of passing no budget at all, Harry Reid calls the Senate GOP budget plan a ‘farce’
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 10:40 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ridiculed Senate Republicans on Wednesday for trying to do something he routinely dodged when he led the Senate — pass a budget.

    “All this happy talk that I heard this morning, and I’m going to hear this week and we’ll hear the next couple of days, about this great budget the Republicans have — it is an absolute farce,” he said on the Senate floor.

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    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dismissed the GOP’s budget plan as a ‘farce’ on Wednesday. Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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  • Obama administration: Scientists who developed the school lunch guidelines ‘know better than anyone’ how to feed your kid
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 9:06 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    The departments of Education, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services defended their push for healthier school lunches on Tuesday by claiming the new nutritional standards are a “success,” and said the people who developed those standards “know better than anyone” how to feed your children.

    “The bottom line is that these meal standards were developed by our nation’s best doctors, nurses, dieticians [sic] and scientists — not our politicians,” the departments wrote in a blog post. “These medical and nutrition professionals know better than anyone that healthy options mean healthy kids, and later, healthy adults.”

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    AP Photo/The Berkshire Eagle, Gillian Jones

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  • Senate clobbers Obama’s $4 trillion budget plan in 1-98 vote — Here’s the one guy who voted ‘yes’
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 7:16 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    The Senate on Tuesday destroyed any lingering hope President Barack Obama might have had for passing his budget plan through Congress this year, by voting down Obama’s plan 1-98.

    The only senator to vote for the plan was Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

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    President Obama’s $4 trillion budget met a brutal fate in the Senate, which killed a version of that plan in a 1-98 vote. Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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  • IRS Says Federal Workers Owe $1.1 Billion in Back Taxes
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Republicans schedule Thursday hearing to investigate Obama visa scandal
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Just hours after a report revealed that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was playing favorites for Democrats when it came to approving certain visas, the House Homeland Security Committee announced it would hold a Thursday hearing to examine those allegations.

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General issued a report that said Deputy DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas improperly influenced three decisions on whether to grant visas when he led USCIS. One of those decisions involved a visa for someone favored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and another was pushed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother.

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    Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) will hold a hearing Thursday to examine the Obama administration’s new visa scandal that broke on Tuesday. Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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  • Obamacare Has a New Customer: Ted Cruz
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 3:52 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Harry Reid, Senior DHS Official Implicated in Scheme to Approve Visas for Non-Qualified Foreigners
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 3:12 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
    212 Comments »
  • Veterans just won a major victory against the broken VA on health care access
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Veterans around the nation won a victory against what has proven to be an inept Department of Veterans affairs, which announced on Tuesday that it would eliminate an onerous restriction on the ability of veterans to get health care outside the VA system — a restriction that congressional Republicans have been fighting for months to eliminate.

    Congress passed a law last year to enact the Veterans Choice program, a response to the scandal in which the VA was found to be lying about how long veterans were waiting for medical appointments. Under the new program, veterans can access non-VA care free of charge if they live more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA clinic.

    HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. Scott Olson/Getty Images

    The Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois. The VA announced Tuesday that it would ease a restrictive rule that was preventing some veterans from getting care outside the VA. Scott Olson/Getty Images

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  • Newt Gingrich: America is losing to radical Islamic terrorism under Obama
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told his former colleagues on Tuesday that America and its allies are losing both the military and the cultural war against radical Islam, in large part because the Obama administration has refused to identify the enemy, and has purposefully tried to downplay the movement’s growing strength.

    “It is the case that after 35 years of conflict, dating back to the Iranian siege of the American embassy in Tehran and the ensuring hostage crisis, the United States and its allies are losing the long global war with radical Islamists,” Gingrich told the House Homeland Security Committee Tuesday.

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    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said America is losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism, and blamed President Barack Obama for failing to identify the enemy. Image: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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  • A Sheriff’s Shocking Testimony: Texas Children Are Being Recruited by Criminals to Smuggle People, Drugs Into the U.S.
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 11:25 am by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Is the Obama administration protecting criminal aliens from deportation? Republicans demand answers.
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 9:51 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Republicans in the House and Senate are demanding more details about the more than 2,000 criminal aliens that were arrested earlier this month, including how many of them have asked the Obama administration for — and how many might still receive — protection from deportation.

    GOP members are asking more questions after it was reported last week that of the 2,059 criminal aliens who were arrested as part of a nation-wide sweep called Operation Cross Check, at least 23 of them had benefitted from President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That 2012 program, also called DACA, lets younger illegal immigrants stay and work in the United States.

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    Republicans are asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson if he is overseeing the protection of criminal aliens from deportation. Image: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

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