TheBlaze - The Furnace Blog

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

  • White House asks Congress to limit its military options in Iraq
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Friday accused the Obama administration of trying to limit its military options in Iraq even as an offshoot group of Al Qaeda is gaining strength in that country and threatening U.S. interests.

    McKeon was reacting to a letter hat National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday. It was sent just before the House considered a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to consult with Congress before sending troops back to Iraq to mitigate the rise of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

    President Barack Obama ‘s national security advisor asked Congress on Friday to terminate authorization to use military force in Iraq. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Rice told Boehner that Obama has repeatedly said he has no intention to return to combat operations in Iraq, but has also said targeted military action may be needed. In that case, she said Obama would consult with Congress.

    Instead of passing the resolution, Rice suggested that the House pass legislation ending the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.

    “With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 8, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and the administration fully supports its repeal,” she wrote.

    “Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that groups forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”

    McKeon blasted that letter as a sign the administration wants to do nothing to stop the rise of ISIS, which the administration itself has said poses a danger to the United States.

    “Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is ‘worse than Al Qaeda’ and an extreme threat to the American people,” McKeon said. “The American people aren’t worried that the President will send the military back to Iraq. They’re worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street.

    “They’re worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe.”

    McKeon asked why Rice was asking Congress to pass legislation that would confirm to Americans that “the president will not confront a clear and present danger” to the country.

    “Where is her plan to stop this looming threat?” he asked. “Where is her request for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to monitor the situation? Why isn’t she over here, building support to stop a common enemy?

    “This isn’t just absurd. We’re past absurd. This is dangerous. This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them.”

    Read Rice’s letter to Boehner here:

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  • Dem senator walks back comment that PTSD caused him to plagiarize
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) on Friday walked back his previous comments in which he appeared to blame Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for plagiarism that was recently discovered when he was at the U.S. Army War College.

    The New York Times reported Wednesday that the paper Walsh wrote while at the Army War College includes several passages from academic papers and other sources.

    Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., right, said Friday that he should not have blamed his plagiarism on PTSD. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

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  • A GOP Lawmaker’s Creative New Idea for Boosting Border Enforcement
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Veterans groups oppose Obama’s $17.6 billion VA request
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Key veterans organizations on Friday said they oppose President Barack Obama’s request for $17.6 billion in new funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs as something that will distract from efforts to reform the broken agency.

    Representatives of the American Legion, American Veterans and Concerned Veterans for America released a joint statement that said the request for more money is a last-minute request that is making it more difficult for the House and Senate to negotiate a final VA reform bill.

    Acting Veteran Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson has said he needs billions more to fix the health care crisis at the VA, but Republicans say it’s unclear how the money would be spent, and key veterans groups came out against the request on Friday. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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  • House to Obama: No combat troops in Iraq without permission from Congress
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    The House overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that says President Barack Obama cannot deploy combat troops to Iraq without first getting approval and backing from Congress.

    Passage of the resolution in a 370-40 vote is an important signal to the White House that the House insists it must be consulted — Obama has told Congress he already has authorization from Congress passed more than a decade ago to send troops to Iraq if needed.

    President Barack Obama’s military advisers are weighing options in Iraq. The House passed a resolution Friday calling on Obama to seek permission before new combat troops are deployed. (AP Photo)

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  • House committee slaps White House for ignoring subpoena
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 11:50 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Friday passed a resolution rejecting an assertion that the top White House political official is immune from testifying before Congress.

    Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena earlier this month to hear testimony from David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Issa has said Simas is heading an office similar to past White House offices that have run afoul of a law prohibiting political activities on government time.

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  • Nancy Pelosi wants border money, but no changes to immigration law: ‘Let’s just keep it separate’
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 10:36 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that she wants Congress to quickly pass a bill providing billions of dollars of new money to deal with unaccompanied minors at the border, without any additional language aimed at fixing parts of U.S. immigration law that Republicans say has caused the border crisis.

    The Obama administration has called for passage of $3.7 billion bill to help officials detain children as they cross, and then get them medical care while they wait — sometimes for years — for a deportation hearing. Pelosi said a bill similar to that supplemental spending proposal should be passed, without any of the immigration law changes the GOP wants.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. says she would oppose efforts to link border money to changes in immigration law. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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  • Rand Paul launches defense of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:11 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is looking to defend the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not just from the Obama administration, but from states that are finding it too easy to seize private property without first charging and convicting property owners.

    Paul says he introduced his Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act because governments at all levels are ignoring the simple protection it is supposed to be providing for all Americans.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has proposed legislation to defend the Fifth Amendment from what he says is an overreach of the federal and state governments. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

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  • Cruz, Sessions sound alarm on Obama’s plan to expand amnesty program
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 4:36 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) vowed Thursday afternoon to fight President Barack Obama’s reported plans to expand amnesty for up to six million more illegal residents by the end of the summer.

    The two senators have been among the most vocal Republican opponents of Obama’s deferred deportation policy, which they say has prompted a flood of unaccompanied minors to try crossing into the United States.

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  • GOP lawmaker returns award to protest Chamber of Commerce’s immigration policy
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 3:18 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) said Thursday that he refused to accept an award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of that group’s position on immigration, and called the Chamber the “biggest pro-amnesty group” in the country.

    “The Chamber of Commerce is beholden to special interests and has long since forgotten the main street businesses that struggle everyday to make payroll and keep their company afloat,” Bentivolio said. “It is with great pride that I reject their award, and call on them to stand on the side of America, instead of on the side of China and corporate interests seeking to exploit people for profit.

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue, second from left, runs a group that supports immigration reform. That position led one GOP lawmaker to reject an award from the Chamber. Pool/Getty Images

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  • House moves closer to lawsuit against President Obama
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    The House on Thursday moved one step closer to passing a resolution allowing the House to sue President Barack Obama for failing to properly implement Obamacare.

    The House Rules Committee approved a final draft of the resolution in a partisan 7-4 vote.  That will allow the House to consider the resolution and pass it as early as next week.

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  • Boehner indicates no room for Ted Cruz border plan in House bill
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated Thursday that the House will not be considering legislative language to prevent President Barack Obama from expanding his deferred deportation policy, which some Republicans want to see as a condition of approving new funding to ease the crisis at the southern U.S. border.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has said he wants to see Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy defunded, and says that policy is precisely why about 60,000 illegal immigrant children have tried to cross into the U.S. this year.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is pushing to end President Barack Obama’s deferred deportation policy, but House GOP leaders indicate they will not consider his language. (AP Photo, J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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  • Boehner blames Obama for stalled bills on border, VA reform
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday blasted President Barack Obama for gumming up efforts by Congress to pass bills to fix the border and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs before Congress leaves for its August break.

    Both the House and Senate have been scrambling to pass legislation before August dealing with the humanitarian crisis at the border involving tens of thousands of children who have tried to cross into the United States.

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio blamed President Barack Obama for meddling in congressional negotiations to pass a VA reform bill and a border bill, which has stalled those talks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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  • House, Senate Talks to Reform the VA Close to Collapsing over Money
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:29 am by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Lawmaker blasts two-page description of VA’s plan to spend $13.5 billion
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 10:30 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) on Thursday criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to provide details for its request for $13.5 billion in funding to resolve the ongoing veterans health care crisis, and instead offering the House just a two-page description.

    Miller, who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a morning hearing that Congress has given the VA every resource it has required. He said the committee was surprised when Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson suddenly told a Senate hearing that he needed billions more in funding, and 10,000 more medical staffers.

    Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson wants $13.5 billion to repair the broken VA, but so far, the VA has given the House a two-page description of how the money would be spent. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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  • Broken VA finds time to offer advice about…using sunscreen
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:57 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    In the midst of major scandal in which the Department of Veterans Affairs delayed veterans’ requests for health care for several years and then systematically worked to cover its tracks, the VA has found time to write a blog post urging readers to wear sunscreen during the hot summer months.

    “It’s getting easier to go outside and enjoy the sunshine,” the top blog on the VA website declares. “Why? Because researchers have learned so much about the importance of regularly protecting our skin.”


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  • Lawmaker sees momentum for defunding Obama’s deferred deportation policy
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday pitched her House Republican colleagues on legislation to defund President Barack Obama’s controversial policy of deferring deportation for some illegal immigrants, and said she’s hearing positive feedback on her idea.

    “We had a good immigration discussion,” she told TheBlaze of her talk with GOP colleagues Wednesday morning. “I have to tell you, I think that members locked onto the fact that, yes, that 2008 law is a problem, but what is more problematic and what has accelerated the rate of illegal cross-border trips… is this executive order, the DACA.”

    U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is seeking support in the House for her bill to defund President Obama’s deferred deportation policy. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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  • State goes after Ted Cruz on FAA’s ban on flights to Israel
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf on Wednesday said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made “ridiculous and offensive” comments earlier in the day for criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to temporarily ban U.S. flights to Israel, while at the same time continuing foreign aid that will go to the terrorist group Hamas.

    In a briefing with reporters, Harf said the decision was made to ensure U.S. citizens are protected while Israel faces missile attacks, and said Cruz was out of line for suggesting any deeper political motives.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 3.45.54 PM

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  • Watch: Rep. Gowdy slams IRS commissioner for dragging feet on congressional investigation
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday slammed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for failing to help answer questions about Congress’s investigation into the IRS targeting scandal, and instead arguing that he can’t do anything while the Inspector General’s investigation into the IRS is ongoing.

    Koskinen appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he said several times that he was unable to help answer some of Congress’s questions because of the IG investigation. But Gowdy said there are no rules prohibiting Koskinen from helping more.

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  • The Next Big Problem at the IRS: Low Worker Morale
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • GOP lawmaker to IRS on lost Lois Lerner emails: ‘You weren’t ever gonna tell us until we caught you’
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that he believes the IRS was never going to tell Congress about the lost Lois Lerner emails until they were forced to admit it in light of an email that was uncovered by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request.

    “I think you were never going to tell us,” Jordan said to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a subcommittee hearing he chaired Wednesday.

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  • IRS commissioner not worried that Lerner’s hard drive may have been ‘scratched’ on purpose
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 11:44 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday downplayed the idea that Lois Lerner’s hard drive may have been purposefully scratched in order to hide information from congressional investigators, and said he’s not concerned that this may have happened.

    Koskinen was in front of a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, just a day after the House Ways & Means Committee said it learned that Lerner’s hard drive was “scratched,” and that her emails may have been recoverable. Ways & Means said it was not clear whether the scratch happened on purpose.

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  • GOP proposes tighter border security, faster deportations, National Guard help as part of border plan
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 10:14 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    A House Republican working group on Wednesday released a set of 12 principles for dealing with the southern border crisis, which includes sending National Guardsmen to the border, expediting the deportation of unaccompanied minors, and forcing the government to devise a plan for gaining operational control of the border.

    Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chaired the group, presented the proposals to House Republicans in the morning, and the ideas are expected to find their way into legislation as early as this month.

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio set up a GOP working group to devise a plan for dealing with the border crisis, and on Wednesday, that group released 12 principles. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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  • 11 of 12 Fake Obamacare Applicants Got Coverage in GAO Investigation
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 9:39 am by Pete Kasperowicz
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  • Dems want to give government power over company work schedules
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 8:51 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Democrats in the House and Senate are proposing new changes to the law that would allow workers to make requests about their work schedule without fear of retaliation from their bosses, and in some cases would require companies to accept these requests.

    The Schedules That Work Act would also allow the Department of Labor to investigate when companies fail to adhere to these new rules. That includes subpoena power, and the power to force companies to pay workers damages when they are found to be in violation.

    Democrats want to ensure food service workers like these in New York have the power to request schedule changes, and have proposed a bill allowing federal enforcement of that right. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

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