White House Wants Authority to Arm Syrian Rebels, but GOP Is Wary

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BY DANIEL NEWHAUSER

The White House wants to arm Syrian rebels as quickly as possible.(Mahmud al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images)
September 10, 2014 House Republicans are grappling with an eleventh-hour request from the White House to include an authorization to arm Syrian rebels in a must-pass spending bill that is slated to come to the House floor Thursday.

The White House is dispatching officials to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon for a classified briefing with bipartisan stakeholders, including members’ leadership and the Appropriations, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence committees.

That comes after President Obama requested the authorization from leaders at a White House meeting Tuesday, and as the administration followed up with a flurry of late-night phone calls to members of leadership and the Appropriations committees asking that they include the authorization in a continuing resolution.

House Republicans are reticent to include the measure in the CR. But GOP leaders are concerned that Democrats will withhold votes for the CR if they do not include the authorization in the measure. Democratic votes will be paramount to pass the bill, since many conservatives object to the Export-Import Bank reauthorization included in it and the fact that the measure extends spending authority into December, not into 2015.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Congress should give Obama the authority he sought “as soon as possible.”

Asked whether it should be attached to the spending bill, she said: “Well, we want it to be on whatever engine is leaving the station, and that’s one that is leaving the station. That’s for sure a must-pass bill in a time-certain period of time. And I would hope that it would be on there.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said a similar request faced opposition in the past because members felt the mission was not clear, but he is waiting to hear from the administration before deciding whether to support this request.

“It’s a big issue, it’s critically important. A lot of members have a lot of strong feelings about it,” said one GOP aide. “It’s sort of an issue that’s too big for a CR. It rises above the traditional constraints of a continuing resolution.”

Another top Republican aide said “this isn’t a new request, and it has thus far faced bipartisan opposition.”

But the politics are difficult to ignore. Republicans are wary of seeming unsupportive of a president in the run-up to a military campaign heavily supported by the American public. As one Armed Services Committee Republican noted, the GOP heavily criticized Democrats for pushing back against President George W. Bush during his campaign in Iraq, so they cannot be perceived as doing the same to Obama.

Still, the concerns are bipartisan. One Democratic aide noted there are many questions about the administration’s ability to arm Syrian moderates while keeping weapons and equipment out of the hands of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, against whom Obama asked Congress to authorize military strikes last year.

Those are all questions the administration will have to satisfactorily answer at the 1:30 p.m. classified briefing.

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There is also the matter of procedural hurdles. The continuing resolution is already written, and would have to be rewritten to include the military authorization. A House Rules Committee hearing that had been scheduled for 2 p.m. has been postponed as lawmakers sort through the Syria issue.

Either way, members are pushing back against the idea of adding an authorizing measure to a spending bill. Proponents of the military measure, however, are also pushing back, noting that the CR already includes at least two major authorizations: the Export Import Bank and an Internet tax measure.

House Republicans will hold a special conference meeting Thursday morning to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, and any requests included in the president’s speech on the situation scheduled for Wednesday night.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already expressed support for granting the administration’s request.

“It’s clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It’s called Title 10 authority. The president has tried to get that from us and we should give it to him. That’s one way of helping to build an international coalition. Congress should do that.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski would not say whether she would add the measure into a CR and send it back to the House if the House does not include it in their spending measure.

“We want to see what the House is going to do,” she said in an interview on her way to meet with Reid about the matter. “It’s not my decision alone, it’s something in consultation with the leadership, but we’re waiting for the House’s actions.”

A Senate Democratic aide, however, noted that the chamber could pass the authorization as a freestanding measure and send it back to the House separately from a continuing resolution, if need be.

SEARCH OBAMA JUDGES STRIKE MAJOR ANTI-OBAMACARE RULING

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Obama was able to secure a majority of Democratically-appointed judges on the court

By Joel Gehrke
September 4, 2014 10:05 AM

President Obama’s appointees to the D.C. Circuit Court will get to re-hear a major Obamacare challenge, after a three-judge panel of the court heard the case and ruled against the administration.

A majority of the judges on the court voted to re-hear the Halbig case, which pertains to whether subsidies can be provided to people who purchase insurance through the federal Obamacare exchanges. Accordingly, a D.C. Circuit panel’s decision that the federal exchange participants are not eligible for subsidies will “be vacated.”

Obama was able to secure a majority of Democratically appointed judges on the court, which is regarded as the most important court in the country next to the Supreme Court, after

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) pulled the trigger on the nuclear option in the Senate to prevent Republicans from filibustering Obama’s judicial nominees.

“Reid’s power play over Republican opposition in December led to the seating of three Democratic judges on the federal appeals court circuit that serves the District of Columbia,” CNBC suggested the day after the three-judge panel ruled against Obamacare. “The Obama administration is now banking on a Democratic majority created by those judges to help overturn a stunning ruling that threatens a key leg of the Affordable Care Act.”

Oral arguments are scheduled for December. Lawrence Tribe, Obama’s former law professor at Harvard, said he thinks the case could go against the president if it ever reaches the Supreme Court.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”

‘The border fence is a joke': Filmmaker crosses from US to Mexico dressed as Osama bin Laden as Border Patrol says ‘we can’t be everywhere at once’

By DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR, MAILONLINE

A flamethrowing American conservative activist raised eyebrows in the U.S. on Monday by releasing a video of himself crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Texas, dressed as the late al-Qaeda terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Guerrilla documentarian James O’Keefe’s footage comes at a time when Americans are engaged in a national debate about border security. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America have entered the U.S. illegally in recent months, drawn by a confusing White House policy that appears to offer amnesty for those who make it safely.
In Monday’s video release, O’Keefe focuses on the implications for national security: He illegally crosses into Mexico twice and returns – first in street clothes and again in army fatigues, wearing an Osama bin Laden Halloween mask

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The official White House website includes a claim that ‘today border security is stronger than it has ever been.’
But O’Keefe told MailOnline that his stunt proves the federal government’s policy is lax and needs a dramatic overhaul.
‘President Obama is trying to deny the obvious,’ he said.
‘We proved that border security is national security. The fence is not complete. The border is not secure. In fact, the video shows the border fence is a joke.’
‘The primary responsibility of the commander-in-chief is to protect the homeland,’ said O’Keefe. ‘With a single trip to the border, we proved that President Obama and Congress have failed miserably and are misleading America.’
A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol official told MailOnline that his agency’s forces are stretched to the breaking point.
‘We can’t be everywhere at once,’ the official said Monday. ‘This is typical of what you’ll find in Texas.’
‘The guys who are on the front lines aren’t even on the front lines anymore. They’re dozens of miles inside the U.S. How can we catch the bad guys if we never see them until they’re standing on American soil?’
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make public comments about U.S. policy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2721991/The-border-fence-joke-Filmmaker-crosses-US-Mexico-dressed-Osama-bin-Laden-Border-Patrol-says-once.html#ixzz3A7Yc1Igy
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2721991/The-border-fence-joke-Filmmaker-crosses-US-Mexico-dressed-Osama-bin-Laden-Border-Patrol-says-once.html#v-3725106637001

O’Keefe, though, was more than willing to have his name and face associated with Monday’s episode.

He is famous for shuttering the liberal pressure group ACORN with a 2009 video sting showing the organization’s workers helping a prostitute and her pimp plan a human trafficking operation and evade income taxes.

He also raised eyebrows in 2012 by pretending to be U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a polling place and being offered his ballot without an ID check. Holder had famously opposed a policy of requiring voters to show photo IDs on Election Day.

But this week his attention was focused on Mexico, saying in his six-minute film that ‘this border is not secure. No one is on watch.’

If bin Laden can cross into the U.S., he says, ‘anybody can cross. … Do you feel safe?’

More…
Hidden cameras capture suspected drug smugglers illegally sneaking into the U.S. from Mexico in broad daylight
Lone ranger: Sole police officer on $11.50 an hour mans Texas town where record numbers of illegal immigrants are crossing the border
Number of unaccompanied minors crossing into U.S. tops 60,000 as federal facilities overflow and private shelters receive millions of taxpayer dollars to care for them
Democratic congressman’s son forced to resign from father’s campaign after being caught on video endorsing voter fraud
EXCLUSIVE: Hidden camera catches wireless company employees passing out ‘Obama phones’ to people who say they’ll SELL them for drugs, shoes, handbags and spending cash
O’Keefe told MailOnline that he has fielded questions about whether the Mexican government is lkely to charge him with a crime for illegally entering from the U.S. in order to film himself coming back across the sliver of river that separates the two countries.

No one, however, is asking him about the possibility of repercussions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

‘I don’t know what the Mexican law is and frankly I don’t care,’ he said. ‘All I know is nobody was there protecting our national security.’

Guerrilla filmmaker: O’Keefe told MailOnline that his video shows the U.S. is kidding itself to believe its borders are secure
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Guerrilla filmmaker: O’Keefe told MailOnline that his video shows the U.S. is kidding itself to believe its borders are secure

President Barack Obama boasted in May 2011 that the border fence separating the US from Mexico was ‘basically complete,’ and boasted that his policies had ‘strengthened border security beyond what many thought possible’
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President Barack Obama boasted in May 2011 that the border fence separating the US from Mexico was ‘basically complete,’ and boasted that his policies had ‘strengthened border security beyond what many thought possible’

In a 2011 speech at the border, President Obama claimed that his policies had ‘strengthened border security beyond what many thought possible.’

‘The fence is now basically complete,’ the president claimed.

But Hudspeth County, Texas Sheriff Arvin West showed O’Keefe how his county’s 98-mile stretch of border territory includes a secured fence that stops abruptly, as though construction crews ran out of materials one day and walked off the job.

‘That’s the dead end of it right there,’ West says, pointing to a crude barbed-wire fence that continues on to mark the border.

‘If you think four strands of barbed wire is securing the border,’ he explains, ‘then I guess it’s secure.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2721991/The-border-fence-joke-Filmmaker-crosses-US-Mexico-dressed-Osama-bin-Laden-Border-Patrol-says-once.html#ixzz3A7ZBEMlV
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