Armed guards protect Senate Democrats as they demand new gun-control laws…

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., walks from an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to fast-track the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) more >


Senate Democrats gathered Thursday on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by about a dozen armed guards to announce a new push for tougher gun-control laws.

The officers from the U.S. Capitol Police, who carried sidearms, were in addition to the regular detail paroling the Capitol ground due the large number of elected officials attending the event, according to a officer on the scene.

About 27 Democratic senators attended the event.

PHOTOS: Best pocket pistols for self-defense

They announced a set of priorities for combating gun violence, which centered on measures to expand and strengthen background checks for gun purchasers.

They echoed calls by President Obama following the mass shooting last week at a community college in Oregon in which he urged Americans to put pressure on lawmakers to take action to stop the scourge of gun violence in the country.

“We are asking, as the president said, to make their voices heard,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, “We expect there will be a groundswell.”

PHOTOS: Top 10 handguns in the U.S.

The Democrats’ priorities for gun control, which also closely mirrored the plan rolled out last week by Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, included:

*Closing background check “loopholes,” such as stopping criminals from buying firearms at gun shows or online;

*Improving background checks to include barring domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns;

*And shutting down the “illegal gun pipeline” by making straw purchasing of guns and gun trafficking a federal crime.

“The victims and their families deserve better than a Congress that shrugs its shoulders and waited for the next tragedy,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat. “They deserve action.”

McConnell ‘needs to get out of the way’



House conservatives are forcing an effective strategy to fight back against the Iran nuclear deal, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to lead is imperiling the effort and putting America at risk, according to one of the fiercest House critics of leadership.

Heading into this week, House and Senate leaders planned to proceed with votes to accept or reject the Iran deal, knowing full well that opponents did not have enough votes to override a veto from President Obama in the Senate.

House conservatives changed the dynamics by refusing to approve the rule to organize debate on the up-or-down vote. Instead, House Republicans will pursue a three-pronged attack. One vote will still focus on the deal itself. Another will declare the president in violation of the Corker-Cardin bill for not handing over the details of side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning nuclear inspections. The final bill would forbid the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran until January of 2017.


“The new strategy is a good strategy. If we would have gone with the first bill just to disapprove, that would have strictly been a symbolic vote. Plus, we would have been breaking the law we just passed in May, the Corker-Cardin bill,” said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Corker-Cardin required the Obama administration to turn over all text related to the agreement within five days of negotiators signing it. Lawmakers subsequently discovered the secret side deals and the administration will not provide details on it.

What do YOU think? Why is Obama so wedded to the Iran deal? Sound off in today’s WND poll

Yoho said Obama clearly violated the terms of the law he signed.

“The president has already gone beyond that time period,” he said. “He’s not given us the full information. Had we taken that vote when we first came back, we’d have been breaking our own law that we just passed and we would have codified the president moving forward with this.”

While some lawmakers believe the failure to provide the details of the side agreement means the 60-day review period should be paused until that information is provided, Yoho thinks it should qualify as a deal-killer.

“I would prefer that it’s struck down because we’re beyond the time period where he should have been in compliance,” said Yoho, who believes Obama’s failure to honor Corker-Cardin should result in the agreement being trashed and negotiators heading back to the table.

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.:

While the strategy is much bolder in recent days, it’s likelihood of succeeding borders on impossible, not only because it would be tough to find 60 votes for it in the Senate but because Senate leaders have no interest in trying to fight back.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sent a letter to McConnell, pleading for the Senate to follow the House lead. McConnell flatly rejected the idea, and Corker himself said Thursday that the GOP tried to stop the deal but just couldn’t.

That’s not acceptable for Yoho.

“For Mitch McConnell to say we tried and failed, leadership is lead or get out of the way. If that’s the way he feels, he needs to get out of the way,” said Yoho, who believes the American people are tired of watching the GOP Congress pile up defeat after defeat.

“The American people don’t want us to try. They want us to do,” Yoho said. “The American people are fed up with Congress trying. They want us to resolve these problems. They overwhelmingly don’t support this Iran deal, and we’re the only mechanism in government that can stop this.”

If Congress fails to reject the Iran deal, as seems increasingly likely, opponents have floated the idea of cutting off funding for implementing the deal during the appropriations process later this month.

Yoho is open to that idea, but once again fears McConnell does not have any stomach for the fight.

“We’ve already sent appropriations bills to the Senate,” he said. “We did that last year too, and the reason they were never brought up is we could blame (Democratic Leader) Harry Reid. Mitch McConnell’s in charge, and he hasn’t brought one of those up. It’s because of the threat Harry Reid may block that.

“Again, if you’re going to lead, lead. If not, then get out of the way. Bring those bills up. Let the people over there decide. If Harry Reid blocks them, let the American people know Harry Reid is blocking the progress of this country,” he added.

Yoho said there is no clearer evidence of America’s disgust with the current GOP leadership than the current state of the 2016 presidential race.

“Look who’s leading the polls in the Republican Party,” he said. “All outsiders: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina. The American people are hoping people get in there that put politics aside. Don’t be a Republican. Don’t be a Democrat. Do what’s right for America.”

Manchin is fourth Senate Democrat to reject Iran deal

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By Susan Ferrechio

Sen. Joe Manchin announced Tuesday he will vote to disapprove the nuclear deal with Iran, becoming the fourth Senate Democrat to reject the accord.

Manchin, of West Virginia, said he would not support the deal because it does not stop Iran from conducting terrorist activity in the region.

“For me, this deal had to address Iran’s terrorist actions,” Manchin said in a statement. “Without doing so would reward Iran’s 36 years of deplorable behavior and do nothing to prevent its destructive activities.”

The Obama administration had been working aggressively to assure congressional lawmakers that the United States would take new steps to boost security in the region in order to counter any new terrorism that would be generated by the deal. In exchange Iran reducing its nuclear capability, the accord will free up $100 billion in frozen assets, which critics say will be used to sponsor terrorism.

“Lifting sanctions without ensuring that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is neutralized is dangerous to regional and American security,” Manchin said. “The administration has accepted — what I consider to be a false choice — that this is only about nuclear weapons and not terrorism. However, the fact of the matter is that we are concerned about Iran having a bomb because, in large part, it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Asking us to set aside the terrorist question is irresponsible and misses the point.”

Manchin announced his opposition moments before Minority Leader Harry Reid delivered an address in support of the accord. In that speech, Reid pledged additional U.S. help for Israel to defend itself from Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

“It will take more money and military support, but we must provide the one true democracy in the region and the one and only Jewish state in the world with the resources it needs,” Reid said.

In addition to Manchin, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, are publicly opposed to the deal. Reid indicated Tuesday that Democrats are pushing to require a 60-vote threshold to pass the resolution, and later in the day, the 41st Democrat said he would support the agreement.

Democrats demand recess budget talks

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By SUSAN FERRECHIO 8/18/15 3:33 PM

Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded immediate negotiations with Senate Republicans on spending legislation for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

“With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period, just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year, to begin talks on a path forward,” Democrats said in the letter.

The GOP leadership office did not respond to a request for a comment on the Democratic letter. But Republicans have so far resisted efforts by Democrats to hold talks on government funding, arguing that Democrats blocked spending legislation from moving forward in the Senate earlier this year.

Senate Democrats refused to advance any fiscal 2016 spending bills, saying they objected to caps required under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats want Republicans to agree to higher domestic spending levels, and are angry that the GOP has found a way around the spending caps for the Defense Department.

Many Republicans in both the House and Senate are also opposed to the caps, which would have made it almost impossible to pass every spending bill even without Democratic opposition.

The House and Senate will not return to work until after Labor Day, leaving just a handful of legislative work days to come up with a spending plan for the government beyond the end of the fiscal year.

Due to disagreements over spending levels, Congress has increasingly waited until nearly the end of the fiscal year or beyond to come to an accord that satisfies both parties and President Obama.

It won’t be easy this year.

Obama and Democrats have called for an increase in taxes to pay for higher spending levels. Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the plan “a nonstarter.”

The letter, signed by all 46 Senate Democrats and Independents, is below:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

U.S. Senate

S-230 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20150

Dear Leader McConnell:

There are less than two months left in the fiscal year, and we are deeply concerned by the fact that negotiations to craft a bipartisan budget agreement have not yet begun. With the end of the fiscal year looming, we urge you to immediately schedule bipartisan budget negotiations so that we can work together over the coming weeks to avoid another manufactured crisis.

Inaction and failure to responsibly restore sequester-level cuts in FY16 appropriations bills will have real consequences for our country. That is why we are eager to start working as soon as possible to negotiate a compromise that will keep our nation and economy strong, and keep the government open.

With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period – just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year – to begin talks on a path forward. We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis.

We are ready and willing to work with you to produce a fair and balanced Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Therefore, we respectfully request you schedule the first round of these important negotiations as soon as possible.


Harry Reid

Richard J. Durbin

Charles E. Schumer

Patty Murray

Barbara Mikulski

Patrick J. Leahy

Dianne Feinstein

Barbara Boxer

Ron Wyden

Jack Reed

Bill Nelson

Tom Carper

Debbie Stabenow

Maria Cantwell

Robert Menendez

Ben Cardin

Bernie Sanders

Sherrod Brown

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Claire McCaskill

Amy Klobuchar

Sheldon Whitehouse

Jon Tester

Tom Udall

Jeanne Shaheen

Mark R. Warner

Jeff Merkley

Michael Bennet

Kirsten Gillibrand

Al Franken

Joe Manchin

Christopher Coons

Richard Blumenthal

Brian Schatz

Tammy Baldwin

Joe Donnelly

Chris Murphy

Mazie K. Hirono

Martin Heinrich

Tim Kaine

Angus King

Elizabeth Warren

Heidi Heitkamp

Edward J. Markey

Cory Booker

Gary Peters

Democrats Panic in Response to Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan



The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is panicking in response to billionaire and 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s immigration reform plan, which is designed to get Americans back to work instead of putting foreigners and special interests ahead of Americans as so many politicians do.

The DNC was so freaked out at Trump’s plan, they rushed out a statement from Pablo Manriquez—their “Director of Hispanic Media”—filled with grammatical errors. The statement, which is nothing more than typical Democratic Party talking points in favor of illegal aliens, accidentally doesn’t capitalize “Trump” in one instance and does the same thing when talking about “Democrats.”

“Trump has reignited the GOP’s longstanding obsession with mass deportation,” Manriquez said. “Like his fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker,

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)


and others, GOP front runner trump [sic] dismisses a full and equal pathway to citizenship for hardworking immigrants. The GOP should quit treating these families as second class citizens and join democrats [sic] who support immigrant families and want to keep them together.”

Trump’s immigration plan is something that used to be bipartisan. Even Senate Democratic leader

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 2%

, back in the early 1990s, supported the major tenets of the plan—putting American workers first when it comes to immigration. Now the entire Democratic Party and most of the Republican Party has abandoned American workers in favor of special interests seeking cheap foreign labor and political interests seeking a different and more liberal voting base.

There are a handful of leaders left in Congress still fighting for Americans when it comes to immigration, though, and chief among them is

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 80%

—the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. Trump consulted Sessions while writing his immigration policy plan.

McConnell Prepares for the Make-Believe Spending Bill Fight



The hill reported that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, a stand-in for Harry Reid, is preparing for a tough battle over the budget negotiations in the fall.

“He wants to keep the government open, avoid a federal default and avoid alienating his conservative base, which wants big concessions connected to legislation funding the government and raising the debt ceiling,” the hill wrote.

Lots of luck with that last one.

The battle is actually over. The only thing that is not over is the wringing of hands and the tough talk meant to fool the masses. If the only tool McConnell has – defunding the government agencies – is off the table, then he has no leverage. Obama loves nothing better than an enemy with no leverage.

Government funding expires on Sept. 30 and that’s when the shenanigans will begin.

Democrats, led by hack Chuck Schumer, demand more spending on entitlements to buy votes and they want it offset with tax increases and taxes masquerading as fees or investments.

A senior Democratic aide said those offsets will get rid of the budget caps – the ones destroying our military. What they want are more taxes on international corporations to keep them from going overseas. They will fine them if they do. It’s not hard to foresee corporations leaving the U.S. if this comes to pass. At least it’s not hard to see unless you’re a Democrat.

“Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and guardian of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, says requiring companies to repatriate foreign profits — instead of giving them the option of doing so voluntarily — counts as a tax hike,” the hill reported.

This next note by the hill is particularly interesting, McConnell does not think there’s enough money from overseas corporate tax reform to pay for both a reduction in rates and a highway bill. He suspects Schumer and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is exploring options with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, will be tempted to double count the proceeds. 

Yikes! Both Schumer and Ryan want to double count?

Democrats claim they will use the money for the highway system. This is what we need! More federal control over our highways with the biggest ATM ever!

They will allegedly put the money in one of their lockboxes, but, amazingly, they have no clue as to whether or not it will cover expenses.

Mitch on a unicorn

McConnell wants to keep tax talks out of the discussion of spending and the highway bill and he wants both of those issues considered separately from each other. For that, he scores points.

Tax reform that leaves out small businesses that file as individual taxpayers is not something McConnell is crazy about. Score another point for McConnell if he’s telling the truth.

The only way defense spending will go up is if non-defense spending goes up with it.

In all likelihood the mandatory spending cuts will remain in place and our military will continue to deteriorate until we have a fleet and an Air Force the size of George Washington’s. Channeling Lafayette!

At least they don’t want to add to the deficit but entitlement reform would be nice.

Democrats will insist on a clean debt-limit increase and McConnell will likely eventually agree to it, knowing they have the upper hand, according to the hill. That’s true because we have no leverage. Clean bill, here we come!

Maybe the battle Mitch will have is actually with the Republicans and not the Democrats. What do you think? Do Republicans have no choice? The Founding Fathers did put the option of defunding the government into the Constitution for a reason.


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Americans demanding congressional leaders slash all federal money for Planned Parenthood

“Let me say it again,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Tuesday. “No more government shutdowns.”

Government money expires Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. The House and Senate haven’t sent any annual spending bills to the White House for President Obama to sign. That means lawmakers must prep an interim spending bill (known as a “Continuing Resolution” or “CR”) to keep the lights on.

Here’s the catch, and why the next two months’ negotiations may not be as simple as McConnell makes it sound.

Pro-life lawmakers are apoplectic about covert videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials callously discussing harvesting fetal tissue from aborted fetuses. Dozens of conservatives are demanding congressional leaders slash all federal money for Planned Parenthood in an emergency spending package. The Senate failed to secure a supermajority Monday just to debate a standalone bill to strip Planned Parenthood of federal dollars.

More on this…

  • Sen. Paul continues fight to defund Planned Parenthood

“At some point we’ll negotiate the way forward,” McConnell predicted of an autumn spending accord.

But the Pandora’s Box has been opened. And Democrats are more than happy to preach of the ills associated with it — namely, that the “defund” push could jam up any government spending bill.

“The move is theirs,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of Republicans. “There is no such thing as a clean CR for Republicans.”

Despite Reid’s supposition, it’s not a certainty that Republicans would affix a rider to a makeshift spending measure. It’s politically risky for Republicans to choose that course. Such a maneuver would prompt the GOP base and Tea Party affiliates to chirp that McConnell and Boehner again hung them out to dry.

During Boehner’s speakership, the Ohio Republican has repeatedly shown a willingness to assemble a minimal group of GOPers — coupled with a large contingent of Democrats — to approve “must-pass” measures and avert political crises.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expecting a CR. She knows this drill all too well — especially when her office phone rings and you-know-who is on the line.

“If they don’t have the Republican votes to pass it, then hopefully we can have some influence over what is in that CR,” Pelosi said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, engineered one potential solution. Collins’ idea would address the Planned Parenthood issue without hooking it to the spending bill and opening Pandora’s Box. She authored an amendment which simply strips dollars from the specific six Planned Parenthood clinics involved in the fetal tissue harvesting scandal, pending an investigation.

“I want to take a more measured approach,” said Collins about her amendment compared with the across-the-board Planned Parenthood cuts backed by many GOPers. “It’s a blunt approach which penalizes clinics which have done nothing wrong.”

But Collins never got to offer her amendment. Monday night’s vote just to consider the defund Planned Parenthood bill required 60 votes. It only scored 53 yeas. You can’t offer an amendment to a bill which doesn’t even make it to the floor.

Back to Pandora’s Box.

“I would hope that my colleagues would think back to 2013,” noted Collins of the last set of political gymnastics.

The calendar is not a friend to lawmakers now. Both bodies of Congress don’t meet for legislative business again until Sept. 8. By that point, Congress will approach the final days of the two-month window to consider President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The House and Senate are aiming to disapprove of the pact. Citing the gravity of the issue, McConnell wants all 100 senators to speak on the floor about the matter. He wants fellow senators to “remain in their seats and listen.” He also intends to suspend all committee hearings during this crucial time.

This could eat up days.

Lawmakers will break in mid-September for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Couple that with a visit to the Capitol in September by Pope Francis, and you can see why this is trouble.

Here’s the real challenge: Most Senate bills face two procedural hurdles of 60 votes. The first deposits the bill on the floor for debate. The second ends debate and allows the measure to advance to final passage. Senate rules require large chunks of time before those votes “ripen” for a roll call. Senators could also require time tranches stretching as long as 30 hours following each vote.

Now, envision a scenario where the GOP brass elects not to include a rider to defund Planned Parenthood. Remember, it takes 60 yeas just to get the bill on the floor and 60 again to finish debate. McConnell could lift a page from Boehner’s playbook and request Democratic help to avoid a shutdown. Republicans currently hold 54 Senate seats. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was the only true GOP defector on the procedural Planned Parenthood Monday. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., were the only Democrats who sided with Republicans on that same roll call. McConnell could need 16 Republicans (including Kirk) to vote with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. Usually it’s Republicans trying to scrape together a few Democrats.

Better enjoy what’s left of August. September is going to be quite a month. And Pandora’s Box may already be open, with its infirmities flying about Capitol Hill.

Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill team. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy issues being introduced, debated and voted on there.