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Senate Adjourns with One Matter Left Unfinished

Senate Adjourns with One Matter Left Unfinished

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate adjourned for the year late Tuesday evening, but there was one item on the Senate's agenda left unaddressed: the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which expires at the end of the month. Set up after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, also known as TRIA, was established to help American businesses with insurance coverage in the case of a terrorist attack. Some have speculated that the Super Bowl may not be played if TRIA expires, though the NFL has insisted it will be played regardless. The Senate was unable to come to an agreement on the TRIA legislation this week. Over the summer, the Senate passed a seven-year extension of TRIA. Last week, the House passed a measure that would extend TRIA for six years and would roll back limits placed on Wall Street bank provisions. Democrats, like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, opposed the changes to the Dodd-Frank legislation in the House bill on TRIA. But ultimately, it was objections from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that sank the bill. Senate Democrats attempted to place the House's TRIA program on the calendar Tuesday night, but Coburn blocked the bill from moving forward. “Several weeks ago I warned Speaker Boehner that if he followed Jeb Hensarling’s dangerous gambit, he risked killing terrorism insurance. Tonight, Senator Coburn struck the final blow when he objected to bringing the bill to the floor," Schumer said Tuesday. "We hope that next year, the House Republican leadership will work with us in the same bipartisan way that the Senate did when we passed a TRIA bill 93-4. We hope the House will pass a bill quickly because billions of dollars of projects and hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk.”The Senate was able to cross off many of the items on its to do list in the final days of session, ranging from issues like controversial nominees to tax extenders to the spending bill. But with the Senate now adjourned and the TRIA legislation set to expire at the end of the month, Congress will need to address TRIA early next year.

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Obama Signs $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill into Law

Obama Signs $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill into Law

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, known as the "Cromnibus," into law on Tuesday night.The bill, passed by both the House and Senate last week, would fund the government through September 2015, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is funded through late February.Senators on both sides of the aisle saw problems with the bill, but the majority passed it in order to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown situation similar to 2013.

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Senate Extends Tax Breaks Through End of Year

Senate Extends Tax Breaks Through End of Year

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that offers 55 temporary tax breaks for businesses and individuals, which had expired last year.The so-called tax extenders bill enacts those tax breaks retroactively to January 1, 2014, and extends through the end of December. A larger debate about those tax breaks will likely be in store in 2015.The Senate has been active Tuesday, confirming a pair of appointments in addition to approving the tax extenders bill. With Republicans set to take control of Congress in January, Democrats in the Senate hope to confirm 18 more nominees and pass the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act before the end of the year.

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Senate Confirms Appointment of Tony Blinken as Deputy Secretary of State

Senate Confirms Appointment of Tony Blinken as Deputy Secretary of State

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Tony Blinken, President Obama's deputy national security advisor, as deputy secretary of state on Tuesday, pushing through another Obama appointee before Republicans take control in January.The Senate voted 55 to 38 in favor of Blinken's appointment. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was among the Republicans opposed to Blinken's confirmation, criticizing him for "abysmally ignorant" comments about Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.Furthermore, McCain said, "This individual has actually been dangerous to America and to the young men and women who are serving it."

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Justice Department Backs Down in Fight Over Press Freedom

Justice Department Backs Down in Fight Over Press Freedom

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department on Tuesday backed down on a legal fight against one of the country's top national security reporters that has been ongoing for years.James Risen was most recently subpoenaed to testify in the trial of a former CIA official charged with leaking classified information. At the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, the department backed off of a legal battle in which it pressed Risen, a New York Times reporter, to reveal his confidential sources or face jail time. Holder promised earlier this year that as long as he is in charge of the Justice Department "no reporter is going to go to jail for doing their job."Prosecutors will still push Risen to testify at the Sterling trial to confirm that he will not breach a confidentiality agreement with his source or sources for certain information in his book, State of War, that information from his book and two articles he wrote was provided by an unnamed source and that information attributed to an identified source was made by an identified source, and that Risen and Sterling had a prior non-confidential reporter-source relationship.

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Trump: Jeb Bush Is the ‘Last Thing’ America Needs

Trump: Jeb Bush Is the ‘Last Thing’ America Needs

Adam Olszewski/NBC(WASHINGTON) -- As Jeb Bush begins to pull together early supporters for his potential presidential campaign, he can go ahead and cross Donald Trump off his list.In an interview with ABC News, Trump said the former Republican governor of Florida is the “last thing” the country needs in a presidential candidate.“I’m a Republican, the last thing we need right now is another Bush,” Trump said. “I saw when he released 250,000 emails I said, ‘What are we children? Is this a game? You release every email?’ This is the problem with this country, whether it's political correctness or whatever, so the last thing we need right now is for that to happen.”Bush, 61, announced on Tuesday that he will "actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States." The announcement came just two days after Bush said he would release all emails from his two terms as the governor of Florida.Trump offered a potential alternative to a Bush candidacy: a Trump candidacy. Asked if he is considering running for president himself in 2016, Trump said he is “looking at it.”“I am looking at it very, very seriously. If I decide to do it I will do it,” he said.Trump’s criticism of Bush should perhaps come as no surprise, since the real estate mogul was also an outspoken critic of his brother, former President George W. Bush.But Trump’s disapproval of former President Bush is second to his dislike of President Obama.“I think they both did a very terrible job,” Trump said. “I thought Bush was a terrible president. I thought he did a terrible job. He got us involved in Iraq, which we shouldn't have been in, and frankly destabilized the entire Middle East and beyond. And I thought he did a terrible job and I thought his last month was a catastrophe because there was collapsing all over the place. I think Barack Obama was a step worse. I think we've had two terrible presidents.”

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Marco Rubio Won’t Base 2016 Decision on Jeb Bush

Marco Rubio Won’t Base 2016 Decision on Jeb Bush

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that his decision about a potential presidential campaign in 2016 would not be based on Jeb Bush's announcement that he would explore a potential run for the same position."Marco has a lot of respect for Governor Bush, and believes he would be a formidable candidate," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told ABC News. "However, Marco's decision on whether to run for president or re-election will be based on where he can best achieve his agenda to restore the American Dream -- not on who else might be running."Both Rubio and Bush have been talked about as potential 2016 candidates for quite a while. With Bush announcing that he was considering a run for president, Rubio will soon face a similar decision. If Rubio opts not to set his sights on the Oval Office, he could choose to run for re-election to the Senate in 2016.

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Senate Confirms Sarah Saldaña as New ICE Director

Senate Confirms Sarah Saldaña as New ICE Director

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Sarah Saldaña as the director of Immigration and Customers Enforcement on Tuesday, despite objections from Republicans concerned about her support for President Obama’s immigration policies.The Senate voted 55-39 to confirm Saldaña, a Dallas-based U.S. attorney, to lead ICE.Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who initially supported her, opposed Saldaña due to her support of Obama’s executive action on immigration. “If she is determined to help the president implement this deeply flawed executive action and refuse to enforce the law that Congress has written and has been signed by previous presidents, I can't support her nomination,” Cornyn said. “I will not aid and abet a president dead set on unilaterally defying our nation's immigration laws.”

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There’s Work Ahead If Jeb Bush Does Run, Poll Finds

There’s Work Ahead If Jeb Bush Does Run, Poll Finds

ABC News/Washington Post(NEW YORK) -- Jeb Bush has his work cut out for him, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds -- but no more than any of the other potential Republican presidential hopefuls for 2016.Fourteen percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote support Bush for the GOP presidential nomination. In a matchup assuming that Mitt Romney doesn’t run, that puts Bush numerically first, but not by a meaningful margin. Paul Ryan has 11 percent support, Rand Paul 10 percent, and six others have 7 or 8 percent apiece.

[Click here to see a PDF with full results and charts.]

Having 14 percent support means that 86 percent of leaned Republicans aren’t Bush backers. Still, he has major name recognition, and some advantages in his support profile.Chief is the fact that he does better among mainline Republicans, who are most apt to participate in primaries. Bush has 19 percent support in this group (compared to Ryan’s 14 percent). Among GOP-leaning independents, by contrast, Bush’s support declines to 9 percent. Paul has 15 percent among those independents; Christie, 10 percent.Bush, a former Florida governor, announced on Tuesday that he will “actively explore the possibility” of running for president, and will form a political action committee for that purpose next month.Bush may have challenges in the strongly conservative wing of the party; his support ranges from 18 to 15 to 12 percent among moderate, somewhat conservative and very conservative leaned Republicans, respectively. On either side of him among very conservatives are Ted Cruz, with 14 percent support, and Scott Walker, with 10 percent.If Romney were to run again, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that Bush would slip to the next tier: When included in the mix, Romney has 21 percent support, vs. 10 percent for Bush, 9 percent for Paul and 8 percent for Ryan.One open question is the potential impact of Bush’s family history; his father lasted a single term and his brother had the most unpopular second term of any president in modern polling. In an ABC/Post poll in late October, 52 percent of registered voters said they did not think Jeb Bush would make a good president, compared with 43 percent who said the same about Hillary Clinton.Clinton has led Bush in a range of head-to-head matchups this year. But these are early days, the Democrats took a drubbing in the November midterms, and it’s an uncertain world entirely.

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Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg Promote Data2x Project

Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg Promote Data2x Project

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton appeared with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York Monday, bringing attention to an initiative to help improve the tracking of data about women and girls worldwide. The project, Data2x, is a joint venture of the Clinton Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the United Nations Foundation. There was no 2016 or political talk at the event. Instead, Clinton stressed her longtime focus on improving the lives of women and girls around the globe -- something we are sure to hear if she does make a run official. Clinton said the data must be combed through in order to “build a case strong enough to convince skeptics based on hard data and clear eyed analysis that creating opportunities for women and girls across the globe, directly supports everyone’s security and prosperity and therefore should be an enduring part of our diplomacy and development work.” Bloomberg introduced the possible presidential candidate, calling her a ”great secretary of state, a great senator for New York.” The billionaire even joked to the crowd: “If my mother and father knew that I was on a first-name basis with Hillary Clinton, it would be a very big deal.”

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Libertarian Takeover: Thaddeus McCotter Predicts a New World Order for GOP

Libertarian Takeover: Thaddeus McCotter Predicts a New World Order for GOP

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Former Republican presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter is not himself a libertarian, but the former Michigan congressman predicts an approaching libertarian takeover of the Grand Old Party.At least, that’s the premise of his new book, Liberty Risen: The Ultimate Triumph of Libertarian-Republicans.“The reality is you want to conserve what's best but you want to go forward, you want to go forward from the industrial era to the Internet age,” McCotter told Top Line in a recent interview. “Government has to be reorganized for the future.”Though he sees the march toward libertarianism as inevitable with the rise of the millennial generation, which he sees as forcing change within the party, he qualifies that this trend is gradual and has been going on for quite some time.“The rise of libertarians is not something new within the Republican Party. I mean, Ron Paul actually puts that to rest, but the reality is [that]…the communications revolution is reshaping everything that we've known,” McCotter said. “That culture tends to be more libertarian, more empowered … and eventually that culture -- and the millennials especially as they age and mature -- is going to lead to match a consumer-driven economy to a citizen-driven government.”Asked if Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the GOP’s answer for channeling the energy of the libertarian movement into the mainstream Republican Party in 2016, McCotter replied: “Well, I say we're going to have a stallion, I'm not saying it's going to be Man o' War.”Though McCotter tried his own hand at presidential politics in 2012, he has no plans of getting involved again in the 2016 contest.“I'm done,” McCotter said. “I mean, I'm 49, I'm bald, and I'm happy. So, why would I go back?”McCotter would not point to any one political leader as embodying the way forward for the Republican Party but analogized the coming changes to the successful populist movement led by Andrew Jackson in the 19th century.“The country was expanding westward, and you had settlements and you had very rugged very individualistic very self-reliant,” McCotter said. “Eventually that cultural change came through…and the populist movement, the ‘King Mob’ as Jackson was called, actually triumphed by helping to lead in an expansion of democracy within the country, and that's kind of what we're going through now and we're going to see now. Who it is, and how it's going to happen, he or she, I don't know.”But for now, McCotter said, the GOP is in a time of transition.“It doesn't come over night,” McCotter said. “But I think that what they have to do is...they're not cutting government, they're doing what happens in every facet of life is they have to transform government to meet the present and the future needs of the American citizens.”For more of the interview with McCotter, and to hear why he says the populist movement around Elizabeth Warren actually helps Hillary Clinton rather than hurting her, check out this episode of Top Line.

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Jeb Bush Will ‘Actively Explore the Possibility of Running for President’

Jeb Bush Will ‘Actively Explore the Possibility of Running for President’

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Jeb Bush announced Tuesday morning that he will "actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States."Bush said he made the decision over the Thanksgiving holiday in consultation with his family."As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States," he said in a message posted on Facebook Tuesday.“In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans,” Bush said in the message, which he also tweeted. "In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.”

 

I am excited to announce I will actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States: https://t.co/luY4lCF2cA.

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 16, 2014

 

A top Republican close to Bush told ABC News the reason behind his timing Tuesday is to send the message to donors, GOP activists and other 2016 prospects that he is dead serious about running and they should take that into account. In short, hold off and don't sign on with anyone else.This could be bad news for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is already planning a run. When asked if he still will, an aide said: "We'll see."On Monday, Bush delivered the commencement address at the University of South Carolina, but offered no hints about Tuesday’s announcement. Instead, he gave graduates three pieces of advice.“Dream big, don’t be afraid of change and find joy everywhere you can,” Bush told the attendees.The speech came a day after he told ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG-TV he would not only release an e-book, but also 250,000 of his emails from his time in office. In the interview that aired Sunday on WPLG, Bush hinted that he planned to "make up my mind in short order" about jumping into the 2016 race."One of the things I am going to do as I go through this process is release all of my e-mails and write an e-book, which has been kind of fun to go back and to think about this, and remind myself that if you run with big ideas and then you're true to those ideas, and get a chance to serve and implement them and do it with passion and conviction, you can move the needle," Bush said in the intevriew. "And that's what we need right now in America."Bush said the e-mails would be made public early next year. He decided to release them, he said, in the interest of "transparency" and in order to "let people make up their mind."

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Six in 10 See CIA Actions as Justified as Many Question Committee Report

Six in 10 See CIA Actions as Justified as Many Question Committee Report

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Six in 10 Americans say the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists was justified, more than half think it produced important, unique intelligence -- and 52 percent say it was wrong for the Senate Intelligence Committee to issue a report suggesting otherwise.Those results in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll underscore the public’s sense of risk from the threat of terrorism, and specifically the extent to which majorities support controversial measures to combat it. Indeed just two in 10 flatly rule out torture in future cases.

[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

A plurality, 49 percent, believes the CIA did in fact torture suspected terrorists; 38 percent think its actions did not amount to torture, with the rest unsure. Regardless, the public by a broad 59-31 percent also says the agency’s interrogation actions were justified.One reason is that 53 percent think these interrogations produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way. Just 31 percent reject this claim, a focus of the recent debate.It’s a critical point: Among those who think the CIA interrogations produced unique information, 85 percent say its treatment of suspected terrorists was justified. That drops precipitously, to 28 percent, among those who say the approach did not produce important information.Other results in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, show substantial misgivings about the Senate committee’s report:

Americans by an 11-point margin, 47-36 percent, are more apt to see it as unfair rather than fair in its description of what occurred. The public by 52-43 percent feels more that it was wrong to release the report because it may raise the risk of terrorism by stirring anti-American sentiment -- as critics say -- than right to release the report in order to expose what happened and prevent a recurrence. Additionally, Americans by 57-34 percent oppose criminal charges against officials who were responsible for the agency’s interrogation activities.

A majority does accept one of the committee’s key criticisms: Fifty-four percent think the CIA did in fact mislead the White House, Congress and the public about its activities. At the same time, four in 10 of them also say the agency was justified in doing so. A net total of just 33 percent think both that the CIA misled, and did so without justification.Another result also indicates a source of support for the CIA: the fact that, looking ahead, most Americans are unwilling to rule out torture of suspected terrorists. Fifty-eight percent say it can sometimes or even often be justified. Nineteen percent say it can be justified, albeit just rarely, while 20 percent rule it out entirely.DOES IT WORK? – Many views on the issue are informed by judgments of whether the agency’s interrogation techniques in fact work. It’s a key point because past research also has shown the extent to which many Americans, in a time of threat, place a priority on security over other rights.As noted, people who think these interrogations produced unique intelligence are far more likely than others to see the CIA’s actions as justified. They’re also far more apt to think future torture can be justified, to oppose criminal charges and to oppose the release of the committee report.Views of whether or not the CIA’s actions produced important information, in turn, are influenced to some extent by political and partisan predispositions. Seventy percent of Republicans and 68 percent of conservatives think important information was gained. So do smaller majorities of independents and moderates, 53 and 51 percent, respectively. Among Democrats and liberals, 40 and 35 percent, respectively, think useful information resulted.GROUPS – There are similar divisions on other issues. At the high end of support for the agency, 82 percent of conservative Republicans say the CIA’s actions were justified -- and just 30 percent think the interrogation techniques amounted to torture. Across the political and ideological spectrum, among liberal Democrats, 38 percent think the CIA actions were justified, and 73 percent see them as torture. There also are large partisan and ideological gaps in views of the committee’s report.Among other groups, seeing the CIA’s actions as justified rises with age (from 50 percent among under 30s to 66 percent of seniors), declines with education, and is nearly 20 percentage points higher among whites than nonwhites. More-educated adults are much more apt than those with less education to classify the CIA’s activities as torture.Criminal charges, for their part, are supported by two-thirds of those who think the CIA misled the White House, Congress and public without justification; two-thirds of those who think the treatment of prisoners was unjustified; and six in 10 of those who think the actions did not produce important information. But those are minorities in each case -- and by contrast, even among those who see the actions as torture, fewer than half support bringing charges against those responsible.METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 11-14, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Donald Trump ‘Very Strongly’ Considering 2016 Presidential Bid

Donald Trump ‘Very Strongly’ Considering 2016 Presidential Bid

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Here we go again. In a Monday evening appearance at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., Donald Trump seemingly did all but file the paperwork in announcing his intention to run for president in 2016.“I am considering it very strongly,” Trump said near the beginning of his discussion with philanthropist David Rubenstein.Rubenstein pressed Trump over a recent announcement that he will be heading to Iowa in late January to attend a dinner party with Gov. Terry Branstad.“A lot of people think I’m having fun with it, that I’m playing games, that I enjoy the process. And I do enjoy the process to a certain extent,” Trump said. “Frankly I just think we need something very good, very fast or we’re going to be in very big trouble as a country.”Trump cited the national debt as his primary motivation for throwing his hat in the ring, and connected his success in business dealings to his strength in handling the economy. He also remarked on last week’s release of the torture report by the Senate Intelligence Committee and its reported $40 million price tag.“Do we have to announce the torture report?” Trump asked. “There are so many things that I see in this country, whether it’s common sense or whatever. And I have a really big voice. I have, you know, millions and millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook. And when I say something some people don’t like it, but most people do like it.”Trump looked back on his most recent run at the presidency saying, “four years ago I was leading in the polls, I was beating everybody in the polls,” and said that if he were to make an announcement this time it would come in “March, April or May” of 2015.“I would rather do what I’m doing than run for president,” Trump said. “But I also love the country more, and I just think that unless I see somebody that’s outstanding I would be very much be inclined to do it.”

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At NJ Army Base, Obama Praises Troops, Vows Victory over ISIS

At NJ Army Base, Obama Praises Troops, Vows Victory over ISIS

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke on Monday from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, thanking troops stationed there for their service."Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, white, black, brown, rich, poor, no matter how we pray, no matter who we love," Obama said, "when it comes to our troops, when it comes to you and your families as Americans, we stand united." Obama told the troops that their fellow Americans, "are proud of you. We support you. And we can never thank you enough."The commander in chief also spoke of the drawdown in Afghanistan, promising victory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. "I want you and every American who has served in Afghanistan to be proud of what you've accomplished there," Obama told the troops. "Your generation, the 9/11 generation, has met every mission that's been given to you." 

His words came three days after two more Americans -- Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris, 37, of New York, New York, and Spc. Wyatt J. Martin, 22, of Mesa, Arizona -- were killed in Afghanistan when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb near the largest U.S. military base in the country.On ISIS, Obama claimed that U.S. forces, "have blunted their momentum, and we have put them on the defensive." Alluding to the fight against al-Qaeda, Obama said that ISIS militants, "are learning the same thing that the leaders of al-Qaeda have learned the hard way.""They may think that they can chalk up some quick victories, but our reach is long," Obama said. "We do not give up. You threaten America, you will have no safe haven. We will find you, and like petty tyrants and terrorists before you, the world is going to leave you behind and keep moving on without you, because we will get you."

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Senate Confirms Dr. Vivek Murthy As Surgeon General

Senate Confirms Dr. Vivek Murthy As Surgeon General

Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the next surgeon general Monday.By a 51-43 vote, Murthy, a physician in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was confirmed on Monday. The White House had been forced to pull his nomination last spring when the National Rifle Association expressed opposition to his support of gun control. The NRA also opposed Murthy's statements that gun violence is a public health concern.Murthy was also criticized by some Republicans for co-founding a political group that advocated for the Affordable Care Act.The vacancy in the surgeon general position had become more notable in recent months as concerns about Ebola in the U.S. grew.

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No 2016 Talk, but Jeb Bush Gives Three Pieces of Advice to Grads

No 2016 Talk, but Jeb Bush Gives Three Pieces of Advice to Grads

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Jeb Bush gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina this afternoon and decided to take his mother’s advice, getting some laughs from the audience of graduates and families.“As I was preparing my remarks I asked the chief adviser of all important things in the Bush family, Barbara Bush, what I should speak about and she thought about it briefly and said, ‘Jeb, speak about ten minutes and shut up,’” Bush said.Bush, who is the focus of buzz and speculation about a potential 2016 run for the White House, didn’t mention his political future, but gave graduates three pieces of advice.“Dream big, don’t be afraid of change and find joy everywhere you can,” Bush told the attendees.He cautioned the possibly nervous graduates that once they leave school “every day is an exam, every day you will get graded.”Bush’s speech in South Carolina, the first state in the South to vote in the country’s primary process, comes just a day after he told ABC's Miami affiliate WPLG he would not only release an e-book, but also 250,000 of his emails from his time in office. It's the clearest sign yet he is moving towards a possible run, a decision he said in the interview he would make “in short order.” He noted in the interview he “would be a good president.” Today was Bush’s second visit to the important early voting state in three months.The email release is also being seen as a move towards transparency and one that his potential rivals might be pushed to match.The former Florida governor made no other stops in the state, including no political events, besides meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, according to a Bush aide. The staffer said Haley and Bush know each other well and his education foundation has supported Haley’s work on education reform in South Carolina.Bush’s work on education would likely be a focus of any presidential campaign, but his support for Common Core initiatives have angered more conservative members of the Republican Party, a group that tends to have outsize influence in some state primaries, including South Carolina's.Bush told the graduates in Columbia, South Carolina, that his three pieces of advice are ones he learned “along life’s journey” and they “may relieve some of that anxiety and worry if you have it,” adding they are lessons “you can apply in any situation whether you decide to run a statehouse, a classroom, or a lemonade stand.”He noted after his first lesson “dream big” that children often “model their lives on their parents.” But, he said, “I can tell you from personal experience, if your parents worked in politics, well you know the rest,” he said to laughs, before urging the crowd to break out of that pattern. “You don’t need to follow the pattern, you can do what you want to do. In fact, life is a lot better if you find your own reasons to do your own things.”He urged the graduates not to be afraid of change and experimentation and “even fail because it’s part of life, it will definitely be part of yours.”And in rounding out his important three, he mentioned his 90-year-old father, former President George H.W. Bush, as someone who consistently has fun, even when facing adversity.“No matter how many challenges you face, no matter how old you get, remember to have fun and laugh,” Bush said. “Be like my dad who turned 90 years old this year. Here is a guy who lived a full and active life," noting his father gets joy in everything from "wearing funny and colorful socks or for some strange reason jumping out of perfectly good airplanes even at the age of 90.”Bush said it’s for these reasons his father is his “favorite person in the world, of all time.”“Life isn’t always about the happy moments, everyone faces adversity eventually,” he said. “But those things we can’t control, we can control how we react. If you are able to find joy in life wherever you can I can promise you this joy will find you.”In exchange for his advice he asked the graduates to “give back to your communities," urging them to be mentors or otherwise contribute to those who need it most.The university gave Bush an honorary doctoral degree of public service at the ceremony to which he quipped about his wife, “I can’t wait to get home and tell Columba I’m a doctor now, this is huge.”

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The Two Things Michelle Obama Wants for Christmas

The Two Things Michelle Obama Wants for Christmas

Amanda Lucidon/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama wants to sleep late on Christmas and, ideally, in a new pair of comfy pajamas.Mrs. Obama revealed her wish list during a Q&A Monday with kids at the Children’s National Health System. Her appearance, which included a reading of The Night Before Christmas, is an annual first lady tradition that dates back to Bess Truman. First dogs Bo and Sunny tagged along for the fun.“What do you want for Christmas?” one child asked.“I don’t really have a long wish list for Christmas, because I pretty much have everything I need. Moms and dads, we’re not that big on Christmas,” the first lady replied. “I just want everybody to be happy, and I want to sleep in. That’s what I want for Christmas. I want to sleep late. Maybe I’ll get that.”Later, another child asked the first lady if she owns a pair of Christmas pajamas.“Do I have Christmas pajamas? I don’t,” she said. “Maybe that’s what I should put on my Christmas list. Okay, Mr. President, if you’re watching, I think we could use some Christmas pajamas. That’s a good idea.”

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CA Earthquake Warning System Gets Funding from Congress

CA Earthquake Warning System Gets Funding from Congress

iStock/Thinkstock(PASADENA, Calif) -– Money is heading to California for an earthquake detection system thanks to new funding from Congress.The system, which Japan and Mexico already have in place, could give a one-minute warning before shaking begins. The $5 million in early warning funding was part of the $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress passed on Saturday.Congressman Adam Schiff, D-CA, said in a press conference at California Institute of Technology on Monday the system will save lives by providing several seconds to a minute of early warning that a quake is coming.“This $5 million dollars will help add additional stations, speed up the shake-alert system, and make it more reliable on our highest priority areas including Los Angeles and the Bay Area,” said Schiff.Schiff called the $5 million a down payment on a system that will cost much more to build. “This will save lives, money, and infrastructure when an earthquake strikes and we know one will strike,” he said.

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How One Senate Vote Would Benefit the Super Bowl

How One Senate Vote Would Benefit the Super Bowl

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One item left on the Senate’s to-do list this week is passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which expires at the end of this year, raising questions about the fate of some professional sporting events.The bill, also known as TRIA, was first enacted following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011 as a way for the federal government to help insurance companies cover American businesses in the wake of a terrorist attack. Some of the businesses aided by TRIA include professional sports organizations, like the National Football League, which need to have coverage for the stadiums and arenas their players and spectators use.The debate over TRIA has even spurred rumors that the NFL might be forced to cancel the Super Bowl, one of the most popular sporting events of the year, if the legislation isn’t renewed. The NFL has shot down those rumors, saying the Super Bowl will go on as planned.“The Super Bowl will be played,” Greg Aiello, senior vice president of communications for the NFL, told ABC News.The Senate passed its own bipartisan bill to reauthorize TRIA in the summer, but last week, the House passed a different measure that funds the program for six years and includes a provision that rolls back some limits placed on Wall Street banks in the Dodd-Frank reform bill.That House measure faces an up-hill battle in the Senate this week as a few Senate Democrats oppose the inclusion of the Dodd-Frank language. On the Republican side, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has threatened to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote."There may not be any TRIA until January, the next Congress. I'm OK with that," Coburn said, according to National Journal. "Quite frankly, I don't care whether TRIA happens or not. Because I believe that markets will fill in that void."The NFL has teamed up with other prominent businesses, including the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, as part of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism to lobby Congress to renew the measure by the end of the year.The Senate is aiming to hold a vote on the measure before the session adjourns at the end of the week.

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