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Kerry Critical of Netanyahu’s Judgment on Iran Talks

Kerry Critical of Netanyahu’s Judgment on Iran Talks

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday delivered a sharp criticism of an important U.S. ally even as he refused to directly comment about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress on March 3.Kerry, who was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Netanyahu's judgment about ongoing talks to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities "may not be correct here."Netanyahu is expected to deliver a stinging rebuke of the negotiations with Tehran during his address to lawmakers. House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to speak without first consulting the White House, which administration officials are privately furious about.GOP lawmakers and some Democrats have sided with Netanyahu, insisting that Iran can't be trusted to stop their alleged effort to build nuclear weapons, which would threaten Israel's survival. They charge that Tehran is dragging out talks deliberately and has no intention of ever giving up its nuclear program.California Republican Congressman Ed Royce, the committee's chairman, brought up these concerns to Kerry, who agreed that Iran should not keep stonewalling United Nations inspectors about previous work in trying to construct an atomic bomb.The U.S. and the rest of the P5+1 have set a March 31 deadline to come up with an agreement that would put sharp restrictions of Iran's nuclear program for a decade in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions that have crippled its economy.

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Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Am I supposed to applaud you for poking round in my things?” Those are the wise words spoken by head maid Anna May Bates of television’s Downton Abbey, a statement that could also apply to the latest episode in the real-life dramatic series of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-IL. Schock, who has come under fire for lavish spending on office décor, as well as pricey travel habits, has hired a team of lawyers from the Washington, D.C., firm Jones Day. He has also hired a public relations firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, headed by communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh -- both veteran congressional aides -- to help the congressman respond to his recent troubles. A spokesperson for Schock confirmed the news on Wednesday, which was first reported by Politico, to ABC News. “After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to determine whether they can be improved,” the spokesperson said. “To lead the review, he hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of Jones Day. “Congressman Schock takes his compliance obligations seriously which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures. Congressman Schock has a well-deserved outstanding reputation for constituent service and remains steadfastly focused on serving the people in Illinois' 18th congressional district during this review.” Schock’s troubles first began when The Washington Post ran an article revealing the congressman’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building was modeled after the red room in the famed period television series Downton Abbey. Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct. The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.

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Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Am I supposed to applaud you for poking round in my things?” Those are the wise words spoken by head maid Anna May Bates of television’s Downton Abbey, a statement that could also apply to the latest episode in the real-life dramatic series of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-IL. Schock, who has come under fire for lavish spending on office décor, as well as pricey travel habits, has hired a team of lawyers from the Washington, D.C., firm Jones Day. He has also hired a public relations firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, headed by communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh -- both veteran congressional aides -- to help the congressman respond to his recent troubles. A spokesperson for Schock confirmed the news on Wednesday, which was first reported by Politico, to ABC News. “After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to determine whether they can be improved,” the spokesperson said. “To lead the review, he hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of Jones Day. “Congressman Schock takes his compliance obligations seriously which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures. Congressman Schock has a well-deserved outstanding reputation for constituent service and remains steadfastly focused on serving the people in Illinois' 18th congressional district during this review.” Schock’s troubles first began when The Washington Post ran an article revealing the congressman’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building was modeled after the red room in the famed period television series Downton Abbey. Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct. The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.

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Chertoff and Ridge Blast Congress on DHS Funding Impasse

Chertoff and Ridge Blast Congress on DHS Funding Impasse

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest rhetorical salvo over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday with two of his Republican predecessors, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, blasting Congress for threatening funding for the department. While former secretary Ridge expressed his strong opposition to President Obama’s executive order on immigration, saying the president “has gravely overstepped his constitutional authority,” he was equally blunt in his assessment of Congress. 

“I don't think we right that wrong on the backs of the patriots that go to work every day and provide safety and security every day at the Department of Homeland Security.  They [Republicans in Congress] may not like what has transpired, but the solution that they seek, in my judgment, is unfortunate, from a policy point of view it's wrong, it's folly,” Ridge said. Ridge said DHS workers are improperly being caught up in the policy debate over immigration.  “You don’t elevate the debate and you don’t send a message by refusing to compensate the men and women who go to work every single day in a uniform of public service, when their mission is frankly to keep us safe and secure.”  Former DHS Secretary Chertoff was similarly blunt, accusing the Congress of holding the DHS hostage in an act of political gamesmanship.

“What I don’t think makes sense is to hold the entire set of operations at the Department of Homeland Security in abeyance, as a hostage as the legislative branch starts to play a game of chicken with the president,” Chertoff said. Despite the tough talk, current secretary Jeh Johnson expressed optimism that an agreement could be worked out before the Friday deadline passes and forces furloughs and suspended operations and pay stoppages for the department’s employees.  

“I remain optimistic that Congress is going to work this out, but we have to plan, we have to prepare,” Johnson said.  “We’re talking about working men and women here,” Johnson said about the prospect of his department’s employees working without pay.  “They are entitled to know what the status of negotiations are in Congress are because their paychecks hang in the balance,” Johnson added. Secretary Johnson told reporters about FEMA director Craig Fugate’s emotional reaction to the prospect of a DHS shutdown. “I feel as though my people are being treated as pawns, as though they don’t matter,” he said.   DHS has already begun the process of informing people who would be furloughed if the impasse is not resolved. All this occurs with the backdrop of a more challenged security environment in the homeland, due in large part to the instability in Syria and Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

“The breadth and the depth of the threat streams and threats directed to the United States of America today, in 2015, in my judgment, are greater and more complex than as of September 12, 2001.  That’s a fact of life,” Ridge said. Ridge said for him and the other secretaries who have led the department, it has become personal.  “I want somebody up on the Hill, as much as I disagree with the president, to look into the eyes of that man on horseback or on an ATV on the southern border, or look in the eyes of that Coastie who is just being dropped in 30-foot waves to rescue some crab fisherman outside of Alaska.  I want you to look in their eyes and say, ‘Well we appreciate what you do, but we don’t appreciate it enough to fund you.  So it becomes very personal for…the four secretaries.”While former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano was not in attendance at the briefing, she said in a statement that she stands with her colleagues in support of the passage of a clean DHS funding bill.

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“American Idol” for Political Nerds Is Coming to DC

“American Idol” for Political Nerds Is Coming to DC

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- OK, political junkies, it’s time to switch on C-SPAN: There’s a three-day-long reality show just getting started outside Washington, D.C.CPAC, an annual conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union, will draw almost all of the Republican Party’s likely presidential contenders, who are given 20 minutes each to pitch their vision for America.At the end, the conference attendees, conservatives from all over the U.S., will crown the winner of the CPAC straw poll. Basically, it’s American Idol for political nerds. Sure, the contestants are a little older, the conference center venue a little blander, and the dulcet tones of Adam Lambert noticeably absent. But with the White House in play, the stakes are a whole lot higher. The ContestantsLike Idol, CPAC is essentially a big casting call, a chance for the Republican base to preview candidates’ stump speeches before the 2016 cycle officially begins. This year’s headliners include almost all of the 2016 contenders, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. (Real estate mogul Donald Trump, who always seems to be eyeing the White House, will also speak, as will Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.)

The highest-profile CPAC speakers will meet a fan base almost as vociferous as Carrie Underwood’s following -- and the CPAC fans often dress in costume. From Wednesday through Saturday, the Gaylord Convention Center will play host to a cadre of Uncle Sams, George Washingtons and Ronald Reagans -- plus a hoard of college kids wearing elephant ties and kissing cardboard cutouts of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.Of course, not every presidential wannabe makes it to CPAC. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, thought to be mulling a 2016 bid, is skipping the conference, heading instead to Tennessee and South Carolina. Other party bigwigs -- most notably House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- are also opting out. Both offices cite scheduling conflicts. The JudgesRemember watching Idol contestants squirm under Simon Cowell’s skeptical eye? That’s basically the feeling you’ll get when you see Fox News’ Sean Hannity question former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about common core curriculum standards onstage at CPAC. Bush, whose recent speeches in Chicago and Detroit fell decidedly flat, has decided to forgo the formal speech entirely, opting instead for a 20-minute Q&A. He’s excelled at the format in the past -- but pundits are waiting to see how he’ll do when confronted with controversial issues, like his support for common core and immigration, at CPAC. And The Winner Is ...You can’t text in your vote (the ACU isn’t quite as hip as Ryan Seacrest) but just as at Idol, audience participation is encouraged at CPAC. The grand finale is the straw poll reveal Saturday evening -- the results of an informal ballot asking attendees who they’d vote for to be president. Last year, Sen. Rand Paul won handily, garnering 31 percent of the vote, a full 20 points ahead of the first runner-up, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The straw poll doesn’t necessarily mean much -- only a few CPAC straw poll winners have gone on to become the party’s nominee -- but it can help demonstrate momentum and attract bundlers, crucial in the early stages of campaign fundraising.

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Politicians Become Cats With Artist’s Touch

Politicians Become Cats With Artist’s Touch

Anthony Pego(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma artist’s not "kitten" around when he says he wants to draw a cat version of all 100 U.S. senators. Anthony Pego, an Oklahoma City artist, has started posting on his website drawings of politicians as cats, giving whiskers and fur to pols ranging from the Senate majority leader to an Oklahoma representative. The drawings began as a silly gift for Pego’s friends on his birthday and served as a way for him to hone his skills using a digital stylus, the artist told ABC News. Pego, 36, typically creates metal jewelry, but the colder winter temperatures make that process more difficult this time of year, he said. So he drew Oklahoma's U.S. senators, the governor and a district representative -- clad in suits, posing before flags, and with whiskers sprouting from their cheeks. Pego, an owner of two dogs but no cats, decided on felines because of the animal’s pervasiveness online -- and said they were more of a challenge to fuse with people. “It’s very easy to get a human emotion out of a dog. We anthropomorphize them more easily,” he said. “With cats it’s a little harder, you don’t really know what’s going on in their mind.” He scans the politicians’ photos online -- official portraits and unflattering shots alike -- and takes time to learn their positions, too. After purr-fecting his own state’s leaders, he noticed a photo of a New York state senator wielding machetes he wanted to ban -- a photo Pego found absurd -- and decided to “cat-ify” that politician, along with others from New York. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., took on the name "Purrsten Giilibrand." And New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, became "Andrew Cuomew."Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., got a cat version of himself and even tweeted out a link to Pego’s site, Boo Science.

Not sure what to make of this: http://t.co/5qbF52dPF2 pic.twitter.com/LgY1AgWg7y

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 24, 2015

Pego hopes to draw all 100 U.S. senators before the year is out. “I wont stop until I mange to get all of them,” he said, “and hopefully I manage to get them all before some of them get booted out by voters.” He’s now working on a cat version of Woody Guthrie, for the release of a pineapple-infused version of a beer dedicated to the late singer-songwriter. But he’s been blown away by the response to his political “catifications” -- and says he had to check to make sure Schumer’s tweet didn’t come from a fake account. “It’s really me just teaching myself who’s running my country,” he said. “It’s just for fun.”

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Senate Dems Agree to Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill

Senate Dems Agree to Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill

DHS(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday that Senate Democrats will agree to vote on a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill -- despite House Speaker John Boehner not giving assurances he will hold a vote on the measure in the House of Representatives.“We're going to do everything we can to make sure it passes by an overwhelming vote,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Wednesday. “I think virtually every Democrat will vote for that.”Reid said that if the House of Representatives does not vote on the clean measure and instead sends a funding bill with immigration provisions attached, Senate Democrats will not agree to go to conference on the bill, which is one option being floated on the House side.“This isn't the time for games. If the House of Representatives led by Speaker Boehner is interested in doing a funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security, it has to be one that has no tricks, no riders,” Reid said. “If you send something back, that is vexatious with all these riders and anti-immigrant stuff, he won't be able to go to conference and he has to understand that.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could begin the process to set up votes on a clean measure in the Senate as soon as Wednesday afternoon. But the timing of any vote will depend on whether all senators give their consent to give back debate time.

Reid said Senate Democrats are ready to give their consent, but it is unknown at this time whether any Republican senators will force the Senate to use all debate time on the measure.McConnell, R-Ky., has introduced a separate measure that would address the president’s executive actions on immigration without tying it to DHS funding, but Reid said Democrats would not agree to move onto the measure until the DHS funding bill has cleared the House.

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Texas Governor: ‘Rule of Law’ Trumps ‘Compassion’ for Undocumented Immigrants

Texas Governor: ‘Rule of Law’ Trumps ‘Compassion’ for Undocumented Immigrants

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott told ABC News the “rule of law” trumps “compassion” for undocumented immigrants.In an exclusive interview with ABC News inside the ornate governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas, Abbott, whose federal lawsuit stopped President Obama’s executive action protecting millions from deportation, admitted he has no solution for what to do with the 11 million undocumented people living and working in the United States today. He said that’s not his responsibility, its Obama’s.“As the governor of Texas, I don’t have the luxury of making that decision. That is the job of the United States Congress and the president,” Abbott said. “And [that is] the reason why we have this lawsuit.”Undocumented immigrants, many of whom are already paying taxes and have no criminal history, were granted legal status by Obama’s executive action taken last November.A federal judge earlier this month blocked Obama’s plans to allow more undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The judge was ruling on a lawsuit filed by Abbott when he was the Texas attorney general.That is being appealed by the Obama administration. The administration filed an emergency stay this week to allow applicants to his immigration programs to register while the lawsuit moves through the court system.Abbott claims Obama's executive action overstepped his authority.“What the president did here was to trample the rule of law,” Abbott told ABC News. “The president is being a dictator by issuing laws in contradiction of his power under the United States Constitution.”A study this week by a pro-immigration reform group put the cost of deporting 11 million undocumented currently living in the United States at $50 billion.Abbott told ABC News more should be spent on border security, even though the Department of Homeland Security says fewer immigrants are crossing America’s southern frontier than they have since the 1970s.Undocumented families interviewed by ABC News said they want the governor to know the issue is not about a “political battle” with the president, it’s about their lives."I've got compassion for everyone," Abbott told ABC News in response. "But in the Constitution, it requires the president to follow the law. There's no article or Bill of Rights in the Constitution that says compassion allows the president to circumvent the rules of the Constitution. And that's exactly what the president has done."

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DHS Might Shut Down on Friday: Should You Be Worried?

DHS Might Shut Down on Friday: Should You Be Worried?

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an ideal world, the Department of Homeland Security submits a budget plan for the coming year, lawmakers who control federal money approve it and then the DHS gets funded for that full year.But since September, Republicans and Democrats haven’t been able to agree on a full year of funding -- instead, twice since then, they’ve agreed to fund the DHS for a couple of months, each time hoping to reach a deal on a full year of funding. Time runs out again Friday night, but no deal is in sight.Republicans irked by President Obama’s plan to give legal status to five million illegal immigrants say this time they’ll let the DHS “shut down” unless the Obama administration backs down from its immigration plan. Democrats insist DHS funding shouldn’t be tied to a presidential action taken without Congressional approval.But if the DHS does “shut down,” should you be worried? It depends who you are, and how long the shutdown lasts.If you’re one of the 40,000 DHS employees who will be furloughed, you won’t get paid for your time off -- even if you're struggling to pay your mortgage or put food on the table. And if you’re one of the tens of thousands of front-line personnel who still has to show up at work each day, you won’t get paid either -- even those of you putting your lives on the line. It’s unclear whether any future deal in Congress will reimburse you for the paychecks you’ll miss.If you’re one of the millions of others in America whom the DHS is supposed to protect, there won’t be much of an impact from a shutdown lasting only a matter of days.If a shutdown lasts weeks or months, however, here’s how that DHS mission will be affected, according to DHS officials:FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

If a major snowstorm or earthquake or even terrorist attack hits a city or state, the DHS won’t be able to send the state federal funds for recovery. State and local authorities rely on federal grants to afford many of their first responders, but new grant requests won’t be processed -- potentially forcing cities and towns across the country to cut back on police, fire and ambulance services. Each month, FEMA trains thousands of state and local emergency personnel how to handle “very specialized” cases such as those involving Ebola, anthrax or sarin gas, but that training will stop.

CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (INC. BORDER PATROL & CUSTOMS OFFICERS)

500 recruits currently in training in Georgia will be sent home, wasting significant amounts of taxpayer money already invested in them and possibly losing them as recruits. CBP won’t be able to replace or upgrade aging surveillance systems along the Southwest border. Certain criminal cases against those trying to cross the border illegally or smuggle prohibited items into the United States will slow or stop, especially after lawyers at CBP are sent home.

SECRET SERVICE

The Secret Service won’t be able to make certain security upgrades at the White House in the wake of several recent breaches there. The 2016 presidential candidates could be put at risk because the Secret Service won’t be able to pay “for the things we need” to protect them.

IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

ICE will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars intended to address “unaccompanied minors” and families still crossing the Southwest border illegally.

TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

“Nothing to report here,” though training and other “non-essential administrative functions would cease.”

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Boehner Mum on Plan to Fund DHS

Boehner Mum on Plan to Fund DHS

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday said that the House is in a “wait-and-see mode” while the Senate continues to attempt to pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.“I don’t know what the Senate’s capable of passing and until I see what they’re going to pass, no decisions have been made on the House side,” Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted, resisting questions about how he would hypothetically deal with a clean bill.“The House has done its job to fund the department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration, and we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job,” he reiterated. “Senate Democrats have stood in the way now for three weeks over a bill that should have been debated and passed, and so until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait and see mode.”As of Wednesday morning, Boehner has not spoken personally with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, although a deadline looms at the end of the day on Friday.“You know, our staffs talked back and forth but Senator McConnell’s got a big job to do and so do I,” Boehner said, dismissing a reporter’s perception that the two leaders should be speaking as the deadline approaches. “Our staffs have been talking back and forth but at the end of the day, the Senate has to act,” he said. “I’ve made it pretty clear over the past couple of weeks, we’re waiting for the Senate to act.”

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Joe Biden’s Got Jokes: One Night, Five Punchlines

Joe Biden’s Got Jokes: One Night, Five Punchlines

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Few politicians pack the same entertaining punch as Vice President Joe Biden. He tends to cause a stir in the Twittersphere with his one-liners and gif-worthy reactions. That habit continued Tuesday night in the opening of his remarks during a Black History Month event at his residence in Washington, D.C.Biden started with a jab at members of Congress, blaming them for his late arrival at the event."I've been waiting for Congress all my life," he joked.He continued to poke fun at the Department of Homeland Security funding fight. The department could shut down if Congress doesn't agree on a department budget by the end of the week. A provision in the budget aimed at stopping President Obama's executive action on immigration has stalled the measure.DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was at the event and Biden joked that the secretary could be out of a job if Congress doesn't find a solution."Be good to Jeh. Jeh may need some help because he may lose his pay,” Biden joked. “Congress is, you know, shutting down. I don’t know Jeh, man, I’d think you had a little more whack than that.”Biden also traded comments with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who he complimented for her ability to "get things done."“The only good thing is I don’t have to pay taxes in the district,” he joked. The mayor shouted back “not yet!”But Biden spoke highly of his residence at the Naval Observatory in Northwest D.C. -- even commenting that the president wanted to switch houses."Not a problem as long as the power goes with the house!" Biden joked.He added on, alluding to the possibility that he will run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.“By the way, if I ever ran for president, I’d turn this into the White House,” he said.

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Rick Scott on ‘Frustrating’ #Fangate and Jeb Bush’s 2016 Prospects

Rick Scott on ‘Frustrating’ #Fangate and Jeb Bush’s 2016 Prospects

Robert Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It was one of the most unforgettable debate moments of 2014.Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist took his place on stage for a televised debate against Gov. Rick Scott. And for the first seven minutes of the live debate, Crist was the only candidate on the stage -- accompanied only by a small electric fan whirling cool air behind his podium.In an interview with Top Line, Scott revealed what was going through his mind during the “fangate” incident and said he was told the debate was being held up by Crist.“It was pretty frustrating,” the recently reelected Republican governor told Top Line, explaining that he was in a trailer away from the main building when his Democratic challenger took the stage at the debate’s start. “We were told he was not going to come out.”Prior to the debate’s start, the Scott campaign had protested Crist’s use of the fan as a violation of debate rules, which forbade the use of electronic devices at the podium.“We were waiting, and then he goes out, and so that was pretty frustrating,” he continued. “But we had a good debate and fortunately we won.”With another term as Florida governor now ahead of him, Scott said he’s not considering a White House bid in 2016. And though he declined to pick any early favorites in the presidential contest, he outlined the qualities he wants the next Republican presidential nominee to possess.“I think the biggest issue in Florida and every state is going to be jobs,” Scott said. “So, we need to have a president that's going to have a plan that's gonna limit the growth of government. We're gonna cut taxes. We're going to reduce the regulation. We're going to actually go out and compete. …[And] second, we expect our president to defend our country. …We need to have a president that brags about our country -- that we are an exceptional country.”On former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a likely Republican 2016 contender, Scott said that Bush’s championing of the controversial Common Core education standards “is an issue.”“We all want high standards…but I don't think they have to be federal standards,” Scott said. “The federal government doesn't need to be involved in data mining; they don't need to be involved in our curriculum decisions. We should be able to make those decisions, and let us compete globally.”Scott has long been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and, since it went into effect, has declined to set up a Florida health care exchange under the law.Still, nearly a million low-income people in Florida have benefited from new health care subsidies created under the law. But a case before the Supreme Court may change that, making people in states without an exchange ineligible for those subsidies.No matter how the court rules, Scott said he will not set up a state-run health care exchange in Florida.“My expectation is the federal government caused this problem, they need to solve the problem,” Scott said. “I can't solve all of the federal government's problems.”“We don't need a federal government prescriptive health care system. We need a free market system that we have good competition,” he said. “If we had that system, the cost of health care would not be what it is today, and more citizens would be able to afford health insurance. “For more of the interview with Scott, including a discussion on how he has modeled aspects of his governorship on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, check out this episode of Top Line.

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VA Secretary Issues Another Apology

VA Secretary Issues Another Apology

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald Tuesday again apologized for misstating his service record last month in a conversation with a homeless man who said he served in special forces.Speaking outside VA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., McDonald told reporters, "I made a misstatement. I apologize for that. I have no excuse for it but if you look at my 61 years of biography, you'll never find anywhere in any of my biographies that I've claimed to be part of special forces. I've never claimed that. It was a misstatement, it was a mistake."In late January, CBS-TV videotaped McDonald responding, “Special forces? What years? I was in special forces.”Although an Army veteran with the 82nd Airborne Division while also winning the Meritorious Service Medal, McDonald never served in any branch of special forces that includes the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Delta Force and Navy SEALs.McDonald, who issued a lengthy written apology less than 24 hours earlier, said Tuesday, "We at VA are working hard to restore trust and again I apologize to those who may have been offended by my misstatement."McDonald was confirmed by the Senate last June to take over an agency rife with problems, including unacceptable wait times for thousands of veterans seeking medical care.A month later, Congress overwhelming approved $17 billion in funding to help tens of thousands of veterans who’ve been unable to get prompt medical attention.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline Bill, Sending Formal Message to Senate

President Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline Bill, Sending Formal Message to Senate

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has carried out his threat on Wednesday to veto the bill approving construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The president issued the third veto of his presidency on Wednesday as a bill to approve the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline made its way from Capitol Hill to his desk.  Once a bill hits the Oval Office, the president has ten days to approve or dismiss it. Before he received the bill, spokesperson Josh Earnest had already said he wouldn't need that long.“The President does intend to veto this piece of legislation and do it without any drama or fanfare or delay,” Earnest said.Earnest said the White House is waiting for the State Department to finish a review of whether the pipeline is the national interest.There are not enough votes in Congress to override his presidential veto.

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Mitch McConnell Offers New Plan to Avoid Shutdown of Department of Homeland Security

Mitch McConnell Offers New Plan to Avoid Shutdown of Department of Homeland Security

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- With four days left until funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he is prepared to hold a vote on a clean bill to fund the department through the end of the fiscal year without any immigration provisions attached. “I’ve indicated to the Democratic leader that I’d be happy to have his cooperation to advance a consideration of a clean DHS bill which would carry us through September 30th,” McConnell said at a news conference at the Ohio Clock on Tuesday. “With Democratic cooperation on a position they have been advocating for the last two months, we could have that vote very quickly.” In addition to the vote on the clean DHS funding bill, McConnell would have the Senate vote on a separate measure that would specifically halt funding to carry out President Obama’s executive actions on immigration -- an issue that has been the main cause for the current impasse over funding. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a funding measure that includes provisions to block the president's immigration actions from taking effect, but Senate Democrats have filibustered moving forward on the bill. Senate Democrats have long advocated for a clean funding bill, but they aren’t ready to agree to a vote on it just yet. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who met with McConnell Tuesday morning, said he wants House Speaker John Boehner to sign on to the proposal. “We have to make sure we get a bill to the president, not that we send a hot potato to Boehner. That doesn't do the trick,” Reid said. “We have said for 4 weeks now, we must fund Homeland Security. We can't do it alone. It's a bicameral legislature. Unless Boehner’s in on the deal, it won't happen.” Before agreeing to a vote on a clean funding measure, Senate Democrats want assurances from Boehner that he would in fact hold a vote on the bill. “It leaves in suspense and in doubt because we could be back in this same predicament 24 hours from now,” said Sen Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. “We want to solve the problem, not just create the next chapter in this political saga.” The plan could be a way to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, but it will be a tough sell among some House Republicans who insist on tying immigration to any DHS funding bill. “There are some on the Republican caucus who don’t vote for anything that doesn’t somehow undo the president’s executive order,” Durbin said. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires on Friday.

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‘Cold War on a Sheet of Ice': Political Legacy of ‘Miracle on Ice’ Hockey Win

‘Cold War on a Sheet of Ice': Political Legacy of ‘Miracle on Ice’ Hockey Win

Focus on Sport/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Thirty-five years of hindsight provide fresh perspective on the “Miracle on Ice,” the improbable 1980 victory by a group of U.S. college hockey players over the powerful Soviet team in the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games. The New York Games were played at the dawn of a decade defined by the Cold War and its end. World events from Afghanistan through Iran served as a backdrop for the shocking result, and Olympic boycotts in 1980 and 1984 would later bring even greater political implications into international sporting events. On the latest episode the ESPN-ABC podcast Capital Games, we hear from some of the key players in that drama. You can listen to the episode HERE on desktop and HERE on mobile. Al Michaels, the legendary broadcaster whose on-air call on ABC would give the event the “miracle” label for which it’s known, talks about how he came up with that line, and the broader political and social implications that derived from the game. U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets, speaks about how the young American players were only vaguely aware of what it meant to be playing that game at that time. We also spoke with Jonathan Hock, the filmmaker behind the new 30 for 30 film Of Miracles of Men, which explores the game and its aftermath from the perspective of the Soviet athletes who left Lake Placid in shocking disappointment. You can listen to the full episode of Capital Games HERE on desktop or HERE on mobile. You can also subscribe to the podcast for free using the podcast app on Apple devices. Watch the segment This Week with George Stephanopoulos aired on the 35th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” HERE. The interviews with Michaels and Eruzione were originally conducted for that program.

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NFL Teams Must Tackle Sexual Assaults or Lose Draft Picks: Lawmakers

NFL Teams Must Tackle Sexual Assaults or Lose Draft Picks: Lawmakers

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If NFL teams don't tackle the issue of domestic violence and sexual assaults, their draft picks may be in jeopardy.In a letter sent to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called for the NFL to begin taking away draft picks from teams that do not properly address the issue.“The NFL has previously penalized teams by removing draft picks for other infractions,” the lawmakers wrote. “We support this potential disciplinary action as a significant indication that the NFL takes these issues very seriously and intends to hold teams responsible for allowing cultures of violence and abuse.”Concern over whether the NFL is doing enough to reduce instances of domestic violence among its players reached a fever pitch last summer when the league suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games after Rice was charged with knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in a New Jersey casino. In comparison, players receive a four-game suspension for breaking the league’s substance abuse policy.NFL teams lose draft picks for many forms of misconduct. The New England Patriots lost their first-round selection in the 2008 draft for illegally videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals and are now under investigation for “DeflateGate,” which could cost the team even more. The New Orleans Saints lost their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013 after it was discovered that they were offering players a bounty for injuring opposing players.In the letter to Goodell, Speier and Schatz noted that NFL executive Troy Vincent said the league would potentially use the removal of draft picks as a penalty for teams who were not proactive in preventing instances of domestic violence and sexual assaults at a Dec. 2, 2014, hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. However, Goodell did not mention any potential removal of draft picks in a Jan. 15 letter to Sens. Schatz and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.The lawmakers concluded the letter by asking Goodell to “provide further clarification on whether the removal of draft picks will be used as a penalty for teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault.”The 2015 NFL draft will take place from April 30 to May 2.

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Harry Reid Wears Sunglasses in Press Conference on DHS Funding

Harry Reid Wears Sunglasses in Press Conference on DHS FundingBill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is sporting some new eyewear Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Reid, D-Nev., started out the day with a giant bandage strapped across his right eye, which has become a staple since he sust...

Janet Yellen: Federal Reserve Will Be ‘Patient’ in Raising Interest Rates

Janet Yellen: Federal Reserve Will Be ‘Patient’ in Raising Interest Rates

The US Federal Reserve(WASHINGTON) -- Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated that the Fed will be “patient” in deciding when to raise interest rates, saying “important progress” has been made in the economy but more progress is still needed.“Too many Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, wage growth is still sluggish, and inflation remains well below our longer-run objective,” she said.

Yellen said that interest rate hikes would be considered on a “meeting-by-meeting basis,” but also said the Federal Reserve will be mindful not to raise rates too soon.“If the fed were to raise rates too soon...we would risk undermining a recovery that is really just taking hold,” Yellen said.On the Audit the Fed bill that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced, Yellen said she strongly opposes the measure, saying it would “politicize monetary policy.”“I want to be completely clear that I strongly oppose Audit the Fed. I believe the transparency and providing Congress and the public with adequate information to be able to understand our operations, our financial condition, the conduct of our meeting the responsibilities that Congress has assigned to us is essential,” Yellen said. “But Audit the Fed is a bill that would politicize monetary policy, would bring short term political pressures to bear on the Fed in terms of openness about our financial accounts. We are extensively audited.”Yellen is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Committee on Financial Services.

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SC Gov. Nikki Haley Fumes After White House Governor’s Luncheon

SC Gov. Nikki Haley Fumes After White House Governor’s Luncheon

Office of the Governor South Carolina(WASHINGTON) -- After the President hosted the nation’s governors at the White House for a discussion Monday, the Republican Governors Association held a press conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Among those expressing their frustration was South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who said this was her fifth year going to the White House to speak with the president. “Every time we try and move the ball with [President Obama] he says, ‘no,’ and so you look at the fact that we asked him about the Keystone Pipeline. He said it’s not gonna happen,” Haley said. “We talk about healthcare and he says he’s not going to consider what the Supreme Court’s going to do because he refuses to think about it.”

At Monday's event, the president joked with the 2016 hopefuls in the room about their campaigns, saying, “I’m in the fourth quarter of my presidency, or as some of you may call it, the kickoff for your campaign season,” drawing a few laughs."But I think there's still a lot that we can get done together," Obama told the crowd of governors.

The long-awaited bill approving construction in the Keystone Pipeline will arrive at the White House later Tuesday. The president's spokesman says Obama will veto it without "drama or fanfare."

President Obama has 10 days to veto the bill. When he does, it will be his first veto of this Republican Congress and only the third of his presidency.

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