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Battle of the Ballots Continues in Arizona House Race

Battle of the Ballots Continues in Arizona House Race

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- All the votes have been counted in Arizona's 2nd Congressional district, but the battle is still on between Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Republican challenger Martha McSally.

It's been one of the most closely watched House races this midterm election, and in no small part due to the razor-thin margin the congressman won by in 2012. But the less than 2,500 more votes he had in that victory seems stout compared to the final vote count in their rematch this year.

The election results place McSally ahead by just 161 votes. According to Arizona law, a candidate must win by a margin of .10 percent. McSally holds a .08 percent edge over her opponent, setting the stage for automatic recount -- the state's first recount in a congressional election, and its closest race in history.

According to the Arizona secretary of state's office, the recount will not commence until at least Dec. 1. But that didn't stop McSally from declaring victory: She jetted to Washington, D.C. on Thursday and will have her first full day of House freshman orientation on Friday.

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Hagel Acknowledges Long Fight Ahead Against Islamic State

Hagel Acknowledges Long Fight Ahead Against Islamic State

Junko Kimura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee Thursday that the U.S.-led coalition effort in Iraq to defeat Islamic State militants will be "a long and difficult struggle."Hagel, who refers to the Sunni extremist group as ISIL as does the rest of the Obama administration, maintained that while progress has been made since August, the campaign is only "three months into a multi-year effort."According to the defense chief, the group's advance has been stalled and at times reversed in some regions through the efforts of coalition air power along with ground troops made up of Iraqi, Kurdish and tribal forces.However, Hagel conceded that the Islamic State remains a "serious threat" to American interests.Last week, President Obama announced the deployment of an additional 1,500 U.S. troops to act in training and advisory roles. The White House is insistent that American soldiers will not lead the fight against the Islamic State.Yet, House Armed Services chair Buck McKeon suggested that this policy won't be effective in defeating the group.The California Republican asked, "How can you successfully execute the mission you’ve been given -- to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIL -- when some of your best options are taken off the table?”General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would not commit to putting American boots on the ground but did say there has been at least some consideration regarding accompanying Iraqi units in their battle against the Islamic State.The appearance by Hagel and Dempsey was also to ask Congress for $5.6 billion in extra military funding for fighting ISIS in 2015 and a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

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McConnell Elected Senate Majority Leader; Reid to Become Minority Leader

McConnell Elected Senate Majority Leader; Reid to Become Minority Leader

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell fulfilled a lifelong ambition Thursday by becoming Senate majority leader. He will officially take the post next January.Although there were some rumblings last week that McConnell might face a possible challenge from the far right wing of the party, he was elected by acclimation without need of a roll call or tally.McConnell's elevation to the top spot in the Senate occurred during the Republicans' closed-door leadership elections.Meanwhile, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was picked by Democrats to be the minority leader in the next session although not without some objections.Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said in a statement, "Common sense tells me that begins with changes in leadership." 

McCaskill, along with Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, didn't vote for Reid.

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EXCLUSIVE: Read Secret Emails of the Men Who May Run Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

EXCLUSIVE: Read Secret Emails of the Men Who May Run Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — For the past five years, a prominent Democratic operative who is a leading contender to manage a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has maintained a private email listserv for friends and associates that carries a provocative name: the “Mook Mafia.”The listserv, which one member said reaches more than 150 fellow campaign veterans, has been a means for Robby Mook and a close friend Marlon Marshall to stay connected with many of the operatives who would likely populate a Democratic presidential campaign in 2016. Mook and Marshall have both been mentioned as possible Hillary Clinton campaign managers.Copies of a cache of the emails obtained by ABC News, and revealed publicly for the first time, show Mook and Marshall demonstrating an aggressive tone in rallying their friends behind political causes, in exchanges that are often self-mocking and sometimes border on being profane.They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, “smite Republicans mafia-style,” and, to quote Marshall, “punish those voters.” Mook sometimes calls himself “Deacon” in the emails, while Marshall, now a senior White House aide, refers to himself as “Reverend” in many of the exchanges.Their inside jokes sometimes come at the expense of fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton. A November 2009 mock news release announcing the listserv in addition to a new website and an upcoming reunion for the “Mook Mafia” included a fabricated quote from the former president.“The Mafia has finally built a bridge to the 21st century,” Bill Clinton is jokingly quoted as having said in an email that appears to have been written by Marshall. “This is even more exciting than walking through the back of the Bellagio.”The private emails were provided to ABC News by a Democrat on the listserv who has worked alongside Mook and Marshall on previous campaigns. The person who provided the emails is, like the vast majority of those on the listserv, supportive of Hillary Clinton, but does not support the idea of Mook or Marshall holding leadership roles in a second presidential bid. They were provided on the condition of anonymity.That the emails are emerging publicly reflects the ferocious intra-battle to populate the top positions of an expected Clinton campaign.Neither Mook nor Marshall responded to requests for comment. ABC News first reached out to both men Thursday morning, by email and phone.On one level, the listserv is a testament to the loyalty Mook, 34, has inspired over a decade in national politics. His resume includes stints on Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, running a series of state efforts for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and managing Terry McAuliffe’s successful run for governor of Virginia last year.Marshall is also a veteran of Clinton’s 2008 campaign. He joined Obama’s field operation after the primaries, and he then served in top positions for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, often working alongside Mook along the way. He is now a special assistant to the president and serves as principal deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.The exchanges provide a window into the clubby and pugnacious motivational styles of both Mook and Marshall, two stars of their party’s universe of field organizers and operatives.The two most-recent messages to the group came just last week, on Election Day. They included a reference to a team reunion that would likely be held in New York early next year.At least some recipients saw that reference as presuming that “Mook Mafia” members would be involved in running Clinton’s likely presidential candidacy. Clinton represented New York in the Senate and is said to be considering a campaign headquarters in Westchester County.“TEAM! I was just at the DCCC last night for the GOTV [get-out-the-vote] rally, where we were in the middle of GOTV calisthenics when Nancy Pelosi walked in and said we looked like the Village People. Some things you can’t make up,” Mook wrote at 2:59 p.m. on Election Day.Mook continued: “This has been a tough cycle -- midterms always are -- but what's been so amazing to me is how from the Senate to the House to Governor's races and beyond, we've been keeping the other side on defense. So many of you have played leadershp [sic] roles building field programs, managing campaigns, or running programs from allied groups. It's been incredibly insipiring [sic] to see.”Marshall had written the group earlier that day from Florida, where he was working -- apparently in a volunteer capacity because he still works for the White House -- to elect Charlie Crist as governor.“I know many of you are out there on campaigns, crushing it mafia style,” Marshall wrote. “We unfortunately didn’t do a call this year, but Robby and I wanted to start a chain to acknowledge many in our great family who have been out there busting their tails for all that is right in the world.“We also wanted you to know that this years [sic] reunion will actually be held early next year, January or February, and likely in New York for a weekend. Apologies for the late notice and for not sending anything out on a reunion. Please believe there will be one. The planning committee has just been a tad busy!”The email was signed “MM,” with Marshall adding a hashtag: #mafia4life.The existence of a “Mook Mafia” of friends and loyalists who extend through Mook’s previous campaign work has long been known. Scattered references to the informal group have appeared in favorable Mook profiles, and a Politico story last week referenced the possible New York reunion that was mentioned on the listserv.The emails themselves, though, have not been seen publicly before. Much of the email traffic on the listserv appears to have been mundane: announcing job openings and new assignments, advertising or seeking rooms for rent in battleground states and organizing reunions in places including Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio.In the more substantive messages, though, Marshall emerges as the more aggressive of the duo. Writing in January 2010 to urge fellow “mafia” members to work hard on behalf of Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, Marshall offered “an overall big thank you to everyone on this list who continues to fight the good fight.”“F U Republicans. Mafia till I die,” he wrote. “If you have just a few minutes, hop on that activate and punish those voters!” (“Activate” is an apparent reference to a software program allowing volunteers to contact targeted voters by phone from anywhere in the country.)The following year, in confirming news that he would be taking a new job that would include a move to Chicago, Marshall offered special thanks to Mook.“First, the mafia never separates, it just continues to grow and expand and move into other states in order to destroy Republicans,” he wrote. “A special thanks to none other than the namesake himself, Deacon Robby Mook. Without him, there would be no mafia and I for sure know I would not have learned as much as I have in this business and have this opportunity.”Mook responded by announcing “mandatory” attendance at a goodbye party for Marshall at a Capitol Hill bar.“It's true: Marlon Marshall is leaving our fold. Today is the day the grownassman [sic] grows up and leaves for America's Second City. I know this prodical [sic] son will return to the mafia manger soon enough to smite Republicans mafia-style,” Mook wrote.“If you can't be here in person, join me in spirit by sending your words of love and encouragement to the Most High Grown Ass Reverend Marlon D as he embarks on his pilgrimage. Please believe and obey the beard.”Both Mook and Marshall have been discussed as potential Clinton campaign managers, should she run for president. Another top contender, Guy Cecil, may have seen his chances damaged by last week’s Republican rout because Cecil was running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for this election cycle.

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Report: Obama’s Proposed Order on Immigration Keeps Millions in US

Report: Obama’s Proposed Order on Immigration Keeps Millions in US

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York Times reported Thursday that President Obama is nearing a decision on an executive order that would prevent the deportation of as many as five million undocumented immigrants, quoting administration officials familiar with the plan.Such a move would likely enrage congressional Republicans. Even before the Times article came out, House Speaker John Boehner said if the president acts unilaterally to revamp the immigration system, it would "jeopardize other issues as well."Nonetheless, the president appears determined to act with immigration reform stalled for a year-and-a-half after the Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June 2013 that has languished in the GOP-controlled House.According to the Times, Obama's directive would allow many undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits, provided their children are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants.Furthermore, the executive order would also refocus the activities of the government's 12,000 immigration agents, the Times reports.Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies would step up deportations of known criminals, people considered national security threats and others who try to cross over the southern border into the U.S.The president's executive order is still subject to change, sources told the Times, but Obama is determined to issue the directive before the end of 2014.Although Hispanic groups and liberal Democrats will no doubt praise the plan that will make millions unafraid of coming out in the open, Obama runs the risk of sabotaging already delicate year-end budget negotiations and perhaps even kill the nomination of Loretta E. Lynch to become the next U.S. attorney general.Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama are already in the throes of threatening to kill budget talks unless the president backs off from what they claim is "executive amnesty" for people they view as lawbreakers.Meanwhile, ABC News reports that the president will arrive at a decision on what the plan will entail next week but it remains unclear when he will sign an executive order to implement immigration reform.

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Obama Doubles Down on Immigration, Keystone Pipeline

Obama Doubles Down on Immigration, Keystone Pipeline

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar) — Even as far away as Myanmar, President Obama cannot escape the brewing face-off with Republicans that awaits him at home.Speaking to reporters alongside famous opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama was adamant that, despite mounting GOP objections, he will move forward and take executive action to reform the immigration system by the end of the year because reforms are “way overdue.”“I gave the House over a year to go ahead and at least give a vote to the Senate bill. They failed to do so and I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better, and that's going to happen,” he said.Asked about pending legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the president said his position on the issue has not changed and that the ongoing evaluation should be allowed to continue.In some of his strongest language yet, Obama pushed back against the Republican argument that the pipeline is a “massive jobs bill for the United States.”“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on U.S. gas prices,” he said, growing visibly frustrated.“If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation,” he continued.Looking ahead, the president stressed that their disagreements should not prevent the two parties from taking action in areas where they do agree.“They're interested in tax reform, so am I. Let's get to work. They're interested in promoting trade that will create jobs and opportunity for U.S. workers and U.S. businesses? All over it. It's part of what this Asia trip's been all about. They're interested in rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, putting people back to work, making sure we're competitive. I'm game."“The one thing that I think is going to be important to have a successful partnership over the next couple years is not making disagreements on a single issue suddenly a deal breaker on every issue. Democracy can never work that way,” he said.

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White House Fence Jumper Inquiry Reveals Multiple Secret Service Errors

White House Fence Jumper Inquiry Reveals Multiple Secret Service Errors

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A newly released review of the infamous White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez is damning.The new report lays out a comedy of errors -- including "performance, organizational and technical" failures on the part of the Secret Service.During the Sept. 19 incident, alarms did not work, radioes failed, and officers were out of position as the intruder jumped a fence and ran more than 70 yards before walking right through an unlocked front of the White House.

Receiving particular criticism was an officer with an attack dog. He was his on his personal cell phone talking without his radio earpiece in his ear.“When Gonzalez jumped the North fence, the Canine Officer was on a call on his personal cell phone...without his radio earpiece in his ear, and he had left his second (tactical) radio in his locker,” according to the report conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.Overall, the report found that no officer was in position to catch the fence jumper only minutes after the president had left the White house with his daughters.Even a female guard inside the White House was caught by surprise and overpowered as Gonzalez made his way deep inside.

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Harry Reid Urges White House to Delay Immigration Executive Action

Harry Reid Urges White House to Delay Immigration Executive Action

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has privately asked the White House to delay an executive order on immigration until Congress passes a spending bill to keep the government running, ABC News has learned.While Reid supports President Obama’s ability to act on his own on immigration, he told senators Thursday that he is increasingly concerned some Republicans will seize on the move and try to block the funding bill, which could lead to a government shutdown."In recent days it has become increasingly clear that a small but vocal minority of Republicans are looking for an excuse to derail what has been a productive, bipartisan process of drafting a year-long funding bill to keep the government open,” Reid said in a statement to ABC News. “It is incumbent on responsible leaders within the Republican Party to work with Democrats and complete the business of keeping the government open in the coming weeks, regardless of when the president acts to provide relief to families.”Republican leaders have sharply warned the president not to bypass Congress on immigration, but they showed new divisions Thursday over whether a rift could lead to a government shutdown.Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell ruled out the possibility of a government shutdown, even if the president signs an executive order to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.“We’ll not be shutting the government down, threatening to default on the national debt,” McConnell told reporters. But when pressed whether a fight over immigration could break that pledge, he said again: “We’ll not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt.”Hours later, House Speaker John Boehner disagreed and said a government shutdown could not be ruled out. Several rank-and-file Republicans are already threatening to try and hold up the spending bill over immigration.He said all options were on the table, declaring: “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path.”A government shutdown was not the preferred route, Boehner said, but he said it could not be ruled out.“Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the Constitution,” Boehner said. “It’s not to shut down the government.”Reid first expressed his concern about immigration during an off-camera conversation with a CNN producer, saying: “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it, but that’s up to him.”

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Pot Legalization in DC: Lawmakers Urge Congress to “‘Wake Up’ (and Bake)”

Pot Legalization in DC: Lawmakers Urge Congress to “‘Wake Up’ (and Bake)”

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of a midterm election where marijuana laws were further weakened across the country, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton called on Congress on Thursday to allow the Washington's ballot-passed pot initiative to stand.The District now faces threats from Congress to overturn Initiative 71, which overwhelmingly passed by a 2-1 margin.“I particularly ask the 23 Senators who represent states that have passed medical marijuana laws, the 18 states that have passed marijuana decriminalization laws, and the 4 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana to give the District the benefit of the doubt that federal authorities have given your states,” Norton, D-DC, said.

In a joint display of advocacy, Norton was joined by three representatives whose states have also reformed marijuana laws, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.She also thanked Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for expressing that the District should be able to makes its own law without federal interference.Norton added that she was not encouraging people to use marijuana, but rather that there was no basis for federal conviction. She pointed to studies showing nine out of ten convicted for marijuana are African-Americans, and the racial disparities are nationwide.Rohrabacher pointed out a nation change in the legalization debate and called on other congressional Republicans to “wake up” and revert to the party’s fundamental principles of limited government and states’ rights. He said it would be “sinful” for states to intercede on the legalization of medical marijuana, which California allows.Since legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Colorado two years ago, Polis said it’s had a positive impact on the state, with tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue coming in. He also noted that teenage and underage use of marijuana is down five percent.Oregon’s vote last week to legalize marijuana passed by a greater margin in a non-presidential election than Washington and Colorado did in 2012. But Blumenauer said legalization in one state could be the tipping point for the rest of the country.“California is the big kahuna,” Blumenauer said. “California passing this is likely to open the floodgates…and everything I've heard is that people are encouraged by what just happened and they're ready to go.”

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Check Out George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s Hashtag Smackdown

Check Out George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s Hashtag Smackdown

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spent Wednesday night engaged in a light “war of words” on their social media accounts.

Bill Clinton tweeted a photo of himself Wednesday afternoon reading George W. Bush’s newly released book, A Portrait of My Father. He chided his successor in the tweet for failing to jump on the Twitter bandwagon:

 

Received my copy of #41 by #43, George W. Bush. Touching tribute! #HowAreYouSTILLNotOnTwitter #PresidentialTweeters pic.twitter.com/ECWvElzG44

— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) November 12, 2014

 

Bush does indeed have a Twitter handle: @GeorgeWBush. A George W. Bush Foundation spokesman confirmed to CNN in 2009 that the foundation was holding the twitter name @GeorgeWBush. But the account is not verified, and does not appear to have ever been used.

But even if Bush, 68, lacks a Twitter presence, he is a regular Instagram user; his account shows he has 94 posts, and he used that platform to respond to Clinton, 68:

 

Thanks, 42! Hope you like the book about your pal, #41. #HowAreYouSTILLNotOnInstagram #PresidentialGrammers #BrotherFromAnotherMother

A photo posted by George W. Bush (@georgewbush) on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:47pm PST

 

(Evidently, he knows how to screenshot a tweet, even if he has never sent one out).

When asked whether Bill Clinton would now consider joining Instagram, a spokesman responded that "the speculation is going to have to continue."

A Bush representative did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

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Obama Meets with Burmese President

Obama Meets with Burmese President

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images(NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar) -- Meeting with Burmese President Thein Sein on Thursday, President Obama urged the leader of the fledgling democracy to quicken the pace of reform and step up efforts to address urgent human rights concerns.“In part because of President Sein's leadership the democratization process in Myanmar is real and we can point to specific progress,” Obama said after the two leaders emerged from an hour of closed-door discussion in the presidential palace.

Obama highlighted the release of political prisoners in the former military state, ending the use of child soldiers in its army, and progress toward ending over half a century of internal fighting -- the world’s longest running civil war.The president also noted Myanmar’s cooperation in ending arms trades with North Korea.But Obama’s visit to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, comes at a fragile time. Just two years ago, Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the country as it emerged from a long military dictatorship. At the time, Obama had high hopes for the transition to civilian government. The Obama administration sees the opening of this long-isolated nation as a major diplomatic achievement. Now, Obama’s visit comes as democratic reforms are stalling, and in many ways moving backwards.“In our discussions we recognize that this process is still ongoing,” Obama said, noting continued violence against minority Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine region. The president also criticized the failure of the country to change its constitution “to reflect all voices” ahead of next year’s election, and urged economic reforms to help fold it into world markets. Obama is now trying to strike a delicate balance: showing support for the civilian government, while also pressing it to kick-start progress. “We recognize that change is hard and it doesn't always move in a straight line. But I am optimistic about the possibilities of Myanmar,” he said, adding, “those who are sincere in pursuing reform” would find an ally in the United States. Sein, speaking through a translator, thanked the “opportunity to have candid and constructive discussions.”“We need time but we are in the process of implementing, addressing, these concerns,” he said, adding that he was “confident in the democratization of this country.”On Friday, Obama heads to Yangon, also known as Rangoon, to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, where they are expected to discuss upcoming elections and her unique role in the reform process.

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Why Senate Democrats Created New Position for Elizabeth Warren

Why Senate Democrats Created New Position for Elizabeth Warren

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is joining Senate leadership after Senate Democrats created a new leadership position just for her.In the new position as a strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, Warren will serve as a liaison to liberal groups to ensure they have a voice in leadership meetings and discussions, according to a source familiar with the role.“I believe in what the Democrats are fighting for. You know Wall Street is doing very well. CEO's are bringing in millions more and families all across this country are struggling. We have to make this government work for the American people and that's what we're here to fight for,” Warren said in response to a question from ABC News about her new position. “I am grateful to the leader. I am grateful to the caucus to give me the chance to be part of that fight but that's what we're all going to be here doing every single day. That's what we're about.”The newly created position will elevate Warren's stature in the Senate at a time when many progressives are calling on her to run for president in 2016.“I expect her to be Elizabeth Warren,” said Sen. Harry Reid, who was elected as the next Senate Minority Leader.Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joined the leadership team as the director of steering and outreach. Democrats also selected Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.Reid was elected as the next Senate minority leader though he drew opposition from at least two Democratic senators -- Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin said a group of senators asked for Democrats to be given an additional week to discuss who should be the next leader and what changes Democrats need to make in the next Congress.On the Republican side, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell was elected to be the next Senate majority leader by acclamation in the Republican caucus. McConnell and Reid will assume their new positions when the new Congress convenes in January.Republicans elected Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the next cycle, which will consist of many close races in Republican held seats.

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White House Takes a ‘Dim View’ of Keystone Proposal

White House Takes a ‘Dim View’ of Keystone Proposal

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House on Thursday declined to say definitively whether President Obama would veto legislation on the Keystone XL pipeline, but noted that the administration has had a “dim view” of similar proposals in the past.“It’s fair to say that our dim view of these kinds of proposals has not changed,” White House press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.Does that mean Obama would veto it?“It’s not a yes or a no, but there have been previous proposals that I expect would be consistent with the proposals that have been discussed overnight. In evaluating those earlier proposals we have indicated that the president’s senior advisors at the White House would recommend that he veto legislation like that. That does continue to be our position,” Earnest said.On Wednesday, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy -- both combatants in the Louisiana Senate runoff -- raced to hold an unexpected vote on the construction of the 1,700-mile-long pipeline, which would range from Canada down to Texas.The House vote could come Thursday or Friday while the Senate vote will be held as early as Tuesday.

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Immigration Reform: Obama Yet to Decide on Next Steps

Immigration Reform: Obama Yet to Decide on Next Steps

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has not made a final decision about what next steps he will take to reform the nation’s immigration system, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president Thursday. Again, Earnest reiterated that the president is still planning to “make some decisions and announce them before the end of the year…that should give you an indication that he is getting close to making a decision.” As for what Congress may or may not do, Earnest said Obama's decision is not related to whether or not lawmakers act before the end of the year. If the House does move forward and passes the Senate bill, the president would sign that into law. If he has already moved forward with executive action by then, he would scrub those unilateral actions.

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Freshman Orientation: Capitol Hill Newbies Hunt for Food – and Toilets!

Freshman Orientation: Capitol Hill Newbies Hunt for Food – and Toilets!

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than 60 newly-elected members of the House and Senate have arrived on Capitol Hill, kicking off a week-long freshman orientation where congressional newbies are learning about everything from how to hire staff to where to find the bathroom.“I need to find out where the cafeteria is and where the men's room is and then I'm fine. I'm good to go,” Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, laughed.To some, DC’s notorious traffic congestion was a rude awakening.“My first impression is that you all need to do something about your transportation,” Rep.-elect Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, joked. “There's too many cars on the road.”Some arrived in town bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while others were jet-lagged from a cross-country trip.“Well I came from California, so I have to deal with that time change,” Rep.-elect Mimi Walters, R-Calif., admitted. “It's a little bit difficult to wake up in the morning when you first get to the East Coast, but I'm very excited to be here.”Thursday the new class of lawmakers will receive a briefing about office set up, including the Member’s Representation Allowance, a stipend to run their office. The orientation concludes next Wednesday with an office lottery.Rep.-elect Cresent Hardy, who defeated freshman Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford in Nevada’s 4th district, welcomed the crash course on Congress.“This is politics. It's different than anything in my life,” Hardy told reporters as he arrived to check into his hotel Wednesday. “This is an education process, which I'm glad they have. I think it's very important to be able to understand what's going on before the session starts so you hit the ground running.”On Thursday, the new GOP members will also vote in their party’s leadership election. House Speaker John Boehner is expected to win another two-year term holding the speaker’s gavel.“I'm not here to mix that up. I'm here to support the cause,” Bishop said. “I think they're headed in the right direction. I love the messaging that's coming out of the leader's office right now. I think it's fantastic.”The new session of Congress will officially begin on Jan. 3, 2015.

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You Are Politically What You Watch on TV

You Are Politically What You Watch on TV

Autumn DeWilde/FOX(NEW YORK) — Democrats and Republicans disagree on most things including their favorite TV shows.Entertainment Weekly conducted a poll of 25,000 adults to find out their political affiliation and the programs they watch most often, with the exception of news and sports.Judging by the lists, there isn’t a lot of overlap:Democrats’ Favorite TV Shows:American Experience (PBS)    American Masters (PBS)    Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (CNN)    Antiques Roadshow (PBS)    Ask This Old House (PBS)    Bob’s Burgers (Fox)    Braxton Family Values (WE tv)    Community (NBC)    Cosmos (Fox)    Doctor Who (BBC America)    Fashion Police (E!)    Glee (Fox)    Homeland (Showtime)    Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)    Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)    Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)    Mad Men (AMC)    Masterpiece (PBS)    Modern Family (ABC)    Nature (PBS)    New Girl (Fox)    Nova (PBS)    Portlandia (IFC)    Project Runway (Lifetime)    Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime)    Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)    Saturday Night Live (NBC)    Scandal (ABC)    Shameless (Showtime)    Tamar & Vince (WE tv)    The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)    The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)    The Good Wife (CBS)    The Mindy Project (Fox)    The Newsroom (HBO)    The Simpsons (Fox)    The Soup (E!)    The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC)    The View (ABC)    This Old House (PBS)    What Would You Do? (ABC)    Republicans' Favorite TV Shows:

American Idol (Fox)American Pickers (History)Being Human (Syfy)Blue Bloods (CBS)Bones (Fox)Buying and Selling (HGTV)Castle (ABC)Duck Dynasty (A&E)Flip This House (A&E)Giada at Home (Food Network)Hallmark Original Movie (Hallmark Channel)House Hunters (HGTV)House Hunters International (HGTV)Intelligence (CBS)Longmire (A&E)Love It or List It (HGTV)Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo)Mystery Detectives (HLN)NCIS (CBS)New Girl (Fox)Pawn Stars (History)Person of Interest (CBS)Prospectors (The Weather Channel)Psych (USA)Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo)Rent or Buy (HGTV)Revolution (NBC)Talking Dead (AMC)The Amazing Race (CBS)The American Bible Challenge (GSN)The Big Bang Theory (CBS)The Blacklist (NBC)The Following (Fox)The Goldbergs (ABC)The Mentalist (CBS)The Voice (NBC)Top Gear (BBC America)Top Gear (History)Treehouse Masters (Animal Planet)The only real takeaway from this is that people from both parties apparently love Zooey Deschanel because Fox's New Girl is one few programs on both lists.

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Democrat Won’t Concede Alaska Senate Election

Democrat Won’t Concede Alaska Senate Election

iStock/Thinkstock(JUNEAU, Alaska) — Alaska Senator-elect Dan Sullivan has to hold off on a victory celebration because the incumbent has yet to concede.On Tuesday, the Alaska Division of Elections completed its first full day of counting votes since Election Day and the margins did not change much. Sullivan, the Republican, has 48.58 percent of the vote to Democratic Senator Mark Begich's 45.37 percent. Sullivan now leads Begich by 7,911 votes.However, Begich announced Wednesday that he won't concede because all of the votes have yet to be counted."Senator Begich believes every vote deserves to be counted in this election,” Begich's campaign manager Susanne Fleek-Green said in a statement, maintaining there are still tens of thousands of outstanding votes.The vote count, therefore, will continue Friday although the steep deficit is likely impossible to overcome.If Begich is finally declared the winner, the Republicans will own a 53-46 majority in the Senate with the race in Louisiana to be decided next month in a run-off.

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Louisiana Senate Candidates Race to Hold Lame-Duck Votes on Keystone XL Pipeline

Louisiana Senate Candidates Race to Hold Lame-Duck Votes on Keystone XL Pipeline

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) --  After two years of inaction on the Keystone XL pipeline, it could be a Louisiana Senate run-off that finally forces Congress to vote on the measure.The so-called Bayou Brawl was on full display on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the two candidates – Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy – raced to be first to hold a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.Fresh off the campaign trail, Landrieu, D-La., implored Senate Republicans Wednesday to allow a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline in the lame-duck session, saying it would be a good moment for future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work in a bipartisan manner.“I believe it is time to act. I believe that we should take the new majority leader at his word and stop blocking legislation that is broadly supported by the American public and has been for quite some time,” Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, said on the Senate floor. “I want to say yes to majority leader, to new majority leader Mitch McConnell. The time to start is now.”Landrieu will propose a unanimous consent agreement, which will have to be approved by Republicans, that would set up debate and the first votes on the Keystone XL pipeline for Thursday.But Republicans on the other side of the Capitol are working swiftly to hold a vote of their own on the pipeline, a measure that is sponsored by Landrieu’s opponent, Cassidy. The House Rules Committee announced it was holding a meeting Wednesday night to consider the Keystone XL pipeline bill, described as an “emergency measure,” and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the measure would be considered on the House floor tomorrow.On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that Senate Democrats were considering holding a vote on Keystone XL to help Landrieu in her December 6 run-off in Louisiana. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the idea a “bad joke.”“I think it’s kind of too little, too late, and everybody gets the bad joke right?” Cornyn told reporters Wednesday.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will appoint Cassidy to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee should he win the run-off.Throughout her campaign, Landrieu touted her support for the Keystone XL pipeline as well as her chairmanship on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Most Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the Senate support the pipeline.President Obama has refrained from making a decision on the construction of the 1,700-mile-long pipeline, which would range from Canada down to Texas. Last week, the president said he would allow the State Department’s independent review process on the pipeline to “play out.”Senate Democrats attempted to hold a vote on the measure earlier this year, but Senate Republicans wanted to add additional energy-related amendments to the measure, which kept it from moving forward.

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Why Congressional Orientation is Basically College Orientation All Over Again

Why Congressional Orientation is Basically College Orientation All Over Again

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Newly-elected lawmakers from the House and Senate arrived in Washington for orientation on Wednesday – and based on an (admittedly informal) analysis of their agendas, it looks like they are probably reliving the first few days of undergrad.

Here are some reasons why congressional orientation is basically college orientation all over again:

1. It’s mandatory.

Thought you were through with those mandatory lectures – the homesickness seminar, the roommate conflict forum? Mandatory lectures don’t end just because you won an election.New members are obliged to attend meetings on office logistics, member allowances, and congressional ethics. (Judging by the number of congressional scandals in the past decade, they probably need that last one.)2. Dorm lottery? Make that office lottery.

Sure, studying legislating matters, but everyone knows college Congress is all about the new digs.At the end of orientation, lawmakers will line up in alphabetical order to draw numbers for the office lottery.The most-coveted workspaces are in the Rayburn House Office Building, where offices are large and the Capitol subway system is easily accessible. The clunkers are on the fifth floor of the Cannon House Office Building, where offices are smaller and elevators scarce.

For a handful of lawmakers, the office lottery essentially functions as a housing lottery as well. A small cadre of congressmen – the so-called “couch caucus” – bunk in their offices.3. You may never see these people again.

In between buying sweatshirts and completing RA-mandated trust falls, most college freshman exchange phone numbers with at least one kid who dropped out after the first semester. There's a chance a couple of congressmen-elect may suffer the same fate.Congressional candidates in races too close to call are permitted to attend orientation and even get to vote on House leadership. This year, there are five candidates that haven’t been officially elected but are orientation-eligible: Arizona candidate Martha McSally, New York candidate Mark Assini, and California candidates Dog Ose, Johnny Tacherra and Jeff Gorell.4. Vote for me for Frosh Class Prez!

Each incoming congressional class elects a Freshman Class President. (Yes, that’s actually what it’s called. We just wish the candidates would hang hand-drawn posters in the cafeteria.)In 2013, the Democrats elected four co-presidents: Reps. Matt Cartwright, Pa.; Joaquin Castro, Texas; John Delaney, Md.; and Michelle Lujan Grisham, N.M. The Republicans selected Indiana Rep. Luke Messer.

5. Yearbook Photo

Spick and span in their first-day gear, each freshman class poses for photos on the steps of the Capitol and with their respective caucuses. Check out a group photo of the new Senate Republicans with Mitch McConnell.

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Harry Reid Vows to Work with Senate Republicans in New Congress

Harry Reid Vows to Work with Senate Republicans in New Congress

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- As the Senate returned to session on Wednesday, current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his willingness to work with Senate Republicans, saying he doesn’t intend on employing a “strategy of obstruction” when he is in the minority next year.“I’m ready, Mr. President, to work with him on good faith to make this institution function for the American people,” Reid said of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Wednesday. “I saw firsthand how a strategy of obstruction was debilitating to our system, and I have no desire to engage in that manner.”“I’ve been able to strike compromise with my Republican colleagues and I’m ready do to it again,” he added. “It’s clear the American people wants us to join together to get things done for the middle class and all Americans.”McConnell, who is the Senate’s future majority leader, said he hopes the White House will “respect the message sent last Tuesday” when Republicans won control of the Senate.“The actions of the next few weeks could help set a positive tone for the work of the next Congress. It’s a tone that will depend largely on the administration’s willingness to respect the message sent last Tuesday,” McConnell said.McConnell warned that any executive action on immigration reform would be a “big mistake” and would signal the administration’s desire to “double down on old ways.”Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened the Senate Wednesday by acknowledging both the new senators-elect and those senators who are leaving the Senate due to retirement or losing their seats.“Eternal god, our hope for the years to come as we prepare to turn to a new chapter in united states senate history. We pause to acknowledge that you are our light and salvation. Lord, you are the strength of our lives, enabling us to move confidently toward the future. Empower our lawmakers who are coming and going sustaining them in all of their tomorrow,” Black prayed. “Bless also the many other laborers who will be leaving us who faithfully served without fanfare. Lord, reward their fidelity with heaven’s commendation. As our senators seek to respond to the voices of the American people, make they make it their top priority to listen to your whisper. May pleasing you be their greatest desire. Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is heaven. We pray in your sovereign name, Amen.”

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