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House Passes $11 Billion Highway Bill in Bipartisan Vote

House Passes $11 Billion Highway Bill in Bipartisan Vote

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Behind a majority of Democratic votes, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted late Tuesday afternoon to approve a $10.8 billion short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund.The measure benefitting the natio…

Holder Calls for New Civil Rights Legislation

Holder Calls for New Civil Rights Legislation

United States Department of Justice (WASHINGTON) — Paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder called on Congress to pass new legislation addressing present-day inequality and injustices throughout the nation.
The 1964 landmark law aids with current civil rights challenges, Holder said, but there’s still more work to be done. “Half a century after its passage, the Civil Rights Act continues to provide an arsenal of singularly useful tools in waging this struggle,” the Attorney General said. In his keynote speech, Holder emphasized the need for new anti-discrimination laws to prevent prejudice based on gender identity and marital status in housing. He also called for new workplace protections for women, along with education legislation against LGBT discrimination. “Without the sacrifices of countless activists and citizens, I would not stand before you as Attorney General of the United States, proudly serving in the administration of our first African-American president,” Holder added.
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Elizabeth Warren Supporters Launch ‘Ready for Warren’

Elizabeth Warren Supporters Launch ‘Ready for Warren’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) — You’ve heard of Ready for Hillary, but now there’s Ready for Warren.Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has said she will not run for president in 2016, but that isn’t stopping her fans from encouraging her to run. A group of activists has launched the Ready for Warren campaign, asking people to sign a petition urging the Massachusetts Democrat to pursue a presidential bid.“We are Ready for Elizabeth Warren to run for President in 2016,” a statement on the website reads. “Warren is the backbone that the Democratic Party too often forgets it needs. Warren has inspired a movement — yet to jump into the race for president, we need to show Warren that she’s got support all across the country, from Oklahoma to Massachusetts, from Florida to Nevada. We know that Warren can win, but it’s up to all of us to make it happen.”“I think there’s an opportunity for us to convince her if we’re really able to make the case as to why we think she’s the right person,” Erica Sagrans, who is reportedly the campaign manager for the group, told the Huffington Post.As for the senator herself, she is not working with the group and does not endorse their work.“No, Senator Warren does not support this effort,” Lacey Rose, a spokesperson for Warren, told ABC News.Ready for Warren, which already has a Twitter page, Facebook presence and website, also says they will attend Netroots Nation in Detroit this week where Warren is headlining the conference.
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Why John Kerry Was Out of the Loop with Egypt’s Ceasefire Plan

Why John Kerry Was Out of the Loop with Egypt’s Ceasefire Plan

U.S. Department of State(VIENNA) — Secretary of State John Kerry was all set to travel from nuclear negotiations in Austria to Egypt to help work out a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but before he could even get to the Vienna airport, Egypt beat him to the punch — or, more accurately, the truce.A U.S. official said State Department staff members were already in Cairo in anticipation of Kerry’s arrival there, but the trip was called off soon after the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced it had drafted a ceasefire plan that called for an immediate end of hostilities on both sides.“One of the reasons I’m going to Washington and not to Egypt,” Kerry said in Vienna Tuesday morning, “is because there was this offer on the table.”“I am prepared to fly back to the region tomorrow if I have to, or the next day or the next, in order to pursue the prospects if this doesn’t work,” he added, just hours before Israel began shelling Gaza again, formally breaking the ceasefire.The reality was that it was in Egypt’s own interest to quickly announce a peace plan, albeit one that was promptly broken, even if it meant dismissing the Obama administration’s repeated offers to help, experts said.Egypt has been on bad terms with Hamas ever since al-Sisi took power and began vilifying the group as perpetrating attacks from within the country. Egypt would benefit if Israel used Hamas’ violation of the ceasefire as justification for a larger-scale attack against Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested he’d do Tuesday afternoon, said Council on Foreign Relations fellow Stephen Cook.“It’s good politics for the Egyptians to allow a withering assault on Hamas,” Cook said.But while Egypt wouldn’t mind delivering a larger blow to Hamas, it wants to still be seen as a champion for Palestinian civilians, noted Michele Dunne, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Program and a State Department veteran.Egypt’s announcement of a ceasefire plan that almost immediately failed gave Israel the green light for a harder strike without Egypt being seen as the villain, she said.“The security interests of the Egyptian government lie with Israel here,” she said. “But the political interests of Egypt are in standing with the Palestinians and being seen as caring about the people of Gaza in its role as a fellow Arab nation.”Plus, Dunne said, Egypt is used to being the main broker in peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas — a reputation that was damaged after former President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was removed from office.“Egypt wants to be seen as playing its traditional leadership role in the region, even if it actually can’t do that,” she said.Egypt’s own motivations aside, Hamas is also deeply divided between a political wing, which seemed at least open to the ceasefire proposal, and a military wing, which rejected it outright. That division makes it even harder for the United States to play a role in such preliminary negotiations, said Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.“The Middle East is like Humpty Dumpty and we can’t find the glue to put it back together again, in part because the different pieces are at odds with each other,” Katulis said.The question remains, however, why the administration had been so vocal with its offers to help if all parties seemed so far apart, and if Egypt had ulterior motives in announcing this ceasefire anyway.Cook said it may be a result of Kerry’s belief in his own ability as a diplomat — case in point, the great personal time and effort he spent in an ultimately failed bid to move the Middle East peace process along.“You have to admire that in him,” Cook said. “But at the same time if you look at this historically — if you look at any ceasefire anywhere — the parties have to want to have the ceasefire.”And at least at this point, Cook said, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are so willing to negotiate that they’re ready to have the United States act as an outside mediator.“We’ll just have to wait and see until one side or the other decides they’ve made their point, or have been bloodied enough,” he said.
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What Happens If Highway Trust Fund Goes Broke

What Happens If Highway Trust Fund Goes Broke

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has been griping a lot lately about gridlock in Congress. Now, he has a new worry: gridlock on the nation’s highways.The Highway Trust Fund, or HTF, which finances transportation-related construction, is headed for insolvency — threatening to delay as many as 112,000 roadway projects, eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, drive up costs at the pump and the mechanic’s shop, and cause worsening traffic jams nationwide.Unless Congress acts soon, the fund will be fresh out of money by the end of September.
What Is HTF Anyway?The HTF is funded in large part by an 18.4 cent-per-gallon federal gas tax (along with a 24.4 cent-per-gallon diesel tax and excise taxes levied on particularly heavy tires, trucks and trailers.)But the gas tax, which accounts for about 72 percent of HTF’s revenue, hasn’t been adjusted in over 20 years, and inflation — along with increased fuel efficiency standards — have caused both the gas tax’s buying power and its overall revenue to fall.According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, HTF collects about $34 billion per year (including about $98 in gas taxes per vehicle, according to the American Road & Transportation Builder’s Association). But it pays out more than $50 billion per year — its expenditures far exceeding its dedicated revenue.In the past, Congress has diverted money from the Treasury’s general revenue to cover the gap — but that money (along with the legal authority to collect the gas tax) could expire soon.Both the Senate and the House are considering stopgap measures that would  transfer additional money into HTF — but they’re quibbling over the technicalities. Meanwhile, Obama is pushing for a more long-term $302 billion solution.But while politicians debate the merits of the various plans, the HTF balance creeps lower and lower.
What Happens If It Runs Out of Money?1. Infrastructure Grinds to a Halt (Maybe)When it comes to building roads and bridges, the federal government doesn’t foot the bill entirely — state and local governments also chip in, typically paying anywhere from 2 percent to 65 percent of project costs.But if HTF runs out of money, the federal government would be forced to stop reimbursing the states for its share of the construction costs, meaning state governments will have to either fund projects entirely out of pocket — or suspend them altogether.According to the White House, an HTF insolvency would jeopardize as many as 112,000 road-building projects and 5,600 transit projects.This means that new road and bridge projects might halt mid-construction, and maintenance on existing infrastructure could be stalled indefinitely.Without necessary maintenance in the long-term, aging roads and bridges can crumble — causing inconvenient emergency closures, or worse yet, catastrophic failures — like the 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minnesota and the 2013 collapse of I-5 in Washington state.2. 700,000 (Might Be) Out of WorkThe road and bridge construction industry employs about 1.7 million workers, according to the American Road & Transportation Builder’s Association. But without the trust fund, some of those men and women might be temporarily out of work. A trust fund insolvency could cost a whopping 700,000 jobs, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, impacting the entire American economy.3. Higher Prices at the PumpThough federal lawmakers are reluctant to pass a gas hike — especially during an election year — many state-level lawmakers, frustrated with Congress’ inaction, have sought to raise funds on their own.Since the beginning of 2013, more than half a dozen states, including Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming, have increased their gas tax.Several others, including Iowa and Utah, are considering hikes — and in the event of an HTF insolvency, more conservative states might be forced to consider hikes as well.4. Higher Prices at the Mechanic’s ShopAmericans spend an average of $324 per year on repairs and maintenance due to poor road conditions, according to AAA. (Nationwide, that’s $6.4 billion on damage from pot holes alone, AAA says.) A lack of federal funding for repairs would only make matters worse.5. Traffic Ebbs and FlowsThe one silver lining is a short-term reduction in congestion in some construction zones. With road- and bridge-building projects postponed, crews and equipment wouldn’t be blocking traffic, CNN points out.But congestion in areas slated for expansion — including highways set to receive additional lanes — will remain tight, and frustrated commuters will be left honking their horns in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
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DC Statehood Advocates Propose New Address for White House

DC Statehood Advocates Propose New Address for White House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Obamas might have to reprint a lot of expensive stationary if several members of the Washington, D.C., City Council get their way.The council, in an effort to push the issue of D.C. statehood, is looking to rename 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and if the measure passes, the president’s new address would be located on “D.C. Statehood Now Boulevard.”But don’t hold your breath.“The 1500 and 1600 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue NW — I have proposed to be renamed to ‘D.C. Statehood Now Boulevard,” Councilmember Yvette Alexander told ABC News.The proposal was changed from its original name of “D.C. Statehood Now Way,” to avoid confusion with the phrase “D.C. Statehood No Way,” Alexander said.Alexander acknowledged that her proposal was largely symbolic in nature.“Naturally the Pennsylvania Avenue sign still stays there — it’s a symbolic measure. However, we can put the sign atop of the Pennsylvania Avenue sign, so it will be marked ‘D.C. Statehood Now Boulevard,’” Alexander said.“Even though this is a symbolic measure, it’s still another step in the right direction because so many citizens across the nation are still not aware of our plight in the District of Columbia,” Alexander added. “And we have to just be very vocal about it and use everything possible to get the attention of our nation.”The District of Columbia lacks voting rights in both the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate, despite having a larger population than both Vermont and Wyoming.The proposal would be subject to the approval of the Council of the District of Columbia — and ultimately Congress. Alexander said she is expecting the support of Eleanor Holmes, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives.In a written statement to ABC News, Holmes said, “Thank you, Councilmember Alexander and D.C. Council, for using your street-naming power to empower D.C.”
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President Obama Drives a Car — Sort Of

President Obama Drives a Car — Sort Of

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(McLEAN, Va.) — President Obama on Tuesday got a chance to do something he hasn’t done in years: drive a car.“They are finally letting me drive again. This is so exciting!” the president exclaimed, as he got behind the wheel during a tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia.“Man, this is so exciting. I haven’t been on the road in a long time,” he said grinning.While Obama did get a chance to drive, the president will have to wait to get back out on the real road. This was just a driving simulation. The car was positioned in front of a giant screen where cars and trucks whizzed by on a fictitious highway.Obama showed he has something of a lead foot. “I’m going a little fast here,” he noted, as his speed climbed up to 90 miles an hour. “I got off a bit too fast.”Obama did have one complaint though: “There’s no radio in here. Where’s the music?”“You guys ever drive down the highway without music?” he asked the press standing nearby on solid ground. “Of course not.”Later in his remarks, the president admitted the whole experience was a little “disorienting” given his rusty driving skills and said having the stationary press next to him made him “a little queasy.”It’s been roughly four years since the president publicly drove a car. In 2010, he took the Chevy Volt for a very brief test drive of just a few feet.
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Cory Booker Brings Selfie Obsession to the Senate

Cory Booker Brings Selfie Obsession to the Senate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Three months after the Washington Post declared that senators ruined selfies for everyone, Cory Booker is bringing selfies back.The New Jersey senator’s latest online crusade: snapping a selfie with every single one of his Senate colleagues, 99 in total. The campaign started early last month with a shot Booker took with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.”The First in my 99 part Instagram series: Selfies With Fellow Senators. Here with Angus King of Maine. A true gentleman and valued source of wisdom for me in the Senate,” Booker wrote.Last week, he convinced his unlikely ally, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to take a selfie with him — in the middle of a media appearance nonetheless.”10th in my 99 part Instagram series: Selfies With My Fellow Senators. Here with Rand Paul of Kentucky. Across party lines Senator Paul and I have found common ground around the urgent need to reform our criminal justice system and address the anguished and expensive reality of mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders in the USA. We also bonded over our respect for the holiday of Festivus (Senator Paul has a long list of grievances). #BipartisanshipARealAndNeededFeatOfStrenght,” Booker wrote.And it’s not just his Senate colleagues he wants to corral into self-taken photos. Booker seems to be on a mission to rival Ellen DeGeneres’ epic selfie at this year’s Academy Awards, stretching out his long arms to cram in as many people into one photo at a time — whether it’s taking his summer interns to watch Planet of the Apes or hanging out with kids at a middle school.Using social media to connect with people isn’t new for Booker. The 45-year-old started his social media habit as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, where he used Twitter to connect with constituents, often encouraging them to send him direct messages with their problems. And Booker has used Twitter to forge personal relationships in the Senate. His partnership with Paul started after the two bonded on Twitter over Festivus, a made-up holiday popularized by Seinfeld.Booker has found a way to chronicle the ins and outs of being a senator in a way that wasn’t possible before the age of social media — from attending meetings at the White House to having strangers take pictures of you to providing a glimpse at what it takes to get the perfect shot.Judging by his massive following, Booker’s social media outreach seems to be working. Booker has 38,000 followers on Instagram and 1.47 million on Twitter, a whopping one million more than his friend Paul, whose Twitter account following ballooned after a filibuster last year but pales in comparison to Booker’s.
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‘Shocked’ Rep Scolds VA over ‘Deception’ in Latest Revelations

‘Shocked’ Rep Scolds VA over ‘Deception’ in Latest Revelations

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A flabbergasted congressman scolded officials from the Veterans Benefits Administration that it is “clear”  there “is not a corner that VBA leadership will not cut, nor a statistic that they will not manipulate.”The angry rebuke came from House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller during a second hearing into the alleged intimidation of whistleblowers at the scandal scarred Veterans Administration Monday. The hearing went late into the night, ending just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.Miller, R-Fla., asked the VA officials present who was paying the price for agency’s “self-defined success.”“Whatever hooray you shout, whatever ‘win’ you attempt to claim in 2015, you shall not be celebrated,” Miller said. “It has been made clear that there is not a corner that VBA leadership will not cut, nor a statistic that they will not manipulate to lay claim to a hollow victory.”“What we all want to see, both my Republican and Democrat colleagues, is progress — not deception,” Miller said.The committee heard from several whistleblowers for the second straight week, this time to detail how the VBA processed benefits applications, including changing dates of applications that were not fully processed.Kristen Ruell, an authorization quality services representative at the VBA, claimed that some employees at the Philadelphia Regional Office staff were motivated to manipulate data so they’d get better performance reviews and higher bonuses.“Instead of solving problems, I was retaliated against,” Ruell testified. “VA’s problems are the result of morally bankrupt managers.”Ruell told lawmakers her car was dented and covered with coffee one morning and she suspects the culprits were vindictive VBA managers from the Philadelphia office. “If something doesn’t change soon, I don’t know if there’s going to be any good workers left in the VA,” she said.As the hearing stretched into the night, Miller told the committee about a visit some committee staff took to the Philadelphia Regional Office earlier this month. As several committee aides were preparing to meet with officials July 2, one aide visited the restroom. In the restroom, the committee aide found a notebook that belonged to Acting Regional Director Diana Rubens, apparently directing an official preparing for the briefing to ignore a certain committee aide’s questions. The notes also listed the names of two whistleblowers the committee had been in communication with as well as the names of committee investigators.Rubens, who claimed that her comments on the notebook were taken out of context, and that she simply wrote the names down when they were mentioned to her.The committee investigators were directed to a workspace at the regional office which was outfitted with cameras and microphones. Upon discovering they were being monitored, the aides requested to be moved.“Am I surprised? No, I’m shocked,” Miller said. “The VA may ignore everybody, but I stress you will not ignore this committee anymore.”The Under Secretary for Benefits apologized to the committee, clearly embarrassed.“What occurred was not acceptable and not indicative in normal ways of which Ms. Ruben would behave,” Allison Hickey, the VA’s Undersecretary for Benefits, said. “I offer my sincere apologies to your staff and my commitment that it will not happen again. You’ll receive anything you need.”Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., was one lawmaker who didn’t think the Philadelphia episode was a big deal. “I hope nobody loses their job,” Brown said. “Nobody has business reading someone’s pad in the bathroom.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Primary Season Returns: Alabama and North Carolina Vote in Run-Offs

Primary Season Returns: Alabama and North Carolina Vote in Run-Offs

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After three weeks off, the primary season continues today. Voters go to the polls for run-offs in Alabama and North Carolina, with three races where voters will cast ballots.No incumbents face the chopping block Tuesday night, but there is one race where an incumbent’s backing could determine the race. All three look like they will go to the GOP, so in two of Tuesday night’s run-offs, the primary results could determine the winner in November. There is likely to be low turn-out in all three races so we could see some surprises.Here are the three races to watch Tuesday:AN INCUMBENT’S BACKING: In the GOP run-off for North Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Rockingham County District attorney Phil Berger Jr. is facing off against Baptist minister Mark Walker to replace the retiring Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C. In the initial primary for the Greensboro seat, Coble stayed neutral, but in the run-off the 83-year-old has backed Berger. WHY IT MATTERS: The 15-term Republican has stumped alongside Berger during the run-off, appearing at campaign events, fundraisers, on mailers, and even recording a robocall. Berger — the son of a state Senate leader — bested Walker in the primary, but he did not cross the 40 percent threshold to avoid a run-off. Having that support, as well as more campaign cash, and Coble’s backing could mean victory Tuesday. But with low turn-out and Walker being the pastor of a large congregation, nothing is certain. The winner of what turned into quite a contentious primary will face off against former University of North Carolina system administrator Laura Fjeld in November. The Republican is favored in this race so the winner tonight will likely also be the November victor.THE OTHERS:GOP RUN-OFF FOR ALABAMA’S SIXTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT:  Conservative activist Gary Palmer and Alabama State Rep. Paul DeMarco are facing off in this run-off to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. It’s another heavily Republican district, making Tuesday night’s winner the likely November victor as well. Palmer has the support of the anti-tax group Club for Growth in the run-off since its first choice did not make it through the initial primary, but DeMarco bested Palmer in the primary, as well as in fundraising, and has the backing of the NRA. The Club has dumped about $250,000 in the race and its support could help shift the tide towards Palmer in this re-match. Palmer also has strong ties to the religious community in the district, which could help in what is expected to be a low-turnout run-off. The district is one of the strongest Republican House districts in the entire country, meaning Democrat Avery Vise has little chance at victory.DEMOCRATIC RUN-OFF FOR NORTH CAROLINA’S FIFTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Software developer Josh Brannon is up against former State Department employee and former candidate for Winston-Salem mayor, Gardenia Henley. The winner will face five-term incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. Brannon bested Henley in the primary, but did not cross the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off. This district in the northwestern part of the state is heavily Republican so it’s likely Tuesday night’s winner won’t impact Foxx’s November re-election.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

POLL: More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

POLL: More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support a White House plan to address an influx of Central American children crossing the border from Mexico, though the president himself receives poor ratings for handling the issue — as do his Republican critics in Congress. Only a third of Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling the issue of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. But even fewer approve of how the Republicans in Congress are dealing with it — 23 percent, including fewer than half of Republicans themselves. Those poor political ratings aside, 53 percent support the plan to spend $3.7 billion to address the immediate problem of unaccompanied, undocumented children entering the country. Still, sharp partisan divisions mark that view: Sixty-six percent of Democrats support the proposal, advanced by Obama last week, dropping to 51 percent of independents and just 35 percent of Republicans. Some frustration on the issue goes beyond partisan predispositions. Perhaps indicating public dismay with political gridlock on immigration, four in 10 Americans simultaneously disapprove of how Obama and Republicans in Congress alike are handling the crisis — and half of them disapprove “strongly.” Further, strong disapprovers of Obama’s work on immigration outnumber strong approvers by a 3-1 margin — and that grows to more than 4-1 strongly negative in terms of the Republicans in Congress in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Obama’s poor numbers are nothing new: Never has a majority approved of his handling of immigration. Still, Americans have been more likely to trust Obama or the Democrats to do a better job than the Republicans in handling immigration in four ABC/Post polls since March 2013. Obama’s proposal would use half of a planned $3.7 billion in emergency spending to provide care for children who’ve crossed the border without documentation while their deportation cases are heard, and the rest on speeding those deportation hearings and increasing border security. This poll’s question described these components, without identifying it as Obama’s proposal. Indeed, among those who support the plan, just half also approve of the way Obama’s handling the situation. Given the partisanship associated with views of the president, either of two outcomes is possible should the plan become more closely identified with Obama: he may gain approval — or it may lose support. Regardless, despite the push on immigration from the White House, the divided Congress is expected to remain at a standstill on the issue until after the midterm elections. And many voters have other priorities: In an ABC/Post poll last month, 49 percent called immigration highly important in their vote for Congress this year, far behind the 84 percent who said the same of the economy. The budget deficit, Obamacare, “the way Washington is working” and women’s issues also ranked higher than immigration. GROUPS – Obama’s approval on handling the issue is highest among some of his core support groups, notably (beyond Democrats) liberals and nonwhites. Support for the emergency spending peaks among these same groups — and among young adults — but also far outstrips approval of Obama’s work on the issue among others, including Republicans, independents, moderates and conservatives. The Republicans in Congress, for their part, get just 48 percent approval in their own party for handling the issue, and even less support, 36 percent, from conservatives. Those numbers drop sharply among independents, moderates, Democrats and liberals alike. Views among Hispanics are not markedly different from those of all Americans on any of these three questions. METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone July 9-13, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,016 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bipartisan Duo to Introduce Border Bill

Bipartisan Duo to Introduce Border Bill

Texans for Henry Cuellar | Office of Sen. John Cornyn(WASHINGTON) — A pair of Texas lawmakers — one Senate Republican and one House Democrat — are introducing legislation Tuesday to make it easier to swiftly send tens of thousands of young migrants back to Central America after they were caught trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar briefed reporters Monday night on their measure, known as the HUMANE Act, which would change a 2008 law that provided extra protection to children arriving from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — or any non-contiguous country like Mexico and Canada.
The bill effectively calls for all unaccompanied minors to be treated the same as those from other countries — with speedy immigration hearings held within a week — rather than drawn-out proceedings in the backlogged immigration system where the children often slip through the cracks and stay in the United States illegally.“We would treat all the unaccompanied minors the same — whether they are from Central America, Mexico or Canada,” Cornyn said.The legislation allows young migrants to make a case before an immigration judge within seven days. The bill calls for 40 new immigration judges.The proposal is being met with strong opposition from immigrant-rights groups and most Democratic lawmakers, who say the United States has a moral responsibility to step into the humanitarian crisis at the border and help those who are escaping violence at home.Cornyn said he and other Republicans cannot support President Obama’s $3.7 billion request to address the border crisis without significant reforms to the law. The bill could be considered as soon as next week in the Republican-controlled House, but is expected to face significant hurdles in the Democratic-controlled Senate. So far, no Democratic Senator has signed onto the Cornyn-Cuellar proposal.
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Lynne Cheney Mocks Hillary Clinton: ‘We Weren’t Dead Broke’

Lynne Cheney Mocks Hillary Clinton: ‘We Weren’t Dead Broke’

Win McNamee/Getty Images | ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It was standing room only at the Mayflower Hotel on Monday for Politico Playbook’s lunch with the Cheney family. The former vice president was joined by his wife Lynne and daughter Liz for an interview.The conversation bounced from Dick and Liz Cheney’s controversial op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to his Ford F-350 diesel truck (he’s a “proud owner”) to Rand Paul’s foreign policy views.Lynne took a jab at Hillary Clinton, saying she “wasn’t so sure” about Dick Cheney becoming vice president, but that “we weren’t dead broke!”The laughter was quickly eclipsed by several protesters, who interrupted the interview with shouts of war crimes directed at the former vice president.Noticeably absent from lunch was Mary Cheney, Liz’s sister, who is openly gay and married her longtime partner Heather Poe in 2012. Allen addressed her absence, saying she had been invited but had other obligations.The Cheneys largely deflected questions about the family’s feud over gay marriage (Dick Cheney supports it, Liz doesn’t).“I love Mary very much and Heather and the kids,” Liz said, before changing the subject.Most of the conversation revolved around Iraq and foreign policy. Dick Cheney was critical of the current administration’s handling of Iraq. He said entering Iraq in 2003, “was absolutely the right thing to do.”Dick Cheney placed the blame for the recent Islamic militant violence on Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki and the Obama administration. He said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is, “attracting thousands of followers from all over the world,” and there’s a “cauldron out there” with respect to nuclear weapons.At the same time, the former vice president said there is an “isolationist strain developing” inside the GOP, and that “isolationism is crazy.” With the creation of the Alliance for a Strong America, he and his daughter Liz want to bring, “national security front and center in debate and dialogue going forward.”
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Conservative Group Slams Christie over ‘Liberal’ Judges

Conservative Group Slams Christie over ‘Liberal’ Judges

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A conservative group is running ads in Iowa this week slamming Governor Chris Christie — a Republican — for appointing liberal judges in New Jersey.The ads feature a photo of Christie and President Obama together, with Christie wearing his Hurricane Sandy blue fleece. The spots are scheduled to run while the governor is in Iowa this week. The group behind the ads, the Judicial Crisis Network, is run by a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.Watch the ads HERE and HERE.
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US Condemns Cuba for Arresting Dozens of Protesters

US Condemns Cuba for Arresting Dozens of Protesters

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Cuba over the weekend arrested dozens of Damas de Blanco protesters — the wives of political prisoners who have government permission to protest — on the 20th anniversary of the sinking of a tugboat that killed dozens as they attempted to flee the communist nation. In a statement Monday, the U.S. State Department urged an end to the Cuban government’s use of intimidation tactics. “We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s continued use of this intimidation tactic to silence its critics and disrupt peaceful assembly,” said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.“We urge the Government of Cuba to end these practices and respect the universal human rights of the Cuban people.”The tugboat sinking took the lives of 37 people, including 10 children.
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Vicki Kennedy Testifies on Capitol Hill

Vicki Kennedy Testifies on Capitol Hill

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Nearly five years after her husband, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, passed away, Vicki Kennedy appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to testify about her nomination to the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service.President Obama nominated Vicki Kennedy to the position in February, and her nomination comes at a time when the USPS is experiencing deep financial difficulties. Mrs. Kennedy expressed her commitment to helping the Postal Service survive and warned that further cutbacks could hurt the already embattled agency.“Anytime you have a cutback in service in any way, whether its delivery standards, whether its daily delivery, you know six days a week…I think it’s a black eye. I think it hurts us, and we want people to feel that the postal service is excellent in every way,” Kennedy said.Vicki Kennedy was introduced at the hearing by Sen. Ed Markey, who was part of the Massachusetts delegation when Ted Kennedy served. Other Kennedy friends and family were in the audience, including former Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Vicki Kennedy’s nomination will still have to be approved by the committee before heading to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.
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Meet the First Somali Ambassador to the US in 20 Years

Meet the First Somali Ambassador to the US in 20 Years

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Somalia has appointed the country’s first ambassador to the United States in more than two decades.Omar Abdirashid Ali Shamarke had his diplomatic credentials accepted Monday at the White House, where he is expected to attend President Obama’s Iftar celebration Monday evening, a dinner marking the breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.“Ambassador Sharmarke’s arrival to Washington represents the latest progress in advancing U.S.-Somali relations,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.“We look forward to working with Ambassador Sharmarke and continuing to work with the Federal Government of Somalia to bring stability, security, and prosperity to all Somali people,” Psaki added.Somalia’s embassy in the U.S. closed in 1992 following the fall of long-time president Siad Barre, which plunged the country into chaos. Two years ago, the first elected government in 20 years came into power and the United States has given more than half a billion dollars in aid to help build infrastructure and provide basic services, including security and development of a justice system.Ambassador Shamarke is no stranger to the United States. He spent years in America in exile and his family is based in Virginia. He also served in Somalia’s transitional federal government as prime minister in 2009, resigning a year later due to government infighting.Shamarke told ABC News in an interview shortly after taking office that Somalia needed help fighting the al Qaeda-backed militant group Al Shabaab, which at that time controlled all of southern Somalia and most of the capital Mogadishu.“We don’t have an edge in terms of capability and that’s why we have requested this international emergency help to salvage the country,” said Shamarke. “We cannot prevail on these extremist groups when they have Ak-47s, and other weapons and we only have Ak-47s.”In the last five years, the United States gave more than $1.5 billion in assistance, including equipment and training to African Union troops fighting alongside Somalia security forces to push Shabaab out of Mogadishu, as well as its strongholds in southern and central Somalia.Despite the terror group’s loss of physical territory, it continues to launch deadly strikes in both Somalia and the region.
Last September, Shabaab militants attacked an upscale mall in neighboring Kenya, killing 67 people.
Just last week, militants stormed Somalia’s presidential palace, setting off explosions and shooting guards. African Union and Somali military troops responded quickly and both the prime minister and president were unharmed, but the attack showed the threat the terror group continues to pose to the country’s security and stability.U.S. officials say that despite the ongoing terror threat, the administration remains committed to supporting the new government and increasing ties between the countries. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed to ABC News that up to 120 troops are now in Mogadishu, the largest U.S. military presence in Somalia since the 1993 failed Black Hawk Down operation.The State Department’s top diplomat for political affairs, Ambassador Wendy Sherman announced last month that the U.S. soon will name its own ambassador to Somalia, the first in more than 20 years.But in a nod to the realities of the security situation on the ground, Sherman confirmed that the new ambassador, along with the rest of the Somalia team, will be based out of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi  for the foreseeable future. Though the U.S. has set up a small mission in the airport in Mogadishu it is still too dangerous to have any U.S. staff based there, officials said.
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Harry Reid: Judge Judy Would Throw Out GOP Lawsuit

Harry Reid: Judge Judy Would Throw Out GOP Lawsuit

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Paging Judge Judy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday the snarky TV judge would throw out the lawsuit crafted by House Republicans in “half a second.”“This is a phony trial that will come up. It’s a show trial. It’s what Republicans want. I guess that’s what they want, but if that’s really what they want, they should go talk to Judge Judy. Think she would throw this case out in a half a second,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “The United States Congress is no place for inane, politically motivated litigation. I think Judge Judy would agree.”“It’s expensive and wasteful. It’s wasting taxpayers hard earned money on something that is without any merit,” he added. “Enough is enough. The fight over Obamacare should be long since ended. The law’s here to stay.”Last week, House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans released a draft of a resolution which would authorize the House to sue President Obama for not faithfully executing the law. The White House has called the lawsuit a “political stunt.”

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George W. Bush Gets Second Partial Knee Replacement

George W. Bush Gets Second Partial Knee Replacement

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — George W. Bush enjoys his mountain biking and now, the former president will have two new knees to power his rides.Aides say Bush’s left knee was partially replaced over the weekend at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Earlier this year, he had his right knee partially replaced at the same hospital over Memorial Day weekend.Both surgeries were outpatient procedures, and Bush, 68, is making his way back home to Dallas.

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Six Best Barbs in Rand Paul vs. Rick Perry Feud

Six Best Barbs in Rand Paul vs. Rick Perry Feud

Stewart F. House/Getty Images | Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to dealing with ISIS, the militant Islamic group intent on taking over Iraq, there’s a rift within the Republican party — and nowhere is the divide more glaring than in dueling op-eds published by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.First, Perry ripped Paul in a scathing Washington Post op-ed published Friday. Perry’s critique was as pointed as it was blunt, calling Paul out by name and suggesting that Paul’s “isolationist” position (advocating against re-engagement in Iraq) “compounds the threat of terrorism.”Not to be outdone, Paul fired back in an op-ed published in Politico Magazine Monday, labeling Perry’s critique “bombast” — and jeering at Perry’s studious new glasses.The exchange was reminiscent of Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s fiery feud earlier this year, not only in its intensity, but because once again, both combatants are likely 2016 hopefuls.In case you missed it, here’s are the best nuggets of the Perry/Paul tirades:Perry: “It’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq. …[ISIS] represents a real threat to our national security — to which Paul seems curiously blind.” Paul: “There are many things I like about Texas Gov. Rick Perry. …But apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.”Perry: “Reagan identified Soviet communism as an existential threat to our national security and Western values, and he confronted this threat in every theater. …At the time, though, there were those who said that Reagan’s policies would push the Soviets to war. These voices promoted accommodation and timidity in the face of Soviet advancement as the surest path to peace. This, sadly, is the same policy of inaction that Paul advances today. …Paul is drawing his own red line along the water’s edge, creating a giant moat where superpowers can retire from the world.”Paul: “If the governor continues to insist these proposals mean I’m somehow ‘ignoring ISIS,’ then I’ll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry’s opinions.”Perry: “In the face of the advancement of the Islamic State, Paul and others suggest the best approach to this 21st-century threat is to do next to nothing. I personally don’t believe in a wait-and-see foreign policy for the United States.”Paul: “Tough talk like Perry’s might inspire some for the moment, but when bombast becomes policy, it can have long and disastrous consequences. …On foreign policy, Perry couldn’t be more stuck in the past, doubling down on formulas that haven’t worked, parroting rhetoric that doesn’t make sense and reinforcing petulant attitudes that have cost our nation a great deal.”
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