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Defending Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Obama, Biden, Clinton Rush to Chairwoman’s Side

Defending Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Obama, Biden, Clinton Rush to Chairwoman’s Side

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) — Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz suddenly has a lot of friends.

After an embarrassing week during which Politico reported immense strain in Wasserman Schultz’s tenure as chairwoman, three of the most prominent Democrats in America have rushed to her side: Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama.

In addresses at the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington on Friday, Biden, Clinton and Obama offered resounding tributes to Wasserman Schultz’s tenure as chairwoman and congresswoman, preceding remarks on equal pay, domestic violence and family structure with deep commendations of her work and integrity.

Even Wasserman Schultz herself was in a rosy mood: Taking the stage just after 8 a.m., and just after Pharrell’s ubiquitous “Happy” blared from the speakers, she was received by an enthusiastic, heavily female audience that gave her two standing ovations. She delivered an emphatic call to arms for the female vote this November in the midterm elections.

The forum also came a day after Wasserman Schultz was honored at the Kennedy Center by the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation after surviving a bout with the disease in 2008 while in Congress.

In the comprehensive examination of Wasserman Schultz’s legacy, Politico reported widespread tension and frustration with her term in office. She was painted as a self-interested executive in service of her own political career. According to the report, President Obama’s close advisers had readied a replacement for her after the 2012 election, but eventually decided to keep her in place.

Despite the unspoken irritation, Wasserman Schultz has overseen a DNC that cleared its debt and created a surplus. It currently heads into the midterms with $7 million to spend on its candidates, many of whom face uphill fights to reclaim or take over congressional seats.

But for those following press coverage of Wasserman Schultz this week, the elephant in the room seemed to be present for the biggest names in Democratic politics. Biden, Clinton and Obama wasted no time in defending her.

“I’ve worked with a lot of great chairpersons of the Democratic Party. … I’ve campaigned for thousands of candidates over the years, literally,” Biden said. “But I’ve never seen anybody work as hard and as tirelessly as Debbie has.”

“And by the way, if we want anybody to do that 60 seconds or 120 seconds we get to respond to some attack on the president or on the administration, the best person … is always Debbie,” Biden added.

Hillary Clinton was even more resolute.

“Debbie wears so many hats so well,” Clinton said. “Her courage in beating breast cancer and going on to pass groundbreaking legislation that is helping other women beat it too is an example for us all. It is a truly inspiring and moving story.”

“On the Hill and on the [campaign] trail, she fights for women, for kids, for families. She fights for all of us,” Clinton added.

The most complicated endorsement may have come from President Obama, whose taped video comments celebrating Wasserman Schultz’s achievements Thursday night at the Kennedy Center came as something of a surprise. The Politico report had conveyed a serious lack of confidence in her on the part of the administration.

Friday at the women’s leadership forum, Obama opened his speech by flattering his party’s chief.

“Speaking of leaders, I want to thank Debbie for the great work she’s doing to keep our party strong,” he said. “Nobody anywhere works harder than Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”

Obama’s Senate majority may rest on the shoulders of a woman who, while questioned privately, is at least in the good graces of her party’s top figures when the cameras are rolling.

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President Obama Uses Weekly Address to Discuss Fight Against ISIS

President Obama Uses Weekly Address to Discuss Fight Against ISIS

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama used his weekly address to speak about the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for the second consecutive week.

“Over the past week,” the commander in chief said, “the United States has continued to lead our friends and allies in the strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.” ISIS is also referred to as ISIL or the Islamic State.

Obama discussed the ways in which ISIS poses a threat not just to Iraq, Syria and the Middle East, but notes the threats the group has made against America and its allies. “If left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States,” Obama said.

“This isn’t America vs. ISIL,” Obama went on. “This is the people of that region versus ISIL. It’s the world versus ISIL.”

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Over the past week, the United States has continued to lead our friends and allies in the strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.  As I’ve said before, our intelligence community has not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America.  Right now, they pose a threat to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East.  But its leaders have threatened America and our allies.  And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.

So, last month, I gave the order for our military to begin taking targeted action against ISIL.  Since then, American pilots have flown more than 170 airstrikes against these terrorists in Iraq.  And France has now joined us in these airstrikes.

Going forward, we won’t hesitate to take action against these terrorists in Iraq or in Syria.  But this is not America’s fight alone.  I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria.  It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures. We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners.  We will advise and we will assist.   And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.  This isn’t America vs. ISIL.  This is the people of that region vs. ISIL.  It’s the world vs ISIL.

We’ve been working to secure bipartisan support for this strategy here at home, because I believe that we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  We’ve been consulting closely with Congress.  And last week, Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of Defense Hagel, and military leaders worked to gain their support for our strategy. 

A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have now approved a first, key part of our strategy by wide margins.  They’ve given our troops the authority they need to train Syrian opposition fighters so that they can fight ISIL in Syria.  Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger.  And I hope Congress continues to make sure our troops get what they need to get the job done.

Meanwhile, because we’re leading the right way, more nations are joining our coalition.  Over 40 countries have offered to help the broad campaign against ISIL so far – from training and equipment, to humanitarian relief, to flying combat missions.  And this week, at the United Nations, I’ll continue to rally the world against this threat.

This is an effort that America has the unique ability to lead.  When the world is threatened; when the world needs help; it calls on America. And we call on our troops. Whether it’s to degrade and ultimately destroy a group of terrorists, or to contain and combat a threat like the Ebola epidemic in Africa; we ask a lot of our troops.  But while our politics may be divided at times, the American people stand united around supporting our troops and their families.  This is a moment of American leadership.  Thanks to them, it is a moment we will meet.  Thank you.

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GOP Weekly Address: Democrats Have Chosen ‘Divisive Politics Rather Than Facts and Common Sense’

GOP Weekly Address: Democrats Have Chosen ‘Divisive Politics Rather Than Facts and Common Sense’

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado calls out President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate for blocking numerous jobs and energy bills that have already been passed by the Republican-held House.

Gardner notes that those hurt most by the gridlock are “not the big corporations…not the rich. It’s people looking for work — people in need of a good paying job.”

The Congressman specifically mentioned the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the delay in construction that has last six years. “Thousands of Americans are missing out on the good paying jobs the pipeline would create,” Gardner said.

Gardner continues, calling for “more Colorado in Washington and less Washington in Colorado.”

“We have the power to change the course of our nation,” Gardner said. “We are liberty and opportunity. Optimism and resilience. We are together — an America on the rise.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Hello – I’m Cory Gardner – Representative for Colorado’s 4th Congressional district.
 
“Growing up in a small town on Colorado’s eastern plains, I learned that communities work best when people of different backgrounds, who may sometimes disagree, pull together and look out for each other.  That’s what my parents and grandparents were about, and that’s what I strive to do for Coloradans.  I believe Americans are at their best when they are giving each other a hand and looking out for those who need help, regardless of race, color, gender or creed.
 
“I know many of you would agree with me that Congress and the President could learn a thing or two from places like my home town and the extraordinary people across this nation, who work together each and every day to build a better life for themselves, their families and their neighbors.
 
“We face enormous challenges today, challenges that if left unresolved will undermine our ability to hand our children and grandchildren the nation that we know we are and the better life that we want them all to have.  

“Our families, friends, and neighbors are working harder every day only to see opportunity slip further from their reach – higher gas prices, food prices, college tuition – conditions made worse by the failed policies of the President and the Senate Majority.  President Obama continues to rely on policies of overreaching economic regulation based on European models of status quo instead of American ideals of growth and exceptionalism.
 
“And to be clear, it isn’t that I think President Obama or the Democrats in the Senate are trying to hurt the economy, but their policies have certainly done damage.  And those wrong policies are taking a terrible toll and hurting a lot of people who voted against the President and a lot of people who voted for him, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet.  We care about the victims of these misguided policies because they are our families, our friends, our neighbors, those who agree with us politically and those who disagree with us.  They are Americans.
 
“President Obama and his allies in Congress have forgotten that they were elected to represent all Americans.  They have lost their way and lined up with special interest actions that have blocked jobs, hurt the poor, sold out the most vulnerable amongst us, and have left too many behind.

“For too long, this Administration and Democrats in the Senate have obstructed policies that will get Americans back to work. They would have us believe that high unemployment and declining salaries are the new normal.  That we should just get used to the disappointment of low expectations.  That is not good enough for my community, and I know it is not good enough for yours.

“Just yesterday, the Keystone Pipeline delay turned six years old.  Thanks to the President’s inaction, we are no closer to building the pipeline today than we were six years ago.

“As a result, thousands of Americans are missing out on the good paying jobs the pipeline would create.
 
“Americans know that purely political failures like this are one of the main reasons Washington is broken. Republicans agree and that’s why we’ve repeatedly called for President Obama and the Senate to take action.  Pass our jobs bills and get America working again.
 
“And who is hurt most by the obstruction? It’s not the big corporations.  It’s not the rich.  It’s people looking for work – people in need of a good paying job.
 
“It’s disappointing that the President and his allies have chosen divisive politics rather than facts and common sense.
 
“We have a duty to put politics aside and Americans first. Congress, the House and Senate, and the President, have a patriotic duty to fight for all Americans.
 
“In my home state of Colorado, the responsible development of all types of energy resources has helped fuel a national energy revolution.
 
“And it isn’t just traditional energy either — new wind farms on the Eastern Plains and hydropower on the Western Slope provides a model of success for the nation.
 
“If the President would stop blocking responsible energy development on public lands, this nation could benefit even more.  Putting an end to the regulatory overreach would help areas of Colorado and our country that continue to struggle.
 
“This new energy economy means more jobs, more money for parents to send their kids to college, and more Coloradans feeling certain that the next generation will be left with greater opportunities than their own.  A better starting point that we can pass on to our children than the one we inherited from our parents.
 
“President Obama could learn a thing or two from Colorado when it comes to energy development.
 
“In fact, constituents regularly tell me we need more Colorado in Washington and less Washington in Colorado.
 
“And I agree.
 
“Colorado supports building the Keystone Pipeline because we know its benefits don’t end with its ability to create new jobs.
 
“The pipeline would be a major step forward in making us North American energy secure.
 
“At a time when the Middle East is becoming increasingly unstable, a prudent President would embrace a true all-of-the-above energy strategy.
 
“We’ve tried this approach in the House of Representatives, passing my legislation to expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas exports. This bipartisan bill would lift 45,000 people off of the unemployment rolls.

“Many of our allies are tethered by aggressive regional powers like Russia, which dominates the Eastern European energy market. Energy development here at home and boosting our allies abroad would make America safer – all while creating thousands of sorely needed jobs at home.
 
“Energy independence improves the stability of our families, the safety of our families, and provides economic security from the threat of terrorism by organizations that pose imminent threats to our nation like ISIL and others. 
 
“The President and congressional Democrats don’t understand that this isn’t about oil companies or billionaire donors – this is about the American people who are hurt by their decision to block jobs at the behest of their special interests.
 
“This is about putting Americans back to work and making our nation more secure.

This is about taking away that fear about your children’s future, knowing that they won’t have less opportunity to build a fulfilling life, but more. This is about sending a message to the world that the United States still believes in what made this country great–an unyielding belief that a brighter horizon is always within reach.  And this is about taking care of our neighbors, no matter which side of town they live in and which political party they belong to.

“We don’t have to live in an economy whose rationale seems to be one of managed decline instead of inspiration and innovation.

“We have the power to change the course of our nation by getting government out of the way and letting America work. We are the United States.  We are liberty and opportunity.  Optimism and resilience.  We are together – an America on the rise.

“I’m Congressman Cory Gardner from Colorado – let’s get to work.”

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Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivor Urges Obama to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’

Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivor Urges Obama to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’

(WASHINGTON) — Sleeping in her hostel, “Saa” remembers being awoken by the sound of gunfire last April.

“The Boko Haram people came into the school,” the shy, young Nigerian woman quietly recalls.

Soon after, Boko Haram militants ordered her and other female students to gather in a courtyard while everything in the school was burned.

Using a pseudonym and covering her head with a scarf to conceal her identity, Saa emotionally detailed her capture and subsequent getaway Friday for the first time in public in the United States.

After being loaded into a truck and beginning a trip to a destination unknown, Saa, overcome with fear, says she decided to make a run for it.

“I told my friend that I decided to jump down from the truck,” she said. “I’d rather die, [so] that my parents [would] have my coffin buried than to go with them because we don’t know where we are going.”

The 18-year-old and her friend jumped from the truck and fled into the surrounding forest. After spending the night under a tree, the duo managed to get help and was ultimately reunited with their families.

Today, Saa proudly credits her Christian faith for giving her the courage to evade her captors.

“I’m a Christian, I’m a real Christian,” she emphasizes. “I know God, and I’m following God the way I can.”

While the mystery of the missing girls captured the world’s attention months ago, headlines quickly faded as the search dragged on without much news. Saa now lives in the United States, where she is working to complete her high school education.

Asked what her message would be for President Obama if she had an opportunity to speak to him, Saa urged the president to recommit to finding hundreds of others whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

“We are thinking about them,” she said. “If he can agree to help and bring back our girls, it’s good.”

Emmanuel Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer who helped arrange Saa’s scholarship to continue her education in the United States, also pleaded with Obama to pump more U.S. resources into the stalled search.

“This is terror on steroids,” Ogebe said. “These people are desperate. They’re regressing into another age, but [the United States] could be the hope, the beacon of light, that will help them weather the storm.”

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Plan to Train Syrian Rebels Becomes Official as Obama Signs CR

Plan to Train Syrian Rebels Becomes Official as Obama Signs CR

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — After passing first in the House and then in the Senate, President Obama’s plan to train and arm Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS was made official Friday with the stroke of his pen.

The president signed the Continuing Resolution that funds the government through Dec. 11 and includes the authorization for Title X.

Obama, sans a suit jacket, sat behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office as he signed the stop gap funding measure. Before signing the bill, he smiled at cameras and said, “Here’s all that stands between you and the weekend.”

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Chief Justice Roberts: Justices Scalia, Ginsburg Wouldn’t Be Confirmed Today

Chief Justice Roberts: Justices Scalia, Ginsburg Wouldn’t Be Confirmed Today

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(LINCOLN, Neb.) — Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern Friday over the bitter partisanship gripping Washington, saying two sitting justices who sailed to confirmation would never make it through the Senate today.

In a speech at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Roberts said the executive and legislative branches of government are in “a period of real partisan rancor that impedes their ability to carry out their functions.” He said the deepening gridlock threatens judicial confirmations and is eroding confidence in the third branch of government.

He cited the 2010 confirmation of Elena Kagan, who was elevated to the Supreme Court on a partisan Senate vote of 63-37. He compared that to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who was confirmed unanimously in 1986 and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sailed through the Senate in 1993, on a vote of 96-3.

“Neither of them would have a chance today,” Roberts said. “That’s not good.”

He said that he fears Americans will see the Supreme Court as a “political entity.”

“I worry about people having that perception, because it’s not an accurate one about how we do our work,” Roberts said. “It’s important for us to make that as clear as we can to the public.”

It was a rare public appearance by Roberts, who answered questions from students and the legal community for about an hour. He has long lamented the changing perception of the court, but his pointed remarks about partisanship suggested that his worries are growing as the divide deepens between Congress and the White House.

In his remarks, he also offered a rare window into the workings of the Supreme Court, the most secretive and closed branches of the U.S. government.

When asked whether it was difficult for the justices to find agreement on some high-profile cases, he laughed and declared: “Difficult? Sometimes, it’s impossible!”

One of the most enjoyable parts of his job, he said, was assigning opinions to justices. He said he tries to make sure the workload is evenly divided, saying.

“You want someone to have the fair share of the important cases that people are interested in,” Roberts said, “and a fair share of what we call the dogs.”

He said he knows that many Americans are likely unaware that he is the chief justice of the United States, joking that many people may assume it’s Judge Judy.

“They don’t need to know who we are. They do need to know what we do,” Roberts said. “It’s critically important that people do appreciate that.”

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Susan Rice: Training Syrian Rebels ‘Will Take Many Months’

Susan Rice: Training Syrian Rebels ‘Will Take Many Months’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Training Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS “will take many months,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice reminded reporters at the daily White House briefing Friday.

Now that Congress has approved the strategy to arm and train the rebels, Rice cautioned “this is not going to happen overnight.”

“It is not something that one should expect will yield rapid and immediate fruit. This is a serious training program, and we are serious about vetting those that we will be training and equipping. So I can’t give you a precise deadline,” she said.

In addition to vetting the opposition fighters, the program also requires training facilities to be constructed, Rice noted.

As for airstrikes in Syria, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest failed repeatedly to give a direct answer when asked whether the president has authorized the strikes.

In a back-and-forth in the briefing room Friday, Earnest would only confirm what is already known.

“The president made a decision more than a week ago, that he announced to the nation, that he’s ready to broaden our airstrike campaign,” he said.

“We are prepared and the president has been clear that the United States is prepared to act in Syria, and when and how we choose to do that will be an operational decision,” Earnest said.

But does the Pentagon have the go-ahead from the president? Is it just a matter now of when the Pentagon pulls the trigger?

Earnest wouldn’t say.

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Obama Says ‘It’s on Us’ to Prevent Sexual Assault

Obama Says ‘It’s on Us’ to Prevent Sexual Assault

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama Friday said a “fundamental shift in our culture” is needed to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence.

“As far as we’ve come, the fact is that from sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society still does not sufficiently value women,” Obama said as he unveiled a new campaign to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault on college and university campuses.

“We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should,” he said. “We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect on our young women.”

The White House is enlisting the help of celebrities and athletes to roll out the “It’s On Us” public awareness campaign, which seeks to educate and engage students, particularly young men, to prevent sexual assaults.

“It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable,” Obama said.

While the president did not reference the National Football League specifically, he noted that violence against women can no longer be ignored.

“The issue of violence against women is now in the news every day. We started to, I think, get a better picture of what domestic violence is all about,” he said. “People are talking about it. Victims are realizing they’re not alone. Brave people have come forward. They’re opening up about their own experiences. And so we think today’s event is all that more relevant, all that more important.”

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Joe Biden Ends Gaffe-Heavy Week with Another Gaffe

Joe Biden Ends Gaffe-Heavy Week with Another Gaffe

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Oh, Joe.

Vice President Joe Biden managed to step in it this morning while speaking about domestic violence and sexual assault at the Democratic National Committee’s annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

After giving an impassioned plea to end such abuse, Biden closed his remarks with a few comments about the challenges facing Democrats in the upcoming elections.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat,” he said, lamenting the absence of Republicans he said used to champion issues like voter fraud. “It’s Republicans that were involved, guys like [Charles] Mac Mathias, [Bob] Packwood and so many others.”

Perhaps that’s not the best example to use in a speech aimed at reaching out to women.

Oregon Republican Bob Packwood resigned from the Senate in 1995 amid sexual harassment and abuse allegations.

But the Packwood reference was not the only gaffe of the week for the VP. Earlier this week, Biden had to apologize after referring to moneylenders as “Shylocks,” a Shakespearean term considered to be anti-Semitic.

“People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” he said Tuesday.

After facing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, Biden admitted, “It was a poor choice of words.”

And Wednesday, he referred to Asia as the “Orient,” a widely outdated term that is often considered to be offensive.

“You know, on the way back from Mumbai to go meet with President Xi in China, I stopped in Singapore to meet with a guy named Lee Kuan Yew, who most foreign policy experts around the world say is the wisest man in the Orient,” Biden said in Iowa this week.

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Obama Welcomes Results of Scotland’s Vote to Remain in UK

Obama Welcomes Results of Scotland’s Vote to Remain in UK

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Friday welcomed the results of Scotland’s referendum, in which the country voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

By a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent, Scots on Thursday voted against an independent Scotland.

In a statement Friday, Obama congratulated Scots for their “full and energetic exercise of democracy.”

“Through debate, discussion, and passionate yet peaceful deliberations, they reminded the world of Scotland’s enormous contributions to the U.K. and the world, and have spoken in favor of keeping Scotland within the United Kingdom,” the president said.

He added that the U.S. has no closer ally than the U.K. and “we look forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as we address the challenges facing the world today.”

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By the Numbers: Which Senators Voted for Training Syrian Rebels?

By the Numbers: Which Senators Voted for Training Syrian Rebels?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Thirty-three Republicans voted in favor of President Obama’s plan to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS when the Senate voted Thursday.

Nine Democrats and one independent opposed the plan.

Only one vulnerable Democratic senator voted against the plan — Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska — while his Republican opponent, Dan Sullivan, said he would back the measure.

Both Massachusetts senators — Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — voted “no,” meaning they bucked former Massachusetts senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry’s wishes. Markey filled Kerry’s seat when he became secretary of state.

Only one potential 2016 contender voted in favor of the plan — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Four potential 2016 contenders — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Warren — voted against it.  

Additionally, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., voted “no,” perhaps mindful of her seat’s predecessor Hillary Clinton’s fateful Iraq vote. Some consider Gillibrand to have a prosperous political future beyond the Senate.

The House and Senate are both out until Nov 12. If House lawmakers stick to the schedule, they’ll only be in session 23 days from August to the end of the year.

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Bob Dole Returns to Save Kansas for Jittery GOP

Bob Dole Returns to Save Kansas for Jittery GOP

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It has been a rough two-and-a-half weeks for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican facing his toughest fight for re-election since arriving in Washington in 1981.

Roberts, who survived a Republican primary challenge, now finds himself unexpectedly locked in an even more competitive general election fight.

But even as he pushes back against criticism that he has been in Washington too long, Roberts is doubling down on his longevity. He’s set to get a helping hand from a golden name in Kansas politics: Bob Dole.

“The battleground for control of the Senate is now Kansas,” Dole, 91, told ABC News. “I think Roberts is going to win.”

Dole, once a staple of the state and national political scene who served as Senate majority leader and lost to Bill Clinton in a 1996 presidential run, will be campaigning for both Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback going into the midterm elections.

Dole set the record as the longest-serving Republican leader in Congress before he retired in 1996, and is wrapping up a “thank-you” tour that he said will have brought him to every one of Kansas’ 105 counties by the end of October.

Dole, who’s special counsel at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Washington, D.C., said he will also be shooting a commercial for Roberts, and will meet him on the campaign trail starting with an event in Dodge City Monday.

Roberts, 78, has recently had to shake off criticism of his time spent in Washington and residency in Alexandria, Virginia.

In his first debate with Independent candidate Greg Orman, Roberts dismissed that he was losing ties with Kansas, saying, “I’m from Dodge City and I’m damn proud of it.”

Businessman Orman, 45, has emerged in the race as a serious threat in a state that has sent only Republicans to the U.S. Senate since 1932.

He has attacked Roberts for moving further to the right, especially in the wake of a tough primary fight Roberts faced in August against a Tea Party opponent.

Dole defended Roberts, saying he thinks Roberts is “flexible” in his political views.

“I think he has been a little more conservative because of his primary,” Dole said. “I’ve worked with Pat a lot, and I think he’s demonstrated that he is moderate and largely in line with Kansas voters.”

Dole isn’t the only former presidential candidate to have added his voice to the Roberts campaign. Mitt Romney recorded a robocall that made its way around the state last week.

But if Republicans seem extra nervous, it’s because losing Roberts’ seat could mean the difference between the GOP taking back control of the Senate, if Orman chooses to caucus with Democrats.

And a Supreme Court decision Thursday didn’t do much to put their worries to rest.

The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, announced his withdrawal from the race Sept. 3, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach came forward one day later saying Taylor hadn’t made the appropriate case for his name to be removed.

The case came to the state’s Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of Taylor.

Without a Democrat on the ballot to potentially split the vote, some Republicans fear Roberts could be facing an uphill battle. Republicans have since resorted to painting Orman as a donkey in sheep’s clothing.

In a statement released after the decision, Roberts’ campaign manager Corry Bliss accused Democrats of trying to unfairly manipulate the race.

“This is not only a travesty to Kansas voters, but it’s a travesty to the judicial system and our electoral process,” Bliss said.

And Dole is chiming in, too.

“The guy is a Democrat masquerading as an Independent,” Dole told ABC News. “He registered to run as a Democrat in 2007.”

Orman has said he is a moderate and doesn’t know which party he would caucus with, but he has also said he supports neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nor Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But Dole said Kansans shouldn’t buy it.

“Someone said to me that Orman said he wanted to be a politician like Bob Dole,” Dole said. “I’m Bob Dole, and I can tell you that Greg Orman is not Bob Dole.”

Orman’s campaign could not be reached after repeated requests for comment.

In a statement to ABC News, Roberts said he was honored to have the support of “Kansas’ favorite son.”

“His endorsement and trust in me to stand up for Kansas conservative values against a liberal administration means a lot to me,” Roberts said. “But means even more to Kansans who have always placed their trust in Bob.”

Dole hasn’t exactly had a perfect relationship with Republicans in recent years.

In May of 2013, he openly criticized the Tea Party movement on Fox News Sunday, saying Republicans should hang a “closed for repairs” sign on their doors.

In an interview with ABC News in July, Dole said he disagreed with Roberts and another fellow Kansan Sen. Jerry Moran when both helped vote down an international treaty for people with disabilities.

Dole, who watched the vote from the Senate floor in his wheelchair, said he understood both were under pressure from homeschooling parents who viewed the treaty as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

But with Kansas politics now in the national spotlight, Dole is returning to the limelight for an old friend.

“I’ve worked with Pat a lot and he helped me a lot in the past,” Dole said. “People think it’s a problem because Kansas is seen as a state that everyone counted as safe. I think it’s a plus that Republicans are coming in.”

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Obama Praises Congressional Approval for Training of Syrian Rebels

Obama Praises Congressional Approval for Training of Syrian Rebels

Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) — The Senate approved President Obama’s plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels on Thursday, prompting President Obama to declare a united American front in the fight against ISIS militants.

“The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world that Americans are united,” Obama said in a televised statement from the State Dining Room. “I want to thank members of Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue — in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.”

Obama called the program a “key element” of his strategy to combat ISIS, supporting non-American boots on the ground, “so that they can help push back these terrorists.”

The Senate voted 78-22 in favor of the plan, with support from 33 Republicans, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, to approve Obama’s plan. The House approved the measure on Wednesday.

The president also hailed the growing international coalition of “more than 40 countries, including Arab nations” — singling out France, which announced Thursday that it would join the U.S. in conducting airstrikes in Iraq.  

“France is a strong partner,” the president said. “We’re pleased that American and French service members will work together.”

Obama reiterated the pledge he made Wednesday at CENTCOM: “American forces deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat missions. Their purpose is to advise on the ground,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is preparing to expand American airstrikes into Syria, which administration officials have said could come any day.

Obama acknowledged that U.S. pilots will be at risk on those missions. “We salute our dedicated pilots and crews,” Obama said, “who are carrying out these missions with great courage and skill.”

He asked Americans to, “to keep our forces and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”

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Obama Has ‘Strong Confidence’ in Embattled DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Obama Has ‘Strong Confidence’ in Embattled DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) — Amid reports her position was in jeopardy, President Obama has “strong confidence” in Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday.

“Based on the strong track record of leadership that she’s already demonstrated at the DNC, the president has strong confidence in her ability to lead that organization,” Earnest said at Thursday’s press briefing.

Earnest’s comments come one day after Politico reported that the relationship between Schultz and the White House had been fraying. Obama and the embattled chair, “rarely have even talked since 2011,” according to the article, which states the administration even selected her replacement in 2012, but decided against going ahead with her ouster.

Over the summer, Obama praised Schultz at at least two fundraisers, thanking her for “the great job she’s doing” at the DNC LGBT Gala in New York in June and calling Schultz, “tireless on behalf of the Democratic Party,” “a great congresswoman,” and “an outstanding chair of the DNC,” at a DNC event in July.

At Thursday’s briefing, Earnest noted the “difficult work” that the DNC has and that they do so “outside of the limelight.” Still, Earnest said that Schultz’ work had produced, “important results for the Democratic Party.”

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Senate Approves Bill on Training Syrian Rebels

Senate Approves Bill on Training Syrian Rebels

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) —  The Senate passed a stop gap funding measure on Thursday night, which includes authorization for President Obama’s plan to train and arm Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS.

The Senate voted 78-22 on the continuing resolution, which will fund the government and authorizes Title X until December 11.

Many Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the continuing resolution, making this a rare bipartisan showing in the Senate.

“It’s a long overdue support for the brave Syrians who are fighting on the front lines against the terrorist enemy,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said.

“There is no guarantee of success. … There is none but there is a guarantee of failure if we do not even try and try we must,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said of arming and training Syrian fighters against ISIS. “Despite my concerns about the underlying bill…I will support this resolution because I think it’s in the best interest of our national security.”

But several of the president’s biggest allies, including some with tough re-election fights this November, voted against the measure.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, whose Republican opponent in the Alaska Senate race said he would support the president’s plan to arm the Syrian rebels, voted against the continuing resolution due to their opposition to training and arming the Syrian rebels.

“I disagree with my president,” Begich said. “The rebels of today may not be the rebels of tomorrow.”

Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate did not hold a stand-alone vote on the bill, many argued due to concerns of how it would play in the midterm elections this November.

The House had approved authorization to train and arm the Syrian rebels with a vote of 273 to 156 on Wednesday.

The authorization for training and arming the Syrian rebels will run out on December 11th, at which point Congress will have to decide whether it will reauthorize the plan. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., indicated that the Senate will consider a new authorization for the use of military force in November when Congress returns for the lame duck session.

“We are going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force,” Durbin said. “It’s long overdue. We are living on borrowed time and we’re traveling on vapors. AUMFs passed in 2001 and 2002 are hard to wrap around today’s challenge.”

The continuing resolution now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature and gives the president the green light to move forward with his plan to train and arm the Syrian rebels.

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Kerry Talks Syrian Rebels, ISIS at House Foreign Affairs Hearing

Kerry Talks Syrian Rebels, ISIS at House Foreign Affairs Hearing

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry provided optimistic figures for the size of the Syrian rebel forces at a House hearing Thursday.

“Indeed, the Syrian opposition is in the tens of thousands,” Kerry said at a House Foreign Affairs hearing. While he opted against providing a specific figure, he noted that there are, “at least seven groups with somewhere between a couple of thousand and 4,000 fighters each.”

That figure, Kerry noted, does not include all of the moderate forces.

The secretary of state also questioned whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is serious about combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“There is evidence that Assad has played footsie with [ISIS] and he has used them as a tool of weakening the opposition.” Kerry speculated that Assad avoided taking on ISIS headquarters and other assets for that reason, saying “we have no confidence that Assad is either capable of or willing to take on [ISIS].”

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Hillary Clinton Blames GOP for ‘Egregious’ Policies Toward Women

Hillary Clinton Blames GOP for ‘Egregious’ Policies Toward Women

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — During a panel at the Center for American Progress Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message was clear: Equal pay for women, access to affordable, quality childcare, paid sick leave, and the full participation by women in the U.S. labor force will lead to a stronger economy (even a 10 percent increase in the GDP, she argued).

But Clinton also made clear she believes politicians on “the other side of the aisle” are preventing any such policy changes from passing through.

“Congress increasingly, despite the best efforts of my friends and others, is living in an evidence-free zone where what the reality is in the lives of Americans is so far from the minds of too many who don’t place the highest priority on … family-centered economics,” Clinton said.

“We could all tell stories of people we know who had really egregiously been impacted by the failure of our political leadership on the other side of the aisle to recognize the importance of making sure that people who work hard, play by the rules, have a chance to get into the middle class and certainly a chance to stay in the middle class,” she added.

Thursday’s panel in Washington, D.C., which also included Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., focused on women’s economic security and finding solutions to what Gillibrand dubbed as Mad Men era policies that she believes still exists in the United States today.

One featured guest, a student and single mother from Chicago, described how she was laid off from her job at Whole Foods after she took a day off to pick up her son after his school cancelled classes in minus 30 degree weather.

Gillibrand said that lack of paid leave makes her “the angriest,” arguing that even Pakistan and Afghanistan have more paid leave than the United States. She said stories like this were “outrageous.”

The overall message among all the panelists was the notion that “the number one” thing the U.S. could do to make its economy stronger would be to tap into the full potential of women in the workplace. Without this support, Gillibrand argued, “we are providing an artificial drag on the economy.”

Clinton, however, was the most vocal of the women to slam Republicans for their resistance to change.

“I think the other side will hang on for all they’re worth — Nancy [Pelosi] knows that better than anybody. But I think if voters, if citizens speak up for themselves, for their families and their futures, we will see the kind of changes we’re all advocating for,” Clinton said to audience applause.

While the panelists engaged in an amiable conversation about an issue they are all passionate about, the end took a bit of a competitive turn.

Pelosi teasingly called out Clinton (former senator of New York) for “bragging” that New York had the first women’s rights conventions at Seneca Falls in 1848. Pelosi reminded everyone that her state — California — had just celebrated its 10th anniversary with paid leave.

DeLauro then chimed in to defend her state too. “I just don’t want to pre-empt New York or California, but quite frankly Connecticut was the first state to have paid sick leave and to increase its minimum wage,” she quipped.

Clinton simmered down the group: “Competition is good on this one!” she yelled out, with a smile.

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CBP to Investigate Officer Misconduct, Test Body Cameras

CBP to Investigate Officer Misconduct, Test Body Cameras

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Responding to complaints of excessive force, Customs and Border Protection   Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske has announced the agency will now have the authority to conduct criminal investigations into misconduct within its ranks and will introduce the use of body cameras.

“This is something that has not existed in a pretty good number of years,” Kerlikowske said of Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s decision to give this authority to CBP.

“This is in conjunction with the office of inspector general. We now have the primary authority to conduct these independent internal criminal investigations. That authority translates to a more timely and a more transparent process to investigate misconduct,” Kerlikowske added.

In addition, the agency will also begin testing the use of body cameras next month for agents at their training facility in Artesia, New Mexico.

“We’ve purchased a number of different styles. As you know the border patrol works in some very difficult terrain [and] Artesia, New Mexico, where they train is one of the best places to practice this,” he said. “So we’ll be looking at what are the best cameras, what system works the best and then we’ll move on to other phases of field testing.”

The commissioner also announced the creation of an office of internal affairs, as well as an inter-agency board to review use of force incidents. He called the move a “significant step forward” in line with law enforcement’s best practices.

The effort to change the agency comes as Kerlikowske works to increase transparency within the largest law enforcement agency in the United States.

The agency has come under scrutiny in recent years after multiple incidents of use of deadly force, including the cross border shooting of a teen in Senora, Mexico who was accused of throwing rocks.

According to the Arizona Republic, Border Patrol agents have shot to death 46 people in the past decade, 15 of whom were Americans.

Mark Morgan, interim head of Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office, announced last week that 155 cases of the 860 cases since 2009 merit further investigation.

“I’m very interested in making sure that cases that still have questions are answered, but I’m also very interested in making sure that we go forward with how we’re going to investigate cases in the future,” Kerlikowske said. “I think you have to put one into context. When I talk about us having that criminal investigative authority, we’re a large organization, we own this problem, and we own the responsibility to make sure that we’re doing a good job of investigating it.”

Responding to whether or not ISIS is a concern to infiltrate the southwest border, Kerlikowske told ABC News, “I think there’s always a concern on the terrorism front, we certainly are not seeing any organized attempt on the southwest border right now.”

“We review and look at well over now, 400,000 people that have been apprehended,” he said. “We watch very carefully and do extensive interviews with those people who have been apprehended.”

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First Lady Meets with Student Poets, Highlights Importance of the Arts

First Lady Meets with Student Poets, Highlights Importance of the Arts

The White House(WASHINGTON) — First lady Michelle Obama met with five members of the 2014 class of the National Student Poets Program on Thursday, touting the importance of the arts as “key to success…in school and in life.”

The five poets, from grades nine through 11, were selected from a pool of National Medalists in Poetry through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

“What these young people are doing doesn’t just take talent, doesn’t just take hard work,” the first lady said, “it actually takes a lot of courage…to open your soul to the world.”

Mrs. Obama thanked the students’ parents and praised the poets for pushing through “endless drafts, the late night struggles with writer’s block and all those moments, I’m sure, of fear and doubt.”

The five selected poets read their poems aloud.

“The process for these young people isn’t just about how they create great works of poetry…it’s the key to success, period. In school and in life,” Mrs. Obama said Thursday. “That’s why it’s so critical that every child has access to the arts in schools.”

The first lady went on to call the arts “as essential as what [students] eat or drink or breathe in.”

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Watch US Intel Chief James Clapper Try Stand Up Comedy

Watch US Intel Chief James Clapper Try Stand Up Comedy

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a normally serious guy, took on the role of comedian in front of a group of intelligence officials Thursday.

He talked about the high standards the public expects of the intelligence community these days.

“We are expected to keep the nation safe and provide exquisite, high-fidelity, time-accurate, anticipatory and relevant intelligence,” he said. “And to do that in such a manner that there is no risk and no embarrassment to anyone if what we’re doing is publicly revealed. And there is no threat to anyone’s revenue bottom line. And there isn’t even a scintilla of jeopardy to anyone’s civil liberties and privacy, whether a U.S. person or foreign persons. We call this new approach to intelligence ‘Immaculate Collection.’”

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist,” he added. “And by the way, we have to conduct Immaculate Collection on the cheap, too.”

At the event in Washington, D.C., Clapper also unveiled the 2014 National Intelligence Strategy. An unclassified document, it lays out the intelligence environment and identifies emerging threats.

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