Day: February 2, 2017

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House votes to undo Obama-era gun control rule


The House on Thursday voted to undo an Obama-era rule blocking certain people from buying guns.

The resolution of disapproval passed 235-180. Under the Congressional Review Act, lawmakers can negate regulations if a joint resolution passes both chambers. However, it requires the president’s signature. While Obama was still president, Republicans needed a veto-proof majority to overturn any of his administration’s regulations.

The rule, approved in the wake of the 2012 massacre of kindergartners in Newtown, Conn., expanded whose names must automatically be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, thereby preventing them from buying a gun.

Anyone with a mental disability receiving Social Security Administration benefits and requiring third-party assistance with their finances is barred from purchasing firearms. If the Senate approves the resolution and President Trump signs it, that will no longer be the case.

The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, said the rule unfairly denies Americans’ with disabilities Second Amendment Rights.

“This is wrong,” he stated. “Social Security has no business stripping people of their Constitutional rights. We need to protect the rights of all Americans, including individuals with disabilities.”

The National Rifle Association’s legislative arm hailed the resolution’s passage.

“The Obama administration’s last-minute, back-door gun grab would have stripped law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process,” stated Cox, the group’s executive director.

The NRA and others who support rolling back the rule say it does not give affected recipients a fair chance to appeal being entered into the database.

For crying out loud, Trump did not change the name of Black History Month

Also from the Washington Examiner

It’s as if certain members of the media are in a race to see who can report the most hilariously wrong thing about the Trump presidency.

02/02/17 6:35 PM

“This ill-conceived action stripped some of the most vulnerable Americans of their right to keep and bear arms without due process,” Cox stated.

White House acknowledges Trump disagreement with Australian PM

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“Allies can have conversations which are not just about how wonderful the weather is,” says Trump advisor Epshteyn.

02/02/17 6:20 PM



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Uber CEO bows to pressure, ditches Trump advisory council


Uber had faced public criticism over Kalanick's relationship with the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told his company’s employees Thursday that he would leave a Trump administration business advisory council, bowing to public pressure over the president’s immigration policies.

Kalanick told employees in an email that joining “the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” according to the New York Times.

Uber had faced public criticism over Kalanick’s relationship with the Trump administration, including a move to boycott the ride-sharing service. The boycott gained steam after Uber continued to provide rides to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport despite an ongoing taxi worker strike over Trump’s immigration executive order. Critics sought to call attention to the boycott using the hashtag #deleteUber.

Earlier in the week, the company issued a press release criticizing Trump’s immigration order and promising support for immigrant drivers. That step, however, did not defuse the criticism.

The council, comprising 19 members including Kalanick, includes some of the biggest names in business, such as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and more.

White House: Trump was 'unbelievably disappointed' in Australia refugee deal

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“The president is unbelievably disappointed with the previous administration’s deal,” Spicer said.

02/02/17 1:19 PM

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Report: Trump could unveil new Iran sanctions by Friday


President Trump plans to impose targeted sanctions on Iran as early as Friday in response to the regime’s latest ballistic missile test, according to reports.

“[A]bout eight Iranian entities were to be sanctioned, or ‘designated’ in U.S. legal jargon, for terrorism-related activities and about 17 for ballistic missile-related activities under separate existing U.S. executive orders,” according to Reuters.

The sanctions are designed to avoid violating the Iran nuclear agreement, according to the report, while still retaliating against the missile test that took place last weekend. The missile test prompted both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to call for new sanctions, although the speed of the imposition might differ from the process they expected.

“They’re going to keep testing us and they’re going to see like children what they can get away with,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said of Iran on Wednesday. “And I think we need to slam the door.”

White House: Trump was 'unbelievably disappointed' in Australia refugee deal

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“The president is unbelievably disappointed with the previous administration’s deal,” Spicer said.

02/02/17 1:19 PM

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Shock study: Feds say social media can help with background checks


A federal official acknowledged Thursday that “a number” of government agencies conducted separate studies on whether examining social media accounts can yield useful information when background checks are conducted on people who apply to work at the federal government.

And according to the official, “most” agencies agree that social media can help officials learn more about the people they might hire.

“A number of pilots have been conducted by a number of agencies to look at the value of social media, and most of them have reached a similar conclusion: there can be valuable information in collecting social media,” said Charles Phalen, chief information officer at the National Background Investigations Bureau.

Phalen was testifying at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said it shouldn’t have been any surprise that looking at people’s Facebook, Twitter and other accounts might provide officials with valuable information.

“This is what drives people crazy about government,” Chaffetz said. “You had to conduct a study to find out if looking at social media would be valuable, and the conclusion is, it might be, yes?”

“C’mon,” he said. “Every single time there’s a terrorist attack, what’s the first thing the investigative body does? To go look at their social media.”

Phalen clarified that those studies are already done, and that the government is now studying how to “incorporate data [from surveying social media accounts] into a standard background investigative process.”

Gorsuch edited student paper that joked about Trump presidency in 1987

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Alternative Columbia University paper poked fun at student’s suggestion that Trump run for president.

02/02/17 12:02 PM



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White House: Trump 'unbelievably disappointed' in Australia refugee deal


"The president is unbelievably disappointed with the previous administration's deal," Spicer said. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Trump is “unbelievably disappointed” in the deal his predecessor struck with the government of Australia to bring 1,250 refugees to the U.S., White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday.

“The president is unbelievably disappointed with the previous administration’s deal,” Spicer said.

Trump reportedly criticized Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull during a recent phone conversation, complaining that any attempts to wriggle out of the deal reached between Turnbull and former President Obama would harm him politically.

While Spicer suggested Thursday that the agreement would proceed, he said the refugees would be subjected to “very, very extreme vetting” before they could enter the U.S.

Many of the refugees currently off the coast of Australia are reportedly of Iranian descent.

Gorsuch edited student paper that joked about Trump presidency in 1987

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Alternative Columbia University paper poked fun at student’s suggestion that Trump run for president.

02/02/17 12:02 PM

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McConnell to Dems: No one objected to Gorsuch in 2006


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called out Democrats — and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in particular — for raising “grave concerns” about Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court when his appointment to federal bench sailed through the chamber in 2006 without a hitch.

“Judge Gorsuch was confirmed [by the Senate] in exceptionally fast time for a court of appeals nominee — just two months,” McConnell said Thursday in remarks on the Senate floor. “So you have to wonder if this nominee was so non-controversial that a roll call wasn’t even required, what’s happened in the last 10 years?”

Democrats, including Schumer, didn’t raise a concern during Gorsuch’s 2006 committee hearing and none cast “a single negative vote,” he pointed out.

“What could justify these grave concerns he claims to have now?” McConnell asked.

Schumer responded that the Supreme Court over the last decade has drifted “increasingly” into a corporate-oriented body that is not representing the interests of the “average working person.” In addition, he said, the Trump administration in just its first weeks is already testing the limits of the law and “the very fabric of our Constitution” with its executive orders placing a temporary halt on immigration and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.

For those reasons, Schumer said, Gorsuch faces a “special burden” to be “an independent jurist … someone who approaches the court without ideological blinders … and has the strength of will to stand up to the president” when he acts outside the Constitution’s limits.

The New York Democrat also stressed the need for Gorsuch’s nomination to attract bipartisan support and reach the 60 Senate votes necessary to overcome a procedural hurdle or a filibuster.

“Bipartisan support is essential and should be a pre-requisite,” he said. “That’s what a 60-vote threshold does … it produces a mainstream candidate.”

Spicer lists border security as first step to prevent terror attack

Also from the Washington Examiner

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday listed tougher border security as the first step the Trump administration will take to prevent terrorism attacks in the U.S.

“I think the first thing is to make sure that we look at our borders,” Spicer told reporters when asked to provide details on steps the president is taking to prevent terror attacks like the shooting that occurred at a Canadian Mosque earlier this week.

“You’ve got to protect your own people first, then you’ve got to look at cybersecurity. There’s a holistic approach to both immigration and national security that he has to look at, but it’s a multi-tiered step,” he added.

02/02/17 1:03 PM

Gorsuch edited student paper that joked about Trump presidency in 1987

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Alternative Columbia University paper poked fun at student’s suggestion that Trump run for president.

02/02/17 12:02 PM



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Freedom Caucus ramps up pressure to repeal Obamacare


Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and other members of the House Freedom Caucus want a vote "as soon as possible" on a bill Congress passed last year to repeal Obamacare. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

House conservatives are intensifying pressure to vote quickly on a bill repealing much of Obamacare.

Leaders of the Freedom Caucus are asking House leadership to hold a vote “as soon as possible” on a repeal bill Congress passed last year that would eliminate the biggest parts of the law including its mandates, taxes, subsidies and Medicaid expansion.

“There’s no reason we should put anything less on President Trump’s desk than we put on President Obama’s now that we know it will be signed into law,” Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Oh., said in a statement.

The Freedom Caucus leaders said Americans expect Republicans to repeal the law quickly, as Trump had promised during his campaign.

But GOP leaders have stressed that they won’t repeal the healthcare law without a transition period, and they’re struggling to build consensus among rank-and-file for how to replace it.

Conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation are ramping up pressure to repeal the law quickly instead of waiting to hash out a replacement. But a number of Senate Republicans have stressed that repeal and replace must be done at the same time.

Trump touts immigration ban at National Prayer Breakfast

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Says he will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches from aiding political campaigns.

02/02/17 10:05 AM

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Trump's budget director nomination goes to Senate floor


The nomination for President Trump’s budget director is headed to the Senate floor, after two Senate committees approved the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

The Senate Budget Committee voted 12-11 to approve Mulvaney, a fiscal conservative, to be Trump’s budget chief, shortly after the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee also advanced his nomination on a partisan basis.

The earlier vote was more of a dicey prospect because of the possibility that one Republican, John McCain of Arizona, might not support Mulvaney because of Mulvaney’s votes in the House on military spending. But McCain voted to support Mulvaney, at least in the committee.

Mulvaney advanced in both committees despite the revelation during his hearing preparation that he had failed to pay payroll taxes for a nanny. Mulvaney answered those questions directly in his nomination hearings, and said he quickly paid back five years worth of taxes to make up for the mistake, even though he believes his family only employed the nanny for three or four years.

During his hearings, Mulvaney said he would push for spending restraint within the Trump administration, and said that he would push Trump to consider reforms to retirement programs, something that Trump opposed during the campaign.

Trump touts immigration ban at National Prayer Breakfast

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Says he will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches from aiding political campaigns.

02/02/17 10:05 AM

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Trump asks National Prayer Breakfast to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'disaster' ratings on 'The Apprentice'


President Trump opened his remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday by asking the audience to pray for the television ratings of 'The Apprentice' hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump opened his remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday by asking the audience to pray for the television ratings of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who succeeded him as the host of his reality show “The Apprentice.”

Trump was introduced by reality TV mogul and “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett, and at first riffed on the success the show saw when he was its host.

“When I ran for president, I had to leave the show, that’s when I knew for sure I was doing it, and they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place,” Trump said. “And we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes, it’s been a total disaster, and Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, OK?”

Republicans warn Trump: Garage bands don't score hits

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GOP members of Congress seek more consultation and less turbulence to ensure victories in 2018.

02/01/17 7:18 PM

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Kaine: Trump's diplomatic spats are 'amateur hour'


Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine called President Trump’s scrapes with foreign leaders this week “amateur hour” and said Trump is making the country look foolish.

Kaine said on CNN that Trump’s reported arguing with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a previous agreement to take some refugees into the U.S., his reported statement to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that he’s willing to send American troops into Mexico to deal with “bad hombres” and his saber-rattling with Iran is all a black eye for the country.

“If he doesn’t like the [refugee] deal, that’s his right, but to have a contentious conversation and name-call the prime minister of a country that’s one of our greatest allies in Asia is foolish,” he said. “To suggest to the president of Mexico that we may need to send troops into Mexico is foolish.

“He’s doing kind of amateur hour stuff on matters of significant national importance.”

Kaine said Trump’s tough talk on Iran, repeatedly saying the Islamic Republic is “on notice” following its ballistic missile test last week, is all well and good, but Trump is playing into Iranian hands with his statements about Iraq.

Kaine, who is a proponent of stricter sanctions on Iran, said Trump’s tweet about Iran gaining influence in Iraq gets at a real problem. However, Tehran’s influence in Baghdad grew when Trump temporarily banned Iraqis from coming to the U.S. in his controversial executive order and repeatedly says the U.S. should “take the oil” from Iraq.

“He’s complaining that Iran is gaining too much influence in Iraq and wants to be tough about it,” Kaine said. “But what is he doing? He’s said he wants to go in and take Iraq’s oil and he’s banned Iraqi citizens, even those who have worked with our American military, from coming into the United States. Anyone who knows the region knows that strengthens Iran.”

Republicans warn Trump: Garage bands don't score hits

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GOP members of Congress seek more consultation and less turbulence to ensure victories in 2018.

02/01/17 7:18 PM



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