Entries in Mitch McConnell (2)


Small Signs of Progress Show in Student Loan Impasse

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is progress being made in the student loan impasse? Perhaps a little.
Late Thursday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., counter-offered two proposals of his own to pay for the one-year extension of student loans rates to prevent them from doubling on July 1.
And in a sign of tiny steps of progress, the letter was initially well-received by Republican leadership.

Reid proposes a combination of two ideas to pay for the extension, changing and allowing more flexibility to employers pension insurance premiums, which would garner about $9.5 billion, and changing contributions to Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation premiums, which would raise about $8 billion.
“The combination of these two proposals will provide sufficient resources to fund both a one-year extension of the current student loan interest rate and reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs,” Reid writes in a letter sent to House Republican leaders Thursday. “My preference would be to use the funds raised by these two proposals to pay for both measures, and pass them immediately -- since, as you know, both are critical to the economic security of middle class families, and both must be addressed before the end of June.”
Republican aides say they are still waiting for a response from the White House on their own proposals, sent last week, but received Reid’s proposals Thursday positively, indicating that they believe they “may be making progress.”
“We are encouraged to see the majority leader drop his insistence on taxing job creators,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Thursday. “We will review these new proposals and hope that they will finally review the bipartisan proposals we sent a week ago. But bottom line, now that Democrats are willing to take this issue seriously, and not just use students as props, we may be making progress.”
Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled this July from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent and agree the current rates should be extended for at least another year. But both sides thus far have not agreed on how to pay for the $6 billion bill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kentucky Terror Arrests Fuel Ongoing Battle: Guantanamo or US Courts?

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although it is far from the headlines, the battle over where to try terrorism detainees wages on between Attorney General Eric Holder and Congress.

In the latest salvo, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky argued Wednesday that the two alleged terrorists arrested in his home state should be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, after Holder criticized Congress last week for blocking efforts to bring detainees from Cuba to U.S. soil for trial.

Holder, speaking Thursday to a friendly crowd of lawyers at the American Constitution Society, reiterated his belief that civilian courts are more than capable of handling terrorist trials.

"Our criminal justice system has proven...time and again, that it provides all the authority and flexibility we need to effectively combat terrorist threats," he said. "Since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses in civilian courts."

Holder said in November 2009, with great fanfare, that the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would be tried in civilian courts in New York. But the decision was later overturned by the Obama administration after state officials and congressional Republicans expressed security concerns.

Since then, Congress has stymied efforts to transfer detainees to U.S. soil.

Holder has consistently maintained that accused terrorists should be tried in either civilian courts or military commissions, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. But Holder's speech Thursday was directed at the criticism of using civilian courts.

He said the Article III court system was the country's "most effective terror-fighting weapon" and that "in disrupting potential attacks and effectively interrogating, prosecuting and incarcerating terrorists, there is, quite simply, no more powerful tool than our civilian court system."

McConnell pushed back hard Wednesday in the Washington Post, writing that Holder insulted those on the front lines when he suggested the courts were the "most effective terror-fighting weapon." He also accused Holder of attempting to "justify the Obama administration's two-year misadventure in treating captured terrorists like common criminals."

McConnell pointed to a case brewing in his home state of Kentucky, where two Iraqi nationals -- Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi -- were arrested last month in Bowling Green and indicted for allegedly providing assistance to al Qaeda in Iraq.

In his op-ed article, McConnell presented the case for moving the men to Guantanamo.

"The Justice Department says Alwan and Hammadi should be tried in a civilian setting because they were caught here," he wrote. "This is ludicrous."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio