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Friday
Dec172010

DREAM Act for Illegal Immigrants Faces Key Senate Vote

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate is expected to vote Saturday on a controversial immigration measure that would provide a conditional path to legal residency for hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants first brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

The bill -- the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act -- passed the House last week. But it faces a much more difficult prospect in the Senate.

Republicans have indicated they may filibuster, insuring the same fate the bill met in 2007 when it last was brought to the Senate floor. Many call it an "amnesty" that could cost taxpayers and encourage continued illegal immigration.

If the measure fails in the Senate, it's unlikely to receive Congressional consideration for at least two more years.

"I'm always queasy before a vote," said Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA, a group that has been lobbying against the measure. "We're pulling out every stop we've got. We feel we've got 42 sure votes against this thing, and we only need 41 to kill it."

But supporters, who need 60 votes to override a GOP filibuster, said the outcome is far from certain.

The DREAM Act has been championed by immigration advocates and the White House as a reform that's previously garnered bipartisan support.

Its supporters say it would bring out of the shadows a fraction of the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who have known only the U.S. as home, enhance military recruitment and give American employers access to a talented and highly-motivated pool of young workers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Dec172010

Boehner Praises Tax Cuts Passage; Pledges to Cuts Spending

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Speaker Designate John Boehner says that House Republicans took a strong step late Thursday night in helping to rebuild the economy by passing a full extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, including breaks for the country's wealthiest taxpayers, but says that the GOP must now work to cut spending and decrease the size of government in order to further stimulate job creation.

"It's a good first step, but let's be clear, if we actually want to help our economy get back on track and to begin creating jobs, we need to end the job- killing spending binge. We need to cut spending significantly and we need to provide more certainty to small businesses around America," Boehner said. "Doing this is going to require tough choices. And we'll start first by cutting our own budget. It will be one of our first votes. Then we'll turn our attention to the rest of the federal budget and the job-killing policies that are denying economic growth and opportunity for the American people, including killing the job-killing health-care law."

Just seconds before the stroke of midnight, after months of heated debate, back-room arm-twisting and White House negotiations, the House of Representatives finally passed a $858 billion tax cuts package, including a two-year extension on all of the Bush-era Tax Cuts, a 13-month extension for Unemployment Insurance benefits, and approval of the controversial estate tax break that gives 6,600 families a break worth $23 billion.

The compromise negotiated by President Obama and GOP leaders in Congress passed by healthy, bipartisan vote: 277-148, with more Democrats (139) actually voting for the deal than Republicans (138). Thirty-six House Republicans voted against final passage and 112 Democrats opposed the measure.

Responding to recent criticism over the compromise from conservative leaders, including Sarah Palin who called the deal "lousy,"  Boehner stressed that the bill was not perfect but it successfully achieves his primary objective to prevent any of the Bush-era tax cuts from expiring in the midst of a sputtering economy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec172010

Jon Stewart Rants About GOP Filibuster of 9/11 First Responder Bill

Photo Courtesy - Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central(WASHINGTON) -- Comedian Jon Stewart put the stalled 9/11 health bill center stage on his final show of the year, lambasting Senate Republicans for holding up passage of a bill that would provide billions of dollars in health care for sick 9/11 first responders.

"This is an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11," Stewart said. "The party that turned 9/11 into a catchphrase are now moving suspiciously into a convenient pre-9/11 mentality when it comes to this bill."

The bill, if passed, would provide $7.4 billion in health care benefits and compensation to first responders who became ill after being exposed to pollutants in the wreckage of New York's World Trade Center. The bill would create a fund for sick first responders, providing them with health insurance when their current insurance or worker's compensation payments were gone.

Earlier this year, the House passed the bill; but Senate Republicans continue to filibuster it. The last time it came up for a Senate vote -- on December 9 -- it fell two votes short of the 60 needed to advance, with senators voting strictly along party lines.

In a measure of solidarity and another jab at the White House, Senate Republicans took a pledge in September to not consider any other legislation before resolving taxes and funding.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring the bill to a vote before the end of the lame-duck session and before Republicans take over control of the House and make significant gains in the Senate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec172010

Poll: Six in 10 Rule Out Sarah Palin In the Hunt for 2012

Photo Courtesy - Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Fifty-nine percent of Americans flatly rule out voting for Sarah Palin for president, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

It's too early in the 2012 presidential election cycle to make too much of the horse-race results in this poll, produced by Langer Research Associates for ABC News.  But the number of Americans who say they wouldn't even consider voting for Palin -- and the even larger number who see her as unqualified for the presidency (67 percent in an ABC/Post poll in October) -- indicate serious obstacles in her path.

The trends, moreover, are not in Palin's favor.  Just over a year ago 53 percent said they wouldn't consider her for president.  That's risen, as noted, to 59 percent now, and includes significant portions of the GOP base, such as 27 percent of John McCain voters, nearly three in 10 Republicans, four in 10 conservatives and four in 10 evangelical white Protestants.  About equal numbers of men (58 percent) and women (60 percent) rule Palin out.

Just eight percent of Americans say they'd "definitely" vote for Palin were she to run for president; an additional 31 percent say they'd consider it.  But that adds to just 39 percent who'd even give her a look (41 percent if you count the undecideds) -- well short of what it customarily takes to win the White House, absent an unusually strong third-party candidate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec172010

House Passes Tax Cuts Extension

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After months of heated debate and White House negotiations, the House of Representatives late Thursday night passed the $858 billion tax cuts package, including a two-year extension on all of the Bush-era tax cuts, a 13-month extension for unemployment insurance benefits, and approval of the controversial estate tax break that gives 6,600 families a break worth $23 billion.
 
The compromise that President Obama negotiated with GOP leaders in Congress passed by a healthy, bipartisan vote of 277-148, with more Democrats actually voting for the deal than Republicans, 139 to 138, respectively.

The bill now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
 
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Dec162010

Reid Abandons Omnibus Bill Amid GOP Opposition

Photo Courtesy - Reid dot Senate dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- With Senate Republicans uniting against a massive $1.1-trillion omnibus spending bill and threatening to demand a time-consuming oral reading of the 1,924-page measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday night elected to ditch the controversial bill.

In recent days, Republicans blasted the $8.3 billion of earmarks in the measure and vowed to force an oral reading of it on the Senate floor. That process could have taken up to 50 hours, sucking up precious time in the few remaining days before Christmas when Democrats also are trying to ratify the START treaty, repeal the military’s "don't ask, don't tell" and pass the DREAM Act immigration measure.

But with GOP senators now refusing to support the bill -- Reid said nine of them changed their stance in recent days and told him they would not vote for it -- Democrats Thursday scrapped any plans to proceed with it.

Reid called the omnibus “a good bill, an important piece of legislation for our country,” but acknowledged that he had decided to ditch it. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said Democrats were forced to scrap the measure because they “don’t have the votes.”

Despite ditching the bill, Reid on Thursday mounted a passionate defense of earmarks, hitting out at President Obama and Republicans alike just as he did earlier Thursday.

The omnibus bill included well over 6,000 pork projects worth around $8.3 billion. According to a list of senators ranked by how much pork money they put into the bill, 20 of the top 26 slots were occupied by Democratic senators. The top two slots, however, both belonged to Republicans, specifically to the two GOP senators from Mississippi.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Dec162010

Sarah Palin: Tax Cut Deal is 'Lousy,' New Congress Should Take Up Issue

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASILLA, Alaska) -- In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, Sarah Palin said she doesn't support the "lousy" tax deal brokered by President Obama and Republican lawmakers and instead wants to see a permanent extension of the tax cuts.

"I think it's a lousy deal and we can do better for the American people," Palin said in an interview at her home in Wasilla, Alaska.

The "new Congress is seated the first week of January," she said, "and it is better to wait until they are seated and get a good deal for the American public than to accept what I think is a lousy deal, because it creates a temporary economy with even more uncertainty for businesses and it does increase taxes."

The former Alaska governor, however, praised Obama for "flip-flopping" on his original promise not to extend tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 per year.

"I would say that it is a flip-flop in his position on taxes because he was so adamant about not allowing the tax-cut extension to take place for job creators, and then all of a sudden one day he was fine with it," Palin told Roberts.

"He, you know, can term it compromise. I term it flip-flop," she said. "I was thankful that he did but it's still not good enough because our economy is...at a breaking point and we are on a path towards insolvency if we do not start incentivizing businesses to start producing more in our own country."

The tax bill, which would extend Bush-era cuts for two years for all Americans, passed with a bipartisan majority in the Senate on Wednesday and is awaiting a final vote in the House, where it has been met with resistance by liberal Democrats.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Dec162010

Dem Rep. Berkley on Afghanistan: ‘We're Going to Have to Figure Out Where We're Going’

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration’s assessment of its Afghanistan strategy is being greeted with skepticism among Democrats, including many who have been previously supportive of the war.

“Knowing my caucus as well as I do, there's going to be a lot of questions and requests to know how they are measuring our success,” Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., told ABC News Thursday.

“I think after nine years in Afghanistan, not only the country, but members of Congress, are becoming very weary of -- not only being in Afghanistan, but what we're supposed to accomplish and how we're supposed to accomplish it.”

“I'd like to know how the administration is measuring this -- and as you probably know I've been a big supporter of our operations in Iraq, operations in Afghanistan. I support the troops, support the soldiers, support the veterans, but somewhere soon, we're going to have to figure out where we're going, what is victory, and how we're going to get there and how we're measuring it.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec162010

Ralph Nader: Julian Assange Prosecution a 'Distraction' from Executive Branch Secrecy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ralph Nader, a leading consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, delivered a spirited public defense of WikiLeaks Thursday and called the prosecution of Julian Assange a “distraction” from a more disconcerting issue: the Obama and Bush administrations’ fixation with secrecy.

“If you take all of the present and probably future disclosures under the WikiLeaks initiative, the vast majority should never have been classified,” Nader told a House Judiciary Committee hearing on legal and constitutional issues surrounding WikiLeaks’ publication of secret government documents.

“The vast majority are reprehensible use of people employing taxpayer dollars, the vast majority should have been disclosed, if not, never stated for the benefit of the American people to hold their government accountable,” he said.

Nader praised WikiLeaks as a "whistleblower" and called the administration’s pending legal case against Assange a “very dangerous” diversion from what he views as encroachment of the executive branch on freedom of speech and the public’s right to know.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said WikiLeaks’ actions have put the lives of Americans at risk and that the Justice Department will prosecute those involved with the leak and worldwide dissemination of the materials.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec162010

Democratic Senator Wyden Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Thursday that he will undergo surgery on Monday for prostate cancer and will not return to the Senate until January, an absence that could complicate Democratic efforts to pass an array of key issues.

Wyden said he was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in late November after his annual physical. The surgery will be performed on Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital by Dr. Alan Partin, Wyden said.

“Thanks to routine screening, this was diagnosed early and I expect a full and speedy recovery,” Wyden said in a statement.

“I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington. However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure. I expect to be back to work full-time when the Senate reconvenes in January.”

“If anything is taken from my experience, I hope it is the importance of getting routine physicals,” he said. “One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. Early detection is critical to catching this disease when treatment is most effective.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio