Entries in Jeff Sessions (8)


Immigration Bill Delayed, Likely Not Ready Until Next Week

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday’s expected Senate briefing on the Gang of Eight immigration bill was postponed.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was scheduled to explain the nearly finished proposal, but senators coming out of the closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill told reporters that the gun issue took up the entire agenda.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a powerful critic of immigration reform, said the Gang of Eight was not ready.

Sessions said, “I guess he wasn’t ready. They didn’t seem to be interested in doing that,” he told reporters. “I didn’t get the impression there was any interest to get that done today [among the Gang of Eight]. The impression I got was that they hoped to be able to do it next week.”

Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican of Arizona and one of the Gang of Eight, told reporters the bill could be ready by Friday or slip into next week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Jeff Sessions: Jack Lew Must ‘Never’ Be Treasury Secretary

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, declared Thursday that Jack Lew must “never” become secretary of the Treasury.

“To confirm Mr. Lew would be to acquiesce in a policy of dishonesty to the American people,” Sessions said.  "For me, no mea culpa, no excuse, can erase the errors of Mr. Lew.”

President Obama Thursday formally nominated Lew, the White House chief of staff, in the East Room of the White House, to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Lew’s nomination now goes before the Senate for approval. Sessions became the first senator to vow to block Lew’s rise to Treasury secretary.

At issue, Sessions said, is what he called Lew’s “outrageous and false” testimony before the Senate Budget committee nearly two years ago. Sessions said the testimony should disqualify Lew from becoming Treasury secretary.

“To look the American people in the eye and make such a statement remains the most direct and important false assertion during my entire time in Washington,” Sessions said. “We need a secretary of Treasury that the American people, the Congress, and the world will know is up to the task of getting America on the path to prosperity, not the path to decline. Jack Lew is not that man.”

Obama Thursday called for the Senate to confirm Lew as quickly as possible.

“Jack has my complete trust,” Obama said. “In the words of one former senator, having Lew on your team is the equivalent, as a coach, of having the luxury of putting somebody in almost any position and knowing he will do well. And I could not agree more.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


GOP Address: Republicans Not to Blame for Budget Failures, Sessions Says

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama laid into Congress for leaving Washington for a six-week recess without taking action on his job creation proposals. But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., hit back at the president's criticism in his party's address, saying that the Democratic-led Senate is to blame for the adjournment without passing a federal budget.

"For the president to say his plan will pay down the debt is one of the greatest financial misrepresentations ever made to the American people," says Sessions, the Senate Budget Committee's ranking Republican.

“Adding to the chaos, the Senate Democrat Majority has decided to adjourn through November having utterly failed to meet its most basic obligations.  For the last three years, in a time of national crisis, Senate Democrats have deliberately violated the legal requirement to produce a budget plan."

Failing to pass an annual appropriations bill -- "not once, but twice" -- and no discussion on the national defense authorization bill or a plan to prevent tax hikes and steep defense cuts are all failures, Sessions says, that "create uncertainty and weaken the economy. But, he adds, if Republicans can get control of the Senate next year, this won't happen.

“If given the chance, Republicans will get this government under control.   A Republican Senate will pass a budget.  Failure is not an option," he says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Blasts Million Dollar Judicial Conference in Hawaii

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a scolding letter, two Republican senators blasted the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for holding a lavish tax-payer funded judicial conference scheduled for this August in Maui, Hawaii, that “reads more like a vacation than a business trip.”

“We are concerned that using the tax dollars of the American people to pay for a conference of this sort is not the most appropriate use of funds,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wrote in a letter sent last week to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

The court, which is based in San Francisco, has jurisdiction over nine states, including Hawaii.

The judicial conference is scheduled for Aug. 13 to Aug. 16  and features sport fishing, a golf tournament, yoga, surging lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons, Zumba dance classes, tennis, a day trip to the Upcountry Maui, a snorkel trip and an activity called the “Aloha Experience.”

The senators’ complaint comes after the General Services Administration was embarrassed for spending more than $800,000 on a conference in Las Vegas.

In light of the GSA scandal the senators call this “tone deaf” for the government to “throw lavish events on the taxpayer dime.”

The Ninth Circuit defends the conference as essential and not wasteful.

“As part of the Third Branch of government, the Ninth Circuit is fully aware of its responsibilities as a steward of public funds,” Circuit and Court of Appeals Executive Cathy A. Catterson said in a statement to ABC News Monday. “The conference is authorized by law ‘for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.’ The conference fully adheres to these goals, providing an exceptional educational program and the opportunity to conduct numerous business meetings that further circuit governance.”

The website for the conference makes clear that “government funds are not used for any recreational or sporting activities,” and Catterson emphasized that any sporting and recreational activities, “are paid for by individuals and are not reimbursable.”

The senators note this in their letter, but question the seriousness of the conference given the heavy schedule of recreational events.

“While the site makes clear that government funds are not to be used for any recreational or sporting activities and that court-related matters will be substantively considered, the program reads more like a vacation than a business trip to discuss the means of improving the administration of justice,” they wrote.

The senators question the location choice, with Maui being such a pricey vacation destination.

“We do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii,” the letter says, pointing out that taxpayer funded airfare and hotel stay may be better spent were the conference held in another location like Billings, Mont., or elsewhere on the mainland.

“Technology is so advanced that people are earning college degrees online and soldiers serving halfway across the world use Skype with their families at home,” Grassley said. “Likewise, a judicial circuit court should be capable of using technology to share information without requiring a trip to an island paradise … the court should re-examine whether this is the best use of tax dollars.”

“Costs for lodging and air travel to attend the conference are comparative to those found at mainland venues,” Catterson responded.

A previous Ninth Circuit conference also held in Maui cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million in travel and accommodation expenses.

The senators outline specific questions about the conference, such as a detailed list of swag, a breakdown of hotel rooms, transportation, and meal rates, an explanation why the venue -- the Hyatt Recent Maui Resort & Spa -- was chosen, what costs are associated with having spouses attend, and why the conference could not be done via teleconference instead.

Grassley and Sessions requested a full reply to their questions by June 15. The Ninth Circuit is reviewing the letter from the senators.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions: Food Stamps ‘Out of Control’

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Americans receiving federal aid for food has skyrocketed in recent years, partly from need and partly, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions, because of abuse.

Food stamps, he told ABC News' Top Line Thursday, are a symptom of a government run out of control.

“No program in our government has surged out of control more dramatically than food stamps,” said Sessions, R-Ala. “And now, nothing is being done [about it]. Nobody is looking under the hood. It had doubled in the last three years. It had quadrupled from 20 billion to 80 billion in the last 10 years.

“When it started,” he said, “it was one in 50 people on the food stamp program. Now, it’s one in seven. Lottery winners, multimillion-dollar lottery winners are getting food stamps because that money is considered to be an asset, not an income.”

But for every lottery winner, there are many more of the 46 million Americans -- one in seven -- who receive federal food aid who really need it. The numbers have, indeed, skyrocketed in recent years, from 26 million to more than 46 million since the recession began.

ABC News pointed out to Sessions that for every lottery winner abusing the food stamp system, there are families that likely need the help.

“Well, look, do you think there are four times as many people that need food stamps today as they did in 2001?” he asked. “This year, they are proposing another 14-percent increase in food stamps without any real reform to understand how it is that it surged so dramatically. We cannot do this. We don’t have the money. If Congress doesn’t understand that we can’t continue to double the food stamp program every three years, they don’t understand how deeply we are impacted by the debt. The debt is already pulling down economic growth, costing jobs. We need people working with jobs, not receiving food stamps."

Sessions wants to tighten restrictions on who can get food stamps and has proposed defeating a planned $9 billion increase to the program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Republicans Respond to Obama's American Jobs Act

Stephen Morton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama hopes that Republicans can get their act together so that they join Democrats to quickly pass his American Jobs Act.

However, there was the sense after his address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday that Republicans don’t quite see the same urgency to bring the bill up for an immediate vote.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who hopes to run against the president in the 2012 general election, had nothing positive to say about the speech.

According to Bachman, “the president under the veil of one of the most sacred, deliberative forms -- a joint session of Congress -- delivered yet one more political speech where he doubled down on more of the same policies that are killing the United States economy...Mr. President, what among your proposals was new?  What hasn’t already been tried and failed before?"

House Speaker John Boehner did not give a ringing endorsement to the plan although he sounded a bit more optimistic about its chances, saying, “The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration.  We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was less effusive in his opinion of the American Jobs Act, having already dismissed it out of hand after reading an advance copy of the speech.  The Kentucky Republican described it as a "reelection plan," rather than a "jobs plan."

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the leading Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, was also skeptical of the $447 billion proposal.  

He remarked, “The president just doesn’t get it.  No economic plan can succeed that ignores our staggering and surging debt."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republicans Already Blasting Obama’s Jobs Speech

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Republicans are already attacking President Obama’s jobs proposal, even though he won’t reveal it until his speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday evening.

Reports that President Obama will propose $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending Thursday night to create jobs for Americans drew Republican criticism Wednesday on the Senate floor.  Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said that Republicans will oppose any new spending plan not offset by spending cuts.

“We’re going to add another $300 billion in spending, not paid for.  Borrowed, every penny of it,” Sessions said.  "At some point this country gets to a position where you cannot continue to borrow without damaging the economy.”

Sessions criticized the public works projects such as school construction that President Obama may call for Thursday night.

“I don’t think school buildings is the problem with our education right now. And when you don’t have any money, you’ve got to be careful about borrowing more to spend.”

Sessions said that another presidential speech is “no substitute” for a budget or for a detailed plan.  ”Is it too much to ask for a real plan?” Sessions asked.

The White House has so far been mum on the details of President Obama’s speech.

On the other side of the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Reid pointed a finger at Republicans for “obstructionist tactics” that he says have cost time, jobs and economic growth this year.

“As Republicans held up the work of Congress for months in hopes of defeating the president -- and this is not something I made up. My counterpart, the Republican leader, said that’s his number-one issue, making sure President Obama is not reelected,” said Reid. “But this effort to defeat President Obama has also held up our economic recovery.”

Reid said there are four things that Congress can do right away to create lots of jobs: extend the authorization of the FAA bill, authorize federal spending for the nation’s highways, payroll tax cuts, and an extension of unemployment benefits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alabama Senator Says Obama's Budget is 'Deliberately Misleading'

Photo Courtesy - Sessions [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, ripped President Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, on Tuesday for stating the administration’s new fiscal year 2012 budget proposal -- if enacted -- would mean that the nation would stop adding to its debt in the middle of the decade.

A day later, the Alabama senator is still fuming about the administration’s claims.

“They’re deliberately misleading the American people.  I hate to say that.  I’m talking about the president of the United States, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and then they come in with this cockamamie idea of some primary balance,” Sessions told ABC News in a phone interview.

That idea of primary balance was touted repeatedly by both Lew and the president in recent days. 

Here is the Administration's argument: “What my budget does is to put forward some tough choices, some significant spending cuts, so that by the middle of this decade our annual spending will match our annual revenues.  We will not be adding more to the national debt,” the president said at his Tuesday news conference at the White House.  “So, to use a -- sort of an analogy that families are familiar with, we're not going to be running up the credit card anymore.”

A short ways down Pennsylvania Avenue, Lew touted that claim time and time again in over five hours of hearings before the Congressional budget panels.

But Sessions believes that argument is “bogus.”

“If you go to the bank to borrow money, will you tell the banker about all your expenses except the interest on your automobile, the interest on your home, and the interest on the credit card, and that you can afford to make payments?  This is so basic as to be through the looking glass,” he said.

The Alabama Republican contends that the president’s argument is intended to mislead the American public.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this," he said, warning that it could poison future talks between Republicans and Democrats.  "It’s a matter of the ability to have an effective relationship with one another and if we can’t agree on what the numbers are, then we can’t have an effective communication.”

“If this were in court," Sessions railed, "the question would be did they intend to mislead the people who were hearing this.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio