Entries in Mike Lee (5)


Brennan Confirmation Delayed by Rare Talking Filibuster

Jamie Rhodes/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With federal offices shut down due to snow and John Brennan poised to be confirmed as CIA Director, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, considered an outspoken libertarian, did plenty of speaking as he engaged in a traditional, and increasingly rare, talking filibuster on Wednesday.

In modern Washington, the threat of a filibuster has become enough to require an issue to get 60 votes of support instead of 51.

Paul didn’t have 40 votes to block Brennan's confirmation, but he wanted to make a point about the White House adviser who is seen as architect of the administration’s policy regarding unmanned drones used to kill suspected terrorists in foreign countries. A vote to make Brennan CIA Director could come as soon as Wednesday.

To Rand Paul, the Obama administration’s targeted killing program – the use of drones to bomb suspected terrorists in foreign lands – is an issue. His concern hit a new level on Monday when his office released a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder explaining that the administration feels it has the power, in an unlikely and hypothetical situation, to kill Americans on U.S. soil to avert an imminent terror attack.

"I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA," Paul declared at about 11:47 a.m. ET Wednesday. "I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination. it is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country."

Paul said he doesn’t necessarily think President Obama will abuse the power to use domestic drones. However, he says, no president should have the power to kill Americans in the U.S. without a trial by jury.

Here is an excerpt from Paul's filibuster:

"When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, 'no.' The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that. The president says, I haven’t killed anyone yet. He goes on to say, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might. Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that? Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a president to say he might kill Americans? But he will judge the circumstances, he will be the sole arbiter, he will be the sole decider, he will be the executioner in chief if he sees fit. Now, some would say he would never do this. Many people give the president the — you know, they give him consideration, they say he’s a good man. I’m not arguing he’s not. What I’m arguing is that the law is there and set in place for the day when angels don’t rule government."

In recent years, a filibuster has been accepted as any time the minority party blocks something that could be passed by the majority. Senators agreed earlier this year to a series of rule changes that would cut down on the time it takes to move through these procedural roadblocks while preserving the minority’s right to object.

Paul is certainly in the minority on the issue of drones and targeted killing. An ABC News/Washington Post poll in February of 2012 found that 83 percent of Americans support the program. Paul believes that the program is so shrouded in secrecy that people don’t know enough about it. Drawing attention to that issue is a stated goal of his filibuster Wednesday.

This traditional form of filibuster, however, is doomed to fail. The human body can only go on so long. Paul promised to talk until he couldn't talk any more, but admitted, "Ultimately I will not win; there are not enough votes."

After more than three hours of talking, Paul was relieved by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee, along with Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, gave Paul a break during the fourth hour of the largely symbolic debate.

The most recent talking filibuster came from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who spent some eight hours filibustering a tax bill in 2010.

The record for longest talking filibuster goes to former South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Thurmond, who died in 2003, filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

It is not clear if Paul’s filibuster will last that long. Fox News host Lou Dobbs tweeted just before 2 p.m. ET, that Paul would be joining him on his show, which starts at 7 p.m. ET.

Considering the bipartisan support for Brennan's nomination, there is little doubt that he will ultimately be confirmed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio



Republican Senator Criticizes Democrats for Comments on Supreme Court

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took to the Senate floor to warn his colleagues and President Obama about public comments about the Supreme Court as it deliberates the health care case.

“Attempts to manipulate or to bully the Supreme Court, especially during deliberations in a particular proceeding, are irresponsible and they tend to threaten the very fabric of our constitutional republic,” Lee said during a floor speech.

Lee was responding in part to a speech in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy. D-Vt. Leahy took to the Senate floor to warn the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, not to strike down the Affordable Care Act.

Leahy said that when he attended oral arguments in March he “was struck by how little respect some of the justices showed to Congress.” He said some of the justices seemed “dismissive” of the months of work -- including dozens of hearings -- on the part of both the House and the Senate to enact the law.

Leahy singled out Roberts, explaining why he had voted for him during the chief justice’s confirmation hearings: “I trusted he would act to fulfill his responsibilities in accordance with the testimony he gave to the United States Senate. I said then that if I thought he would easily reject precedent or use his position on the Supreme Court as a bulwark for activism, I would not have supported his confirmation.”

During a Rose Garden ceremony in April, President Obama said, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Lee, who thinks the individual mandate should be struck down, said Thursday, “Criticisms of the well-established principle of judicial review grossly misrepresent how our constitutional republic functions.”

Lee said that the president “and some members of this body have suggested that the judiciary, which they sometimes denigrate as a group of unelected people, should simply defer to Congress.”

Lee is a former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.

The health care case is expected to be decided sometime by the end of June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sen. Lee: ‘I’m Not Nervous About What Republicans Are Doing’

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amid the public hand-wringing over his party’s stance on Medicare, count freshman Sen. Mike Lee among those committed to standing behind a bold -- if politically risky -- set of policy proposals.

“I'm not nervous about what Republicans are doing,” Lee, R-Utah, who was elected last year with strong Tea Party support, told ABC News Thursday.

“Republicans are the only group in this town who put forward a budget, a budget that’s gone anywhere. The only budget we've got from any Democrat right now is the president’s, which got exactly zero votes on the floor of the Senate yesterday. That tells you something about where his leadership in this country is taking us.”

Despite skepticism from some Republicans -- including the leading presidential contenders -- about the budget put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, Lee said there’s broad agreement inside the GOP: “They do endorse the idea that we have to address these problems head on. We have to confront entitlements. We have to confront the fact that if we do nothing, that by itself will destroy our entitlement system.”

Regarding Medicare, Lee said, the key is to frame the choices to voters: “Obviously it's an enormously complex problem. We need to continue to message that well, to explain it to the American people. To explain most importantly the fact that the current path, allowing Medicare to remain intact, unchanged, simply isn't an option.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Senators Target Birthright Citizenship for Immigrant Children

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A posse of Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week opened a new front in the crusade against birthright citizenship with draft legislation that would bar children of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens.

Senators David Vitter of Louisiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas say their bill requires the federal government to limit automatic citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, legal resident, or member of the military.

The senators say a misinterpretation of the Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment, has led to tens of thousands of "anchor babies" -- children of illegal immigrants or foreign tourists, born in the U.S., who can in turn sponsor legal residency for their parents and extended families.

"It's astounding that the U.S. government allows individuals to exploit the loopholes of our immigration system in this manner," said Vitter during debate on the Senate floor.  "It's obvious that Congress has the authority and the obligation to put an end to it."

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 340,000, or eight percent, of the 4.3 million newborns in U.S. hospitals in 2008 belonged to illegal immigrant parents.  In total, four million U.S.-born, citizen children of illegal immigrants currently live in the country, according to the study released last year.

Republicans say a change to the law would also effectively end "birth tourism," or the practice of foreign women traveling to the U.S. with the express purpose of giving birth here so that their children would automatically have American citizenship.  A nascent industry of travel agencies and hotel chains has emerged, seeking to profit from the business.

But immigration advocates say the assault on birthright citizenship discriminates against children, who have no say in the matter, and is nothing more than a political ploy to rally the conservative base.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Senator’s Hard Line on Debt: Utah’s Mike Lee says 'No Way'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-Utah) is taking a no-compromise, hard-line stand on the national debt that may soon put him at odds with his own party leadership.

Lee told ABC News that when Congress is asked to vote early next year on raising the national debt limit -- a usually routine vote that allows the government to borrow the money needed to finance annual budget deficits -- he will vote "no."

"I'm as serious as they come," Lee said.  "I could not be more serious when I say I'm not going to vote to increase the national debt limit."

The U.S. government is expected to hit its current debt limit -- $14.3 trillion -- sometime next spring.  Economists warn that failure to raise the limit could trigger a crisis in the U.S. bond market, raising the specter that the U.S. would default on its bond obligations.

Lee doesn't see it that way.  A failure to raise the debt limit, Lee says, "will force a discussion on a balanced budget amendment, and a discussion about the need to balance the budget every year."

But incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) says it would be irresponsible for Congress to vote against raising the debt limit.

For Lee, not even the prospect of a federal default on debt or a government shutdown would convince him to raise the debt limit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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