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Sunday
Jun092013

Republican Senator Lends Support to Immigration Reform Bill

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said Sunday that she will support the immigration reform bill drafted by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” arguing that the legislation provides a “tough but fair way” for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship.

“This is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem, and so that’s why I’m going to support it,” Ayotte said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday.

Ayotte’s support adds to the small tally of Republicans currently promoting the bill, including the four Republican senators in the “Gang of Eight.” However, one of the bipartisan group’s members, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has threatened to vote against the bill unless it includes tougher border security provisions.

In an interview on Univision’s Al Punto, Rubio argued that strengthening the border security measures would help “earn our colleagues’ trust” and predicted that his group will find enough votes to exceed the 60 required to prevent a filibuster.

"We'll have a lot more than 60 votes, but we're going to have to work at it," Rubio told Univision's Maria Elena Salinas in an interview that aired Sunday on Al Punto.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Sunday that he is “willing to compromise” on the immigration plan if it includes changes like tougher border measures, and the Kentucky senator suggested he could serve as a “conduit” to House conservatives who currently disagree with the plan proposed in the Senate.

“I am the conduit between conservatives in the House who don’t want a lot of these things and more moderate people in the Senate who do want these things. I want to make the bill work, but see, the thing is, is what they have in the Senate has zero chance of passing in the House.” Paul said on FOX News Sunday. “I’m really trying to make immigration work, but they’re going to have to come to me, and they’re going to have to work with me to make the bill stronger if they want me to vote for it.”

Formal debate on the bill started in the Senate on Friday and is expected to continue through the week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar062013

President Obama, GOP Senators Break Bread

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Republican senators had a “good exchange of ideas” Wednesday evening during their roughly two-hour-long dinner at the posh Jefferson Hotel, just blocks from the White House, according to a senior administration official.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave the meeting a thumbs up as he exited the hotel, saying it was “just fine,” “great” and “wonderful.”

McCain told reporters gathered across the street that it was a “very enjoyable evening,” but declined to discuss specifics.

Obama invited 12 GOP senators to break bread as part of a larger effort to jump start budget negotiations and try to cut a deal with rank-and-file Republicans.

“The president greatly enjoyed the dinner,” the administration official said.

But did they make any progress?

“We’ll see,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told reporters.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., described it as a, “good, constructive conversation.”

“His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis...solving every problem by meeting the crisis deadline,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. “Today was a good step and we’ll see what happens.”

The extremely rare meeting has also fostered a new point of contention: Who picked up the tab?

According to the White House, President Obama paid for the meal out of his own pocket.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., however, claimed the bill was split.

And so, it continues…

Here is a full list of attendees at Wednesday night’s dinner: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb162013

GOP Address: Rep. Martha Roby on Stopping the Sequester

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby calls on the president and Senate Democrats to join the House in stopping the sequester, a set of "across-the-board spending cuts" scheduled to take effect in less than two weeks.

With many lawmakers and President Obama, as Rep. Roby points out, calling the sequestration "a really bad idea," the hope is that the cuts can be replaced with "better more responsible spending cuts," she explains.

“Just this week, top military commanders testified on Capitol Hill and confirmed what I had feared from the beginning about how the president’s sequester will hurt military installations in Alabama and around the country," says Roby, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

“There is a smarter way to reduce the size of government than to slash defense spending, threaten national security and hurt military families," she says, accusing the president and Congressional Democrats of holding up legislation that would replace the sequester.  She adds that President Obama would like to "push through another tax increase," while "using the military he leads as leverage in an ideological crusade for higher taxes."

But, Roby implores, "These games have got to stop."

“Our goal every day in Washington should be coming together on issues like creating jobs for hardworking American families, reining in our out-of-control debt, and ensuring America maintains a strong national defense," she says.  "To meet these goals, we can come together now to replace the president’s sequester – not with more tax increases, but with better, more responsible spending cuts that put our budget on a path to balance in 10 years."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb132013

Sen. Marco Rubio Delivers GOP State of the Union Response

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. used the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday to challenge the president on how to best serve the middle class, arguing that the answer to alleviating the burdens on working class people is not through the president's "obsession" with taxes and spending but by supporting a free enterprise system.

“Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the president will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy,” Rubio said from the Speaker of the House’s conference room in the U.S. Capitol.

READ the FULL TEXT of Sen. Rubio’s Republican Response

“The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers -- that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried,” said Rubio, 41. “More government isn’t going to help you get ahead.  It’s going to hold you back.  More government isn’t going to create more opportunities.  It’s going to limit them. And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs.  It’s going to create uncertainty.”

Rubio’s speech, the first ever bilingual response to the State of the Union, comes at a time when the Republican Party is struggling with how to appeal to a growing constituency, which it lost in last year’s election: Latinos.  Rubio, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the 1950′s, is one of the most recognizable Hispanic figures in the Republican Party and is often floated as a potential presidential contender for 2016.

Rubio, who lives in the same Miami, Fla. neighborhood he was raised in, tried to link himself to working class people, saying it is their concerns he has in mind, not the interests of the rich.

“His favorite attack of all is that those who don’t agree with him -- that we only care about rich people,” Rubio said of the president. “Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in the countries where the government dominated the economy.”

And these modest people in his neighborhood, argued Rubio, will actually be hurt if taxes rise and government spending isn’t cut.

“The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families,” he said of the president. “It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security,” Rubio said. “So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”

Rubio helped craft a bipartisan immigration plan which was introduced last month, but he only briefly mentioned immigration in his speech, saying a legal immigration system would benefit the economy.

“We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”

The Florida senator promoted the issues of school choice and access to affordable student loans while also pushing Republicans’ efforts to reform the Medicare system. But Rubio also noted that the power to enact change comes not from politicians but from the American people.

“Our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible,” Rubio said.

Rubio rehearsed his speech Tuesday morning, as can be seen in these photos released by his office, but when it came to the actual delivery of the speech, Rubio hit a snafu.

 

In the middle of his speech, Rubio stopped speaking and reached off screen to grab a water bottle to take a drink. The Florida senator made light of the moment afterwards, tweeting out a photo of a small Poland Spring water bottle resembling the one he took a swig from in the middle of his speech.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov172012

GOP Address: Sen. Ayotte Calls for Bipartisan Cooperation on Fiscal Cliff

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  With the threat of the fiscal cliff quickly approaching, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have voiced ideas about how to avoid the Jan. 1 deadline, when automatic tax hikes for all Americans and deep government spending cuts are set to take effect. In this week's Republican address, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte criticizes Washington for "ducking the tough decisions," but says the critical fiscal cliff represents a new opportunity for both parties to change the country's "irresponsible spending path."

"And one thing is clear: the American people expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve the difficult challenges we face," Ayotte says, referring to the "spirited debate" over the federal budget that played out over the last year by members of both parties.

"For too long, partisan bickering has paralyzed Washington -- preventing members of both parties from reaching across the aisle to find common ground," she says in the address. "That must stop. Power sharing is an opportunity -- not an obstacle."

Calling on bipartisan leadership to cooperate in reducing the deficit without harming the economy, Ayotte highlights ideas on which she says both parties can agree: 1) The current tax code is broken, and should be reformed to remove loopholes "that pick winners and losers." 2) There is a need to strengthen and preserve entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security for future beneficiaries.

"One thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option," she says. "And any effort to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can't be taken seriously."

Sen. Ayotte concluded the address with a tone of optimism similar to that of congressional leaders who participated in Friday's fiscal cliff summit at the White House.

"It will take courage to address the serious fiscal challenges our country faces. But Americans always come together to solve tough problems. And, for the good of the nation, now is the time for both parties to bring their best ideas to the table," she says.

“As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, may we all remain mindful that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. What unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. We are Americans first. And as Americans we’ll rise to this challenge."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun162012

GOP Address: Gov. Scott Walker Wants US 'Fiscal House on Track'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- In this week's Republican address, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, fresh off of his recent victory over the effort to recall him as governor, calls for Washington lawmakers to get America's "fiscal house on track and … our economy back in order."

Walker says that while "Republicans define success … by how many people we can free from government dependence by growing the private sector," to him, "the President and many of his allies seem to measure success by how many people are dependent on government programs."

"Those policies have failed," he adds.

But Walker says that doesn't mean people should be thrown off of unemployment.  Instead, he says, created jobs for people in the private sector will free people from government dependence.

Walker says, "We can do it -- because we've done it before," recalling what he said was "one of the greatest economic booms in U.S. history" when reforms set in place during the Reagan presidency went into effect.

"We need that kind of bold leadership today …" he said, adding, that more "big government is not the answer as the President contends."

"Instead, we need to confront the powerful special interests in Washington and put the hard working taxpayers back in charge of our government, he says. "We need to think more about the next generation than we do about the next election."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

With Texas Win, Romney Clinches the GOP Nomination

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney has clinched the Republican presidential nomination.

It has been projected that Romney has won the Texas GOP primary, and ABC News estimates he will win at least 88 of Texas’s 155 delegates, giving him the 1,144 needed to win the nomination.

“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three and a half years behind us. I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us,” Romney said in a paper statement issued to reporters.

“But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity. On November 6, I am confident that we will unite as a country and begin the hard work of fulfilling the American promise and restoring our country to greatness,” Romney said.

Romney now moves on to the general election against President Obama in November. Polls have shown a tight race between the two candidates.

Romney isn’t the nominee yet. The 2,286 Republican delegates will officially confer that mantle in August when they select the nominee in a floor vote at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

His campaign planned no victory party for this long-predicted mathematical triumph. Romney held two public campaign events Tuesday, one in Colorado and one in Nevada, and did not mention his imminent clinching of the nomination in either.

The win in Texas brings Romney one step closer to the official conclusion of a long campaign in which he held front-runner or co-frontrunner status from the outset. Romney staved off a revolving cast of Tea Party darlings who included Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and for a brief moment, Romney’s now-surrogate Donald Trump.

The last major candidate standing against Romney was Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who announced on May 14 that he would no longer campaign in new primary states, but will still organize at state conventions to accrue delegates who will bolster his presence in Tampa, even if many of them will be allocated to Mitt Romney in the presidential-nomination vote.

After Santorum dropped from the race on April 10, Romney became the presumptive winner.

Thanks to a delayed primary calendar and pressure from the Republican National Committee for states to allocate delegates proportionally, this year’s Republican primary has dragged on relatively late into the election year. John McCain also clinched the nomination with a win in Texas in 2008, but he did it on March 4.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr192012

Dems' Senatorial Committee Edges GOP Counterparts in Fundraising

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- the committee tasked with overseeing Democratic Senate races -- has narrowly out-raised their Republican counterparts -- the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- for the first quarter of 2012.

The DSCC reported raising more than $17.7 million in the first three months of 2012. This figure, the committee notes, marks the most successful first quarter of fundraising ever for the group. The DSCC has $24 million in cash on hand, and reports owing zero in debt.

In a written statement the executive director of the DSCC, Guy Cecil, credited the strong fundraising to high enthusiasm about the Democratic candidates running for office, and the prospect of the Democrats keeping their majority in the Senate (they currently have 53 seats to the Republicans' 47.)

“We have spent the cycle aggressively recruiting great candidates in open and Republican-held seats, our incumbents are building well-funded campaigns and now donors are more enthusiastic than ever about the likelihood we will keep the majority” writes Cecil.

Still, NRSC had a strong first quarter as well. They took in nearly $15 million for the first quarter, they announced on Thursday. Like their Democratic counterparts, the NRSC also reports having no debt. They currently have $19.6 million cash on hand.

It is worth noting that, historically, strong fundraising does not necessarily equal victory. The DSCC outraised the NRSC for the 2009-2010 cycle-taking in $82.5 million total as compared to the NRSC’s $78.9 million, according to FEC disclosures. Republicans gained seven seats in that cycle -- a fact highlighted Thursday by a spokesman for the NRSC.

“Considering Democrats control the Senate and the White House, it’s surprising that they don’t have an even greater cash advantage,” Brian Walsh, communications director for the NRSC, wrote to ABC News.  "And coming off the 2010 election cycle where Senate Republicans won seven seats despite being outspent, it has to concern national Democrats that we’re on track to close that financial gap even further in 2012.”

Republicans need a net gain of four seats in order to regain control in the Senate in the fall of 2012.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar202012

Some Illinois Ballots Too Big for Their Scanners

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NAPERSVILLE, Ill.) -- Election officials in Illinois are discovering that size does matter. In 26 jurisdictions across the state, the ballots are too big to fit into the scanners, sources at the Illinois State Board of Elections tell ABC News.

The sizing problem means the affected polling places have had to scramble to find a way to count the ballots in Tuesday night’s Republican primary.

Elections officials describe the scope of the problem as “sporadic,” and includes several districts in DuPage County, the third most populous county in the state. Across some precincts the issue is widespread, while in other precincts it’s only hitting a handful of ballots. There are even instances of properly sized ballots and improperly sized ballots popping up in the same polling place.

The cause behind the improper sizing is still unknown, but election officials have traced the affected ballots to two specific vendors.

The problem appears to be under control, or at least well on its way. Counties ordered ballots to be re-printed, and in the interim time period while waiting for the new ballots, all but one of the 26 affected jurisdictions had electronic touch screens which voters were redirected to use.

In some polling places, already-cast ballots are being re-made by hand, with representatives from both parties supervising to make sure that the re-making follows proper procedure.

Election officials confirm to ABC News that this will likely slow down the rate at which results are tabulated Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar132012

Rick Santorum Projected to Win Alabama, Mississippi Primaries

ABC News(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) --ABC projected Rick Santorum would win the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, giving the former Pennsylvania senator high-stakes victories in key Southern contests Tuesday.

Mitt Romney, who still holds a commanding delegate lead for the nomination, trailed in third place behind Newt Gingrich in both races, with majorities of precincts reporting.

Santorum's victories came after a week of polls that showed the three challengers running virtually neck-and-neck in both states, which award delegates on a proportional basis.

Late Tuesday night Romney had 471 delegates, Santorum had 238 and Gingrich had 126 total delegates. A candidate needs 1,144 to secure the nomination.

But the Alabama and Mississippi wins will provide a boost to Santorum, even though he will still be well behind in the race for delegates. Before polls closed Tuesday, Romney said Santorum was "at the desperate end" of his campaign -- a prediction that may prove premature after Tuesday's results.

The candidates did not stick around for results.

"We did it again," Santorum declared at an event in Louisiana. He said that despite Romney's deep campaign pockets, he has won in the Midwest and South and is forcing the Romney campaign back on its heels. He heads to Puerto Rico Wednesday to campaign.

Romney spent the night in Missouri, which holds a state caucus Saturday. Santorum won a non-binding primary there in February.

Gingrich stayed in Alabama to watch the results, which he said dealt a blow to Romney.

"If you're the front runner and you keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner," Gingrich said.

Alabama and Mississippi were not the only states holding nominating contests on Tuesday night. Hawaii was also holding caucuses, but final results will not be available until early Wednesday morning and American Samoa was also finalizing the results of its caucuses.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

 







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