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Entries in Senators (21)

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

Thursday
Jan032013

Classic Biden on Display at Senate Mock Swearing-In

Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden turned on the charm and amped up the wit at the Senate mock swearing-in Thursday, schmoozing with senators’ moms, doling out dating advice to one senator’s granddaughter and offering some workout help to one new senator’s family member.

As senators brought their families up to take photos with the vice president, Biden would always single out the mothers, directly calling them “Mom,” embracing them as he said hello and touching some of their faces.

When he greeted the mother of Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., he told her, “You’ve got beautiful eyes, mom.”

“Mom, I’ll see you in a little bit,” Biden said to the mother of Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., as she walked away. “I hope I’ll sneak over and see you.”

While Biden hugged the mother of Sen. John Barrasso,  the Wyoming GOP senator made a joking dig at the vice president, telling him, “She liked [Dick] Cheney better, she told me.”

But while he seemed to flirt with the senators’ mothers, he gave strict advice to the young women in the mix of family members, telling the granddaughter of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, “No serious guys until you’re 30.”

While there was a lull in the photo-ops, Biden turned to the crowd and joked, “Anybody else want to be sworn in as a senator today?”

Then came Biden’s odd jokes, like when he teased the husband of newly sworn-in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

“Spread your legs.  You’re going to be frisked,” Biden said to Heitkamp’s husband as he was being asked to put his hands at his side for the mock swearing-in.

And when Biden greeted the family of newly appointed Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., he singled out one of Scott’s family members for his athletic prowess.

“If you ever need any help on your pecs, let me know,” Biden said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Senators Call NRA Statement a 'Sad and Shameful' Response to Sandy Hook Shootings

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic Senators called the NRA’s statement Friday a “sad and shameful” response to the shootings which killed 20 children at Sandy Hook elementary one week ago.
 
“The NRA statement today is sadly and shamefully inadequate, calling for more guns and rejecting real action against gun violence,” Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal said Friday at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “At a defining historic moment for our nation demanding courageous leadership, the NRA has declined to step forward as a credible and constructive partner.”
 
Blumenthal said that the NRA’s proposal for more armed guards in school may seem like a good idea but he added the devil is in the details.
 
“They're contemplating volunteers, watchdog dads, which I think is problematic itself, raising concerns about safety, expertise, effectiveness. So I think the American people are looking for real solutions, serious, comprehensive proposals rather than what we heard today.”
 
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted that many schools already have armed guards which has not prevented many shootings, including, she noted, Columbine in 1999.
 
“There were two armed law enforcement officers who twice engaged the shooters at Columbine, that didn't prevent 15 from being killed and 23 wounded,” Feinstein said. “The NRA's blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction. It's a delay tactic. It's a distraction from the availability of military-style assault weapons on our streets, in our schools, used at malls, used at workplaces, used in movie theaters.”
 
Feinstein received a call from President Clinton Thursday. The former president pledged his help to Sen. Feinstein as she proceeds to try to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
 
“To have him part of the team again is really quite, quite special for us,” Feinstein said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec192012

Senators Stop Work To Watch "Lincoln" with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Grab the popcorn: It's movie night in the Senate.

The Senate has taken an official recess from floor debate for a few hours to screen the movie Lincoln in the Capitol Visitors Center within the Capitol complex.

Appearing with director Steven Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he hopes the message of the movie with resonate with senators and the American people.

“I hope everybody who shared his anti-political mood will go out there and see Lincoln. The movie portrays a nobility of politics in exactly the right way,” Reid said.

All senators and their spouses were invited to Wednesday night’s special screening. Without mentioning the fight over the fiscal cliff going on within the halls of Congress as the clock clicks closer to a deadline, Reid said Wednesday’s screening is an opportunity for “bipartisanship,” among the members.

“For me, it’s what I work with every day but it’s good the American people have seen or will see what the great Abraham Lincoln did to get things done,” Reid said. “It’s remarkable.”

Spielberg said he was honored to show his movie in the Senate and to be able to see ‘”both sides sitting in the same room watching a president put the people out in front of the abyss.”

Because even senators need snacks, a special waiver was granted via a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee to allow popcorn in for the screening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec192012

Senators to Screen "Lincoln" with Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg

David James, SMPSP©DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC(WASHINGTON) -- As lawmakers struggle to solve the fiscal cliff, they’re set for a movie night Wednesday night in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,will meet with the cast and crew of Lincoln, including director Steven Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis, in the Capitol before the special showing.

Then each senator, along with their spouse, will be invited to watch the film in the Capitol Visitors Center within the Capitol Complex.

The film’s release was delayed until after the 2012 election -- but DreamWorks still scheduled a special extended two-minute TV ad during the commercial break right after the first presidential debate.

Reid, a Democrat, is a huge fan of the biopic about the most famous Republican president.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec112012

Female Senators Say They’d Already Have ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Solved

Martin H. Simon / ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With 20 days to go until the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, some female senators say if they were in charge, Congress would already have a deal.

“I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC’s World News anchor Diane Sawyer Tuesday.

In an exclusive joint interview, Sawyer sat down Tuesday on Capitol Hill with the historic class of female senators of the 113th Congress. When the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, there will be a record-breaking 20 female senators – four Republicans, 16 Democrats -- in office.

As President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio., work to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff — the slate of abrupt tax increases and steep spending cuts are set to take effect at the start of the year — there was near-unanimity among the female Senators Tuesday that they’d be able to broker a deal faster themselves.

“What I find is with all due deference to – deference to our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative,” Collins said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are “less confrontational and more collaborative,” – both traits necessary to reach a deal to avoid the country going over the fiscal cliff.

“Having us in the room– and I think– you know, all of us, not only do we want to work in a bipartisan way, we do it,” McCaskill said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec062012

Senators to Screen "Lincoln," Seek a Waiver for Popcorn

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As lawmakers struggle to solve the fiscal cliff, they’re also struggling for the right to snack on movie night.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will make a formal appeal to the Senate Rules Committee in order to allow popcorn into the Senate’s special screening of the movie Lincoln in the Capitol Complex.

The screening, for all senators and their spouses, will take place in the Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Since food is not allowed in the room, the Majority Leader’s office must get a special waiver to allow for it.

A Senate aide says Reid’s office is currently going through the process of getting approval -- because even senators need their movie snacks.

President Obama held a private screening of the movie at the White House last month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Report: Senators Devising Plan to Avoid 'Fiscal Cliff'

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Plans are underway in the U.S. Senate to deal with the political hot potato known as the “fiscal cliff,” a confluence of tax hikes, deep spending cuts and a growing federal deficit that could send the economy into another recession by early 2013.

According to a story in Tuesday's New York Times, a bipartisan group of senators is formulating a three-step process that would avert the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending reductions known as sequestration that would hit the Pentagon particularly hard.  The process would include reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade by changing the tax code, reforming various entitlements and trimming federal programs.

If that idea flops, the senators have Plan Two, which involves changes to Social Security, more extensive spending cuts and the addition of $2 trillion of revenue through lower tax rates that eliminate or trim deductions and credits.

The final alternative, which is the least desirable, is simply delaying the expiring tax cuts and upcoming spending reductions to give lawmakers more time to arrive at a plan that has wide partisan support.

Much depends on the outcome of the election.  The Republican-controlled House is opposed to ending tax cuts for the nation’s 2 percent of wage earners while Democrats are insistent that no deal is possible unless the wealthy return to the tax rates of the Clinton administration.

Despite their differences, no one wants nearly 90 percent of working Americans to pay more taxes amid draconian spending reductions that would certainly result in the second recession of the past five years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Feinstein's Blaming White House for National Security Leaks Emerges as Campaign Issue

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- In remarks at the World Affairs Council, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed concern Monday about leaks of national security information coming, she's concluded, from the Obama administration, saying, “The White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don’t know specifically where, but I think they have to begin to understand that and do something about it.”

Referring to David Sanger’s book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, Feinstein said, “There’s one book they can read and they’ll see it very clearly. And I think that should be the case.”

Feinstein said that, “what the president actually knows about this is difficult because with respect to intelligence he is in a bubble. He has his daily brief, called the PDB, the President’s Daily Brief, early every morning. And so he gets briefing from intelligence I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it, I don’t believe the briefers go out and talk about it, but who knows who else? And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself. And hopefully he will do it, and I think he’ll most likely read the book and see it himself.”

Asked for more detail about the senator’s comments, a Feinstein aide says that when she said the leaks were “coming from its ranks,” the senator was referring to the Obama administration -- the federal government -- in general, not specifically individuals in the White House. The aide also claimed that the senator does not know who the leakers were; she was assuming.

Critics have accused the Obama administration of leaking information on such secret operations for political gain.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney on Tuesday made much of her remarks -- and the leak issue in general -- Tuesday in his speech to the VFW.

“After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to ‘shut up,’” Romney said, also referring to a passage in Sanger’s book. “And he added a colorful…word for emphasis.”

Said Romney Tuesday, “Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action going on in Iran. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis. And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, ‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.’ End of quote.”

Gov. Romney said, “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.”

Feinstein Tuesday issued a statement saying she was “disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council. I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn’t have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don’t know the source of the leaks.”

Feinstein went on, saying, “I’m on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly. I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone.”

Responded the Romney campaign’s Ryan Williams: “It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the 'Cory Booker treatment,'" referring to the Newark New Jersey mayor who made critical statements of the president only to come under fire from Obama staffers and then apparently reverse his position. "Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House," Williams said, "today, she was forced to walk it back. As Governor Romney said today, we need a leader who will take responsibility and immediately halt these security breaches before more American lives are put in danger.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Senators Trying to Keep up Pressure on Joseph Kony

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the eve of the Kony 2012 national “day of action,” senators wanted Americans to know they haven’t forgotten about the campaign to find Uganda’s Joseph Kony.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., on Thursday introduced legislation to expand the existing Department of State Rewards Program for Kony.

“Information is a powerful tool and with these authorities, we can help bring brutal and dangerous fugitives to justice,” Kerry said in a statement.  “These kinds of programs promote tips and leads that lead to arrests and hobble the movement of international criminals.  It sends a message to brutal thugs like Kony that their days are numbered and they can only hide out for so long.”

The Kerry legislation would expand existing authority to allow the State Department to publicize and pay rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals engaged in transnational organized crime, or foreign nationals wanted by any international criminal tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

At a press conference Thursday, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a cosponsor of the legislation, expressed confidence that the Department of Defense is having some luck in narrowing down where Kony is hiding.  He added that an expanded rewards program would offer an incentive to people to leave the Lord’s Resistance Army and “provide critical, recent intelligence about their movements, their practices and Kony’s whereabouts.”

A group of senators, hoping to whip up a little Internet frenzy like the original Kony 12 campaign video did, came out with their own video on Thursday.  The seven-minute video focuses on the Senate’s efforts to support the removal of Kony and his top lieutenants in the Lord’s Resistance Army from the battlefield in central Africa and is aimed at the young Americans who have become part of the Kony 2012 movement in the last month.

“The timing here is deliberate,” said Coons.  ”It’s an effort to communicate back to millions of people around the world to say that we, the United States Senate, hear you, we are listening, we are acting and we are hopeful that everyone that has been interested in and concerned about the issues raised by the Lord Resistance Army, Joseph Kony and the efforts to bring him to justice.”

“We’re going to do it,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said.  “We’re going to bring it to a close.  And it’s now, everyone’s talking about it, assuming we can do, we’ve got kids from all over America joining in and saying you’ve got to get this guy Joseph Kony, and we’re going to do it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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