TIME Congress

How House Conservatives Lost the Homeland Security Fight

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio returns to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 3, 2015.
J. Scott Applewhite—AP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio returns to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 3, 2015.

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives clipped the wings of conservatives Tuesday, passing a bill on the backs of Democrats to keep the Department of Homeland Security open through September.

“It’s our only choice left,” said Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a member of the whip team. “We exhausted every other.”

In a “surreal” meeting Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner laid out the plan to silent members, according to New York GOP Rep. Peter King.

“Nobody says a word,” said King. “It seemed like two hours, it was probably a minute, but that’s a long time when the Speaker is up there saying ‘Any questions … any questions … any questions?’”

Boehner did receive a standing ovation in the meeting after Colorado GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn changed the topic, praising his leadership in the face of White House criticism for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress. The White House was not consulted before the invitation and Susan Rice, the White House National Security Advisor, has said that the speech would be “destructive” to U.S.-Israel relations.

Conservatives had led the DHS strategy since mid-December, when Congress passed a short-term funding plan to appease Republicans who wanted to protest Obama’s executive actions on immigration when they controlled the Senate majority. Faced with a midnight deadline on Friday, Republicans kicked the can another week to avert a partial government shutdown that would have put 30,000 employees on furlough.

House Republicans passed a bill over a month ago that would have stripped funding for Obama’s November action deferring deportation for up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally and for another program that granted deportation relief to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented workers who came to the country as children. Over the past several weeks, it became abundantly clear — if it ever was in doubt — that the bill never had a chance in the Senate to get the necessary 60 votes to send the bill to Obama.

But with conservatives still furious at what they call the president’s executive overreach, and a recent federal court injunction in their favor, the House Republican leadership decided to pass a so-called “clean” bill that did not protest Obama’s actions and hope for the courts to accomplish their mission. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress Tuesday provided the perfect media cover for the Republican leadership to announce the change in strategy.

Some conservatives are now talking about overthrowing the current House Republican leadership, although that situation is very unlikely.

“There was 167 that voted against this deal,” says Republican Rep. Marlin Stuzman of Indiana. “I’m sure there will be conversations about how we got to where we are. We basically put Senate rules over the Constitution today.”

“A good number of Republicans decided they just wanted to get the fight over and move on,” acknowledges Stuzman.

Democrats ridiculed the Republicans for putting forward a bill that Democrats advocated for months ago.

“How about that,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. “No time at all.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Reaction to Netanyahu Speech Divides Along Partisan Lines

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress on Tuesday was exactly what he said he didn’t intend it to be: political.

While many of his points brought both Democrats and Republicans to their feet — “This Capitol dome helped build our Iron Dome” was a clear winner — Democrats stayed seated for the point that mattered most.

“This is a bad deal,” said Netanyahu, of the negotiations by the Obama Administration and five other countries to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons. “It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

There was a clear contrast in Netanyahu’s support from the beginning, when ear-splitting cheers arose for the handshake between House Speaker John Boehner and Netanyahu. In the front row, Illinois GOP Senator Mark Kirk, an Iran hawk, rose to his feet and banged his cane against the ground in approval throughout the speech.

On the key “we’re better off without it” line, GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Joe Lieberman joined the Republicans’ standing ovation in their seats overlooking the chamber. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who ran a 2012 congressional campaign that Adelson backed, said before the speech that it could convince Congressmen to overcome an Obama veto of a controversial Iran sanctions bill.

“I think if the Prime Minister really makes his case, the Kirk-Menendez bill — increasing sanctions against Iran should there not be a deal — could pass,” said Boteach. “They’re close. They almost have enough Senators to override a promised presidential veto and maybe that’s what the Prime Minister is aiming for more than anything else.”

After the speech, foreign policy hawks said that the U.S. should walk away from the negotiating table.

“I thought it was very reasonable,” said Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard and an attendee of the event. “The world will not end if there’s not a deal and if sanctions are reimposed. The world was chugging along two years ago with sanctions and no deal … As Netanyahu said, as many people have said, If it’s a bad deal, you can’t sign a bad deal. You’re not walking away.”

MORE: Netanyahu’s Speech Tied Him in Knots

During the speech, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was in “near tears.”

“I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation,” she said in a statement.

Dozens of Democrats boycotted the speech, which came on Boehner’s invitation without White House consultation and two weeks before Netanyahu’s election.

Even those Democrats who agreed with Netanyahu that the deal is “bad” blasted his speech for lacking a specific plan forward.

“This is a bad deal,” said California Democratic Representative Brad Sherman. “He showed us why this deal is a bad deal. The alternative to a bad deal is we’re in a bad situation. And he did not give us a clear road map to a good deal.”

Read next: Netanyahu Will Be Speaking in Winston Churchill’s Shadow

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Foreign Policy

‘America’s Rabbi’ Apologizes for Ad That Called White House Aide Blind to Genocide

National Security Adviser Susan Rice speaks at the Brookings Institution to outline President Barack Obama's foreign policy priorities on Feb. 6, 2015, in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite—AP National Security Adviser Susan Rice speaks at the Brookings Institution to outline President Barack Obama's foreign policy priorities on Feb. 6, 2015, in Washington.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who calls himself “America’s Rabbi,” apologized for his organization’s ad claiming that White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice is complicit in genocide.

“Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide,” says the ad, which ran a full page in the New York Times Saturday. The ad says she “stood by” as genocide ravaged Rwanda in 1994 when Rice was a member of President Bill Clinton’s national security team and cites an article written by Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“I personally want to offer an apology to anyone who was offended by our organization’s ad about National Security Advisor Susan Rice,” said Boteach Monday before an event on preventing a nuclear Iran with Elie Wiesel and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. “Our disagreement with Ms. Rice is strictly over policy. It was construed by some as a personal attack that is certainly and absolutely not its intent.”

Boteach defended his ad just yesterday in an interview with CNN and his website still has a link to the ad on its homepage.

“We all have a blind spot when it comes to genocide,” said Boteach on CNN, listing those in Rwanda and Cambodia among others. “But she’s a public official … Now Iran is threatening the annihilation of the Jewish people. It is perverse that these negotiations are taking place without a demand that Iran first totally renounce their genocidal intent against the Jews.”

The back-and-forth comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the United States.

Rice said last week that Netanyahu’s scheduled address to Congress Tuesday is “destructive” to U.S.-Israel relations. House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak without first notifying the White House, and critics see Netanyahu’s speech two weeks before his election as a partisan ploy meant to undermine nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“Ms. Rice may be blind to the issue of genocide, but she should treat our ally with at least as much diplomatic courtesy as she does the committed enemy of both of our nations,” says the ad, which was paid for by Boteach’s This World: The Values Network.

The ad has been roundly condemned by Jewish organizations. The Anti-Defamation League called it an “incendiary personal attack” without justification. The American Jewish Committee called it “revolting.” The Jewish Federations of North America called it “outrageous.” After California Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman backed out of Monday’s event over “abhorrent” ad, Cruz bashed Democrats for their lack of participation.

“There is a simple reality right now which is that in Congress the number of congressional Democrats willing to stand up to this Administration on Iran is vanishingly small,” said Cruz. “For this gathering today, to be here with a Nobel laureate and morals hero like Elie Wiesel, we invited over a dozen Democrats.”

“There’s not a congressional Democrat sitting here being part of this discussion and that was not for lack of invitation, it was because the answer was no,” he added to boos from the crowd.

“We’re not here to boo anyone,” interjected Boteach, who later noted that there are “countless” Democrats who “strongly support” Israel.

Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, said he was with Sherman in his office today and said the Congressman was indeed “unhappy” about the ad. But Klein defended Boteach when asked about the ad’s intent linking Rice to genocide.

“Someone told me it made it seem that way,” said Klein. “Of course he didn’t mean that. That’s insane. So I don’t know. I didn’t read it but I’m very careful with my ads. Maybe he’s less careful.”

TIME Congress

House Democrats Save DHS From Shutdown, Republicans From Themselves

With just hours to go before a midnight deadline, Congress passed a one-week extension to fund the Department of Homeland Security and prevent sending 30,000 government employees home on furlough.

The vote ended a tumultuous day in the House as Republican Speaker John Boehner and his aides lost control of their right flank, failing to deliver a three-week funding measure for the department and relying instead on Democrats to pass the one-week measure to avoid a DHS shutdown.

Boehner had hoped the three-week extension would buy his conference time to figure out how to protest immigration measures put forward by President Obama last year, without shutting down DHS. But his fellow Republicans turned on the bill and it failed by a handful of votes late in the afternoon.

The Senate, led by newly elected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, then calmly passed a one-week extension of funding for the department and sent that bill back across the Capitol to the House. After House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi spoke with Obama, House Democrats opted to vote with Boehner and the Republican leadership rather than allow funding for the department to fail.

The one-week extension in funding for DHS meant that McConnell could technically uphold his promise that there would be no government shutdowns under his leadership. But House conservatives effectively ended McConnell’s other major promise as leader: that the party would no longer be “scary.”

On the Senate side of the Capitol, the House disarray brought scorn from Democrats and Republicans alike. “Hopefully we’re gonna end the attaching of bullshit to essential items of the government,” Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk, who’s up for reelection in 2016, told TPM. “In the long-run, if you are blessed with the majority, you’re blessed with the power to govern. If you’re gonna govern, you have to act responsibly.”

The DHS fight originated in November, when Obama announced he would unilaterally, temporarily defer deportations for up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally. While Republicans in Congress were furious at what they called the “unconstitutional” action, they were faced with few good options to effectively negate Obama’s executive actions.

Their best option emerged last week, when a federal judge in Texas ordered Obama to stop his action through an injunction. Still, some of the top legal experts in the country say the president’s actions are lawful. Some Republicans applauded the three-week plan put forward by Boehner Thursday night, saying that it gave time to highlight the ruling.

“America should have an opportunity to understand why we object to the president’s action [and] why a federal judge found that the president didn’t have the authority,” said California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa. “So the Speaker has offered a very reasoned way to create space in which to have that debate with the Senate.”

Other Republicans believe that the party should have just passed what the Democrats wanted, a so-called “clean” bill that would not have added immigration riders. “We’ve got him into an arena that is honestly better than the Capitol,” says Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole. “We can’t achieve a complete victory in Congress. We don’t have the Senate. The President does have a veto. But in the courts we actually could achieve it. … I actually would argue this is actually a little bit of a sideshow,” he added. “I think the decisive arena is the court.”

The backlash among conservatives caught Boehner and his aides by surprise. Republican Rep. Walter Jones reached into his pocket for a copy of the Constitution when asked Thursday night why he wouldn’t support the plan. “How can I support money going to a president who violated the Constitution,” he said. “We cave in all the time up here,” he added, referring to previous spending fights. In a closed-door meeting, Jones noted “strong feelings” on both sides of the conference. On one side he said were “those of us who feel so passionately about the Constitution.” On the other, he said, were “those from other parts of the United States that are more concerned about the terrorist attacks.”

The passage of the one-week bill represented the second time since December that Congress has punted on DHS funding and left Republicans with the question of how they can viably protest the president’s immigration actions without shutting down the agency.

That’s a challenge Boehner will now face in just one week — two weeks earlier than he had hoped.

TIME Congress

Congress Scrambles As Time Runs Out on Homeland Security Funding

John Boehner Holds Weekly Press Briefing At Capitol
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Speaker of the House John Boehner holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Department of Homeland Security will begin sending 30,000 of its employees home on furlough while the other 200,000 work without pay until and unless Congress passes a bill.

Despite dwindling time, it’s unclear what the House GOP leadership will do once it receives the Senate bill, which could pass as soon as Thursday. When a reporter asked House Speaker John Boehner what would happen, he simply blew kisses to the crowd.

“We have two different institutions that don’t have the same body temperature every day and so we tend to try and work to narrow the differences,” he said of himself and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “But sometimes there are differences. The House by nature and by design is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate. Much more.”

The prospect of a partial government shutdown is not all that surprising. This particular bomb has had a long fuse.

On Dec. 16, President Obama signed a bill that funded all aspects of government through September, except the agency tasked to carry out his most recent executive actions granting temporary work permits to up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally. Homeland Security was funded through Feb. 27 to appease Republicans, who believed their new Senate majority would give them greater leverage to protest in 2015.

 

But the agreement gave House conservatives more time and the confidence to sway Boehner and his lieutenants to pass their dream bill in mid-January, which would strip funding for other executive actions, including one that would defund Obama’s more popular 2012 program granting deportation relief to hundreds of thousands of young adults who came to the country illegally as children.

It was clear at least a month ago that the House bill was unacceptable in the face of a Senate Democratic filibuster. But without any acceptable compromise, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced two days ago that he would capitulate to the Democrats’ position, allowing a vote on a so-called “clean” bill that doesn’t include any immigration riders. He also will allow a vote on a separate bill so Republicans and potentially even a few Democrats can protest the recent and “most egregious” example of “executive overreach.”

House conservatives, some of whom wanted McConnell to change the filibuster rules to push through their bill, are furious.

“Harry is over there dictating terms to the Senate still,” says South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who hates the idea of a short-term compromise that would punt the deadline an extra few months.

“How do I go home and tell people that elections have consequences and that all the work they did to help the Republicans take the Senate has paid off if all we end up with is a three-month clean [bill],” he says. “That’s the same outcome we would have had if Harry was in charge.”

Democratic leaders twisted the knife Thursday, noting that Republicans could let the courts take up their fight, now that a Texas federal judge has ordered Obama to halt his most recent executive actions. Boehner, who believes that Obama’s executive actions are “unconstitutional,” dismissed that idea Thursday, calling for the Senate to act on the bill the House passed six weeks ago. “I think there’s a role for Congress to play,” he added.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi shot back Thursday in a separate press conference that “the gamesmanship should end.”

“Shutting down the government is their motive,” she said of House Republicans. “The Texas case … gave them a face-saving way to just end this.”

“If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government,” added Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “We’re not going to play games.”

TIME Congress

Lawmakers Feel No Rush on War Powers Debate

Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Bob Corker questions Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Feb. 24, 2015

After over six months and over 2,300 airstrikes against Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, Congress doesn’t feel that much pressure to authorize the President to do what he already is doing.

Though lawmakers are faced with a debate over whether to formally authorize President Obama to take action against the extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the fact that he’s essentially claimed that authority under old post-9/11 authorization has kept the issue on the back burner.

“This is unusual because typically you authorize before actions are taken,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who will helm a hearing on ISIS Wednesday. “In this case, people have been watching for six months and have a lot of questions as to whether they really are committed to dealing with ISIS. So that makes the dynamic here different than probably any authorization in modern history.”

“It’s not like anybody necessarily is going to feel a sense of urgency to act because they know it’s not going to alter the [current or immediate] operations in any way,” he told TIME.

The congressional war powers debate is one many members wished to avoid. Democrats, many of whom were elected on an anti-Iraq war platform, are especially wary of approving any resolution that would give the President the go-ahead to send troops into another Middle East quagmire. And if Republicans vote to approve what’s known as an authorization for use of military force—or an AUMF—they could open themselves up to criticism if the White House strategy fails.

But now, a few weeks after the White House sent over its war powers request, Congress will begin the politically divisive and solemn responsibility of debating the use of military action against a brutal enemy that split off from al-Qaeda a year ago. The first step will be to figure out what the role of U.S. troops should be.

Corker, who says he grabs breakfast with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger every two or three months and recently held a long phone call with another former Secretary of State to discuss the ISIS threat, is just as confused as a back-bench Congressmen with five words in the White House’s war powers request: “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” The White House’s proposed ban on such activities has led to head scratching across the aisle and will be the focus of intense hearings over the coming weeks.

“That’s part of what people are hoping to understand,” says Corker, who adds that the 700,000 U.S. troops involved in the Gulf War could not classify as an “enduring” operation. “Obviously they haven’t limited enduring defensive [operations and] they haven’t limited Special Ops … But what does that mean?”

“I think ‘enduring’ is defined however the White House intends it to be,” says Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr. “I don’t know whether that’s a week, three weeks, a month … I’d rather go into this with the President asking for more than he needs and not use it as much than not asking for enough and not following through with the mission.”

Some Republicans would like to see the Administration interpret those five words to allow the President to send in ground troops against ISIS. No Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for a Democrat-led AUMF late last year that would have limited ground operations to intelligence collection, operational planning and the protection of U.S. troops from “imminent danger.” Over the past several months, Senate Republicans have met with top Administration officials, including White House counsel Neil Eggleston, and lobbied for expanded authority on the ground.

“It wasn’t just a message to us, it was input from our side too,” says Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake of the Administration meetings, where he says Republicans pushed back on any “strict prohibition” of ground troops.

“What the president put forward reflects a lot of what I think Republicans have wanted,” he adds. “Obviously we didn’t like the product that the Democrats pushed through the committee in December; we thought that that was too restrictive. This is better but we’ll see what works in the process.”

Burr, for example, thinks that the draft should be even broader to explicitly allow the President to send in troops. “I don’t think he does [have that authority] the way it’s written,” he says.

Much of the opposition to the AUMF will come from the President’s party on this issue. While some Democrats are trying to change the draft’s wording to include greater geographic or time constraints, many more will pressure Obama to ban in the AUMF what he said he would in an accompanying letter: “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations.”

“I think it’s quite open-ended,” says California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of the AUMF. “When they say no enduring offensive operations, that means there will be offensive operations. And when you ask, ‘What is the definition of enduring?’ No answer comes back. So that’s a big problem for me—huge.”

Asked if she supports the AUMF as written, Boxer added: “No, no, no, no, no.”

There are other concerns from liberal Democrats who believe that the Administration should be authorized to attack ISIS only in Syria and Iraq. But most Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have dismissed that idea and the White House’s draft doesn’t include such restrictions.

“I don’t think you do a geographic limitation,” says Boxer. “How can you? These guys sprout all over the world. You’ve got to take the fight to them. Not say we’re only going to go after them in these two places. Then they can go to other places and they know they’re free—that doesn’t make sense.”

Other progressives have expressed concern that the White House draft only repeals a 2002 Iraq AUMF and not another written in the aftermath of 9/11, which the White House has been using to go after ISIS. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democratic leadership, has called the 2001 AUMF a “blank check” for indefinite war while hawks like Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is exploring a White House bid, has called it the “the cornerstone of the war on terror.”

Most Democrats, however, are pleased that the AUMF proposes a rare self-imposed foreign policy constraint: a three-year “sunset” in which the next president would have to go back to Congress for reauthorization.

“If it’s open ended like that foolish thing the Senate voted for on Iraq—I was one of the 22 who voted against it—I’d vote no,” says Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. “Let’s see what it says though.”

Complicating the political calculus are libertarian-minded Republicans like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has written his own AUMF that is more restrictive than the White House’s war powers request, including how the roles of troops are defined. With Rubio and Paul, another Senator considering a White House run, on the same panel at the center of the debate—and a wide gulf between many Democrats and President Obama—the AUMF debate could become exactly what Corker fears most.

“What I hope doesn’t happen: that this in some way dissolves into some partisan exercise,” he says.

TIME White House

Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline, Only 3rd in Presidency

Keystone Pipeline
Andrew Cullen—Reuters A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, N.D. on Nov. 14, 2014.

President Obama issued his first veto since 2010, striking down a law that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, a major symbolic battle between environmental activists and the oil industry.

“Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” Obama said in a statement.

The pipeline would help link up to 830,000 barrels a day from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast oil refineries. Over the past six years, the project has become one of the highest-profile environmental debates in the country and could pose problems for some Democratic candidates in the 2016 presidential cycle.

But with low oil prices, the 1,179-mile pipeline will likely have less of an effect on both the environment and economy by lowering the chance that it will be completely utilized. The State Department reported last year that the pipeline would indirectly and directly support around 42,000 jobs over two years, but would only employ around 50 people once the pipeline was functional.

The new Republican-led Congress decried the veto before the ink was dry. In a USA Today op-ed, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote that the Administration had blocked a job-creating project to heed the voices of special interests.

“The allure of appeasing environmental extremists may be too powerful for the president to ignore,” they wrote. “But the president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight. Far from it. We are just getting started.”

“This shouldn’t be a difficult decision,” they added. “It shouldn’t be about politics, that’s for sure.”

Of course, the Keystone debate has drawn lobbyists on both sides of the aisle and a reason why Senate Republicans brought the bill up first was because it would pass and draw a favorable political contrast. Polls show that around 60% of Americans agree with the GOP’s position.

The Keystone veto was only the third in the Obama presidency.

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Stay Out of Senate Fight on Immigration

Sen. Rubio (R-FL) Discusses Obama's Shift In Cuba Policy
T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) reacts to U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement about revising policies on U.S.-Cuba relations on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC.

The path to the White House does not lead through Congressional gridlock.

As Congress heads toward a showdown over immigration and the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, the three Republican Senators who are considering running for president are staying on the sidelines.

Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are hanging back from the fight, letting others like Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions lead the strategy and take the megaphone. Top national Republican strategists say that’s a smart move, given the difficulty of scoring a clean win in this legislative mess.

“The main disadvantage of being a sitting senator is that your opponents and the media force you to own every controversy during every legislative fight, even though some outcomes are usually out of your control,” said Kevin Madden, a senior aide in former Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

The Homeland Security funding fight is also a particularly bad one to champion. The current Republican strategy is to risk a shutdown of the agency in an attempt to force President Obama to override his own executive actions to defer deportations for millions in the U.S. illegally. But many of the related programs are paid for by fees, which means a shutdown won’t affect them, while polls show the public will blame Republicans for a shutdown.

“This is working out exactly the way the President and Democrats want it to work out,” says Rob Jesmer, a top member of FWD.us, a pro-immigration reform group, and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“We’re not going to look very good,” he added of Republicans. “No one is going to look very good. The sooner this gets behind us the better it is.”

The fight has already caused headaches for one potential White House suitor. After he simply noted that Republicans don’t have enough votes in the Senate to pass a bill override Obama’s executive actions, Rubio faced headlines in conservative media that said he had “caved,” “folded” and “retreated,” even though he had stopped short of actually calling for a spending bill without conditions.

Paul and Cruz, meantime, haven’t paid any price back home for laying low.

Ray Sullivan, a chief of staff of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, says that Cruz faces “no negative ramifications” in the state by going bold on the immigration fight. “From my standpoint, most Texans didn’t notice the difference and appreciated the willingness to take principled stands to try to shrink the size and scope of the federal government,” he says of the 2013 government shutdown, in which Cruz played an outsized role.

“If you’re looking at it in the context of who’s going to be blamed, who’s fault is it and what’s the political ramifications of it, to me it’s clear: we’re here because of Obama, we’re here because of Senate Democrats,” says Scott Jennings, a top GOP consultant based out of Kentucky. “I would stay focused on Barack Obama. This is his fault, we’re here because of him.”

“I think that’s how people here in Kentucky view it,” he adds.

Paul, Cruz and Rubio have portrayed themselves as disrupters and outsiders who came to fix Washington. That message is reinforced by a hard-line position on Obama’s “executive overreach.” Even if the particular strategy is ineffective, voters may be more focused on a broader theme each of the prospective candidates presents. Madden, the Romney aide, notes that whatever image the candidate creates may be more important than any particular D.C. bout.

“Primary voters in early states that shape the presidential field respond more to their overall sense of where a candidate is on big issues,” says Madden. “Are they strong on national security? Smart and in touch on the economy? They tend to shape those opinions based on what they see and hear from candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire instead of what’s taking place on the floor of the Senate.”

But the Homeland Security battle is a reminder of Washington’s “gridlock and breakdown,” according to Sullivan, and could help a governor candidate who not only takes principled stands but delivers results in his or her state.

“Members of Congress who are running or contemplating running for president will be weighted down by their association with Washington DC,” he says. “Our party has generally nominated governors who are far outside of the Beltway.”

TIME

U.S. To Fine Japanese Air Bag Company $14,000 Per Day

US-TRANSPORTATION-TAKATA
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Senior Vice President, Global Quality Assurance, for Takata Corporation Hiroshi Shimizu testifies before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Nov. 20, 2014.

“For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says

The U.S. government said it will fine the Takata corporation $14,000 for every day it refuses to comply with its investigation into the safety of the company’s air bags.

The company’s air bags, which have been known to explode in a shower of shrapnel upon releasing, have been linked to the world-wide recall of 25 million cars and at least six deaths, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Takata’s Air Bag Recall

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday that U.S. regulators will levy the fine until the Japanese air-bag supplier cooperates with the investigation. He also called for federal legislation to “provide the tools and resources needed to change the culture of safety for bad actors like Takata.”

“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Secretary Foxx. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”

Takata said that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the new fine and fired back that the company has met “regularly” with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration engineers to identify the cause of the safety problems. The corporation added that it has given nearly 2.5 million documents to NHTSA during its investigation.

“We strongly disagree with their characterization that we have not been fully cooperating with them,” said Takata in a statement. “We remain fully committed to cooperating with NHTSA in the interests of advancing auto safety for the driving public.”

Bloomberg reports that the fines could hit a maximum of $70 million under U.S. law.

TIME France

U.N. Human Rights Group Condemns Chelsea Fans Over Racist Incident

"It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism"

The United Nations human rights group has condemned the Chelsea soccer fans who shouted racist chants and prevented a French citizen of African descent from boarding a train before a Champions League game in Paris this week.

A video showing the incident has gained worldwide attention, and renewed calls for racism to be stamped out of the world’s most popular sport.

“In recent years we have been engaging in discussions with [football associations] about exploring ways to enhance the effort to drum racism out of football after numerous examples of racist behavior by football fans, especially inside stadiums,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Friday. “It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism, to re-energize the effort to combat it in all its forms wherever it occurs,” he added.

The episode occurred on Tuesday in a Paris Metro station before a game between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. Chelsea suspended three people from its Stamford Bridge home after the incident and called the behavior “abhorrent.”

International soccer leagues have attempted for years to counter racism evident on and off the field, with mixed success.

 

 

 

 

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