TIME Congress

New House Leadership, Same Old Problems

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner leaves after a press briefing July 31, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner leaves after a press briefing July 31, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The new House Republican leadership team pulls its bill to address the border crisis before leaving for a five-week recess

The House of Representatives rose to bid farewell to outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday, but if the GOP had hopes his passing might usher in a new era of comity between the party’s leadership and its right wing, they were short lived. Less than 3 hours after the symbolic farewell (he’ll serve out the rest of his term as a rank and file member), the GOP House leaders, lacking the votes they needed for passage, pulled a much-touted bill that was meant to address the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied minors streaming across the country’s southwest border by the thousands.

It seems the new Republican House leadership will have no better luck delivering unity than the last one.

Over the past two weeks, conservatives pushed House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise to move the border bill to the right. The leadership’s proposal, originally set to cost around $1.5 billion last week, shrank to $659 million by Tuesday in response to conservative spending complaints. On Wednesday night, leadership further sweetened the deal by offering conservatives a separate, largely symbolic vote aimed at blocking an expected move by President Barack Obama to expand deportation relief to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

But the efforts to win the right wing irked some moderate Republicans, including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who worked on the House GOP committee tasked with creating the border bill’s guidelines. “If you start adding a number of different issues to this bill, it’s just going to weigh down and kill it,” he told TIME Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did his best to make the GOP leadership’s job harder, suggesting that the chambers could discuss merging the House border bill with the Senate’s immigration reform bill from last year, which would create a pathway to citizenship for some of the 11.7 million illegal immigrants. House Speaker John Boehner called it a “nutso scheme” Thursday and added that the House would not take up the Senate bill “in any fashion, including in this border bill.”

When asked if he thought the border crisis was an example of how the House and Senate are not making the requisite hard choices to govern, Speaker John Boehner tried to shift blame to the White House. “The crisis on the border is going to continue until the President acts—and he’s surely not going to act—that means that Congress has to act,” said Boehner. “And so, I believe it’s important for us to act. And I hope that we’ll do that.”

GOP rank and file members were somewhat sheepish about the predicament they had put their leaders in. “They didn’t have the votes,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on why the House leadership didn’t bring the bill to the floor. Jordan, who was leaning “yea” on the bill, praised Scalise’s effort to attract enough votes for passage. “I thought he worked hard,” said Jordan. “I mean jeepers, I was in three meetings for fifteen hours last week…He was reaching out to all kinds of folks.”

Others just wanted to get out of town for the imminent five week summer recess. “It’s complicated,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a conservative who opposed the bill said by way of explanation for his opposition. “I’m going to try and catch my plane,” he added.

After the bill’s failure, the GOP leadership released a statement saying the intended to “continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing the country.”

TIME Television

Maggie Gyllenhaal on Israel and Palestine — and How Obama Broke Her Heart

"I still root for him," she says


Maggie Gyllenhaal comes from a long line of lefties, including her mom Naomi Foner, whose screenplay for Running On Empty was nominated for an Oscar. The actress has been politically outspoken before standing up against the Iraq war. So it’s kind of surprising that she’s not such a fan of Obama,not will she take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Or maybe not that unexpected. Taking sides in the Middle East could turn potential viewers away from her new miniseries The Honorable Woman, which starts on July 31 on Sundance. “You know, you say one word on one side or the other, and you alienate hundreds of thousands of people,” she says in the longer version of her interview for the 10 Questions page of Time. “And I’m hoping actually to open many people’s minds and hearts even the tiniest bit. So, yes, I’m trying to think about what my ultimate intention is…and I’m trying to think before I speak.”

In the longer video below (pro-tip: skip the first minute if you watched the one above), Gyllenhaal also explains how President Obama broke her heart. “I really believed in him and I’m not sure what he believes in any more.” She thinks he wasn’t aggressive enough in dealing with the National Security Agency, after it was shown that their activities were Enemy of the State-ish than most Americans had been led to believe. “I still root for him,” says Gyllenhaal. “But I feel a little hopeless right now….I hope for a leader who will stand up and be unpopular.”





TIME intelligence

CIA Apologizes for Snooping on Senate Staff Computers

CIA Director John Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on March 11, 2014.
CIA Director John Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on March 11, 2014. Carolyn Kaster—AP

In a dramatic reversal from the agency's earlier position

Updated at 3:24 p.m.

A report from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Inspector General faulted agency employees for improperly accessing Senate staffers’ computers during an investigation into Bush-era CIA interrogation practices.

The report, released Thursday by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, represents an admission that CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by Senate Intelligence committee staff to review top secret documents as part of a probe into harsh interrogation practices. Staffers were given access to special computers in a neutral facility with access to documents through a closed CIA network. By agreement, the agency was not supposed to have access to the computers used by Senate staff in the facility—an agreement the agency violated, according to the inspector general’s report.

In a reversal of his previous public comments on the matter, CIA Director John Brennan apologized for the overreach.

“The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report,” CIA spokesperson Preston Golson said in a statement. According to the statement, Brennan will form an “Accountability Board” to review the report’s findings and make recommendations, which “could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues.”

The report is a vindication for Intelligence Committee Chairperson Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein sent shockwaves through Washington with a long tirade on the Senate floor in March lambasting the CIA for accessing intelligence committee staffers’ computers.

“Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” said Feinstein in her speech. At the time, Brennan strongly defended the agency against Feinstein’s allegations.

Feinstein struck a conciliatory tone in remarks regarding the report Thursday.

“The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March—CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” Feinstein said. “Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board. These are positive first steps. This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly.”

The White House offered a vigorous defense of Director Brennan’s role at the helm of the CIA.

“The fact of the matter is, Director Brennan is somebody who over the course of the last five and a half years has played an instrumental role in helping the president make the kinds of decisions … that have decimated the leadership of core al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he currently is operating in a very difficult environment to ensure the safety of the American public,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday. “He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinary well.”

The Justice Department announced earlier this month it would not launch a criminal probe into Feinstein’s allegations. A Senate investigation into the incident is ongoing.


House Republicans Abandon Vote on Border Security Bill in Face of Tea Party Opposition

(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans abandon vote on border security bill in face of tea party opposition.

TIME White House

White House: Shelling Of U.N. School in Gaza ‘Totally Indefensible’

Palestinians collect human remains from a classroom inside a UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp after the area was hit by shelling on July 30, 2014. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has issued the Obama administration’s toughest critique yet of Israeli conduct in the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza, saying Thursday that the Israeli shelling of a U.N. school-turned-shelter for Palestinian civilians was “totally indefensible.”

Addressing reporters, Earnest quoted U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that “all available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause” of the attack, which took place early Wednesday morning. At least 19 people died in the incident, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which ran the shelter. The shelling marked the sixth attack on a U.N. shelter during the ongoing conflict.

On Wednesday, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said “the United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza,” but did not single out Israel for responsibility. Earnest’s comments went further, noting that the U.S. government has no reason to doubt U.N. reports that Israel was behind the shelling.

“It does not appear there’s a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident,” Earnest said.

“The shelling of a U.N. facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible,” Earnest said. “And it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves.”

Earnest said the incident should redouble efforts for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, prospects for which slimmed Thursday as the Israeli military prepared to broaden its operations inside Gaza.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of those who have been lost in this terrible conflict,” Earnest added. “And what we are simply asking the Israelis to do, in fact urging the Israelis to do, is to do more to live up to the standards that they have set for their own military operations to protect the lives of innocent civilians.”

Caches of weapons have been found in at least three UNRWA schools over the course of the three-week conflict. In the most recent incident, the Israeli military said its forces took fire from the area around the school and returned fire.

“We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza,” Meehan said. “All of these actions, and similar ones earlier in the conflict, are inconsistent with the UN’s neutrality.”

TIME Education

Conservative Christians Split on Common Core

Conservative Political Action Conference
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md. on March 7, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call

A discussion hosted on Wednesday by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank, started as a searing critique of the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards for public school students that were originally adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, and ended with a not-so-subtle threat: any elected official who supports them will be punished.

“I submit to you that any politician—left or right, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat or libertarian—any politician who is not fighting [Common Core] is not fit for office,” said Emmett McGroarty, an executive director at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy organization. “This issue will be the most important litmus test” for voters in both the midterm elections and in the 2016 presidential race, he said—”and it’s not going to be pretty for a lot of Republican governors.”

The crowd chuckled in agreement.

In an era in which politicians are especially vulnerable to right-wing referendums and grassroots populism (see, “Cantor, Eric”), McGroarty’s message seems at first to pack some serious punch, except for one thing: conservative Christians—and conservatives in general—are hardly a unified voting bloc when it comes to the controversial issue of the Common Core.

Earlier this year, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, one of the biggest evangelical groups in the country, representing roughly 16 million voters and 40,000 churches, announced its support for Common Core on the grounds of “Biblical justice and equality.” Another wildly popular Christian politician, Mike Huckabee—otherwise a darling of the Family Research Council—has used his radio show to urge Republicans to back the standards, despite opposite from powerful groups like the American Association of Christian Schools.

“Parents and people involved in their local schools should let it be known that core standards are valuable, and they’re not something to be afraid of—they are something to embrace,” he said.

While Huckabee has drawn fire from right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, he has earned support from others in the Christian right, including some Catholic educators and evangelical pastors. Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty University, a conservative Christian institution, has been an outspoken proponent of Common Core, as has Nicole Baker Fulgham, the author of “Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids.”

The bickering between conservative Christians on the Common Core underscores a larger civil war within both the Republican and Democratic parties that has, in past few months, catalyzed an explosion of unlikely alliances on both the right and left over this issue. Last month, after the American Federation of Teachers, one of the biggest teachers’ unions in the country, moved to distance itself from the Common Core, it found itself cheered by a handful of some of the most fiercely anti-union Tea Party groups in Washington. Freedom Works, the Heritage Foundation, as well as many potential Republican presidential nominees, including senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and former Senator Rick Santorum, have all panned the standards.

Meanwhile, many traditional liberals—from labor activists to comedians like Louis C.K. and Jon Stewart—have come down against the standards, while organizations that have traditionally been in the GOP’s corner, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, have fervently supported them. Other potential GOP presidential hopefuls, like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, have also stood behind the initiative, despite increasing opposition from their base.

One reason for the schizophrenic nature of the debate is that while Common Core has become President Barack Obama’s signature educational policy in the last few years, it is born of a fundamentally conservative idea. For years, Republicans have demanded the implementation of the rigorous standards called for in President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, and complained that, without standards that allow for comparisons between states, a second grader in Missouri will not have the same skill sets as second graders in Kansas or Maine.

The Common Core was originally conceived and written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, with funding from several private philanthropies, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative is a set of voluntary educational benchmarks designed to standardize notions of “achievement” and “college readiness” between states; it is not a national curriculum. As conservatives have long demanded, the program leaves decisions about teaching methodology, textbooks, technology, and curriculum to states and local school boards.

After the Obama administration embraced the Common Core in 2009 and tied adoption of the standards to the disbursal of federal funds through the Race to the Top program, conservatives denounced the program as a federal government incursion into states rights. Tea Party groups have also objected to the fact that corporate philanthropies have actively supported the standards. They argue that the initiative amounts to, in the words of at least one presenter at the Family Research Council on Wednesday, “a corporate takeover of American schools.”

Meanwhile, liberal activists and teachers unions generally object to the Common Core on the grounds that new standardized tests, designed to measure students’ grasp of Common Core concepts, will be linked to teachers’ performance evaluations and salaries, as well as to whether students are allowed to advance to the next grade level. They argue that teachers and students who do not perform well on the new tests will be unfairly penalized.

This opposition, from both the right and left, has led to several states, including Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina, to pull support for the Common Core. Two years ago, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the program “will raise expectations for every child”; this year, he compared it to centralized planning in the Soviet Union and moved to repeal the program. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has also called for repeal.

For most of the states that have adopted the Common Core, this school year will mark the first time students and teachers will use their states’ new curriculum. The battle among conservative Christians, as well as conservative, liberals, and parents of every stripe promises to heat up next month.

TIME 2014 Election

Poll: Support for Campaign Finance Reform Strong in Key Senate Races

The U.S. Capitol as seen from Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday night, July 12, 2014.
The U.S. Capitol as seen from Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday night, July 12, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

A new survey out Thursday suggests candidates with bold proposals to reform the way elections are funded in the U.S. could have an advantage

Focusing on campaign finance reform could be a winning strategy for candidates in Senate battleground states, according to a new poll out Thursday from the Democratic polling firm Democracy Corps.

According to the survey, a majority of likely voters among Democrats (75%), Independents (64%) and Republicans (54%) see the wave of spending by Super PACs this election cycle as “wrong and leads to our elected officials representing the views of wealthy donors.” So far in the 2014 election cycle, Super PACs, which can raise unlimited sums from donors, have spent $87.5 million and counting to influence election outcomes. Though Republicans view Super PACs significantly more favorably than do Democrats, both sides benefit from the influx of cash to the tune of $43.4 million for conservatives and $41.9 million for liberals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Poll respondents were likely voters in 12 states with hotly contested Senate races selected from among people who voted in earlier off-year elections in 2006 and 2010.

The poll suggests that supporting a constitutional amendment to reverse recent Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United that eliminated some limits and transparency requirements on campaign donations could be an effective campaign tack in 2014. Overall, 37% of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported such an amendment, including 43% of Independents. Likely voters in all 12 states overwhelmingly support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, 73% to 24%, according to the poll.

The survey results bode well for groups that have vowed to make big money in politics a central issue in the 2014 elections, including Kentucky spoof candidate Gil Fulbright and the Mayday Super PAC, which has raised nearly $8 million to spend backing pro-reform candidates in five key races around the country.

TIME Unions

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds 2011 Union Law

(MADISON, Wis.) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparked massive protests and led to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election and rise to national prominence.

The 5-2 ruling upholding the law in its entirety is a victory for Walker, who is considering a 2016 run for president and is seeking re-election this year. It also marks the end of the three-year legal fight over the union rights law, which prohibits public worker unions for collectively bargaining for anything beyond base wage increases based on inflation. A federal appeals court twice upheld the law as constitutional.

“No matter the limitations or ‘burdens’ a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote for the majority.

The high court ruled in a lawsuit filed by the Madison teachers union and a union representing Milwaukee public workers. They had argued that the law, which came to be known as Act 10, violated workers’ constitutional rights to free assembly and equal protection.

Walker introduced the proposal shortly after taking office in 2011, a move that was met with fierce resistance from teachers, other public workers and their supporters who flooded the Capitol for weeks in an effort to block the bill’s passage. Democratic state senators fled the state for two weeks in a failed attempt to block the bill’s passage.

The law bars automatic withdrawals from members’ paychecks and requires annual elections to see if members want their unions to go on representing them. It also requires public employees to contribute more toward their health insurance and pension costs, moves that Walker said helped local governments and schools save enough money to deal with other cuts done to balance a state budget shortfall.

Walker’s opponent for re-election, Democrat Mary Burke, supports the higher pension and health insurance contributions. But while she supports restoring collective bargaining, Burke has not promised to work for the repeal of Act 10 if elected.

Walker was forced to stand for recall in 2012, a move largely motivated out of anger over the union law. He won, becoming the first governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall.

The union law has been challenged on several fronts since it was introduced, but it’s withstood them all.

The state Supreme Court decided to take the case it ruled on Thursday after a Dane County judge sided with the unions and ruled in September 2012 that major portions of the law were unconstitutional.

Gableman, who wrote the opinion, is part of the conservative majority of the state Supreme Court. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the court’s two most liberal members, dissented. They argued the law unconstitutionally infringes on protected rights.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 31

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: House OKs Boehner lawsuit; Israeli Prime Minister vows to keep pummeling tunnels; how third party candidates could impact 2014 elections; and this week's TIME

  • House grants Boehner the authority to sue Obama [TIME]
  • Meanwhile in Kansas City … : “We could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit,” Obama said. “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Let’s get some work done together.” [Politico]
  • “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing international alarm over a rising civilian death toll in Gaza, said on Thursday he would not accept any ceasefire that stopped Israel completing the destruction of militants’ infiltration tunnel” [Reuters]
  • Argentina default imminent as talks collapse [WSJ]
  • Third Party candidates could disrupt 2014 Midterms [TIME]
  • U.S. Attorney warms Cuomo on ethics case [NYT]
  • General to question Bergdahl about disappearance [USA Today]
  • GOP: Lerner emails show bias against conservatives [AP]
  • ICYMI: “Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a scandal involving that agency’s targeting of conservative groups, called Republicans “crazies” and “assholes,” according to emails released Wednesday.” [TIME]
  • GAO report details flaws behind $840 million Obamacare website rollout [The Hill]
  • Can the GOP take the Senate? [The New Yorker]
  • The parallel failures of Obama’s and Bush’s foreign policy doctrines [National Journal]

What’s Prettier in Print:

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A this Friday, August 1, at 1 p.m., with TIME foreign correspondent Simon Shuster, who has been covering the conflict in Ukraine. You can read his work here, his recent feature about being arrested by Ukrainian separatists here and his cover story on Russian President Vladimir Putin here.

You can submit your questions beforehand on Twitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q&A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

TIME Congress

Eric Cantor and John Boehner: The Bromance Is Over

As told through the lyrics of Alan Jackson's "Remember When"

On Thursday, Congressman Eric Cantor will step down from his post as House majority leader, following his shocking primary defeat in June, thus ending his Capitol Hill bromance with House Speaker John Boehner — a relationship that captivated so many hearts across the nation.

When Cantor first assumed the role of HML in 2011, some speculated that the up-and-comer was angling for Boehner’s job, but the GOP’s two top dogs were not to be defined by acrimony — after all, what good romance doesn’t begin with a little tension? (Have you seen The Notebook?)

Here, we’ve assembled a scrapbook that illustrates the bromance heard round the Beltway, each photo captioned with a lyric from Alan Jackson’s “Remember When,” because obviously. It is highly advisable to play the song as you click through the photos.

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