TIME Education

Teach for America Passes a Big Test

But the number of new teacher applications are down this year, for the second year in a row

New teachers who sign up with Teach for America (TFA) for two-year classroom stints in some of the nation’s highest-poverty schools are just as effective as other teachers in those same schools, and sometimes more so, a new study finds.

That’s good news for the national nonprofit, which has come under fire in recent years as battles over education reform have become increasingly contentious.

Critics accuse TFA, which is closely aligned with the charter-school movement, of devaluing the teaching profession by pushing its recruits — mostly young, bright-eyed college grads — into classrooms without adequate experience or training. The organization’s supporters, meanwhile, argue that these new recruits fill a vital role in some of the highest-poverty schools, which are often unable to find teachers at all.

The findings released Wednesday conclude that TFA’s first- and second-year elementary school teachers, who average just over a year and a half of teaching experience, were as effective as their counterparts in the same schools, who averaged 13.6 years of teaching experience, as measured by their students’ test scores in reading and math. A small subset of those TFA teachers — ones in pre-K through second-grade classrooms — were found to be slightly more effective in teaching reading than the national average in those grades.

The study, conducted by the research group Mathematica Policy Research, was required as part of a $50 million U.S. Department of Education grant that TFA received in 2010 to help it recruit and place more teachers in the neediest schools. It was designed to measure the quality of the new teachers recruited and trained between 2011 and 2013.

The study looked at 156 lower elementary school teachers — prekindergarten through fifth grade — from 36 schools across 10 states. TFA teachers were compared with non-TFA teachers at the same school, in the same grade level, who covered the same subjects. The study’s authors noted the results reflect similar findings in previous, large-scale random studies, published in 2004 and 2013.

TFA had planned to use the Department of Education grant to increase the size of its teaching team by more than 80% by September 2014, but fell short of that goal, according to the study. By the 2012–13 school year, it had increased its teaching pool by only 25%, from 8,217 to 10,251 teachers nationwide. The number of new applications are down this year, for the second year in a row.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Gets Hero’s Welcome at Emily’s List Gala

“Don’t you someday want to see a woman President of the United States?” the former Secretary of State asked the crowd

Hillary Clinton got a warm welcome at the 30th anniversary Emily’s List gala Tuesday night, calling for equal pay and paid leave before a crowd that’s worked to elect pro-choice Democratic women for decades.

Accepting the fundraising group’s “We Are Emily” award, the former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential front runner gave a taste of the “middle-class economics” she’ll likely campaign on, calling for greater protection of labor unions and taking digs at Republicans’ “old trickle-down economics.”

“We’re fighting for an economy that includes everyone and works for everyone,” Clinton said.

Even when she wasn’t on stage, Clinton was the topic of the night. Nearly every speaker at the two-hour event referenced her still officially unannounced campaign. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who opened the event, called her “our next President.” Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who started his speech by jokingly apologizing for being a man, suggested her first granddaughter refer to both Clintons as “POTUS,” instead of grandma or grandpa. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said Clinton would be one of the “most qualified Presidents in the history of the United States of America.”

Pelosi added, “And she just happens to be a woman.”

“Do you want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States?” Emily’s List founder Ellen Malcolm asked the crowd, which immediately erupted into roaring applause.

“Well, Hillary, you heard us,” Malcolm said before the program paused for dinner. “Just give the word and we’ll be right at your side. We’re Emily’s List. We’re ready to fight and we’re ready to win 2016.”

The other star of the night was Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who announced Monday that she won’t run for another term in office. Clinton, who is known for wearing practical pantsuits, referenced Mikulski’s 1993 fight to overturn a precedent that required women to wear skirts and dresses on the Senate floor.

“She blazed a path forward,” Clinton said. “And among her many accomplishments, one that I’m particularly grateful for, was when she forced the Senate to allow women to wear pantsuits on the floor.”

TIME republicans

Danforth Cites Political Bullying in Schweich Eulogy

Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth leaves in Clayton, Mo., after delivering the eulogy at the funeral for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich
Robert Cohen—AP Former U.S. Senator John Danforth leaves after delivering the eulogy at the funeral for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich in Clayton, Mo.

Political bullying and an anti-Semitic whisper campaign led to the Missouri auditor Tom Schweich's death, former U.S. Senator John Danforth says

(CLAYTON, Mo.) — Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth denounced the ugly nature of American politics Tuesday while eulogizing Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, suggesting that political bullying and an anti-Semitic whisper campaign led his friend to kill himself.

Danforth expressed “overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong” as he spoke at a memorial service that drew many of Missouri’s top elected officials and hundreds of others to the Episcopal church that Schweich had attended in suburban St. Louis.

“Words do hurt. Words can kill,” Danforth said. “That has been proven right here in our home state.”

Schweich, 54, fatally shot himself last Thursday in what police say was an apparent suicide at his home in Clayton. He left behind a wife, two children and an apparently rising political career. He had launched a campaign for the Republican nomination for governor just a month before his death and was already locked in a contentious primary with Catherine Hanaway, a former Missouri House speaker and U.S. attorney.

Danforth, who is an ordained Episcopal priest, served 18 years as a Republican senator before retiring in 1995 and remains one of the more respected elder statesmen of Missouri politics. Danforth said he had talked with Schweich two days before his death. He said Schweich was upset about a radio ad from a political action committee that mocked his physical appearance and suggested he was a pawn of Democrats who would “quickly squash him like the little bug that he is” in a general election.

But Danforth said Schweich was particularly distraught by what he perceived to be an anti-Semitic whispering campaign by the chairman of the Missouri Republican party, who Schweich said had been telling people that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich was Christian, but had some Jewish ancestry and had said his grandfather had long-encouraged him to stand up to anti-Semitism.

The party chairman, John Hancock, has denied making anti-Semitic remarks, though he has acknowledged he mistakenly believed Schweich was Jewish and may have mentioned it in an off-hand way to some people. Hancock didn’t attend the memorial service and declined to comment about Danforth’s remarks.

“Today is not an appropriate time to engage in political back-and-forth,” state GOP Executive Director Jonathon Prouty said on Hancock’s behalf.

Schweich’s former spokesman, Spence Jackson, said after the service that Hancock “should resign immediately” as Republican party chairman and that Hanaway should “do some serious soul-searching about the race she’s run so far and the people she’s associated with.”

Hanaway did not attend the funeral and a spokesman for her said she will not have any comment.

Danforth recited a passage from the gospel of Matthew in which Jesus describes as blessed those “who are persecuted for righteousness sake” and against whom others “utter all kinds of evil against you on my behalf.”

He said Schweich was a “model public servant” who “was a person easily hurt and quickly offended” — so much so that Danforth said he had tried to discourage Schweich from entering politics six years ago because he didn’t believe Schweich had the temperament for it.

Danforth said he is haunted by the fact that he had advised Schweich not to personally go public last week with the allegations of the anti-Semitic whispering campaign and had suggested Schweich should have someone else supply that information to the media.

“He may have thought that I had abandoned him — left him on the high ground all alone,” Danforth said.

On the morning of his death, Schweich had invited reporters for The Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to his home for an afternoon interview, saying he was ready to go public with the allegations about the anti-Semitic campaign. He shot himself about 13 minutes after talking to the AP reporter over the phone.

“The death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become,” Danforth said. “It is now our duty — yours and mine — to turn politics into something much better than its now so miserable state.”

Schweich’s coffin, draped in a Missouri flag, was placed at the front of the sanctuary, with his family seated on one side and Gov. Jay Nixon and other top officials seated on the other. The pews were packed and hundreds of people stood along the side isles.

Schweich was first elected in 2010 and had easily won election to a second, four-year term in November. He previously served as Danforth’s chief of staff for a 1999 federal investigation into the deadly government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and followed Danforth to the United Nations, where he was chief of staff for the U.S. delegation.

President George W. Bush appointed Schweich to the State Department in 2005 as an international law enforcement official and picked Schweich two years later to coordinate the anti-drug and justice reform efforts in Afghanistan.

TIME Senate

Mikulski Will ‘Give It All I’ve Got’ to Elect More Women to the Senate

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, speaks during a news conference announcing her retirement after her current term, in the Fells Point section of Baltimore on March 2, 2015.
Steve Ruark—AP Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, speaks during a news conference announcing her retirement after her current term, in the Fells Point section of Baltimore on March 2, 2015.

“I’m not ready to write my last chapter"

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski took the stage at the EMILY’s List 30th anniversary gala to a raucous applause on Tuesday, one day after announcing she would not seek re-election after her current term ends in two years.

The firebrand Democrat, the longest-serving woman in Senate history, said while she’s ready to “turn the page,” she’s not quite throwing in the towel: “I’m not ready to write my last chapter.”

“I want to give it all I’ve got to elect more women to the United States Senate… and a woman to the White House,” she said, before a not-so-veiled nod to presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “In 2016, we will elect that Democratic woman president and you know who I’m talking about.”

Mikulski was the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in 1986, after about a decade in the House, with the support of EMILY’s List. The organization, which was in its early stages at the time, has helped elect pro-choice Democratic women to public office. Calls for paycheck fairness, raising the minimum wage and tax breaks for the middle class were intertwined with others for electing and supporting women in politics.

When they say, “she doesn’t look the part,” Mikulski said, “Tell them, this is what the part looks like.”

TIME Security

What’s More Secure: Gmail or Government Email?

Ministers Attend The London Conference On Libya
WPA Pool—Getty Images U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone at the opening of the Libyan Conference, a meeting of international allies to discuss the next steps for Libya on March 29, 2011 in London, England.

Consider this before emailing your Social Security number — or State Department business

From a lone entrepreneur in Nigeria to the U.S. Secretary of State, email security is a major issue that impacts everyone. While third-party email providers like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo claim their services are safe and secure, sometimes it seems smarter to use your work address instead.

But Hillary Clinton opted to use a personal account instead of a government account while serving as Secretary of State, according to the New York Times. That revelation is causing headaches for the potential presidential candidate because she may have violated rules requiring public officials’ correspondence to be archived.

It’s still unclear why Clinton chose to use a personal email account instead of a State Department-supplied one (or which email service she used). Some observers, however, say it was a security risk for Clinton to go off the government grid. But when it comes to hacks and brass tacks, which email service is actually more secure: Consumer services like Gmail or government email?

“Neither,” says Justin White, a former director of information security compliance for the state of Colorado, who has also worked as an information security consultant with Microsoft, Costco, Wells Fargo, and the state of Washington. When asked which service he would use to send sensitive information, White, a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, begins to answer one way, then another.

And then he pauses and says: “You’d have to torture me to force me to do it.”

There are several reasons for White’s wavering response. First, while some governmental email systems are highly secure, that’s not true for every department. For instance, he says, if you were going to send some sensitive information to another agency, if that department has poor security on its servers, your data is put at risk of being intercepted — even if the other office is located just next door.

Secondly, there’s no way of knowing which governmental agency has good email security and which doesn’t, because, for security purposes, they don’t typically reveal their protocols.

“Some people are woefully unprepared at securing their own email servers at an agency level, so for all you know, people could already be intercepting emails,” says White.

Still, the State Department probably has very good email security for classified messages — security that Clinton apparently opted out of using.

But on the other hand, consumer services like Gmail aren’t hacker-proof, either. They often tout the exact measures they use to keep messages secure as a means of marketing — but by doing so, they’re also helping hackers untangle their safety measures. From unencrypted data to servers that aren’t protected and breaches that haven’t been fixed yet, hackers catalog security deficiencies to find ways to break in.

“You could go on any forum as well, and see what other people have researched about any of the different cloud or (email) solutions,” says White.

Is email encryption a magic bullet solution? The disappointing reality is that between the senders’ and receivers’ servers, there are many opportunities for intercepting or hacking into emails. It’s enough to make a person go all Janet Napolitano (the former Secretary of Homeland Security once said she doesn’t use email).

But that’s not to say we should all revert to the digital dark ages — we just need to be conscious about how secure our email services really are. For Clinton’s part, she might have just opted for more secure methods than email for truly sensitive communications. A State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday Clinton could have used secure voice and video chats instead, or opted for something truly old fashioned: printed documents.

TIME justice

U.S. Faults Ferguson Police for Racial Bias

Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo. on Oct. 10, 2014.
Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Getty Images Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., on Oct. 10, 2014

The report is scathing, but the big question is what comes next

The violent protests in Ferguson last August were driven by the indelible image of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, lying in the street after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot him dead. But the outrage in Ferguson, and the national debate that accompanied it, were also about something harder to see: racism, and the allegation that Ferguson’s largely white cops were deeply, systematically and violently prejudiced against black residents.

Now, as one of his last acts as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder has painted a picture of Ferguson’s entrenched racism that is clear and unmistakable. A Justice Department investigation opened after Brown’s shooting has found routine patterns and practices of racism in Ferguson, including the excessive use of force and unjustified arrests, officials said Tuesday. The findings are scathing in their detail:

In 88 percent of the cases in which the department used force, it was against African Americans. In all of the 14 canine-bite incidents for which racial information was available, the person bitten was African American.

In Ferguson court cases, African Americans are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge, according to the Justice review. In 2013, African Americans accounted for 92 percent of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.

The investigation also turned up bigoted emails, like one from November 2008 that reportedly said President Obama wouldn’t complete his first term as President because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported another racist message, from May 2011, reading: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”

The Justice Department spent 100 days in Ferguson collecting such details, and the report is an end in itself, putting an official stamp on the town’s problems that some had found easy to dismiss. But when it comes to fixing the harsh reality of racism in Ferguson, it’s not clear transparency will be enough.

The question now is whether the report will deliver reform in the beleaguered St. Louis suburb. The Justice Department under Holder has significantly increased the number of pattern or practice investigations, and some past settlements with police departments have led to dramatic improvements. But others say the department’s lack of enforcement powers mean reform depends on local politicians, and worry Ferguson’s leaders won’t bring change.

Under the 1994 law authorizing such “pattern or practice” investigations, the Justice Department has little enforcement power to fix the problems it finds. As a rule, it enters into contracts with the offending force, which agrees to increase transparency and data collection and to provide better training and supervision.

Police officials and their unions often resist reform, several studies have shown. The Justice Department has “very few sticks they can use,” to get past such obstacles, says Elliot Harvey Schatmeier, a lawyer at the New York City office of Kirkland & Ellis and the author of one such study.

Others say that in many cases, the attention brought by the investigations is enough. In Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Los Angeles, Justice Department investigations led to successful reforms, says Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations and a criminal-justice scholar. More important, Stone says, “They’ve established a national standard for what good policing looks like.”

Holder’s Ferguson findings, Stone says, have the potential to lead to a similar blueprint for smaller, suburban police forces around the country, which have typically been hard to reform.

By the same token, though, a failure in the high-profile Ferguson case could set back the effort to reform small police departments. Holder has established with clarity the problem in Ferguson. But without local political buy-in, the town that came to symbolize 21st century police racism in America could end up symbolizing its resistance to reform too.

TIME Supreme Court

The 4 Words That Could Cause 8 Million to Lose Their Insurance

Marketplace guide Stephanie Cantres works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website to help a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at a Westside Family Healthcare center enrollment event in Bear, Delaware, on March 27, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Marketplace guide Stephanie Cantres works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website to help a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at a Westside Family Healthcare center enrollment event in Bear, Delaware, on March 27, 2014.

Oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell will be delivered on Wednesday

Nearly eight million Americans could lose their health insurance depending on how the Supreme Court interprets four words in the Affordable Care Act.

At the nation’s highest court on Wednesday, justices will hear arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, the latest challenge to President Obama’s signature health care law and one that could potentially leave it gutted from an unexpected direction.

The 2010 law already survived an earlier Supreme Court challenge on the constitutionality of its requirement that most Americans buy health insurance. But the current case centers on whether, as many Republicans argue, one line in the law was intended to restrict subsidies to people who bought insurance through a state exchange or whether, as Democrats contend, that line was a simple oversight in the law’s drafting.

The consequences are potentially huge. Thirty-four states rely on the federal government to run their exchange, meaning that their residents would lose subsidies, making insurance unaffordable and causing rates to rise for those who remained insured. One study by the Rand Corp. found that eight million people would lose their insurance in those states if the court rules against the Obama Administration.

The Administration contends that the phrase is a “term of art,” and says that other parts of the law show that there is no distinction between federal and state run exchanges.

“If you look at the law, if you look at the testimony of those who were involved in the law, including some of the opponents of the law, the understanding was that people who joined the federal exchange were going to be able to access tax credits,” President Obama said in an interview with Reuters. “And there’s in our view not a plausible legal basis for striking it down.”

The Obama Administration has stated it has no backup plan ready if the Supreme Court rules against it. “If they rule against us, we’ll have to take a look at what our options are,” Obama said recently. “But I’m not going to anticipate that. I’m not going to anticipate bad law.”

Republicans on the other hand, are eager to show they have a Plan B. In the past two days, lawmakers from the House and the Senate have said they’re in the process of working on alternatives to the law, should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the plaintiffs. Reps. Paul Ryan, John Kline and Fred Upton wrote in the Wall Street Journal, they’re proposing an “off-ramp out of ObamaCare,” that would allow states to opt-out of insurance mandates and offer options for those who can’t otherwise insurance. Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander and John Barrasso wrote in the Washington Post, they too would help those who can’t afford coverage during a “transitional period” and let states create alternative marketplaces.

Grace Marie Turner, the president of the health-policy organization the Galen Institute, says though Congressional lawmakers are in only in the process of shaping legislation, there’s real opportunity.

“This case provides an accelerator,” Turner tells TIME. “This could provide a real opportunity to begin the process of fixing the law.”

TIME Military

Concern Over Iran’s Nukes Drowns Out Its Growing Role in Iraq

Iraqi security forces and Shia militias against Daesh
Ali Mohammed / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militias move out against ISIS near Tikrit on Tuesday.

Tehran helps Baghdad try to retake Tikrit as U.S. watches

Consternation over Iran boiled Tuesday on Capitol Hill as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Tehran’s push for nuclear weapons “could well threaten the survival of my country.” But over at the Pentagon, the Iran focus wasn’t on Netanyahu but Iraq. That’s because Iran is playing a key role in Baghdad’s fight to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, while the U.S. is confined to the sidelines.

After the U.S. invested $26 billion rebuilding the Iraqi army over the past decade, some Pentagon officials found it disconcerting to see Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias leading the charge into Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The Iranians, of course, are relishing the opportunity: Hussein was running Iraq when it launched the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended in a stalemate in 1988 with roughly 200,000 killed on each side.

American concern is justified: having Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces storm largely-Sunni Tikrit risks turning the conflict against the Sunni ISIS forces into a sectarian conflict that could balloon into a civil war. “It’s absolutely key that [the Iraqi government] make sure that they have provisions in place to accommodate the Sunnis,” Army General Lloyd Austin, chief of the U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. “That lack of inclusion is what got us to this point, and I think the only way that we can ensure that we don’t go back there is if we have the right steps taken by the government.” Fewer than 1,000 of the 30,000 fighters battling ISIS for Tikrit are Sunni tribal fighters, according to Iraqi estimates.

The populations of both Iran and Iraq are primarily Shi’ite. Since Saddam’s hanging in 2006, the Sunnis of western Iraq have been treated poorly by the Shi’ite-dominated government in Baghdad. Many Sunnis welcomed ISIS’s move into the region last year, when it killed more than 1,000 Iraqi Shi’ite troops who had been stationed at a base known, when the Americans were there, as Camp Speicher. Some of the Shi’ites attacking Tikrit are bent on revenge for the slaughter, which could exacerbate intra-Muslim tensions.

Iran, according to reports from the front and Pentagon officials, is backing Iraqi forces with air power, artillery fire and advisers guiding Shi’ite militiamen, who account for perhaps 10,000 of the fighters trying to retake Tikrit. “This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things,” Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee later Tuesday. “Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. — which has conducted thousands of air strikes against ISIS targets since August — has been grounded in the battle to retake Tikrit. The daily U.S. tally of air strikes launched Wednesday ticked off targets around al Asad, Bayji, Mosul, Ramadi and Sinjar. But there were no strikes in or around Tikrit, although U.S. drones are keeping a nervous eye on the fighting (“We have good overhead imagery,” is how Austin put it).

Iran has reportedly dispatched commanders notorious for their killings of Sunnis to the fight. That may lead Tikritis to view those seeking to free their city from ISIS’s grip not as rescuers but as bloody vengeance-seekers.

As the U.S. and Israel work to keep Iran’s nuclear genie bottled up, both Washington and Tehran have said they are not operating together inside Iraq. “We don’t coordinate with them,” Austin, whose command oversees U.S. military forces inside the country, repeated Tuesday.

In other words, they’re allied, but not allies. “The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America,” Netanyahu told Congress on Tuesday. “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam … They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.”

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

Congress Sends Homeland Bill to Obama Without Conditions

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.

(WASHINGTON) — Bitterly admitting defeat, House Republicans on Tuesday abandoned their attempts to use the Homeland Security Department’s spending bill to force concessions from President Barack Obama on immigration, and sent him legislation to fund the agency through the end of the budget year with no strings attached.

“Sanity is prevailing,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, before the House voted 257-167 in favor of the $40 billion spending bill, which Obama was expected to sign promptly. Minority Democrats provided the bulk of the “yes” votes.

The outcome averted a partial agency shutdown which would have begun Friday at midnight. It was a major victory for Obama and the Democrats, and a wholesale retreat for Republicans, who have spent months railing against an “unconstitutional overreach” by Obama in extending deportation stays and work permits to millions of immigrants in this country illegally.

In the end Republicans who’d tried to use the DHS spending bill to undo Obama’s actions had little to show but weeks of gridlock and chaotic spectacle on Capitol Hill in the wake of assuming full control of Congress in the November midterm elections.

The turmoil brought the Homeland Security Department to within hours of a partial shutdown last Friday before Congress passed a one-week extension, and raised questions about Republicans’ ability to govern responsibly.

On Tuesday morning, addressing an uncharacteristically subdued gathering of House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner indicated he was out of options.

“I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” Boehner told his caucus. “I believe this decision — considering where we are — is the right one for this team, and the right one for this country.”

“Our Republican colleagues in the Senate never found a way to win this fight,” he said, noting that the matter is now in the courts. A federal judge last month put Obama’s directives on hold, a ruling the White House is appealing.

Conservative lawmakers who humiliated Boehner last week by voting down a three-week spending bill he proposed did not speak up in the private meeting to dissent or ask questions, people present said.

Afterward, they said they were disappointed but had no more moves to make.

“I don’t know that there is one,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “This is the signal of capitulation.”

The measure passed Tuesday funds the Homeland Security Department through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. It pays for numerous priorities including Transportation Security agents, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, a host of immigration-related functions and grants to local governments.

There have been suggestions that Boehner would face an insurrection by tea party-backed conservatives if he brought a “clean” DHS bill to the floor. But Boehner’s opponents seemed resigned, and there was little sign of a brewing coup.

Indeed, several Republicans said Tuesday that the outcome was inevitable. Many had campaigned for re-election last fall on promises to stop Obama on immigration, and cheered when Boehner promised to fight the president’s moves “tooth and nail.” Yet several acknowledged they never had a viable plan to do so, given Obama’s veto pen and Senate Democrats’ opposition.

The GOP strategy was especially risky given the Homeland Security Department’s anti-terrorism responsibilities, which gave Democrats an opening to accuse Republicans of putting national security at risk.

“We all knew how this was going to end,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. “If somebody wants to make an argument against those of us who are doing our duty and governing responsibly, they can feel free to have the argument. We are prepared to defend ourselves and I believe the Speaker will come out of this just fine.”

The drama unfolded as a lesson in the limits of divided government.

The fight was set up last fall, when Boehner and GOP leaders convinced House conservatives to wait until this year to try to oppose Obama on immigration, until the GOP commanded control of the Senate and bigger majorities in the House.

Congress passed a full-year spending bill for the rest of the government, but kept the Homeland Security Department on a short leash to use its spending bill as the vehicle to oppose Obama.

Republicans predicted that the handful of Senate Democrats who’d voiced concerns about Obama’s immigration actions would join them. But the DHS spending bill the House passed in January was yanked to the right by conservatives, undoing not only Obama’s most recent executive actions but an earlier directive, from 2012, that extended protections to immigrants brought illegally to the country as kids.

That helped unify Democrats against it, and Senate rules did the rest. Republicans command only 54 votes in the chamber, not the 60 needed to advance most legislation, and Senate Democrats blocked the House bill repeatedly.

In the end, the House contingent that opposed Boehner had little to do but bemoan what had become a foregone conclusion. As the drama neared its conclusion Tuesday they offered a few final procedural moves — forcing the reading clerk to read part of the bill out loud, and offering a motion to table — but they had no hope of prevailing.

“I believe this is a sad day for America,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., one of the hardliners. “If we’re not going to fight now, when are we going to fight?”

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