TIME Congress

House Democrats Save DHS From Shutdown, Republicans From Themselves

House Fails To Pass Bill Funding Homeland Security Department
T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, at center, reads a letter she sent to colleagues in congress, with Democratic leaders including, from left, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Joseph Crowley and Rep. Rosa DeLauro at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

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 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 2016 Election

Conservative Activists View Jeb Bush With Skepticism

Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

A raucous crowd at CPAC showed deep divides on Friday over a Jeb Bush candidacy

When Jeb Bush walked in at a grassroots gathering Friday, the Tea Party walked out.

As the former Florida governor spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, several dozen younger attendees left the room, led by a perennial Tea Party protester in revolutionary-era garb and a billowing Gadsden flag. Outside the hall, a chant of “No more Bushes” could be heard, while inside Bush folded his hands and stood uncomfortably.

The rowdy scene revealed deeper divides between hardline conservatives and supporters of more Establishment favorites such as Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But as the frontrunner among donors, it was Bush who drew the ire of many activists in the audience.

Read more: Jeb Bush Pitches Skeptical Conservatives at CPAC

To be fair, CPAC is not representative of the entire Republican Party. Attendees of the annual event are as likely to sport a denim vest, T-shirt or scruffy facial hair as they are to wear suits and loafers. One man wearing a Judas Priest sweatshirt over a maroon tie told a reporter that for him, CPAC is “just an excuse to go on a five-day bender.” The Republican National Convention, it ain’t.

Bush’s recent success with big donors was more a liability among the crowd here than an asset. “When you see the candidates supported by the status quo figures, you have to wonder,” said Bob Bodi, a Republican activist in Ohio, who wore a burgundy tie dotted with GOP elephants. “Conservatives aren’t willing to watch an election be bought.”

CPAC attendees also complained that Bush is milquetoast. “I’m not sure he has the fire in the belly to get the country back on track,” said Bill Rogers, a septuagenarian working through a glass of wine one evening after most had headed home. “He’s too soft on immigration.” Still others doubted his commitment to conservative values. “He doesn’t focus enough on first principles,” said Razi Lane, a first-year student at Hillsdale College in Michigan. He conjured James Madison and John Locke to criticize Bush. “Who represents natural law better? Ted Cruz.”

It wasn’t just local activists who expressed skepticism about a Bush candidacy. The talk-show host Laura Ingraham lambasted Bush on his money connections in a speech Friday morning. “The idea that we should conduct any kind of coronation,” Ingraham said, “because 50 rich families decide who will best decide their interests? No way, Jose.” Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and indefatigable presidential possible roused the crowd when he said Bush “is in favor of Common Core, he’s weak on immigration.”

But apart from the Sen. Ted Cruz late-night dorm room debaters and National Rifle Association activists at CPAC, Bush also had his supporters in the crowd. As in past years, presidential hopefuls’ allies bused in groups of supporters to vote for them in the straw poll and represent them in the crowd. Mitt Romney did it, Rand Paul’s allies do it, and so did Bush’s. Bush’s supporters like his tolerant stance on immigration, his willingness to compromise, qualities they say make him electable. “You have to give a little and you have to compromise and that’s something our country is lacking,” said Mallori Ware, a 19-year-old first-year at Liberty University and CPAC supporter of Bush. “We’re not going to elect someone to office who’s too conservative.”

The CPAC conservatives disagree, and a fight is brewing in the buzzing convention halls, one that will define the GOP for the next year. The night before Bush gave his tumultuous talk, Maggie Wright, a 69-year-old committed Cruz activist was adamant: she wouldn’t walk out in protest the next day. Out of politeness? No, not at raucous CPAC. Wright would stay to hear Bush’s speech, and “use it as ammo when Ted runs.”

TIME Cuba

Cuba Talks Turn Awkward Over Terror Listing

President Obama Holds End-Of-Year News Conference At The White House
Alex Wong—Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama faced questions on various topics including the changing of Cuba policy, his executive action on immigration and the Sony hack. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Another round of talks, another round of smiles Friday, as negotiators for Cuba and the United States joined in stepping carefully around the first obvious obstacle to emerge in their joint effort to re-establish diplomatic relations.

The latest meeting was only their second, this time in Washington. Diplomats from both countries crowded around an array of tables at the State Department for what U.S. officials cautioned in advance would be a more “workmanlike” session, less dramatic than the historic inaugural session in Havana in January. That was the first since Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro surprised the world by announcing an intention to reconcile in parallel announcements Dec. 17.

At the time, Obama signaled what sounded very much like an inclination to remove Cuba from the short, brutish roll of nations the State Department lists as official sponsors of terror: The only other countries saddled with the designation are Iran, Syria and Sudan. “At a time when we are focused on threats from Al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Obama said. But actually removing a nation from the list, and freeing it from the attendant sanctions, turns out to be taking longer than expected. “On why it’s taking so long, I’ve got to tell you it’s just these processes tend to be a little bit more complicated than they seem, and that’s all I’m going to say,” a senior State Department official said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

The consequences of the delay may only be atmospheric, but mood has been one of the things the Obama administration has had going for it on this story. The head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said at the close of Friday’s session that removal from the list was not a strict precondition to resuming ties, but repeated that it is “a very important issue” to Havana, which has harped on it both publicly and privately. And privately,the terror list may indeed have been mentioned as a precondition to re-opening embassies: “It would be very easy to restore diplomatic relations,” the State Department official said in the background briefing with reporters, “if they would not link those two things.”

What’s more, a 45-day interval built into the assessment process means that Cuba will still carry the designation when Castro and Obama meet at the Summit of the Americas, set for the second week of April in Panama City. The confab was envisioned as a celebratory session that marked the end not only of the 50-year cold war between countries, but also of Washington’s estrangement from a Latin American establishment that largely esteems Havana.

The delay clearly pleases Congressional critics of the reconciliation, led by favorites of the Cuban exile community based in Miami. “President Obama and his negotiating team need to stop looking so desperate to secure a deal with the Castro regime to open an embassy in Havana, at any cost, before this April’s Summit of the Americas,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who also noted the arrest of 200 dissidents in Cuba the previous two weeks. Detentions of activists, often held only a short time, remains routine in Havana, the State Department has noted, and U.S. officials take pains to pay respectful visits to some of the island’s most prominent dissidents.

But on the narrow question of re-establishing diplomatic ties, the nominal point of the talks, both sides appear to be on the same page. “On the issue of the themes on the agenda that were of concern to us, I think we did make progress on a number of them,” said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Jacobson after the meeting. “Some of them, quite honestly, are close to resolution.” Vidal said much the same in a separate news conference. And the negotiators, at least, appeared intent on sustaining the gestures of good will that began in December with an exchange of prisoners, and is supposed to proceed to an exchange of ambassadors. Said Jacobson, in answer to question: “I do think we can get this done in time for the Summit of the Americas.”

TIME

Senate Approves 1-week Funding Bill for Homeland Security

House Fails To Pass Bill Funding Homeland Security Department
Win McNamee—Getty Images The U.S. Capitol is seen at dusk as the U.S. Congress struggles to find a solution to fund the Department of Homeland Security on Feb. 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

(WASHINGTON) — The Senate has approved a bill to ensure full funding of the Homeland Security Department for one week, sending the measure to the House just hours before the agency faces a partial shutdown.

By voice vote late Friday, the Senate backed the bill.

It came a few hours after the House, in a surprise move, rejected a bill to grant the department a three-week extension. Republicans objected to the measure for failing to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration policies and Democrats opposed it for failing to fund the department through the end of the budget year.

TIME

Stopgap Homeland Security Spending Bill Fails in House

House To Vote On Homeland Security Funding Bill
Mark Wilson—Getty Images House Speaker John Boehner at the US Capitol, Feb. 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

(WASHINGTON) — The House has rejected a stopgap spending bill for the Homeland Security Department with just hours to go before a midnight deadline to fund the agency or see it begin to partially shut down.

The surprise 224-203 defeat of the legislation was a major embarrassment for House GOP leaders. Next steps were not immediately clear.

Some conservatives opposed the bill because it left out provisions to block executive actions President Barack Obama took on immigration, which Republicans have vowed to overturn.

House leaders tried to win lawmakers over arguing a three-week extension bought them more time to fight Obama while his immigration directives are on hold in court.

But conservatives abandoned the bill in droves and Democrats refused to make up the difference, pressing for a full-year funding bill instead.

TIME Justice Department

President Obama Gives Teary Send Off to Attorney General Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder's official portait Image Courtesy of the Department of Justice

Notes Attorney General Eric Holder's stance on civil rights in his parting address

The President got misty-eyed during the unveiling of Attorney General Eric Holder’s official portrait Friday when he shared a story about the impact he believes Holder has had outside of the Department of Justice.

President Obama said he hosted a number of young men who are mentees under his My Brother Keeper initiative, which is celebrating its first anniversary, for a White House lunch on Friday. As the students, all black and Latino young men from the around the Washington area, went around the table sharing their life aspirations, one shared that he wanted to be the attorney general when he grew up. That moment clearly touched the President, who wiped away tears as he shared it with the departing Attorney General.

“I think about all the young people out there who have seen you work and have been able to get an innate sense that you’re a good man,” President Obama said. “Having good men in positions of power and authority who are willing to fight for what’s right … that’s a rare thing. That’s a powerful thing.”

Obama listed the Attorney General’s accomplishments as the third longest-serving and the first African American to hold the job. Throughout his tenure Holder made criminal justice reform and championing civil rights a priority of the department, including his recent efforts to challenge strict voting laws.

During his prepared remarks, a teary-eyed Holder said that there was still work to be done on civil rights and criminal justice reform.

“Make no mistake. We still have unfinished business and work to do,” Holder said. “In the defense of our nation we must always adhere to the values that define us. And, at all costs, the right to vote must be protected.”

The unveiling came just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch, who was tapped to replace Holder. The President said the Department of Justice is being left in “outstanding hands.”

TIME 2016 Election

Rand Paul Just Lost the Bulgaria Primary

Rand Paul
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, listens to a question during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 27, 2015.

U.S. ally hits back after the presidential hopeful's dismissive remark

Bulgaria has a bone to pick with Rand Paul.

The country’s Embassy in Washington hit back Friday at comments the Republican presidential hopeful made earlier this week, in which he seemed to dismiss the country’s importance while mounting an attack against Hillary Clinton.

“It goes without saying that Senator Rand Paul’s remark is inappropriate,” the Bulgarian embassy in Washington told TIME in a statement. “His dismissive attitude towards a US and NATO ally and a friendly country and his foreign policy record is to be judged by the American people.”

Paul on Wednesday reiterated his criticism of the former Secretary of State for not paying more attention to the situation on the ground in Libya ahead of the September, 2012 attack on a Benghazi compound that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton has said she didn’t read a diplomatic cable requesting increased security at the compound.

MORE: Republicans Rediscovering Their Old Hawkish Message on Foreign Policy

“I could expect her not to read the cables from Bulgaria,” Paul told Yahoo on Wednesday. “But absolutely it’s inconceivable she didn’t read the cables coming from Benghazi.”

Bulgaria had kinder words for Clinton.

“Not that long time ago Secretary Clinton was on an official visit to Bulgaria,” the embassy added, referring to a 2012 visit by the now-presumptive Democratic presidential front-runner. “She stays engaged with us and is very well aware of the geopolitical realities of the region.”

Paul’s campaign declined to comment Friday on the Bulgarian embassy’s statement. He has long seized on Clinton’s tenure at the State Department and the Benghazi attack in particular as fodder for criticism and to tout his anti-interventionist, libertarian foreign policy ahead of a likely presidential run. Last year, for example, he came out swinging at a talk in Kentucky by pointing to the State Department’s spending bill on embassy décor.

“They spent $700,000 on landscaping at the Brussels embassy,” he said in August. “They spent $5 million on crystal glassware for the embassies around the world.”

The Bulgarian embassy said Paul could benefit from its foreign policy counsel.

“Among EU and NATO Member States Bulgaria is one of those standing closest to the major regional and global security challenges of today,” the statement said. “In this context the information coming from the American Embassy in Sofia might be more than useful to anyone striving to responsibly shape US foreign policy.”

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Jeb Bush Courts Conservatives At CPAC

Jeb Bush addressed his mother’s comments, and outlined his views on immigration and Common Core education standards during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch #RealTIME to see what he had to say, and read more here.

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Rand Paul Bashes Hillary Clinton At CPAC

Rand Paul touched on Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, and his proposed reforms for Congress in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say, and read more here.

TIME

CPAC: Republicans Rediscover Their Old Hawkish Message On Foreign Policy

Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

The threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria looms large

Rand Paul took the stage like a conquering hero Friday, his shirtsleeves rolled, his regular laconic manner turned fiery. The audience stacked with young libertarians gave him a standing ovation. But Paul, who became the reigning prince of the Conservative Political Action Conference partly by preaching his signature brand of non-interventionist foreign policy, had a new twist in his stump speech.

Paul tamped down his famous skepticism of military adventures, and replaced it with the more conventionally muscular rhetoric of Cold War conservatism. “Without question, we must now defend ourselves and American interests,” he said, in comments about the fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). When it came to the question of federal spending, he added, “for me, the priority is always national defense.”

Paul was hardly the only presumptive presidential candidate to focus on the perils brewing abroad. The annual confab of conservative activists, held this week outside Washington, has showcased the Republican Party’s new embrace of its old hawkish foreign policy. It’s a dramatic shift from recent years, when CPAC has been a forum for the party to air its grievances about the sprawling U.S. surveillance state. But for the past two days, speaker after speaker has sought to demonstrate their steeliness, earning reliable cheers by taunting ISIS and slamming President Obama for seeking a deal with Iran while snubbing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Likely 2016 candidates, from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina, all roused the crowd by promising a tougher brand of foreign policy than the one practiced by Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Former Senator Rick Santorum, the runner-up for the Republican nomination in 2012, called for 10,000 U.S. ground troops in the middle to battle ISIS and urged “bombing them back to the seventh century.”

This view is increasingly popular within the party. A mid-February poll conducted by CBS News found that 72% of Republicans favor sending U.S. ground troops into Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS militants, an increase of seven percentage points since only October. That leap comes as the issue replaces the brightening economy at the top of newscasts.

According to aides to several candidates, the increased focus on foreign policy in stump speeches reflects increasing public concern as well as the belief among several campaigns that Republicans will have an edge with voters on security issues in a race against Clinton.

“Folks are getting beheaded over there,” says an adviser to one likely candidate. “People are seeing the failure of this president’s foreign policy on TV every day.”

The shifting political winds have heartened the hawkish groups who watched the GOP’s isolationist turn—and Paul’s rise—with alarm. “Rand and his acolytes hoped that if we left the world alone, the world would leave us alone. But experience is a cruel teacher, and beheadings and Iranian nukes focus the mind,” says Noah Pollak, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. “To their credit, many of the conservatives who flirted with the Rand and Obama foreign policy are changing their minds after seeing what happens when America withdraws from the world.”

The view was a popular one at an event that is a revealing—if imperfect—glimpse of the GOP’s current zeitgeist. “National security issues must be at the center of the 2016 presidential debate,” former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton declared onstage, and it seemed few of his potential rivals for the nomination disagreed.

Fiorina blistered Obama and Clinton for dithering: “While you seek moral equivalence,” she said, “the world waits for moral clarity and American leadership.” Walker, who has risen in the early primary polls by positioning himself as a conservative fighter, suggested he would take an aggressive stance on foreign policy. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker said. (A spokeswoman for Walker’s political-action committee later clarified that the governor was “in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS.”)

But it was Paul, who was most notable for having freshened his message. Back in 2011, he came to CPAC to call for cuts in military spending. “If you refuse to acknowledge that there’s any waste can be culled from the military budget, you are a big-government conservative and can you not lay claim to balancing the budget,” he said. This year he claimed “a foreign policy that encourages stability, not chaos.” His many fans here say they still believe his more restrained approach will bear political fruit. Daniel Jenkins, a 28-year old Iraq veteran and Paul supporter at Charlotte School of Law, says the senator’s foreign policy will have broad appeal in the general election. “It may not be the strongest point here among these conservatives,” Jenkins says, “but I think with Independents and in the big picture, it’ll catch on.”

CPAC is still Paul’s crowd, rippling with the young libertarians who form a cornerstone of his base. And the two-time defending champ of CPAC’s symbolic straw poll is likely to make it a three-peat when the event wraps up Saturday evening. But the annual confab has also signaled the challenges that lie ahead for the Kentucky Republican.

With reporting by Sam Frizell

Read next: Jeb Bush Pitches Skeptical Conservatives at CPAC

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