TIME 2016 Election

Barbara Mikulski, Longest Serving Woman in Congress, to Retire

Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Bill Clark—AP Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., speaks with reporters as she arrives for the Senate Democrats' policy lunch on Dec. 9, 2014 in Washington.

The Maryland Senator's retirement in 2016 leaves a gaping hole in the state's Democratic power structure

Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who has served in Congress for nearly 40 years, will retire from her current position as United States senator at the end of her term in 2016.

“I had to decide whether to spend my time fighting to keep my job or fighting for your job. Do I spend my time raising money or raising hell to meet your day-to-day needs?” she said at a Monday press conference announcing her decision. She vowed to continue to work to pass legislation in the Senate for the remainder of her term.

Mikulski, 78, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1977 before moving to the Senate in 1987. She was the first woman to chair the influential Appropriations Committee, a coveted position given the committee’s oversight over hundreds of billions of dollars of discretionary spending.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who entered the Senate the same year as Mikulski, praised his Maryland counterpart as a “trailblazer”:

“Senator Barbara Mikulski’s career has been devoted to serving others,” he said in a statement. “As Dean of the women of the Senate, Barbara has been a mentor and friend to Senators on both sides of the aisle. Through her work, she has helped a generation of women leaders rise in the Senate.”

The departure of one of the most revered figures in Maryland politics leaves a gaping hole in the state’s Democratic power structure. A slew of members of the House may vie for her seat. It also may have implications for the 2016 presidential race if Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, opts to run for the Senate seat instead of challenging Hillary Clinton.

TIME Military

A Mosul Preview: Iraq Government Launches Attack on Tikrit

IRAQ-UNREST-JIHADIST-MOSUL
Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images A member of the Iraqi anti-terrorism forces waves the national flag in celebration after securing a checkpoint from Sunni militants in the village of Badriyah, west of Mosul on Aug. 19, 2014.

A force of 30,000 Sunni and Shi’ite fighters, both soldiers and militia, launched a large-scale offensive Monday to push the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria out of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

Eighty miles northwest of Baghdad, Tikrit could serve as a model for the coming—and much bigger—battle to retake Mosul. ISIS seized Iraq’s second-largest city, as well as Tikrit, last summer in a humiliating defeat for the U.S.-trained Iraqi forces.

General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, the local Iraqi military commander, told Iraqi state television that the assault was “going on as planned,” primarily from the east. Iraqi warplanes were attacking targets in and around Tikrit, Iraqi TV added. A Pentagon spokesman said that while the U.S. government had received prior notice of the attack, no U.S. warplanes are involved. He also declined to comment on reports that Iranian forces are playing a role.

Pentagon officials said the Iraqi army’s success in retaking Tikrit is vital if the planned assault on Mosul is to remain on track. In recent months, the timetable for launching that counter-offensives has ranged from next month to next year, according to U.S. military officials.

Mosul is ISIS’s key Iraqi redoubt, and so long as it controls the city it will hold sway over much of northern Iraq. Tikrit, three hours south of Mosul on Iraq’s Route 1, is an important transit hub between Baghdad and Mosul. It would give the central government an important logistical hub from which to fuel its Mosul offensive.

Iraqi forces have failed in previous efforts to retake Tikrit. But Monday’s offensive comes after Iraq’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, visited Iraqi forces on the eve of the operation and said “zero hour” for taking back Tikrit had arrived.

He addressed the Iraqi people in a televised address Monday. “Today, God willing, we start an important military campaign to liberate the citizens of Salahuddin province which includes Samarra, Dhuluiya, Balad, Dujail, al-Alam, al-Door, and Tikrit and other areas in the province from ISIS,” al-Abadi said. “Our goal is to liberate people from the oppression and terrorism of Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Western Iraq’s population largely belongs to the Sunni Muslim sect, as does ISIS. The prior, Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi government of prime minister Nouri al-Malaki, angered Sunnis with its oppressive governance that sidelined Sunnis. It is not clear whether or not the more inclusive approach of Abadi, also a Shi’ite, since taking office in September has succeeded in easing those wounds.

On Feb. 19, a senior official at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., which oversees U.S. military operations in Iraq, told reporters that U.S. officials hoped an Iraqi-led attack on Mosul could begin as soon as April. “But by the same token, if they’re not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment that they need is not physically there and they are [not] trained to a degree in which they will be successful, we have not closed the door on continuing to slide that to the right” further into the future, the Central Command official said.

Despite that caveat, some U.S. military officials have derided any suggestion that the Iraqi military would be sufficiently trained and outfitted to storm Mosul as soon as April.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said last Friday that it still might happen. “This is going to be and must be an Iraqi-led operation, and that more critically, we’re not going to be able to go, nor do we want to go any faster than the Iraqis are ready to go,” he said. “I just can’t put a date certain on there and say it’s going to happen at a certain time, nor am I prepared to you know, rule something out and tell you definitively, `well, April’s out.’”

TIME Congress

7 Times World Leaders Addressed Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address Congress on Tuesday, a speech that has raised tensions with the Obama Administration because it wasn’t consulted before House Speaker John Boehner made the invite—and it comes two weeks before Israeli elections.

From boundary-pushing leaders to controversial figures and world-changing peace visits, here are seven other times foreign dignitaries addressed a joint session of Congress.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: March 2

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Netanyahu Overshadows His Own Speech to Congress

A partisan debate over the terms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. threatens to obscure his message

Iraq Begins Assault on ISIS

Iraqi on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said

New England Braces for More Snow

Another 4 to 6 in. of snowfall is expected to fall in Massachusetts early on Monday, delaying any hope of respite from the historic cold and snow

Jeb Bush Runs the Gauntlet

The man who once said Republicans should “lose the primary to win the general election” is nonetheless aiming to establish his credentials in a way that minimizes the ideological protest against his candidacy from the right. But the fight is far from over

Fifty Shades Is on Track to Earn $500 Million

It has also become Universal Studios’ highest-grossing R-rated film internationally

Los Angeles Police Fatally Shoot Homeless Man

The shooting is the latest in a recent series of fatal police shootings around the country.

Thousands March in Moscow to Mourn Slain Putin Foe

Tens of thousands of people marched Sunday under a gray Moscow sky in honor of Boris Nemtsov, the opposition figure who was gunned down Friday night mere steps from the Kremlin

Watch ISS Astronauts Complete Their 3rd Spacewalk in 8 Days

They were helping to set up antenna that future space taxis will use to dock with the ISS

Suspect Held in Atheist Blogger’s Murder

Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka last week

How Waffle House Could Replace Your Post Office

The southern breakfast favorite is taking part in the Uber delivery

New Treatment for Migraines Shows Promise

Researchers say the procedure can drastically reduce pain and sensitivity to migraine triggers

Afghan Army Takes On Taliban in 1st Solo Offensive

The Afghan army hopes to prove it can rout the Taliban without the aid of the U.S. or NATO troops

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TIME Foreign Policy

Netanyahu Overshadows His Own Speech

A partisan debate over the terms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. threatened to overshadow his message, as he arrived Sunday in the U.S. two days before an address to the Congress about the dangers of President Barack Obama’s recent moves to cut a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday found that 48% of registered voters said Republicans in Congress should not have invited Netanyahu without first checking with Obama, with just 30% of Americans supporting the move. President Obama has refused to meet the Israeli leader, citing the proximity of the visit on Israel’s elections. Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice, cast the speech last week as “destructive to the fabric of U.S.-Israeli ties.”

At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., Sunday, the mood was uneasy, as the controversy overshadowed the conference and thrust the bipartisan organization into the uncomfortable position of lobbying lawmakers to attend a speech, as opposed to its key legislative priority: calling on Congress to play a role in reviewing the Iran agreement. “Frankly all of us should be concerned that care so deeply about the bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr said Sunday. “We have spent active hours lobbying for members of the House and Senate to attend this speech.”

In the lead-up to the speech, dueling ads from left and right focused on the speech and who would attend. An incendiary ad from a group founded by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and linked to Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson drew condemnation from all corners for accusing Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide. The ad compared Rice’s role in shaping a withdrawn U.S. policy during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, which Rice herself has since criticized, with her position on Netanyahu’s visit. “Ms. Rice may be blind to the issue of genocide,” the ad reads, under a picture of the National Security Adviser superimposed on the image of human skulls. The text goes on to suggest she has been more gracious in her dealings with Iran’s government than Israel’s. “She should treat our ally with at least as much diplomatic courtesy as she does the committed enemy of both our nations.”

Obama Administration officials were quick to condemn the move. “This ad is being widely met with the revulsion that it deserves,” a senior U.S. Administration official said. “Frankly, the ad says more about those who supported it than it says about Susan Rice.”

Netanyahu has a long track record of using addresses to Congress for his domestic political purposes. “I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic, mission. I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People,” Netanyahu told reporters before departing. His coalition faces a close election on March 17.

In the U.S., the visit has turned into a political weapon. “The really only conflict here is between the White House and Israel,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

At AIPAC, Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, sought to challenge that message. “The circumstances surrounding the invitation were not what they should have been,” he said. “We all understand that. But don’t lose focus. The bad guy is Iran.”

In Israel as well, the terms of the visit had become a point of political debate. “Netanyahu’s speech is diverting the question to be on whether he should speak or not in Congress rather than the security issue with Iran, and we think this is wrong,” said Israeli opposition Knesset member Erel Margalit. “We saw a poll that had the American public divided over whether Netanyahu should speak or not, instead of having 90% against the threshold nuclear state of Iran, which would have united everyone.”

To pre-empt claims that the White House has not sufficiently supported Israel, the National Security Council forwarded Democratic allies—and later posted online—a pocket card highlighting the U.S.-Israel relationship under Obama casting the President as a “strong defender” of Israel. “Under President Obama’s leadership, American engagement with Israel has grown and strengthened to an unprecedented degree,” it reads. The handout did not include any mention of Iran.

“The Administration doesn’t want to talk about the Iran deal — so instead of hearing about sanctions relief and sunset clauses, we’ve had weeks of high-school-level melodrama about speech protocol and a bad guy named Bibi,” said Noah Pollak, the executive director of the hawkish Emergency Committee for Israel. “The Administration has temporarily distracted from the Iran talks, but it’s also turned the Netanyahu speech into the Super Bowl of foreign policy. In the end it may turn out that Obama only drew more attention to what a bad deal he’s trying to cut with Iran.”

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Runs Conservative Gatekeeper Gauntlet

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.

Jeb Bush made headlines Friday when he used wit to parry the boos of college-age conservatives at a conference outside Washington, D.C. “For those who made an ‘ooo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral and I want to be your second choice,” he told the crowd, in what sounded like a prepared line.

But the moment may not have been the most consequential conservative test he passed last week. Just a day earlier, Bush addressed and largely won over a crowd of strict fiscal conservative donors off camera and thousands of miles away at a gathering of wealthy donors at a Club for Growth confab in Palm Beach, Fla.

David McIntosh, the group’s president, who interviewed Bush on stage, said his members, who tend to be wealthy fighters for strict fiscal conservatism, had been wary before Bush appeared, wondering who they would meet, “the old Governor or a new Bush,” a reference the raw feelings many conservatives still have against Jeb’s father and brother, who both enraged conservatives during their administrations.

But Bush made a forceful case for himself, McIntosh said. “I got to be governor of this state — this purple state, this wacky, wonderful state — for eight years,” Bush told the group, according to an account from the Washington Post. “I ran as a conservative, I said what I was going to do, and I had a chance to do it. And trust me, I did.” By the time it was over, McIntosh was all praise. “Bush impressed people,” he said.

That seal of approval could prove huge dividends as the establishment frontrunner works to avoid a movement backlash to his nascent presidential effort. The man who once said Republicans should “lose the primary to win the general election” is nonetheless aiming to establish his credentials in a way that minimizes the ideological protest against his candidacy from the right. But the fight is far from over. Other conservative activists have been far more skeptical. Grover Norquist, who runs another fiscal conservative group, Americans for Tax Reform, has been critical of Jeb Bush for refusing to sign his pledge, during his gubernatorial campaigns and now, to oppose all increases in taxes.

“My concern is that he has not made a commitment to the American people that he will not raise taxes when all the other candidates have done so,” Norquist said at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. “I think Jeb will take the pledge at the end of the day because both his father and his brother said ‘I don’t know’ and then when they realized what the pledge was and what it actually meant and that it was a pledge to the American people and not to me or Americans for Tax Reform, and that they had no intention of raising taxes, and that everyone else was doing it, they said yes, absolutely.”

Bush has so far refused to budge, and on Saturday his spokesman dismissed Norquist’s organization as just another “lobbying group.” “If Governor Bush decides to move forward, he will not sign any pledges circulated by lobbying groups,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell, told ABC News. President George H.W. Bush famously signed Norquist’s pledge and then broke it by supporting a tax increase as part of the 1990 budget, a move that hurt his reelection effort in 1992. President George W. Bush signed and honored the pledge as president, and his White House worked closely with Norquist to rally support for tax cuts in his first term.

One reason for Jeb Bush’s reluctance may be his desire to strike a bargain to reform entitlements if he became president. In 2012, he said in a congressional hearing that he would accept a theoretical deal to raise $1 of tax revenue for every $10 in spending cuts, a position that had been rejected by that year’s Republican presidential contenders, in large part because of Norquist’s pledge.

Like Norquist’s group, the Club For Growth also has a reputation for taking a hard line against any candidate who either raises taxes or leaves the door open to tax increases. But so far this cycle, there are no signs that the Club will target Bush. In 2008, the Club for Growth played an aggressive role in opposing Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, attacking him for some tax increases he pushed as governor of Arkansas. In 2012, the group released research papers on the candidates, but did not spend money or offer endorsements in the primary. This year, the group could be more agressive. “There is no decision on an endorsement,” McIntosh said.

But Bush is not seeking an endorsement as much as a lack of opposition. If the Club simply concludes that Bush can be seen in the same category as other Club for Growth favorites, including Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rand Paul, that would be victory enough for his presidential effort.

Additional reporting by Zeke Miller

TIME 2016 Election

Walker Hires Two Former RNC Aides In Political Roles

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is beefing up his political operation, hiring two former Republican National Committee staffers to serve as deputy political directors on his emerging campaign.

Walker’s political group, Our American Revival, has hired Danny O’Driscoll and Wells Griffith, according to a spokesperson, adding to a team heavy with former talent from the Republican Party’s national office, including former political director Rick Wiley as campaign manager. The pair “will split the country to help identify, engage and mobilize supporters from grassroots organizations to elected officials, potential donors, state parties and allied groups,” said communications director Kirsten Kukowski.

O’Driscoll is a veteran of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, where he served as state director for Wisconsin in the general election and deputy state director in New Hampshire for the Republican primary. After New Hampshire, O’Driscoll worked on Romney primary wins in Florida, Michigan, and Ohio. Griffith was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee in the 2012 cycle and unsuccessfully ran for Congress from his native Alabama in a special election in 2013. He also served as the executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party and managed RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ re-election campaign in January.

Walker, who finished second in Saturday’s Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll, appears all-in on a White House bid, with aides using the annual gathering as an opportunity to approach and interview potential staffers.

According to the PAC, the newly hired pair join Walker’s campaign-in-waiting including:

Rick Wiley: Campaign Manager

Ed Goeas: Senior Advisor

Brian Tringali: Pollster

BJ Martino: Pollster

Matt Mason: Political Director

Kirsten Kukowski: Communications Director

AshLee Strong: Press Secretary

Mark Stephenson: Data Director

David Polyansky: Iowa Senior Advisor

Andy Leach: Senior Advisor for New Hampshire

Michael Bir: New Hampshire

Gregg Keller: Senior Advisor

Gary Marx: Senior Advisor

TIME 2016 Election

Scott Walker Changes Position on Immigration as 2016 Nears

"My view has changed. I'm flat out saying it," the Wisconsin governor said

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a new interview that he has changed his position and now opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, a policy shift that comes as the Republican is emerging as a conservative favorite in the 2016 presidential race.

“My view has changed. I’m flat-out saying it,” Walker said during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “I look at the problems we’ve experienced for the last few years. I’ve talked to governors on the border and others out there. I’ve talked to people all across America. And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.”

The acknowledgement came after host Chris Wallace aired a clip of Walker in 2013, when he was asked about a system that would allow undocumented immigrants to get citizenship and responded, “I think it makes sense.”

“I don’t believe in amnesty,” Walker said Sunday.

Walker, admired by conservatives for his victories over organized labor in Wisconsin, has been rising in polls in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and immigration policy is an area where he can differentiate himself from one of his top likely rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Walker finished second in a straw poll of conservative activists at a weekend conference in Washington, coming behind Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

“Candidates can say that,” Walker added in acknowledging the immigration shift. “Sometimes they don’t.”

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Rand Paul won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the third year in a row on Saturday.

The Senator from Kentucky won with 26% of the vote. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed closely behind with 21%, and Jeb Bush and Chris Christie finished fifth and 10th, respectively.

Watch #RealTIME for more on the final day of CPAC, and read more here.

TIME Israel

Israeli Leader Arrives in U.S. for ‘Historic’ Mission

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets With California Gov. Jerry Brown In San Francisco
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Computer History Museum on March 5, 2014 in Mountain View, Calif.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington, D.C., on Sunday for a controversial visit that the leader described as “a fateful, even historic mission.”

“I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me,” Netanyahu said on Twitter as he departed. “I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis, for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people. I will do my utmost to ensure our future.”

Netanyahu, who is seeking re-election this month, will address Congress on Tuesday to express his opposition to a possible nuclear deal with Iran — a speech President Barack Obama’s top national-security aide has said will be “destructive” to U.S.-Israel relations.

The visit has further strained relations between Israel and the Obama Administration, which was not consulted before House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress. Obama is not planning to meet with Netanyahu while he’s in town, and a few dozen Democrats are expected to boycott the speech, which has been criticized as interference in Israeli politics just two weeks before an election.

The planned speech, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday, has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive [to] the fabric of the relationship.”

Secretary of State John Kerry sought to cool the tensions a bit over the weekend, first in a phone call with Netanyahu on Saturday and then in comments Sunday, when he said the Israeli leader is “welcome to speak in the United States, obviously,” and that the Obama Administration doesn’t want the speech to become “some great political football.”

“Obviously it was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an Administration was not included in this process,” Kerry said on ABC’s This Week. “But the Administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

Netanyahu’s camp also tried to lower the temperature. “We are not here to offend President Obama, whom we respect very much,” an aide told the Associated Press.

As he left for Washington, Netanyahu reiterated his opposition to a deal over Iran’s nuclear program. He is set to speak Monday at the annual conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel group.

“We are strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence,” Netanyahu said.

Read next: 7 Times World Leaders Addressed Congress

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