TIME Congress

Cruz Floats Bill to Revoke Citizenship of Americans Who Fight for ISIS

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pauses as he addresses attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering on Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas.v
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pauses as he addresses attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering on Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. Tony Gutierrez—AP

As westerners traveling to fight with the group raise alarm

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will introduce legislation Monday designed to strip U.S. citizenship from Americans who join Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq.

The new legislation, titled the Expatriate Terrorists Act, would change the conditions for stripping U.S. citizenship to include becoming a member of, fighting for, or providing “material assistance” to a “designated foreign terrorist organization” that the citizen has reason to believe will terrorize the United States. The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has captured broad swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, has publicly beheaded Western journalists and has also attracted some western fighters to its side.

“Americans who choose to go to Syria or Iraq to fight with vicious ISIS terrorists are party to a terrorist organization committing horrific acts of violence, including beheading innocent American journalists who they have captured,” Cruz said in a statement. “There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt on their part to re-enter our country and carry out further attacks on American civilians.”

President Barack Obama has intensified U.S. airstrikes against the group’s fighters in Iraq and indicated Sunday that he thinks he has the executive authority to increase American military efforts against the group in Syria.

Obama will meet with top congressional leaders on Tuesday to discuss his options to counter ISIS, and will outline his plans to the public on Wednesday.

TIME Government

Even Ralph Nader and Grover Norquist Agree D.C. Needs More Compromise

“There’s nothing else to do in this town,” Norquist said

Grover Norquist and Ralph Nader spoke at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington on Thursday in a bid to promote cross-aisle government cooperation.

Nader, a left-wing consumer advocate and five-time presidential candidate, is a champion of regulation and Norquist, who founded the conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, famously wants government to be small enough to “drown it in the bathtub.” But the odd couple argued there is a broader area of agreement between liberals and conservatives than people are led to believe.

“This is not something that might happen. This is not an interesting theory. This has already happened,” Norquist said. Areas where both sides can — and have — worked together, he said, include lowering mandatory sentencing minimums, defending civil liberties and strengthening national defense while reducing cost.

Nader produced a similar list. “You don’t engage in wars of aggression. You don’t interfere with international law and constitutional law and federal law and go all over the world building up empires. You don’t allow the Pentagon to automatically get huge budgets through Congress,” he said, also mentioning cooperation on prison reform. “That’s a very important area. And that’s where there’s a very, very solid basis here.”

Both men recognized the difficulties of reaching across the aisle in the current political climate and promoted establishing civic groups whose sole purpose would be “left-right alliance advocacy,” Nader said. “We need this kind of singular focus.”

Norquist, who once referred to bipartisanship as “date rape,” was quick to distance this cooperation from political negotiation. “Right-left coalitions are areas of principled agreement on perhaps procedure, or even goals,” he said, “not a compromise where someone walks in and gives up part of his soul in order to get something.”

So why do these two men — at opposite ideological poles, one a stalwart believer in government and the other a perennial skeptic — want to promote their similarities rather than differences?

“There’s nothing else to do in this town,” Norquist said. “As long as Obama is president and there’s a Republican House… on the mega issues… nothing moves. It’s like two sumo wrestlers for the next two years that are absolutely equally matched,” he added. “Nobody is getting knocked out of the ring… for the next two years, the next 20 years, [left-right coalitions are] an area where we can make real progress.”

“We can win on things we agree on,” Nader admitted. “It’s very simple.” But he did acknowledge an obstacle to this rosy future of cooperation: Personal distaste, which he called the “yuck factor.”

And money, that is. “I’m looking for some very rich person to start funding a number of these nonprofit civic advocacy groups,” Nader said.

TIME 2014 Election

Republicans Use ISIS for Campaign Fodder as Midterm Elections Loom

Scott Brown Campaign Rally
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., left, candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds a campaign town hall rally with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., not pictured, at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Republicans are making particular hay of Obama's comment that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for fighting ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has come to the campaign trail.

With the Senate up for grabs in this fall’s midterm elections, Republican candidates are knocking President Barack Obama’s failure to stop the militant group and looking to tie their Democratic opponents to the Administration. Republicans are making particular hay of Obama’s comment last week—quickly walked back by the White House—that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for fighting ISIS.

In the week since then, New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, has gone on an ISIS offensive, hitting the airwaves on Fox News and local TV to rip Obama and incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Brown has touted a bill he introduced while in office that would revoke the U.S. citizenship of Americans who join foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS.

“These people want to plant a flag in the White House,” Brown said of ISIS on Fox. “They want to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, they want to come through our porous borders if they’re not already here and they want to create havoc and kill our citizens.”

Brown continued the assault Wednesday, releasing a video entitled “No Strategy” to coincide with Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to New Hampshire to campaign for Shaheen. Audio of Obama’s comment is interspersed with images of burning buildings, terrorists hoisting rocket launchers—and it ends with Shaheen hugging Obama.

Shaheen has fought back against the foreign policy criticism. After the ISIS execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff on Wednesday, her campaign released a statement saying “we must use every tool at our disposal, short of introducing ground forces in combat roles” to stop ISIS. And a week after ISIS killed American journalist James Foley, who like Sotloff had ties to New Hampshire, Shaheen called on the Treasury and State departments to do what they can to disrupt the terrorist group’s finances.

Other Republican candidates, including Georgia’s David Perdue, have also seized on ISIS as a campaign issue. Perdue, who is running against Democrat Michelle Nunn, released a statement Tuesday on “Obama-Nunn’s foreign policy failures”—even trying to link Obama’s “no strategy” comment to a leaked Nunn campaign memo which described her position on Israel “to be determined.”

Republicans have found it easier to take shots at the President than it is to suggest alternative courses of action, however. After the Obama’s “no strategy” comment, Alaska Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan said the Administration owes Congress a “strategic plan to reverse the spread of terrorism in the region,” but didn’t say what that plan might be.

While ISIS has hardly dominated campaign messaging, the topic could feed into broader critiques of Obama’s foreign policy. A recent Pew poll found that 54% of Americans think Obama isn’t tough enough on foreign policy, while 36% his approach is about right.

“[Voters] don’t focus on Ukraine specifically or on Putin or ISIS,” Nicole McClesky, a partner with the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, told the Fiscal Times. “They see it as a weakening of America abroad and a lack of respect for the United States along with the instability and insecurity that creates.”

Jennifer Duffy, a Senate campaign expert at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said “it’s not a huge issue.”

“There may be some talk on the stump, but I don’t see candidates putting it into advertising,” Duffy said. “In terms of political implications, Obama’s comments simply feed the larger message that the Administration isn’t competent, or more kindly, lacks direction, on a host of issues.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 3

1. Russia’s power play could be the best way to reinvigorate NATO.

By John Cassidy in the New Yorker

2. Why India and Japan need each other – badly.

By Michael Schuman in Time

3. One way Congress can speed things up for the Foreign Service – appoint career ambassadors en masse.

By David Ignatius in Washington Post

4. Labor unions in decline are no longer assimilating immigrants, counteracting racial inequality or equalizing incomes.

By Justin Fox in the Harvard Business Review

5. Congress must debate and vote on our growing military involvement in Iraq.

By Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs in the Los Angeles Times

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Congress

Eric Cantor’s Huge Pay Day

Eric Cantor delivers a speech in Richmond, Va. on June 10, 2014.
Eric Cantor delivers a speech in Richmond, Va. on June 10, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

The former House Majority Leader will get $3.4 million in his first 16 months at new employer Moelis

Nearly three months after a historic primary defeat, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced he’ll join investment bank Moelis, and follow in the long tradition of lawmakers profiting on their knowledge of the regulatory and political landscape post-Congress.

And boy did Cantor cash out.

Cantor’s $3.4 million compensation package for the next year and four months puts his congressional salary into stark relief. Since he was elected Majority Leader in 2011, Cantor earned $193,400 a year, around $20,000 more annually than a rank-and-file member.

But as Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Moelis, he will receive a $1.4 million signing bonus, $1.6 million in incentive compensation next year and a $400,000 base salary — plus reimbursement for the reasonable cost of a New York City apartment for his first 12 months, and a hotel equivalent rate thereafter.

Cantor wasn’t doing too badly before he left Congress, of course, with the Center for Responsive Politics estimating his net worth in 2012 at around $9.3 million. But the move will certainly bump him into a higher category of wealth.

That said, Cantor won’t be making as much as he might have as a lobbyist, as the seven figure salaries of some former congressmen can attest. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican congressman who retired in 2005, made $11.6 million in a single year in 2010 while helping to craft President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as leader of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, according to Bloomberg. Former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd makes nearly $3.3 million a year as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America. In 2011, former Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent’s total compensation as CTIA-The Wireless Association’s top lobbyist was reportedly $2.7 million. But it’s hard to quibble with a signing bonus worth more than seven times your annual salary.

The move to Wall Street wasn’t unexpected as Cantor, one of the Republican party’s most prolific fundraisers, had close ties to the financial services industry. Three of Cantor’s top campaign contributors during the most recent election cycle were investment firms Blackstone Group, Scoggin Capital Management and Goldman Sachs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Chris Jones, a managing partner of CapitalWorks, predicted to TIME in June that Cantor would take a “prominent role” at a major bank.

TIME Congress

Cantor Joins Investment Bank Following Primary Loss

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., walks from the House floor after delivering his final speech as Majority Leader on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images

Cantor will offer "strategic counsel" as the bank's vice chairman and managing director

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined the executive board of an investment bank on Tuesday, two weeks after he resigned from office in the wake of a stunning primary defeat by a Tea Party candidate.

Cantor will become a vice chairman and managing director of Moelis & Company, a New York-based investment bank with 500 employees 15 offices around the world. He will provide “strategic counsel” to the bank’s global clients, which include corporations, governments and financial sponsors.

“When I considered options for the next chapter of my career, I knew I wanted to join a firm with a great entrepreneurial spirit that focused on its clients,” Cantor said in a joint announcement with the bank’s CEO, Ken Moelis. “I have known Ken for some time and having followed the growth and success of his Firm, I have long admired his vision and leadership.”

Cantor, just the latest in a long line of former elected officials to earn big paychecks after their time in office ends, will earn a base salary of $400,000, plus a $400,000 signing bonus and $1 million in restricted stock, according to the bank’s SEC filing.

“Eric has proven himself to be a pro-business advocate and one who will enhance our boardroom discussions with CEOs and senior management as we help them navigate their most important strategic decisions,” Moelis said.

 

 

TIME nation

Obama Goes to War (With Congress)

The President began bombing ISIS on his own, but only Congress can start a war

Earlier this summer, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine found himself in the Grand Foyer of the White House playing the foreign policy–hypothetical game with President Obama. Over drinks with some Senate Democrats, the President mentioned Kaine’s article that day in the Washington Post demanding a congressional vote to authorize any new military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the armed extremist group overtaking large chunks of Iraq.

The Law Professor in Chief, who campaigned for office promising to rein in executive power, proposed some scenarios. “He’d say, ‘Here’s the situation. Do you think I have executive authority to act?'” Among the possibilities Kaine recalls: What if there is an imminent threat to a U.S. embassy? “We generally agreed on most of them,” says Kaine. But not all.

Two months later, those debates are no longer hypothetical. Since Aug. 8, Obama has unilaterally ordered more than 100 bombing runs on ISIS targets in northern Iraq, citing his authority under Article II of the Constitution to protect U.S. lives and offer humanitarian aid. Hundreds of military advisers have been dispatched to Iraq, along with shipments of lethal equipment to proxy forces in the region. Through it all, the White House has maintained that Obama has no plans to seek permission from Congress, which returns from recess on Sept. 8.

The Constitution gives the President the power to defend the country as Commander in Chief, but it delegates the power to declare war to Congress. Kaine is one of several Senators who believe Obama has stretched his powers about as far as they can go. “I am worried about the consequences of Congress basically saying the President can decide unilaterally which organizations to launch air strikes against,” says Kaine.

The Obama Administration, meanwhile, has been signaling that the conflict with ISIS is likely to expand before it contracts. U.S. officials worry about what they believe are hundreds of ISIS fighters with Western passports who could attack Europe or the U.S. if they return to their homelands. General Martin Dempsey, who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that defeating ISIS will require action by U.S. or other forces on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. Days later, Pentagon sources leaked news of new U.S. surveillance flights over Syria to better map out ISIS positions, a possible prerequisite to expanded bombing efforts. “Rooting out a cancer like [ISIS] won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” Obama said on Aug. 26. Though the White House insists no decisions have been made for an expanded campaign against ISIS, no one denies that preparations are under way.

The ironies of the situation are striking. A President who helped build his national profile by opposing the war in Iraq now must decide whether to force a vote on a similar military adventure just weeks before midterm elections. But the commander who deferred to Congress rather than launch air strikes on Syria last year may not be able to attract the votes on Capitol Hill that he has in the past claimed to need. “I believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress,” Obama said one year ago. “And I believe America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.”

There are plenty of reasons for the White House to avoid a bitter debate over a new war in the Middle East. Obama’s attempts to get approval from Congress for the last round of Syria strikes failed to muster the required votes, and it divided his own party, upsetting many on the left. He has also spent some of his second term celebrating what he described as the coming end to the war on terror, a goal that seems increasingly distant. Congressional leadership on both sides is skittish about a vote. “Neither he nor the Congress wants to have this dance now,” says Jack Goldsmith, who led the Office of Legal Counsel for President George W. Bush. “That’s really what is going on.”

In the meantime, the White House has been searching for a legal justification for a protracted military campaign that doesn’t involve going to Congress. A 2002 congressional authorization to use force in Iraq remains on the books, but the White House announced in July that the document “is no longer used” and should be repealed. That leaves the 2001 congressional authorization to pursue those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, which a White House spokesperson says the Administration is “currently reviewing” to see if it applies to ISIS.

But Obama allies like Kaine, who otherwise supports Obama’s ISIS campaign, say that document clearly doesn’t cover ISIS, which did not exist in 2001. Far from being a partner of al-Qaeda, ISIS has emerged as a rival in the region. And in 2001, Congress rejected a White House request for broader authorization to allow military force against threats unconnected to al-Qaeda.

A third option–perhaps the most likely outcome–is for Obama to declare that his constitutional powers allow him to continue the conflict without Congress. A Vietnam-era law requires the President to seek congressional authorization for hostilities within 60 days of their launch, or begin military drawdowns; that deadline would expire after Oct. 7. But Obama never sought such authorization for the bombing campaign that toppled Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Instead, his lawyers argued that the limited nature of U.S. support for air strikes on Libya did not amount to “hostilities” under the law.

In the end, the greatest risk for Obama in avoiding Congress may be to his legacy. No court is likely to force him to stop military action, and Congress is unlikely to unite around a demand for a vote. But Obama has repeatedly promised the American people a more democratic approach to warfare. As so often happens in the Oval Office, the President must now decide whether to pay a political price to uphold his public vows.

–WITH REPORTING BY JAY NEWTON-SMALL AND ZEKE MILLER/WASHINGTON

TIME Congress

Senator Says Male Colleague Told Her ‘You’re Even Pretty When You’re Fat’

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY attends a press conference calling for the creation of an independent military justice system to deal with sexual harassment and assault in the military, in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Feb. 6, 2014.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY attends a press conference calling for the creation of an independent military justice system to deal with sexual harassment and assault in the military, in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Feb. 6, 2014. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

"Good thing you're working out because you wouldn't want to get porky," Kirsten Gillibrand recalls one fellow senator saying

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) says in a new book that she has faced several sexist encounters with her male colleagues, being nicknamed everything from “Honey Badger” to “hottest member of the Senate.”

“Good thing you’re working out because you wouldn’t want to get porky,” Gillibrand says one colleague told her in the congressional gym, according to an excerpt of her book Off The Sidelines published by People.

After she lost weight following a pregnancy, Gillibrand writes that one male colleague squeezed her waist and implored: “Don’t lose too much weight now, I like my girls chubby.”

And she says one southern congressman told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.”

“I believed his intentions were sweet, even if he was being an idiot,” Gillibrand writes.

But Gillibrand told People she hasn’t been fazed by these incidents, and said she’s using the sexism she’s faced working in Congress as motivation to take on issues like military and campus sexual assault. In the book, which is being released in September, she calls on other women to “speak up, gather strength” and “support one another.”

“If we do, women will sit at every table of power making decisions,” Gillibrand writes.

The first-term senator also told People she isn’t deterred by the gridlock plaguing Congress.

“If I can work an issue like sexual assault on college campuses and drive a national narrative and know I’m making a difference,” Gillibrand said, “then whether or not we pass another bill in Congress, there’s still good things I can do.”

Read the rest of the story at People

TIME Congress

Dennis Kucinich Is Going to Burning Man

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Dennis Kucinich Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Things in the Black Rock Desert are really gonna heat up this week

Former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is headed to Burning Man.

The former Democratic Representative from Ohio and two-time presidential candidate announced Thursday on Twitter that he plans to speak at the famed celebration of self-expression, community and the arts. He’ll be joined by a wide range of speakers, including conservative political advocate Grover Norquist.

Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada every year for one week and always ends with the dispersal of camp and destruction of any evidence of it existed. So, might not be that odd a place for a politician after all.

TIME Congress

WATCH: John Boehner Has Found His Kindred Spirit … in a Monkey

'That's what I do all day!'

The second most photographed object in John Boehner’s office — after the House Speaker himself — is a wind-up monkey that sits on his desk, crashes cymbals on command and, according to his staffers, speaks volumes about his work.

Boehner’s staff gave the gift as a “token of appreciation” and a subtle reminder to their boss to avoid comparing himself to a wind-up toy, as he did in 2011 when he was discussing the strains of his hectic work schedule. The monkey has since appeared in at least 29 photos with the speaker and various visitors.

On Tuesday, his staffers featured it in a YouTube video in which Boehner points at the toy monkey in action and says, “That’s what I do all day,” to a group of young girls getting a crash course in politics. “They wind me up about every 15 minutes,” he adds.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser