Tag Archives: House of Representatives

Reps. Amash, Massie Blast Congressional Spending Bill for ‘Unconstitutional’ Surveillance Measures

The last-minute addition of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 to a massive Congressional spending bill has drawn criticism from Representatives who call the provisions unconstitutional, and say that they are an excuse for the U.S. government to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance.

In a statement to Truth In Media on Thursday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said he does not support the bill, and he sees it as possibly the “worst anti-privacy vote” since the Patriot Act in 2001.

[pull_quote_center]A vote for the omnibus is a vote to support unconstitutional surveillance on all Americans. It’s probably the worst anti-privacy vote in Congress since the Patriot Act.[/pull_quote_center]

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) released a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, claiming that he learned of the addition of the “completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance” on Tuesday night.

[pull_quote_center]We learned last night that in addition to unsustainable spending, the giant omnibus includes completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance and to repeal country of origin labeling for meat sold in the U.S. I will be voting no on Thursday.[/pull_quote_center]

The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 brings together provisions from other bills that have been passed in either the House or the Senate in 2015, such as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which both give the U.S. government access to Internet traffic information from technology and manufacturing companies.

[RELATED: Surveillance Bill Masked As ‘Cybersecurity’ Close to Completion]

As previously reported, while “sharing of intelligence is supposed to be voluntary,” critics of the bill say the provisions “will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity by giving companies immunity from lawsuits for sharing information with the government.”

Amash told Truth in Media he believes the surveillance provisions were “quietly slipped” into the massive spending bill in an attempt to “avoid full scrutiny.”

[pull_quote_center]These provisions were quietly slipped into the omnibus to avoid full scrutiny. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, and our Fourth Amendment privacy protections are as important as anything.[/pull_quote_center]

Obama Signs ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’

After approval from the United States House of Representatives, the Senate passed the Every Student Succeeds Act on Wednesday, a federal education bill that would replace No Child Left Behind. President Obama signed the bill Thursday.

The bill, which was introduced on April 30, is described as “an Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that every child achieves.”

The Department of Education presented the bill as one that in addition to providing “federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education,” would also offer “grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for text and library books,” and would create special education centers and scholarships for low-income college students.

This bill, consisting of 1,061 pages, would replace “No Child Left Behind,” which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002, and looked to close “achievement gaps” by mandating standardized testing.

ESSA is supposed to repeal annual federal progress reports, replacing them with a individual statewide accountability system that prohibits federal interference.

At the state level, ESSA will still require statewide assessments in reading and math for students in the 3rd to the 8th grades and once in high school, along with science tests given three times between the 3rd and the 12th grade.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Dec. 2, Republican Georgia State Sen. William Ligon questioned “why we need a 1061-page federal bill dealing with education policy.”

[pull_quote_center]I have been told by a member of our congressional delegation that bill’s length was needed to repeal many existing federal laws dealing with education. Unfortunately, a review of the bill reveals not much in the way of repeal but that once again the federal government is driving education policy in every State in the Union through grants and waivers.[/pull_quote_center]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the bill, calling it “another bipartisan achievement for our country.”

While he did not vote on Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) released a statement saying that he does not support the bill.

Cruz said the bill “unfortunately continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system,” which is the “same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core.”

[pull_quote_center]We should be empowering parents and local school districts instead of perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our nation’s children. In many ways, the conference report was worse than the original Senate bill—removing the few good provisions from the House bill that would have allowed some Title I portability for low-income students as well as a parental opt-out from onerous federal accountability standards.[/pull_quote_center]

Presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also did not vote on the bill. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted against it.

Congressman: At Least 72 Homeland Security Employees on Terrorist Watchlist

The United States terrorist watchlist includes the names of 72 employees at the Department of Homeland Security, according to one Democratic lawmaker.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who was one of 47 Democrats in the House of Representatives to support a GOP bill that would increase the screening of refugees from Iraq and Syria, claimed that DHS has major problems within its own system.

During an interview with Boston Public Radio, Lynch said an investigation was conducted in August by the Office of the Inspector General, which revealed that 72 of the individuals on the U.S. terrorist watchlist were DHS employees.

[pull_quote_center]Back in August, we did an investigation—the Inspector General did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security. The director had to resign because of that.[/pull_quote_center]

Lynch also said an investigation was conducted into the practices of the Transportation Security Administration in eight airports, and it resulted in a 95 percent failure rate.

“We had staffers go into eight different airports to test the department of homeland security screening process at major airports,” Lynch said. “They had a 95 percent failure rate. We had folks—this was a testing exercise—we had folks going in there with guns on their ankles, and other weapons on their persons, and there was a 95 percent failure rate.”

[RELATED: TSA Fails DHS Security Test, Allows Weapons, Bombs to Breach Security 67 of 70 Times]

Lynch used previous DHS failures as an example for why he supported the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act when it passed in the House 289 to 137 on Nov. 19. The bill, which President Obama has promised to veto, would require the DHS secretary, the FBI director and the director of national intelligence to clear each refugee before that individual is admitted to the United States.

“It’s a very simple bill, I know that it’s got subsumed within a larger discussion about immigration policy, but basically, the bill we voted on was a very short bill—four pages in length,” Lynch said. “It said that the director of national security shall review the vetting process as being conducted by both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Senate Passes Bill Repealing Obamacare Provisions, Defunding Planned Parenthood

The United States Senate passed a budget bill on Thursday that aims to repeal several key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and seeks to halt funding to Planned Parenthood.

HR 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015,” would overhaul Obamacare provisions such as the requirement for most people to obtain healthcare coverage, the expansion of Medicaid, and the taxes imposed on income, insurance policies and medical devices that were required to fund Obamacare.

The bill would also put an end to the nearly $450 million given to Planned Parenthood annually. While the Senate did vote on over a dozen amendments to the bill, they rejected two amendments that would have given money to Planned Parenthood.

[RELATED: Federal Court: Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate Violated Religious Freedom]

The Senate also blocked proposals for increased gun control that were pushed after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday.

Although President Obama has promised to veto the bill, it marks the first time legislation of its kind could make it to the president’s desk without being prevented by Democrats in Congress.

Needing 51 votes to pass, the bill passed in the Senate 52-47, and will go on to the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass, as a similar bill was passed on Oct. 23.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill presents Obama with a choice that could lead to “better care” for Americans with his consent.

“President Obama will have a choice,” McConnell said. “He can defend a status quo that’s failed the middle class by vetoing the bill, or he can work toward a new beginning and better care by signing it.”

Healthcare spending topped $3.03 trillion in 2014, up 5.3 percent from 2013, which marked the highest growth since 2007.

In terms of GOP presidential candidates, the bill received the approval of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not vote.

House Freedom Caucus Opposes Paul Ryan’s Terms for House Speaker

The House Freedom Caucus ensured that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would have the support to secure the position of Speaker of the House next week following a vote on Wednesday night.

However, while Ryan did receive two-thirds of the vote, he did not receive the 80 percent required for an endorsement, and the group stated that it would not accept all of his terms for Speaker.

After the meeting, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) said“We are not meeting all his demands, but if he wants to be speaker, he has the votes as of tonight.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) shared a similar sentiment, regarding the group’s support for Paul. “We are sending the message to the conference and Paul Ryan that he has our support, but that we will continue to ask for the changes that we are asking for,” he said.

Following the vote, Ryan posted a statement on this Twitter, thanking the House Freedom Caucus for its support:

[pull_quote_center]I’m grateful for the support of a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus. I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the week, but I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team.[/pull_quote_center]

Paul’s run for Speaker of the House comes after Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he was stepping down, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the assumed replacement, dropped out of the race.

TIME noted that Ryan has given five main conditions to run for Speaker of the House, including that the Speaker should be a visionary who communicates the party agenda; the speaker will only concede to rules changes if the entire conference agrees; there will be no motions to vacate the chair; he must have free time to spend with his family; and everyone in the conference must vote for him.

Ryan’s condition for “family time” has drawn criticism due to the fact that during his time as a Representative, Ryan has opposed nearly every federal policy on paid family leave.

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Implement 40-Hour Work Weeks For Congress

A bill proposed by Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) calls for a mandated 40-hour workweek for all members of Congress while they are in Washington.

House Resolution 457 states that it seeks to amend “the Rules of the House of Representatives to require that the House be in session at least 40 hours each week other than a week that is designated as a district work period.”

Jolly, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016, said that he is sponsoring the bill because he sees a frustration among the public that Congress has not “engaged in a legislative fight to begin to advance the agenda that is right for the American people.”

“Americans are sick and tired of Washington inaction,” Jolly said. “They expect their leaders to govern. Look at all the bills gathering dust while Congress braces for the next self-made calamity. Let’s give voice to the people on issues like border security, transportation, a budget that finally balances.”

The Hill noted that during a typical workweek in Washington, “House members come in Monday evenings for votes at 6:30 p.m. and depart for their districts by early afternoon Thursday,” and then “alternately, the House convenes on Tuesdays and remains in session until Friday.”

This proposal comes after Jolly wrote a letter to the House Rules Committee in Sept. 2014 calling for a similar change, and requesting that while session, workweeks run “from 8:00 a.m. on Monday until 6:00 p.m. on Friday.”

A press release on the bill stated that over the last 20 years, while Congress has been in session for about 137 days each year, the typical American works 40-hour, 5-day workweeks, and spends about 241 days at work each year.

“This ‘try-nothing’ Congress needs a reality check,” Jolly said. “A work week in Washington should be no different than a work week in every other town across the nation.”

Conservative Files Motion To Oust John Boehner As House Speaker

The growing rift among House Republicans reached a new height on Tuesday when Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) filed a motion to oust Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as House Speaker.

In a copy of the resolution, obtained by Politico, Meadows claimed that Boehner has “endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.” 

Meadows, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that is often in disagreement with Boehner, filed the motion after he was recently removed from his title as the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. Meadows lost the title after voting against “a leadership-backed procedural vote on trade legislation,” and was retuned to his post after protests from fellow conservatives, according to the Washington Post.

In his motion, Meadows also alleged that Boehner has diminished the “voice of the American people” through inaction, by weakening Congress and making it “subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches.”

“Whereas the Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker,” wrote Meadows, who went on to say that Boehner “intentionally provided for voice votes on consequential and controversial legislation,” and did not give House members the required three-day period to review legislation.

Some House members aren’t taking Meadows seriously, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, who called the motion a “gimmick” and suggested that Meadows was just doing it because he is “probably in trouble in his district so he needs a way to raise money.”

In contrast, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), also a member of the Freedom Caucus, said that he has “talked about the need for new leadership for a long time” because ultimately “people at home want us to take a new direction.”

Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) said that he hopes talk show hosts “pick up on this thing and beat the drum so loud that other members feel like they can be encouraged to join this effort to change the leadership of the House.”

Reuters noted that although it is unlikely the motion filed by Meadows will pass, “it highlights the friction within the Republican Party ahead of a presidential election in 2016.”

“It’s really more about trying to have a conversation on making this place work, where everybody’s voice matters, where there’s not a punitive culture,” Meadows said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some discussion about that in the days and weeks to come.”

Meadows was just one of the 25 House Republicans who voted against Boehner when he was up for re-election in Jan. After he secured his third term as House Speaker, Boehner retaliated against some of the lawmakers who voted against him, such as Florida Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent, by removing them from the House Rules Committee.

House Passes Rep. Massie’s Amendment to Block ATF from Banning Common Rifle Ammo

Last Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed an amendment, originally introduced by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) into the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill, that would block the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from retroactively redefining common rifle ammo as “armor piercing” in an effort to use a legal loophole to ban bullets through the executive branch. The legislative push to protect rifle ammo comes on the heels of a failed Obama administration effort to direct the ATF to ban .223-caliber M855 “green tip” rounds, which are popular among AR-15 enthusiasts.

In addition to Massie’s amendment, two other pro-gun amendments were tacked on to the CJS appropriations bill. “Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced an amendment that would prevent any M855 or SS109 (.223 caliber / 5.56mm x 45mm) type rifle ammunition from being treated as ‘armor piercing’ ammunition. This comes after the [ATF] backed off a controversial proposal in March to restrict the popular M855/SS109 ammunition. Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) introduced an amendment that would overturn a 2014 administrative ban on 7N6 type (5.45mm x 39mm) ammunition. Both the Hudson amendment and the Gosar amendment passed by voice vote,” read a press release from Representative Massie’s office.

While the Gosar and Hudson amendments directly target the specific ammo bans recently attempted by the executive branch, Congressman Massie’s amendment more broadly prevents the ATF from redefining rifle ammo as armor piercing in the event that a firearms company manufactures a pistol capable of firing the type of rounds in question.

[RELATED: ATF Director Resigns Amid Controversy Over Backdoor Ammo Ban]

The administration has banned, and threatens to ban, common rifle ammunition using an overly broad interpretation of a law that was written for handgun ammunition. My amendment uses the congressional power of the purse to defund ammunition bans from the executive branch,” said Congressman Thomas Massie.

The text of Representative Massie’s amendment states, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to treat ammunition as armor piercing for purposes of chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, except for ammunition designed and intended for use in a handgun (in accordance with 18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(17)).”

Townhall notes that supporters of the abandoned ATF plan to ban common rifle ammo argued that the commercial development of AR-15 handguns transformed “green tip” rounds into armor piercing bullets and that banning them would save the lives of law enforcement officers.

According to The Washington Times, “AR-15 ‘handguns’ are nearly 2 feet long and weigh about 6 pounds, making them difficult to conceal [like a traditional handgun].

The CJS appropriations bill passed the House by a vote of 242 to 183. The pro-gun amendments must pass the Senate before the appropriations bill would be sent to President Obama’s desk.

Dennis Hastert Pushed For The Patriot Act That Led To His Indictment

On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has been indicted for paying  $3.5 million in “hush money” to ensure silence about his “prior misconduct” in a town where he was a high school teacher.

The grand jury indictment states that Hastert, 73, has been charged with one count of evading bank regulations and withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 in separate transactions on at least 106 occasions, and one count of lying to the FBI about the reason behind the transactions.

According to the Associated Press, each count against Hastert “carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

The Huffington Post noted that Hastert, who has taken credit for the Patriot Act’s passage in the House of Representatives in 2001, found out the hard way that the law he helped pass has given federal law enforcement the tools to indict him.

The indictment describes the person who received the “hush money” as “Individual A,” and noted that while Hastert was a high school teacher and a coach in Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 to 1981, Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, and has known Hastert most of Individual A’s life.

The AP noted that the indictment is very vague, and in addition to not telling what Hastert’s “prior misconduct” was, it also does not tell Hastert’s relationship with “Individual A.”

Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago office of the investigation firm Kroll, told the AP that the language of the indictment suggests that the misconduct was related to Hastert’s position as a coach and teacher.

“Notice the teacher and coach language,” Cramer said. “Feds don’t put in language like that unless it’s relevant.”

In the aftermath of 9/11, Hastert was largely in favor of implementing the Patriot Act, which passed in the House of Representatives on Oct. 24, 2001, with a vote of 357 to 66.

In 2011, Haster took credit for passing the Act in the House, and told Real Clear Politics that passing the Act was not an easy task, because it “wasn’t popular, and there was a lot of fight in the Congress” over it.

The Huffington Post noted that the indictment “suggests that law enforcement officials relied on the Patriot Act’s expansion of bank reporting requirements to snare Hastert,” because it “increased the scope of cash reporting laws to help trace funds used for terrorism.”

Trey Gowdy: Benghazi Committee Lacks Authority To Subpoena Hillary’s Private Server

On Wednesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said that while the House has the authority to subpoena Hillary Clinton’s private server, his committee has a “more limited jurisdiction.”

In an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Gowdy explained that although the Benghazi Committee lacks the authority under House rules, “most experts believe” that the House as an entity could issue a subpoena for the server.

I would think if you’re interested in national security breaches, and also the completeness of the public record, that you would want a neutral, detached arbiter as opposed to her own lawyer,” Gowdy said. “The lawyer’s obligation is to the client. I want someone with an obligation to my fellow citizens to say the public record is complete. I can’t just take her lawyer’s word for it.

Clinton’s personal email on a private server, which she used to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, was revealed in a report from the New York Times on March 2.

The Committee issued subpoenas on March 4, for all emails related to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, from both Clinton and her staff members’ personal accounts.

On March 27, Gowdy released a statement revealing that Clinton deleted all of her emails, and wiped her server clean. Gowdy explained that while it is not clear exactly when Clinton chose to delete the emails, he believes it was after the State Department first requested that she make her emails public in October 2014.

On March 31, the Benghazi Committee formally requested a transcribed interview with Clinton. The interview would include questions over Clinton’s use of private email for government business, along with questions on why Clinton chose to delete all of the emails on her server, after she was aware that they had been subpoenaed by the Committee.

While Gowdy’s request said that the Committee was willing to schedule the interview at a time that was convenient for Clinton, it gave a deadline of May 1.

Politico reported that a spokesperson for the Committee said that Clinton has yet to answer the request for either the interview about the emails, or a public hearing on the 2012 attack in Benghazi.

Gowdy told Hewitt that including Clinton, he plans to interview several others, regarding the Benghazi attack, such as former  CIA deputy director Michael Morell, Clinton’s chief-of-staff Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. The interview list will also include Sidney Blumenthal, who according to Politico, is a “longtime confidant of the Clintons whose hacked emails to Hillary Clinton first revealed the existence of her private account.”

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that it obtained letters, which revealed that congressional investigators wrote to Clinton in Dec. 2012, asking about her use of private email for government business.

The Times noted that it was not until March 2013, two months after Clinton left office, that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the author of the letter, received an answer from the State Department, which “ignored the question and provided no response.”

US House Passes Resolution To Arm Ukraine As Part Of Strategy To ‘Expose’ Putin

The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution on Monday to send military aid to Ukraine. In the resolution, US lawmakers stated that while providing lethal aid to Ukraine would help the country defend itself, it would also serve as part of a long-term strategy to “expose and challenge” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The bill, which was titled, “Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” passed 348-48.

The resolution stated that the Russian Federation under Putin has “engaged in relentless political, economic, and military aggression to subvert the independence and violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” which includes the “illegal and forcible occupation of Crimea by Russian military and security forces.”

According to the resolution, Russian military and security forces have been infiltrated and continue to provide direct combat support to separatists in Ukraine, which has resulted in “over 6,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, and more than a million displaced persons.”

Failure to stop this aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, especially its unprovoked and armed intervention in a sovereign country, illegal and forcible occupation of its territory, and unilateral efforts to redraw the internationally-recognized borders of Ukraine undermines the foundation of the international order that was established and has been defended at great cost by the United States and its allies in the aftermath of World War II.

The resolution went on to claim that Russian aggression against Ukraine is the “most visible and recent manifestation of a revisionist Kremlin strategy to redraw international borders and impose its will on its neighbors, including NATO allies.

Quoting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko when he addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress in Sept. 2014, the resolution stated that although the US has provided Ukraine with a great deal of non-lethal assistance, “one cannot win a war with blankets.”

The resolution also quoted the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, who said that the US should “absolutely consider providing lethal aid” to Ukraine and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who said during his confirmation hearing that he is “very much inclined” to providing Ukraine with lethal aid.

The resolution stated that the US and its allies should “provide assistance to support energy diversification and efficiency initiatives in Ukraine to lessen its vulnerability to coercion by the Russian Federation.”

Whereas the United States and its allies need a long-term strategy to expose and challenge Vladimir Putin’s corruption and repression at home and his aggression abroad,” concluded the resolution.

Benghazi Chairman: There are “Huge Gaps” in Hillary Clinton’s Email Records

Last week, it was revealed that rumored 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used her private email for government business during her four years as Secretary of State. The House Committee investigating the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, issued subpoenas on Wednesday for all of Clinton’s emails related to Libya.

On Sunday, the chairman of the Benghazi Committee, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, said that although Clinton provided 50,000 pages of emails, documentation from her trip to Libya following the terrorist attacks was not included.

Gowdy appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on Sunday, and he confirmed that there were “huge gaps” in the email records that were given to the Benghazi Committee.

Gowdy said that while Clinton’s emails are still under investigation, there would be no “selective releases” of the messages. “If she wants to release all of them, with the emphasis being on the word all, she’s welcome to do that. I can’t stop her from doing it,” Gowdy said. “But serious investigations don’t make selective releases.”

When asked about any significant gaps in the emails Clinton turned over to the Committee, Gowdy said that there were several “huge gaps” that raise questions about Clinton’s credibility.

There are gaps of months and months and months,” Gowdy said. “And if you think to that iconic picture of her on a C-17 flying to Libya, she has sunglasses on and she has her handheld device in her hand, we have no e-mails from that day. In fact, we have no e-mails from that trip.”

Gowdy said that it shouldn’t be up to Clinton to decide “what is a public record and what’s not.” He explained that he ultimately blames the State Department for allowing the arrangement, and for not doing anything about it until they received a request from the House Committee on Benghazi.

In an interview with CBS News on Saturday, President Obama said he learned of Clinton’s use of private email at “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.”

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that while Obama was aware that Clinton conducted business using a private email account, he was not aware that she was using a private server to send those emails.

Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the White House, confirmed that Obama exchanged emails with Clinton using her private email address. “The president — as I think many people expected — did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with the secretary of state,” Earnest said.

March 12, 2015: UPDATE: Fact Check: Holes in Hillary’s Email Story

Lawmaker Proposes Required Classes on Gun Safety in Public Schools

A proposed Second Amendment Education Act in South Carolina would require all public schools in the state to provide a three-week course on gun safety, with curriculum approved by the National Rifle Association.

The bill, which was written by Representatives Alan Clemmons, Richard Yow, and Gary R. Smith, mandates that all public elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in South Carolina “provide instruction in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution for at least three consecutive weeks” each academic year.

CarolinaLive reported that Clemmons filed the bill, in order to provide an alternative for the current “Zero Tolerance” policies in schools that prohibit students from bringing guns on campus.

Clemens said that he felt the current polices were “subjecting the rising generation to the mindset of the instrument, the firearm, is evil regardless of the hand that the firearm is in.”

The more we debunk and demystify the forbidden,” said Clemmons. “The better it is for the education of children and the better it is for the child who finds an unattended firearm where a catastrophe could occur.”

The bill would require schools to use a curriculum for teaching the Second Amendment that has been “developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association.”

Clemmons told CarolinaLive that he thinks the classroom course on guns should cover “the history of the second amendment, why was it important to our fathers, why was it so important that it was included in the bill of rights, and how the second amendment folds into modern society.”

According to the bill, December 15 would be designated as an annual “Second Amendment Awareness Day” in the state of South Carolina, and public schools would be required to “conduct poster or essay contests with related themes, and to provide certain recognition for statewide contest winners.”

The second amendment applies to every American citizen,” said Clemmons. “It is a personal right to bear arms for the sake of defending oneself if the need should arise.”

CarolinaLive reported that Clemmons “prefiled the Second Amendment Education Act ahead of the General Assembly returning to session this month.”

Boehner Secures Third Term as Speaker, Retaliates Against Opposition

On Tuesday, after a loss of 25 votes on the House floor from fellow Republicans, John Boehner was elected to a third term as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He began by retaliating against a few of the representatives who voted against him.

The New York Times reported that the 25 Republicans who voted against Boehner compiled the “largest number of votes against a speaker from members of his or her own party in at least two decades.”

Once he secured the title for the third time, Boehner removed Florida representatives Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent from the House Rules Committee, as a demonstration that what was “accepted during the last Congress is no longer acceptable, not with the House’s biggest GOP majority in decades,” according to Politico.

Webster was one of the candidates who ran against Boehner. He received 12 votes, which was more than any of the other opposing candidates.

The New York Times reported that while the opposition from Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida were expected, Webster’s last-minute entry “came as somewhat of a surprise,” and did the most damage, due to the fact that Webster is a “more pragmatic Republican who has a cordial relationship” with Boehner.

According to Bloomberg, Representative Randy Weber of Texas claims Boehner “won’t let him sponsor a bill headed for House floor consideration because he voted for Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas for speaker.

I’ve already lost the authorship of one bill,” said Weber, “Look, it shouldn’t be that way. It was going to be a bill on regulation of clean nuclear energy.”

Politico reported that upon hearing about the growing opposition, Boehner met with representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Justin Amash of Michigan, and Matt Salmon of Arizona on Monday night, and with Raul Labrador of Idaho on Tuesday, prior to the vote. While Meadows voted for Webster, and Amash voted for Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, both Salmon and Labrador voted in support of Boehner.

According to the New York Times, although Boehner has always faced some opposition from other Republicans, Tea Party conservatives “felt betrayed anew late last month” after Boehner ignored their pleas to deny funding in the federal spending plan to enforce Obama’s new immigration orders.

Politico reported that while members are “already making noises about reversing any punitive action by Boehner and the leadership,” the speaker’s allies “warn that further retaliation could be on the way.”

Republican-Led Committee Finds No Interference from Obama Administration in Benghazi Attacks

On Friday, the United States House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee released a report, regarding its investigation of the terrorist attacks that occurred on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

The report stated that it was meant to “serve as the definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during and after the tragic events” that led to the death of four Americans: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and CIA Contractors: Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

According to the report, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “conducted a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation into the tragic attacks against two U.S. facilities on Benghazi, Libya, on September 11-12, 2012.”

The report, which came as a result of a nearly two-year investigation, found that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi,” and that there was “no intelligence failure prior to the attacks.

It also claimed that after the attacks, the “early intelligence assessments and the Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate,” and that the attackers seemed to come from a range of backgrounds:

The Committee finds that a mixed group of individuals, including those affiliated with Al-Qa’ida, participated in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, although the Committee finds that the intelligence was and remains conflicting about the identities, affiliations, and motivations of the attackers.”

The report concluded that the Committee found no evidence that the CIA “conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi,” that the Intelligence Community “shipped arms to Syria,” or that any of the officers were intimidated to destroy information or change their accounts of the events:

The Committee found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi.”

While this report states that there was no interference, Benswann.com reported claims from former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, in September 2014, which stated, “Allies of Hillary Clinton removed potentially damaging documents before handing over files to the Accountability Review Board.

Breaking: House votes to arm Syrian rebels

WASHINGTON D.C., September 18, 2014 – On Wednesday, the House passed a bill authorizing the training and arming of Syrian rebels in their fight against the Islamic State. 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats voted to pass the bill for a final voting tally of 273 to 156.

“Today’s House vote is a step towards making that difference, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill without delay.” – President Obama

President Obama praised the measure stating, “Countries in the region and around the world are coming together to confront ISIL. The United States can make a decisive difference. Today’s House vote is a step towards making that difference, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill without delay.”

The vote comes after multiple days of debate in which many lawmakers from both parties expressed concern about the scope and benefits of the bill. The bill passed as an amendment to a stopgap spending bill.

The amendment limits the scope of authorization to training up to 5,000 members of the Syrian opposition. The bill provides no new funding, but does authorize the Pentagon to shift funds from other accounts if necessary.

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House Republicans let their own immigration bill fail without a vote

Rather than see the bill defeated, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) withdrew legislation Thursday, which would have addressed the U.S.-Mexico border crisis involving  thousands of immigrant children.

This comes just before the August recess, which means no further legislation will be able to be voted on by Congress or reach the the president’s desk concerning the border issue until the House reconvenes in September.

The bill was going to be voted on party lines as Democrats almost universally opposed the bill.  However, an estimated 20 House conservatives were said to be voting against their Republican allies, which would have resulted in the defeat of the legislation.  Those Republicans who opposed the bill said, according to the Washington Post, “the proposal did not address the core issues,” and the scaled down $659 million price-tag was enough to solve the issue.

Originally, the proposed bill would have come with a price of $1.5 billion, which would have drawn some Democrats to the bill.  This still fell short of the $2.7 billion House Democrats proposed, and the $3.7 billion the president asked for, but the few votes crossing the aisle would have helped ensure something was going to get done.

Instead, the House Republicans slimmed the bill down in hopes of getting more Republican support, but this ultimately drove the Democrats who would have voted with them away.

Even without full support though, leaders of the House Republicans released a joint statement, according to FOX News, saying the “situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was disappointed at how quickly support for the bill eroded, but hoped this would put more pressure on President Obama to act on the issue.  “In many ways, it was his actions and inactions that caused the crisis on the border,” said Rogers.  “He has the authority and power to solve the problem forthwith.”

House Republicans released a statement, according to the New York Times, saying even though they did not vote on the bill, “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shifted the attention from the president back onto the House Republicans saying, “Because of their actions with this supplemental bill, they really have no standing to talk about meeting our moral obligation to have a humanitarian solution to the problem at the border.”

Ohio Libertarian Candidate For Congress Has GOP Worried

The 19th District of Ohio’s House of Representatives is being shaken up this year by a Libertarian Candidate, who is running in what the Columbus Dispatch calls, “the most well-funded challenge an Ohio legislative incumbent has ever faced from a Libertarian.”

Chad Monnin is a businessman from New Albany, Ohio. He is a former Republican, running as a Libertarian, against Michael Johnston, a former Libertarian who is running as a Democrat, and Anne Gonzales, the incumbent Republican who has served two terms.

I’m under no illusion. It’s going to be extremely difficult,” said Monnin, regarding running as a Libertarian. This race is his first attempt at running for the Ohio House, and while he is new to the Libertarian party, he is investing in it with confidence. “I believe anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” said Monnin, who has already spent $100,000 of the $250,000 of his own money that he plans to spend on his campaign.

On 95 percent of Republican issues, I line up fairly well,” Monnin said. In addition to being involved in Ohio’s Republican Party as a deputy finance director for the 2004 campaign, and as a member of Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign, Monnin also has experience in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

The 19th District is a big ATM machine for the Republican Party,” said Monnin, whose transition into the Libertarian party is best explained by the fact that he thinks current Republicans aren’t living up to their promises. “There should be a party out there that represents individual liberty, lower taxes and smaller government.”

The Republican Party left me,” Monnin claimed. “I really do not believe the Republican Party represents Republican values any longer, and I don’t feel represented by Anne Gonzales.”

According to Monnin, he met Gonzales for the first time at a New Albany Chamber of Commerce breakfast, two weeks ago. “She says to me she really wants the job and likes the job and wants to continue, but if I’m in the race, that could be problematic,” said Monnin.

Monnin’s financial standpoint has the GOP concerned, and he told the Columbus Dispatch that he has been pressured by “prominent people,” and has resisted pressure from GOP leaders to drop out of the race.

However, despite any criticism, Monnin says, “I’m in it to win it.

Indiana GOP candidate defends Facebook comments

John Johnston, an Indiana GOP candidate running for the House of Representatives, is defending controversial comments on poverty he made via Facebook.

“For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts,” stated Johnston on Facebook.  “No one has the guts to just let [poor people] wither and die.”

Johnston continues by calling out political candidates from both sides of the aisle on not calling a “spade a spade,” and “enabling” this type of behavior. “As long as the Dems can get their votes, the enabling will continue.  The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether.”

Some have called Johnston out on these comments saying he wants to end welfare and food stamp programs.  Johnston has replied to these accusations saying he does not believe a thoughtful society would let people go hungry, and he was simply speaking in hyperbole.  He also said he has no intention of ending these programs.

Later, Johnston commented on a Facebook post from Mad Mac, a Facebook group which satirizes and makes fun of politics in northern Indiana, saying, with regards to his earlier statements, “Able bodied people are trapped in poverty because they have nowhere, no idea, no hope of anything other than the subsistence life that the government gives them.”