September 18th, 2014
11:03 AM ET

House Approves Plan to Assist Syrian Rebels; Senate Votes Thursday

The House on Wednesday approved President Obama's request to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS.

With significant opposition to the proposal in both parties, the vote was 273 -156. More than one third of the House - 71 Republicans and 85 Democrats - voted no.

Many Republicans argue the strategy isn't tough enough to defeat ISIS; many Democrats worry the plan could drag the United States into another long military engagement.

The proposal would authorize the Pentagon to provide assistance to "appropriately vetted" members of the Syrian opposition and require the administration to give Congress a detailed plan for helping the rebels before that assistance could begin.

The Senate will vote Thursday on the proposal.

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May 9th, 2014
11:23 AM ET

Democrats Yet to Decide on Benghazi Panel

ouse Democrats remained undecided Friday on whether they would join a select committee created by majority Republicans to investigate the Benghazi terror attack.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said his side was waiting for a response from Republicans on what he called "due process," which translates to Democrats getting some say in committee proceedings regarding subpoenas and questioning of witnesses.

He indicated a final decision was unlikely on Friday, though the House Democratic caucus met to discuss the issue.

Options under consideration include participating as a minority bloc, which Republicans have proposed; having a lone member take part to register disapproval but maintain a presence, or rejecting the entire process as a partisan witch hunt.

"We are trying to find a way to make this work but the Republicans have shown no inclination to make it work," Rep. Steve Israel of New York told reporters outside the meeting. "If this is going to be a true bipartisan inquiry we will participate. If it is engineered to be a Republican campaign strategy, it is much harder for us to participate."

The September 2012 armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Republicans have complained since that the Obama administration failed to properly secure the compound, neglected to send military assets to try to save the besieged Americans and then tried to cover up exactly what happened.

The administration and Democrats counter that multiple investigations have found security deficiencies, but not the kind of wrongdoing alleged by Republicans.

For Republicans, the issue presents an opportunity to attack then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run.

Clinton is polling well so far against all likely GOP challengers, and the emotional Benghazi issue offers Republicans a chance to exploit one of her few potential vulnerabilities.

Multiple investigations

A nearly party line vote of 232-186 on Thursday established the panel despite investigations by multiple House committees that have reviewed documents, interviewed witnesses and held numerous hearings.

GOP plans call for seven Republicans and five Democrats on the committee, which would have subpoena powers. Boehner already appointed South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, to lead the effort.

Seven Democrats backed the formation of the committee. Most face tough reelection bids in "red" districts.

Democrats argued that creation of a special panel was a political ploy to keep the controversy in play during a midterm election year.

"If there is not equal representation of Democrats and Republicans, and that this is not a fair process, then not participating in a sham select committee after 13 investigations, 50 briefings, 25,000 pages of documents, for what is essentially a political ploy is something that should be considered," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairman, told CNN on Friday.

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February 24th, 2014
11:13 AM ET

DNC Chair on Whether Democrats Will Win Back House

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says her party will gain seats in the House of Representatives in this year's midterm elections.

But the congresswoman from Florida wouldn't go as far as others in her party have in predicting that the Democrats will win back control of the House come November.

Asked Monday by CNN anchor Kate Bolduan on "New Day" about the Democrats' chances to retake the chamber, the DNC chairwoman said, "I think we have tremendous opportunities across the country. I think we're going to pick up seats."

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December 12th, 2013
10:35 AM ET

House to Vote on Bipartisan Budget Deal

Congressional negotiators reached a bipartisan budget compromise on Tuesday that would prevent another government shutdown, if approved by the House and Senate.

“Republicans have their issues with this deal but so do many democrats who wanted to see much more, including an extension of unemployment benefits. So there's something in here for everyone to hate," reports CNN's Joe Johns.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday the deal with his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, would set spending levels, reduce the deficit, and relieve some of the arbitrary, forced spending cuts - known as sequestration.

The pair found common ground just days before a Friday deadline to settle the matter.

"We have broken through the partisanship and the gridlock," Murray said.

Ryan said the deal was "a clear improvement" over the status quo.

"This agreement makes sure that we don't have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure we don't have another government shutdown scenario in October. It makes sure that we don't lurch from crisis to crisis," the Wisconsin Republican said.

President Barack Obama called the development a good first step.

"This agreement doesn't include everything I'd like - and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That's the nature of compromise. But it's a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done," Obama said in a statement.

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