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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obama Doubles Down On Vow To Close GITMO

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 19, 2015
The House reconvened at 9:30 AM today.

This morning the House passed:
H.R. 4038 (242-183) - "To require that supplemental certifications and background investigations be completed prior to the admission of certain aliens as refugees, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3189 (241 - 185) — "To amend the Federal Reserve Act to establish requirements for policy rules and blackout periods of the Federal Open Market Committee, to establish requirements for certain activities of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and to amend title 31, United States Code, to reform the manner in which the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is audited, and for other purposes." The bill would require the Federal Reserve to explain publicly its monetary policy, specifically how it sets interests rates and the country’s money supply.

On passage of H.R. 3189, the Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization Act, Speaker Ryan said, "If the Federal Reserve explained to the public how it made its decisions, the American people would have greater confidence in them. Families could better plan for the future, invest their money wisely, and create opportunity for all of us. I thank Chairman Hensarling and the Financial Services Committee for offering this commonsense legislation."

Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 1210 (255-174) — "To amend the Truth in Lending Act to provide a safe harbor from certain requirements related to qualified mortgages for residential mortgage loans held on an originating depository institution's portfolio, and for other purposes."
H.R. 1737 (332-96) — "To nullify certain guidance of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and to provide requirements for guidance issued by the Bureau with respect to indirect auto lending."

Today at his weekly press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) discussed the fight against ISIS and the need to protect the American people from terrorists trying to take advantage of our refugee program.

The first duty of our government is to keep the American people safe. That’s why, today, the House will vote on a plan to pause our Syrian refugee program. If our law enforcement and intelligence community cannot verify that each and every person coming here is not a security threat, then they shouldn’t be allowed in. Right now, the government can’t certify these standards, so this plan pauses the program. It’s a security test—not a religious test. This reflects our values. This reflects our responsibilities. And this is urgent. We cannot and should not wait to act—not when our national security is at stake.

“Often, in times of crisis, bills like these come together sort of haphazardly. That’s not the case here. The Homeland Security Committee has been looking at this issue all year long. It held hearings. It issued recommendations to deal with the very refugee problem we’re talking about today. Right after the attacks, the majority leader put together a task force of relevant committee chairs to draw upon this work. We had an intelligence committee briefing for our members. We reached out to our Democratic colleagues. We didn’t think of party labels when we mourned for France. We should do the same thing when protecting our country.

“This is an important first step. But we need to do more. Not just about the refugees, but in the fight against ISIS. The defense bill that we sent the president this week requires him to present a plan to defeat ISIS. In the meantime, our task force will continue the work on these grave challenges.”

The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today.

The Senate has resumed consideration of H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill.

At 2 PM the Senate began a series of votes on nominees to be ambassadors to Libya, Tajikistan, Oman, Uganda, Swaziland, and Mozambique.

The Senate today agreed by unanimous consent to pass H.R. 3996, a two week extension of highway and transit programs, as a conference committee continues working on a new highway bill.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 91-6 to invoke cloture on the motion to go to conference with the House on S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act. The Senate then agreed to the motion to go to conference by voice vote.

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed President Obama’s ongoing crusade to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay despite having no good plan to do so, nor a reasonable alternative to it.

He said, “Years ago, then-candidate Obama made a campaign promise that has not withstood the measure of time or the realities brought by terrorism. He said he wanted to close the secure detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. . . .

“It turns out, the reality of closing the secure detention facility is a lot harder than making promises on the campaign trail. It’s an incredibly complex issue with grave national security concerns for the citizens of our country and our allies. The fact that the President has never been able to present any kind of serious plan to Congress seems to say a lot.

“We hear he’s finally working on one now. We will of course give consideration to what he sends. We will of course keep an open mind. It doesn’t mean Congress is going to agree with him — it’s going to be a very tough sell because it is hard to understand why indefinite detention for terrorists on United States soil is preferable to detaining terrorists who cannot be released in Guantanamo. This is especially true when one considers the fact that bringing terrorists here presents serious risks that simply do not exist if we keep the terrorists in the secure facility there.”

According to Roll Call, “The White House is pouring cold water on a report it is delaying a plan to close the terrorist detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, saying the blueprint remains under construction.

“A delay would amount to yet another blow to President Barack Obama’s quest to shutter the controversial prison and transfer some prisoners to U.S. soil. A senior administration official told CQ Roll Call Wednesday night the plan ‘will be delivered to Congress when complete’ because closing the facility ‘remains a priority for President Obama.’

“The plan was expected to be released late last week, but it never surfaced. With Obama traveling to Turkey then Asia this week, and with the Paris terrorist attacks only days old, conventional wisdom in Washington was the plan would be released after Obama’s return.

“But a Politico article published online late Wednesday afternoon stated the White House had decided to delay submitting its much-anticipated plan to Congress.”

The AP adds, “President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to work ‘meticulously’ with Congress to try to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and said he saw no reason for the Paris attacks to derail his long-planned push to make good on an unfulfilled campaign promise.

“Speaking to reporters at an economic summit, Obama suggested he still intended to submit a plan to Congress outlining a strategy to close Guantanamo
, although he did not offer a time frame. The White House had hoped to send the plan to Congress this week, but the process is stalled over concern about cost estimates, officials said. . . .

“Obama said Thursday he's braced for opposition. ‘I guarantee you there will be strong resistance,’ he said. ‘Because in the aftermath of Paris, I think that there is just a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don't actually make us safer.

“Regardless of timing, the closure plan is unlikely to get much traction in Congress, where legislation prohibiting Obama from moving detainees to U.S. soil just passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.”

Leader McConnell pointed out, “This much is crystal clear though: If the President wants to be able to import Guantanamo terrorists into Americans’ backyards, he’s going to have to persuade a majority in Congress to change the law.

“Just last week, big bipartisan majorities in Congress voted twice to underline the point. We overwhelmingly passed a defense authorization bill with a clear, bipartisan prohibition on the President moving Guantanamo terrorists into our country. We overwhelmingly passed a veterans funding bill with a clear, bipartisan prohibition on the President improving military facilities for the detention of Guantanamo terrorists in our country.

“The Senate has voted many times in recent years to enact these bipartisan protections. We’ve enacted them in Congresses with split party control. We’ve enacted them in Congresses with massive Democratic majorities. The President has signed them into law.

“So if the President wants to bring Guantanamo terrorists into the United States, he has to change the law. That’s the opinion of the President’s own Attorney General. She was asked directly this week if the President could ignore legislation passed by Congress that prohibits him from transferring Guantanamo detainees to American soil. This is what she said. 'The law currently does not allow for that.' Let me repeat that. ‘The law currently does not allow for that.’ This is what the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, a woman appointed by President Obama himself, had to say on his ability to import Guantanamo terrorists into our country.

“This isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone. The fact that the President is now contemplating flouting the law in pursuit of a campaign promise from years ago means that it’s apparently necessary for his own Attorney General to remind everyone that the law is the law.”

Leader McConnell concluded, “There are a multitude of other reasons not to bring these dangerous individuals into our country. I plan to continue reminding my colleagues of them here on the floor.

“If the President ever presents some kind of plan we can actually debate, I’m sure there will be several different views on it. I’m sure we’ll each have a lot to say. I’m sure the President will make his pitch to convince Congress that moving terrorists into American communities is a good idea.

“Like I said, it will be a hard sell. But the President should make his case if he feels passionately about it.

“For now though, we should all at least be able to agree with what one of our Democratic Senate colleagues recently said of the President: ‘He's going to have to comply with the legal restrictions.’”

Tags: President Obama, GITMO, The House, Paul Ryan, National Security, National Defense, Terrorism, Syria To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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