Chad’s Morning Brief: Senator Ted Cruz Doesn’t Trust Republicans, 4 U.S. Citizens Have Been Killed in Drone Strikes, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of May 23, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.
1. Ted Cruz & Republicans (link)
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is in the news again and for a reason that probably won't make many Republican lawmakers happy. Senator Cruz just doesn't trust them.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that he doesn’t trust members of his own party to negotiate a budget conference report.
Cruz's remark came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he thought it was “bizarre” that a member of his own party was objecting to forming a conference committee with the House to work out a budget.
McCain said the objections suggested Senate Republicans didn’t trust House Republicans to hold the party line in negotiations.
“Isn’t it a little bizarre, this whole exercise?” McCain said after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) objected to going to conference. “What we’re saying is that we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.”
Cruz responded that he doesn't trust Republicans.
“The senior senator of Arizona urged senators to trust House Republicans ... and frankly, I don’t trust Republicans,” Cruz said. “It’s the leaders of both parties that got us in this mess. ... A lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree.”
Yet again, another sign that Senator McCain is out of touch and Cruz is spot on. Republicans, including John McCain have been part of the problem in D.C. It's about time we have lawmakers calling each other out.
We need more of that in Washington and it would hurt if we had lawmakers in Austin that would hold members of the GOP to their word.
2. Drone Attacks (link)
The Justice Department admitted yesterday that 4 U.S. citizens have been killed in drone strikes. The revelations came one day before the President is set to deliver a national security speech today.
Attorney General Eric Holder's letter, obtained by POLITICO and addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), includes justification for the administration's targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was involved with Al Qaeda in Yemen. Obama had confirmed Awlaki's death soon after it happened in September 2011, but the administration had not, until Wednesday, confirmed that the killing was carried out by American forces in a drone strike.
The letter, first reported on by The New York Times, also listed three other Americans killed in drone strikes: Awlaki's son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Jude Kenan Mohammed. They "were not specifically targeted by the United States," Holder said.
Obama also plans to announce that he will restart transfers of detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials. That's something he'd indicated would take place when he renewed his pledge to close the facility in remarks earlier this year. Obama isn't planning to offer much detail in his speech Thursday, though officials told the Journal that Obama would lift the ban on sending detainees to Yemen.
The White House would not confirm the report, though an official did say that the president would use his speech to "reiterate his strong commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo as a part of our effort to align our counterterrorism strategy with our values." He will "announce a number of specific steps to advance that goal," the official said, without offering more information. More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are on hunger strikes, and 86 — including 56 from Yemen — have been approved for transfer out of the facility.
Obama will also use his speech to speak about the "legal and policy rationale" for the administration's use of drones, outlinging why the "use of drone strikes is necessary, legal, and just," the White House official said.
In his letter Wednesday, Holder detailed at length the administration's justification for targeting Awlaki, linking him to the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing of a U.S.-bound plane and to a 2010 plot targeting cargo planes headed to the United States.
3. Birdwell Disappointed With Stalled Campus Carry Bill (link)
The so-called campus carry bill is all but dead and State Sen. Brian Birdwell isn't happy about it.
House Bill 972, by state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, would make campus carry the de facto policy in the state but allows institutions to opt out of it on an annual basis. The bill has cleared the House as well as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, where Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, previously refused to allow a vote on Birdwell's similar, though more stringent,Senate Bill 182.
Birdwell told reporters Wednesday — the final day of the session for the Senate to pass bills — that he does not have the necessary votes to suspend the chamber's rules and consider HB 972. "The clock is ticking, and prospects don't improve with the passage of time," he said.
It is possible to revive bills by adding them as amendments to related legislation, but Birdwell said he has no intention of doing so with campus carry because he gave colleagues his word that he wouldn't. If another senator attempted such a maneuver, he said, that would be fine with him.
Whitmire has indicated that he does not support the bill but warned his committee that if Fletcher's bill did not pass, a stronger bill could come up in a special session.
Birdwell noted that while adding the issue to a special session call was the governor's prerogative, he believed it would be "seriously considered." If the special session scenario does play out, Birdwell said he would attempt to move a bill like the one he initially filed, which does not include the opt-out provisions.
Excellent! Friends, this is a good thing that the current campus carry bill is dead. As you've heard me say many times, this bill was garbage and didn't deserve to be called campus carry. I hope that Governor Perry does call for campus carry to be brought up in a special session and that the legislation won't include the opt-out language.
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