Here is your Morning Brief for January 7, 2015.

Jim Bourg--Pool, Getty Images
Jim Bourg--Pool, Getty Images

Obama Threatens to Veto

According to the Washington Examiner, President Obama wasted no time in 2015 threatening to veto a key piece of legislation.

President Obama would veto legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that Congress is taking up this week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a Tuesday press conference.

Earnest noted that Obama has frowned upon similar attempts to go around a federal review of the 1,700-mile pipeline. Pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. has been waiting more than six years for a cross-border permit to complete the pipeline's northern leg, which stretches into Canada.

"If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it, either," Earnest said. "Our position on this hasn’t changed."

The Senate will begin debating legislation approving the $8 billion project this week — it is slated for a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, followed by a Thursday committee vote. Floor debate will take "several weeks," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told reporters Tuesday. The House, meanwhile, will vote on companion legislation Friday.

Republican and centrist Democratic supporters of the pipeline, which would bring oil sands from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast, will be dismayed by the news. While the House might have enough votes to override a veto, Hoeven said his measure is still likely four votes shy of the 67 needed to force the president's hand.

Hoeven told reporters that passing the legislation is likely a "two-step process" that could involve wrapping the Keystone XL bill into other energy measures or a spending bill.

Now that the whole Speaker's vote is behind them, it is time for Republicans to band together and to try and get the Keystone bill passed and really challenge Obama on it.This is a huge test for Republican leadership.

Gun Rights Advocates Plan Rally in Austin

According to the Texas Tribune, those who back gun rights plan on doing something pretty interesting at the State Capitol on the 13th.

Second Amendment advocates plan to manufacture guns at the Texas Capitol during an armed rally set for the opening day of the 2015 legislative session.

Come and Take It Texas announced late Monday that it had purchased “the Ghost Gunner,” a machine that uses 3-D technology to build firearms, for use at the Jan. 13 event, where participants had already planned to carry rifles and shotguns to protest the state’s gun laws.

“Things just got a little more interesting on the 13th,” an organizer wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

The Ghost Gunner can manufacture the lower receiver of an AR-15. The machine, which produces designs in metal instead of plastic like a typical 3-D printer, was invented by Austin-based gun rights activist Cody Wilson. Wilson, whose nonprofit Defense Distributed sells the Ghost Gunner for about $1,500, created the world's first 3-D printable gun in 2013.

The rally, held in support of a bill filed by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is part of a push to scrap the state’s handgun licensing requirements during the upcoming legislative session. Stickland did not immediately return a request for comment.

A divide exists among gun rights supporters over the use of armed rallies to raise awareness for their cause. Some view the tactic — which has featured protesters carrying weapons such as assault rifles in city streets — as overly aggressive. The possible 3-D printing of firearms at such a rally has added another layer of controversy.

At a second rally planned for later in the month by Open Carry Texas, participants will be carrying empty holsters instead of firearms. The group's founder, CJ Grisham, said Tuesday that he had reached out to the Jan. 13 event's organizers to ask them not to use the Ghost Gunner at the Capitol.

"I don’t understand the purpose of it," Grisham said. "It seems confrontational, and really, needless. I mean, it’s the first day of the Legislature, we are this close to getting open carry passed, and now these guys want to come and manufacture a firearm on the steps of the Capitol? I just don’t get it."

Plans for firearm manufacturing at the rally also drew criticism from Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for tighter gun control.

"If this type of extreme behavior is happening now, what will Texas look like without any kind of reasonable licensing requirement at all, which is their ultimate goal?" said Claire Elizabeth, the president of the group's Texas chapter.

Come and Take It Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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