The Senate made its first move on Wednesday to prevent a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, with just two days remaining until the agency runs out of money.
The upper chamber voted 98-2 on a procedural hurdle that would pave the way for a “clean” funding bill to be brought to the floor, following a deal announced by Senate Democratic leaders earlier in the day. Only Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) voted against moving forward with the agreement, which would fund DHS without any measures to block President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration.
The vote marked the first cracking of the impasse that has for weeks threatened DHS funding. Under the agreement, which was suggested on Tuesday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate will resolve the DHS funding issue and then vote on a separate bill from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to block Obama’s executive actions, which would grant temporary deportation relief and work authorization to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.
TSA agents would remain in airports, patrol agents would still be manning the border and Coast Guard officers would continue monitoring the waters if the Department of Homeland Security were to shut down.
But out of the public eye, there would be major problems, DHS officials warned Monday, as the Feb. 27 deadline to fund the department creeps closer.
“A shutdown of DHS would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said at a press conference at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Monday that will temporarily prevent the Obama administration from moving forward with its executive actions on immigration while a lawsuit against the president works its way through the courts.
The order, by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, was an early stumble for the administration in what will likely be a long legal battle over whether President Barack Obama overstepped his constitutional authority with the wide-reaching executive actions on immigration he announced last November.
While the injunction does not pronounce Obama’s actions illegal, it prevents the administration from implementing them until the court rules on their constitutionality.
Reform Would Save $410 Billion Over The Next 10 Years – The immigration reform bill proposed by the “gang of eight” senators would save $410 billion over the next decade, according to an analysis from Gordon Gray, the director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. The savings would come largely from a boost in GDP resulting from undocumented immigrants gaining citizenship and in turn likely making more money.
More than 9.5 million people have signed up for private health insurance coverage this year using the Obamacare exchanges, the Department of Health and Human Services disclosed Tuesday, putting the program within striking distance of meeting its enrollment targets.
The deadline to choose a health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces like HealthCare.gov and Covered California is Feb. 15. Federal officials projected at least 10.3 million would be enrolled by that date, and that at least 9 million would have this form of health coverage by the end of the year. The new figures do not reflect how many enrollees have paid for their insurance, which is the final step to securing coverage.
With the technical failings of HealthCare.gov and several state-run health insurance exchange websites behind them, the marketplaces mostly are managing this year’s sign-up period smoothly. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 42 percent of enrollees through mid-January — 3 million people — are new to the exchanges, while most others are renewing coverage. Enrollment for 2015 insurance plans began Nov. 15.
With one month remaining in this year’s Obamacare sign-up period, 9.5 million people have enrolled, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. | AP Photo/Mandel Ngan
Nearly a week has gone by since the Supreme Court’s unexpected decision to enlist in the latest effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and the shock remains unabated. “This is Bush v. Gore all over again,” one friend said as we struggled to absorb the news last Friday afternoon. “No,” I replied. “It’s worse.”
What I meant was this: In the inconclusive aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, a growing sense of urgency, even crisis, gave rise to a plausible argument that someone had better do something soon to find out who would be the next president. True, a federal statute on the books defined the “someone” as Congress, but the Bush forces got to the Supreme Court first with a case that fell within the court’s jurisdiction. The 5-to-4 decision to stop the Florida recount had the effect of calling the election for the governor of Texas, George W. Bush. I disagreed with the decision and considered the contorted way the majority deployed the Constitution’s equal-protection guarantee to be ludicrous. But in the years since, I’ve often felt like the last progressive willing to defend the court for getting involved when it did.
Four former Blackwater security guards were convicted Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, an incident that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe and was denounced by critics as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.
The men claimed self-defense, but federal prosecutors argued that they had shown “a grave indifference” to the carnage their actions would cause. All four were ordered immediately to jail.
Their lawyers are promising to file appeals. The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court was “once a leader in the world” in the battle for racial equality, recent decisions by the high court undermine its role in solving a “real racial problem” in America, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in an interview with The National Law Journal on Wednesday.
Citing recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and racially biased stop-and-frisk policies, Ginsburg reflected on the perpetuation of racial segregation in America, comparing the challenges with those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Ever since I was little, I’m always fascinated with the images printed on the pages of travel magazines. Until today, those images still lingers in my memory. I started traveling to fulfill my dream, and that dream is to turn those images into reality, to experience how it feels like to be in a place where I have imagined myself to be. Now, I’m living the dream!