Archive for February, 2015

Jeb Bush Stands his Ground on Common Core and Immigration at CPAC

XXX CPAC HDB153.JPG USA MDFormer Florida Governor Jeb Bush asked skeptical conservatives to consider him a “second choice” on Friday but refused to back down from policy positions that have led many right-leaning activists to view his potential presidential candidacy with suspicion.

“I’m a practicing, reform-minded conservative,” the 62-year-old former Florida governor told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland near Washington.

Many attending the annual gathering of grassroots activists made clear they prefer a potential Bush rival, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, among others.

Bush was heckled and booed, but the antipathy was balanced out by enthusiastic supporters who showed up shortly before he spoke and clapped heartily and aggressively.

While some audience members walked out of the packed auditorium as he began talking, there was no mass walkout and he was well-received overall.

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, has emerged as the favorite of the Republican Party’s establishment wing. He has been on a fund-raising binge that has raised millions of dollars for a potential 2016 presidential campaign.

But the party’s conservative base has been alarmed at Bush’s support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and for an education policy known as Common Core.

Referring to skeptics in the audience, he said, “I’m marking them down as neutral and I want to be your second choice if I go beyond this.”

A Bush critic, conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, reflected some of the right’s concern about Bush in an early morning talk at CPAC. She said she saw little difference between him and the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton.

“Why don’t we just call it quits, and Jeb and Hillary can run on the same ticket,” she said. “I’m designing the bumper sticker. It could be ‘Clush.’ What difference does it make?”

Facing a crowd angered by Democratic President Barack Obama’s executive order relaxing immigration policy, Bush stuck to his position that Americans should be more accepting of immigrants and be willing to provide legal status for those already here.

He said it would help expand the U.S. economic base, and help his party extend its reach.

“We will be able to get (the) Latinos and young people that you need to win,” he said.

On Common Core, Bush said the policy was one element of a broader education reform effort that included conservative priorities like charter schools, vouchers and an end to affirmative action.

Asked about gay marriage, Bush said he supported “traditional” marriage, meaning between a man and a woman, without the caveats expressed by others that it should be a matter for the states.

He said he opposed marijuana legalization but said it should be up to states to decide.


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Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Approve Loretta Lynch as Next United States Attorney General

Loretta LynchLoretta Lynch won approval from a key Senate committee Thursday to serve as America’s next attorney general, as divided Republicans clashed over her support for President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.

The 12 to 8 vote in the Judiciary Committee sent Lynch’s nomination to the full Senate. Three Republicans joined all committee Democrats in voting “yes.”

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as he criticized fellow Republicans for using Lynch’s testimony in support of Obama’s executive actions on immigration as a reason to oppose her nomination.

“I do not believe that is a proper way to evaluate any nominee’s fitness for any position,” Hatch said.

But GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas, among others, insisted that Lynch disqualified herself with her support for those directives and had not shown she would be sufficiently independent from Obama.

“The president’s policy is to allow people unlawfully here to take jobs in America,  a policy she has explicitly stated she intends to defend,” said Sessions. “We should not confirm someone to that position who intends to continue that unlawful policy.”

Despite the disagreement, Lynch is all but assured approval by the full Senate, under new rules that will require only a majority vote instead of the 60-vote margin required for most legislation. Timing for a floor vote is uncertain.

But unlike Obama’s defense secretary nominee, Ash Carter, who was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 93-5 earlier this month, Lynch is unlikely to win approval by a resounding margin. As Thursday’s debate illustrated, GOP opposition to Obama’s immigration policies has become entwined in a variety of issues in the newly Republican-run Congress, and it has cut into Lynch’s support at the same time it is holding up funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Committee Democrats took turns denouncing their Republican colleagues for using the immigration issue as a reason to oppose Lynch, 55, who now serves as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She would replace Eric Holder and become the first black woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement job.

“Let me be crystal clear: The place for this battle is in the courts,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Political fights over immigration should not hold up Loretta Lynch, DHS funding or anything else.”

A federal court last week put the policies on hold, a ruling the Obama administration is appealing. The directives extended work permits and deportation stays to millions in the country illegally.

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona joined Hatch in voting to support Lynch. Graham suggested other Republicans find another outlet for their opposition to Obama’s immigration plans.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said.

Flake noted that he and others have been eager to say good-bye to Holder, a lightning rod for conservatives who butted heads repeatedly with Capitol Hill Republicans and was held in contempt of Congress.

“The longer this nomination is held up the longer the current attorney general in the Department of Justice stays in place,” Flake said.

But Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said, “The answers Ms. Lynch gave in this hearing room, in my judgment, render her unsuitable for the position of chief law enforcement officer of the United States.”

Cruz has pressured Republican leadership to hold up Lynch and other Obama nominees as a way to pressure the president over his immigration plans, but most other Republicans have shown little interest in participating in his approach.


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Kerry Attacks Netanyahu over Iraq War and Judgement – Don’t mention his voting record

KerrySecretary of State John Kerry escalated the war of words between the U.S. and Israel on Wednesday, questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment on Iran and using the Iraq war to slam the Israeli leader’s record.

Kerry’s comments come amidst increasing discord between the Obama administration and the Israeli government as the U.S. tries to forge a nuclear deal with Tehran. Netanyahu, in a move that has greatly displeased the White House, is expected to sound the alarm over Iran and negotiations underway in Geneva in an address to Congress next week.

Kerry told a House committee the prime minister “may have a judgment that just may not be correct here.”

The Secretary of State also dredged up the ghosts of Iraq. Netanyau, he said, “was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. And we all know what happened with that decision.”

It should not be forgotten that Kerry himself voted to authorize military action in Iraq, before voting a year later against $87 billion in funding for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A fact many people claim cost him the 2004 presidential race to George W. Bush. At the time, Kerry said he voted against that measure because it would have financed the war with borrowed money however; he voted for a defeated alternative that would have rolled back some of Bush’s tax cuts to pay for the conflict. Voters seemed less than convinced at the time handing the election to Bush, so perhaps invoking Iraq to attack Netanyahu was perhaps a mist-step at the very least.

The six major powers negotiating with Iran have set the end of March as a deadline to reach a framework accord on the nuclear issue. The United States and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia hope to secure an accord to restrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Washington suspects Iran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, however, has said its program is for peaceful purposes.

Kerry said he expected to leave Saturday to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Syria, attend a U.N. Human Rights Council gathering and also hold nuclear negotiations with Iran. He did not say where those meetings would take place.

The chief U.S. diplomat also raised the possibility that members of the Syrian opposition or the Islamic State group might have used chlorine, which is not defined as a chemical weapon but can be toxic depending on how it is treated.

“The bulk of their use has been by the (Syrian) regime but it is not exclusive. It appears as if there has been some by the opposition or by ISIS,” Kerry said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group.

Netanyahu deployed his own harsh rhetoric on Wednesday to rebuff the White House’s position. He said that though world powers had undertaken an effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, “it appears they have given up on this commitment” and are accepting that Iran will develop such capabilities in the coming year.

“Maybe they accept it. I am not ready to accept it,” he said. “I must do everything to prevent such a great danger for Israel.”

The charged statements from the two statesmen came the day after National Security Adviser Susan Rice called Netanyahu’s trip to Congress “destructive.”

Rice said Tuesday that Netanyahu’s decision to accept a unilateral invitation from House Speaker John Boehner behind the back of President Barack Obama and his administration injected politics and “a degree of partisanship” into the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker, the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship which is not only unfortunate but it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS.

Rice added that the relationship between Israel and the U.S. “has always been bipartisan.”

Administration officials and American diplomats were fuming after Boehner announced that Netanyahu would address Congress about Iran. Obama asked Netanyahu over the phone just about a week before to give him some space on negotiations with Iran and not lobby against his position, and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer met with Secretary of State John Kerry just a day before without mentioning plans for the address.

Some Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, plan to skip Netanyahu’s address because of the snub and because Netanyahu will be directly opposing Obama’s diplomatic efforts on Iran. Israeli leaders, including former President Shimon Peres, have criticized Netanyahu’s visit as damaging to the relationship with the United States.

Netanyahu is looking to capitalize on his visit as the Israelis head to the polls just two weeks later. Netanyahu has already made a point of emphasizing his decision to keep the visit on his schedule in the face of opposition from Obama and Democrats in statements and in postings on social media.

In a televised address earlier this month, Netanyhau cited a “profound disagreement” with the U.S. administration and the five powers negotiating with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions.

“I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country,” Netanyahu said.


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Democrats All At Sea Over Israeli PM Visit

Obama and NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats next week during his visit to Washington, saying the session “could compound the misperception of partisanship” surrounding his trip.

Angering the White House and Democrats, Netanyahu accepted an invitation from Republican leaders to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 and speak about Iran. The GOP leaders did not consult with the Obama administration, which the White House called a breach of protocol.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Monday invited Netanyahu to meet in a closed-door session with Democrats during his visit. He declined the invitation on Tuesday and expressed regret about the politically fraught tone of his trip.

“I regret that the invitation to address the special joint session of Congress has been perceived by some to be political or partisan,” Netanyahu wrote. “I can assure you that my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”

Netanyahu said to meet with Democrats “at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit.”

More than a half dozen House and Senate Democrats have said they will skip the speech, calling it an affront to President Barack Obama and the administration as they engage in high-level negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Vice President Joe Biden will be traveling and has no plans to attend the speech.

Obama has no plans to meet with Netanyahu, with the administration saying such a session would break with past practices of engaging with world leaders close to elections. Israel’s elections are set for March 17.

Durbin said in a statement that he regretted that Netanyahu could not meet with the Democrats.

“We offered the Prime Minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker (John) Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” Durbin said. “His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”

Elsewhere National Security Advisor Susan Rice in an interview Tuesday with journalist Charlie Rose on PBS, said US relations with Israel have always had a bipartisan nature. But the invitation for the speech now breaks that tradition and adds a political component, she said.

“What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks in advance of his election is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship,” Rice said.

“Which is not only unfortunate, I think it is destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice added.

“It has always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants its that way, the American people want it that way.”

Rice declined to say if she thought Netanyahu intended to influence the election in his country by making the speech.

“When it becomes injected with politics that’s a problem,” she added, however.

“The point is we want the relationship between the US and Israel to be unquestionably strong, immutable, regardless of political seasons in either country,” Rice said.



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Comical Politics In An Anything But Comical Age


Comedy and comedians have always shaped political regimes.

Written by: David Corbin and Matt Parks

 Who needs to arm a mob with swords when you can tame and incite it with laughter.

The public response to last week’s announcements regarding the departure of news anchors Brian Williams and Brian Williams is further proof that Americans are drawn to a comical politics in an anything but comical age. And this is anything but a laughing matter.

While Williams was involuntarily taken off the air for at least six months, presidential advisor Dan Pfeiffer seemed prepared to place the retiring Stewart next to Walter Cronkite on the Mt. Rushmore of nightly news anchors, stating “He essentially invented a new way to deliver the news that spoke to a younger generation less trusting of the traditional sources but still very interested in the world.”

What connects both the Williams and Stewart stories is trust. Our intellectual and cultural elite sorely want Americans to trust them. They placed Williams and Stewart in important positions designed to build that trust. Williams, in his most serious tragic pose, was to use the nightly news to provide Americans with a progressive political education. Stewart was to do the same, but with a peevish grin that validated the audience’s prejudices and was as cliquish as it was cool. The hope among many elites this week is that Stewart’s politically effective use of comedy will overshadow the mounting criticism of mainstream media tragedians as they suffer their latest setback. The political and media’s establishment continued rule over American society will require as much.

Comedy and comedians have always shaped political regimes. From Aristophanes’ The Clouds to Dante’s Divine Comedy and beyond, the comic artist has had a surprising degree of influence in forming public opinion. The United States in particular has had at least its fair share of both comedic politicians (Franklin, Lincoln) and political comedians (Twain, Chaplin). But the difference between this earlier class of individuals and most of the comedians of our day is that the former sought to encourage course corrections in society by using comedy to tell uncomfortable truths, whereas the latter employ comedy in the service of ideology, as puppets of the regime.

Progressivism had a least a part in producing this comedic shift in American politics. Historian Paul Johnson notes in Modern Times that the American comedic climate changed forever when H.L. Mencken found Americans unwilling to laugh at President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the depression wasn’t a laughing matter. Neither was it considered funny to ridicule a politician who told us that he felt our pain and would try anything he could to alleviate our material discomfort. The lesson: better to serve the regime than to attack it, especially if one was hustling for a mass audience in an age of growing statism.

As the American regime became more morally and culturally relativistic on ideational matters, dissenting comedians were invited into the public square to make the taboo the norm. Andy Griffiths became Archie Bunkers on their way to Jerry Seinfeld and Homer Simpson. It would take some time before American comedians would learn that membership in the regime has its benefits. Yet that’s exactly been the story as the love affair between unserious politicians and comedians has grown, the same way that it flowered generations earlier when comedians were enlisted to help fight the war against material want.

In a similar vein, Harvard Professor of Government Harvey Mansfield argued in his 2007 NEH Jefferson Lecture, ”You can tell who is in charge of a society by noticing who is allowed to get angry and for what cause, rather than by trying to gauge how much each group gets.” A year earlier Mr. Mansfield, a teacher of political philosophy, had invited a first hand demonstration of this truth by publishing a provocative work of political philosophy, Manliness. Much like Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind two decades earlier, Mansfield criticized the philosophic shift in the American regime that sapped Americans of their political virility.

Whereas Bloom’s argument produced a strong, serious, and critical response from the academic community that was on the cusp of exchanging its scholarly currency for political power, Mansfield’s effort garnered some attention, but was more ripe for comedic ridicule of the “Colbert Report” variety. The lesson this time: it’s easier to unreflectively laugh away ideas we disagree with than to engage them in philosophic contest. In comedians we trust; in comedians the realm of politically correct inquiry is entrusted. Who needs to arm a mob with swords when you can tame and incite it with laughter.

The American founding deliberately challenged the idea that the mass of the community could engage in political life only as the domesticated pet or stampeding herd of an artful elite.

In Publius’s valedictory essay, Federalist 85, Alexander Hamilton claims the credit due to him and his co-authors for the serious tone of their effort: “I have addressed myself purely to your judgments, and have studiously avoided those asperities which are too apt to disgrace political disputants of all parties, and which have been not a little provoked by the language and conduct of the opponents of the Constitution.”

As he reflects further, he acknowledges that there were perhaps moments when being charged with conspiring “against the liberties of the people,” among other “circumstances,” “may have occasionally betrayed [him] into intemperances of expression which [he] did not intend.” Still, the body of work itself bears consistent witness to the patience and sobriety with which Publius engaged in the important debate.

The question, at the time of Hamilton’s writing, remained whether that would be enough to secure the ratification of the Constitution. Seven states had approved the Constitution by the end of April, 1788, but it would take nine for it to go into effect. Moreover, what was, at least from Publius’s perspective, the main event was about to begin: the near-simultaneous ratification conventions in Hamilton’s own New York and his co-author Madison’s home, Virginia.

Thus, Hamilton follows his reflections on his own method with an appeal to a similar seriousness on the part of the people:

Let us now pause and ask ourselves whether, in the course of these papers, the proposed Constitution has not been satisfactorily vindicated from the aspersions thrown upon it; and whether it has not been shown to be worthy of the public approbation, and necessary to the public safety and prosperity. Every man is bound to answer these questions to himself, according to the best of his conscience and understanding, and to act agreeably to the genuine and sober dictates of his judgment. This is a duty from which nothing can give him a dispensation. ‘T is one that he is called upon, nay, constrained by all the obligations that form the bands of society, to discharge sincerely and honestly. No partial motive, no particular interest, no pride of opinion, no temporary passion or prejudice, will justify to himself, to his country, or to his posterity, an improper election of the part he is to act.

This is the burden and blessing of self-government: the responsibility to judge political matters–and to judge them well.

The ironic cynicism that defines the approved humor of our day affects a position of superiority above the hurly-burly of political life and the unironic citizens who engage it. All those not protected from scorn by their affirmation of progressive pieties are summarily ridiculed and dismissed. But beneath the surface of this breezy smugness is a nihilism absolutely destructive to republican self-government–that cannot distinguish “accident and force” from “reflection and choice.”

Alexander Hamilton began The Federalist in the hope that the United States might demonstrate the possibility of “good government from reflection and choice.” He closed the work in the hope that Publius’s careful reflections on a most serious choice might be met with an equally responsible hearing by the people. He would earn their trust, if he earned their trust, with the strength of his argument, not the power of his declamation or the cleverness of his demagoguery.

From the Middle East and Russia to the Washington, D.C., chambers of the Supreme Court, there is much in our politics today that requires serious reflection and distressingly little evidence that our ruling class is up for the challenge. Where Hamilton led, he hoped the people would be persuaded to follow. In our own day, we must hope that if the people will lead, their supposed leaders will follow. But are even the people willing and able to listen over the political laugh track that will lure them to shipwreck?


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Department of Homeland Security Shutdown Looms Ever Closer

Department of Homeland SecurityA Department of Homeland Security shutdown grew increasingly likely, with lawmakers fighting over funding for the US agency amid a bitter standoff about President Barack Obama’s immigration reform plan.

Facing a Friday deadline, Senate Democrats for a fourth time blocked a measure that would fund the department tasked with protecting Americans and securing the border.

Lawmakers want to see DHS fully funded, particularly during the current heightened threat environment.

But the $40 billion bill contains Republican amendments that would repeal Obama’s plan to shield millions of people from deportation, changes that Democrats do not support.

With the blame game in full swing, it appeared increasingly likely Congress would fail to fund DHS before the midnight Friday deadline.

“We’re in a bit of a boxed canyon here and I think we all know that,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake said after the vote.

“Right now, it does seem to be where we’re headed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of a possible shutdown.

All Senate Democrats voted against the measure, along with Republican Dean Heller.

Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced stand-alone legislation to repeal Obama’s immigration “overreach.”

He and his office gave no indication whether he would follow that up with a clean DHS funding bill.

Republicans including Flake and Senator John McCain have said they would support passing a temporary funding extension, a possible last-minute way to avoid a lapse.

Some House Republicans have indicated they might be willing to test a partial DHS shutdown, arguing that essential personnel would keep working.

House leaders have not indicated how they will proceed.

“It’s going to be difficult for them to move anything,” Flake said of the House. “There are a lot of people dug in.”

Obama fought back Monday against efforts to block his immigration order, urging a federal court to allow the shielding of deportations and demanding Congress fund DHS.

The Justice Department filed a motion calling for a Texas district court to stay its injunction issued against Obama’s plan last week, which was a blow to his efforts to reform a system most lawmakers agree is broken.

And DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called on Congress to act immediately to prevent shutdown.

“If Congress wants to have a debate about immigration, the president and I welcome that debate,” he said.

“But don’t tie that debate to the funding of the men and women standing behind me,” he told reporters, urging lawmakers to “figure out a way to break the impasse.”

Should Congress fail to agree on funding, agents including border security personnel, airport screeners, and Secret Service agents tasked with protecting the president would remain on the job without pay.

Funds for new border agents, training and equipment would be frozen. Crucial emergency management programs would halt.

“This is no way to run a government,” Johnson said.

Obama himself hammered the point to state governors gathered at the White House, where he warned of trickle-down effects of withholding 100,000 salaries.

“It will have a direct impact on your economy, and it will have a direct impact on America’s national security,” Obama said.




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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Warns Congress Over DHS Funding

Jeh JohnsonA top Obama administration official warned several times Sunday about the potential, far-reaching perils of Congress allowing the Department of Homeland Security to run out of funding in several days and got some Republican support in the Capitol Hill stalemate.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are in a standoff over legislation that will fund the agency through late September but also roll back President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said allowing the agency to lose its federal funding after Friday could jeopardize the U.S efforts to thwart a domestic terror attack by the Islamic State and will result in 30,000 employees being furloughed.

“It including people I depend on every day to stay one step ahead of” the Islamic State, he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He also appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and the three other major Sunday shows, arguing that failing to reach a deal would go beyond cutting off funding for the president’s efforts to defer deportation for millions of illegal immigrants to include cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency while parts of the country are still dealing with severe winter weather.

The legislation has already been passed by the GOP-controlled House but is stalled in the Senate.

Johnson disagreed with the argument that Senate Democrats have blocked the bill by filibustering, saying the problem is the legislation should be presented “clean” of any immigration language.

“I’m talking to every member of Congress who will listen,” Johnson told NBC. “It’s absurd that we’re even having this conversation about Congress’ inability to fund Homeland Security in these challenging times.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that the House pass a bill on which Senate Democrats can agree.

However, the leaders of the lower chamber have been steadfast for weeks about having already done their job.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, repeated that message Sunday by saying in an email: “The House has acted to fund the Homeland Security Department. Now it’s time for Senate Democrats to stop blocking legislation that would do the same.”

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, and John McCain, Arizona, said Sunday they would oppose linking the two issues in one bill.

Graham told ABC’s “This Week” that he was “willing and ready” to pass a funding bill, then let the immigration issue play out in court.

Last week, a federal district court judge in Texas temporarily blocked the administration’s plans to protect immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents from deportation. The decision came as part of a lawsuit filed by 26 states claiming Obama had overstepping his authority in taking the executive action.

Johnson repeated Sunday that the administration will appeal the ruling.

Even if Congress fails to fund their agency, the remain roughly 200,000 Homeland Security employees would continue to work.

However, they would receive no pay until Congress authorizes funding.

It’s a reality that was on display during the 16-day government-wide shutdown in the fall of 2013, when national parks and monuments closed but essential government functions kept running, albeit sometimes on reduced staff.

Johnson on Sunday also linked the purported Mall of America warning from the Africa-based al-Shabaab terror group and other recent terror alerts to what he described as a “new phase” of challenges by extremist groups abroad that have used alarming Internet videos and social media to gain adherents in the U.S. and potentially prod some to action.

“This new phase is more complex, less centralized, more diffuse,” he said, adding: “It encourages independent actors who strike with very little notice.”


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