Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the House prepares to vote on Title X authorization to arm and train Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS Wednesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would not predict what the outcome of the vote would be.
“I don’t know how the vote will turn out. It's not a vote we whip,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference Wednesday. “I do think that as members weigh the facts, that they will, I think, give points to the president for all that he has done diplomatically, politically, humanitarian wise and ask for this discreet piece. It is not to be confused with any authorization to go further.”
Asked about the possibility of sending ground troops to combat ISIS, Pelosi said, “I will not vote for combat troops to be engaged in war.”
“We are not there to support combat troops in any of these engagements,” she added. “Our purpose is not to engage in civil war in Syria and our purpose is not to continue the war in Iraq. Our purpose is to stop ISIS from its brutality. ISIS conforms outside the circle of civilized human behavior. It is a threat to our friends in the region. It is a threat to us and it's a threat to stability and it must be stopped.”
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is not responding to the release of a short video titled "Flames of War Trailer" that was apparently produced for the terror group ISIS and appears to show attacks on U.S. tanks and troops.
One clip in the 52-second video, which YouTube has removed from its site, shows President Obama saying, "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq." Part of the audio from the president's remarks is laid over video of former President Bush walking under a "Mission Accomplished" banner and a shot of the White House. The video cuts to a frame with the words: "FLAMES OF WAR: FIGHTING HAS JUST BEGUN." Another frame reads: "Soon, God willing."
As the president meets with military officials in Tampa, Florida, for a briefing on a proposed plan to train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS, the White House remains silent on the video. White House officials, however, are emphatic that there is absolutely no change in the President's position that he will not send ground troops to Iraq.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday whether to approve President Obama's plan to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.
The plan has the support of the leadership in both parties, but there is some bipartisan skepticism.
During Tuesday's debate, Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., a former officer in the Army with a tour of Iraq under his belt, rose to speak in opposition. "This evil organization has to be defeated," Gibson said. "The question is how?"
Gibson explained that he believes ISIS is not a direct threat to the United States and escalating hostilities in Syria "is not the best approach." And Gibson wasn't alone.
"Very, very, very reluctantly I will support this resolution, but with great misgivings," said Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey told senators Tuesday that he believes a U.S.-led coalition, with Arab nations taking part, can destroy ISIS. However, if that plan fails, he might recommend sending U.S. ground troops.
President Obama is scheduled to meet Wednesday with senior military officials at the Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for a briefing on the plan.
The House vote on passage is expected later Wednesday afternoon.
Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Declaring the Ebola outbreak a "threat to global security," President Obama Tuesday announced a significant American military effort in West Africa to help bring the spread of the deadly disease under control.
"We have to act fast. We can't dawdle on this one," Obama said during a visit to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"It is spiraling out of control, it's getting worse, it's spreading exponentially," he said. "If the outbreak is not stopped now we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected."
The president said there were "profound implications" for the U.S., even if there was no immediate threat of an outbreak on American soil.
Obama said he has ordered the deployment of 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to take the lead in coordinating an international response, facilitate logistics and engineering.
The Pentagon is establishing a military command center in Liberia to be directed by an American general, who arrived on Tuesday, Obama said.
In the next few weeks, U.S. service members will establish 17 treatment facilities with 100 beds each, train as many as 500 health care workers per week in proper care and containment techniques, and orchestrate a community messaging campaign about the disease, the White House said.
The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps also will deploy 65 officers to Liberia –- including administrators, clinicians and support staff -- to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense hospital to care for stricken health care workers, the White House said.
U.S. personnel will not directly provide care to infected patients in the general population, officials said.
Before visiting the CDC, Obama met at the White House with American doctor and Ebola survivor Kent Brantly, who was flown out of Liberia with government assistance, treated with an experimental serum at Emory University Hospital and recovered.
"He looks great, he looks strong, and we're incredibly grateful to him and his family for the service he rendered," Obama said of the meeting.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Rifle Association is poised to spend millions supporting Republican Senate candidates with new ad campaigns launching Wednesday in Arkansas, Colorado, and North Carolina.
The new ad blitz, which will total over $4 million spread across the three states, is the latest in the influential gun lobby’s efforts to influence the midterm elections. The NRA is set to spend $1.4 million in the Arkansas Senate race in a new ad campaign promoting Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam confirmed to ABC News.
The 30-second pro-Cotton spot will start airing Wednesday in Little Rock and Jonesboro and is set to run for at least four weeks.
“Our Second Amendment rights are under attack by the Obama administration. That’s why we need leaders like Tom Cotton in the U.S. Senate to fight back for us,” a narrator says in the ad.
“Tom Cotton protected your rights in Congress and abroad as a combat veteran. In the Senate, Cotton will stand up to President Obama’s extreme gun control agenda, and that’s why the NRA is proud to support Tom Cotton for the United States Senate,” the narration continues.
The NRA announced its endorsement of Cotton last week. But just over a year ago, the pro-gun rights group jumped to the defense of Cotton’s current opponent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. In June of 2013, the NRA ran radio ads thanking Pryor for his vote against the bipartisan background check legislation sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The radio spots pushed back on TV ads launched by Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns criticizing Pryor for his vote. At the time, the NRA declined to say whether it would endorse Pryor in the general election.
Additionally, the NRA will spend $1.3 million in similar ads backing Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in the Colorado Senate race and another $1.4 million supporting Republican candidate Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Senate race.
Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The National Football League’s tax-exempt status could come to an end if Sen. Maria Cantwell gets her wish.
Cantwell, D-Wash., announced Tuesday that she will introduce legislation that would end the league’s tax-exempt status in a move to increase pressure to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
“The NFL needs to join the rest of Americans in the 21st century. We can no longer tolerate this attitude towards Native Americans,” Cantwell said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “This is not about team tradition. It is about right and wrong.”
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has previously introduced legislation to end the tax-exempt, 501 (c)(6) status of professional sports organizations making annual revenues of more than $10 million, including the NFL, National Hockey League and Professional Golfers Association.
Cantwell’s announcement came as she joined other members of Congress, Native American leaders, and religious leaders asking NFL leaders to call for the Washington football team to remove the “racial slur” from its name.
“Members of Congress and the millions of constituents that they represent are told every Sunday by the National Football League regime that Native Americans aren’t people, but instead they are mascots, cartoons and relics,” Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Conference of American Indians, said at the news conference.
The Rev. John R. Deckenback of the United Church of Christ said the NFL has “lost its ethical way” and needs to “find an ethical core for all of its activities.”
The “Change the Mascot” campaign sent a letter on Tuesday to 31 NFL owners, excluding Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, calling on them to “play a constructive role against prejudice and for equality.”
“We are writing today to request that you use your position of authority in the NFL to put an end to the league’s promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur as the Washington franchise’s name,” the campaign wrote in a letter.
The “Change the Mascot” campaign noted that Congress has provided the NFL tax-exempt status and argued that the NFL should not be using taxpayer resources to “promote this slur.”
ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner released a video on his blog on Tuesday providing viewers with a glimpse of the smoothest-running day of his political career set to inspirational music. Here’s what we learned.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise The House’s most powerful Republican is almost always in bed by 10 p.m. As Boehner says, “Nothing good happens after 10 p.m.”
Would You Like Eggs with That? He makes time for a hearty breakfast every morning at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill.
Java John With such a hectic schedule, caffeine is apparently a must. The Speaker starts his day by grabbing coffee at Starbucks, but pours himself another cup (and probably not his last) when he gets to the Capitol later in the morning.
Everybody Matters Whether he’s high-fiving the adorable little girl who lives next door, greeting people at Pete’s Diner or shaking hands with three-time Super Bowl champ Emmitt Smith, Boehner greets almost everyone he comes in contact with.
Meetings, Meetings, Meetings Following his morning “staff huddle,” Boehner heads to leadership meetings with other important people, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy Rodgers. He then opens the House, but reserves time in the afternoon for even more meetings (thank goodness for that caffeine!)
Speaker’s Slogans: Here are Boehner’s words to live by:
- “Clear the mind a little bit.” - “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” - “Every day there’s some little step in the right direction.”
Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Reps. Henry Waxman, D-California, and Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, issued a statement on Tuesday calling for action in response to a House Energy and Commerce Committee report on the General Motors ignition switch recall.
The report identified a number of problems with the NHTSA's response to the situation, and the "failure of NHTSA to identify the safety defect." The agency is accused of failing to "keep pace with the industry it regulates," and creating a "culture that minimizes accountability," among other criticisms.
The committee released a statement saying that "while GM has taken some steps to fix its mistakes, it does not appear NHTSA has taken any corrective actions."
In their statement, Waxman and DeGette note that the report "almost completely ignores the role played by GM," saying that the carmaker "knew much, much more."
"GM allowed the defective switch to be installed in these vehicles; for over a decade, the company had the opportunity and responsibility to take action to fix this deadly problem - yet failed to do so." Thus, the Reps. say, "the fault here lies squarely with GM."
Still, the statement from Waxman and Degette notes that auto safety can still be improved, urging House Republicans to "pass legislation that solves the auto safety problems they identified in their report."
DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp, U.S. Army/Released(WASHINGTON) -- The nation's top military officer slightly opened the door Tuesday to the possibility of American troops accompanying Iraqi forces on the battlefield against ISIS if needed.
The latest deployment of 475 American forces to Iraq includes 150 advisers who will be working closely with Iraqi brigades at the headquarters level to coordinate the Iraqi military's offensive operations against ISIS.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the advisers "will help the Iraqis conduct campaign planning, arrange for enabler and logistics support, and coordinate coalition contributions."
"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," said Dempsey, using one of several acronyms for the militant Islamic group that has taken over a large swath of Syria and Iraq. The group calls itself the Islamic State.
Dempsey later explained that he was specifically referring to Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC’s) who serve with ground units and can directly request airstrikes from U.S. jet fighters above.
He told the committee that he currently does not see a need for American troops to serve as JTAC’s with Iraqi units, though he could change his recommendation as events warranted.
Dempsey said that Gen. Lloyd Austin, who oversees U.S. Central Command, had initially recommended using American JTAC’s with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces that retook the Mosul Dam last month, but ended up using work-around technologies.
Dempsey said he does not currently see the need to embed the controllers with Iraqi forces, “but I'm not walking away from what I said. If we get to the point where I think we need the JTAC with the Iraqi security forces, I will make the recommendation.”
He said President Obama has given the order for no combat troops in Iraq, but “he has told me as well, to come to him on a case-by-case basis.”
Dempsey later told the panel that having an international coalition to take on ISIS allows the U.S. to provide unique capabilities like training, planning and air power. But if it does not work, and there is a threat to the United States, then “we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.” In which case Dempsey said, “I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”
During his testimony, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that with the lifting of airstrike restrictions the broader air campaign "will include strikes against all ISIL targets and enable the Iraqi security forces -- including Kurdish forces -- to continue to stay on the offensive and recapture territory from ISIL and hold it."
Dempsey said the broader air campaign for Iraq and Syria won't look like the "shock and awe" effort that began the 2003 war in Iraq. He said it wouldn't look like that "because that is not how ISIL is organized, but it will be persistent and sustainable."
The general predicted that with an international coalition "I believe we can destroy ISIL in Iraq, restore the Iraqi-Syrian border, and disrupt ISIL in Syria."
That's in keeping with the four-part strategy that Hagel has laid out including a broader air campaign, training and equipping moderate Syrian opposition fighters, maintaining humanitarian assistance, and preventing ISIS from becoming a threat to the U.S. homeland.
Hagel said the training program for Syrian moderate fighting forces will include a "rigorous vetting process" that will be critical to the success of the program.
The program will begin in Saudi Arabia with training for up to 5,000 fighters. The rebels will be provided with small arms, vehicles and basic communications equipment. They'll be monitored closely to make sure the weapons they've provided with don't fall into the hands of extremist forces.
"As these forces prove their effectiveness on the battlefield, we would be prepared to provide increasingly sophisticated types of assistance to the most trusted commanders and capable forces," Hagel said.
"There will always be risk in a program like this, but we believe that risk is justified by the imperative of destroying ISIL -- and the necessity of having capable partners on the ground in Syria," he said.
The House of Representatives will begin debate Tuesday on the authorization the administration needs to have the U.S. military train and equip a non-government fighting force.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday that Dempsey's words don't necessarily mean that U.S. ground troops fighting ISIS is a likely scenario. "He said they're not needed...Every military leader's going to say if there's a change in circumstances, he's going to be open to a different recommendation. That doesn't mean he suggested they may be needed," Levin said.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration isn’t claiming “mission accomplished” but it may be as close as the White House can get.
The Border Patrol announced Tuesday that the unaccompanied minors crisis has all but ended, as the rise in children crossing the Southwest border has stopped.
“It’s premature to say it’s over but significant progress [has been] made” in stopping unaccompanied minors, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday at the National Press Club.
“It is now five months later, and the number of children arriving and apprehended at our border is dramatically lower than it was five months ago,” Mayorkas said, citing factors both in officials’ control and outside factors.
“Historically, for example, the month of August sees a precipitous drop in the number of migrants reaching the Southwest border by virtue of the season and time of year, by the heat and the like,” he said. “That very well may play a factor in what we’ve seen.”
Between Oct. 1 and the end of August, the Southwest border saw more than 66,000 children apprehended, mostly coming from Central American countries. That represented an 88 percent increase over the same time period a year earlier.
More than 10,000 children were apprehended in both May and June, while July saw just more than 5,500, and August around 3,100.
“It would be premature, at best, to declare victory and to say that the problem is behind us. Because we don’t know,” Mayorkas said. “What we have achieved is tremendous progress and if, indeed, we begin to observe an uptick in the number of unaccompanied children…we are prepared to address that uptick very swiftly.”
The White House began making its case for executive action on immigration reform Monday night by circulating a blog written by the commissioner of the Border Patrol, Gil Kerlikoski.
President Obama has admitted he lost public support for unilateral reform when thousands of unaccompanied minors and mothers with children began crossing the border in never-before-seen numbers this spring.
In advance of promised presidential action in November, the Border Patrol announced that the Mexican frontier is “more secure that it has been in decades,” and that “decisive action” has brought the influx of Central American children under control.
For the second month in a row -- August, following July -- the number of unaccompanied minors has declined.
“Victory is accomplished when those cities and towns that suffer violence and suffer the vicissitude of life no longer do, such that children do not have to flee seeking relief and refuge elsewhere,” Mayorkas said. “That, I think, would be victory. And that is something that involves much more than what we are speaking about this morning.”
During the news conference, Mayorkas also addressed concern that the terrorist group ISIS has been planning to enter the United States through the Southwest border.
“There is no credible information that there is an active plot to traverse the Southwest border now,” Mayorkas said. “That being said, we, as a Department of Homeland Security, have the obligation to be, and are very much, vigilant in terms of our nation’s security -- whether that be by land, by sea or by air.”
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama met privately with Dr. Kent Brantly at the White House Tuesday before his visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Brantly, who became infected with Ebola while working with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, was in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to testify about his experience with the deadly virus at a Senate hearing.
He was successfully treated for the disease after being transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
While Brantly speaks on Capitol Hill, Obama will be at the CDC's heaquarters getting a briefing on the threat of Ebola and will unveil an expanded U.S. response to the outbreak in West Africa.
As of Tuesday, there were 4,985 probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the Ebola outbreak, with 2,461 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It has been called the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Cory Ryan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The threat posed by ISIS has invaded the campaign ads and speeches all across the U.S. but the issue has had special resonance in Minnesota, where an unusual number of people have left to join the terrorist group.
More than a dozen of the nearly 100 Americans believed to have joined ISIS, including several women, hail from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, according to federal authorities. Many are recruited from the area's large Somali population, but the recruits are not confined to Somalis.
Douglas McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, was also a Minnesota native. McCain's friend, Troy Kastigar, also died this year while fighting with ISIS.
Mike McFadden, the Republican Senate candidate in Minnesota, is aggressively seizing on the closer-to-home terror threat in his uphill quest to defeat Democrat Sen. Al Franken.
Hours after the release of the ISIS video showing the execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff on Sept. 2, McFadden blasted Franken for his support of the president’s “foreign policy blunders.”
He later said Franken was “asleep at the wheel” after the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a federal grand jury investigation of an attempt to convince 20 to 30 Somali men to leave Minnesota and join ISIS.
“This is a very, very serious issue, and it has not received the attention from Sen. Franken it deserves,” McFadden told ABC News. “We’re sitting here today six years after Sen. Franken and President Obama were elected, and the world is a more dangerous place.”
Franken, a Democrat running for a second term, wrote a letter to the Department of Justice on Sept. 4 asking Attorney General Eric Holder to address ISIS recruitment in Minnesota, which McFadden called “a day late and a dollar short.”
“Talk is cheap,” McFadden said. “Minnesota kids continue to be recruited. There has not been any policy put in place to stop this.”
Franken, who has a 13-point lead in the latest Star-Tribune poll, has largely ignored McFadden's campaign, but he responded to his opponent’s terror and recruitment attacks, calling them “just wrong.”
“This is something that’s been part of my focus for a long time,” Franken said. He added that he was briefed on recruitment by FBI officials when he took office, and has questioned federal officials on the subject in congressional hearings. Both candidates said they have discussed the issue with Somali community leaders.
The political debate over ISIS will likely intensify across the country as lawmakers on Capitol Hill will vote on whether to authorize the U.S. military’s training and equipping of Syrian rebels fighting against ISIS and the Assad regime.
In Minnesota, McFadden and Franken will trade barbs next in their Oct. 1 debate in Duluth.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One year ago on Tuesday, an armed man opened fired at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., killing 12 people.
The gunman, Aaron Alexis, was later shot and killed.
In memory of those who died during the Sept. 16, 2013 shooting, President Obama issued the following statement Tuesday:
One year ago, our dedicated military and civilian personnel at the Washington Navy Yard were targeted in an unspeakable act of violence that took the lives of 12 American patriots. As we remember men and women taken from us so senselessly, we keep close their family and friends, stand with the survivors who continue to heal and pay tribute to the first responders who acted with skill and bravery. At the same time, we continue to improve security at our country’s bases and installations to protect our military and civilian personnel who help keep us safe. One year ago, 12 Americans went to work to protect and strengthen the country they loved. Today, we must do the same -- rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.
Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Members of the House Armed Services Committee appear ready to propose a mission that would train and equip Syrian rebels.
On Monday, a senior Republican aide at the committee told ABC News that the deal would not only allow for the training and equipment of rebels, but would also avoid the explicit prohibition of ground forces. The proposal will likely be constructed as an amendment to the current continuing resolution, though that has not been decided.
While the legislation will not specifically ban ground forces, it will only lay out a proposal for training and equipment. The House plan is also expected to mandate that the Department of Defense provides a plan to Congress 15 days prior to training and further updates every 90 days afterward.
Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 109th.(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., isn’t about to let TV host Bill Maher push him around.
After recently being named the “winning loser” of Maher’s “Flip the District” campaign, Kline struck back with statements criticizing both Maher and his Democratic opponent, Mike Obermueller.
“Minnesotans are tired of sleazy and slimy politics, but DFL candidate Mike Obermueller certainly isn’t,” Kline’s campaign spokesman Troy Young said in a statement. “Maher saluted 9/11 terrorists and called our troops ‘cowardly,’ he repeatedly has degraded Christians and calls them ‘schizophrenic,’ and he repugnantly compared special-needs children to ‘dogs,’ yet Mike Obermueller promotes this behavior essentially naming Maher as his campaign manager.”
Maher announced the 67-year-old representative as the “Flip the District” winner Friday during his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher said he will devote time to studying the congressman and his constituents and campaign against him in hopes that Kline will “feel the heat.”
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Kline hopes to raise $100,000 for ads to thwart Maher’s efforts to oust him from office. In a fundraising e-mail Kline told his supporters, “Maher is turning his liberal guns on our districts and using his TV megaphone and million-dollar war chest to defeat me in November.”
And while Kline is using Maher’s effort to try to boost contributions, Obermueller, a former state legislator, used the news to fuel his campaign too, releasing a statement.
“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the second district are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office,” Obermueller said in a statement. “People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.”
Obermueller went on to say he is glad the “low-profile Kline” is finally getting the attention he deserves.
“The issue Mr. Kline may be the worst on is the one that inspired the most votes in our contest,” Maher said. "And that is student debt.”