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Gabby Giffords Completes 11-Mile Bike Race


Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords completed the 11 mile El Tour de Tucson on Sunday on a reclining three-wheeled bicycle.

Giffords, who was critically wounded in a 2011 shooting during a public appearance, had been training for the event for six months. The former Representative posted a photo from the event to her Facebook page on Sunday.

 



Giffords was an avid cyclist before the 2011 shooting. Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said he wants Giffords to do everything she did before the shooting.

 

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President Obama Defends Use of Executive Action on Immigration


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama defended his decision to use executive authority to enact changes to the U.S. immigration system during an exclusive interview with This Week, challenging Republican Speaker John Boehner to “pass a bill” if he was not satisfied with the president’s unilateral actions.

“Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own,” the president told ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview in Las Vegas on Friday. “What I do have is the legal authority to try to make the system better. Given the resource constraints that we have, we have to prioritize.”

During a primetime address on Thursday from the White House, the president – expressing frustration over a lack of Congressional action — announced he would be employing executive action to circumvent Congress and offer temporary legal status to approximately five million undocumented immigrants, among other actions.

During the interview with Stephanopoulos, the president pushed back against the argument made by some of his detractors that he is taking action that he previously said he did not have the authority to take.

“What is absolutely true is that we couldn’t solve the entire problem and still can’t solve the entire problem,” Obama said. “But what we can do is to prioritize felons, criminals, recent arrivals, folks who are coming right at the border and acknowledge that if somebody’s been here for over five years — they may have an American child or a legal permanent resident child — it doesn’t make sense for us to prioritize them when we know that we need more resources.”

“If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks,” he added. “George H. W. Bush, about 40 percent of the undocumented persons at the time were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.”

When asked about using executive action, the president said his view on the issue has not changed.

“If you look – the history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a longshot,” Obama said. “The difference is the response of Congress, and specifically the response of some of the Republicans. But if you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained, and I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work because that’s my preference.”

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President Obama: American People Want 'New Car Smell' in 2016 Campaign


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, acknowledging he's taken some political "dings" during his time in the White House, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that the American people will want that "new car smell" when it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign, suggesting he may not have a prominent role on the campaign trail as the country prepares to select his replacement.

"I think the American people, you know, they're going to want -- you know, that new car smell. You know, their own -- they want to drive something off the lot that doesn't have as much mileage as me," Obama told ABC News Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

During the interview conducted in Las Vegas on Friday, Stephanopoulos asked the president how he would navigate a potential White House bid by his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

The president, who said he talks regularly with Clinton, called her a friend and seemed prepared for Clinton to differentiate herself politically should she choose to pursue the presidency, which appears likely.

"She's not going to agree with me on everything. And, you know, one of the benefits of running for president is you can stake out your own positions," Obama said.

Earlier in the conversation he'd said he thought she'd make a "formidable candidate" and a "great" president.

The president, who said there were "a number" of potential Democratic candidates who would make great presidents, said he would do everything he could to ensure that a member of his own party succeeded him.

"I am very interested in making sure that I've got a Democratic successor," he said. "So I'm going do everything I can, obviously, to make sure that whoever the nominee is is successful."

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Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies


BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry has died at the age of 78.

Barry's D.C. council spokeswoman, LaToya Foster, says he died shortly after midnight Sunday at a hospital in Washington.

He served 4 terms as mayor of Washington D.C, but his terms were overshadowed by his 1990 arrest after he was caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine.

The cause of Barry's death has not been released.

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Biden Announces $135 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians Affected by Conflict


Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden announced on Saturday that the U.S. would pledge an additional $135 million in humanitarian aid to help feed citizens impacted by the conflict in Syria.

According to a release from the White House, the latest round of humanitarian assistance brings the total pledged by the U.S. to over $3 billion since the start of the crisis, including $222 million to international humanitarian organizations working with the Turkish government. The White House notes that an estimated 1.6 million refugees from Syria have received aid from Turkey, and 190,000 refugees have left the town of Kobani for Turkey in recent weeks.

The breakdown of the aid money includes $133 in regufee food needs -- $63 million for those displaced by the conflict to other parts of Syria and $70 million for those forced to neighboring countries. About $11 million of the $70 million will go towards food assistance for those refugees in Turkey.

Biden made the announcement from Istanbul, following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Pro Sports League Domestic Violence Policies


Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee announced on Friday that the committee would hold a hearing regarding addressing domestic violence in professional sports.

Rockefeller, D-W. Va., said that the hearing will examine the current policies held by the four major sports leagues -- the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League. The hearing is expected to focus on how those policies deter violence, promote awareness, provide due process and punish those who commit acts of domestic violence.

The hearing, to be held on the afternoon of Dec. 2, will also examine potential future policies.

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House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi Report Finds No Intelligence Failure Before Attacks


Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday concluding that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

The report took more than two years to investigate, and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., determined that while there was no intelligence failure, "the early intelligence assessments and the Administrations' public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attack were not fully accurate." The committee also determined that the CIA didn't conduct any "unauthorized activities in Benghazi, and "did not intimidate any officer or otherwise dissuade them from telling their stories to Congress."

The report is at least the seventh Congressional report on the Benghazi attacks, though the most notable one, by a special House select committee remains ongoing.

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Obama Expands Scope of US Mission in Afghanistan


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has authorized the military in Afghanistan to continue to target Taliban fighters next year, a move that broadens the scope of the training mission that is to begin in 2015.

The NATO and U.S. combat mission is slated to end at year's end and convert to a training mission for Afghan security forces that is expected to last two more years.

Original plans called for the 9,800 U.S. military trainers who would remain in Afghanistan next year to also have the authority to conduct limited counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Those operations would be conducted by part of the 2,000 Special Operations forces that will remain in Afghanistan next year.

U.S. officials confirm that Obama has signed an executive order that would also allow military forces to conduct limited targeting of Taliban forces if they pose a threat to U.S. troops or if they were providing support to al Qaeda.

The order would also allow U.S. military aircraft to provide close air support for Afghan troops on the ground if needed. The new authorizations were first reported by the New York Times.

A U.S. military official said that the new authorization will not allow the targeting of Taliban fighters "solely because they are members of the Taliban." Another U.S. official said the limited targeting would be allowed if specific Taliban fighters posed a specific threat to U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military official said that any air support provided to Afghan security forces will occur "in limited circumstances."

"And of course we will protect our own forces and coalition partners," the official said.

The official said the new authorizations have been "an ongoing process that has gotten us a place that we feel is about right to protect our own forces and help the Afghan National Security Forces" in extreme circumstances.

In a video conference with Pentagon reporters in early November, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the number two military commander in Afghanistan, hinted at that process. Asked about the scope of the future counterterrorism mission and when close air support could be provided to Afghan forces with the pending end of the combat mission, he said "those authorities have yet to be defined."

For years the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan has been estimated to consist of less than a hundred fighters. While they remain the target of U.S. counter terrorism efforts, the bulk of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has focused on the battlefield threat posed by the much larger force of Taliban fighters.

Since last year Afghan security forces have taken the lead in the fighting against the Taliban as U.S. military forces primarily remained on their bases providing training and support.

That has led to a significant increase in casualties among Afghan military and police personnel. In early November, Anderson disclosed that over the past two years nearly 9,000 Afghan army and police personnel had been killed in fighting with the Taliban. Anderson said such fatality rates were not sustainable and the U.S. was working with the Afghan military to reduce those numbers.

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Obama Talks Immigration Reform in Weekly Address


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama discusses immigration reform.

Obama talks about the specific steps he outlined this week.

"We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over," Obama says. "We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law."

Obama says he will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan bill that can fix the immigration system.

Read the full transcript of Obama's address:

Hi everybody.  Today, I’m at Del Sol High School, in Las Vegas, to talk with students and families about immigration.
 
We are a nation of immigrants.  It has always given America a big advantage over other nations.  It keeps our country young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.  But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.
 
That’s why, nearly two years ago, I came to this school and laid out principles for immigration reform.  And five months later, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense compromise bill.  That bill would have secured our border, while giving undocumented immigrants who already live here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line.  Independent experts said it would grow our economy, and shrink our deficits.
 
Now, had the House of Representatives allowed a yes-or-no vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed with support from both parties. Today it would be the law. But for a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.  Now, I still believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together – both parties – to pass that kind of bipartisan law.  But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.
 
I took those actions this week.  We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over.  We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law.
 
Nothing about this action will benefit anyone who has come to this country recently, or who might try and come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.  And it’s certainly not amnesty, no matter how often the critics say it.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people living here without paying their taxes, or playing by the rules.  And the actions I took this week will finally start fixing that.
 
As you might have heard, there are Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better.  Well, I have one answer for that:  Pass a bill.  The day I sign it into law, the actions I’ve taken to help solve this problem will no longer be necessary.
 
In the meantime, we can’t allow a disagreement over a single issue to be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works.  This debate deserves more than politics as usual.  It’s important for our future.  It’s about who we are, and the future we want to build.
 
We are only here because this country welcomed our forebears, and taught them that being American is about more than what we look like or where we come from.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.  That’s the country we inherited, and it’s the one we have to leave for future generations.
 
Thank you, God bless you, and have a great weekend.

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GOP Address: Rep. Bill Cassidy On 'Fighting for Job-Creating Projects' Like Keystone XL Pipeline


Sean Gardner/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana talks about fighting for job-creating projects.

He specifically cites the Keystone XL Pipeline, which failed in the Senate this week.

Cassidy says the benefits of building the pipeline include boosting the construction industry and creating over 40,000 jobs.
 
"The case for approving the pipeline is clear and obvious," Cassidy said. "This is a perfect example of what the American people want President Obama and Congress to do. Americans' frustration with the President’s failure to strengthen the economy, create jobs and make America energy secure was evident in the election November 4th. But more than six years after the Keystone application was first submitted, the pipeline has still not been approved. This is six years too long."

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello. I’m Doctor Bill Cassidy.

 
“I’ve had the privilege of representing the 6th Congressional District of Louisiana. 
 
“As a doctor, I’ve worked in Louisiana’s public hospital system treating the uninsured and underinsured for 25 years.
 
“When my patients tell me about their health concerns, they also tell me they are worried about the economy, their jobs, the direction of our country.
 
“Many families, many Louisiana families, are struggling.
 
“They need better jobs, better wages, better benefits.
 
“We have the opportunity to create these jobs. It starts with developing North America's natural resources and securing America’s energy independence now. 
 
“That’s why I’ve been fighting for job-creating projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.
 
“Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Cassidy Keystone bill which would approve the construction of this pipeline. This is the ninth time the House has voted to build the Keystone pipeline.
 
“Building Keystone would create more than 40,000 high-paying jobs, putting billions of dollars in workers’ pockets, and give a much needed boost to America’s construction industry.
 
“Manufacturers and their employees throughout the economy also benefit from the construction of this infrastructure project.
 
“Refiners in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast benefit from a reliable supply of heavy crude, including American oil from North Dakota, which would be transported through the pipeline. 
 
“More than 60 percent of Americans support building the pipeline.
 
“The State Department review found that the pipeline would have little or no impact on the environment. And it will also save lives, because when oil is transported by train or truck inevitably there are accidents and workers may die.
 
“Yet President Obama doesn’t seem to care.
 
“The case for approving the pipeline is clear and obvious. This is a perfect example of what the American people want President Obama and Congress to do. Americans’ frustration with the President’s failure to strengthen the economy, create jobs and make America energy secure was evident in the election November 4th.
 
“But more than six years after the Keystone application was first submitted, the pipeline has still not been approved.
 
“This is six years too long.
 
“So why hasn’t President Obama approved?
 
“Why did it take Louisiana’s Senior Senator nearly 3,000 days to do something about it?
 
“If there was ever legislation that should be easy to get through the United States Senate, it is the Keystone XL pipeline.
 
“When the House passed the Cassidy Keystone bill, we made it as easy as possible for the Senate to get a bill to the President’s desk.
 
“The Cassidy bill contained the legislative language proposed by the Senate.
 
“I worked with colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this version as quickly as possible. It passed with strong Republican and Democrat support.
 
“Unfortunately, President Obama and his supporters in the Senate oppose the Keystone jobs.
 
“It is time for the President to approve these jobs.
 
“But this isn’t just about Keystone. Keystone has become a symbol for the need to achieve North American energy independence.
 
“We need to expand access for energy production both on and offshore, and to allow the development of the infrastructure to transport fuel to the American people.  
 
“That’s why Americans spoke loud and clear on November 4th. They want Congress to work together to do what’s right for the American people. They rejected President Obama’s agenda that discourages the creation of manufacturing and construction jobs – the jobs that would be created because of projects like Keystone.
 
“Americans voted for Republicans. Republicans – we are the party of jobs.
 
“And on December 6th, it’s the people of Louisiana’s turn to be heard.
 
“We, the people of Louisiana will decide whether we want someone in the Senate who represents President Obama, or who represents us. Someone who will work hard for jobs in Louisiana all the time, not just when their job is on the line.
 
“Someone who will repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered solutions;
 
“Who will push back on the EPA’s job-killing regulations;
 
“Who will fight against President Obama’s executive amnesty;
 
“Who will defend our second amendment rights;
 
“And who will push to get the Keystone pipeline and other energy development projects built.
 
“I’m running for the United States Senate because I am that person. Louisiana needs a Senator who can pass Keystone. Louisiana does not need a Senator who supports President Obama 97 percent of the time; we need a Senator who supports us, the people of Louisiana, 100 percent of the time.
 
“Representing the people of Louisiana is a great honor. On December 6th, Louisiana will choose our next U.S. Senator. My commitment to you is that if you choose me, Bill Cassidy, I will do my best to live up to that honor.
 
“Thank you. God bless America, and God bless the great state of Louisiana.”

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President Obama: Don’t Use Ferguson as ‘An Excuse for Violence’


(LAS VEGAS) -- As a grand jury debates whether or not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, President Barack Obama on Friday — in an exclusive interview with ABC News — urged the residents of the city and all others to “keep protests peaceful.”

“Well I think, first and foremost, keep protests peaceful. You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views,” Obama told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview conducted Friday in Las Vegas. “Allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

A grand jury in Missouri is in the midst of determining if Wilson — who fatally shot the unarmed teenager on Aug. 9 — should be charged for the incident. It is not known precisely when a decision by the grand jury will be reached, but it’s expected to be announced soon.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Brown’s father asked for calm ahead of the decision. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has also declared a state of emergency in preparation, and the FBI is sending approximately 100 of its own to the St. Louis area in anticipation of possible unrest that could mirror the chaos that ensued after Brown was shot earlier this year.


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Top Hillary Clinton Supporters Gather to Plot, Strategize


Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Two-hundred prominent Democratic strategists, former Clinton aides and donors, joined forces on Friday for a day-long strategy meeting hosted by the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary to coalesce their efforts, plot and plan for when and if Hillary Clinton runs for president.

The meeting, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where the Clintons hold their annual Clinton Global Initiative summit, was made up of a series of closed-to-the-media strategizing panels and marked the beginning of the end of Ready for Hillary, which plans to shut down its operations once Clinton announces a run.

It also marked a turning point for Clinton’s potential 2016 campaign.

Although nobody would flat out say it (hypotheticals like “if” and “hope” preceded all statements about her candidacy), the general sentiment among the panelists and attendees was: She’s running. And when she does, her supporters said, they will be ready.

“Hopes run high,” Marty Chavez, the former Albuquerque mayor and a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, told reporters. “The biggest takeaway I have is … there are a lot of people who have her back if she says yes.”

The attendees at the event included Correct the Record’s David Brock and Bruce Strider, who were invited guests to last weekend’s 10th anniversary event for the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as political strategists Harold Ickes, James Carville and Paul Begala. Two people who have been mentioned as possible campaign managers for Clinton, Stephanie Shriock, the head of EMILY’s List, and Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also were there.

Hillary Clinton herself was not at the event. Super PAC rules would not allow her to go.

Very little was said about other possible Democratic presidential candidates, such as former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who just this week became the first candidate to throw his hat in to the ring. The panelists said they saw Hillary Clinton as the most “formidable” candidate and that any concerns were not about a “Hillary Clinton problem,” but rather a problem for the Democratic Party, as a whole.

“We have yet to figure out a message on the economy that resonates with working-class voters,” Mitch Stewart, a former Obama adviser and founding partner of 270 Strategies, which partnered with Ready for Hillary, told reporters. “We have not been able to persuade them that your values align with ours. And that, for me, is the biggest concern out there.”

The meeting also focused on acknowledging what Ready for Hillary has accomplished since it launched nearly two years ago. In that time, the group has raised $11 million and gained 3 million supporters. Once it shuts down, the group plans to transfer its vast email list of supporters to Clinton’s campaign. It was unclear, however, what would happen to the group’s now-famous bus.

Ready for Hillary’s meeting came a day after Hillary Clinton came out in support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration and blamed Congress for inaction on the issue. It was a rare move for Clinton, prompting speculation she might be starting to position herself as a candidate, because she has remained relatively mute on policy matters since she stepped down as Obama’s secretary of state in 2013.

Ready for Hillary also hosted a grassroots fundraising event Thursday night at a noisy, haram-themed lounge downtown.

The event, with roughly 150 people, cost $20.16 to attend and offered up cocktails thematically linked to Clinton, who might run to become America’s 45th president.

“I’ll have one ‘Ceiling Breaker’ and one ’45,’” a young 20-something guy, donning a small Ready for Hillary sticker on his button-down shirt, was heard yelling out to the bartender.

Two minutes later, he was handed two ambiguously colored drinks.

“No idea,” he shouted out when asked what was in them. But, he said with a smile, “They’re named after her.”

Hillary Clinton, who has a lighter-than-usual schedule in the coming month, has said she will likely make a decision on 2016 sometime early next year.

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Why Students Are Tweeting Pics of School Lunches With #ThanksMichelleObama


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Students across the country are tweeting photos of their school lunches and using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

The first lady has been active in pushing for reform in school cafeterias and encouraging healthier eating overall. The White House passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, championed by Michelle Obama in 2010, intended to improve the nutritional value of school lunches.

Some kids still don't seem too pleased by what their schools are dishing out, and the hashtag, which has been in use since August, went viral again on Friday.

While some students used the hashtag sarcastically, some used it to show support for Obama, thanking her for her efforts to get kids eating healthy.

Check out some of the tweets below:

 

this Looks like chicken and tastes like sausage im so confused #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/3y150oGZpl

— hard pa$$ (@idkaysia) November 21, 2014

 

 

Whole wheat buns #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/1nG6lr9hWW

— Lucas mcgeachy (@mcgluc18) November 21, 2014

 

 

This is considered a "meal" #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/k3WOVbJpxv

— Jordan Fite (@jordan_fite37) November 21, 2014

 

 

Grilled cheese and plastic for lunch..yummy ???????????? #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/YQ9N7XpLeB

— Kendrick (@KendraPohlman) November 21, 2014

 

 

Yum school lunch part 2 #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/y8qY680qwR

— Jess Sency (@Jess_Sency) November 21, 2014

 

 

Good lunch at school #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/xtCPI3M8tt

— Chase (@Chase_McMorrow) November 21, 2014

 

 

Many students love the new lunches. #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/NnbpHJzEPN

— CSPI (@CSPI) November 21, 2014

 

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Obama Raises Stakes on Immigration in Vegas Rally


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Pitching his immigration plan directly to the American people, President Obama told a rowdy crowd on Friday that what he’s offering is a “common sense” first step to fixing a “broken system.”

“Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time, and everybody knows it,” Obama said.

"It’s not amnesty,” Obama said of his plan to shield up to 5 million people from deportation. “Amnesty really is the system we’ve got today… What we are offering is accountability. It is accountability. It’s a common sense middle-ground approach.”

Taking an exasperated tone, the president claimed he tried everything to work with Congress and chastised Republicans in the House for refusing to vote on the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate.

“I cajoled and I called and I met. I told [House Speaker] John Boehner, ‘I’ll wash your car. I’ll walk your dog. Whatever you need me to do, just call the bill.’ That’s how democracy is supposed to work,” he said.

“This debate deserves more than politics,” he said. “This is about who we are. Who do we want to be?”

Obama also pushed back against critics who claim his executive actions poison the well for future compromise.

“Why? I didn’t dissolve parliament,” he joked. “That’s not how our system works. I didn’t, you know, steal away the various clerks in the Senate and the House who manage bills. They can still pass a bill. I don’t have a vote in Congress. Pass a bill.”

The president chose to return to a familiar site to kick off his campaign to sell his unilateral plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and shield up to 5 million people from deportation.

“Tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people is not realistic," he said.

Nearly two years ago, in this same gym at Del Sol High School, the president outlined his post-election promise to finally reform immigration in his second term.

On Friday, the same chants of “si se puede” (yes we can) rang out as Obama touted his move to bypass Congress and act on his own.

“I come back to Del Sol to tell you I’m not giving up. I will never give up,” he said to raucous applause.

Hispanics are a powerful voting bloc in this swing state, where undocumented immigrants make up a larger portion of the population than in any other state, according to the Pew Research Center.

While the mood inside the event was largely positive, outside protesters chanted “worst president ever” and held signs reading “Deport Obama” and “No Amnesty.”

When the president's remarks were briefly interrupted by a protester objecting that not enough undocumented immigrants are covered by his executive actions, Obama agreed that more needs to be done.

“Not everyone will qualify… This is the first step, not the only step,” he said. “That’s why we need Congress to pass a bill.”

The visit to Las Vegas also gives the president a chance to boost Democratic Leader Harry Reid in his home state in the wake of the bruising midterm loss for Democrats. Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and several other lawmakers hitched a ride to Nevada aboard Air Force One.

Shortly after landing the president signed aboard Air Force One the presidential memorandum to formally give guidance to federal agencies.

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Boehner: Obama 'Damaging Presidency' with Unilateral Immigration Action


Heather Reed / Office of the Speaker(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner said that President Obama is damaging the institution of the presidency by taking unilateral action to reform the country's immigration laws, setting up another political showdown on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as Republicans work on a strategy on how best to react to Thursday's announcement.

"All year long I've warned the president that by taking unilateral action on matters such as his health care law, or by threatening action repeatedly on immigration, he was making it impossible to build the trust necessary to work together," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "As I warned the president, you can't ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you're constantly demonstrating that you can't be trusted to enforce the law."

"The president repeatedly suggested that he was going to unilaterally change immigration law and he created an environment where the Members would not trust him," Boehner added. "Trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible and I warned the president over and over that his actions were making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do."

The House speaker predicted that Obama's actions "will only encourage more people to come here illegally" and "punishes those who have obeyed the law and have waited their turn."

"We saw the humanitarian crisis on our border last summer, how horrific it was. Well next summer it could be worse," Boehner warned. "With this action the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek."

Boehner said he warned the president that his actions could harm the institution of the presidency when the two spoke on Thursday afternoon before the president's address.

"As I told the president yesterday, he's damaging the presidency itself," he said. "President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected and we were elected to serve."

While Boehner refused to enumerate how the House might react to the president's actions, he stressed that "the House will in fact act."

"The people's House will rise to this challenge. We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk," Boehner pledged. "We'll listen to the American people, we'll work with our members, and we'll work to protect the constitution of the United States."

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