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Senate Vote On DHS Expected Late Friday

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate is expected to vote Friday on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security without any amendments to stop President Obama's executive orders on immigration.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said late Thursday that senators will vote on a so-called “clean” bill that deals solely with funding the department.

The House and Senate have been at an impasse for days, with Democrats and some moderate Republicans slamming conservative Republicans for holding funding hostage in order to block the president's executive actions on immigration.

Without funding, parts of the Department of Homeland Security would shut down.

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In CPAC Speech, Scott Walker Says He Can Take on ISIS

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared the nation’s fight against ISIS with the thousands of protesters that came to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011, telling attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that he is equipped to take on the terrorist group because of his experience during those protests.

Walker said as governor he gets a “threat assessment” from the FBI and he has been “concerned about the threat” posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups, saying he wants a commander-in-chief who will “do everything in their power to ensure the threat from radical Islamic terrorists will not come to American soil," adding the country needs a “leader with confidence.”

“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” said Walker, wearing his sleeves rolled up, referring to his high-profile face-off with public-employee unions.

Walker focused on foreign policy during his CPAC speech in National Harbor, Maryland, with cheers from the crowd. His speech to the group of conservative activists was highly anticipated after his well-received speech to the Iowa Freedom Summit last month. Supporters chanted “Run, Scott, Run” at the end of his address.

“I’ve run three time in the last four years, so I’m getting pretty used to it,” he responded.

The Democratic National Committee responded to Walker's comments, with DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee saying in a statement, "If Scott Walker thinks that it's appropriate to compare working people speaking up for their rights to brutal terrorists, then he is even less qualified to be president than I thought. Maybe he should go back to punting.”


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Bobby Jindal Pitches Himself as a ‘Full-Spectrum Conservative’ Ahead of 2016 Presidential Race

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Louisiana governor and likely 2016 candidate Bobby Jindal says voters are looking for the next Republican presidential nominee to be “a fighter.”

And though he has yet to formally announce his candidacy, Jindal described himself as someone who is “unafraid to tell the truth” even if he’s attacked for doing it.

“I gave a speech in London about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism…I was called racist, an anti-Muslim, it's not true but I think people are looking for a fighter," Jindal said during an interview with ABC News’ Rick Klein on the sidelines of CPAC.

In looking ahead to the future of the party, Jindal said the GOP needs to work on expanding its appeal to people across all socio-economic and age groups.

“We need to be party of everybody,” Jindal said. “We need to fight for a 100 percent of the votes.”

On the topic of Jeb Bush – who many view as the presumptive Republican front-runner -- Jindal said that voters will ultimately decide who the next nominee is.

“The good news is that voters want to pick their own candidate, their own nominee,” he said. “The establishment, the donors, media, governors, others don't get to decide; let the voters decide.”

Asked about Washington, D.C.’s recent move to legalize marijuana for private use, Jindal said he believes it’s “a mistake” to legalize marijuana for any use other than medicinal.

“I don't think anyone should be legalizing marijuana, I think that's a mistake,” he said. “When it comes to the issue of medical marijuana, I've said as long as it is done under tight restrictions, I can be okay with that."


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Sen. Jim Inhofe Throws Snowball on Senate Floor in Attempt to Debunk Climate Change

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- This may be a congressional first.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, a devoted climate change denier, tossed a snowball at someone on the Senate floor Thursday as he tried to debunk climate change.

“In case we had forgotten because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair: You know what this is? It's a snowball and that just from outside here so it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonal,” he said.

“So, Mr. President, catch this,” Inhofe, R-Okla., said on the Senate floor, tossing the snowball to someone off-screen as he tried to suppress a smile.



“We hear the perpetual headline that 2014 has been the warmest year on record but now the script has flipped and I think it's important since we hear it over and over and over,” Inhofe, 80, said. “As we can see with the snowball out there, this is today. This is reality.”

This isn't the first time Inhofe has used snow to make a point about climate change. After a massive snowstorm in the Washington, D.C., area in 2010, Inhofe and his family famously built an igloo and labeled it "Al Gore's New Home."

The Environmental Protection Agency's website says, "Rising global average temperature is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns. Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as heat waves and large storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change."

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Chris Christie Turns to Media Bashing at CPAC Gathering

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continued to bash the media Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, playing into a popular topic among the activists in the crowd, saying “elite folks from the media” cover him “every day.”

“Understand where I come from every day,” Christie told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in a question-and-answer session in National Harbor, Maryland, after she asked him about the “onslaught” of negative news stories about him recently.

As the governor of New Jersey, Christie told her he has reporters from The New York Times covering him every day, and accused journalists of taking sides on issues he has stood up against.

“When you do things like I’ve done in New Jersey, take on a lot of these special interests that they support they just want to kill you and that’s what they tried to do to me every day and here’s the bad news for them, here I am and I’m still standing,” Christie, 52, said.

The governor added he will “continue to do what matters more,” which is “knowing how to fight for the people for my state and I don’t care what they write about me in the New York Times. I don’t subscribe, by the way,” getting cheers from the audience.

Christie even mentioned the newspaper in a somewhat veiled attack against a possible GOP rival, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Christie said the “reason why the New York Times writes awful things about me is because every time I read something they disagree with I don’t change my mind, I stick with where I’ve been.”

“So when you are pro-life in 2009, you don’t cut a commercial four years later because the New York Times doesn’t like it and say you are less than that,” Christie said, referring to Walker’s anti-abortion rights position, which he softened publicly last year in a gubernatorial re-election ad saying he would leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

This is the second day in a row Christie has taken on the media, specifically The New York Times, possibly laying out a theme that tends to be popular with the conservative primary voting base and something he can return to in a 2016 stump speech.

On his monthly radio call-in show, Ask the Governor, he was asked Wednesday night about his rough trip to the United Kingdom earlier this month. He blamed the bad headlines on “the national media following you around trying to justify their airfare going over there.”

As for his famously tough-talking style, Ingraham asked him about negative words used to describe him, including “explosive” and a “hothead” and whether that temperament works for the president of the United States. Christie answered “the word they missed is passionate.”

Ingraham countered by asking whether “sit down and shut up” is really necessary, referring to Christie’s famous line he used after being heckled by an activist in October.

Christie didn’t hesitate: “Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.”

He then said the same sentiment should be directed at the Obama administration.

“Quite frankly Laura, some more of that stuff should be happening in Washington, D.C., because there is so much ridiculous stuff,” Christie said. “Especially out of the White House someone should say it’s time to shut up.”

Ingraham also asked Christie about tough primary competition he is likely to go up against if he gets into the 2016 race for the White House, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Christie said don’t count him out.

“I’ll take my chances on me, I’ve done pretty well so far,” he said.

He even ended his session with another jab at The New York Times when Ingraham asked Christie, a Catholic, what he gave up for Lent. Christie said he went to his priest and told him. “I’m giving the New York Times up for Lent.” He got more cheers from the audience, but told them “don’t cheer, it’s bad news.”

He said his priest answered, “Chris, you have to give up something you’ll actually miss.”


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Net Neutrality: What Comes Next After 'Historic' FCC Vote

FCC/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Net neutrality cleared a major hurdle Thursday when it was approved by the Federal Communications Commission. However, it doesn't mean the new rules classifying broadband as a public utility will immediately go into effect.

The FCC Thursday voted 3-2 to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers and impose regulations similar to those imposed on utilities. The decision is unlikely to change your daily Internet habits and instead helps preserve the status quo, which some companies were pushing to change.

While many Internet service providers say they're committed to a free Internet, some oppose the FCC rules because they want leeway for how they package and sell various Internet plans.

"We've got a free and open Internet today and it has been a tremendous success," Bret Swanson, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told ABC News. "The question is why we want to impose 80-year-old regulations on perhaps the most thriving part of our economy. All of the uncertainty could really harm this most innovative part of our economy."

The FCC's new rules will have to move through the bureaucratic chain of command, getting a rubber stamp from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which could take as long as 120 days, according to details of the rule-making process on the FCC's website.

The rules will then be published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the government that is a daily collection of proposed regulations and public notices, at which time Swanson said it's likely they will be challenged in court.

"We probably will see the mother of all court challenges on probably a dozen different legal matters," he said.

Congress could also vote to nullify the FCC rules. However, President Obama, who has voiced his support for net neutrality, could then issue a presidential veto.

Marvin Ammori, an Internet policy expert and First Amendment lawyer, told ABC News he expects "these rules will be debated for as long as cable and phone companies think they have a shot of removing them."

Regardless of the political chess and costly battle that may be on the road ahead, Ammori said "it’s a historic day because the decision is stronger than any decision we have ever had at the FCC."

"We've completely won in terms of the messaging and the culture," Ammori said. "No one can oppose the principle, they [the carriers] just pretend they want to do it in a different way."

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Carly Fiorina Criticizes Hillary Clinton and Clinton's Foundation at CPAC

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO, is positioning herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton candidate, going after the likely Democratic presidential candidate in her speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, hitting her for accepting donations from foreign countries to her foundation.

In her address, Fiorina called on Clinton to "please explain why we should accept that the millions and millions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments doesn’t represent a conflict of interest."

The Washington Post reported last week that the Clinton Foundation began taking foreign donations after Clinton finished her time as Secretary of State, but it reported Wednesday that the group also accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during her tenure as head of the State Department.

"She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights," Fiorina said. "She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards -- and neither will our president. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means."

This is not the first time Fiorina, who has said she is considering a 2016 presidential bid, has directly gone after Clinton. At the Iowa Freedom Summit last month she compared her record to Clinton's, something she repeated again in her speech Thursday.

"Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike her, I've actually accomplished something," she said last month, but made a similar remark at CPAC. "You see Mrs. Clinton, flying is not an accomplishment. It is an activity."

All of the possible GOP candidates jab Clinton in their speeches, interviews, and even on social media on a regular basis, but Fiorina is the only one of that group of likely candidates who, like Clinton, is also a woman.

At the end of Fiorina’s speech, she did a question and answer session and got in one more jab at Clinton when asked about the importance of female candidates, saying, “I will say this, if Hillary Clinton had to face me on a debate stage, at the very least she would have a hitch in her swing.”




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Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Loretta Lynch Nomination

Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly four months after Loretta Lynch was first nominated to be the next attorney general, the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General with a vote of 12-8.

Three Republicans -- Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah -- joined all Democrats on the committee in supporting Lynch’s nomination.

Lynch’s nomination will now proceed to a vote by the full Senate, where Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have vowed to use all time possible to debate her nomination.

Lynch’s nomination, which Republicans have tried to use as a tool to fight President Obama’s immigration actions, may benefit from Senate Democrat’s decision to go nuclear last year -- a move that requires only 51 votes to invoke cloture on all of the president’s nominees, except Supreme Court justices.

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Dems Slam GOP over DHS Funding; Boehner Blows Kisses But Mum on Clean Proposal

Caleb Smith / Office of the Speaker(WASHINGTON) -- The top two Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, sharply criticized Republicans for tactics they said threatened to endanger the nation’s safety. At a joint press conference, they said Democrats would not support a short-term bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded.

“ISIS appears to have money. Terrorists appear to have money. Why shouldn't our homeland have the ability to protect itself?” Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters Thursday. “This is like living in a world of crazy people.”

Pelosi said it was wrong to ask tens of thousands of homeland security workers -- border officers, secret service agents, and others -- to work without a paycheck as Congress failed to do its job.

“I think most everybody I know cannot live without having their paycheck on time -- members of Congress even,” Pelosi, D-California, said. “And yet, they're asking this Debarment of Homeland Security people to do that.”

She added: “The gamesmanship should end.”

Even though the Senate cleared a filibuster to advance towards a clean DHS funding bill, House Speaker John Boehner still has not signaled how he would receive such legislation once it’s sent to the lower chamber.

“I don't know what the Senate can produce or what they can't produce,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “If they produce something, we'll decide what we're going to do after we see it.”

While Republicans are being slammed for holding the funding hostage in order to block the president’s executive actions on Immigration, Boehner sees it the other way around.

“I just think it's outrageous that Senate Democrats are using Homeland Security funding for blackmail to protect the actions of the president, where the president himself said he didn't have the authority to do this,” Boehner said. “The president said 22 times that he did not have the authority to make these changes in law. And yet he did it anyway. The Congress of the United States cannot look the other way and act like it didn't happen.”

After being repeatedly asked about what he’d do next if the senate sends a clean DHS bill, Boehner puckered up and blew several kisses to a male reporter.

“When we make decisions, I’ll let you know,” Boehner said through a chorus of laughter. “That's just a kiss, that's all.”

While the standoff is the first true test of the new Republican leadership’s ability to work with each other, Boehner seems intent not to buckle even though the funding lapses Friday night.

“We have two different institutions that don't have the same body temperature every day, and so, you know, we tend to try to work to narrow the differences,” Boehner said. “But sometimes there are differences. You know, the House, by nature and by design, is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate -- much more.”

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Nancy Pelosi Sports Sunglasses in Solidarity with Harry Reid After Eye Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Wearing sunglasses indoors may be the new craze on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi walked into a news conference on DHS funding Thursday morning and threw on some sunglasses in solidarity with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

“I brought my glasses to be with Harry but he switched on me,” Pelosi said to laughs from reporters.

“I tricked her,” Reid answered.

Earlier this week, Reid debuted some dark sunglasses to cover up an injury sustained to his right eye while exercising earlier this year.

But Thursday, Reid went with a different set of specs -- dark rimmed glasses with a shaded lens covering his right eye.

 

Harry Reid's latest selection in eye wear as his injured eye heals pic.twitter.com/DViHRPgg4y

— Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) February 26, 2015

 

Reid has undergone two surgeries to help restore vision in his right eye.

“I can see out of my right eye just not very well, and it hasn't healed,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “I have to be a patient.”

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Ben Carson to CPAC Attendees: 'Freedom Is Not Free'

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Leading off the Conservative Politican Action Conference in Washington on Thursday, Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for 2016, called on conservative activists to help invigorate the party's base.

"Go to your grandmother who's an invalid and make sure she has an absentee ballot," Carson urged. "Help her fill it out. The baton is ours."

"Freedom is not free," Carson added. "It must be fought for."

The event will feature numerous potential presidential candidates over three days -- including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.


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What You Need to Know About Pot Legalization in Washington, DC

Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The citizens of the District of Columbia in November voted to pass Initiative 71, which legalized the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the cultivation of up to three marijuana plants for individuals over the age of 21. That measure was scheduled to take effect at midnight Thursday morning.

However, the initiative did not create funding for the regulation of the substance, which would be required to legalize sales. The measure was put on the ballot through citizen initiative, and in D.C., citizen initiatives cannot mandate spending.

Here's are some key points you need to know:

What Congress Has to Say About It:

Congress attempted to block the implementation of the law by attaching language to a continuing resolution that passed in December that blocks funding of any sort from being appropriated to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser saying that Initiative 71 cannot go into effect under the law.

Congress had a 30-day layover period to review the initiative after it was transmitted to Congress in January. During that time, Congress could have rejected the measure using a joint resolution of disapproval. Congress has not passed such a measure, but Chaffetz said the language in the continuing resolution prevents the law from moving forward without a joint resolution of disapproval.

What Happens Thursday:

Regardless of the legality, the Metropolitan Police Department takes orders from the city. So unless the city changes its mind, marijuana will be legal in D.C. Thursday.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you better understand what is allowed and not allowed.

In D.C., you can...

  • possess up to two ounces of marijuana on your person. Any amount more than two ounces is still illegal and will amount to a misdemeanor with a fine of $1,000, or as much as to six months in jail.
  • give up to one ounce as a gift. Though selling is prohibited, individuals may exchange as much as to once ounce as a gift.
  • grow up to six marijuana plants. However, the law says you may only possess three “mature, flowering plants” at any given time -- with the provision intended to make it more difficult to grow enough marijuana to sell.

In D.C., you cannot...

  • grow marijuana outside of your residence. The law allows for growing, but it must be “within the interior of a house, building or rental unit that constitutes such a person’s principal residence.”
  • consume marijuana in public. You can have it on your person, but you cannot legally consume it publicly in any fashion.
  • sell the substance in any quantity. Purchasing or selling the drug is illegal. However, you may transfer up to one ounce to another individual for free as a gift.
  • drive while under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there’s no “legal limit,” per se. It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of any amount of marijuana.
  • have marijuana in your possession on any federal land. Legalization is only in local D.C. territory. Some examples of places you cannot have the substance in your possession include the National Mall and the Capitol.

In D.C., it’s not a good idea to...

  • have pot in your possession anywhere you might be stopped by U.S. Park Police or Capitol Police. The Capitol Police and Park Police enforce federal law around the Capitol. According to the U.S. Capitol Police’s website, this includes about a 47-square block radius around the Capitol. So even if you are not going anywhere you can actually see the Capitol building, you might want to think twice before putting that weed in your pocket.

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Kerry Critical of Netanyahu's Judgment on Iran Talks

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday delivered a sharp criticism of an important U.S. ally even as he refused to directly comment about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress on March 3.

Kerry, who was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Netanyahu's judgment about ongoing talks to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities "may not be correct here."

Netanyahu is expected to deliver a stinging rebuke of the negotiations with Tehran during his address to lawmakers. House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to speak without first consulting the White House, which administration officials are privately furious about.

GOP lawmakers and some Democrats have sided with Netanyahu, insisting that Iran can't be trusted to stop their alleged effort to build nuclear weapons, which would threaten Israel's survival. They charge that Tehran is dragging out talks deliberately and has no intention of ever giving up its nuclear program.

California Republican Congressman Ed Royce, the committee's chairman, brought up these concerns to Kerry, who agreed that Iran should not keep stonewalling United Nations inspectors about previous work in trying to construct an atomic bomb.

The U.S. and the rest of the P5 1 have set a March 31 deadline to come up with an agreement that would put sharp restrictions of Iran's nuclear program for a decade in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions that have crippled its economy.

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Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Am I supposed to applaud you for poking round in my things?”

Those are the wise words spoken by head maid Anna May Bates of television’s Downton Abbey, a statement that could also apply to the latest episode in the real-life dramatic series of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-IL.

Schock, who has come under fire for lavish spending on office décor, as well as pricey travel habits, has hired a team of lawyers from the Washington, D.C., firm Jones Day. He has also hired a public relations firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, headed by communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh -- both veteran congressional aides -- to help the congressman respond to his recent troubles.

A spokesperson for Schock confirmed the news on Wednesday, which was first reported by Politico, to ABC News.

“After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to determine whether they can be improved,” the spokesperson said. “To lead the review, he hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of Jones Day.

“Congressman Schock takes his compliance obligations seriously which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures. Congressman Schock has a well-deserved outstanding reputation for constituent service and remains steadfastly focused on serving the people in Illinois' 18th congressional district during this review.”

Schock’s troubles first began when The Washington Post ran an article revealing the congressman’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building was modeled after the red room in the famed period television series Downton Abbey.

Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct.

The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.

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Chertoff and Ridge Blast Congress on DHS Funding Impasse

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest rhetorical salvo over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday with two of his Republican predecessors, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, blasting Congress for threatening funding for the department.

While former secretary Ridge expressed his strong opposition to President Obama’s executive order on immigration, saying the president “has gravely overstepped his constitutional authority,” he was equally blunt in his assessment of Congress. 

“I don't think we right that wrong on the backs of the patriots that go to work every day and provide safety and security every day at the Department of Homeland Security.  They [Republicans in Congress] may not like what has transpired, but the solution that they seek, in my judgment, is unfortunate, from a policy point of view it's wrong, it's folly,” Ridge said.

Ridge said DHS workers are improperly being caught up in the policy debate over immigration.  “You don’t elevate the debate and you don’t send a message by refusing to compensate the men and women who go to work every single day in a uniform of public service, when their mission is frankly to keep us safe and secure.”  

Former DHS Secretary Chertoff was similarly blunt, accusing the Congress of holding the DHS hostage in an act of political gamesmanship.

“What I don’t think makes sense is to hold the entire set of operations at the Department of Homeland Security in abeyance, as a hostage as the legislative branch starts to play a game of chicken with the president,” Chertoff said.

Despite the tough talk, current secretary Jeh Johnson expressed optimism that an agreement could be worked out before the Friday deadline passes and forces furloughs and suspended operations and pay stoppages for the department’s employees.  

“I remain optimistic that Congress is going to work this out, but we have to plan, we have to prepare,” Johnson said.  “We’re talking about working men and women here,” Johnson said about the prospect of his department’s employees working without pay.  “They are entitled to know what the status of negotiations are in Congress are because their paychecks hang in the balance,” Johnson added.

Secretary Johnson told reporters about FEMA director Craig Fugate’s emotional reaction to the prospect of a DHS shutdown. “I feel as though my people are being treated as pawns, as though they don’t matter,” he said.   

DHS has already begun the process of informing people who would be furloughed if the impasse is not resolved.

All this occurs with the backdrop of a more challenged security environment in the homeland, due in large part to the instability in Syria and Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

“The breadth and the depth of the threat streams and threats directed to the United States of America today, in 2015, in my judgment, are greater and more complex than as of September 12, 2001.  That’s a fact of life,” Ridge said.

Ridge said for him and the other secretaries who have led the department, it has become personal.  “I want somebody up on the Hill, as much as I disagree with the president, to look into the eyes of that man on horseback or on an ATV on the southern border, or look in the eyes of that Coastie who is just being dropped in 30-foot waves to rescue some crab fisherman outside of Alaska.  I want you to look in their eyes and say, ‘Well we appreciate what you do, but we don’t appreciate it enough to fund you.  So it becomes very personal for…the four secretaries.”

While former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano was not in attendance at the briefing, she said in a statement that she stands with her colleagues in support of the passage of a clean DHS funding bill.

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