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Congress Risks Department of Homeland Security Shutdown Hours Before Funding Expires

DHS(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement to fund the Department of Homeland Security, threatening a potential midnight shutdown of the department that would include worker furloughs.

The dysfunction that has become all too familiar on Capitol Hill was on full display Friday as the House failed to secure enough votes to pass a short-term funding bill that would keep the department open for three weeks.

The last-minute strategy proposed by House Republicans failed with a vote of 203 to 224. Fifty-two Republicans opposed the measure while 12 Democrats supported it. The House could hold another vote in the final hours before funding expires.

Friday evening’s drama rounds out months of fighting between Democrats and Republicans over the funding. Republicans have wanted to link any funding for the department to immigration.

Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year while also blocking President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

But Democrats have opposed that plan, instead pushing for a clean funding bill. Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a clean funding measure with a vote of 68 to 31 to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30.

“We passed a full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said. “It means we did our job so that those men and women working in every agency can do their job to protect America. The Senate has done its job. Now, the House has to do its job.”

House Republicans have not decided whether they will take up that measure, but it could be one solution to keep the department open as the clock ticks toward a shutdown. The House could also consider a short-term continuing resolution to keep the department open for a week or less. It is expected that if the House passes a short-term measure, the Senate would agree to it.

If lawmakers are unable to secure a deal by midnight, the Department of Homeland Security would furlough approximately 40,000 workers. But 80 percent of its 240,000-person workforce would be required to work without pay. This figure includes 40,000 Customs and Border Protection officers, 5,000 Transportation Security Administration security screeners, and 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

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CPAC: Jeb Bush Answers Boos With Defense of Immigration and Common Core Positions

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, despite a smattering of boos, stuck to his views on immigration and education, controversial with some conservatives, in his question-and-answer session Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying any immigration overhaul needs to include a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants.

“The simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people,” Bush told the audience and moderator, Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We should give them a path to legal status where they work, where they don’t receive government benefits, where they don’t break the law, where they learn English, and where they make a contribution to our society. That’s what we need to be focused on.”

He stressed “first and foremost” the nation’s borders need to be “enforce(d)” for “national security purposes, public health purposes, and the rule of law.”

He noted some in the audience were “angry” over his stance, but he said the country needs “economic driven immigrants.”

“Those that want to come here to work to invest in their dreams in this country to create opportunities for all of us,” he said at the CPAC gathering in National Harbor, Maryland. “And that’s what we need to get to and so … the plan also includes a path to legal status.”

The likely 2016 presidential candidate did say he disagrees with the president’s executive action on immigration, adding he used “authority he doesn’t have” and has “gone way beyond his constitutional powers to do this.”

Bush, 62, was greeted at times with boos, but they were drowned out by applause from his supporters in the hall. A few dozen CPAC attendees quietly walked out of the room during the session and once outside the small group chanted “USA, USA.”

Bush also stood by his stance on Common Core education standards. When asked by Hannity whether it is a federal takeover of education, Bush answered, “No, and it shouldn't be," stressing the education standards created “more school choice.”

"My belief is that our standards have to be high enough where a student going through our system is college- or career-ready, and that's not what's happening right now," Bush said.

He stressed the federal government should have “no role” in creation of “standards" or "curriculum,” nor have “access” to student information, adding the federal government should have “no role in the creation of standards, either directly or indirectly.”

Bush has been criticized by some Republicans for not being conservative enough or too moderate on immigration and education, specifically his support for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. But when asked by Hannity whether he is a moderate, Bush replied: “I would describe myself as a practicing, reform-minded, conservative.”

He directly addressed those who booed him, saying he was “marking them down as neutral” and “I want to be your second choice if I decide to go beyond this.”

He did seem all in, though, noting he has to use “legal terminology” that he is still considering the “possibility of running.” He told supporters gathered in a ballroom after his session, “I hope that I’ll see you on the trail.”

In a lighter moment, Hannity asked Bush whether he was “mad” at his mother because of her previous comments that there had been “enough Bushes” in the White House. Bush said at the time it was “a little difficult, but since that time she’s had a change of heart and that’s all right by me.” As he has recently, Bush again stressed his “love” for his family, including his father and brother, both former presidents, but he said if he runs, he needs to show voters “what’s in my heart.”

“I have to show that I care about people about their future,” he said. “It can’t be about the past, it can’t be about my mom and dad and brother who I love. I love them all. It has to be about the ideas that I believe in to move our country forward.”


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President Obama Mourns Leonard Nimoy: 'I Loved Spock'

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has joined thousands of Americans in mourning the loss of iconic actor Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at the age of 83.

"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock."

Mr. Obama said Nimoy's signature role as first officer to William Shatner's Captain Kirk on the hit series Star Trek defined his career. It also inspired viewers to adopt the character's "cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed" outlook on the world, he said.

Nimoy was "the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future," Obama said. "I loved Spock."

The president said he met Nimoy in 2007 and greeted him with "the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'live long and prosper.'"

Nimoy was among a crowd of Hollywood celebrities that backed two Obama presidential campaigns. He donated $2,500 to Obama in 2007 and $2,500 in 2012, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also spotted a several high-profile fundraisers for the president during both election cycles.

"I do believe that President Obama means it when he says that he is 100 percent interested in space," Nimoy told reporters at the National Space Symposium in 2010, according to Space.com. "I know for sure he's a Star Trek fan."

Nimoy died in Bel-Air, Calif., his granddaughter Madeleine Nimoy confirmed to ABC News on Friday.

"After 83 years on this planet -- and on his visits to many others -- it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that," Obama said, invoking the Vulcan phrase "live long and prosper."

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New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ‘Very Concerned’ About Potential DHS Shutdown

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton journeyed to the nation’s capital Friday to attend a handful of meetings regarding the funding of the Department of Homeland Security.

Some of the people Commissioner Bratton met with Friday were Homeland Security Advisor to the President Lisa Monaco, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and the Director of the FBI, James Comey.

“Universally, they are very concerned about this,” Bratton said.

Commissioner Bratton is urging law makers to fully fund the DHS, vehemently disagreeing with the House Republicans’ three-week bill proposal.

“We cannot fund the Nation’s Counterterrorism Program and the Department of Homeland Security on the ‘installment plan,’” Bratton said. “This idea of kicking the can down the road for three weeks; the idea of passing this continuing resolution bill is just not practical or feasible,” and that efforts should be focused elsewhere.    

Commissioner Bratton says he needs the DHS to be fully funded, as he believes his city is arguably the, “number one target in the room.”  

If the Department of Homeland Security does shut down, the impact could be significant, especially on New York, as the city is very dependent on federal funding.

DHS funds for New York are used for the development and expansion of the NYPD’s Domain Awareness System, the purchase and deployment of a wide range of explosive detection equipment, training and maintenance, as well as the NYPD’s intelligence analyst program.

Failing to fund the DHS would cause a furlough of up to 30,000 employees, most of which are involved in many of New York’s important operations. Protective Security Advisors would be unable to share critical intelligence with the NYPD, and any other local and state partners.

“Given the current threats facing this country, holding an agency responsible for protecting Americans from terrorism, hostage to politics is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst,” Bratton said in statement.

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Rand Paul Wows CPAC Crowd, Talks Privacy, Tax Cuts, Hillary Clinton

Kris Connor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Rand Paul got a rousing reception Friday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, lighting up a crowd that tends to have a libertarian streak to it, saying, “In the coming weeks, I will propose the largest tax cut in American history.”

Speaking with rolled-up sleeves, he promised to pitch “a tax cut that will leave more money in the paychecks of every worker in America. My tax plan will keep the IRS out of your life and out the way of every job creator in America. My plan will also cut spending and balance the budget in just five years.”

Paul, R-Ky., blasted Congress, now controlled by Republicans, calling it “dysfunctional.”

“Often, bills are plopped on our desk with only a few hours to review,” he said. “No one, and I mean no one, is able to read what is in the bill. I propose something truly outrageous: Congress should read every bill.”

The crowd was packed with supporters, and Paul was interrupted by chants of “President Paul, President Paul.” He perhaps received the loudest applause when talking about personal privacy and going after the woman he may face if he they both choose to run in 2016: Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary’s war in Libya is a perfect example,” he told the CPAC crowd in National Harbor, Maryland. “Hillary’s war made us less safe," adding, "Libya's less stable."

He said to cheers: “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire.”

Calling the crowd “lovers of liberty,” he asked them to “rise to the occasion.”

“You do have a right to privacy," he said. "Your rights are who you are, your rights are what you are, your rights are in your DNA -- and the government can, quite frankly, get over it.

"I say that the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business," he added. "From within, our freedom is threatened by debt and by a government that regulates everything that moves.”

He differed in some ways with other Republican presidential contenders who have taken the stage at the conference since Thursday, specifically on the issue of foreign policy -- an issue that may make him an outlier in the GOP field, but was well-received by the libertarian-leaning activists gathered.

“At home, conservatives understand that the government is the problem, not the solution. But as conservatives, we should not succumb to the notion that government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad,” he said, "that a government that can’t even deliver the mail will somehow be able to create nations abroad. Without question, we must be strong. Without question, we must defend ourselves. I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable and unencumbered by nation building.”

He ended the speech by asking the crowd to “stand” with him: “Will you fight for freedom? Will you vote for freedom?”

Paul is popular with the CPAC crowd. He has won the CPAC straw poll the last two years, and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, a three-time Republican presidential candidate, won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011. This year's winner will be revealed Saturday.

However, Paul received some criticism today at CPAC, even if it was veiled.

Right after Paul spoke, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., a 2012 presidential candidate, took the stage. Santorum didn’t mention Paul’s name, but in the past he has said he thinks possible candidates like Paul, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas -- all in their first terms -- do not have enough experience to be president.

He said it was the president’s “profound lack of experience that has created the problems for us here in America,” stressing his own “eight years of service on the armed services committee” while he was in the Senate.

"Commander-in-chief is not an entry-level position,” he said. “[The] Oval Office is no place for on-the-job training, not in times like this.”

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Grover Norquist Predicts Jeb Bush Will Sign His Anti-Tax Pledge

Matt Stroshane/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said he’s been in discussions with former Gov. Jeb Bush’s aides and is convinced he’ll sign his famous “pledge” if he runs for president, even though Bush has made a point of not signing it in previous runs for office.

Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told ABC News he believes Bush will come around on the wisdom of vowing in writing in a pledge to constituents not to raise taxes.

“Right now everyone who is thinking of running has signed it in his present capacity or in a previous race, with the exception of Jeb Bush,” Norquist said.

Norquist added that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t actually signed the pledge, but “everyone thinks” he has because “he has stated publically that he would never raise taxes so many times.”

“The challenge for Jeb is he’s said publically, ‘I might.’ I think he’ll be comfortable. But his father and his brother didn’t do pledges, didn’t do questionnaires, did sign the pledge. Because it’s different -- it’s been endorsed by the Republican Party for crying out loud.”

Norquist said he’s been talking to Bush aides, and “we have to wait for them to realize” that it’s a smart move to sign the pledge.

Jeb Bush has made his refusal to sign the anti-tax pledge a point of principle throughout his political career. He blasted the concept of the pledge as recently as 2012.

“I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people. I respect Grover’s political involvement. He has every right to do it, but I never signed any pledge,” Bush told a congressional panel.

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Carly Fiorina Accuses Hillary Clinton of Playing an 'Imitation' Game

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Positioning herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton candidate in a crowded field of prospective GOP 2016 contenders, Carly Fiorina is unapologetic in attacking the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I think it’s totally fair game to call out the presumptive Democratic nominee on her track record and policies,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO told ABC News on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Politics is about contrast, and I think as a conservative, we need to offer a very clear contrast to Hillary Clinton.”

Fiorina addressed the conference Thursday, offering many direct jabs at Clinton during her speech. At one point, to the cheers of the audience, Fiorina joked, “Like Mrs. Clinton, I too have traveled the globe. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.”

Asked about Clinton’s recent use of the phrase “unlocking potential,” Fiorina -- whose Super PAC is titled the “Unlocking Potential Project” -- suggested this isn’t the first time Clinton may have copied her.

“Her book cover was remarkably similar to mine, as well,” she said.

“Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I could steal one of her lines and ask, ‘What difference does it make?’” Fiorina said sarcastically, referencing Clinton’s remarks before a congressional committee investigating the 2011 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

If she were to win the nomination, Fiorina said it would put a “hitch in her swing” for Clinton to have to run against another woman.

“I think it just takes of the table a whole set of rhetoric that the Democratic Party has used for the last two elections,” Fiorina said. “Remember Hillary Clinton saying in Iowa, ‘It’s not enough to be a woman,’ you have to be a woman who believes. Really? She’s saying that women only count if they believe certain things.”

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Senate Passes Clean DHS Funding Bill; All Eyes on House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate passed a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30 with a vote of 68 to 31.

But over in the House of Representatives, lawmakers are preparing to vote on an entirely different plan -- one that would keep DHS funded for three weeks. There are currently no plans for them to even take up the clean DHS bill the Senate just passed.

House Democrats are actively whipping against the short term bill, and Senate Democrats have not revealed whether they will agree to it. Less than 13 hours remain until the Department of Homeland Security shuts down.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black had a particularly fitting prayer for lawmakers Friday morning.

“Remind them that lawmakers can work miracles with cooperation, but accomplish little with legislative brinksmanship,” Black said.

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Scott Walker's Wisconsin Budget Removes Sexual Assault Reporting Mandates for Colleges

ABC News(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., has proposed alterations to the state of Wisconsin's budget that would remove the mandate requiring colleges to report sexual assaults to the Department of Justice.

On page 508 of the governor's budget recommendations posted to the Wisconsin state legislature's website, Walker recommended "[deleting] language related to sexual assault information and reporting."

The document specifically details changes Walker would enact, including deleting "the requirement that each institution report annually to the Department of Justice statistics on sexual assaults and on sexual assaults committed by acquaintances of victims that occurred on the campus of that institution in the previous years."

Walker's recommendations also include ending a mandate that requires colleges to provide oral and written or electronic information on sexual assault to newly entering and already enrolled students.

The proposal would also "delete the requirement that any person employed at an institution who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student enrolled in the institution that the student has been sexually assaulted report the assault to the dean of students."

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Why Everyone Is So Obsessed with "House of Cards"

Netflix(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- TV fans have some binge watching to do this weekend. The 13-episode third season of Netflix original series House of Cards is now available to stream.

When a brief "glitch" teased the season earlier this month it put a 30-minute pause button on Washington -- home to many of the show's obsessed fans.

So we started to wonder what it is about the show that has fans in such a tizzy. It turns out that Americans like fictional politicians a lot better than real ones.

ABC News spoke with a big fan of House of Cards, Trevor Parry-Giles, a professor of political communication at the University of Maryland and director of academic affairs for the National Communication Association, about why we just can't get enough of Frank and Claire Underwood.

So how did you get into this kind of research?

I was a double major in college, political science and communication. I was always interested in such matters and did my masters on an old show called LA Law. When The West Wing came out my wife and I, she also studies political communication, decided to do some work on it.

What do you like about the show?

I was a fan of the British version, there’s a whole book that its based on and when the British version debuted on PBS I devoured that because I had done my doctoral dissertation on British politics and the Thatcher regime. This down and dirty look at British politics was quite interesting and relevant.

The British version, you think Frank Underwood’s bad, Francis Urquhart is evil incarnate. He, like Underwood, rises his way up through the back benches to become the prime minister. There’s all sorts of parallels and interesting dynamics.

What is it about fictional presidents that you find interesting?

Often times our popular culture and fictional representations of politics mirror or reflect in some way messages and meanings about the actual political world.

The conventional wisdom about people like Frank Underwood is that he gets things done, that’s in response to a perception of the government as ineffective and unable to get things done. Historically since the Constitutional era we have always used politics as a literary device, there’s all of the ingredients of good drama, powerful characters, monumental decisions, much at stake. All the good characteristics of good entertainment in popular culture, it’s like a crime drama.

What does it say about our politics that House of Cards is so popular?

I don’t think it says anything particularly unique about our own political culture, it does say something about American political culture because we've have both Utopian and Dystopian depictions that work in both directions as a commentary on our politics.

I, in the end, think that’s actually pretty healthy. If the system was completely dysfunctional popular culture couldn't get away with envisioning a totally Dystopian one.

You write about how The West Wing is a really romantic view of people who work in politics. What do you think of the contrast between that and the Dystopia in House of Cards?

That’s an interesting question, I don’t know if House of Cards is popular now because it speaks to some kind of lurking anxiety we have about our politics. My sense is that we also have other examples. There’s a show called Madam Secretary that’s entirely implausible but it’s romantic in that it's a young, attractive couple. It's sort of like West Wing in that they're always doing things like walking and talking in hallways.

You could read that and say maybe we’re longing for a Utopian vision of our foreign policy but I do think there is a sense that House of Cards is filling some kind of narrative need and actually kind of accessing something about how we see our political world.

There is some empirical evidence to support this. When West Wing was on television and very popular they did surveys that found reactions to government servants and officials had gone up during the period the show was on television. There was an uptick in law school applications when LA Law was on.

You also talk about how the president is usually a masculine figure in your research, typically a white man. How do newer shows stack up to that stereotype?

We've seen more people of color as president in popular culture certainly since the West Wing. We've seen more women in presidential roles. The president in State of Affairs is played by Alfre Woodard, who is both African American and a woman. You can read all of that sort of against the presence of the Hillary Clinton phenomenon or the Sarah Palin phenomenon. That may be an instance where the culture is actually reflective of what’s going on in the political world where the possibility of a woman president is more real than when The West Wing was on.

Obama also opened a lot of doors. There were a few African American presidents in popular culture prior to Obama of course, like Morgan Freeman in that bad asteroid movie Deep Impact. There have been women as well before Selina Meyer. I think the culture is moving the popular culture.

What's your take on Claire Underwood as a first lady?

I often think of her in contrast with the first lady as depicted in Scandal. The Scandal depiction of the presidency is also interesting in that it has racial dynamics but the first lady is implicated in all the aspects of the plot. Here where you had an Obama phenomenon in terms of presidents you might see a Hillary Clinton or even Michelle Obama phenomenon in terms of activism, that might be an Abbey Bartlet phenomenon as well, but The West Wing went to great lengths to remind us that she’s a woman.

What's your favorite depiction of a president?

Some grad students and I are working right now on a project on presidential impersonations, I love Paul Giamatti as John Adams in the HBO miniseries. In terms of popular culture I'm still locked into Josiah Bartlet.

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"House of Cards": How the Real-Life Frank Underwood Is Staring Down the DHS Showdown

U.S. Congress(WASHINGTON) -- What would Frank Underwood do?

As the House of Representatives’ majority whip -- a role famously depicted in the Netflix hit series House of Cards -- it’s a question Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., ponders as Capitol Hill faces a showdown over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“I think he’d storm over to the Senate chamber and just start maybe voting some people’s machines ‘yes’ to get the bill brought up,” Scalise joked of the fictional character played by Kevin Spacey. “He’d take matters into his own hands over in the Senate.”

Scalise, who didn’t start watching House of Cards until after he became majority whip in August, said the fictional Washington depicted in the show bears only a limited semblance to reality.

“They depict the Capitol and the hectic schedule. I mean everybody is running around from meeting to meeting and votes,” he said in an interview with The Fine Print. “But when it comes to the interaction between members, it’s a lot more collegial than I think is depicted there.”

But on the real-life battle over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to run out of funding at midnight Friday unless Congress reaches a last-minute deal, Scalise described the current impasse as “disappointing.”

“We moved by the second week in January to get a bill passed out of the House that had a strong Republican vote that not only funded the Department of Homeland Security but also made it clear that the president doesn’t have the legal authority to go and issue some kind of executive amnesty on his own in the Oval Office,” Scalise said.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives proposed funding the Department of Homeland Security, while simultaneously halting the implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. But Senate Democrats have effectively blocked that House bill from being considered.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently proposed passing a clean bill that would leave the president’s action on immigration out of the equation, Scalise said the Senate’s attempts at compromise are too little, too late.

“We're not going to pass bad policy just because the Senate waits and waits until the midnight hour,” Scalise said. “If a kid just doesn't do his homework and then just shows up and expects the teacher to give him a break, I mean, at some point everybody's got responsibilities. “

Scalise also gave The Fine Print a tour of a rarely seen room on Capitol Hill that was once frequented by President Abraham Lincoln. Recently renamed by Scalise as the “Lincoln Room,” the room was actually the House cloakroom during Lincoln’s one term in Congress before the Civil War.

“When Abraham Lincoln was a member of the House, he actually sat right here in this spot, by this fireplace, and this is where he would read and tell stories and meet with members, because they didn't have offices during those times in the 1840s,” Scalise said.

To hear more about Scalise’s thoughts on the fight over Homeland Security, and to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Lincoln Room, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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Missouri State Auditor Dead in Apparent Suicide

Office of the Missouri State Auditor(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon mourned the death of state auditor Tom Schweich on Thursday, calling him "a brilliant, devoted and accomplished public servant."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Schweich, the Republican state auditor and a contender for governor in next year's election, apparently committed suicide in his home on Thursday.

Nixon highlighted Schweich's contributions both locally and abroad, mentioning specifically "his courageous work to combat the illegal drug trade abroad in Afghanistan" and "his tireless efforts to protect the interests of taxpayers here in Missouri."

"Tom Schweich's exceptional intellect and unwavering dedication to public service left a legacy that will endure for many years to come," Nixon said in a statement.

Darlene Green, City of St. Louis Comptroller, offered prayers for "one of our great leaders here in Missouri," calling it "a day to put politics aside and reflect on the life and legacy of Tom Schweich," in a statement.

Schweich leaves behind a wife and two children.

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Eric Holder Reveals His Worst Day on the Job

Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Eric Holder’s days as attorney general are numbered. And in an interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas, he reflected on his six years leading a department that he first started working for at the age of 25, as a lawyer fresh out of Columbia Law School.

Leaving the department is “bittersweet...in the truest sense of the word,” Holder said, adding there’s some “satisfaction” in being the nation’s first African-American attorney general.

“I am aware of the historical significance of my appointment,” Holder conceded. “I am hoping that I've done a job that would make proud the people who made it possible; the people who sacrificed, the people who struggled, the people who dreamed, the people who gave their lives. I owe a special something to them.”

Nevertheless, Holder, 64, has had his ups and downs, and his share of controversies. Here’s how he described to ABC News some particular moments of his tenure:


Dec. 14, 2012: The day a 20-year-old opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six others. “I cried. The men and women who were up there that day cried. We hugged each other,” Holder told ABC News, recounting his visit to the school, where the carpets and bathroom were still stained with blood. “Those little angels were piled up almost like cord wood. …That was, without question, the worst day.”


“It’s hard to pick out any one day,” Holder said. “I have certainly liked the visits I’ve made around the country. I've had the opportunity to go to every district in this country. I think I'm the first attorney general to have done that.” Holder said other “good days” are those that let him “sit down with the career people, take pictures with them, hear about what it is they're doing, the problems that they are facing.”


Holder has been a lightning rod for Republican critics, who Holder suggested differ from him in that he’s “a person who likes to talk about facts and talk about policies that are going to change things that have too long been unaddressed.” But while he and many Republican have “butted heads,” they’ve also sat down for many meals together, according to Holder. “What you don't know about are the breakfasts I've had in my conference room with some of the same people who were yelling at me a couple of days before,” Holder recalled. “The lunches that we've had, the phone calls that we make, the progress that we've made, the legislation that we've passed by working together.”


“If you look at the work of this Justice Department, we have brought record numbers of cases against police departments around the country,” Holder told ABC News when asked about the department’s response to high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and Sanford, Florida. The Justice Department announced this week federal charges would not be filed against George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in 2012 after a confrontation with the unarmed teenager in Sanford. The outcomes of two federal probes tied to the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson last year are still pending. “I'd say that in all the cases that we do, we've conducted an independent, thorough, investigation,” Holder said, adding his department has been “very aggressive” in bringing charges when appropriate. He promised to announce the results of the Ferguson probes before he leaves.


Holder had these words of advice for his successor: “Follow your experience, follow your heart, be a student of history, be unafraid.” Holder said Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, who’s waiting to be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate, has all those qualities “in spades.” “I'm going to try to leave for Loretta as little [leftover work] as I possibly can, which is why I have been as active as I've been over these last few weeks,” Holder said. “I think she's going to be a great attorney general.”

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Boehner: 'Government Bureaucrats' Should 'Keep Their Hands Off the Internet'

ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) -- After the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to impose "net neutrality" regulations, House Speaker John Boehner responded to the "misguided plan" by urging "overzealous government bureaucrats" to "keep their hands off the Internet."

"Today, three [bureaucrats] appointed by President Obama approved a secret plan to put the federal government in control of the Internet," Boehner said in a press release. Noting that the text of the proposal was kept hidden from the public and Congress, the speaker argued that the "total lack of transparency and accountability does not bode well for the future of a free and open Internet, not to mention the millions of Americans who use it every day."

Boehner's office notes that House Republican leaders sent a letter to the FCC chairman nearly a year ago calling for him to drop the consideration of such regulations. In November 2014, Boehner's office adds, the speaker warned that net neutrality regulations would hurt the American economy.

"The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency," Boehner continued, "but the White House has once again meddled where it shouldn't in order to advance what one commissioner has described as 'a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist.'"

Boehner further compared the regulations to Obamacare, saying that the plan "may not work, but it will create years of uncertainty and lead to expensive legal fights."

Across the aisle, both Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi supported the FCC's decision.

I support the FCC’s decision to adopt strong net neutrality rules, and I'll work to preserve them.

— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 26, 2015

New @FCC rules will help the Internet ensure that success is founded on the best ideas, not the deepest pockets. http://t.co/syfaot2UGT

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 26, 2015

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Obama Celebrates Black History Month, Ahead of Selma Visit

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama celebrated African American History Month with an East Room reception at the White House on Thursday.

Obama thanked the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy whose death three years ago sparked a movement against racial profiling, for attending the reception at the White House.

“Today on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death, showing all of our kids, all of them, every single day that their lives matter, that's a part of our task,” he said.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday closed a three-year investigation into the case, saying it would not file hate-crime charges against Trayvon's shooter, George Zimmerman.

Obama also said on Thursday that progress in the U.S. happens only because seemingly ordinary people find the courage to stand up for what is right.

“When I take Malia and Sasha and Michelle next week down to Selma, part of what I'm hoping to do is to remind of their own obligations because there's going to be marches for them to march,” he said.

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