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Jun 092013
 

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said Sunday that she will support the immigration reform bill drafted by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” arguing that the legislation provides a “tough but fair way” for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship.

“This is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem, and so that’s why I’m going to support it,” Ayotte said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday.

Ayotte’s support adds to the small tally of Republicans currently promoting the bill, including the four Republican senators in the “Gang of Eight.” However, one of the bipartisan group’s members, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has threatened to vote against the bill unless it includes tougher border security provisions.

In an interview on Univision’s Al Punto, Rubio argued that strengthening the border security measures would help “earn our colleagues’ trust” and predicted that his group will find enough votes to exceed the 60 required to prevent a filibuster.

“We’ll have a lot more than 60 votes, but we’re going to have to work at it,” Rubio told Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas in an interview that aired Sunday on Al Punto.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Sunday that he is “willing to compromise” on the immigration plan if it includes changes like tougher border measures, and the Kentucky senator suggested he could serve as a “conduit” to House conservatives who currently disagree with the plan proposed in the Senate.

“I am the conduit between conservatives in the House who don’t want a lot of these things and more moderate people in the Senate who do want these things. I want to make the bill work, but see, the thing is, is what they have in the Senate has zero chance of passing in the House.” Paul said on FOX News Sunday. “I’m really trying to make immigration work, but they’re going to have to come to me, and they’re going to have to work with me to make the bill stronger if they want me to vote for it.”

Formal debate on the bill started in the Senate on Friday and is expected to continue through the week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 062013
 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and Republican senators had a “good exchange of ideas” Wednesday evening during their roughly two-hour-long dinner at the posh Jefferson Hotel, just blocks from the White House, according to a senior administration official.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave the meeting a thumbs up as he exited the hotel, saying it was “just fine,” “great” and “wonderful.”

McCain told reporters gathered across the street that it was a “very enjoyable evening,” but declined to discuss specifics.

Obama invited 12 GOP senators to break bread as part of a larger effort to jump start budget negotiations and try to cut a deal with rank-and-file Republicans.

“The president greatly enjoyed the dinner,” the administration official said.

But did they make any progress?

“We’ll see,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told reporters.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., described it as a, “good, constructive conversation.”

“His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis…solving every problem by meeting the crisis deadline,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. “Today was a good step and we’ll see what happens.”

The extremely rare meeting has also fostered a new point of contention: Who picked up the tab?

According to the White House, President Obama paid for the meal out of his own pocket.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., however, claimed the bill was split.

And so, it continues…

Here is a full list of attendees at Wednesday night’s dinner: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 162013
 

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican address, Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby calls on the president and Senate Democrats to join the House in stopping the sequester, a set of “across-the-board spending cuts” scheduled to take effect in less than two weeks.

With many lawmakers and President Obama, as Rep. Roby points out, calling the sequestration “a really bad idea,” the hope is that the cuts can be replaced with “better more responsible spending cuts,” she explains.

“Just this week, top military commanders testified on Capitol Hill and confirmed what I had feared from the beginning about how the president’s sequester will hurt military installations in Alabama and around the country,” says Roby, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

“There is a smarter way to reduce the size of government than to slash defense spending, threaten national security and hurt military families,” she says, accusing the president and Congressional Democrats of holding up legislation that would replace the sequester.  She adds that President Obama would like to “push through another tax increase,” while “using the military he leads as leverage in an ideological crusade for higher taxes.”

But, Roby implores, “These games have got to stop.”

“Our goal every day in Washington should be coming together on issues like creating jobs for hardworking American families, reining in our out-of-control debt, and ensuring America maintains a strong national defense,” she says.  “To meet these goals, we can come together now to replace the president’s sequester – not with more tax increases, but with better, more responsible spending cuts that put our budget on a path to balance in 10 years.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 132013
 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. used the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday to challenge the president on how to best serve the middle class, arguing that the answer to alleviating the burdens on working class people is not through the president’s “obsession” with taxes and spending but by supporting a free enterprise system.

“Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the president will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy,” Rubio said from the Speaker of the House’s conference room in the U.S. Capitol.

READ the FULL TEXT of Sen. Rubio’s Republican Response

“The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers — that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried,” said Rubio, 41. “More government isn’t going to help you get ahead.  It’s going to hold you back.  More government isn’t going to create more opportunities.  It’s going to limit them. And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs.  It’s going to create uncertainty.”

Rubio’s speech, the first ever bilingual response to the State of the Union, comes at a time when the Republican Party is struggling with how to appeal to a growing constituency, which it lost in last year’s election: Latinos.  Rubio, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the 1950′s, is one of the most recognizable Hispanic figures in the Republican Party and is often floated as a potential presidential contender for 2016.

Rubio, who lives in the same Miami, Fla. neighborhood he was raised in, tried to link himself to working class people, saying it is their concerns he has in mind, not the interests of the rich.

“His favorite attack of all is that those who don’t agree with him — that we only care about rich people,” Rubio said of the president. “Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in the countries where the government dominated the economy.”

And these modest people in his neighborhood, argued Rubio, will actually be hurt if taxes rise and government spending isn’t cut.

“The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families,” he said of the president. “It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security,” Rubio said. “So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”

Rubio helped craft a bipartisan immigration plan which was introduced last month, but he only briefly mentioned immigration in his speech, saying a legal immigration system would benefit the economy.

“We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”

The Florida senator promoted the issues of school choice and access to affordable student loans while also pushing Republicans’ efforts to reform the Medicare system. But Rubio also noted that the power to enact change comes not from politicians but from the American people.

“Our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible,” Rubio said.

Rubio rehearsed his speech Tuesday morning, as can be seen in these photos released by his office, but when it came to the actual delivery of the speech, Rubio hit a snafu.

 

In the middle of his speech, Rubio stopped speaking and reached off screen to grab a water bottle to take a drink. The Florida senator made light of the moment afterwards, tweeting out a photo of a small Poland Spring water bottle resembling the one he took a swig from in the middle of his speech.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 172012
 

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  With the threat of the fiscal cliff quickly approaching, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have voiced ideas about how to avoid the Jan. 1 deadline, when automatic tax hikes for all Americans and deep government spending cuts are set to take effect. In this week’s Republican address, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte criticizes Washington for “ducking the tough decisions,” but says the critical fiscal cliff represents a new opportunity for both parties to change the country’s “irresponsible spending path.”

“And one thing is clear: the American people expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve the difficult challenges we face,” Ayotte says, referring to the “spirited debate” over the federal budget that played out over the last year by members of both parties.

“For too long, partisan bickering has paralyzed Washington — preventing members of both parties from reaching across the aisle to find common ground,” she says in the address. “That must stop. Power sharing is an opportunity — not an obstacle.”

Calling on bipartisan leadership to cooperate in reducing the deficit without harming the economy, Ayotte highlights ideas on which she says both parties can agree: 1) The current tax code is broken, and should be reformed to remove loopholes “that pick winners and losers.” 2) There is a need to strengthen and preserve entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security for future beneficiaries.

“One thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option,” she says. “And any effort to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can’t be taken seriously.”

Sen. Ayotte concluded the address with a tone of optimism similar to that of congressional leaders who participated in Friday’s fiscal cliff summit at the White House.

“It will take courage to address the serious fiscal challenges our country faces. But Americans always come together to solve tough problems. And, for the good of the nation, now is the time for both parties to bring their best ideas to the table,” she says.

“As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, may we all remain mindful that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. What unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. We are Americans first. And as Americans we’ll rise to this challenge.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio