President Obama agreed to sign a compromise bill on Tuesday allowing Congress a say in the Iran nuclear deal while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved the legislation to the full Senate for a vote. An unusual alliance of the president’s Democratic supporters and Republican opponents of the deal demanded a congressional role as international negotiators attempt to finalize the deal by June 30. Congress will now have an opportunity to vote on the deal, though opposing the president could prove futile. If Congress does not approve the agreement, President Obama could veto that legislation and would need only 34 senators to sustain the veto. Though interpretations of the president’s relent differ between the two parties, the compromise bill is one more step forward in reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran. Discuss
This Sunday at noon, former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce she’s running for president. The video announcement will be made via social media, after which she will immediately travel to the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire to begin fundraising. Her campaign is expected to concentrate on making her relatable to ordinary Americans. To that end, today she released an update on her memoir, "Hard Choices,” published in 2014. In it she writes about her first grandchild and the sense of urgency she feels to improve things for future generations. “Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on,” she wrote. “Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up.” Discuss
Today at Liberty University, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (Republican, as you know) became the first serious candidate to officially throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 presidency. And, just like that, the race is officially on.
Cruz's early entry is largely seen as an attempt to steal some thunder from other GOP probables who have polled better (most polls put Cruz at something like eighth place among likely Republican candidates)—particularly from people like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Among many members of his party, Cruz is seen as divisive (or, as NPR has it, the "enfant terrible" of Congress.) Nevertheless, experts note that Cruz is a gifted speaker and a Tea Party hero—his odds are long, but not wholly unrealistic.
The Senator's speech was heavy on conservative and faith-based talking points. He asked America to "imagine a candidate" who would abolish the IRS, stand "unapologetically" with Israel, repeal Obamacare and “defend the sanctity of human life and uphold the sacrament of marriage.” Discuss
The United States is facing a shortage of lethal drugs. That's not much of a problem, unless you want drugs to kill people, which many states do. Lethal drugs are manufactured in Europe, where companies suffering a crisis of conscience are refusing to sell them to America. That's a problem for places like Texas, which only has enough drugs for two more lethal injections (both of which are on the table for next week.)
It's not a problem for Utah yet, but it could become one, and Utah is getting proactive about it by doing things the old fashioned way. Lawmakers have approved a bill that would bring back the firing squad, and Utah Governor Gary Herbert is trying to make up his mind about whether or not to sign it. If he does, that's not to say that Utah would start using a firing squad—only that they would have the legal option to. Just in case. Discuss
The New York Times is reporting that during her time as Secretary of State, presumable 2016 presidential contender and tween idol Hillary Clinton used her personal email exclusively, potentially violating government laws. If that's true, Clinton spent four years without the ".gov" email address she should have had as Head of State Department—an email address that would archive all of her communications. Her personal email address has no such archival guarantees
How bad is it? Well, it's drawing some pretty public condemnation from both sides of the aisle. "It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario—short of nuclear winter—where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," said the National Archives' former Director of Litigation, Jason R. Baron.
A Clinton spokesperson said Clinton followed the "letter and spirit of the rules" ... Discuss
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and 16 previous denomination presidents have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to take action against ISIS. The letter comes on the heels of ISIS' video depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, and a report that they've kidnapped hundreds more. “We humbly call upon you to use the influence and power of your distinguished office to take the necessary actions now in this urgent hour to bring an end to these human atrocities,” the letter stated.
All told, it's a good letter, respectful of the office of the President and humble in its tone. As RNS points out, the timing is a little off (in more ways than one: it was accidentally dated March 2, 2014.) But more to the point, President Obama has already submitted a draft of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force to Congress, where it has been met by a "lack of enthusiasm" among GOP Congressional leaders ... Discuss