Congress

  • Lawmakers criticize NSA leaker Edward Snowden

    Lawmakers were quick to criticize Edward Snowden, the 29-year old Booz Allen Hamilton employee who disclosed the NSA surveillance program to the Guardian and the Washington Post. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) said the national security leaks would endanger American lives. Peter King (R-New York), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, said of the leaks: “This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”

  • Second NSA domestic surveillance scheme revealed: data mining from nine U.S. ISPs

    A day after it was revealed that the NSA was collecting communication information on millions of Verizon’s U.S. customers, another NSA domestic surveillance scheme was exposed: the NSA and the FBI have been tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet service providers for the purpose of harvesting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. The information collected allowed intelligence analysts to track an individual’s movements and contacts over time.

  • Nevada lawmakers fail to restore DHS funds to Las Vegas

    Members of the Nevada congressional delegation were taken aback when they found that Las Vegas would lose DHS funding for anti-terror programs, and immediately began to work their fellow lawmakers on the Hill to add money to DHS security grants to cities. The effort failed, and Las Vegas will have to find other sources of funding for some of the city’s security programs.

  • NSA collecting information on Verizon customers’ communications

    The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting massive amounts of “metadata,” or transactional information, on millions of Verizon’s U.S. customers. A court granted the NSA permission to begin information collection on 25 April, stipulating the collection must end by 19 July. The court order instructs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order.” It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information,” such as “originating and terminating number,” the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information.”

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  • Rubio will vote against immigration bill unless border security provisions are strengthened

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight group which drafted a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and will come to the Senate floor next week. Rubio, however, says he would vote against the bill he helped draft unless the border security provisions in the bill are strengthened.

  • Lawmaker wants more Bin Laden documents declassified

    There were so many documents seized by U.S. Special Forces in the 2011 raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan have been, that official described them as the equivalent of “a small college library,” but two years after the raid, only seventeen documents are public. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wants the documents declassified. Leaders of the U.S. intelligence community do not think it is a good idea.

  • Sen. Rubio proposes that Congress, not DHS, devise border security plan

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), a member of the bipartisan group which drafted the immigration bill which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and which will be brought to the floor of the Senate next week, is working on a proposal which will dramatically change the approach to devising and assessing border security in the bill. The bill now has DHS entrusted with the responsibility of devising a border security plan and determining whether the plan has been adequately implemented. Rubio proposes that Congress would assume these responsibilities, saying that the current plan for borer security is not robust enough to convince many Republican lawmakers to support the immigration bill.

  • Critics: Gang of Eight bill will create new surge of illegal immigration

    The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit organization critical of U.S. policies toward both legal and illegal immigration, says the Gang of Eight bipartisan immigration reform bill will not solve the U.S. illegal immigration problem, but rather exacerbate it. FAIR notes that in 1986, the Reagan administration pushed a bill through Congress which gave amnesty to nearly three million illegal aliens — but the problem of illegal immigration has only grown worse.

  • Reid confident immigration reform bill will pass the Senate

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said passage of the immigration bill will be relatively easy, and that he believes the bill will be supported by at least eight Republican, in addition to votes from nearly all Democratic members.

  • Bloomberg group presses lawmakers to close FBI’s gun “terror gap”

    New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has turned its attention to Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), and Max Baucus (D-Montana)  to gain their support for a gun bill which would prevent people on the U.S. terrorist watch list from passing background checks for guns.

  • House panel cuts DHS chemical plant monitoring program’s budget

    Budget authors in the House proposed cutting almost $9 million from what DHS had requested for high-risk chemical tracking in the 2014 fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee, indicating its lack of confidence in DHS’s oversight of fertilizer plants like Texas’s West Fertilizer Company, which exploded earlier this year, also withheld $20 million from the program until DHS responded in detail to questions the committee sent the department.

  • What we keep forgetting about immigration reform

    Next month, when the Senate debates immigration reform, our elected politicians should be reminded of their responsibility to negotiate new immigration laws which finally bring sanity and fairness to all Americans and, as well, to those who would choose to become new Americans.

  • GOP lawmakers urge Obama not to link Keystone decision to climate policies

    Democrats who are uncomfortable with the Keystone XL pipeline have urged President Obama to consider attaching policies requiring cuts in greenhouse gases emissions to his approval of the project. Republican lawmakers are urging the president not to link approval of Keystone to climate change policies.

  • Immigration bill more acceptable to Senate Republicans

    The immigration bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee is picking up Republican support. Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) removed a major obstacle to the bill’s passing the Senate by withdrawing his own amendment to it, an amendment which would have given the American spouse in a gay relationship the right to sponsor the non-American partner for legal status in the United States. The bill also added provisions conditioning the beginning of the path-to-citizenship process on proven bolstering of border security. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told reporters he will not block the measure from reaching the senate floor.

  • AFL-CIO vows to fight Hatch’s amendments to immigration bill

    Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will try to persuade skeptical Democrats that Hatch’s changes to the immigration bill, which brought it closer to the preferences of the high-tech industry, are not necessarily bad for U.S. labor. The AFL-CIO does not agree, and vows to fight Hatch’s amendments