Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., announced Monday she has scheduled a hearing on Ebola for Thursday, Nov. 6, two days after the pivotal midterm elections.
Mikulski’s panel is in charge of green lighting federal funding and the hearing will no doubt address the budgets of the CDC and NIH.
But by waiting until after the election, Mikulski spares vulnerable Democrats from having to weigh in on — and likely criticize — the Obama administration’s Ebola response.
The post-election hearing also avoids forcing Democrats to jump off the campaign trail with only two weeks before voters cast ballots.
Coincidentally, the committee contains four of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats: Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
The House has already conducted two oversight hearings critical of the government’s response to Ebola, making it all too clear where Democrats’ priorities lie.
Obama refuses to leak any details about his plans for executive amnesty, but a recently uncovered document has given us a clue. A draft solicitation for bids issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Oct. 6 urges that “potential vendors must be capable of handling a ‘surge’ scenario of 9 million id cards in one year ‘to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements’”:
The request for proposals says the agency will need a minimum of four million cards per year. In the “surge,” scenario in 2016, the agency would need an additional five million cards – more than double the baseline annual amount for a total of 9 million.
“The guaranteed minimum for each ordering period is 4,000,000 cards. The estimated maximum for the entire contract is 34,000,000 cards,” the document says.
The agency is buying the materials need to construct both Permanent Residency Cards (PRC), commonly known as green cards, as well as Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) cards which have been used to implement President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program. The RFP does not specify how many of each type of card would be issued.
Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies and former State Department official, said the document suggests a new program of remarkable breadth.
The RFP “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected in the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill,” Vaughan said.
If this is true, Obama intends to open America’s doors wide open — and for who? Currently, there are about 4.5 million people waiting for approval for legally requested green cards, far less than the 9 million required for the imagined “surge” in 2016. What kinds of people is Obama hoping to let into our country?
A Republican Senate — and therefore, a Republican Congress — seems imminent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is so confident the GOP will recapture control on Election Day that he has outlined “ten critical priorities” for a GOP-lead Congress, with the overarching aim of meeting three big goals: jumpstarting the economy, safeguarding constitutional liberties, and strengthening national security. They are as follows:
Congress has grown completely out-of-control and ineffective under the Obama regime. Unfortunately, we cannot vote Obama out of office — but we can vote out the liars in the Senate. Click here to help American Liberty PAC FIRE THE LIARS!
Katy Conrad is a booker and producer for CBS This Morning who, according to her Twitter bio, is “a girl who’s in love with the world” who “lives for #breakingnews.” Perhaps her obsession with #breakingnews will help to explain how she overlooked the 20-plus-year-old news that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is, in fact, a doctor.
On Thursday, Conrad sent out the following snarky tweet mocking Paul’s assessment of the virulence of the Ebola virus:
— Nick Dyer (@MrNickDyer) October 16, 2014
Naturally, it didn’t take long for more observant members of the Twitter community to point out her error:
— Hawkstrat (@Hawkstrat) October 17, 2014
To her credit, Conrad did issue an apology…:
Hi all: clearly a poorly researched tweet, know a lot are fired up & I apologize. Will do better next time. Thx for keeping me honest.
— Katy (@katywithawhy) October 17, 2014
…But it’s always so delightful when a liberal tries to attack a conservative and utterly fails.
In case you haven’t heard, Obama has decided to delay pretty much everything until after the midterms. The Washington Post’s Ed Rogers has conveniently rounded it all up into a single paragraph:
The president will not sign – or even release the details of – his executive orders on immigration reform. We won’t get an answer about whether or not the White House will greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline. Consumers will not be able to access information about the new 2015 Obamacare premiums (read: rate hikes) until November 15. And, Obama will not announce his nominee for attorney general. We also found out yesterdaythat although the investigation into Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan has been completed, the results will not be released until – you guessed it – after the midterm elections. And while we are at it, don’t we all think the White House is hiding something from us about Ebola right now?
As Rogers continues, “The White House assumes voters are stupid, ignorant and won’t notice.”
Well, we have noticed. And we want to know what all this means for Nov. 5:
If this is what we know so far, can you imagine what will be revealed when the White House is no longer working to protect the Democratic Party? Right now, the leaders of federal departments and regulatory agencies are mostly lying low, being a little more circumspect and judicious than the White House itself. We can only imagine what additional delays are being kept hidden.
Whatever happened to the most transparent administration in history?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will grace the cover of the Oct. 27 edition of TIME Magazine. It’s the second time Paul has landed the cover of the mag, but as Rare’s Matt Naham points out, this time it’s a pretty big deal. TIME has declare Paul “The Most Interesting Man in Politics”:
The story is titled “The Reinventions of Rand Paul. Can He Fix What Ails the GOP?” Reporter Michael Scherer describes Paul as “a visionary determined to reinvent the conservative Republican story line.” As James R. Carroll notes in the Courier-Journal — and what the word “interesting” implies — is that Rand Paul is different than what we’ve typically seen in Washington, D.C.
“Paul’s unconventional positions against limiting ballot access and restoring rights to nonviolent felons are separating him from his potential GOP competitors,” Carroll writes.
Scherer intimates Paul’s wide-ranging appeal:
But here’s what matters the most: rather than getting laughed off the stage, he has been embraced, if gingerly, by many in his party. They see the same polls he does, which show the emerging demographics, the young minorities, the urban shifting away from older generations and embracing of more libertarian views on privacy, drug sentencing and foreign intervention.
If you have a subscription, you can read Scherer’s feature now at Time.com.
Barack Obama officially named an Ebola czar Thursday morning. Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, will head up the Ebola response in the U.S.:
“He will report directly to the President’s Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco and the President National Security Advisor Susan Rice as he ensures that efforts to protect the American people by detecting, isolating and treating Ebola patients in this country are properly integrated but don’t distract from the aggressive commitment to stopping Ebola at the source in West Africa,” a White House official wrote in an e-mail.
However, Obama still doesn’t agree with enacting a travel ban:
The president said he isn’t “philosophically opposed” to a flight ban on passengers traveling from countries affected by Ebola, as many Republicans have called for, “if that is a thing that will keep people safe.” But he said healthcare experts have advised him against such a move for now because screening and quarantine measures for travelers already put in place will be more affective in containing the disease.
A rigid travel ban, he said, could force Ebola patients underground, making it nearly impossible to track their movements — a scenario that could make the epidemic worse.
“We may end up getting less information [with a travel ban] about who has the disease, they’re less likely to get treated properly — screened properly, quarantined properly — and as a consequence we could end up having more cases rather than less,” he said.
“Currently the judgment of all involved is that a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go.”
This directly contradicts a statement made by CDC director Thomas Frieden that he would consider a travel ban.
Additionally, Obama signed an executive order Thursday authorizing the deployment of the National Guard to help combat Ebola in West Africa:
“I am authorizing the secretary of defense and the secretary of homeland security to order the selected reserve and certain members of the individual ready reserve to active duty to augment the active forces in support of Operation United Assistance, providing humanitarian assistance and consequence management related to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the West Africa region,” Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“The authorities that have been invoked will ensure the Department of Defense can properly sustain the military operations required in this effort,” he added.
In short, the administration’s response to Ebola remains all over the place.
American Democrats are of the opinion that enacting a travel ban and closing our borders to West African flights will somehow help spread Ebola. In an ironic bit of news, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Africa — ground zero of the disease — credits border closures as a key factor in preventing the spread of the virus.
Well, what do you know:
Officials credit tighter border controls, good patient-tracking and other medical practices, and just plain luck with keeping Ebola confined mostly to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since the outbreak was first identified nearly seven months ago.
Senegal did so well in finding and isolating a man with Ebola who had slipped across the border from Guinea in August that the World Health Organization on Friday will declare the end of the disease in Senegal if no new cases surface.
Border closings may also be helping halt the spread of Ebola.
Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, all of which share borders with at least one of the three most affected countries, have closed those borders.
So, which Democrat is going to step forward first to admit they’re wrong?
To his credit, CDC director Tom Frieden told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday that the CDC would consider imposing a travel ban:
[Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)] said Obama has the authority to close travel from the afflicted nations, yet has chosen not to impose a ban.
“The people are asking for that,” Burgess said. “And they are correct to make that request.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., also called for a travel ban at the hearing.
“Have you had conversations with the White House about a travel ban?” Scalise asked.
“We’ve had discussions on the issue of travel to and from West Africa,” Frieden responded. “I can’t speak for the White House.”
Frieden then told lawmakers the CDC “would look at any proposal that would improve the safety of Americans.”
Well, it’s a about time.
Sports and politics often co-mingle, if only because politicians are wont to use sports metaphors. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, is no exception. Gardner recently told the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty that his time playing football as both a fullback and a middle linebacker for his tiny Yuma, Colorado high school taught him “what he needs to know about big-league politics”:
“I used to play against a high school football team that always used to run the single wing. And eventually, other teams figured out that they ran the single wing. And so they prepared for it,” the two-term Republican congressman said as he made his way through a game-day crowd at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium this month. “The Democrats are stuck running the single wing.”
It didn’t take long for Dave McKenna, a staffer for sports website Deadspin, to be alerted of Gardner’s comments. It took even less time for McKenna to write a hit piece accusing Gardner of completely fabricating his football career. Apparently, McKenna had it on good authority from Yuma High School’s longtime stats keeper Chuck Pfalmer that “Cory Gardner wasn’t on the football team.”
The story went live Wednesday, and Gardner fired back on Twitter with some pretty solid evidence to the contrary:
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) October 15, 2014
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) October 15, 2014
Deadspin has since offered a non-apologetic update to the hit piece, McKenna has admitted that “it’s my fault” if the information presented in his story is incorrect, and Pfalmer has contradicted his initial comments by stating that “Cory did play football for three years” in high school, including a junior-year stint on the varsity team.
It looks like Gardner isn’t a liar, after all; and to boot, he’s taken a 6-point lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. McKenna probably feels real dumb right about now.
More and more Democrats are screwing up in the homestretch of their respective Senate races. Michelle Nunn, Democratic candidate for Georgia’s open Senate seat, is the latest Dem to refuse to say whether she voted for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections:
“Ms. Nunn, did you vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012?” [a video tracker for America Rising] asked.
Nunn appears to smile wryly, but keeps her mouth shut and refuses to answer the question.
“Would you leave her alone,” a Nunn supporter tells the tracker.
“Yes, of course, yes, he’s the president…he’s done great things…healthcare,” another supporter can be heard telling the tracker.
The tracker asked Nunn the hard-hitting question at an early voting venue, the Adamsville Recreation Center, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Watch the awkward incident below:
Nunn’s silence, however, isn’t quite as awkward as the monumental gaffe flailing Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Mark Udall made during his Wednesday debate against Repblican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. As if predicting his own fate, Udall accidentally referred to Rep. Gardner as “Senator”: