Boehner Finalizing Plans to Pursue Legal Action Against Obama on Immigration

Josh Siegel /

House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans in a closed-door meeting today that he is moving towards a plan to authorize legal action against the White House over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

According to a source who attended the meeting, Boehner, R-Ohio, told lawmakers that the House will pursue a legal course that “gives us the best chance of success.”

In November, Obama acted alone to shield up to 5 million immigrants here illegally from deportation and grant them work permits.

For Boehner to proceed, the House would have to approve a resolution authorizing him to take legal action on immigration, as it did last July in connection with a lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act.

According to a House GOP leadership aide, legal options include joining an already filed lawsuit from more than half of U.S. states on Obama’s executive action or filing a separate lawsuit.

No decisions have been made on the specific legal action House Republicans would use.

Whatever the form, the lawsuit would likely allege that Obama failed his “constitutional obligation that all laws are faithfully executed,” said John Malcolm, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

Malcolm told The Daily Signal that he is skeptical that such a lawsuit could prevail.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible or not worth it, but getting a court to weigh in on this is not going to be easy,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm added:

“With the Obamacare lawsuit, there was clear statutory standing. Obamacare says, ‘You must do the following by this date.’ Immigration is a dicier matter. There’s more wiggle room. Obama is not saying that they [illegal immigrants] will never be removed. He’s just deferring action.”

Even though the chance of success may be small, Democrats quickly criticized Republicans’ plan to use the courts.

“Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern,” says @NancyPelosi.

“Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said in a written statement. “Republicans should stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars suing the president and start showing some seriousness for the security of the American people.”

The GOP is also using legislative means to confront the administration on immigration.

“Obviously, we will continue to vigorously pursue legislative options, including the House-passed DHS bill, as well,” the leadership aide said.

Earlier this month, the House passed far-reaching legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September and undo President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today that his chamber will take up the House bill after it finishes work on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Congress Seeks to Improve Global Anti-Trafficking Efforts - Daily Signal

Congress Seeks to Improve Global Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos /

As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, Congress is turning its attention to combatting human trafficking. New estimates suggest that as many as 35.8 million people are victims of human trafficking. Renewed attention on this international crisis is necessary if the U.S. is to continue to lead global anti-trafficking efforts.

Human trafficking takes many forms including sex trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, and child sex and labor trafficking, among other abuses. Millions of people around the world and at least 60,000 people in the U.S. are subjected to slave-like conditions and unimaginable abuse.

The U.S. government first began fighting trafficking after Congress authorized the creation of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) at the State Department through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000. The TIP leads diplomatic efforts to combat trafficking, produces the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, and allocates international aid for U.S.-led global anti-trafficking efforts. The TIP report, which measures countries’ efforts to comply with international human-trafficking norms, is considered the standard bearer of anti-trafficking efforts.

This week, Congress is considering legislation on a wide range of anti-trafficking topics, including advocating increased training in anti-trafficking best practices for federal employees, amending child-sex offender travel restrictions, and improving protection for victims of child sex trafficking, among other initiatives.

Representative Chris Smith (R–NJ) recently re-introduced legislation that would upgrade the TIP from an office to a bureau. If passed, this legislation would put it on par with other State Department regional bureaus without increasing the personnel and staff necessary to produce the annual TIP report.

In addition to congressional efforts to prioritize human trafficking, it is essential that the vacancy in the Ambassador-at-Large position in the TIP office be filled soon. Former TIP Ambassador Luis CdeBaca left office in November 2014. To ensure the veracity and continued excellence of the TIP report, it is in the best interest of the U.S. government and global anti-trafficking efforts to find a skilled and qualified replacement quickly.

Congress and the State Department should continue to focus attention on human trafficking and make the case for the U.S.’s strategic interest and moral responsibility to combat this global scourge. Researchers at The Heritage Foundation are preparing to release a paper analyzing current U.S. anti-trafficking efforts in Asia and their impact on the international human-trafficking epidemic.

2015 Economic Freedom of Japan - Daily Signal

2015 Economic Freedom of Japan

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters /

Japan’s economic freedom score is tied for the second highest it’s ever been since the Index of Economic Freedom was first published more than 20 years ago. Scoring a 73.3, Japan ranks 20th in the world for economic freedom, an improvement over the previous year’s rank of 25. It continues to rank sixth among countries in the Asia–Pacific region. Focusing on needed structural reforms will help Japan to continue on its path to economic freedom.

Abenomics

Monetary freedom, fiscal freedom, and freedom from corruption continued to weight down Japan’s score by a combined negative of 5.1 points. Over the past year, the first two arrows of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-arrow economic policy “Abenomics”—monetary and fiscal policy—enabled Japan’s debt to grow to more than double Japan’s gross domestic product. Japan’s fiscal freedom and government spending are categorized as only moderately free because they rank at 144th and 137th, respectively, in the world.

Meanwhile, Japan improved in labor, business, and trade freedom. The largest increase was in Japan’s labor freedom with a gain of more than 10 points. The third arrow of Abenomics—structural reform, including encouraging more women and immigrants to participate in the workforce—helped labor freedom to rank the ninth freest in the world. Japan currently has a tight labor market with one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the world at 3.5 percent. As Japan’s population continues to shrink, its job market continues to supply at least one job for every applicant.

Reigniting Japan’s Economy

While the government has made significant progress toward Prime Minister Abe’s planned structural reforms, there are still concerns over how far he will follow through with his commitments. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda continues to purchase government bonds at an alarming rate of $70 billion to $100 billion per month, pushing up prices while devaluing the yen. Implementing monetary and fiscal policy reform has been relatively easy, but Japan needs structural reform to reignite its economy.

The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, along with other countries’ rankings, can be found at www.heritage.org/index.

What the Firearms Industry Thinks About the UN Arms Trade Treaty Signed By Obama Administration - Daily Signal

What the Firearms Industry Thinks About the UN Arms Trade Treaty Signed By Obama Administration

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund /

Supposedly, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which took effect Christmas Eve, is no big deal. But people who work in the business of manufacturing, importing and exporting firearms are concerned about the treaty and what it means for them and their industry.

I talked to several last week at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, and although they were grateful for the strong stand against the treaty taken by both the Senate and House, they were confused about what is going on with the treaty and how such agreements work their way through the Senate.

The idea behind the treaty, supposedly, is to prevent weapons from reaching the hands of terrorists or mass killers. But the treaty has been championed by avowedly “progressive” – in other words, left-wing – organizations, who have a long history of hostility to the Second Amendment and Israel, and a track record of seeking to use international institutions to impose their views on the United States. It’s not in our interest to play along with them.

Understandably, the treaty was a nonstarter for the U.S. until President Obama took office and changed the United States’ stand on it. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty, but the administration has not yet submitted it to the Senate for ratification. .

Already, a majority of the Senate – led by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and James Inhofe, R-Okla. – has signed letters pledging to oppose the ATT. This doesn’t erase the U.S. signature from the treaty. But the Senate’s letters (and similar efforts in the House, led by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., do send a powerful signal that the Senate would reject the treaty if the administration ever gets around to submitting it.

But even if the Senate votes against the treaty, the U.S. signature would remain on it. Only the president, by doing what is colloquially known as “unsigning” the treaty, can erase that U.S. signature. President George W. Bush, for example, unsigned the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court in 2002, which President Clinton had signed in 2000.

And even if the Senate votes against the treaty, that does not “kill” the treaty. Treaties are like zombies: They rarely die.

For example, the Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1999, but the U.S. signature remains on it, and it continues to sit in the in-box of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, waiting for a day when an administration that supports the treaty senses the Senate is likely to look favorably upon it.

There is no expiration date on pending treaties, even ones the Senate has rejected. If you get the sense it’s really hard to get rid of a treaty, you’re right.

In short, the only thing that would come close to “killing” the ATT as far as the U.S. is concerned would be for a president to unsign the treaty. Of course, that would not kill it around the world, but it at least would make the U.S. legal and political stance clear. And even then, a future president could re-sign the treaty and pull the zombie back out of the grave, though this would be a highly unusual step that likely would cause political controversy.

It goes to show that, to vary the analogy, bad treaties are like bad pennies—they just keep turning up. It also shows how important it is for the U.S. to stay engaged internationally: We can’t always stop bad treaties from being negotiated, but we can at least try.

All this begs a question: Why hasn’t the administration transmitted the ATT to the Senate? After all, Secretary Kerry signed it back in September 2013.

It’s possible the administration hasn’t completed its legal review of the treaty – in which case, it effectively signed the treaty without reading it. It’s also possible the administration realizes the Senate won’t approve the ATT anytime soon, so it sees no point in bothering, especially as it has other bad treaties that it wants to get ratified first.

A third possibility is the administration actually prefers to keep the treaty in its back pocket. Now that the U.S. has signed it, we are in theory bound not to defeat its object and purpose, meaning the administration can claim to be on the road to ratification and—using the president’s famous administrative pen—can keep U.S. policy aligned with it. Especially given the Senate’s hostility, this is likely one reason the administration hasn’t acted.

But there’s a final possibility. When an administration sends a treaty to the Senate, the treaty is accompanied by a transmittal package—in essence, a full analysis of the treaty, including its deficiencies and the administration’s recommendations for correcting them. This does not in any way limit the Senate, which has full power to add its own limits, conditions and interpretations to its approval of the treaty, and even to re-write the text of the treaty itself. But the administration’s package naturally forms a starting point for the Senate’s deliberations.

It is possible the administration is unwilling to offer its own analysis of the treaty for Senate and public scrutiny because an accurate analysis would have to concede, for example, that the treaty cannot hope to do all – or even most – of what its advocates claim, and that it was adopted via a process that violated one of the administration’s own red lines. No analysis that ignored this would be credible.

In short, the administration may be stuck—unable to go forward because of the Senate’s hostility and the treaty’s flaws, unwilling to unsign, and therefore ready to settle for simply keeping the treaty in its back pocket and using its pen as it sees fit.

If that is the case, the leadership of the Senate and House becomes all the more important. For although the Senate cannot unsign a treaty, it can offer powerful guidance to the nation and to the courts that it has not given its advice and consent to the treaty, does not plan to do so, and rejects the argument the U.S. is bound to uphold its object and purpose. That, in turn, paves the way for a future president to unsign the treaty.

And in the interim, there is a lot – 11 things, at least – for the Senate and House to do to keep the treaty from encroaching on our sovereignty and posing other threats. It’s hard to get rid of a bad treaty. But it’s not impossible, and it’s time we get started.

 

5 Takeaways from the CBO’s Report on Obamacare - Daily Signal

5 Takeaways from the CBO’s Report on Obamacare

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn /

A nonpartisan entity of the federal government has found that the Affordable Care Act will cost the government less than expected. However, the reduction in the law’s price tag comes among findings that millions of Americans could lose their employer-provided health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office came out with a report yesterday revising the costs and budgetary effects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Though the agency found that the health care law is projected to cost the government less than originally thought, the CBO projected enrollment in Medicaid and the Child’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will continue to increase.

The CBO attributed the drop in Obamacare costs to lower-than-expected enrollments and subsidies given to those who are eligible.

The number of consumers receiving subsidies could decrease even further following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the court case King v. Burwell. The high court will decide whether Americans purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, are eligible for subsidies.

The CBO found that Obamacare will cost the government less than expected, but up to 10 million will lose their employer-based coverage.

Here are five takeaways from the CBO’s report:

  1. Obamacare provisions related to health insurance will cost the federal government $571 billion through 2019, a 20-percent reduction from the CBO’s projections in 2010.
  2. Up to 10 million Americans will lose employer-based coverage.
  3. Beginning in 2018, up to 16 million more Americans will have health insurance coverage through Medicaid and the Child’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  4. Medicaid and CHIP will cost the federal government $59 billion more than previously estimated.
  5. About 31 million people will remain uninsured by 2025.

>>> Audit: HHS Failure to Screen Obamacare Contract Recipients Cost Taxpayers $400M

 

Sharyl Attkisson to Testify on ‘Free Press Issues’ at Attorney General Nomination Hearing - Daily Signal

Sharyl Attkisson to Testify on ‘Free Press Issues’ at Attorney General Nomination Hearing

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / Kelsey Harkness /

Former CBS reporter and Daily Signal senior independent contributor Sharyl Attkisson will testify at this week’s confirmation hearings for Loretta Lynch, who was nominated by President Obama to replace Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General.

Attkisson, who was invited to speak on a panel of witnesses by the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will address issues concerning freedom of the press.

She tells The Daily Signal:

The Senate Judiciary Committee is concerned about a number of free press issues, as are many journalists. They want to touch on some of those issues at the hearing for the attorney general nominee.

Attkisson has been highly critical of the Justice Department in her investigative reporting of Operation Fast and Furious and the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

>>> Federal Agencies Stonewall House Committee’s Benghazi Investigation

While covering these events, Attkisson alleges that the Justice Department illegally monitored her phone and computer.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is concerned about a number of free press issues, as are many journalists. @SharylAttkisson

She details the accounts in her new book, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

Attkisson is now suing the Justice Department for the illegal surveillance of her electronics and seeking $35 million in damages.

>>> Sharyl Attkisson Sues Government for Computer Hacking

She says the Judiciary Committee will address issues pertaining to the media’s ability to access public information.

Some concerns that journalists have expressed in recent years include the direction government has taken with respect to the media, the public’s access to information, and the public’s right to know about the actions of public officials and agencies.

Lynch, who’s now the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is the first major nomination to face the GOP-controlled Senate.

Although she’ll likely face tough questions on immigration, terrorism, and abuse of executive power, Republicans expect her to be confirmed by the Senate.

In addition to Attkisson, Catherine Engelbrecht will testify as a witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Engelbrecht is the founder of the Tea Party-aligned organization True the Vote, which was targeted by the IRS when it attempted to seek tax-exempt status.

The hearings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of this week, beginning at 10am EST.

Rare Identical Triplets Overcome the Odds for Healthy Birth - Daily Signal

Rare Identical Triplets Overcome the Odds for Healthy Birth

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / Kelsey Harkness / Kate Scanlon /

Liz Wells and Chris Jarobe recently became the proud parents of triplets. But they weren’t your average triplets. The three babies are identical.

Dr. Rob Hopkin, a geneticist from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, told WXIX that identical triplets are “very rare,” and are at an increased risk for birth defects or even death.

“There’s a very high risk with triplets, in particular identical triplets where one or more of them will have some birth defects,” Hopkin said. “More than half of the cases they lost one of the triplets.”

The three baby boys—Carson, Ayden and Liam—have already made their first TV appearance to celebrate the clean bill of health.

In Index of Economic Freedom, U.S. Is 12th Freest Economy - Daily Signal

In Index of Economic Freedom, U.S. Is 12th Freest Economy

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / Kelsey Harkness / Kate Scanlon / Anthony B. Kim /

There is no single formula for overcoming challenges to economic development and maintaining economic dynamism, but one thing is clear: Around the globe, governments that respect and promote economic freedom provide greater opportunities for innovation, progress and human empowerment. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, released today, tracks policy developments affecting economic freedom across the world by looking at four primary areas: rule of law (property rights, freedom from corruption), government size (fiscal freedom, government spending), regulatory efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, and monetary freedom), and market openness (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).

Here are five key points you should take away from this year’s Index:

A recurring theme of human history has been resilience and revival. The country profiles in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom include many examples of countries that have accelerated their economic and social progress in the face of difficult challenges and a sometimes harsh international environment. Their successes can be emulated by others. The Index charts not just one path to development, but as many as the ingenuity of humans can produce when they are free to experiment and innovate.

The 21st edition of the Index of Economic Freedom assesses economic policy developments in 186 economies in six regions around the world. Since its inception in 1995, the Index, an annual cross-country analysis by The Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal, has tracked the progress of economic freedom and measured the impact of advancing economic liberty around the globe.

Find and learn more about the critical interplay between economic freedom, opportunity, and empowerment at www.heritage.org/Index.

Star Parker’s Personal Confession on Why She Is ‘Adamant’ About Ending Abortion - Daily Signal

Star Parker’s Personal Confession on Why She Is ‘Adamant’ About Ending Abortion

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / Kelsey Harkness / Kate Scanlon / Anthony B. Kim / Kate Scanlon /

While speaking at ProLifeCon at the Family Research Council last week, nationally syndicated columnist Star Parker called abortion a “crime against humanity,” and lamented the four children she aborted before her conversion to Christianity. “I got caught up in the lies of the left,” she said, “including their lies about abortion.” Watch the video for the whole story.

This Federal Government Land Grab Would Permanently Lock Up Millions of Alaska Acres With Energy Potential - Daily Signal

This Federal Government Land Grab Would Permanently Lock Up Millions of Alaska Acres With Energy Potential

Josh Siegel / Olivia Enos / Riley Walters / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / Kelsey Harkness / Kate Scanlon / Anthony B. Kim / Kate Scanlon / Nicolas Loris /

What do Yosemite and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have in common? Not a whole lot, but that isn’t stopping the Obama Administration from linking the two in a massive land grab attempt to prohibit American energy development.

The Obama administration is calling on Congress to designate more than 12 million acres in Alaska as wilderness, including the coastal plain, barring economic activity and energy development.

If Congress chose to act, it would be the largest wilderness designation since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law more than a half century ago. In making the announcement Interior Secretary Sally Jewel remarked, “Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”

Huh?

Yosemite is a national landmark that attracts around 4 million visitors annually. Even if Yosemite were abundant in natural resources, its importance as a federal landmark trumps energy development.

The Arctic National Wildlife Reuge is a much different story. Slightly more than one thousand people visit the 19.6 million acres refuge each year.

And ANWR boasts massive energy potential. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, an estimated 15-42 billion barrels of oil lie in ANWR’s 1002 Area, the Coastal Plain. The entire 1002 area represents 1.5 million acres out of more than 19.6 million. The Survey produced these estimations in 1998, where they said producers could extract 10.4 billion barrels–using 1990s drilling technologies–that lie beneath a few thousand acres with minimal environmental impact.

Seventeen years later, the technologies have vastly improved. By opening ANWR we could truly find out Alaska’s energy potential. Importantly, the U.S. Geologic Survey also notes that “nearly 80 percent of the oil is thought to occur in the western part of the ANWR 1002 area, which is closest to existing infrastructure.”   Oil produced in ANWR could relieve potential technological challenges Trans Alaska Pipeline System faces if the supply becomes too low.

While Alaska is home to many pristine areas, the 1002 Area is not one of them. The Department of Interior highlights that ANWR’s 1002 Area contains has no trees, deep water lakes or mountain peaks. Winters can get down to negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the area experiences 56 days without sunlight.   That doesn’t quite sound like the place you had in mind when you want to pack up the family for an RV trip.

At the heart of the issue is control over land management. The sheer size and diversity of the federal estate and the resources both above and below ground are too much for distant federal bureaucracies and an overextended federal budget to manage effectively. On the other hand, state governments and budgets can be more accountable to the people who will directly benefit from wise management decisions or marginalized by poor ones, making it more likely that resources will be both developed and developed safely in a way that protects the environment.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee summed it up best: “What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” she said.

Instead of designating ANWR as wilderness, Congress should move America’s federal lands policy in the opposite direction. Instead of placing more control in Washington, Congress should allow states to manage the economic activities on federal lands within their states.