State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) will air his first TV ad in his campaign for governor next week. An advance look at the commercial, which focuses on term limits, a flat tax and cutting spending, can be seen here:
Sessions fights to save veterans benefits ahead of budget vote
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, has spent the last several days fighting to undo cuts to veterans benefits that are included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal, which was passed by the House last week.
The current legislation cuts veterans benefits by $6 billion over the next decade.
The Senate is set to vote on the bill Tuesday morning. Both Sen. Sessions and fellow Alabamian Sen. Richard Shelby have said they are opposed to the current bill.
Although it sailed through the House on a bipartisan vote of 332-94, Senate Democratic leaders indicated over the weekend that the bill’s passage is far from secured in the upper chamber.
“The struggle is still on in the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told Fox News on Sunday.
But progress was made on Monday, leading aides on both sides of the aisle to predict that they will have the 60 votes needed to pass a procedural motion on Tuesday. They will then move move for final passage later in the week, which requires only a simple majority.
Many Senate Republicans have cited the fact that the budget deal exceeds the Budget Control Act of 2011 as grounds for opposing it. The Budget Control Act capped 2014 discretionary spending at $967 billion. The Ryan-Murray budget smashes through that cap.
“I’d really like to stay within the (spending) caps,” complained Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas. “This busts the caps and as a result I’ll vote against it.”
But Sessions and several of his Republican colleagues have chosen to focus their attention on the cuts to military retirees and vets.
“We need to find a better way to save $6 billion than take it out of the hides of our retired veterans,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi.
Sessions’ plan to rescue veterans benefits involves saving money by closing a tax credit loophole that watchdog groups say has been frequently exploited by illegal immigrants.
The fix is simple. Applicants seeking to receive the child tax credit would have to submit their Social Security numbers. That way the IRS could easily weed out the illegal aliens taking advantage of the system. Sessions’ amendment would save the federal government roughly $4.2 billion, freeing up room for veterans benefits to remain at higher levels.
The handwringing in D.C. has already commenced with a budget deadline looming on Jan. 15. If a deal is not reached by then, another partial government shutdown will ensue.
Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims
15 Republican senators join Democrats to advance immigration bill
15 Republican Senators joined all 52 Democrats in voting to invoke cloture on the Corker-Hoeven amendment, a 1,200-page substitute to the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal. The motion’s passage ends debate on the amendment, moving the bill into position for final passage. Majority Leader Harry Reid says he plans to pass the bill by the end of the week.
Both of Alabama’s U.S. Senators voted against the cloture motion.
Senator Jeff Sessions has been the leading opponent of the bill, unleashing a barrage of press releases and making numerous appearances on national media outlets, including CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I’m opposed to the bill because it doesn’t do what it says,” Sessions said to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. “This bill grants amnesty first, and a mere promise of enforcement in the future.”
Proponents of the Corker-Hoeven amendment say it will bolster border security, but opponents say it represents little more than another round of empty promises. Sessions went a step further, calling the amendment a “legislative monstrosity” and comparing it to ObamaCare, since both pieces of legislation were hastily put together and too long to read before being voted on.
“This legislation is a crushing blow to the working people of this country, a surrender to illegality, and a capitulation to special interests over the interests of the citizens we pledged to represent,” Sessions said in conclusion.
The 15 Republicans who voted in favor of the motion were:
Lamar Alexander, Kelly Ayotte, Jeffrey Chiesa, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John Hoeven, Mark Kirk, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio and Roger Wicker.
1. WATCH: Sessions appears on CBS’s “Face the Nation”
2. Sessions: Can anyone explain how this immigration bill will help struggling Americans?
3. Sessions fires opening salvo in Senate floor debate on immigration reform
4. Sessions, Cruz, Lee & Grassley team up to fight gang of eight immigration bill
5. Sessions warns immigration proposal will depress wages ‘for maybe 20 years-plus’
What else is going on?
1. Alabama braces for Obama climate change announcement
2. Accountability Act Provides Incentives, Tools for Failing Schools
3. Nodine gets a shout out on MSNBC
4. Alabama delegation votes 6-1 along party lines in unexpected defeat of farm bill
5. Shelby co-sponsors bill to repeal Death Tax