Immigration Reform: Action by Years End

Special Report Guest: Karwan Zebari

Tonight on Special Report Bret Baier sits down with Karwan Zebari, the acting director of Congressional and Academic Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to discuss the latest coming out of Iraq. 
 
Zebari is the highest KRG official in Washington, DC and supervises all relations between the KRG and U.S. Congress. Zebari also develops academic initiatives and programs with universities and academic institutions nationwide on matters related to Kurdistan. He can provide insight on the situation on the ground--
 
If you have a question for Karwan Zebari please tweet us @BretBaier or post via Facebook at facebook.com/bretbaiersr using #AskBret . Your question might just end up on our air! 

 

Lack of planning leads to another CDC hiccup

By: Bridget Creel, Special Report Summer Associate

Over the past ten years, four instances have occurred where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent active bacteria samples to outside labs. An anthrax scare took place last month, marking the fifth mishap for the CDC. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) insisted on further investigation and recently exposed new details of the incident.

Backtracking to June 19, the CDC announced that scientists working at the lab in Atlanta had been unintentionally exposed to anthrax. The CDC quickly took action and provided antibiotics for those who were affected. Following the scare, there was no indication that any of the scientists were infected.

It is expected that in every instance, the CDC takes cautionary measures and assesses all risks before encountering dangerous bacteria. With that being said, how could a slip up like this happen for the fifth time?

On Friday, the CDC published a detailed report of the event, with everything from findings to action plans.

According to the CDC’s report, “The overriding factor contributing to this incident was the lack of an approved, written study plan reviewed by senior staff or scientific leadership to ensure that the research design was appropriate and met all laboratory safety requirements.”

Additional aspects that contributed to the occurrence included the use of unwarranted sterilization methods, no confirmation for inactive materials and insufficient knowledge of the procedures.

As officials further investigated the catastrophe, additional information was uncovered. A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that the CDC should have sterilized anthrax samples before the samples were sent to the other CDC labs. The report also found that there were several different factors that went against safety guidelines including use of expired disinfectants, use of defective security measures, lack of examination of exposed scientists and the transfer of the bacteria through Ziploc bags.

A House hearing was held today that discussed recent reports of the problems caused by the CDC. The hearing addressed issues such as ways to improve biosafety, the broader implications of the event and whether or not Congressional action should take place.

The CDC labs have been closed and will not reopen until safety guidelines are put in place, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. 

Immigrant Children: Where do we go from here?

The Obama Administration continues to deal with the influx of thousands of Central American children who have recently entered the U.S. illegally. 

Under political pressure from both sides of the aisle on their handling of the issue, Valerie Jarrett sent a letter last night to Texas Governor Rick Perry inviting him to a previously unannounced meeting with faith leaders on immigration while the President is in Dallas on Wednesday. Jarrett also said President Obama would welcome a meeting with Perry during his trip to Texas this week. 

In addition, the White House announced today that they are asking Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency supplemental aid to deal with border crisis.

Meanwhile, the administration has decided to house over 3,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at U.S. military bases, and the Pentagon is saying it is nearly maxed out.  On Monday, it agreed to house an additional 600 children at Joint-Base Lewis McChord.

Ventura Naval Station in California can hold 575 children and is currently caring for 450. Fort Sill Army Post in Oklahoma can hold as many as 1,200 children--and they have almost reached the limit.

Some members of Congress have be granted access to Lackland Air Force Base, which is also capable of housing up to 1,200 children. 

HHS is providing the children staying at the barracks with medical care and on-site supervision.  But, it's not a role the Pentagon wants to keep.  The DOD says it will cap the number of days it can hold the children at 120.

What do you think we should do with these immigrant children? Let us know here on the blog or via Twitter @bretbaier or Facebook.com/bretbaiersr and we will have more on this tonight with Shannon Bream and Ed Henry on Special Report.

 

President Obama Proposes $500 Million To Aid Syrian Rebels

The White House sent Congress a $500 million request Thursday for a Pentagon-run program that would significantly expand previous covert efforts to arm rebels fighting both the Sunni extremists and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

If approved by lawmakers, the program would in effect open a second front in the fight against militants spilling over Syria's border and threatening to overwhelm neighboring Iraq.

President Obama has long been reluctant to arm the Syrian opposition, in part because of concerns that weapons may fall into extremist hands. But administration officials say the U.S. has grown increasingly confident in recent months about its ability to distinguish the moderate rebels from the more extremist elements that include the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has stormed into Iraq and captured much of the northern part of the country.

Jennifer Griffin has more tonight on Special Report

Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker Dies at 88

By Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN) has died. He was 88 years old.

First elected to the Senate in 1966, Baker emerged as one of the most central figures in Republican Party politics after a remarkably fast rise.

By the end of his first term in the Senate, President Richard Nixon courted Baker for a seat on the Supreme Court. But when Baker took too long to decide whether he wanted it, Nixon offered the position to William Rehnquist instead. 

Rehnquist later became Chief Justice of the United States.

In 1973, Baker gained national prominence – and found himself working against his former ally – when he served as the vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. During the panel’s proceedings, Baker famously asked: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” 

Political insiders considered the Tennessee Republican to be a frontrunner to become President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976. But Ford ultimately offered the vice presidential candidacy to Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) instead. The decision surprised many political observers.

A year later, Baker became the Senate Minority Leader. As the chief negotiator on behalf of the Senate Republicans, he played a key role in the passage of the Panama Canal Treaty, which gradually transferred control of the canal to Panama. 

After vice presidential speculation during the 1976 election, Baker ran in the 1980 Republican presidential primary. However, he ultimately dropped out due to poor performances in the early primary states. 

But with Ronald Reagan’s rise to the White House that year, Baker became the Senate Majority Leader after Republicans made historic gains in Congress, scoring control of the chamber in 1980.

Baker decided not to run for reelection in 1984 to return to practicing law in Tennessee. President Reagan awardedBaker  the Presidential Medal of Freedom to mark his 18 years of accomplishments in the Senate. The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor,.

Three years later, Reagan tapped Baker to become his Chief of Staff in the waning time of his second term. Many viewed the move as an attempt to mend relations with the Senate, which returned to Democratic control in 1986.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Baker as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. After completing his term in 2005, Baker returned to Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, the law firm his grandfather founded.Baker served as senior counsel after formerly practicing there with his father early in his career. 

Baker also co-founded the Bipartisan Policy Center in 2007 with Dole and former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-SD) and George Mitchell (D-ME). 

Baker first entered politics in 1950 by managing his father’s successful campaign for the House of Representatives. Working on Capitol Hill also led him to his first wife, Joy Dirksen, who was the daughter of the legendary Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL). 

After 42 years of marriage, Baker lost Joy Dirksen to cancer in 1993. Baker later remarried in 1996 to Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS). 

GOP Leader Cantor Surprise Loss to Tea Party Challenger in VA

Leader Cantor asks Rep. McAllister to consider resignation

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) says that he told embattled Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) he should step aside.

Cantor met this afternoon with McAllister after he returned to Capitol Hill last night to vote for the first time in three weeks.

McAllister says he will serve out the rest of his term and released the following statement following the meeting:

“I did meet with Leader Cantor this morning. He asked me why I would want to put myself through this for the next eight months if I’m not running for reelection.  He did ask me to consider resigning, but I respectfully disagree with him and my family is behind my decision. I do not feel it’s in my constituents’ best interest to leave them without representation for the second time in less than a year. My district deserves a voice and a fair election process, not an expensive potential special election that benefits the establishment.” 

The problem for McAllister is he could face a formal investigation by the House Ethics Committee for the video of him making out with a staffer who has since resigned. The Ethics Committee is expected to take action because this involved an aide on the payroll.

The full House would still have to vote to formally discipline McAllister if he remains in office. The three formal forms of punishment are reprimand, censure or expulsion.

William Taylor’s Request to Defend Lois Lerner on the House Floor

Guidance from FNC Producer Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill:

William Taylor, counsel to former IRS employee Lois Lerner at the center of the political targeting scandal, made an usual request to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) yesterday: allow him to speak on the House floor and defend his client against a pending contempt of Congress resolution.

Such a request is highly unusual. In fact, one well-placed Congressional source tells Fox News that if the House GOP leadership did want to hear from Taylor, they would counsel the leadership to do it when the House was out of session. Kind of like a “classified briefing” and do it in HC-5 in the basement of the Capitol or the Congressional auditorium.

Typically, remarks on the House floor are reserved for Members only. The exceptions are when the president comes to deliver his State of the Union address during a Joint Session and when other heads of state come for a similar Joint Meeting.

Forty-eight heads of state have addressed Congress. There only have been a few exceptions for non-heads of state to address the House. Such was the case when Lech Walesa spoke in 1989 BEFORE he became the Polish leader. Same with Nelson Mandela in 1990, before he became leader of South Africa.

Six sets of astronauts have spoken before Congress.

The most-notable “non-member” was Gen. Douglas MacArthur who gave his farewell address to Congress in 1951 after he was fired by President Harry Truman.

Such a request by Taylor is nearly unprecedented. There are special circumstances when the House considers disputed elections (such was the case in 1984 over an Indiana House seat). But almost no vehicle permits for the type of give and take which Taylor is requesting.

Interestingly, the forum closest to what Taylor is requesting is how the Senate treated the impeachment of President Clinton in 1999. There, the Senate permitted House “managers” (House members) to present the impeachment charges (adopted by the House) to the Senate during the Senate trial. Defending Clinton was White House Counsel Charles Ruff as well as other attorneys Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, Bruce Lindsey, Nicole Seligman, Lanny Breuer and Greg Craig. All were permitted to speak on the Senate floor as though they were defending a client during a trial in a conventional courtroom.

In short, what Taylor is asking for is unique, extra-parliamentary and House leaders don’t seem willing to give him any special forum in which to make his case to defend Lois Lerner. 

Childhelp: National Day of Hope

Members of Congress joined forces Wednesday at the Childhelp National Day of Hope Luncheon in Washington, DC to discuss the on-going issue of child abuse in America, new developments in the treatment and prevention of child abuse, and advocacy efforts on behalf of its victims.

Rebecca Cooper of ABC7 served as emcee and Cynthia Wright, prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office, was recognized with the Childhelp Voice of the Children Award for her work and dedication to bringing those that hurt children to justice.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) served as co-chairs of the luncheon and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) were members of the honorary committee.

Childhelp CEO and Co-Founder Sara O’Meara and President and Co-Founder Yvonne Fedderson started the organization in 1959 as a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. For 55 years, Childhelp has been working to improve the lives of countless children by focusing on intervention, treatment, prevention and community outreach.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Childhelp’s programs and services also include residential treatment, children’s advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention education and training.

April was designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month by Congress in 1983 and Sara and Yvonne played an instrumental part in the process. The women have been working diligently to bring awareness to this important cause and have been nominated an impressive eight times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2000, Congress passed a resolution designating the first Wednesday of each April as Childhelp National Day of Hope. On this day, people across the country light a five-wick candle and observe five minutes of silence in recognition of the now nearly five children who die every day as a result of abuse and neglect in the home and the millions of others who suffer.

Congratulations to Sara, Yvonne and the team at Childhelp on another successful National Day of Hope and thank you for protecting our greatest resource—our children.

For more information about Childhelp please visit www.childhelp.org

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