Legislative News for the Week of February 19, 2013
 
President: Rae Chornenky
 
Editor: Maria Jeffrey
 
This Week on the Hill: 
 
The Senate is in recess this week, but Hagel's nomination is expected to come to the floor for a vote next week. 

Senator Johanns Decides Not to Seek Re-Election

          Yesterday, Senator Johanns and his wife, Stephanie, sent out an email saying that the Senator would not seek re-election for another term. Johanns, 63, has served Nebraska and the country in a variety of ways in his political career. Johanns has been Mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska, and was the Governor of Nebraska from 1999 to 2005, when he resigned to serve as President Bush's Secretary of Agriculture from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, Johanns decided to run for the senate seat that had been vacated by Senator Chuck Hagel. 

          It is speculated that current Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, who cannot seek another term as Governor, will pursue the senate seat Johanns is vacating. 
President Obama Waiting to Pounce on Immigration

          This weekend an anonymous Obama administration official leaked the White House proposal on immigration legislation to the USA TODAY. According to the USA TODAY, the plan creates a new class of visa for illegal immigrants who are residing in the United States called the "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa, and allows them to embark on an 8 year process of becoming a US citizen. Further, businesses would have to implement E-Verify, the system for checking the legal status of workers, within 4 years. The White House proposal does not include a guest-worker program and remains mum on how to handle enforcement specifically. 
 
          This proposal comes on the heels of a Senate Judiciary hearing last Wednesday, where Chris Crane, the president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118 of the American Federation of Government Employees testified that the Obama administration is forbidding ICE agents to enforce immigration law. According to Crane, "if an alien is arrested by local police and placed in jail, again, ICE agents may not arrest them for illegal entry or VISA overstay. New policies require that illegal aliens have a felony arrest or conviction or be convicted of three or more misdemeanors." As CNSNews points out, some of the ICE policies Crane is alluding to are grounded in a June 2011 memorandum sent out by ICE Director John Morton that said the goal of the agency is to rout out illegal aliens with criminal records, but not all illegal aliens. 
 
          The White House proposal does nothing to quell fears that the Obama administration is not concerned with enforcement of immigration laws or serious about border security. As the Obama administration is not enforcing current immigration law, there is no reason to think that future enforcement provisions, even if passed by Congress, will be adhered to by this administration. 
Obama Calls for Congress to Stop the Sequester
 
        Today, surrounding himself with emergency first responders, President Obama urged Congress to offset the sequester with "targeted" spending cuts instead of the sequester as it is, calling it the "meat-cleaver approach." The sequester is set to take effect in 10 days.  Speaker of the House John Boehner fired back by saying, "Today the president advanced an argument Republicans have been making for a year: his sequester is the wrong way to cut spending. That's why the House has twice passed legislation to replace it with common sense cuts and reforms that won't threaten public safety, national security, or our economy. But once again, the president offered no credible plan that can pass Congress--only more calls for higher taxes."

        As noted in the Political Briefing last week, the sequester was the brain-child of the Obama administration during the debt-ceiling talks in 2011. The sequester, is a series of cuts that affect some domestic discretionary spending. However, the sequester amounts to $44 billion in cuts this year, which is equivalent to what the federal government spends in 4.5 days.  
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