GOP Takes Senate, Tightens Grip On House

Takeover: Republicans Surge To Control Of Senate – Associated Press

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Riding a powerful wave of voter discontent, resurgent Republicans captured control of the Senate and tightened their grip on the House Tuesday night in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, dispatched Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are “hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful,” said the man now in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda.

Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado was next, defeated by Rep. Cory Gardner. Sen. Kay Hagan also lost, in North Carolina, to Thom Tilllis, the speaker of the state House.

Republicans also picked up seats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, where Democrats retired. They needed a net gain of six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006.

With dozens of House races uncalled, Republicans had picked up nine seats in Democratic hands, and given up only one.

Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.

A shift in control of the Senate would likely result in a strong GOP assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama’s signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.

There were 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot, and several incumbents struggled against challengers. Tom Wolf captured the Pennsylvania statehouse for the Democrats, defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

In a footnote to one of the year’s biggest political surprises, college professor Dave Brat was elected to the House from Virginia, several months after he defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.

House Republicans defeated 19-term Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in West Virginia, beat Rep. John Barrow in Georgia and picked up a seat vacated by a lawmaker in North Carolina.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had little opposition in coasting to a 13th term and is likely to retain his top leadership post.

After years of a sluggish economic recovery and foreign crises aplenty, the voters’ mood was sour.

Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed after casting ballots said the country was seriously on the wrong track. Only about 30 percent said it was generally going in the right direction.

More than four in ten voters disapproved of both Obama and Congress, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.

Still, a majority of those polled supported several positions associated with Democrats or Obama rather than Republicans – saying immigrants in the country illegally should be able to work, backing U.S. military involvement against Islamic State fighters, and agreeing that climate change is a serious problem.

No matter which party emerged with control of the Senate, a new chapter in divided government was inevitable in a nation marked by profound unease over the future and dissatisfaction with its political leaders.

Several Senate races were close, a list that – surprisingly – included Virginia.

There, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner held a narrow lead over former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie.

There was a little good news for Democrats in New Hampshire, where Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was re-elected after a difficult race against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

But in Georgia, Michelle Nunn lost to businessman David Perdue, depriving the Democrats of their last best chance to take away a Republican seat. In Kansas, 78-year-old Sen. Pat Roberts fended off a challenge from independent Greg Orman, shutting off another avenue for the Democrats – their last.

Competitive races were yet uncalled in Iowa and Alaska.

There were 36 Senate races on the ballot, although most of the attention went to fewer than a dozen. They drew hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads in a campaign season estimated to cost more than $4 billion – just for the races for Congress.

In statehouse races, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York won a second term.

Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson was elected governor of Arkansas more than a decade after playing a prominent role in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott won a tough race for a new term.

Also winning new terms were Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and potential presidential candidates in 2016.

Another possible White House hopeful, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, led his rival, Mary Burke.

Not even Democrats claimed a chance to topple the Republican House majority. They spent the campaign’s final days dispatching money to districts where incumbents suddenly found themselves in danger.

Republicans sought to downplay any expectation of large gains. A pickup of 13 would give them more seats in the House than at any time since 1946.

The elections’ $4 billion price tag spending was unprecedented for a non-presidential year

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*VIDEO* House Oversight And Government Reform Committee Hearing On Ebola Response



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Backup Link

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Click HERE to visit the official website of the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee.

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*VIDEO* U.S. House Select Committee On Benghazi: Hearing 1 (09/17/14)



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Via C-SPAN

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CHAIRMAN GOWDY’S OPENING STATEMENT

REP. JIM JORDAN QUESTIONS SECURITY EXPERT TODD KEIL

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Click HERE to visit the official website of the House Select Committee On Benghazi

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IRS Commissioner To House Committee Chairman: ‘Whenever We Can, We Follow The Law’ (Video)

IRS Chief: ‘Whenever We Can, We Follow The Law’- The Hill

During another grueling hearing on the ObamaCare rollout, the head of the IRS tried to offer lawmakers an assurance about the soon-to-open enrollment period.

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who leads the subcommittee, immediately expressed his concern with the remarks.

“I encourage you to follow the law in all instances,” Brady said.

Koskinen, who was confirmed as head of IRS last December, has repeatedly faced lawmakers’ ire over the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

Lawmakers spent a majority of Wednesday’s hearing grilling Koskinen and Andy Slavitt, HealthCare.gov’s fix-it man, on how they would verify that consumers were providing correct income information as they signed up for insurance subsidies.

Koskinen, who said he’s been meeting with tech and business staff every two weeks since January, said things are “on track” to verify income for all new enrollees.

Still, Slavitt acknowledged that the administration faces a “trust gap” in ObamaCare’s second year of implementation.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) cautioned against what he described as unchecked power given to the IRS under the healthcare law. He demanded to know how the Obama administration would prevent a “Lois Lerner 2.0 situation.”

“It seems to me that the IRS is just poised to go swimming in a big pool of money,” Roskam said. “Are these the same IT people that can’t find Lois Lerner’s emails or deal with her hard drives?”

Koskinen was asked if he defended Lerner, to which he replied, “No, I don’t know her.”

It was Slavitt’s first public appearance since the federal government announced last week that HealthCare.gov had been hacked in July. But just one lawmaker, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), prodded Slavitt about the security breach.

Price questioned why insurance company leaders told him they had learned about the hack from media reports. Slavitt disputed the claim, saying he had personally informed a representative from the insurance association about the breach.

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Click HERE to watch the entire hearing via C-SPAN.

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House “Condemns” Obama For Breaking Law In Bergdhal Deal, But Doesn’t Actually Do Anything To Him

Here’s How The House Just Condemned Obama – Western Journalism

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On Tuesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to condemn President Obama for violating federal law after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban leaders held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The lower chamber voted Tuesday 249-163 to pass HR 644, the title of which reads:

“Condemning the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the House Armed Services Committee in June that negotiations to transfer five Taliban detainees had been ongoing for months.

In August, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing how the Department of Defense violated the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations Act by not reporting to Congress the Bergdahl/Taliban plan.

The resolution was introduced by Republicans Scott Rigell of Virginia and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, and Democrats John Barrow of Georgia and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. Both Democrats are in competitive re-election campaigns.

Rigell condemned the Obama administration in a press release shortly after the vote, saying “The President ignored the law by failing to notify Congress of this serious decision.”

The thirty day notification requirement is not a perfunctory administrative action; it is not like breaking a lease with your landlord. The law exists to provide Congress time to consider serious national security decisions such as releasing terrorists like the Taliban five.

Barrow added in a press release of his own, “This transfer poses a major national security risk, and it complicates our efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. The President cannot treat congress as an afterthought or adversary, particularly with decisions impacting our national security and especially since, in this case, Congress could have helped the President get this decision right.”

As a resolution, it does not have the force of law and will not be considered in the Senate.

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Rep. Issa Claims That More Than 20 Obama Officials ‘Lost Or Destroyed’ E-Mails After House Launched Probes

Issa: More Than 20 Obama Officials ‘Lost Or Destroyed’ E-Mails After House Launched Probes – National Review

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The revelation that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Marilynn Tavenner did not retain her e-mails means that more than 20 witness in the Obama administration to lose or delete e-mails without notifying Congress, according to the top House investigator.

“The Obama administration has lost or destroyed e-mails for more than 20 witnesses, and in each case, the loss wasn’t disclosed to the National Archives or Congress for months or years, in violation of federal law,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said of Tavenner’s lost e-mails.

“It defies logic that so many senior Administration officials were found to have ignored federal recordkeeping requirements only after Congress asked to see their e-mails,” he continued. “Just this week, my staff followed up with HHS, who has failed to comply with a subpoena from ten months ago. Even at that point, the administration did not inform us that there was a problem with Ms. Tavenner’s e-mail history. Yet again, we discover that this administration will not be forthright with the American people unless cornered.”

From February of 2010 to November of 2013 – one month after the launch of the HealthCare.gov website, as the Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley noted – Tavenner didn’t maintain copies of her e-mails as required.

“During her entire tenure at CMS, Ms. Tavenner’s CMS e-mail address, which is accessible to both colleagues and the public, has been subject to write-in campaigns involving thousands of e-mails from the public,” CMS wrote to the National Archives and Records Administration, per Howley.

“Therefore, she receives an extremely high volume of e-mails that she manages daily. To keep an orderly e-mail box and to stay within the agency’s e-mail system capacity limits, the administrator generally copied or forwarded e-mails to immediate staff for retention and retrieval, and did not maintain her own copies,” CMS said.

Issa subpoenaed the missing e-mails ten months ago. “The evidence is mounting that the website did not go through proper testing, including critical security testing, and that the Administration ignored repeated warnings from contractors about ongoing problems,” he said at the time. “The American people deserve to know why the administration spent significant taxpayer money on a product that is entirely dysfunctional and puts their personal information at risk.”

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*VIDEO* House Judiciary Committee Hearing On IRS Targeting Of Conservatives



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