In the USA...
Police kill one Boston Marathon bomb suspect and still hunt for second ‘white hat’ suspect
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 19, 2013 5:38 EDT
Police killed one of the suspected Boston marathon bombing suspects in a shootout early Friday and pursued a chaotic deadly street-to-street manhunt for his accomplice, officials said.
The two men, dubbed “Suspect One” and “Suspect Two” by the FBI, led police special forces on a violent cavalcade that left inhabitants of towns around Boston cowering in their homes as gunfire and explosions erupted through the night.
One police officer was killed and another wounded in the operation, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. Davis also confirmed that Suspect One had been killed.
The man, whose identity is still not known, was shot several times and declared dead in hospital.
Police told inhabitants of Watertown to stay indoors and away from windows as they hunted the second man believed to have planted the bombs that killed three people and injured about 180 at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The surviving fugitive was “armed and dangerous,” Davis said. “We believe this to be a terrorist, we believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people,” the police chief told reporters.
The suspects first tried to rob a convenience story in Cambridge, across the river from Boston, Davis said.
They then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where one campus police officer was shot several times and died, the commissioner added. The pair then hijacked a Mercedes car and eventually let the driver out in Watertown, which is close to MIT, Davis added.
The chase went on through Watertown where explosions and gunfire were heard in several districts.
During a shooutout, one wanted man was hit and died later in hospital, Davis said. Another police officer was also wounded. The second suspect, who has been shown in pictures wearing a white baseball cap, escaped.
MIT students were kept in a lockdown for three hours after the shooting on campus. Police with rifles flooded the streets, and search helicopters patrolled the skies.
MIT, one of the world’s top universities, is in Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston where the double bomb attack was staged on Monday in the worst militant attack on the United States since the September 11 atrocities in 2001.
Hours before the manhunt, the FBI released pictures and video of the two suspects, appealing for help to identify the pair who were carrying large backpacks.
Both appeared to be young men, one dressed in a white baseball cap and the other in a black cap. The FBI gave no details of their identities or origin, naming them only as Suspect One and Suspect Two.
Two bombs were placed around the marathon finish line on Monday, spraying nails, ball bearings and other metal fragments into massed spectators, many of whom suffered horrific injuries.
The men are seen in the video walking calmly, one a few paces behind the other, weaving between crowds on Boston’s Boylston Street where the race finished.
President Barack Obama vowed to the people of Boston Thursday that the “evil” bombers would be brought to justice.
At a special service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Obama vowed: “Yes, we will find you, and yes, you will face justice.”
“We will find you, we will hold you accountable,” he told a congregation of 2,000, including relatives of the dead, survivors of the blasts, rescuers and city leaders.
“If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us,” Obama said, then “it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it.”
Boston has held emotional tributes to the dead — eight-year-old Martin Richard, Boston University graduate student Lu Lingzi of China and Krystle Campbell, a restaurant manager. Obama paid tribute to all three at the service.
More than 100 of the wounded have left Boston hospitals and fewer than 10 of those still in hospital remain in critical condition. Some will require new operations, doctors said.
Gun lobby funded all but three senators who voted against background checks
By Dan Roberts, The Guardian
Thursday, April 18, 2013 20:19 EDT
All but three of the 45 senators who torpedoed gun control measures in Congress on Wednesday have received money from firearms lobbyists, according to new analysis by the Guardian and the Sunlight Foundation.
Some, such as Indiana Republican Dan Coats, registered donations from pro-shooting groups as recently as three weeks ago, when the proposal to extend background checks was still seen as likely to pass.
President Obama and congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a gun attack, have both accused the Senate of being in thrall to gun money following Wednesday’s vote. “They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-second amendment,” said Obama.
Yet campaign disclosures show the group were also direct recipients of gun cash. The National Rifle Association alone has given $800,000 to 40 of the senators who voted against the amendment since 1990, much of it in the run-up to the last election, according to Sunlight Foundation figures.
Information for the period since the Newtown school shooting is harder to come by because many quarterly filings due out on Tuesday have been delayed by the suspected ricin attack on members of Congress.
But Guardian analysis of the data available so far for 2013 reveals that some groups have continued to be active outside the election cycle – including Safari Club International, a pro-hunting organisation which gave $1,000 to Senator Coats on 29 March, according to the filings.
Documents also show the NRA saw a surge in donations to its lobbying arm in the months following Newtown – registering a record $2.7m in cash during January and February. Further disclosures showing the scale of its recent donations, particularly to politicians in the House of Representatives, are expected on Saturday.
The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights – two groups seen as more conservative than the NRA – have also been active in the Senate, giving $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of Republican opposition to the amendment.
Others to receive arms-related donations recently include Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who received $1,000 on 4 March from BAE Systems, a British defence group that manufacturers ammunition, although mostly for military purposes.
Some of the more relevant donations do not come explicitly from gun campaigners. Senator Jeff Flake, a crucial swing voter from Arizona who turned against gun control at the last minute, received $5,000 in 2012 from The Madison Project, a right-wing campaign group that lists gun rights as one of its top priorities. On 9 April, it warned against Republicans such as Flake, who voted for the gun debate, and urged members to call these senators and “tell them that when the Bill of Rights reads ‘shall not be infringed’ with regards to the second amendment, it means exactly that”.
Though the sums are relatively small they indicate the range of lobbying targets pursued by groups such as the NRA, which spent $8.5m before the last election on television ads and telephone drives. Far more money is spent on negative attack ads against politicians seen as weak on gun rights, than in favour of supporters.
Analysis of so-called ‘dark money’, or undisclosed expenditure, by the Sunlight Foundation shows the NRA was behind at least five TV ad campaigns against gun control since Newtown, targeting key swing states such as Ohio.
Kathy Keily, a campaign finance expert with Sunlight, said: “Keep in mind that the power of the NRA is to a considerable degree fear-based. So it’s not just how much they’ve given to support a politician but how much they might give to oppose.”
Such thinking may have influence the handful of Democrats, such as Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who voted against the amendment, says Keily. Pryor received $1,000 from the Safari Club before the last election, but none from the NRA.
Only three senators who voted against the measure have not declared any donations from gun lobbyists – Democrats Mark Begich and Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rand Paul – although 2013 quarterly data for Begich does not appear to have made it through the congressional mail backlog. Rand Paul was recently found to have close family ties to the National Association for Gun Rights.
A growing number of groups in favour of gun control have also been spending money in recent months, including Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but analysis of its campaign funding shows it to be dwarfed by the NRA.
The NRA has also tightened the screws on senators in recent days by taking the unprecedented decision to award negative scores to anyone who voted for a motion allowing the gun debate to go ahead. These scores are widely used during elections to show adherence to the gun cause.
Republican senators and the NRA both said they opposed the amendment on background checks because it would be a “slippery slope” to a national register of gun owners and would add burdensome delays and costs to gun purchases. They favoured measures to improve school safety and prosecutions of violent criminals instead.
Get the data here
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013
‘Gang of 8′ admit immigration reform faces perilous future
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, April 18, 2013 18:44 EDT
A bipartisan group of US senators finally rolled out an immigration reform bill Thursday, insisting it was the best chance in a generation to fix a broken system, but admitting perils lie ahead.
The comprehensive reform effort, filed with the Senate this week, is a huge measure aimed at bringing 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows and onto a pathway to citizenship, while securing the nation’s southern border.
The eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — came together over the span of three months for 24 closed-door negotiation sessions to hammer out the most significant immigration legislation in a quarter century.
“Today is just the beginning of our voyage,” Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer told a news conference delayed by Monday’s Boston terror attacks.
“It will be long and arduous, there will be perils we can’t even anticipate,” he warned, flanked by other members of the “Gang of Eight” while more than two dozen stakeholders, including union bosses, big business representatives, farm workers and evangelicals, stood behind him on stage.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is aiming to bring the sweeping bill to the Senate floor by June. At least three hearings, and hours of likely intense debate on the Senate floor are expected.
“We’re either going to get a bill or one helluva fight,” Republican Lindsey Graham quipped.
The clashing has already kicked off.
Republican Jeff Sessions has long voiced his opposition to the bill, which he derided on Thursday as a “presumption of amnesty” that has “no border requirement” — two assessments that the “Gang of Eight” hotly disputes.
Sessions is opposed to providing a pathway to citizenship, claims the bill’s guest-worker program is too generous at a time of high US unemployment, and winces at the excess benefits he believes the government would provide undocumented workers.
Under the bill, undocumented migrants who can prove they have been in the country since before December 31, 2011, would get a legal temporary status and would be allowed to work, travel and drive without fear of deportation.
After 10 years, these immigrants could file for a green card and become permanent residents. Three years after that, they could request citizenship.
But to convince hardline Republicans opposed to the idea of amnesty, the Senate negotiators included ambitious measures to tighten security along the 1,800-mile (3,000-kilometer) border with Mexico.
They want to avoid a repeat of 1986, when Republican president Ronald Reagan approved reforms that led to amnesty for 2.7 million people but, because of a lack of border resources, did little to stem the tide of illegal arrivals.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American and potential 2016 presidential candidate, has emerged as the face of the movement, and on Thursday went out of his way to urge citizens to come together on the immigration bill.
“It’s tragic that a nation of immigrants remains divided on the issue of immigration,” he told reporters.
“Let’s bring these people out of the shadows. They’ll undergo a background check, they’ll pay a fine, they’ll start paying taxes, they won’t qualify for federal benefits,” he added.
Senator John McCain agreed, but acknowledged the uphill climb toward final passage in the Senate and then the House.
“There’s a long and difficult road ahead,” he said.
The Senate recently rejected a controversial measure that would expand background checks for gun buyers, but Schumer insisted it did not bode ill for immigration legislation, which he said has far broader support.
“I think the majority in both caucuses really want to get this done,” Schumer said. “I believe that this is ours to lose.”
April 18, 2013
In Newtown, Realities Encroach on the Haze of Grief
By PETER APPLEBOME
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Mark Barden is a talented musician and composer who played in Nashville for years before settling in this bucolic New England town to raise his three children.
You can see their faces lighting up the home page of his Web site. The youngest, Daniel, 7, had an incandescent gaptoothed smile, swam with the Newtown Tornadoes, and played drums and sang in the family band. He was murdered Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On a Facebook page — WWDD: What Would Daniel Do? — Mr. Barden celebrates his “caring ways, his empathetic soul, his joyful spirit.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Barden introduced President Obama in the Rose Garden after the Senate voted to block expanded background checks for gun sales. “I have to say it feels like it was just yesterday,” he said of the killings.
But four months after the shootings, it does not feel like just yesterday for most people in Newtown. The impromptu memorials, the cards and posters from around the world dominating everything from the Town Hall to the Blue Colony Diner have mostly been taken down. The old Sandy Hook school sign is no longer there, and a forlorn angel hangs from the frame, flying into the air when the wind blows. Where everyone was once united in grief, the messy realities of everyday life are beginning to intrude.
Still, like Mr. Barden, Newtown finds itself in a place it does not quite know, each element of local life seen through a new prism or reinvented, moving forward and tethered to that horrible day when 20 children and 6 educators were killed at Sandy Hook. Thursday, one day after the Senate vote, was yet another time to look for the right lens.
“I’m stunned, I’m shocked, I’m horrified,” Newtown’s first selectman, E. Patricia Llodra, a Republican, said of the vote. “It’s just a disgrace.”
Ms. Llodra said she was both proud of and heartsick for the local families who pushed for new gun laws.
“They’re not saying, ‘Let’s turn back the clock so I can get my child back,’ ” she said. “They’re saying, ‘Let’s turn the clock forward so that maybe, just maybe, we can spare some other families this kind of grief down the road.’ ”
There are, of course, reflections of the tragedy everywhere. Green and white signs read: “We Are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love.” Dec. 14 is still front-page news every week in The Newtown Bee.
Town residents are planning, as usual, for what has always been Newtown’s grand event, the Labor Day Parade. But, it will not be just any Labor Day Parade this year, so, breaking with tradition, there will not be a grand marshal; instead, it will be presided over by what organizers call the spirit of Newtown. Picking through all the groups that want to march will be a major ordeal.
For several years, Newtown has had its own version of “A Prairie Home Companion,” a music and comedy review called the Flagpole Radio Café. Organizers are planning the first show since the killings for May 18, and everyone is figuring out how to do it. How much humor? What kind? How to refer to the event hanging like a shroud in the air?
Rick Brodsky, a psychologist and musician, said Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben, and who filled in for Mr. Obama in his weekly address on Saturday, will sing as she usually does. He is not sure if her husband, David, will perform in the comedy routines. Song comes more easily than jokes.
John Woodall, a psychiatrist who has done crisis consulting around the world, said that almost from the start, Newtown resolved that it would not be a town of victims.
“We’re committed to showing how you can take an experience like this and build strength, compassion and resilience,” he said.
But no one is finding that easy — certainly not the families most involved, not those on the periphery either.
“I think in the beginning a lot of us had this naïve notion — I did, too — that, O.K., this horrible tragedy happened here, and we’re going to come together and find meaning in this and have a healing experience,” Mr. Brodsky said. “And then there was sort of a sobering time — it happened for me in February — when you realized, it’s going to take years and years, not months, to get to a different place.”
And while nearly everyone respects what the grieving families who have been most prominent in Washington have gone through, some say those families reflect only one point of view, not just among people in town but also among the other families who lost loved ones.
“The antigun sentiment is at a height because of the tremendous amount of emotion associated with it, but there’s probably the same percentage of people who are in favor of the Second Amendment as those who are in favor of these stringent laws,” said Daniel Cruson, the town historian. He puts himself in that first camp.
There are other divisive issues bubbling up, like how to divide the estimated $20 million raised since the attack and whether to find a new location for Sandy Hook Elementary.
Between the bombs in Boston and the vote in Washington, it was a tough week for many here.
But Mr. Barden, who will be back in Newtown and playing music on Friday night with his trio, Alternate Universe, said he was not discouraged.
“This town has shown a spectacular amount of support and resilience,” he said. “We’re not discouraged at all. We’re not going to let the N.R.A. have their way and wait for the ‘Connecticut effect’ to wear off. We feel a sense of obligation to honor our little Daniel and make a difference.”
Elizabeth Maker contributed reporting.
April 18, 2013
Keystone Pipeline Foes Vent in Nebraska
By DAN FROSCH
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Hundreds of people braved heavy snow and wind on Thursday, streaming into this central Nebraska town to speak out on the Keystone XL pipeline at what may be the final public hearing on the project.
The hearing, conducted by the State Department, drew hours of emotional testimony, mostly from opponents of Keystone XL, who whooped and applauded when anyone from their ranks spoke, and solemnly hoisted black scarves that read “Pipeline Fighter” during comments by the project’s supporters.
“The Keystone ‘Export’ pipeline is not in the national interest, and it is most certainly not in Nebraska’s interest,” said Ben Gotschall, a young rancher, one of the first speakers at the hearing, which was held in a large events hall at the state fairgrounds here.
“Our landowners have been left to fend for themselves against an onslaught of dishonest land agents and corporate bullies,” Mr. Gotschall said.
Nebraska has been a rallying point for environmental groups, landowners and ranchers who oppose the 1,700-mile proposed pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
For several years, they have repeatedly voiced concern that a spill from the pipeline could seep into the Ogallala Aquifer, a major water source, and other environmentally delicate areas in the region.
An initial study from the State Department seemingly cleared the way for Keystone XL. But in 2012, President Obama rejected the route proposed by the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada, because of lingering environmental concerns.
TransCanada agreed to reroute the pipeline, and a revised study was released earlier this year, finding no conclusive reason that Keystone XL should not move forward.
Thursday’s meeting was the sole public hearing on the revised study, though State Department officials said there could be an opportunity for another hearing at some point.
Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, who attended, told reporters there had already been some 800,000 public comments submitted on the revised study.
“There are a lot of strong feelings about this,” she said.
In the weeks leading up to the hearing, both sides increased efforts to sway the public, as well as federal officials.
Bold Nebraska, one of the leading groups fighting the pipeline, organized meetings with local landowners and tours of the area. A commercial warning of the dangers of the pipeline flashed across television stations on Wednesday night.
Conversely, officials with TransCanada gathered reporters on Thursday morning to reiterate their contention that Keystone XL would be the nation’s safest pipeline.
“When it comes to safety, the public expects that infrastructure operates as safely as possible,” said Corey Goulet, vice president of Keystone pipeline projects for TransCanada. “So do we.”
As they have in the past, opponents harked back to recent spills involving heavy crude, like the Enbridge Energy pipeline in 2010 that spilled more than 840,000 gallons of oil around Marshall, Mich., and an ExxonMobil rupture in Arkansas last month.
Jenni Harrington, 49, said Keystone XL’s new route would run a mile and a half from her family’s farm in York County. “This farm is very dear to me and my sisters,” she said. “America is being sold out to big oil for Canada’s want. When is this not O.K.? Just ask Marshall, Michigan.”
Though outnumbered on Thursday, a small contingent of supporters echoed Mr. Goulet’s sentiments. A poll last year by The Omaha World-Herald showed Nebraskans supported construction of the pipeline by more than two to one.
Ron Kaminski, business manager for a local chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America, said that while he understood concerns about potential impacts on the environment, he believed Keystone XL would ultimately be safe.
“I love this state as much as I love the environment,” Mr. Kaminski said. “I urge the State Department that after four years of research and review, you ask the president to approve this much-needed project.”
Still, for every voice of support there were at least a dozen against. And there was a palpable sense among opponents that this represented one of their final chances to have the State Department’s ear.
President Obama is expected to make a decision on the pipeline this year.
“This has basically turned into a heavyweight bout between the ordinary citizens of this country and a foreign corporation,” said Randy Thompson, a barrel-chested Nebraska landowner, whose cowboy hat and silver hair have made him a familiar face of opposition to the project.
“We are about at the final bell.”
From The Boston Marathon to West, TX, The Cost of the Sequester Hits Home
By: Sarah Jones
Apr. 18th, 2013
With more than 780 troops still on state active duty in Massachusetts, the National Guard’s warning about the sequester cuts should serve as an impetus for Republicans to come to the negotiation table. If not Boston, how about the explosion in West, Texas.
The bombing in Massachusetts is exactly the kind of emergency that requires readiness from many agencies that faced random cuts, such as FEMA, the FBI, the National Guard, and more. The Massachusetts National Guard, which was deployed for the marathon itself, is remaining in active deployment status after the Boston Marathon bombings.
According to the Department of Defense, as of early Wednesday, more than 780 troops were still on state active duty, and earlier more than 1,000 Guard members were on duty continuing to assist local, state and federal authorities and provide support to the city of Boston. They have deployed helicopters, security, transportation, communications support and explosive ordnance support, according to the Situation Report at Foreign Policy.
On February 13, 2013, Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the devastating impact of the sequester on the National Guard’s readiness to protect the homeland.
Sequestration and a yearlong continuing resolution would significantly hinder the National Guard’s ability to protect and defend the homeland, Army Gen. Frank Grass told the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.
“Sequestration will be devastating to the Department of Defense and the National Guard,” the chief of the National Guard Bureau said, joining other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior defense officials before the committee.
During that same week, the White House’s state-by-state break down of the sequester cuts warned that education and the military would take the biggest hits in Massachusetts.
About 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $43.4 million.
Army base operation funding would be cut by about $8 million.
Funding for Air Force operations would be cut by about $5 million.
About $300,000 to support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
FBI and other law enforcement
The FBI and other law enforcement entities would see a
reduction in capacity equivalent to more than 1,000 Federal agents. This loss of agents would significantly impact our ability to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, secure our borders, and protect national security.
FEMA would need to reduce funding for State and local grants that support firefighter positions and State and local emergency management personnel hampering our ability to respond to natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and other emergencies.
MassLive reported that the sequester cuts would impact the Massachusetts National Guard by cutting its budget by 10%, which amounts to about a $5 million a year loss from its $53 million annual budget.
Fortunately, the full impact of the cuts and furloughs won’t be felt just yet, as Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted Wednesday “the continuing resolution Congress passed in March to fund that period gives DOD some flexibility in operations and maintenance spending.”
In Texas, where the city of West is facing a chemical disaster from an explosion in a fertilizer plant that’s emitting toxic gas, the White House explained that the sequester cuts would make cuts to Public Health:
Texas will lose approximately $2,402,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events.
Now that we are facing multiple homeland security crises — the bombing, an explosion in West, Texas Wednesday evening that left a reported 60-70 dead as of this writing and missing first responders, the poisoned letters sent to the President and at least one lawmaker, and the evacuation of Senate buildings Wednesday — it’s more than past time to review the absolute ignorance of the indiscriminate sequester cuts.
The sequestration is on the House Republicans. They loved it in theory. They never stopped talking it up, as if a first unrequited love, prior to its actual implementation. Paul Ryan giddily cheered getting the sequester cuts on Fox News, “We actually got discretionary caps in law. I’ve been fighting for these spending caps ever since the day I came to Congress. We couldn’t even get these kinds of spending caps in the Bush administration.”
That’s right. Republicans got exactly what they’ve been asking for. Guess what? It’s not going very well. It was unplanned and irresponsibly executed. It wasn’t meant to be an actual budget, but rather a threat so awful it would force compromise.
Republicans have told us that their beloved idea of sequestration wouldn’t hurt. Republicans scoffed that President Obama was exaggerating as he warned about the long-term impact of the cuts. Where are they now? Will Republicans tell the cities of Boston and West that these cuts won’t hurt?
The tragic events in Boston and West provides potent examples of why Republicans need to stop their petulant extremism and actually propose a sequester alternative this session that can pass in the Senate. And no, the alternative proposed last session that Speaker Boehner keeps referring to doesn’t count and he knows it. This session, please, Mr. Speaker. It’s way past time to stop playing games.
Given that the sequester cuts will force $1.2 trillion from defense and non-defense spending over the next 10 years, starting as we face a number of security threats, you’d think Republicans might have a rethink about their obstruction and refusal to compromise.
Meanwhile, our nation is under attack on multiple fronts and our resources have been drastically cut sans strategy, courtesy of Republican ideology gone wild.
“Strategery?” You don’t say.
Nancy Pelosi Blasts Paul Ryan and John Boehner for Avoiding Budget Conference
By: Sarah Jones
Apr. 18th, 2013
Nancy Pelosi blasted Paul Ryan’s cowardly dodge away from the budget reconciliation process in her letter to Speaker John Boehner, demanding that the Speaker appoint conferees for a budget reconciliation conference and follow regular order. This letter comes on the heels of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s attempt to avoid reconciliation by calling for a pre-conference “framework”, the details of which were as sketchy as his budget.
Joining Pelosi in writing the letter were Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, and House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley.
The House Democratic leadership charged, “Republican leaders have repeatedly chastised the Senate for failing to approve a budget; now, the Senate has done its part. Republican leaders have called for regular order, demanding we allow Congress to work its will; Democratic leaders agree.”
They point out that the country can’t afford to sit around and wait for Ryan’s pre-conference “framework”, “We cannot afford to wait, as some Republicans have suggested, for a “framework agreement” before we begin talks. That is simply a recipe for further backroom negotiations, conducted behind closed doors, without the input of Members of Congress and out of view of our constituents. We must engage in a full, open, transparent process to produce a solution that best serves the interests and demands of the American people.”
The sequester is already taking a toll on us, especially as we face multiple security threats and disasters. House Democratic leadership points out in their letter, “There is no time to waste. Sequestration is already taking its toll on our investments in our national security, research, health, and economic growth. Congress has already missed the April 15th deadline to deliver a conference report on the budget.”