Obama Administration

Watch Obama’s full speech on Syria

President Barack Obama used a prime-time television address to make his case for military action Tuesday night, while staying open to the possibility of diplomacy. In just over 15 minutes, the president explained his thinking on the civil war in Syria and asked for the American public’s support for a targeted strike against chemical weapons facilities. Click the logo below to see the speech in its entirety.

 

Mixed reaction to Holder’s comments on Texas voting laws

Texas political leaders are commenting on remarks made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Texas voting laws.

Holder told members of the National Urban League on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice will ask a federal court to require Texas to ask for permission before changing its election laws. The move follows a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that essentialy eliminated the use of a pre-clerance provision of the Voting Rights Act for states with a history of discrimination.

“Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution,” Republican Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement released in response. “This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.”

Democratic State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston had a different take on Holder’s announcement.

“I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to join the lawsuit that would require Texas to submit all voting law changes for preclearance for the next decade,” Ellis said in his own statement released to the media.  “Anyone who thinks Texas doesn’t need continued oversight simply hasn’t been paying attention.”

Ellis added that, in his view, Texas has clearly shown a repeated and documented history of discrimination against minority voters, pointing to last year when he said Texas was singled out as the only state to pass redistricting maps which were deliberately discriminatory.

“This is hopefully just the first step,” Ellis said.  “Congress needs to take action [to] revamp the Voting Rights Act to create a formula which takes into account current and historical discrimination and bias while meeting the requirements the Supreme Court has set out.  Otherwise, the voting rights of millions of Americans are in peril.”

Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was also quick to respond to Holder’s comments.

“By first going around the voters and now the Supreme Court, Attorney General Holder and President Obama’s intentions are readily transparent,” Cornyn said in a released statement. ” This decision has nothing to do with protecting voting rights and everything to do with advancing a partisan political agenda. Texans should not — and will not — stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama Administration.”

Rep. Williams slams White House ‘Tourquester’

Some Republican lawmakers are taking issue with the Obama administration’s decision to close the White House doors to visitors. Citing the sequester, the visitors’ office announced yesterday that due to staffing issues tours would be put on hold indefinitely, starting Saturday. The move comes as Congress was unable to compromise on a budget deal and the spring tourism season is about to hit full swing in Washington, D.C.

In an email statement today, U.S. Rep Roger Williams called the closure “deeply troubling and disturbingly ironic.”

Today, U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25) made the following comments regarding the White House’s decision to cancel all public tours blaming the federal spending cuts, known as the sequester.  Williams said:

“For many Americans a family or school trip to our nation’s Capitol is a once-in-a-lifetime event.  To cancel all public tours, essentially closing the doors of the White House, is wrong.  This is nothing more than a publicity stunt, as it requires minimal federal dollars to allow the public access to the White House.  If the President was serious about cutting spending, he would negotiate in good faith with Congress to find more desirable solutions.

“I want to let those who are planning a trip to Washington, D.C. know that the Capitol will remain open.  My office is happy to continue arranging tours of the Capitol and many other historical landmarks regardless of any reductions in our office budget.”

In addition, Rep. Louie Gohmert, who represents parts of east Texas, is looking to keep the president off the links until the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are back open to the public. The Hill is reporting he filed an amendment stating ”None of the funds made available by a division of this act may be used to transport the President to or from a golf course until public tours of the White House tours resume.”