Obama officials are fighting criticism of their multibillion-dollar plan for shoring up antiterrorism capabilities among U.S. partners, Defense News reports.
The Obama administration’s request for Congress to create a $5 billion “counterterrorism partnerships fund” prompted expressions of derision from a number of GOP lawmakers and insiders involved in federal budget planning, the publication said on Monday. One source said the White House is still consulting with the State and Defense departments on how to choose state recipients of the potential aid for combating terrorism threats.
“The White House is coordinating a very informal, very ad-hoc process to figure out what in the hell this is,” the insider said, adding that the Pentagon and State Department may not have provided input on the proposal prior to its unveiling last month.
White House spokesman Edward Price disputed that assertion.
“The idea for this fund evolved out of months of coordination from across senior levels of departments and agencies,” said Price, head of strategic communications for the National Security Council.
The spokesman dismissed as “absolutely false” a suggestion that the initiative could set off a scramble for antiterrorism-assistance dollars by competing federal agencies.
“This program is envisioned to build upon the excellent cooperation between State and Defense,” Price argued.
He added that the plan “would incorporate existing tools and authorities.” Some critics have said it was uncertain whether appropriators could fund the proposed plan through existing statutory mechanisms, rather than abiding by the administration’s call to provide the aid as part of its request for “overseas contingency operations” in fiscal 2015.
What We're Following See More »
Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."
One of the main reasons for the recent Obamacare premium hikes is that many potential enrollees have simply decided to pay the tax penalty for remaining uninsured, rather than pay for insurance. More than 8 million people paid the penalty in 2014, and preliminary numbers for 2015 suggest that the number approaches 6 million. "For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”