House conservatives criticized Obama on Tuesday for what they said was an attempt to unjustly claim credit for the surge in domestic fossil fuels production in the president’s State of the Union address.
“While the president frequently attempts to take credit for the current increase in domestic energy production, this is happening in spite of his policies, not because of them,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington said in a statement. “Despite President Obama’s repeated claims of making job creation and economic growth a priority, the reality is that he has actively chosen to ignore the economic potential and job opportunities that come with expanding American energy production and responsibly managing our nation’s natural resources.”
Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, similarly contended that while the administration paints itself as a champion of the natural-gas and oil boom, most production is actually taking place on private, not public, lands. Bishop also criticized the president’s comment during the speech that he would use executive authority to set aside more land for conservation.
“The president did get something right in that energy production is up, but it has little or nothing to do with him or his administration. The production occurring can be attributed to ingenuity and dedication on behalf of hardworking Americans and policies set into place before this administration,” Bishop said in a statement. “Energy production is in fact soaring on land that the president doesn’t control, but if you want to see where he really stands on energy production, look at his policies for public land use. Tonight, instead of unleashing the vast energy potential found throughout the 660 million acres of federal land, he instead said he intends … to lock up federal lands by executive fiat.”
Reaction to the speech followed party lines with Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee lauding the president for his pledge to act on conservation.
“Last week, over 100 Democrats joined together to ask the Obama administration to use its authority to protect and conserve national treasures,” DeFazio said in a statement. “I was very pleased to hear the president say he is willing to make critical conservation decisions that this deeply partisan Congress will not.”
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The protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.
Hillary Clinton is eyeing Vice President Joe Biden to be her secretary of state, and her campaign is trying to figure out the best way to broach the idea with Biden. Biden has a lifetime of foreign policy experience, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he can also put eight years as vice president on his foreign policy resume. Biden has previously stated that he would not work in a Clinton administration, so it might be a tough sell for the Clinton camp.