WASHINGTON -- It's not often that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan join together to support the same amendment.
On Thursday, an odd blend of bedfellows voted against a $5 billion measure to arm Syrian rebels in the fight to combat the terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which passed 273 to 156.
Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum voted against the proposal. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison joined Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen in support.
Bachmann tweeted after the vote: "Many of the so-called "moderate" rebels have already joined the cause of Islamic jihad. Concerned U.S. weapons could fall into enemy hands."
"Remember, last year at this time we were ready to attack (Syrian President) al-Assad and Syria. Now we appear in a tacit alliance with Assad and his allies to defeat ISIL," he said. "Today we appear ready to send $5 billion to the FSA ... The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result."
Paulsen said, in a statement, he supported the measure with reservations.
"I remain concerned about the administration's ability to effectively and appropriately vet Syrian opposition forces to ensure we are training groups aligned with our interest in defeating ISIL," he said, noting he found it "necessary to provide the president with this limited and short-term authority."
McCollum, in a statement, called the debate "rushed."
"The CIA is already training and arming Syrian fighters in Jordan, without congressional approval. How well has that worked? We are not discussing that as a body," she said.
The Senate takes this up Thursday. Sen. Al Franken in an interview on Wednesday said he had concerns about arming Syria and was still undecided.
HBO host Bill Maher is targeting U.S. Rep. John Kline as the Republican lawmaker he wants to oust from Congress in his "Flip a District" challenge.
The comedian and political satirist announced the "winning loser” during a live broadcast of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
“John Kline doesn’t say kooky things, but he votes just like the people who do,” Maher said.
Calling him the “champion of for-profit colleges,” Maher said he targeted Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than times and siding against gay marriage and a minimum wage increase.
In 2012, Maher donated $1 million to a political action committee devoted to President Obama’s re-election campaign. But the comedian could have a tough time unseating Kline, who's not a top Democratic target
Kline faces a rematch this year with former Democratic state Rep. Mike Obermueller.
“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the [Second District] are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office,” Obermueller said in a statement. “People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.”
Obermueller lost to Kline by eight points in 2012, but faces a much less favorable environment in a midterm election year when Kline is expected to coast to re-election.
Like Obermueller, Kline hopes to seize on the announcement as a rallying point. He’s aiming to raise $100,000 for television ads to counteract Maher’s campaign.
“As promised, Maher is turning his liberal guns on our districts and using his TV megaphone and million-dollar war chest to defeat me in November,” Kline wrote in an email to supporters.
“My opponent … is walking hand-in-hand with Maher and has practically named him his campaign manager, focusing on the #FlipADistrict campaign against me and doing whatever he can to pander to Maher and his extreme liberal friends.”
Viewers picked Kline as Maher's target, selecting him over three other House Republicans: Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Blake Farenthold of Texas and Mike Coffman of Colorado.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama outlined a campaign Wednesday to launch airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq. Obama said he doesn't believe he needs Congressional approval for this military action, which will be conducted with allies. He will seek Congressional support and additional money to finance the operation.
Here are comments from some of Minnesota's Congressional delegation after the speech:
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat: "I want to find out more about the potential ramifications of these actions on the civil war in Syria, for more specifics about the coalition the administration intends to build, and about their ongoing efforts to stifle terrorist recruitment activities in Minnesota and around the country."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat: "I support targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as well as training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition, and I also think it's critical that we work with our allies in the international community so we are united in our effort defeat this terrorist organization."
Rep. John Kline, Republican: "It's never a good strategy to telegraph to the enemy what options are off the table. As a 25-year Marine Corps veteran, the father of a son who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a member of the House Armed Services Commmittee, I will continue to ensure our allies and personnel in Iraq and around the globe are receiving the support they need to combat terrorism, while carefully reviewing additional military actions taken by the president."
Rep. Tim Walz, Democrat: "The president has the authority to expand strategic airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. I believe he should exercise that authority. Before taking any warranted action against ISIL in Syria, however, I believe the president should consult with Congress."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican (via Twitter)
"The president gave a poll driven speech that has nothing in common with defeating a brutal enemy that has declared war on the United States."
"The president's so-called strategy offered virtually nothing new, and it's clear he doesn't understand the threat of Islamic jihad."
According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
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Former Democratic state Rep. Mike Obermueller will get another shot at unseating Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, who defeated him in a closer-than-expected race in 2012.
Obermueller handily defeated opponent Michael Roberts, an Army veteran and Hamline University Law School student, in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is seeking a seventh term in Congress representing the Second District, which covers the suburbs south of the Twin Cities.
Paula Overby is the Independence Party candidate in the race.