U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is pressing President Obama to ramp up diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a letter to Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Ellison and several other House Democrats call for an immediate end to the “cycle of violence” in the region.
“Past experience indicates that the current conflict will likely end with a new cease-fire. Ground troops, air strikes, and rockets do not lead to permanent peace in the Middle East,” the letter reads. “The United States government, together with international partners, must redouble our efforts to urge all parties to avoid further loss of life on both sides by coming to a cease-fire.”
The lawmakers praised Israel for its “willingness to agree to the terms of the [cease-fire] agreement” proposed by Egypt, which Hamas has rejected. Their letter also criticizes Hamas for “indiscriminately launching thousands of rockets into Israel.”
The lawmakers also urge the Obama administration to reopen peace talks in the Middle East.
“Additional diplomacy is necessary to save lives and create lasting peace,” the lawmakers write. “… a final status agreement in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security is urgent and necessary.”
President Obama accepted the credentials for new Somali Ambassador to the United States, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, in a ceremony at the White House today.
Sharmake, a former prime minister of the African country, is the first Somali ambassador to the U.S. in more than two decades. Somalia closed its U.S. embassy after warlords ousted formerdictator and President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States.
"This is a historic moment for the future of a democratic Somalia and for the future of relations between our two countries,” U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said in a statement. “Mr. Sharmarke is well prepared to continue building a free, peaceful Somalia.
"I look forward to working with His Excellency and I would like him to visit Minneapolis as soon as possible. Together, we can promote security, economic prosperity, and well-being for Somalis both here in the U.S. and in Somalia."
Obama also accepted credential for ambassadors from Cabo Verde, Sri Lanka, Armenia and Guinea.
Republican U.S. Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann are cheering a Supreme Court ruling that dealt a blow to the powers of the presidency.
The justices ruled unanimously Thursday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he circumvented the Senate to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012.
“The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress,” said Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
“Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.”
Bachmann used her Twitter account to blast out this message to her 220,000 followers: “The Supreme Court upheld limits on executive power today. Finally someone said no to President Obama’s freewheeling unconstitutional style.”
To the dismay of Republicans, Obama invoked a constitutional provision that granted him the power to make temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess.
The Supreme Court ruled the Senate was not in a formal recess when Obama acted.
“Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members,” Kline said. “The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.”
President Obama will land in Minnesota today at noon and stay through Friday.
Today, the president will arrive shortly after noon and participate in an invitation-only town hall at Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Park at 2:10 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., he will attend a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at Sam and Sylvia Kaplan's Minneapolis home. The Kaplans have long been major Democratic donors and Obama appointed Sam Kaplan as U.S. ambassador to Morocco.
On Friday, Obama will speak about the economy at Minneapolis’ Lake Harriet Band Shell. The event is open to the public, but advance tickets are required.
The trip to the state will be Obama’s seventh, and his first overnight stay here as president. He also visited Minnesota three times as he campaigned for the office in 2008.
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken will not fly to Minnesota with President Obama this morning because of a Senate vote to confirm Stuart Jones as the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.
The Senate vote is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. EST. Air Force One will depart Andrews Air Force shortly after 11 a.m.
“[Klobuchar] will return to Minnesota later this afternoon and looks forward to events with the President over the next two days,” said Brigit Helgen, the senator’s spokeswoman.
Franken spokesman Ed Shelleby said: “Because of today’s Senate vote to confirm the Ambassador to Iraq, Sen. Franken needs to be in Washington and will not be able to travel with the President to Minnesota, but he looks forward to spending time with the President in Minnesota tomorrow.”