Hours until President Obama’s address to the nation on the Administration’s next step in Iraq and Syria, Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden have continued their focus on terrorism abroad and recruiting at home.
In a statement released Wednesday, McFadden maintained his stance against sending ground troops to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). He remains in favor of U.S. airstrikes.
“If defeating ISIS requires our military to strike targets in Syria, the President should seek Congressional approval for these strikes, have the support of our allies, and ensure that strikes are conducted without coordinating with the Assad regime.”
McFadden’s statement comes the day after he supported a bill by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to revoke the passports of U.S. citizens fighting with or assisting ISIS and other terror organizations. Federal authorities say upward of a dozen Somali men and three women from Minnesota have fled the country to fight alongside or aid extremists in the Middle East, and grand jury proceedings are underway to determine who is behind the terrorism recruitment efforts.
Last week, Franken called the Obama Administration’s lack of a strategy to take on ISIS “troubling” and called on Attorney General Eric Holder to focus Department of Justice resources on recruiting at home.
“ISIL is a barbaric terrorist organization that needs to be stopped from harming the United States. Sen. Franken wrote to the Justice Department last week to make sure that they are taking every step to identify, track and apprehend individuals fighting with ISIL.” Franken spokesoman Alexandra Fetissoff said.
Asked whether Franken backs Bachmann’s proposal, Fetissoff said: “The State Department already has the authority to revoke passports but Sen. Franken will look at any proposal that would make sure that individuals fighting with ISIL cannot return to this country.”
WASHINGTON -- GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden pressed Congress returning Monday to address immigration reform, saying he wanted to secure the border first and then "move forward with a plan that would address those here illegally."
McFadden says he favors a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States illegally, as long they met certain requirements like proof of a job, paying back taxes or a fine, and a background check. He also said he wants proof of a secure border first.
When pressed on how he defined a secure border, a campaign spokesman said he supported the Cornyn-Cuellar bill that treats unaccompanied minors from Central America the same as those from Mexico. The proposal also expedites immigration hearings for children with asylum claims.
"I think immigration is a classic example of how broken Washington is ... We have to solve it. I don't want to split apart families," he said, in an interview. "When someone gets through those hurdles, then they stand in line ... But I think they have to go through the hurdles first because they have broken the law."
In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a bipartisan 68-32 majority that included more money to secure the border, a path to citizenship for people living here illegally if they met certain requirements, and an overhaul to the visa system. The bill has lingered in the GOP-controlled House where leaders said they preferred to take up immigration reform in a piecemeal approach. Little has materialized in the last year from the chamber.
McFadden declined to say whether he supported the Senate immigration reform bill.
President Obama has said he may take executive action to deal with the issue -- though White House officials over the weekend said they would wait until after the election.
McFadden hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who has said he didn't approve of the president taking executive action on immigration reform over the summer.
Franken, on Monday, said he was proud of the Senate bill and called "the end result greater than the sum of the parts." He said the House taking action is "much more sustainable" than Obama acting unilaterally.
"It's been with the House for more than a year," he said, in an interview. "This is something that's supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It's supported by the farm workers and the farm bureau. This is a bill that works."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said he is “proud to stand” with fast-food workers protesting nationwide to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.
Strikers gather Thursday in more than 100 cities, including Minneapolis, where Ellison joined workers in pre-dawn demonstrations.
A number of fast-food workers make close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or roughly $15,000 annually. Some say that is not a living wage, especially for workers who are supporting families.
“Thousands of fast food workers will be out in the street today, demanding a living wage and the right to organize,” said Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“They’re doing it because they have families to feed and parents to look after. They’re doing it because they have basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour. They’re standing for the possibility of a better future and an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few. I’m proud to stand with them.”
The National Council of Chain Restaurants, an industry trade group, took issue with the protests, which led to arrests in several cities.
"There are millions of workers in the food retail industry who find personal satisfaction in their work and appreciate the opportunities provided by the restaurants that hire them,” executive director Rob Green said in a statement. "The activities being coordinated, financed and facilitated by labor unions - desperate for new membership dues - accomplish absolutely nothing."
The strike comes just days after President Obama voiced his support for the movement at a Labor Day speech in Wisconsin.
"All across the country right now, there's a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to life wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said.
Sen. Al Franken on Tuesday urged Attorney General Eric Holder to focus U.S. Department of Justice resources on recruitment at home by terror organizations--particularly in Minnesota, and expressed concern over the Obama administration's lack of action, according to a letter released Tuesday to the Star Tribune.
“I was troubled by the President’s recent suggestion that the Administration has not yet developed a comprehensive strategy to address the growing threat of ISIL’s activities in Syria,” Franken wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. “As you know, one aspect of that threat is ISIL’s efforts to recruit American and other Western citizens to join its forces."
The letter was drafted in the wake of news that a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, was purportedly beheaded by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and one week after former Robbinsdale Armstrong and Cooper student Douglas McArthur McCain was confirmed killed in Syria while fighting with ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A second man, also from Minnesota, is believed to have been killed in Syria.
"One American who went to high school in Minnesota has been confirmed to have been killed in Syria while fighting with ISIL, and others have traveled there to fight with ISIL as well." Franken's letter continued. "We must act diligently and responsibly to prevent Americans from taking up arms with ISIL, or from reentering our country if they do.”
Franken also urged Holder to focus DOJ efforts where terrorism recruitment may be happening, such as Minnesota, and to prevent travel abroad by those suspected of joining ISIL.
“I understand the challenges posed by Americans who do not declare Syria as their destination and transit through other countries; nevertheless, the Justice Department, in coordination with other relevant agencies, should use its existing legal authorities to prevent Americans who intend to do serious damage to U.S. national security interests from reaching Syria or returning to the U.S. once they have done so.”
Read the letter here:
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken are leading their Republican challengers, Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden, in a new poll released this week.
The SurveyUSA poll was commissioned by KSTP-TV. The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 8-21.
In the governor's race, DFLer Dayton led Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, 49 percent to 40 percent. Hannah Nicollet, the Independence Party's candidate, had support from 3 percent of respondents, while 5 percent were undecided.
Franken is sitting on an even wider lead over McFadden, a first-time candidate. Franken, first elected by an extremely thin margin in 2008, is backed by 51 percent of respondents compared to 42 percent for McFadden. The Independence Party's Steve Carlson was backed by 2 percent while 3 percent were undecided.
The margin of sampling error in both cases was plus or minus 4.1 percent.
Franken's approval rating in the poll was 56 percent positive, while 35 percent disapproved of his performance. But the news wasn't all good for Democrats: the poll found that 52 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama's performance, while just 38 percent approve. The margin of error in those cases was plus or minus 3.7 percent.