WASHINGTON -- President Obama met Tuesday with young immigrants and others who expressed their fear that family members will be deported and their hope that Congress will pass new immigration laws to keep families intact.
Obama urged the group to share their stories on Capitol Hill as the Senate judiciary committee prepared to send an immigration overhaul bill to the full Senate for consideration.
Mehdi Mahraoui, who was born in Morocco and came to American when he was seven, told Obama he worries that his parents and eldest sister will be deported. He is a legal permanent resident and his eight-year-old sister is a U.S. citizen, but the other family members are not.
If his parents are forced to leave, he would become sole caretaker of his little sister, he told reporters after meeting with the president.
WASHINGTON – A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.
Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
By Joseph Tanfani, Michael A. Memoli, and Melanie Mason
WASHINGTON – The outgoing head of the IRS said the agency still doesn’t know which staff members were responsible for using politically-loaded language to screen out nonprofit groups, as senators pressed them to explain how certain conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status received extra scrutiny.
The last two heads of the agency, Steven T. Miller and Douglas Shulman, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, once again blamed the problems on poor decisions by lower-level employees working in the IRS’ Cincinnati field office, but Miller said they haven’t figured out who all of those employees were. They said the IRS has not done its own internal investigation, leaving that examination to the Inspector General’s office.
Miller was forced out as acting IRS commissioner last week, after the release of an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that the IRS, starting in 2010, improperly selected...
WASHINGTON – When Sen. Orrin Hatch takes his seat on the dais in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the 79-year-old slides into his status as the most sought-after vote for immigration reform.
A towering but genteel figure, Hatch is seen as the Republican domino – the first GOP senator, beyond the four in the bipartisan group that crafted the immigration bill, to potentially join the effort. No other Republican on the panel is expected to do so. A yes from Hatch could jump-start support from the party as the bill moves to the full Senate.
Getting Hatch’s vote has become such an intense pursuit that it has rearranged the committee’s workload. While the hourly grind of amending the bill is under way in the hearing room, senators work behind the scenes to test what would happen if they add some measures and subtract others to make Hatch happy.
WASHINGTON — The outlines of a possible agreement emerged Tuesday on the criteria for high-skilled visas in the immigration overhaul, potentially paving the way for a key Republican senator to support the sweeping legislation and give it a boost when it comes to a committee vote.
Talks have dragged on for days between Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and members of the bipartisan Senate group that is pushing the immigration bill on his proposals to loosen restrictions on visas for high-skilled workers. The issue is important to big business and particularly high-tech industries that have been lobbying hard for the changes.
Hatch wants to more quickly boost the number of visas available to foreign tech workers and also limit new rules that were designed to protect jobs for Americans.
By Michael A. Memoli, Matea Gold and Melanie Mason
WASHINGTON -- The former top official of the Internal Revenue Service told senators Tuesday he was “dismayed and saddened” by an inspector general’s report detailing how, during his tenure as IRS commissioner, the agency inappropriately scrutinized targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Douglas Shulman, who ran the agency for five years before retiring in November 2012, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning, along with Steven T. Miller, who succeeded him as acting IRS chief, and J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. It was the second congressional appearance for Miller and George, who testified before the House Ways and Means committee on the matter last week.
Shulman, in his opening remarks, depicted the IRS as burdened with myriad responsibilities, such as assisting in stimulus efforts and cracking down on tax evasion as well as revenue collection.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Tuesday assured the survivors of Oklahoma’s deadly tornado that the nation is “there for them” and that the government will keep its focus on the rescue effort as long as is needed.
As emergency workers worked to find survivors amid the rubble in Oklahoma City and its suburbs, Obama said he has dispatched top officials to the region and directed his advisors to do all they can to help.
“Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away,” Obama said in a morning statement at the White House.
The country will “stand with our citizens as long as it takes,” Obama said.
Authorities in the suburb of Moore, Okla., are still trying to figure out the full extent of the devastation. At least 24 people have died. The count is expected to rise as the search efforts continue. The region faces the risk of more tornadoes on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON – Top conservative leaders, along with tea party activists from across the nation, have crafted a letter of opposition to the Senate’s bipartisan immigration overhaul.
The open letter to the Senate, which will be released Tuesday, marks the first large-scale attempt to halt the bill as it gains momentum with a key Senate committee vote expected this week.
Those signing the letter include influential conservative commentators – Erick Ericksen, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Michele Malkin – as well as tea party leaders and talk radio hosts from around the country.
"No matter how well-intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable,” said the letter, referring to Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), key architects from the bipartisan group of eight senators that drafted the bill.
WASHINGTON — Top officials in the White House learned in April that an investigation of the IRS would probably end up showing that the agency targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny, the White House spokesman conceded Monday, contrary to earlier Obama administration statements.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said staffers didn’t tell President Obama the bombshell was coming and that the West Wing did nothing to interfere with the audit or the report before its release.
“The cardinal rule,” Carney said, “is that you do not intervene in an independent investigation, and you do not do anything that would give such an appearance. ... And that's the doctrine we followed.”
Since an Inspector General’s report on the matter was released last week, Republicans have been trying to figure out how long the Obama administration has known about the allegations -- and, in particular, whether the...
Senators have dispatched more than 100 amendments, turning back those that would derail the bipartisan compromise engineered by a group of eight senators and accepting others to potentially pick up broader support.
Convening for a fourth hearing Monday, the committee met for another day-long session, as rows of immigrants-rights activists and business representatives filled the Senate hearing room.
WASHINGTON -- The former top federal prosecutor in Arizona retaliated against the lead whistle blower in the Fast and Furious controversy by leaking an internal report that suggested he too once favored “walking guns” along the Southwest border and would be accessible to U.S. criminals and drug cartels in Mexico, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office determined Monday.
Dennis K. Burke, who resigned in the wake of the Fast and Furious matter, conceded to Inspector General investigators that he leaked an internal memorandum to a television producer in which ATF Special Agent John Dodson discussed an earlier case involving gun-walking on the border. Burke told Inspector General investigators that he was “unabashed” about leaking the memo and did not feel he had done anything illegal.
However, he was sharply admonished by his supervisor, the deputy attorney general in Washington, prodded to resign over Fast and Furious, and quickly left...