- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Signing statement irks 4 lawmakers

Senior House Democrats warned President Obama on Tuesday not to ignore restrictions they placed on U.S. funding for the International Monetary Fund in a war-spending bill, a practice for which they consistently criticized former President George W. Bush.

In a letter to Mr. Obama, four Democrats who chair House committees or subcommittees said further aid may not be available next time for the IMF and other international institutions if the White House ignored the conditions set in the law.

In a statement issued when the president signed the bill in June, Mr. Obama said the limitations would interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy and negotiate with other governments.

“I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations,” he wrote.

Mr. Bush resorted to such “signing statements” to give his administration a legal way to ignore certain provisions in bills he signed into law.

The Democrats’ letter was signed by Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; David R. Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Nita M. Lowey of New York, chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on state, foreign operations; and Gregory W. Meeks of New York, chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on international monetary policy.


McCain, GOP apologize to singer

LOS ANGELES | Jackson Browne has settled a lawsuit and received an apology from Sen. John McCain and the Republican Party over the use of his song “Running on Empty” during last year’s presidential campaign.

The settlement announced Tuesday includes a pledge by the GOP not to use any musician’s work without permission in future campaigns, a statement that Mr. Browne said he hoped would benefit other artists.

Mr. Browne sued Mr. McCain and the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party last year over the use of “Running on Empty” in a Web ad mocking Democrat Barack Obama’s proposed energy policies.

Mr. McCain’s loss in November didn’t end the lawsuit, which had been slated for trial. Formal settlement papers have yet to be filed with the court.

Financial details of the settlement were not announced.

Mr. McCain didn’t know about the ad, which was created by the Ohio Republican Party and removed after Mr. Browne complained, said the statement, attributed to Mr. McCain and the state and national parties.


Honduras crisis trips up nominees

Sen. Jim DeMint, a critic of President Obama’s response to the Honduran political crisis, moved Tuesday to delay confirming nominees to two key Latin American posts.

Mr. DeMint, South Carolina Republican, invoked his senatorial prerogative to put off a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, his office confirmed.

Mr. DeMint’s objection also covered the panel’s action on Thomas Shannon, who currently holds the post Mr. Valenzuela seeks, to be ambassador to Brazil.

“President Obama rushed to side with [Venezuela President Hugo] Chavez and [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro before getting the facts” on the crisis in Honduras, Mr. DeMint said.

Mr. DeMint said Honduran President Manuel Zelaya sought to become a “dictator” and was properly ousted, and charged that U.S. policy, shaped by Mr. Shannon, lacked “a clear understanding” of recent events in Honduras.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been expected to vote Tuesday to refer both nominations to the full Senate for final confirmation, but the panel now appears set to act no earlier than next week.


Delaware betting upsets 2 senators

A pair of veteran Republican senators urged Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to look into the legality of a new Delaware law allowing sports betting and to defend a federal anti-sports betting law that New Jersey politicians are challenging.

Both efforts “threaten to greatly expand sports gambling and undermine the integrity of our” national pastimes, wrote Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona in a letter dated Monday, which was obtained by the Associated Press.

At issue in both cases is the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned sports gambling but grandfathered four states: Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, who proposed sports betting to help solve a budget shortfall, signed legislation authorizing it this year. State officials hope to have the sports lottery in place for this year’s NFL regular season in September.

Mr. Hatch and Mr. Kyl, both longtime gambling opponents, say that although Delaware was grandfathered from the 1992 law, its plan to allow single-game betting would violate the legislation because such betting was never available in any state. Delaware Lottery Director Wayne Lemons confirmed Tuesday that the state’s brief 1970s sports lottery did not offer such bets.


Illinois treasurer to run for Senate

CHICAGO | Illinois’ state treasurer says he’s going to run for President Obama’s old Senate seat.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday he’ll formally announce his candidacy this weekend.

The first-term state treasurer hopes to win the seat now held by Sen. Roland W. Burris, who has served under a cloud of suspicion since his appointment by then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. Mr. Burris has said he will not seek the seat in 2010 because of fundraising problems.

Five-term Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk announced Monday that he’s running.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, was impeached and removed from office in January after being charged with trying to sell Mr. Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.


Killings prompt request for study

DENVER | Colorado’s U.S. senators are asking the Army to include Fort Carson in a pilot program on substance abuse, following a military study of soldiers at the base accused of several killings in the region.

The pilot program is designed to reduce the stigma soldiers face if they ask for treatment.

It’s currently planned for Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Richardson, Alaska; and Fort Lewis, Wash. Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet on Tuesday asked the Army to include Fort Carson.

An Army report released last week said the trauma of combat in Iraq may have helped drive Fort Carson soldiers to kill as many as 11 people after the soldiers returned home.

The report said the soldiers had abused drugs and alcohol, and some claimed they were discouraged from seeking help.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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