Tensions are running high in Washington this week, as threats from North Korea spark fear of an impending missile attack. We had a moment of comic relief on Monday, though, when the White House posted a “special message” from the President, who walked out to the podium – only to barely see over the podium. “You look like you were expecting someone else,” he said. “April Fools on all y’all.” Oh – did we mention this was the Kid President, Robby Novak? The nine-year-old online sensation’s videos this week – another posted Thursday showed Kid President touring the Oval Office with his counterpart, the “ordinary president” – were a welcome distraction as the North Korean crisis continues to develop.
Fear of launch
Debate over the weight of North Korean threats to launch missile strikes against the U.S. this week escalated to fear of an attack as Kim Jong Un’s regime moved missile and launch components to the country’s east coast in the last few days. The State Department says the situation “does not need to get hotter.”
Pentagon officials say U.S. military deployments to North Korea in response to the threats are worsening the tension, and angry rhetoric against U.S. military action on the peninsula continues to come out of Pyongyang.
We’ll talk with former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman about the ongoing threats, and the administration’s developing crisis strategy to deal with a potential missile attack on U.S. soil. Back in 2011, Huntsman – who as ambassador worked on North Korean security issues – talked about a transitioning North Korea at the hands of Kim Jong Un, advising U.S. leaders to closely monitor the “dangerous mix” of threats the country presents. What we want to know – what is China’s role in this escalating situation? How about Russia? Is North Korea really capable of executing a missile launch on the U.S. – and what are our options for dealing with these threats?
Gun control in CT
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy on Thursday signed into law what is being called the strongest and most comprehensive gun control legislation in the nation. The new law includes the widely approved measure requiring background checks for all gun purchases, as well as banning some weapons. It also makes illegal the sale or purchase of high-capacity magazines like those used in the Newtown massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead in December. Governor Malloy will join us in a Sunday exclusive to discuss the new legislation and what precedent this could set for federal legislation when Congress returns to work next week.
Finding a path on immigration
Talking with us Sunday about another hot-button issue, immigration reform – Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), a leader in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who is working with a bipartisan group on a reform proposal. The pair will join us to discuss what initiatives the House will take on immigration when they are back to work next week, including the much-discussed potential path to citizenship for undocumented workers and their children, as well as the “provisional legal status” for those who admit to breaking the law. We’ll also look into how realistic it is for the U.S. government to ask immigrants in the country illegally to return to their home countries and apply for legal entry – and how enforceable this is.
Ready for 2016?
Finally, we’ll also have a political panel featuring TIME magazine executive editor Michael Duffy and editor of Cook Political Report, Amy Walter. We’ll chat with them about the renewed push for a Hillary Clinton bid for president in 2016, and the ongoing issues in Washington – gun control, immigration, and President Obama’s budget top our list this week.
When you scrolled through your Facebook newsfeed this week, were you seeing a lot of red? Us too. Supporters of same-sex marriage dominated social media with the image of a pink equal sign on a red background – a spin on the Human Rights Campaign’s blue and yellow logo – as two high-profile gay rights cases went to the Supreme Court.
Crowds of supporters swarmed the Court throughout the week, waving American flags and holding up signs supporting gay rights as the Court heard arguments first on the appeal of California’s Prop 8, and the next day on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Before they left for spring recess at the end of last week, Congress began pushing towards new legislation on recently hotly contested issues, including immigration and gun control – we’ll discuss what to expect after they return to work April 8. With Easter Sunday just a few days away, it looks like Washington is finally warming up for spring.
Nobody likes spring cleaning.
Wednesday was the first day of spring – but it isn’t getting much warmer here in D.C. While Washingtonians feel the sting of near-freezing temperatures outside, members inside Congress face an equally cold front on gun control legislation. At the same time, politicians on the Hill, Supreme Court Justices, and legislators across the 50 states are working to clean up recent controversial issues – including same-sex marriage, veterans and immigration.
Waiting for the starting gun
On your marks, get set….no go. FULL POST
So, what's next?
That's the question on the minds of everyone here in Washington as we head into the weekend.
Over the past week, we saw Congress struggle with how to avoid the looming automatic budget cuts, Catholics worldwide flock to the Vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI say farewell in his final public address, and the House pass the Violence Against Women Act in a rare bipartisan push. The most pressing issue in our minds? $85 billion in government spending cuts is at stake if Congress and the president fail to deal with the budget crisis by... well, today. With all this uncertainty going on in Washington and abroad, we are wondering – where do we go from here?
In his State of the Union address to the nation Tuesday, President Obama laid out an agenda for his second term. The President was back on the road bright and early the next morning, visiting U.S. towns to talk about the goals he set the night before. In Asheville, North Carolina, he spoke with factory workers about raising the minimum federal wage. In Decatur, Georgia, on Thursday, he visited a preschool classroom to discuss the need for early public education. These are the kind of trips the President made in his campaign, and we will likely see many more of these in coming weeks, as he gets to work on his second-term goals.
The big question after hearing President Obama’s address Tuesday is how he will go about juggling so many lofty goals. With Congress still deeply divided, and many issues to tackle, the President is facing a long road ahead. We will talk Sunday about the most pressing tasks Washington faces – here’s some of what we are looking at this week.
Hagel nomination up in the air: Following unsuccessful efforts to reach a compromise on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, members of the Senate voted Thursday afternoon to try and stop a filibuster on his nomination, but were unable to reach the 60 vote threshold. Republicans raised doubts over the nomination as questions surfaced on Hagel’s finances and the administration’s refusal to release details on the president’s actions the night of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Hagel’s nomination will likely be put off until after the Senate’s recess next week, when only a simple majority of 51 votes will be required.
Pres. calls for raise in minimum wage: In his State of the Union address, Obama said he found “an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on” – tying the minimum wage to the cost of living. He proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour from the current rate of $7.25, a plan he says will help working families – especially those living below the poverty line. Some economists, however, argue that in our still-fragile economy, bumped-up wages could ultimately cut jobs for low-wage workers. For many families, this may bring more struggles instead of boosting their economic situation if the legislation were to go through.
Make sure to check back on Friday for our full Rundown and don’t forget to tune in Sunday at 9am & Noon ET.