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Chris Christie Turns to Media Bashing at CPAC Gathering

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continued to bash the media Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, playing into a popular topic among the activists in the crowd, saying “elite folks from the media” cover him “every day.”

“Understand where I come from every day,” Christie told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in a question-and-answer session in National Harbor, Maryland, after she asked him about the “onslaught” of negative news stories about him recently.

As the governor of New Jersey, Christie told her he has reporters from The New York Times covering him every day, and accused journalists of taking sides on issues he has stood up against.

“When you do things like I’ve done in New Jersey, take on a lot of these special interests that they support they just want to kill you and that’s what they tried to do to me every day and here’s the bad news for them, here I am and I’m still standing,” Christie, 52, said.

The governor added he will “continue to do what matters more,” which is “knowing how to fight for the people for my state and I don’t care what they write about me in the New York Times. I don’t subscribe, by the way,” getting cheers from the audience.

Christie even mentioned the newspaper in a somewhat veiled attack against a possible GOP rival, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Christie said the “reason why the New York Times writes awful things about me is because every time I read something they disagree with I don’t change my mind, I stick with where I’ve been.”

“So when you are pro-life in 2009, you don’t cut a commercial four years later because the New York Times doesn’t like it and say you are less than that,” Christie said, referring to Walker’s anti-abortion rights position, which he softened publicly last year in a gubernatorial re-election ad saying he would leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

This is the second day in a row Christie has taken on the media, specifically The New York Times, possibly laying out a theme that tends to be popular with the conservative primary voting base and something he can return to in a 2016 stump speech.

On his monthly radio call-in show, Ask the Governor, he was asked Wednesday night about his rough trip to the United Kingdom earlier this month. He blamed the bad headlines on “the national media following you around trying to justify their airfare going over there.”

As for his famously tough-talking style, Ingraham asked him about negative words used to describe him, including “explosive” and a “hothead” and whether that temperament works for the president of the United States. Christie answered “the word they missed is passionate.”

Ingraham countered by asking whether “sit down and shut up” is really necessary, referring to Christie’s famous line he used after being heckled by an activist in October.

Christie didn’t hesitate: “Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.”

He then said the same sentiment should be directed at the Obama administration.

“Quite frankly Laura, some more of that stuff should be happening in Washington, D.C., because there is so much ridiculous stuff,” Christie said. “Especially out of the White House someone should say it’s time to shut up.”

Ingraham also asked Christie about tough primary competition he is likely to go up against if he gets into the 2016 race for the White House, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Christie said don’t count him out.

“I’ll take my chances on me, I’ve done pretty well so far,” he said.

He even ended his session with another jab at The New York Times when Ingraham asked Christie, a Catholic, what he gave up for Lent. Christie said he went to his priest and told him. “I’m giving the New York Times up for Lent.” He got more cheers from the audience, but told them “don’t cheer, it’s bad news.”

He said his priest answered, “Chris, you have to give up something you’ll actually miss.”

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Net Neutrality: What Comes Next After 'Historic' FCC Vote

FCC/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Net neutrality cleared a major hurdle Thursday when it was approved by the Federal Communications Commission. However, it doesn't mean the new rules classifying broadband as a public utility will immediately go into effect.

The FCC Thursday voted 3-2 to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers and impose regulations similar to those imposed on utilities. The decision is unlikely to change your daily Internet habits and instead helps preserve the status quo, which some companies were pushing to change.

While many Internet service providers say they're committed to a free Internet, some oppose the FCC rules because they want leeway for how they package and sell various Internet plans.

"We've got a free and open Internet today and it has been a tremendous success," Bret Swanson, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told ABC News. "The question is why we want to impose 80-year-old regulations on perhaps the most thriving part of our economy. All of the uncertainty could really harm this most innovative part of our economy."

The FCC's new rules will have to move through the bureaucratic chain of command, getting a rubber stamp from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which could take as long as 120 days, according to details of the rule-making process on the FCC's website.

The rules will then be published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the government that is a daily collection of proposed regulations and public notices, at which time Swanson said it's likely they will be challenged in court.

"We probably will see the mother of all court challenges on probably a dozen different legal matters," he said.

Congress could also vote to nullify the FCC rules. However, President Obama, who has voiced his support for net neutrality, could then issue a presidential veto.

Marvin Ammori, an Internet policy expert and First Amendment lawyer, told ABC News he expects "these rules will be debated for as long as cable and phone companies think they have a shot of removing them."

Regardless of the political chess and costly battle that may be on the road ahead, Ammori said "it’s a historic day because the decision is stronger than any decision we have ever had at the FCC."

"We've completely won in terms of the messaging and the culture," Ammori said. "No one can oppose the principle, they [the carriers] just pretend they want to do it in a different way."

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Carly Fiorina Criticizes Hillary Clinton and Clinton's Foundation at CPAC

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO, is positioning herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton candidate, going after the likely Democratic presidential candidate in her speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, hitting her for accepting donations from foreign countries to her foundation.

In her address, Fiorina called on Clinton to "please explain why we should accept that the millions and millions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments doesn’t represent a conflict of interest."

The Washington Post reported last week that the Clinton Foundation began taking foreign donations after Clinton finished her time as Secretary of State, but it reported Wednesday that the group also accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during her tenure as head of the State Department.

"She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights," Fiorina said. "She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards -- and neither will our president. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means."

This is not the first time Fiorina, who has said she is considering a 2016 presidential bid, has directly gone after Clinton. At the Iowa Freedom Summit last month she compared her record to Clinton's, something she repeated again in her speech Thursday.

"Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike her, I've actually accomplished something," she said last month, but made a similar remark at CPAC. "You see Mrs. Clinton, flying is not an accomplishment. It is an activity."

All of the possible GOP candidates jab Clinton in their speeches, interviews, and even on social media on a regular basis, but Fiorina is the only one of that group of likely candidates who, like Clinton, is also a woman.

At the end of Fiorina’s speech, she did a question and answer session and got in one more jab at Clinton when asked about the importance of female candidates, saying, “I will say this, if Hillary Clinton had to face me on a debate stage, at the very least she would have a hitch in her swing.”

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Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Loretta Lynch Nomination

Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly four months after Loretta Lynch was first nominated to be the next attorney general, the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General with a vote of 12-8.

Three Republicans -- Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah -- joined all Democrats on the committee in supporting Lynch’s nomination.

Lynch’s nomination will now proceed to a vote by the full Senate, where Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have vowed to use all time possible to debate her nomination.

Lynch’s nomination, which Republicans have tried to use as a tool to fight President Obama’s immigration actions, may benefit from Senate Democrat’s decision to go nuclear last year -- a move that requires only 51 votes to invoke cloture on all of the president’s nominees, except Supreme Court justices.

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Nancy Pelosi Sports Sunglasses in Solidarity with Harry Reid After Eye Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Wearing sunglasses indoors may be the new craze on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi walked into a news conference on DHS funding Thursday morning and threw on some sunglasses in solidarity with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

“I brought my glasses to be with Harry but he switched on me,” Pelosi said to laughs from reporters.

“I tricked her,” Reid answered.

Earlier this week, Reid debuted some dark sunglasses to cover up an injury sustained to his right eye while exercising earlier this year.

But Thursday, Reid went with a different set of specs -- dark rimmed glasses with a shaded lens covering his right eye.


Harry Reid's latest selection in eye wear as his injured eye heals pic.twitter.com/DViHRPgg4y

— Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) February 26, 2015


Reid has undergone two surgeries to help restore vision in his right eye.

“I can see out of my right eye just not very well, and it hasn't healed,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “I have to be a patient.”

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Ben Carson to CPAC Attendees: 'Freedom Is Not Free'

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Leading off the Conservative Politican Action Conference in Washington on Thursday, Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for 2016, called on conservative activists to help invigorate the party's base.

"Go to your grandmother who's an invalid and make sure she has an absentee ballot," Carson urged. "Help her fill it out. The baton is ours."

"Freedom is not free," Carson added. "It must be fought for."

The event will feature numerous potential presidential candidates over three days -- including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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What You Need to Know About Pot Legalization in Washington, DC

Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The citizens of the District of Columbia in November voted to pass Initiative 71, which legalized the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the cultivation of up to three marijuana plants for individuals over the age of 21. That measure was scheduled to take effect at midnight Thursday morning.

However, the initiative did not create funding for the regulation of the substance, which would be required to legalize sales. The measure was put on the ballot through citizen initiative, and in D.C., citizen initiatives cannot mandate spending.

Here's are some key points you need to know:

What Congress Has to Say About It:

Congress attempted to block the implementation of the law by attaching language to a continuing resolution that passed in December that blocks funding of any sort from being appropriated to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser saying that Initiative 71 cannot go into effect under the law.

Congress had a 30-day layover period to review the initiative after it was transmitted to Congress in January. During that time, Congress could have rejected the measure using a joint resolution of disapproval. Congress has not passed such a measure, but Chaffetz said the language in the continuing resolution prevents the law from moving forward without a joint resolution of disapproval.

What Happens Thursday:

Regardless of the legality, the Metropolitan Police Department takes orders from the city. So unless the city changes its mind, marijuana will be legal in D.C. Thursday.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you better understand what is allowed and not allowed.

In D.C., you can...

  • possess up to two ounces of marijuana on your person. Any amount more than two ounces is still illegal and will amount to a misdemeanor with a fine of $1,000, or as much as to six months in jail.
  • give up to one ounce as a gift. Though selling is prohibited, individuals may exchange as much as to once ounce as a gift.
  • grow up to six marijuana plants. However, the law says you may only possess three “mature, flowering plants” at any given time -- with the provision intended to make it more difficult to grow enough marijuana to sell.

In D.C., you cannot...

  • grow marijuana outside of your residence. The law allows for growing, but it must be “within the interior of a house, building or rental unit that constitutes such a person’s principal residence.”
  • consume marijuana in public. You can have it on your person, but you cannot legally consume it publicly in any fashion.
  • sell the substance in any quantity. Purchasing or selling the drug is illegal. However, you may transfer up to one ounce to another individual for free as a gift.
  • drive while under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there’s no “legal limit,” per se. It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of any amount of marijuana.
  • have marijuana in your possession on any federal land. Legalization is only in local D.C. territory. Some examples of places you cannot have the substance in your possession include the National Mall and the Capitol.

In D.C., it’s not a good idea to...

  • have pot in your possession anywhere you might be stopped by U.S. Park Police or Capitol Police. The Capitol Police and Park Police enforce federal law around the Capitol. According to the U.S. Capitol Police’s website, this includes about a 47-square block radius around the Capitol. So even if you are not going anywhere you can actually see the Capitol building, you might want to think twice before putting that weed in your pocket.

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Kerry Critical of Netanyahu's Judgment on Iran Talks

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday delivered a sharp criticism of an important U.S. ally even as he refused to directly comment about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress on March 3.

Kerry, who was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Netanyahu's judgment about ongoing talks to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities "may not be correct here."

Netanyahu is expected to deliver a stinging rebuke of the negotiations with Tehran during his address to lawmakers. House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to speak without first consulting the White House, which administration officials are privately furious about.

GOP lawmakers and some Democrats have sided with Netanyahu, insisting that Iran can't be trusted to stop their alleged effort to build nuclear weapons, which would threaten Israel's survival. They charge that Tehran is dragging out talks deliberately and has no intention of ever giving up its nuclear program.

California Republican Congressman Ed Royce, the committee's chairman, brought up these concerns to Kerry, who agreed that Iran should not keep stonewalling United Nations inspectors about previous work in trying to construct an atomic bomb.

The U.S. and the rest of the P5 1 have set a March 31 deadline to come up with an agreement that would put sharp restrictions of Iran's nuclear program for a decade in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions that have crippled its economy.

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Embattled “Downton Abbey” Congressman Aaron Schock Hires Lawyers, PR Pros

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Am I supposed to applaud you for poking round in my things?”

Those are the wise words spoken by head maid Anna May Bates of television’s Downton Abbey, a statement that could also apply to the latest episode in the real-life dramatic series of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-IL.

Schock, who has come under fire for lavish spending on office décor, as well as pricey travel habits, has hired a team of lawyers from the Washington, D.C., firm Jones Day. He has also hired a public relations firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, headed by communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh -- both veteran congressional aides -- to help the congressman respond to his recent troubles.

A spokesperson for Schock confirmed the news on Wednesday, which was first reported by Politico, to ABC News.

“After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to determine whether they can be improved,” the spokesperson said. “To lead the review, he hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of Jones Day.

“Congressman Schock takes his compliance obligations seriously which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures. Congressman Schock has a well-deserved outstanding reputation for constituent service and remains steadfastly focused on serving the people in Illinois' 18th congressional district during this review.”

Schock’s troubles first began when The Washington Post ran an article revealing the congressman’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building was modeled after the red room in the famed period television series Downton Abbey.

Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct.

The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.

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Chertoff and Ridge Blast Congress on DHS Funding Impasse

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest rhetorical salvo over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday with two of his Republican predecessors, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, blasting Congress for threatening funding for the department.

While former secretary Ridge expressed his strong opposition to President Obama’s executive order on immigration, saying the president “has gravely overstepped his constitutional authority,” he was equally blunt in his assessment of Congress. 

“I don't think we right that wrong on the backs of the patriots that go to work every day and provide safety and security every day at the Department of Homeland Security.  They [Republicans in Congress] may not like what has transpired, but the solution that they seek, in my judgment, is unfortunate, from a policy point of view it's wrong, it's folly,” Ridge said.

Ridge said DHS workers are improperly being caught up in the policy debate over immigration.  “You don’t elevate the debate and you don’t send a message by refusing to compensate the men and women who go to work every single day in a uniform of public service, when their mission is frankly to keep us safe and secure.”  

Former DHS Secretary Chertoff was similarly blunt, accusing the Congress of holding the DHS hostage in an act of political gamesmanship.

“What I don’t think makes sense is to hold the entire set of operations at the Department of Homeland Security in abeyance, as a hostage as the legislative branch starts to play a game of chicken with the president,” Chertoff said.

Despite the tough talk, current secretary Jeh Johnson expressed optimism that an agreement could be worked out before the Friday deadline passes and forces furloughs and suspended operations and pay stoppages for the department’s employees.  

“I remain optimistic that Congress is going to work this out, but we have to plan, we have to prepare,” Johnson said.  “We’re talking about working men and women here,” Johnson said about the prospect of his department’s employees working without pay.  “They are entitled to know what the status of negotiations are in Congress are because their paychecks hang in the balance,” Johnson added.

Secretary Johnson told reporters about FEMA director Craig Fugate’s emotional reaction to the prospect of a DHS shutdown. “I feel as though my people are being treated as pawns, as though they don’t matter,” he said.   

DHS has already begun the process of informing people who would be furloughed if the impasse is not resolved.

All this occurs with the backdrop of a more challenged security environment in the homeland, due in large part to the instability in Syria and Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

“The breadth and the depth of the threat streams and threats directed to the United States of America today, in 2015, in my judgment, are greater and more complex than as of September 12, 2001.  That’s a fact of life,” Ridge said.

Ridge said for him and the other secretaries who have led the department, it has become personal.  “I want somebody up on the Hill, as much as I disagree with the president, to look into the eyes of that man on horseback or on an ATV on the southern border, or look in the eyes of that Coastie who is just being dropped in 30-foot waves to rescue some crab fisherman outside of Alaska.  I want you to look in their eyes and say, ‘Well we appreciate what you do, but we don’t appreciate it enough to fund you.  So it becomes very personal for…the four secretaries.”

While former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano was not in attendance at the briefing, she said in a statement that she stands with her colleagues in support of the passage of a clean DHS funding bill.

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“American Idol” for Political Nerds Is Coming to DC

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- OK, political junkies, it’s time to switch on C-SPAN: There’s a three-day-long reality show just getting started outside Washington, D.C.

CPAC, an annual conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union, will draw almost all of the Republican Party’s likely presidential contenders, who are given 20 minutes each to pitch their vision for America.

At the end, the conference attendees, conservatives from all over the U.S., will crown the winner of the CPAC straw poll.

Basically, it’s American Idol for political nerds.

Sure, the contestants are a little older, the conference center venue a little blander, and the dulcet tones of Adam Lambert noticeably absent. But with the White House in play, the stakes are a whole lot higher.

The Contestants

Like Idol, CPAC is essentially a big casting call, a chance for the Republican base to preview candidates’ stump speeches before the 2016 cycle officially begins.

This year’s headliners include almost all of the 2016 contenders, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. (Real estate mogul Donald Trump, who always seems to be eyeing the White House, will also speak, as will Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.)

The highest-profile CPAC speakers will meet a fan base almost as vociferous as Carrie Underwood’s following -- and the CPAC fans often dress in costume. From Wednesday through Saturday, the Gaylord Convention Center will play host to a cadre of Uncle Sams, George Washingtons and Ronald Reagans -- plus a hoard of college kids wearing elephant ties and kissing cardboard cutouts of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Of course, not every presidential wannabe makes it to CPAC. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, thought to be mulling a 2016 bid, is skipping the conference, heading instead to Tennessee and South Carolina.

Other party bigwigs -- most notably House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- are also opting out. Both offices cite scheduling conflicts.

The Judges

Remember watching Idol contestants squirm under Simon Cowell’s skeptical eye?

That’s basically the feeling you’ll get when you see Fox News’ Sean Hannity question former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about common core curriculum standards onstage at CPAC.

Bush, whose recent speeches in Chicago and Detroit fell decidedly flat, has decided to forgo the formal speech entirely, opting instead for a 20-minute Q&A. He’s excelled at the format in the past -- but pundits are waiting to see how he’ll do when confronted with controversial issues, like his support for common core and immigration, at CPAC.

And The Winner Is ...

You can’t text in your vote (the ACU isn’t quite as hip as Ryan Seacrest) but just as at Idol, audience participation is encouraged at CPAC.

The grand finale is the straw poll reveal Saturday evening -- the results of an informal ballot asking attendees who they’d vote for to be president.

Last year, Sen. Rand Paul won handily, garnering 31 percent of the vote, a full 20 points ahead of the first runner-up, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The straw poll doesn’t necessarily mean much -- only a few CPAC straw poll winners have gone on to become the party’s nominee -- but it can help demonstrate momentum and attract bundlers, crucial in the early stages of campaign fundraising.

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Politicians Become Cats With Artist's Touch

Anthony Pego(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma artist’s not "kitten" around when he says he wants to draw a cat version of all 100 U.S. senators.

Anthony Pego, an Oklahoma City artist, has started posting on his website drawings of politicians as cats, giving whiskers and fur to pols ranging from the Senate majority leader to an Oklahoma representative.

The drawings began as a silly gift for Pego’s friends on his birthday and served as a way for him to hone his skills using a digital stylus, the artist told ABC News. Pego, 36, typically creates metal jewelry, but the colder winter temperatures make that process more difficult this time of year, he said.

So he drew Oklahoma's U.S. senators, the governor and a district representative -- clad in suits, posing before flags, and with whiskers sprouting from their cheeks.

Pego, an owner of two dogs but no cats, decided on felines because of the animal’s pervasiveness online -- and said they were more of a challenge to fuse with people.

“It’s very easy to get a human emotion out of a dog. We anthropomorphize them more easily,” he said. “With cats it’s a little harder, you don’t really know what’s going on in their mind.”

He scans the politicians’ photos online -- official portraits and unflattering shots alike -- and takes time to learn their positions, too.

After purr-fecting his own state’s leaders, he noticed a photo of a New York state senator wielding machetes he wanted to ban -- a photo Pego found absurd -- and decided to “cat-ify” that politician, along with others from New York.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., took on the name "Purrsten Giilibrand."

And New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, became "Andrew Cuomew."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., got a cat version of himself and even tweeted out a link to Pego’s site, Boo Science.

Not sure what to make of this: http://t.co/5qbF52dPF2 pic.twitter.com/LgY1AgWg7y

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 24, 2015

Pego hopes to draw all 100 U.S. senators before the year is out.

“I wont stop until I mange to get all of them,” he said, “and hopefully I manage to get them all before some of them get booted out by voters.”

He’s now working on a cat version of Woody Guthrie, for the release of a pineapple-infused version of a beer dedicated to the late singer-songwriter.

But he’s been blown away by the response to his political “catifications” -- and says he had to check to make sure Schumer’s tweet didn’t come from a fake account.

“It’s really me just teaching myself who’s running my country,” he said. “It’s just for fun.”

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Senate Dems Agree to Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill

DHS(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday that Senate Democrats will agree to vote on a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill -- despite House Speaker John Boehner not giving assurances he will hold a vote on the measure in the House of Representatives.

“We're going to do everything we can to make sure it passes by an overwhelming vote,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Wednesday. “I think virtually every Democrat will vote for that.”

Reid said that if the House of Representatives does not vote on the clean measure and instead sends a funding bill with immigration provisions attached, Senate Democrats will not agree to go to conference on the bill, which is one option being floated on the House side.

“This isn't the time for games. If the House of Representatives led by Speaker Boehner is interested in doing a funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security, it has to be one that has no tricks, no riders,” Reid said. “If you send something back, that is vexatious with all these riders and anti-immigrant stuff, he won't be able to go to conference and he has to understand that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could begin the process to set up votes on a clean measure in the Senate as soon as Wednesday afternoon. But the timing of any vote will depend on whether all senators give their consent to give back debate time.

Reid said Senate Democrats are ready to give their consent, but it is unknown at this time whether any Republican senators will force the Senate to use all debate time on the measure.

McConnell, R-Ky., has introduced a separate measure that would address the president’s executive actions on immigration without tying it to DHS funding, but Reid said Democrats would not agree to move onto the measure until the DHS funding bill has cleared the House.

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Texas Governor: ‘Rule of Law’ Trumps ‘Compassion’ for Undocumented Immigrants

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott told ABC News the “rule of law” trumps “compassion” for undocumented immigrants.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News inside the ornate governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas, Abbott, whose federal lawsuit stopped President Obama’s executive action protecting millions from deportation, admitted he has no solution for what to do with the 11 million undocumented people living and working in the United States today. He said that’s not his responsibility, its Obama’s.

“As the governor of Texas, I don’t have the luxury of making that decision. That is the job of the United States Congress and the president,” Abbott said. “And [that is] the reason why we have this lawsuit.”

Undocumented immigrants, many of whom are already paying taxes and have no criminal history, were granted legal status by Obama’s executive action taken last November.

A federal judge earlier this month blocked Obama’s plans to allow more undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The judge was ruling on a lawsuit filed by Abbott when he was the Texas attorney general.

That is being appealed by the Obama administration. The administration filed an emergency stay this week to allow applicants to his immigration programs to register while the lawsuit moves through the court system.

Abbott claims Obama's executive action overstepped his authority.

“What the president did here was to trample the rule of law,” Abbott told ABC News. “The president is being a dictator by issuing laws in contradiction of his power under the United States Constitution.”

A study this week by a pro-immigration reform group put the cost of deporting 11 million undocumented currently living in the United States at $50 billion.

Abbott told ABC News more should be spent on border security, even though the Department of Homeland Security says fewer immigrants are crossing America’s southern frontier than they have since the 1970s.

Undocumented families interviewed by ABC News said they want the governor to know the issue is not about a “political battle” with the president, it’s about their lives.

"I've got compassion for everyone," Abbott told ABC News in response. "But in the Constitution, it requires the president to follow the law. There's no article or Bill of Rights in the Constitution that says compassion allows the president to circumvent the rules of the Constitution. And that's exactly what the president has done."

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DHS Might Shut Down on Friday: Should You Be Worried?

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an ideal world, the Department of Homeland Security submits a budget plan for the coming year, lawmakers who control federal money approve it and then the DHS gets funded for that full year.

But since September, Republicans and Democrats haven’t been able to agree on a full year of funding -- instead, twice since then, they’ve agreed to fund the DHS for a couple of months, each time hoping to reach a deal on a full year of funding. Time runs out again Friday night, but no deal is in sight.

Republicans irked by President Obama’s plan to give legal status to five million illegal immigrants say this time they’ll let the DHS “shut down” unless the Obama administration backs down from its immigration plan. Democrats insist DHS funding shouldn’t be tied to a presidential action taken without Congressional approval.

But if the DHS does “shut down,” should you be worried? It depends who you are, and how long the shutdown lasts.

If you’re one of the 40,000 DHS employees who will be furloughed, you won’t get paid for your time off -- even if you're struggling to pay your mortgage or put food on the table. And if you’re one of the tens of thousands of front-line personnel who still has to show up at work each day, you won’t get paid either -- even those of you putting your lives on the line. It’s unclear whether any future deal in Congress will reimburse you for the paychecks you’ll miss.

If you’re one of the millions of others in America whom the DHS is supposed to protect, there won’t be much of an impact from a shutdown lasting only a matter of days.

If a shutdown lasts weeks or months, however, here’s how that DHS mission will be affected, according to DHS officials:


  • If a major snowstorm or earthquake or even terrorist attack hits a city or state, the DHS won’t be able to send the state federal funds for recovery.
  • State and local authorities rely on federal grants to afford many of their first responders, but new grant requests won’t be processed -- potentially forcing cities and towns across the country to cut back on police, fire and ambulance services.
  • Each month, FEMA trains thousands of state and local emergency personnel how to handle “very specialized” cases such as those involving Ebola, anthrax or sarin gas, but that training will stop.


  • 500 recruits currently in training in Georgia will be sent home, wasting significant amounts of taxpayer money already invested in them and possibly losing them as recruits.
  • CBP won’t be able to replace or upgrade aging surveillance systems along the Southwest border.
  • Certain criminal cases against those trying to cross the border illegally or smuggle prohibited items into the United States will slow or stop, especially after lawyers at CBP are sent home.


  • The Secret Service won’t be able to make certain security upgrades at the White House in the wake of several recent breaches there.
  • The 2016 presidential candidates could be put at risk because the Secret Service won’t be able to pay “for the things we need” to protect them.


  • ICE will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars intended to address “unaccompanied minors” and families still crossing the Southwest border illegally.


  • “Nothing to report here,” though training and other “non-essential administrative functions would cease.”

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