On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a new poll shows the majority of Americans want to keep abortion legal.
*HOUSE GOP UNVEILS BILL TO SUSPEND THE DEBT CEILING UNTIL MAY 19: House Republicans on Monday unveiled legislation that will suspend the debt ceiling until May 19, setting the stage for a floor vote as soon as Wednesday. While past measures to address the debt limit have simply increased the borrowing cap, the House bill would actually suspend the debt limit until May 19. On that date, the debt limit would be automatically increased from $16.4 trillion to accommodate whatever additional borrowing the Treasury had done during that time frame. The arrangement provides some political cover for Republican lawmakers, since they will not be required to vote for a specific dollar amount that could be used against them in campaign ads. The House Rules Committee posted the text of the legislation as Washington prepared for President Obama's second inauguration. In addition to preventing default, the bill would withhold members' pay if Congress fails to pass a budget by April 15. The Rules Committee will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the legislation Tuesday, setting up a vote as soon as Wednesday on the House floor. http://bit.ly/VVDG9R
CHUCK SCHUMER: SENATE WILL PASS A BUDGET The Senate's third-ranking Democrat said Sunday that the upper chamber will pass a budget this year, something House Republican leaders have insisted as they've agreed to hold a vote on a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing limit. In our budget that we will pass, we will have tax reform, which many of my Republican colleagues like. But it's going to include revenues," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on NBC News's "Meet The Press." House Republicans last week proposed a vote on raising the debt ceiling for three months to give both chambers time to pass a budget for the next fiscal year. Under the proposal, if either chamber fails to adopt a budget by April 15, then that chamber's members would then have their paychecks withheld. http://wapo.st/13Wz1rd
OBAMA STANDS HIS GROUND ON FISCAL DEBATES: President Barack Obama devoted one word - "deficit" - to the issue that brought Washington to the brink of fiscal crises time and again during his first term. But it was the paragraph that followed in his inaugural address that foreshadowed what's to come - more hard bargaining and more last-minute deals driven by Obama's own conviction that he now wields an upper hand. "We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future," he said. "The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great." This was the language of his re-election campaign. And while his speech contained no reference to either political party, his pointed rejection of "a nation of takers" was an implicit reminder of Mitt Romney's infelicitous declaration that Obama's support came from the 47 percent of American voters "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." http://apne.ws/Vhlzge
WHAT'S ON OBAMA'S AGENDA - AND WHAT'S NOT: Environmentalists had a long discussion of climate change to cheer about. President Barack Obama made a historic embrace of the rights of "our gay brothers and sisters" as he invoked the legacy of Stonewall. The president talked more about poverty than he has for the last four years. But gun control, immigration reform and deficit reduction each got only a passing mention. And as for those big ideas he attached himself to in principle - Obama didn't say anything about how he'd get them done. The White House says the details will all be there by Feb. 12, when Obama addresses a joint session of Congress. "Today was about laying a broader vision," a White House official said. "In three weeks, we'll do the policy specifics that back it up." The president did make clear that he'll continue his aggressive approach Republicans in Congress during the fights ahead - including on what's expected to be the biggest and longest, over the budget. http://politi.co/10mgfVj
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS EXPECTED TO INTRODUCE GUN VIOLENCE REDUCTION LEGISLATION AS EARLY AS THIS WEEK: Members of Congress expected to introduce legislation to reduce gun violence as early as this week, after President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden last week unveiled a package of proposals, incl universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and 23 executive actions incl ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence
FIRST INAUGURAL USE OF THE WORD 'GAY': President Barack Obama on Monday became the first president to use the word "gay" in an inaugural address in reference to sexual orientation, making two references to gay rights as he began his second term. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said during his speech. OLITICO searched all prior inaugural addresses online and found no previous uses of the word "gay" in regard to sexual orientation. Obama also invoked the Stonewall Riots, a historic event in the gay rights movement, coupling it to references to signature legendary moments in the civil rights and women's suffrage movements. The riots were sparked by a 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," Obama said. Immediate after the speech, commentators said Obama's references to the gay rights movement were historic for a president. http://politi.co/Ufbair
PRESIDENT DEFENDS MEDICARE, MEDICAID IN INAUGURAL ADDRESS: President Obama used his inaugural address Monday to defend popular but expensive entitlement programs, including Medicare. Obama said it is imperative to reduce healthcare costs, but he made clear that he's not on board with Republican plans to dramatically cut Medicare and Medicaid. Entitlement programs "do not make us a nation of takers," Obama said, rejecting part of the principle underlying the push to cut entitlements, particularly Medicaid. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously criticized during the 2012 election the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes, characterizing them as people dependent on government - but the bulk of federal benefits go toward Medicare and Social Security. Medicare and Social Security "do not sap our nation, they make us stronger," Obama said Monday. It was one of the few specific policy mentions in a speech that otherwise hewed toward high-level themes. http://bit.ly/XRDozj
PRESIDENT OBAMA DODGES ENTITLEMENTS: President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make "hard decisions" to preserve entitlement programs. But on Monday, the "hard choices" he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He's not willing to give up much. "The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," Obama told the cheering crowd as he launched his second term. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great." His inaugural address promised an ambitious progressive agenda - and laid bare Obama's deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform. He's done just enough to earn credit for trying harder than any other Democratic president to tackle the issue, but he has yet to throw the full weight of his office or his formidable campaign operation behind it. His best chance will come early in his second term as lawmakers confront a series of budget battles, but Obama appears more ready to spend his political capital on guns, immigration and climate change. http://politi.co/WE45q4
OBAMA EMBARKS ON FIRST WORKING DAY OF 2ND TERM: plenty of fresh challenges lie ahead as the president and his team begin the first working day of the second term Tuesday. Obama will quickly confront three fiscal deadlines that demand cooperation with the Congress, including raising the debt ceiling, which the House scheduled for a vote Wednesday. The deaths of three Americans in a siege on a natural gas plant in Algeria have renewed fears about the rise of terrorism in North Africa. And Obama must soon finalize the next phase of the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In his inaugural address Monday, the president also previewed an ambitious progressive agenda, one that will require cooperation from a divided Congress in an era of looming budget cuts. http://apne.ws/11NHf5f
OBAMA VOWS AGGRESSIVE AGENDA: President Barack Obama began his second term Monday by setting an agenda for the next four years built on bedrock Democratic social policies, in a provocative speech coming at a time of deep partisanship in the capital and lingering economic uncertainty across the country. W ith specifics not usually offered in inaugural addresses, Mr. Obama promised to preserve government health-care programs, expand rights for women and gay couples, and press for gun controls, overhauls of the tax code and immigration laws, as well as climate-change measures. His priorities sent a message to Washington's leaders that he is looking beyond the fiscal battles set to dominate the coming weeks, while signaling to the nation that he sees a large part of his legacy to be advocacy for underprivileged Americans. http://on.wsj.com/SuSStL
ABE LINCOLN AND MARTIN LUTHER KING CAST THEIR LONG SHADOWS ON INAUGURAL EVENTS: As President Obama took the oath of office on Monday, he did so with his hand rested on copies of the Bibles owned by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. - a symbolic gesture to two men whose influence was inescapable on Inauguration Day. For Obama, the nation's first African-American president, the occasion of his second inauguration provided a vivid reminder of the legacy of both towering figures. Obama has frequently cited Lincoln as his favorite president, and his second inaugural is a sacred occasion in American history. Lincoln's speech in 1865 is heralded as among his best, perfectly striking notes of unity and pragmatism in the frantic days before the conclusion of the Civil War. But more than the legacy that speech has cast over all second inaugurals to follow, Obama's speech was in some ways the culmination of a political effort launched in Lincoln's shadow. Obama first announced his intention to seek the presidency in 2007 in Springfield, Ill. The then-senator said he selected the location because it was "where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still." http://bit.ly/13ZyDIp
REPUBLICANS: OBAMA SHOULD HAVE REACHED OUT MORE IN ADDRESS: "I would have liked to have seen some outreach," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential race. "This is the eighth [inauguration] that I've been to and always there's been a portion of the speech where [the president says], 'I reach out my hand because we need to work together.' That wasn't in this speech." Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of leadership, said the speech was "mostly 30,000-foot stuff" that did not extend any olive branches to the GOP. "It did seem that he wasn't doing the kind of outreach that he needs to do if he wants to get things accomplished in a second term," Thune said. "We'll see how it's received." Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she believed Obama intended to reach out to Republicans in his second term, but that the speech strayed too far toward partisan rhetoric. http://bit.ly/UgYd7V
AFTER THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT, WHO WILL BE SECOND? President Obama's historic election in 2008 and his reelection last year proved decisively that race is no longer an insurmountable hurdle to high political office in the United States. But the current pool of possible candidates suggests that the next black president will not be taking the oath of office anytime soon. "In the shadow of Barack Obama, there's not been a lot of growth," Cornell Belcher, a pollster who was involved in the president's 2008 campaign, said. "It is really hard for minorities to get elected at the statewide level, and before you start talking about president, frankly, you have to get elected to statewide office. The notion of a post-Obama reformation of black politics has not been borne out at the ballot box, as black politicians continue to struggle to win the statewide offices that are the traditional paths to the presidency. http://wapo.st/VjJAzm
WILL JOE BIDEN RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2016?: Vice President Biden unintentionally promoted himself Saturday night, telling a group of Iowans visiting Washington that he was "proud to be president of the United States." The crowd, attending a party for President Obama's second inauguration, laughed and applauded as Biden tried to correct himself and then began chuckling. Well, there goes that," he said. Just another blooper for the gaffe-prone veep? Or a more revealing Freudian slip? Biden has tried for the top job twice but failed to win his party's nomination in 1988 and 2008. If he runs and wins in 2016, he will be 74 on Inauguration Day, making him the oldest man to be inaugurated president. Even so, he hasn't ruled it out. "There's a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn't run," he told CNN. "I haven't made that decision. And I don't have to make that decision for a while." People attending inaugural festivities Monday differed on whether Biden is presidential material. "I just think that would kind of revert us back to the norm, which was old white guys" running the country, said Robert Thead, 30, a freelance author in Washington, D.C., writing about the millennial generation. "How old is he?" Pete Epanchin, 40, a fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency, said Biden is "absolutely" presidential. He was pleased to see Biden take a leading role in the administration's efforts to halt gun violence and said it might be easier for Biden to sell that policy than Obama.
R.I. HOUSE COMMITTEE SCHEDULES TUESDAY VOTE ON GAY MARRIAGE/PROVIDENCE, RI The first General Assembly vote on gay marriage this year is scheduled for Tuesday. The announcement comes the day after the House Judiciary Committee held a six hour hearing on a bill -- H-5015 -- sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston. The proposal would allow same-sex marriage and recognize unions previously made under the state's existing civil unions law as marriages. The hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Room 205 of the State House. (Providence Journal)
VIGIL TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF JOE PATERNO'S DEATH A candlelight vigil to mark first anniversary of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's death is being organized by a group hoping to build a memorial brick walkway in downtown State College. The vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Jan. 22 in front of the Inspiration Mural on Hiester Street. The mural was painted by artist Michael Pilato, who is involved with Inspiration Way and the vigil. The organization, Inspiration Way, calls itself a "tribute group." Organizers said they are hoping to light 409 candles -- one for each of Paterno's victories before 111 of the record wins were stripped as part of NCAA sanctions this past July. Along with the vacated wins, Penn State suffered a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships. Gov. Tom Corbett on Jan. 3 filed a federal lawsuit that calls for the sanctions to be thrown out. On its Facebook page, the group is encouraging supporters to leave memories of how Paterno affected their lives that will be mentioned when each candle is lit. The event also brings awareness to the memorial walkway. (Centre Daily Times, 1/16
TEEN GUNMAN KILLS 5 IN NEW MEXICO: A 15-year-old boy fatally shot two adults and three children at a home near Albuquerque, authorities said Sunday. The teenager was arrested on murder and other charges in connection with the shootings Saturday night at the home in a rural area 10 miles southwest of downtown Albuquerque, Bernalillo County sheriff's spokesman Aaron Williamson said. The victims' identities haven't been released, and the boy's motive and connection to the five victims weren't immediately known. Williamson said investigators were trying to determine if the victims were related. "We are trying to identify the victims," Williamson said. Each victim suffered more than one gunshot wound, he said. Investigators also were trying to determine who owned several guns that were found at the home, one of which was a semi-automatic military-style rifle. (POSSIBLE PRESSER TUESDAY)
FILES SHOW HOW LA CHURCH LEADERS SHIELDED PRIESTS: Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark, according to church personnel files. The confidential records filed in a lawsuit against the archdiocese disclose how the church handled abuse allegations for decades and also reveal dissent from a top Mahony aide who criticized his superiors for covering up allegations of abuse rather than protecting children. Notes inked by Mahony demonstrate he was disturbed about abuse and sent problem priests for treatment, but there also were lengthy delays or oversights in some cases. Mahony received psychological reports on some priests that mentioned the possibility of many other victims, for example, but there is no indication that he or other church leaders investigated further.
ISRAEL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION: parliamentary election for the 120-seat Knesset. Opinion polls last week put Netanyahu's rightwing Likud Party far ahead of its rivals, with support for the opposition Kadima party having evaporated since the resignation of Ehud Olmert to fight corruption charges in 2008 and following the most recent Israel/Gaza flare-up in November. Despite this, the poll was brought forward from Oct 2013 due to fears that the economy could weaken further into this year and after Netanyahu's coalition could not agree on an austerity budget. Netanyahu might use the predicted poll boost to seek a mandate for tougher action against the Iranian nuclear program.
VOTING BEGINS IN ISRAEL GENERAL ELECTIONS: Voting began in Israel's general elections today, which are expected to return Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to a third term with a smaller majority in a coalition government of rightwing and religious parties. Security has been tightened across the country for today's polls, which began at 7am (00:00et), and more than 20,000 police officers have been deployed to secure the vote. Opinion polls predict that Netanyahu's Likud party, which has forged an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, will take the most seats in the parliamentary election. But no Israeli party has ever secured an absolute majority, meaning that Netanyahu, who says that dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions is his top priority, will have to bring various allies on board to control the 120-seat Knesset. http://aje.me/XwdO0d
HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATE BILL TO CHANGE RULE OF SUCESSION-London, England: British govt bill that will confirm the change to the laws of succession so the first child rather than first boy succeeds to the Crown is debated in the House of Commons. It would also allow heirs to the throne to marry a Catholic, a change that has said to have troubled Prince Charles. PM Cameron has already said the fifteen country who have the British monarch as their head of state have agreed to the changed but will be good theater.
PRINCE HARRY: I KILLED TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN: Prince Harry has confirmed he killed Taliban insurgents during his latest tour of Afghanistan, saying: "We fire when we have to - take a life to save a life." The third-in-line to the throne is on his way home after a five-month tour of the war-torn country as an Apache pilot gunner, where he said his unit took enemy fighters "out of the game". The prince's job meant he was in the front seat of the attack helicopter, controlling an array of weapons including a 30mm cannon and hellfire missiles. When asked if he had killed from the cockpit the 28-year-old replied: "Yeah, so lots of people have." However Captain Wales, as he is known in the Army Air Corps, said the sight of an Apache was often enough to make Taliban fighters flee. "They look at us and just go 'Right, that's an unfair fight, we're not going to go near them'. http://bit.ly/13Xkf3k
MALI CONFLICT: FRENCH TROOPS 'SEIZE' TWO TOWNS French and Malian troops have seized the key Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from militant Islamists, the French defense minister has said. Reports from the town of Diabaly say the it bears the scars of conflict, with burnt-out vehicles and chunks of shrapnel strewn on the ground. Islamist fighters fled Diabaly and Douentza last week after a French bombing campaign started on 11 January. A state of emergency has reportedly been extended by another three months. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21121262