Graham Threatens Hagel Confirmation Over Benghazi

Rand Paul defended his Tea Party response to the President's State of the Union address from criticism that it shows division in the Republican party, and Lindsay Graham has a new problem with confirming the nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan: he wants more info on Benghazi. 

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Sen. Lindsey Graham found another excuse to block the nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan: Benghazi. On CBS' Face The Nation, the South Carolina Republican said he wants more information from the White House before either will be confirmed. Graham was simple when explaining his stance on the matter: "No confirmation without information," he said. Graham wants to know if the President ever called the Libyan government to ask for help when the U.S. consulate was under attack on September 11. "I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward to the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of Defense, until the White House gives us an accounting," Graham said. "Did the president at any time during this eight-hour attack, pick up the phone and call anybody in Libya to get help for these folks?" Graham asked. "Secretary [Hillary] Clinton said she was screaming on the phone at Libyan officials. There’s no voice in the world like that of the president of the United States. And I do believe if he had picked up the phone and called the Libyan government, these folks could have gotten out of the airport, to the annex and the last two guys may very well be alive. And if he did call the Libyan officials and they sort of blew him off, that would effect whether or not I would give foreign aid in the future to Libya. But if he failed to call on behalf of those people under siege, then I think that’s a massive failure of leadership by our commander in chief."

Sen. Rand Paul doesn't see his Tea Party response to the President's State of the Union address as a sign of division in the Republican party. It's just "extra," Paul said on CNN's State of the Union, like the order of coleslaw you get with fish and chips. "To me, I see it as extra response, I don’t see it as necessarily divisive," Paul said. "I won’t say anything on there that necessarily is like, 'Oh, Marco Rubio’s wrong.' He and I don’t always agree, but the thing is, this isn’t about he and I, this is about the tea party, which is a grassroots movement, a real movement, millions of Americans who are still concerned about some of the deal making that goes on in Washington." Paul said his response would call for the President to cut foreign aid to Middle Eastern countries like Egypt and Pakistan, requiring a balanced budget and cutting federal taxes. Paul also touched on Kentucky politics, like how he doesn't anticipate a Tea Party challenger to step to Senate leader Mitch McConnell. "I think it’s unlikely," Paul said. "I haven’t heard any Republican challenger come forward. I don’t know, but I haven’t heard of any challenger come forward." He also joked about the rumors Ashley Judd was going to run for office in his state. "When I heard Ashley Judd might run for office, I thought it was Parliament since she lives in Scotland half the year," he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is sick and tired of spending cuts and she just won't take them anymore. At least that's how we interpreted her comments about sequester solutions on Fox News Sunday. "The fact is we've had plenty of spending cuts, $1.6 trillion in the Budget Control Act. What we need is growth," Pelosi said. Pelosi made the case that slashing spending indiscriminately would hinder the countries growth potential. "It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem," the former Speaker of the House said. Unfortunately, Pelosi knows spending cuts can't be ruled out of a potential sequester deal, but she stressed more revenue is the answer. "What we do need is more revenue and more cuts," Pelosi said. "What I would like to see that is a big, balanced, bold [budget] proposal. Short of that, we must do something to avoid the sequester." She sees cutting oil subsidies as a good place a start adding revenue. "We have made the cut in terms of agriculture subsidies, there are tens of billions of cuts there. That should be balanced for eliminating subsidies for Big Oil," Pelosi added. "It isn't as much as spending problem as it is a priorities."

Sen. John McCain wants the President to stop yakkin' so much and hold a sit down at the White House with top party leadership to try and end the sequester standoff. That's the plan he revealed today on Fox News Sunday. "What I would like to see is the president call the [party] leaders over to the White House and say, 'Look, we've got to solve this problem,'" McCain said. "All he does is go out and make speeches." Critical spending cuts will click in on March 1 if another deal can't be reached to avoid it, just like the fiscal battle that dominated the holidays. "Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this new 'cliff,' and I'll take responsibility for it for the Republicans. But we've got to avoid it, we've got to stop it," McCain said. "The president is the same one that during the campaign said, 'It's not going to happen.' He just dismissed it."

Sen. Angus King isn't sure the assault weapons ban is going to pass through the House, he said on State of the Union. The Maine independent is "skeptical" of the ban, but he said he's bullish on universal background checks and magazine limits. The problem with the assault weapons ban, King said, is that it's too easy to cheat the restrictions. "I’m skeptical," he said. "I’m leaning against simply because what I want to focus on is the functionality, not the looks... What we really need to do is focus on what will really work, and to me that’s universal background checks and perhaps limits on magazines," King said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said he's the oversight for every U.S. drone strike that the President orders during his appearance on Face the Nation. On the other Sunday shows, many politicians were questioning the amount of oversight that governs the drone program. John McCain suggested the Pentagon should be in charge of drones instead of the CIA during his appearance on Fox News Sunday. Rogers said he's the guy who looks over everything before the strikes are authorized. "I, as chairman, review every single airstrike that we use in the war on terror, both from the civilian and the military side when it comes to airstrikes," Rogers said. "There is plenty of oversight here. There’s not an American list somewhere overseas for targeting, that does not exist. … The oversight rules have been consistent." Rogers also defended the strike against Anwar al-Awlaki, saying when an American "joins forces with the enemy" they lose their constitutional rights to due process and can become targets of the American military. "Our options were limited," Rogers said. "This was a tool that we could use to stop further terrorist attacks against Americans."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor attacked the President for trying to raise taxes "every time you turn around," during his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. "The problem is every time you turn around, the answer is to raise taxes," Cantor said. "He just got his tax hike on the wealthy. And you can't in this town every three months raise taxes. Again, every time, that's his response." Cantor was speaking in reference to the coming sequester negotiations that are going to grip Washington. Unsurprisingly, Cantor wants more spending cuts. "We've got a spending problem, everybody knows it," he said. "The House has put forward an alternative plan, and there's been no response in any serious way from the Senate and the White House. And it's time, we've really got to do it." David Gregory asked how Cantor could even think about letting the sequester happen when his own state, Virginia, would be hit so hard by the automatic cuts to defense spending. "The bottom line is we want tax reform, but we want to plug those loopholes that the president talks about, to bring down tax rates because we believe that's pro-growth and we can get the economy growing again, let people who earn the money keep more of it," Cantor said. "The president's not talking about that. He's talking about raising more taxes to spend."

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