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Plan to Train Syrian Rebels Becomes Official as Obama Signs CR


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- After passing first in the House and then in the Senate, President Obama's plan to train and arm Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS was made official Friday with the stroke of his pen.

The president signed the Continuing Resolution that funds the government through Dec. 11 and includes the authorization for Title X.

Obama, sans a suit jacket, sat behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office as he signed the stop gap funding measure. Before signing the bill, he smiled at cameras and said, “Here’s all that stands between you and the weekend.”

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Susan Rice: Training Syrian Rebels 'Will Take Many Months'


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Training Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS “will take many months,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice reminded reporters at the daily White House briefing Friday.

Now that Congress has approved the strategy to arm and train the rebels, Rice cautioned “this is not going to happen overnight.”

“It is not something that one should expect will yield rapid and immediate fruit. This is a serious training program, and we are serious about vetting those that we will be training and equipping. So I can’t give you a precise deadline,” she said.

In addition to vetting the opposition fighters, the program also requires training facilities to be constructed, Rice noted.

As for airstrikes in Syria, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest failed repeatedly to give a direct answer when asked whether the president has authorized the strikes.

In a back-and-forth in the briefing room Friday, Earnest would only confirm what is already known.

“The president made a decision more than a week ago, that he announced to the nation, that he’s ready to broaden our airstrike campaign,” he said.

“We are prepared and the president has been clear that the United States is prepared to act in Syria, and when and how we choose to do that will be an operational decision,” Earnest said.

But does the Pentagon have the go-ahead from the president? Is it just a matter now of when the Pentagon pulls the trigger?

Earnest wouldn’t say.

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Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivor Urges Obama to 'Bring Back Our Girls'


(WASHINGTON) -- Sleeping in her hostel, “Saa” remembers being awoken by the sound of gunfire last April.

“The Boko Haram people came into the school,” the shy, young Nigerian woman quietly recalls.

Soon after, Boko Haram militants ordered her and other female students to gather in a courtyard while everything in the school was burned.

Using a pseudonym and covering her head with a scarf to conceal her identity, Saa emotionally detailed her capture and subsequent getaway Friday for the first time in public in the United States.

After being loaded into a truck and beginning a trip to a destination unknown, Saa, overcome with fear, says she decided to make a run for it.

"I told my friend that I decided to jump down from the truck,” she said. “I'd rather die, [so] that my parents [would] have my coffin buried than to go with them because we don't know where we are going."

The 18-year-old and her friend jumped from the truck and fled into the surrounding forest. After spending the night under a tree, the duo managed to get help and was ultimately reunited with their families.

Today, Saa proudly credits her Christian faith for giving her the courage to evade her captors.

“I'm a Christian, I'm a real Christian,” she emphasizes. “I know God, and I'm following God the way I can.”

While the mystery of the missing girls captured the world’s attention months ago, headlines quickly faded as the search dragged on without much news. Saa now lives in the United States, where she is working to complete her high school education.

Asked what her message would be for President Obama if she had an opportunity to speak to him, Saa urged the president to recommit to finding hundreds of others whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

“We are thinking about them,” she said. “If he can agree to help and bring back our girls, it's good."

Emmanuel Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer who helped arrange Saa’s scholarship to continue her education in the United States, also pleaded with Obama to pump more U.S. resources into the stalled search.

“This is terror on steroids,” Ogebe said. “These people are desperate. They're regressing into another age, but [the United States] could be the hope, the beacon of light, that will help them weather the storm.”

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Joe Biden Ends Gaffe-Heavy Week with Another Gaffe


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Oh, Joe.

Vice President Joe Biden managed to step in it this morning while speaking about domestic violence and sexual assault at the Democratic National Committee’s annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

After giving an impassioned plea to end such abuse, Biden closed his remarks with a few comments about the challenges facing Democrats in the upcoming elections.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat,” he said, lamenting the absence of Republicans he said used to champion issues like voter fraud. “It’s Republicans that were involved, guys like [Charles] Mac Mathias, [Bob] Packwood and so many others.”

Perhaps that’s not the best example to use in a speech aimed at reaching out to women.

Oregon Republican Bob Packwood resigned from the Senate in 1995 amid sexual harassment and abuse allegations.

But the Packwood reference was not the only gaffe of the week for the VP. Earlier this week, Biden had to apologize after referring to moneylenders as “Shylocks,” a Shakespearean term considered to be anti-Semitic.

“People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being -- I mean, these shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” he said Tuesday.

After facing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, Biden admitted, “It was a poor choice of words.”

And Wednesday, he referred to Asia as the “Orient,” a widely outdated term that is often considered to be offensive.

“You know, on the way back from Mumbai to go meet with President Xi in China, I stopped in Singapore to meet with a guy named Lee Kuan Yew, who most foreign policy experts around the world say is the wisest man in the Orient,” Biden said in Iowa this week.

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Obama Says 'It’s on Us' to Prevent Sexual Assault


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Friday said a “fundamental shift in our culture” is needed to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence.

“As far as we’ve come, the fact is that from sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society still does not sufficiently value women,” Obama said as he unveiled a new campaign to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault on college and university campuses.

“We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should,” he said. “We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect on our young women.”

The White House is enlisting the help of celebrities and athletes to roll out the “It’s On Us” public awareness campaign, which seeks to educate and engage students, particularly young men, to prevent sexual assaults.

“It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable,” Obama said.

While the president did not reference the National Football League specifically, he noted that violence against women can no longer be ignored.

“The issue of violence against women is now in the news every day. We started to, I think, get a better picture of what domestic violence is all about,” he said. “People are talking about it. Victims are realizing they’re not alone. Brave people have come forward. They’re opening up about their own experiences. And so we think today’s event is all that more relevant, all that more important.”

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Chief Justice Roberts: Justices Scalia, Ginsburg Wouldn’t Be Confirmed Today


Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern Friday over the bitter partisanship gripping Washington, saying two sitting justices who sailed to confirmation would never make it through the Senate today.

In a speech at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Roberts said the executive and legislative branches of government are in “a period of real partisan rancor that impedes their ability to carry out their functions.” He said the deepening gridlock threatens judicial confirmations and is eroding confidence in the third branch of government.

He cited the 2010 confirmation of Elena Kagan, who was elevated to the Supreme Court on a partisan Senate vote of 63-37. He compared that to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who was confirmed unanimously in 1986 and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sailed through the Senate in 1993, on a vote of 96-3.

“Neither of them would have a chance today,” Roberts said. “That’s not good.”

He said that he fears Americans will see the Supreme Court as a “political entity.”

“I worry about people having that perception, because it’s not an accurate one about how we do our work,” Roberts said. “It’s important for us to make that as clear as we can to the public.”

It was a rare public appearance by Roberts, who answered questions from students and the legal community for about an hour. He has long lamented the changing perception of the court, but his pointed remarks about partisanship suggested that his worries are growing as the divide deepens between Congress and the White House.

In his remarks, he also offered a rare window into the workings of the Supreme Court, the most secretive and closed branches of the U.S. government.

When asked whether it was difficult for the justices to find agreement on some high-profile cases, he laughed and declared: “Difficult? Sometimes, it’s impossible!”

One of the most enjoyable parts of his job, he said, was assigning opinions to justices. He said he tries to make sure the workload is evenly divided, saying.

“You want someone to have the fair share of the important cases that people are interested in,” Roberts said, “and a fair share of what we call the dogs.”

He said he knows that many Americans are likely unaware that he is the chief justice of the United States, joking that many people may assume it’s Judge Judy.

“They don’t need to know who we are. They do need to know what we do,” Roberts said. “It’s critically important that people do appreciate that.”

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Obama Welcomes Results of Scotland's Vote to Remain in UK


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Friday welcomed the results of Scotland's referendum, in which the country voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

By a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent, Scots on Thursday voted against an independent Scotland.

In a statement Friday, Obama congratulated Scots for their "full and energetic exercise of democracy."

"Through debate, discussion, and passionate yet peaceful deliberations, they reminded the world of Scotland's enormous contributions to the U.K. and the world, and have spoken in favor of keeping Scotland within the United Kingdom," the president said.

He added that the U.S. has no closer ally than the U.K. and "we look forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as we address the challenges facing the world today."

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By the Numbers: Which Senators Voted for Training Syrian Rebels?


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Thirty-three Republicans voted in favor of President Obama’s plan to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS when the Senate voted Thursday.

Nine Democrats and one independent opposed the plan.

Only one vulnerable Democratic senator voted against the plan -- Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska -- while his Republican opponent, Dan Sullivan, said he would back the measure.

Both Massachusetts senators -- Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- voted “no,” meaning they bucked former Massachusetts senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry’s wishes. Markey filled Kerry’s seat when he became secretary of state.

Only one potential 2016 contender voted in favor of the plan -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Four potential 2016 contenders -- Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Warren -- voted against it.  

Additionally, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., voted “no,” perhaps mindful of her seat’s predecessor Hillary Clinton’s fateful Iraq vote. Some consider Gillibrand to have a prosperous political future beyond the Senate.

The House and Senate are both out until Nov 12. If House lawmakers stick to the schedule, they’ll only be in session 23 days from August to the end of the year.

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Bob Dole Returns to Save Kansas for Jittery GOP


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It has been a rough two-and-a-half weeks for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican facing his toughest fight for re-election since arriving in Washington in 1981.

Roberts, who survived a Republican primary challenge, now finds himself unexpectedly locked in an even more competitive general election fight.

But even as he pushes back against criticism that he has been in Washington too long, Roberts is doubling down on his longevity. He’s set to get a helping hand from a golden name in Kansas politics: Bob Dole.

“The battleground for control of the Senate is now Kansas,” Dole, 91, told ABC News. “I think Roberts is going to win.”

Dole, once a staple of the state and national political scene who served as Senate majority leader and lost to Bill Clinton in a 1996 presidential run, will be campaigning for both Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback going into the midterm elections.

Dole set the record as the longest-serving Republican leader in Congress before he retired in 1996, and is wrapping up a “thank-you” tour that he said will have brought him to every one of Kansas’ 105 counties by the end of October.

Dole, who's special counsel at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Washington, D.C., said he will also be shooting a commercial for Roberts, and will meet him on the campaign trail starting with an event in Dodge City Monday.

Roberts, 78, has recently had to shake off criticism of his time spent in Washington and residency in Alexandria, Virginia.

In his first debate with Independent candidate Greg Orman, Roberts dismissed that he was losing ties with Kansas, saying, “I’m from Dodge City and I’m damn proud of it.”

Businessman Orman, 45, has emerged in the race as a serious threat in a state that has sent only Republicans to the U.S. Senate since 1932.

He has attacked Roberts for moving further to the right, especially in the wake of a tough primary fight Roberts faced in August against a Tea Party opponent.

Dole defended Roberts, saying he thinks Roberts is "flexible" in his political views.

"I think he has been a little more conservative because of his primary," Dole said. "I've worked with Pat a lot, and I think he's demonstrated that he is moderate and largely in line with Kansas voters."

Dole isn't the only former presidential candidate to have added his voice to the Roberts campaign. Mitt Romney recorded a robocall that made its way around the state last week.

But if Republicans seem extra nervous, it’s because losing Roberts’ seat could mean the difference between the GOP taking back control of the Senate, if Orman chooses to caucus with Democrats.

And a Supreme Court decision Thursday didn’t do much to put their worries to rest.

The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, announced his withdrawal from the race Sept. 3, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach came forward one day later saying Taylor hadn’t made the appropriate case for his name to be removed.

The case came to the state’s Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of Taylor.

Without a Democrat on the ballot to potentially split the vote, some Republicans fear Roberts could be facing an uphill battle. Republicans have since resorted to painting Orman as a donkey in sheep’s clothing.

In a statement released after the decision, Roberts’ campaign manager Corry Bliss accused Democrats of trying to unfairly manipulate the race.

"This is not only a travesty to Kansas voters, but it’s a travesty to the judicial system and our electoral process," Bliss said.

And Dole is chiming in, too.

“The guy is a Democrat masquerading as an Independent," Dole told ABC News. "He registered to run as a Democrat in 2007.”

Orman has said he is a moderate and doesn’t know which party he would caucus with, but he has also said he supports neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nor Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But Dole said Kansans shouldn’t buy it.

“Someone said to me that Orman said he wanted to be a politician like Bob Dole,” Dole said. “I’m Bob Dole, and I can tell you that Greg Orman is not Bob Dole.”

Orman’s campaign could not be reached after repeated requests for comment.

In a statement to ABC News, Roberts said he was honored to have the support of “Kansas’ favorite son.”

“His endorsement and trust in me to stand up for Kansas conservative values against a liberal administration means a lot to me,” Roberts said. “But means even more to Kansans who have always placed their trust in Bob."

Dole hasn't exactly had a perfect relationship with Republicans in recent years.

In May of 2013, he openly criticized the Tea Party movement on Fox News Sunday, saying Republicans should hang a “closed for repairs” sign on their doors.

In an interview with ABC News in July, Dole said he disagreed with Roberts and another fellow Kansan Sen. Jerry Moran when both helped vote down an international treaty for people with disabilities.

Dole, who watched the vote from the Senate floor in his wheelchair, said he understood both were under pressure from homeschooling parents who viewed the treaty as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

But with Kansas politics now in the national spotlight, Dole is returning to the limelight for an old friend.

“I’ve worked with Pat a lot and he helped me a lot in the past,” Dole said. “People think it’s a problem because Kansas is seen as a state that everyone counted as safe. I think it’s a plus that Republicans are coming in.”

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Obama Praises Congressional Approval for Training of Syrian Rebels


Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate approved President Obama's plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels on Thursday, prompting President Obama to declare a united American front in the fight against ISIS militants.

“The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world that Americans are united,” Obama said in a televised statement from the State Dining Room. “I want to thank members of Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue -- in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.”

Obama called the program a “key element” of his strategy to combat ISIS, supporting non-American boots on the ground, “so that they can help push back these terrorists.”

The Senate voted 78-22 in favor of the plan, with support from 33 Republicans, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, to approve Obama’s plan. The House approved the measure on Wednesday.

The president also hailed the growing international coalition of “more than 40 countries, including Arab nations” -- singling out France, which announced Thursday that it would join the U.S. in conducting airstrikes in Iraq.  

“France is a strong partner,” the president said. “We’re pleased that American and French service members will work together.”

Obama reiterated the pledge he made Wednesday at CENTCOM: “American forces deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat missions. Their purpose is to advise on the ground,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is preparing to expand American airstrikes into Syria, which administration officials have said could come any day.

Obama acknowledged that U.S. pilots will be at risk on those missions. “We salute our dedicated pilots and crews,” Obama said, “who are carrying out these missions with great courage and skill.”

He asked Americans to, “to keep our forces and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”

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Obama Has 'Strong Confidence' in Embattled DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- Amid reports her position was in jeopardy, President Obama has "strong confidence" in Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday.

"Based on the strong track record of leadership that she's already demonstrated at the DNC, the president has strong confidence in her ability to lead that organization," Earnest said at Thursday's press briefing.

Earnest's comments come one day after Politico reported that the relationship between Schultz and the White House had been fraying. Obama and the embattled chair, "rarely have even talked since 2011," according to the article, which states the administration even selected her replacement in 2012, but decided against going ahead with her ouster.

Over the summer, Obama praised Schultz at at least two fundraisers, thanking her for "the great job she's doing" at the DNC LGBT Gala in New York in June and calling Schultz, "tireless on behalf of the Democratic Party," "a great congresswoman," and "an outstanding chair of the DNC," at a DNC event in July.

At Thursday's briefing, Earnest noted the "difficult work" that the DNC has and that they do so "outside of the limelight." Still, Earnest said that Schultz' work had produced, "important results for the Democratic Party."

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Senate Approves Bill on Training Syrian Rebels


Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) --  The Senate passed a stop gap funding measure on Thursday night, which includes authorization for President Obama's plan to train and arm Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS.

The Senate voted 78-22 on the continuing resolution, which will fund the government and authorizes Title X until December 11.

Many Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the continuing resolution, making this a rare bipartisan showing in the Senate.

“It’s a long overdue support for the brave Syrians who are fighting on the front lines against the terrorist enemy,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said.

“There is no guarantee of success. ... There is none but there is a guarantee of failure if we do not even try and try we must,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said of arming and training Syrian fighters against ISIS. “Despite my concerns about the underlying bill…I will support this resolution because I think it’s in the best interest of our national security.”

But several of the president’s biggest allies, including some with tough re-election fights this November, voted against the measure.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, whose Republican opponent in the Alaska Senate race said he would support the president’s plan to arm the Syrian rebels, voted against the continuing resolution due to their opposition to training and arming the Syrian rebels.

“I disagree with my president,” Begich said. “The rebels of today may not be the rebels of tomorrow.”

Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate did not hold a stand-alone vote on the bill, many argued due to concerns of how it would play in the midterm elections this November.

The House had approved authorization to train and arm the Syrian rebels with a vote of 273 to 156 on Wednesday.

The authorization for training and arming the Syrian rebels will run out on December 11th, at which point Congress will have to decide whether it will reauthorize the plan. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., indicated that the Senate will consider a new authorization for the use of military force in November when Congress returns for the lame duck session.

“We are going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force,” Durbin said. “It’s long overdue. We are living on borrowed time and we’re traveling on vapors. AUMFs passed in 2001 and 2002 are hard to wrap around today’s challenge.”

The continuing resolution now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature and gives the president the green light to move forward with his plan to train and arm the Syrian rebels.

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Kerry Talks Syrian Rebels, ISIS at House Foreign Affairs Hearing


Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry provided optimistic figures for the size of the Syrian rebel forces at a House hearing Thursday.

"Indeed, the Syrian opposition is in the tens of thousands," Kerry said at a House Foreign Affairs hearing. While he opted against providing a specific figure, he noted that there are, "at least seven groups with somewhere between a couple of thousand and 4,000 fighters each."

That figure, Kerry noted, does not include all of the moderate forces.

The secretary of state also questioned whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is serious about combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"There is evidence that Assad has played footsie with [ISIS] and he has used them as a tool of weakening the opposition." Kerry speculated that Assad avoided taking on ISIS headquarters and other assets for that reason, saying "we have no confidence that Assad is either capable of or willing to take on [ISIS]."

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Hillary Clinton Blames GOP for ‘Egregious’ Policies Toward Women


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During a panel at the Center for American Progress Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message was clear: Equal pay for women, access to affordable, quality childcare, paid sick leave, and the full participation by women in the U.S. labor force will lead to a stronger economy (even a 10 percent increase in the GDP, she argued).

But Clinton also made clear she believes politicians on “the other side of the aisle” are preventing any such policy changes from passing through.

“Congress increasingly, despite the best efforts of my friends and others, is living in an evidence-free zone where what the reality is in the lives of Americans is so far from the minds of too many who don’t place the highest priority on … family-centered economics,” Clinton said.

“We could all tell stories of people we know who had really egregiously been impacted by the failure of our political leadership on the other side of the aisle to recognize the importance of making sure that people who work hard, play by the rules, have a chance to get into the middle class and certainly a chance to stay in the middle class,” she added.

Thursday’s panel in Washington, D.C., which also included Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., focused on women’s economic security and finding solutions to what Gillibrand dubbed as Mad Men era policies that she believes still exists in the United States today.

One featured guest, a student and single mother from Chicago, described how she was laid off from her job at Whole Foods after she took a day off to pick up her son after his school cancelled classes in minus 30 degree weather.

Gillibrand said that lack of paid leave makes her “the angriest,” arguing that even Pakistan and Afghanistan have more paid leave than the United States. She said stories like this were “outrageous.”

The overall message among all the panelists was the notion that “the number one” thing the U.S. could do to make its economy stronger would be to tap into the full potential of women in the workplace. Without this support, Gillibrand argued, “we are providing an artificial drag on the economy.”

Clinton, however, was the most vocal of the women to slam Republicans for their resistance to change.

“I think the other side will hang on for all they’re worth -- Nancy [Pelosi] knows that better than anybody. But I think if voters, if citizens speak up for themselves, for their families and their futures, we will see the kind of changes we’re all advocating for,” Clinton said to audience applause.

While the panelists engaged in an amiable conversation about an issue they are all passionate about, the end took a bit of a competitive turn.

Pelosi teasingly called out Clinton (former senator of New York) for “bragging” that New York had the first women’s rights conventions at Seneca Falls in 1848. Pelosi reminded everyone that her state -- California -- had just celebrated its 10th anniversary with paid leave.

DeLauro then chimed in to defend her state too. “I just don’t want to pre-empt New York or California, but quite frankly Connecticut was the first state to have paid sick leave and to increase its minimum wage,” she quipped.

Clinton simmered down the group: “Competition is good on this one!” she yelled out, with a smile.

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CBP to Investigate Officer Misconduct, Test Body Cameras


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Responding to complaints of excessive force, Customs and Border Protection   Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske has announced the agency will now have the authority to conduct criminal investigations into misconduct within its ranks and will introduce the use of body cameras.

“This is something that has not existed in a pretty good number of years,” Kerlikowske said of Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s decision to give this authority to CBP.

“This is in conjunction with the office of inspector general. We now have the primary authority to conduct these independent internal criminal investigations. That authority translates to a more timely and a more transparent process to investigate misconduct,” Kerlikowske added.

In addition, the agency will also begin testing the use of body cameras next month for agents at their training facility in Artesia, New Mexico.

“We’ve purchased a number of different styles. As you know the border patrol works in some very difficult terrain [and] Artesia, New Mexico, where they train is one of the best places to practice this,” he said. “So we’ll be looking at what are the best cameras, what system works the best and then we’ll move on to other phases of field testing.”

The commissioner also announced the creation of an office of internal affairs, as well as an inter-agency board to review use of force incidents. He called the move a “significant step forward” in line with law enforcement's best practices.

The effort to change the agency comes as Kerlikowske works to increase transparency within the largest law enforcement agency in the United States.

The agency has come under scrutiny in recent years after multiple incidents of use of deadly force, including the cross border shooting of a teen in Senora, Mexico who was accused of throwing rocks.

According to the Arizona Republic, Border Patrol agents have shot to death 46 people in the past decade, 15 of whom were Americans.

Mark Morgan, interim head of Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office, announced last week that 155 cases of the 860 cases since 2009 merit further investigation.

“I’m very interested in making sure that cases that still have questions are answered, but I’m also very interested in making sure that we go forward with how we’re going to investigate cases in the future,” Kerlikowske said. “I think you have to put one into context. When I talk about us having that criminal investigative authority, we’re a large organization, we own this problem, and we own the responsibility to make sure that we’re doing a good job of investigating it.”

Responding to whether or not ISIS is a concern to infiltrate the southwest border, Kerlikowske told ABC News, “I think there’s always a concern on the terrorism front, we certainly are not seeing any organized attempt on the southwest border right now.”

“We review and look at well over now, 400,000 people that have been apprehended,” he said. “We watch very carefully and do extensive interviews with those people who have been apprehended.”

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