Beltway Insider: Government Shutdown Ends; Obama Nominates New Homeland Chief; Al Shabaab Strike; Kennedy Confirmed

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President Barack Obama signed into legislation a bill that reopened the government, sent furloughed employees back to work, and ended the looming threat of default and the first United States government shutdown, in seventeen years.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, rose three percentage points to 43% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President dropped three percentage points to 50%.

The United States Government Shutdown Has Ended

President Obama reopened the government this week, signing legislation, which ended the looming threat of default and the first United States government shutdown.

The shutdown, a seventeen day forced furlough for thousands of federal employees, began when House Republicans and Senate Democrats could not agree on a bill that would increase the debt limit and choose instead to allow the clock to run out in an effort to increase bargaining power.  

Both House of Representatives and Congress are responsible for drafting budgets, convening and then negotiating the finer points, until both agree on its contents.

President Obama has made it clear the strategy of extremist republicans, who delayed the passing of legislation, have “inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.”

The American government’s fiscal health was independently reevaluated, earlier this week, and placed “on watch” stating, the “Economy remains more dynamic and resilient than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is repeated brinksmanship.” 

The Bill, H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014, is not what Democrats or the president had wanted.

The short term fix, puts the U.S. economy within three months of the red zone of brinksmanship, and allows lawmakers to regroup and determine a more effective strategy to leverage particular inclusions or expected concessions.

The effective time for the continuing resolution dates back to October 1, 2013 and extends the Nation's debt limit through February 7, 2014.

President Obama said, in a released statement, “There are no winners here. We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.”

The President continued, “We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold.  We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.  We know that just the threat of default -- of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time -- increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, “What the President made clear was his position is that he would not allow a situation to develop where he paid ransom to any party in Congress that was trying to extract unilateral political concessions in return for Congress fulfilling its fundamental responsibilities.”

The constructed delay, according to the White House, was brought on to in effect hold the president hostage so that the Affordable Health Care Act could be compromised.

President Obama Nominates Jeh Johnson Secretary Homeland Security

President Obama has nominated Jeh (pronounced Jay) Johnson, a former attorney with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security.

Johnson, one of the initial appointees in Obama’s first term, served as the Pentagon’s top lawyer from 2009 to 2012. His Department of Defense General Counsel stint served him well as he gained “a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States,” the President said.  “He helped design and implement many of the policies that have kept our country safe, including our success in dismantling the core of al Qaeda and in the FATA.”

President Obama said, in praising former Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, “Thanks in no small part to Janet’s leadership, and her team, we’ve done more to protect our homeland against those who wish to do us harm.  We’ve strengthened our borders.  We've taken steps to make sure our immigration system better reflects our values. “

Johnson, a longtime New Yorker, has admitted being deeply affected by the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 and like many New Yorkers, he said “I wandered the streets of New York that day and wondered and asked, what can I do?  Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question.  I love this country.  I care about the safety of our people.  I believe in public service.”

Johnson earned his JD from Columbia University and began his career as a trial lawyer at Paul Weiss. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney with the Southern District of New York and was nominated by the New York state Commission on Judicial Nomination to be the Chief Judge. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer reappointed Judith Kaye.

Johnson, with distinguish record of service, should be able to move quickly through the senate confirmation hearings.

Kennedy Confirmed Ambassador

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, has been confirmed by the senate as the newest Ambassador to Japan.

Kennedy, whose support of President Obama was instrumental to his election, has been a key member of his inner advisory circle serving on both election campaigns, his vice-presidential search committee and also hitting the campaign trail during both campaigns.

During the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy stated, during a prime-time speech, President Obama was the “kind of man her father wrote about in ‘Profiles of Courage.”’

President Obama has for some time attempted to secure governmental position to reward Kennedy for her lengthy public service.

Primary to Ms. Kennedy’s duties are maintaining U.S. Japanese relations. Although Ms. Kennedy does not speak Japanese nor, from all accounts, has shown private or public interest in the culture, the Japanese government welcomes her as she has a very close relationship to President Obama.

She was nominated to the Ambassadorship position in July 2013.

Al-Shabaab Launches Second Terror Strike

Al-Shabaab terrorists, for the second time in less than a month, have carried out a large scale mass casualty terror attack killing twenty civilians and military personnel.

The Somalia suicide bomber, the latest location targeted by the Al-Qaeda loyalists, is over a thousand miles north from the Nairobi Westgate Mall siege that lasted four days killing 70 and injuring dozens more.

According to reports, a man walked into a café, a highly populated with civilians and members of the African Peacekeeping force, and blew himself up.

No further information is available on the Somalia café bombing as new reports and video captured from security surveillance camera inside Westgate Mall have been released to news stations.

The Nairobi Westgate Mall footage, graphic in sequences, begin with a normal Saturday afternoon in a highly trafficked shopping center. Suddenly the footage shows pandemonium with men, women and children running as al-Shabaab terrorists enter and casually begin randomly firing high powered assault rifles.

Additional footage captures terrorists rounding up women and children and randomly executing patrons.  Other surveillance shows the terrorists on cell phones, leading authorities to believe they had outside assistance. The terrorists were also captured during the four days siege taking time out to offers prayers one at a time while the others kept guard.

Al-Shababb has claimed responsibility for both attacks. Countries surrounding the two nations have heightened their terror alerts, some for the first time since a 2010 attack that killed 79.

For more information on President Obama: 

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia,,


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