National Politics

Below are stories I've written involving state and national politics, including news from Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court.

Opponents promise Supreme Court decision won't be last word on asylum

Opponents promise Supreme Court decision won’t be last word on asylum WASHINGTON – Critics vowed Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration’s restrictive asylum policy move forward will not be the last word and that they intend to keep challenging the plan. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli welcomed the ruling that said the administration can enforce the policy for now – but even he said he expects his agency will “immediately g

Trump administration expands ICE's authority for quicker deportations

The Trump administration announced Monday its intention to expand authority for the expedited removal of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove that they have been in the U.S. continuously for at least two years. The Department of Homeland Security's expanded authority is set to go into effect on Tuesday. The change is the latest move in the administration's attempts to crack down on illegal immigration by vastly expanding DHS's ability to deport certain immigrants while circumventing due-pr

Beto O'Rourke says he descended from slave owners, supports reparations

Beto O'Rourke says he is descended from slave owners, supports reparations to unite 'two Americas' Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke revealed Sunday that he and his wife are descended from slave owners, according to documents he said he received recently. The former House representative from El Paso, Texas, published a Medium blog post named after two slaves, Rose and Eliza, who he says his ancestors left to others in their will. "Something that we’ve been thinking about and talki

Beverly Hills approves tobacco ban, believed to be first in US

Smokers, beware: Beverly Hills says it is the first US city to ban tobacco sales The air in Beverly Hills, California, might be a little clearer by 2021, thanks to a new law that will ban the sale of tobacco products in the city. Officials in the Los Angeles suburb known for glamour, celebrities and over-the-top wealth say they believe their ban is a first in the nation. "Somebody's got to be first, so let it be us," Mayor John Mirisch said. The city council unanimously approved an ordinance

Federal refugee cuts defended as necessary, decried as ‘disastrous’

WASHINGTON — Three months after the Trump administration cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept to the lowest level since 1980, aid groups in Arizona say they are already feeling the effects. “What used to be a very active program has slowed down dramatically and so before, we used to have maybe a handful of families arriving every week,” said Aaron Rippenkroeger. “Now, maybe it’s one family per week, or some weeks there won’t be any new arrivals at all.” Rippenkroeger, interim execut

Limited gains likely for immigration reform in Congress | Cronkite News

Immigration reform likely to make – limited – gains in next Congress WASHINGTON – Lawmakers and analysts believe there will be some progress on immigration reform after the new Congress is sworn in next month – but caution that it is more likely to come in baby steps than in big leaps. Six years after a Democrat-controlled Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill the stalled in the GOP-controlled House, control of the chambers has reversed. But the odds for comprehensive reform are exp

Flake threatens judicial nominations to force vote on special counsel

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday he will oppose all judicial confirmations until the Senate is allowed to vote on a bill to keep the White House from interfering in an investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Arizona Republican was joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, on the floor of the Senate to demand a vote on the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which won Judiciary Committee approval in April but has been blocked by Senate leaders si

Youth voter turnout up, but still trails other age groups

WASHINGTON — Young Arizonans are casting ballots at more than three times the rate they did in 2014, according to an analysis of early voting, the possible result of such high-profile voter registration efforts as March for Our Lives. Despite the surge, however, young voters still have a long way to go to overtake their elders: Even though they are one of the largest groups of voters, the estimated 84,207 ballots cast so far by 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for just 7.5 percent of more than 1.1

Court gives tribe, environmentalists new chance to fight uranium mine

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court said Thursday that the Havasupai tribe and environmental advocates can challenge an existing uranium mine on land near the Grand Canyon where mining was recently banned. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a partial reversal of its own December decision that said the Canyon Mine, approved in 1988, was grandfathered in and could not now be challenged. “This decision is a victory for public lands everywhere,” said A

Trump plan to boost Western water worries advocates | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday released a plan that it said would improve water reliability and availability in the West by streamlining regulatory processes and conducting expedited reviews on water projects. Details on the plan were scarce Friday, but environmental groups were immediately skeptical, with one advocate saying she is “sure it’s a bad idea,” despite the president’s claims that the plan will not harm the environment. “Whatever he’s proposing to roll back protections is th

Gray wolf faces new challenge: National Academies of Sciences review | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The long-running fight over the Mexican gray wolf moved from southeast Arizona to a paneled Washington conference room this week, where scientists will try to answer the question that could determine the animal’s fate. Is a Mexican gray wolf just another wolf, or is it a distinct – and endangered – breed of its own? That’s the question before a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine committee that is considering the taxonomy of the wolf – in other words, whether

Museum honors McCain with portrait that captures his 'timeless values'

WASHINGTON – Images of Sen. John McCain have been hard to avoid for the past week – McCain the POW, the presidential candidate, the maverick politician. But until Monday, few had seen the photo of McCain now displayed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The never-before-published image is deceptively simple at first – McCain appears small compared to the grandeur of the Senate columns surrounding him. But that might actually be one of its strengths, say officials at the museum, which

Vietnamese restaurant was unlikely healing spot for POWs | Cronkite News

Vietnamese restaurant was unlikely healing spot for McCain, other POWs ARLINGTON, Va. – Richard Nguyen remembers as many as 100 men in his family’s restaurant, reflecting on their Vietnam War experiences over spring rolls and noodles. Over the years, that number dwindled to 40, and then to 25, as the veterans moved out of the area or passed away. Last weekend, the group lost yet another member, when Sen. John McCain died from brain cancer. It may seem unusual for Vietnam veterans to choose a