By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- RUBIO REASSURES ON IMMIGRATION: On the verge of the introduction of a bipartisan immigration bill, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida argued Sunday on ”This Week” that a key provision of the bill, the so-called “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, would not give anything away and said it would in fact be cheaper for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. to become citizens if they left the country first and then applied for legal status, ABC’s BEN BELL notes. “All we’ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access, and the alternative we’ve created is going to be longer, more expensive and more difficult to navigate,” Rubio told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL on “This Week.” “It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card. And so, secondly, we’ve not awarding anything. All we’re giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else.” http://abcn.ws/114axYi
- SESSIONS ‘NOT CONVINCED’: But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on “This Week” that he was “not convinced” that the proposed legislation would not result in amnesty for immigrants who came here illegally, and that it would fail to enforce border security. “I know Senator Rubio’s heart is exactly right. And I really respect the work of the “Gang of Eight,” Sessions said. “But they have produced legislation, it appears … that will give amnesty now, legalize everyone that’s here effectively today and then there’s a promise of enforcement in the future.”
- SENATE GUNFIGHT: Meanwhile, the Senate will work this week through a slew of amendments on the gun bill, reports ABC’s SUNLEN MILLER. On Tuesday the anticipated first vote is slated to be on the compromise on background checks reached by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa. But, as The New York Times reports today, “an accounting of likely votes shows how difficult it could be to pass new gun legislation. Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, says he will vote against the measure, and at least three other Democrats are expected to join him in trying to defeat it, including Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman senator from North Dakota. Some left-leaning Democrats may also balk because of the gun-rights provisions that have been added to the bill to entice Republicans. Among the 16 Republicans who joined 50 Democrats and two independents in voting last week to proceed to consideration of gun legislation, roughly seven have already decided not to support the measure. Another half-dozen Republicans who voted to proceed on the bill remain ambivalent.” http://nyti.ms/YVOV3D
- ON THE AGENDA: President Obama honors the BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide at the White House this afternoon. “Continuing his tradition of recognizing sports teams for their work off the field, President Obama will highlight the Crimson Tide’s ongoing efforts to give back to their community,” according to the White House. Later, the president participates in an ambassador credentialing ceremony in the Oval Office.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Remember the sequester? The impact hasn’t been as broad-based severe as top administration officials predicted, and Washington has largely moved on to gun control and immigration reform. But if that’s going to change, it may start soon. A series of rolling dates for furloughs to take effect start today; by the weekend, employees of the FAA and EPA will be impacted. There’s nothing like flight delays to anger the public about senseless budget cuts. Then again, it may be that the public is too weary of the endless budget fights to even care anymore — a bad sign for a White House trying to shake up the politics of taxes and spending.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: It’s been awhile since the Senate has had two such weighty issues on its plate at the same time: Gun control and immigration reform. The issues are separate and distinct, but could their fortunes be linked? This week, as the biggest gun debate in 20 years Unfolds at the same time immigration legislation is introduced, it would be wise to keep your eyes on a handful of on-the-fence Republicans. It might be a bridge too far for some to support both. If so, could the bill to expand background checks for gun sales be in peril? That’s a key question on the opening day of a very significant week in Congress.
ABC’s TOM SHINE: Congress prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from keeping computerized records and now the deal on background checks reached by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., according to the Washington Post, has a provision in it that “guarantees that people including federal officers will go to federal prison for up to 15 years if they attempt to use any gun sales records to set up a gun registry.” Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, told the Post that one provision, was the key reason his group broke with the National Rifle Association and decided to support the background check compromise.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The Tea Party-friendly group, FreedomWorks, is mad and they aren’t going to take it anymore. Get ready, RNC you’re going to have some visitors this morning. Ahead of their Tax Day rally later this afternoon, FreedomWorks is planning a “surprise” pop by the RNC this morning with fifty of their members. The group tells ABC News they will deliver a petition with 12,000 signatures as well as a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. In the letter they say they want to “express our disappointment in the Party’s continuing marginalization of the individuals who are driving the only credible ground game to combat the progressive liberal political machine.” Their main argument is over RNC members failing to reach a compromise over rules changes pushed by the party’s grassroots activists at their meeting last week in Los Angeles. The proposed amendment would return more decision-making power to state Republican parties. Activists at groups like FreedomWorks have been calling it a “power grab” by the RNC and Party machinery. “The opportunity to repeal the ‘Tampa Power Grab’ last week was your first big shot at beginning to mend the relationship between the Party and the principled, small-government grassroots activists that you’ve disenfranchised,” the letter reads. “And you blew it.” Their anger is another sign of the schism between the party establishment and the grassroots. Will today’s drop by change that or just deepen the divide?
SNEAK PEEK — COMING TODAY ON ABCNEWS.COM
IS THIS HILLARY CLINTONS SHADOW CAMPAIGN? In a world of proliferating super PACs run by well-known Washington, DC power players, this one might have been easily dismissed. But since its formation earlier this year and its official launch at the beginning of the month, the Ready for Hillary PAC has already has an impressive track record, ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE and RICK KLEIN report. The group, which calls itself “the nation’s premier organization urging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016 and laying the groundwork of support for her potential candidacy,” has developed more than a whiff of legitimacy. According to organizers, financial contributions — more than 1,000 of them — have been pouring in, its activists have gathered for boisterous pro-Hillary events outside two of the former secretary of state’s recent speaking appearances in Washington, DC and New York and the group boasts a slick website and fast-growing social media presence. Ready for Hillary has also amped up its credibility in a big way over the last two weeks with a series of high-profile endorsements from three prominent Clinton backers: Democratic strategist James Carville, long-time Clinton confidant Harold Ickes and former California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. What began as a quirky venture run by Bringman and a handful of Clinton fanatics, is suddenly looking a lot more serious. Organizers are assembling something of a shadow campaign-in-waiting, complete with an e-mail list 150,000 supporters strong — and growing. And the group’s success in cultivating a grassroots network, raising money and sparking genuine passion for her candidacy could send a powerful signal to potential challengers from both parties and to Clinton, herself, who remains the group’s most important target audience.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
THE SECRET WARS: INSIDE THE CIA’S COVERT MISSION TO COMBAT TERRORISM. It’s common knowledge that the United States embarked on two wars following September 11: Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, can you name a third? That’s the premise of Mark Mazzetti’s new book The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. “There is war going on that really still is not acknowledged by the US, or the details certainly are not acknowledged by the US,” Mark Mazzetti tells ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ, referring to the CIA’s use of drones to kill individuals the US government deems terrorists in places like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Mazzetti refers to the CIA’s drone program as the “wars away from the big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and the most concentrated theatre of that war is believed to be Pakistan. Mazzetti explains that the Pakistani government gave the US permission to conduct secret strikes in 2004. To hear more about what Mazzetti uncovered about the CIA’s secret war, including how it has fundamentally altered the agency’s primary focus from spying to manhunting, check out this episode of “On the Radar.” WATCH: http://yhoo.it/YWDfOf
CHUCK SCHUMER ON IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL: ‘THIS IS A VERY BALANCED BILL.’ Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a “Gang of Eight” member, said the group’s bipartisan proposal amounted to a bill balanced between border enforcement and creating a process for legalization in an interview with ABC’s JONATHAN KARL on “This Week.” “This is a very balanced bill,” Schumer said. “The American people have told us to do two things. One, prevent future flows of illegal immigration and then, come up with a common sense solution for legal immigration. And that’s just what our bill does.” Schumer said the group is “very, very close” to a final proposal, which is scheduled to be presented on Tuesday. “I think you’ll see a major agreement that’s balanced but fair, that will have the widespread support of the American people on Tuesday,” Schumer said. “The eight of us have met in the middle. And I think that’s where the American people are.” http://abcn.ws/114axYi
MARCO RUBIO DISMISSES MANCHIN-TOOMEY GUN DEAL. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl also asked the Florida senator about the Senate vote Thursday that overcame a Republican filibuster to allow debate to proceed on possible gun legislation. Rubio slammed a plan being supported by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would expand background checks, notes ABC’s BEN BELL.”Criminals don’t care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns. They never follow the law. That’s why they’re criminals,” Rubio said. “Look, here is the bottom line. I think everyone is in favor of any law that could effectively keep criminals or dangerous people from getting access to guns. The problem is that all these laws that people are discussing will not effectively deal with that problem, but will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. And so, what we need to look for is a compromise that actually accomplishes that, that does not infringe or place additional burdens on law-abiding citizens, and in fact is effective at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and that begins by enforcing it.” Rubio went on to say that the country has missed a “golden opportunity” to discuss the problem of violence in our society. http://abcn.ws/114axYi
NOTED: RUBIO SAYS JAY-Z NEEDS TO GET INFORMED ON CUBA. Rubio on Sunday slammed Jay-Z over his recent trip to Cuba, saying on “This Week” that the rapper needed to “get informed” and that he missed an opportunity to meet the politically oppressed people that live on the island nation south of Florida. “I think Jay-Z needs to get informed. One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up,” Rubio told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL. “Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics,” Rubio added. “And I think he missed an opportunity. But that’s Jay-Z’s issue.” http://abcn.ws/ZiMQ1g
GEORGE W. BUSH BECOMES A GRANDFATHER. Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura became new grandparents over the weekend when their daughter, Jenna Hager, gave birth to a baby girl named Mila, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “Laura and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our grandchild, Margaret Laura ‘Mila’ Hager. Mila, daughter of Jenna and Henry Hager, is named for her grandmothers,” Bush said in a statement issues on Sunday. “We met our beautiful granddaughter today. Jenna and Mila are healthy. And our family is elated.” Mila, the Bush couple’s first grandchild, was born at 8:43 p.m. Saturday in New York City. The Bushes will celebrate the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on April 25. http://abcn.ws/158CV24
‘SNL’ SPOOFS SENATE’S WORK ON GUN CONTROL. Days after the Senate cleared a significant hurdle in the debate on new gun control measures, “Saturday Night Live” took aim at the Senate’s work on the issue in its opening sketch, spoofing the cloture vote on guns and the background check deal reached this week. “This week the Senate voted 68 to 31 to begin debating the idea of discussing gun control,” the President Obama character, who is played by Jay Pharaoh, said of the Senate’s cloture vote Thursday. “Let me say that again. They’ve agreed to think about talking about gun control.” Obama then called on Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., played by Jason Sudeikis, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., portrayed by Bill Hader, to join him on stage to tout the background check deal they brokered this week. “These men risked everything for this bill,” he said. “I mean, Senator Manchin represents West Virginia and he’s proposing gun reform? He’s gonna lose his job. And Senator Toomey, this man is a Republican who is willing to make just the slightest compromise on gun control? He’s going to lose his job, too.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/Zj6Sc4
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
–AFL-CIO HOLDS CEO’S ACCOUNTABLE: At an event this morning, the AFL-CIO plans to officially release the 2013 Executive PayWatch, a searchable CEO-to-worker pay online database. According to the union, “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka plans to release the new findings which show U.S. CEOs are paid 354 times the average worker — the largest pay gap in the world. Thirty years ago that number was 42 times. Last year, CEOs received on average $12.3 million while the average rank-and-file worker took home around $34,645. The AFL-CIO plans to use this database to expose growing wealth inequality and the need for a fair tax system while shining a spotlight on the CEOs of the influential Fix the Debt and Business Roundtable groups.” www.paywatch.org
–BANKRUPTING AMERICA, a project of the conservative group, Public Notice, released a new tax day web video, “Your Tax Dollars At Work,” asking Americans whether they feel Washington is spending their tax dollars wisely. The group’s executive director, Gretchen Hamel, said in a statement accompanying the clip: “On a day when taxes are due, we wanted to remind Washington that America is paying close attention to how its money is being spent. For too long, Americans have tolerated a culture of waste and overspending, which have brought massive deficits, mountains of debt and higher taxes on virtually everyone. This is real money from real people, and Washington should take notice.” http://bit.ly/Zr9UI7
–DEMOCRATIC GROUP HIGHLIGHTS ‘BARRIERS’ TO IMMIGRATION REFORM: The Bridge Project, a group affiliated with the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge, is releasing a report today titled: “Barriers to Reform: The anti-immigrant and extremist money blocking progress in the Senate.” The document’s introduction says: “As immigration reform moves forward in the Senate the success of any legislation will depend on the cooperation of conservative lawmakers with troubling histories on the issue. However, it is not only their past policy positions and quotes that are disturbing. These key conservative Senators also share a history of campaign contributors who also fund extremist anti immigrant organizations, including those labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” http://ab21.org/BarriersToReform
@kenvogel: Is @GovernorPerry maintaining a foreign policy team? His cmte paid $350 for travel to Iraq War architect Doug Feith: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/dcdev/forms/C00500587/865667/sb/ALL …
@mckaycoppins: For the past year, BuzzFeed’s inboxes have been flooded with oppo leaks on Rubio. Way more than any other Republican http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/the-endless-vetting-of-marco-rubio …
@RealClearScott: You can always learn something from reading @CarlCannon, sometimes lots of things. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/15/the_problem_with_the_press_part_1_religion_117948.html …