- House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price is defending his decision to dismiss President Obama's final budget proposal without a hearing because it spends too much, taxes too much and never balances.
Price, R-Ga., says instead Republicans will focus on crafting a budget that balances in the coming years and addresses Social Security and Medicare, which are careening towards disaster. He's also optimistic federal spending will not end up in a bloated omnibus package at the end of the year.
On Tuesday, Obama unveiled a $4.1 trillion budget that Price finds completely unacceptable.
"Thank goodness it's his last budget because we can't stand many more," said Price. "This is the first budget any president's proposed that spends over $4 trillion in a year. He continues to be married to an incredible degree to raising taxes. He wants to raise taxes by $3.4 trillion, including putting a ten dollar per barrel tax on oil. That is one of the most regressive taxes he could come up with."
He says the bad new doesn't end there.
"(It's) continuing to increase the deficit, continuing to increase the debt. It never, ever, ever balances. As such, it doesn't address the challenges that this country faces," said Price.
Price and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, made headlines even before the Obama budget was unveiled by announcing their committees would not hold hearings on it. While Democrats and many media outlets cried foul, Price says his critics have short memories.
"This is pretty curious. The president has been ignoring Congress for seven years so one time when we stipulate that his budget has no chance of proceeding, they get all excited and exorcised," said Price.
How did he know the budget wouldn't worth the time to consider it?
"The president has introduced budgets before. We've heard them before. In fact, we've had votes on the floor of the House. The last two times they voted on the president's budget when it came of the floor of the House, it received a grand total of two (votes) out of 435 members," said Price.
He says the GOP priorities will be clear in drafting a budget blueprint.
"We will be addressing our concerns to strengthen and save Medicare and Medicaid, to make sure we provide appropriate resources for our men and women in uniform. This is a very dangerous world and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to protect us. Then get us on the path to balance so we can get to a balanced budget and getting on that path to paying off the debt," said Price.
Price says getting the spending under control will require two paths. First, he says Congress needs to reign in discretionary spending and points out current discretionary levels are lower than what was spent from 2008-2010.
The much bigger, more complicated obstacle is mandatory spending, but Price says not much can happen until there's a president concerned about the spiraling debt of entitlement programs.
"If nothing is done right now, which apparently is the president's plan because they haven't proposed anything. If nothing is done to save and secure and strengthen those programs, those programs go broke," said Price.
Republicans won control of Capitol Hill in 2014 and vowed to restore "regular order" last year, by which spending bills individually rather than rolling them into one giant bill offered at the deadline for averting a government shutdown.
That didn't happen. Individual bills started moving through the House but went nowhere in the Senate after Obama insisted on higher spending across the board and Democrats filibustered the GOP legislation.
Ultimately, an omnibus bill was easily approved in both the House and Senate that funded Obama priorities from Planned Parenthood to sanctuary cities to the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. In exchange, Republicans were able to end the export ban on crude oil and make many tax breaks permanent.
Despite the same president and the same margins in the Senate, Price is crossing his fingers that regular order can proceed this year and save taxpayers money by bringing transparency and scrutiny to every bill.
"Speaker (Paul) Ryan has had exactly those conversations with not just Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, but with Harry Reid, the minority leader in the Senate. In fact, the president has committed to beginning to move the appropriations process in through regular order," said Price.
- The results of the Republican and Democratic primaries in New Hampshire set the stage for a showdown in South Carolina but also send an unmistakable "wake-up call" to to the political establishment in both parties.
The outsiders had a very good night Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Donald Trump scored landslide wins respectively and Sen. Ted. Cruz, R-Texas, defied expectations by finishing in third place.
While getting less than a third of Trump's vote total, Cruz still edged Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had been expected to finish second in New Hampshire. He also bested Jeb Bush, despite being outspent $36 million to $800,000.
As the race shifts to the Palmetto State, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., says the voting thus far shows people in both parties are fed up with business as usual.
"Not only Trump's victory but Bernie Sanders' victory underscores the frustration that most Americans have with Washington, D.C. They know our country is headed in the wrong direction, that Washington, D.C. is broke. They're just desperate to find someone who's saying, 'Let's turn over the apple cart and start all over again,'" said Meadows.
"People want straight talk. They want somebody to be able to tell it like it is. Even if they don't agree on some of the issues, they're going to reward those who call it like it is. That's why we're seeing Donald and Bernie and Ted Cruz perform so well," said Meadows.
While those three candidates may be light years apart ideologically, Meadows says they are tapping into the same disgust.
"When you calculate all of their votes, it ought to give Washington, D.C., a real wake-up call in terms of the job that they're doing," said Meadows.
Meadows is the second-term lawmaker who filed the motion to vacate the speaker's chair in the House of Representatives last year, a move that ultimately triggered the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner. Meadows is endorsing Cruz in the 2016 campaign.
As the remaining Republicans tangle vie for the nomination, Meadows says the outsiders have a distinct advantage over the candidates considered more acceptable to party leaders.
"It's important for us to return the government to the people and to the will of the people and restore that confidence and trust. It's going to be difficult for anybody who is running in the establishment lane to accomplish that," said Meadows, referring to Rubio, Bush and Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio.
Some advocates for the likes of Trump and Cruz believe that the jumble in the middle of the GOP pack in New Hampshire is good for the outsiders because it will now be weeks or longer before the top establishment candidate emerges.
"I look at it very differently. The quicker we can get down to two or three candidates and look at each one of them on their own merits, the easier it is to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each potential presidential nominee," said Meadows.
But just as one establishment candidate may ultimately emerge, either Cruz or Trump has to eventually elbow the other out of the race. Meadows says Cruz is the right choice.
"It's one thing to talk the talk. It's another to walk the walk," said Meadows. "He's been in the fight. He's not only willing to say it on the campaign trail, but I've seen him actually do it here in Washington, D.C., and has come under tremendous ridicule. Whether it's in front of a camera or behind the scenes in a private office, Ted Cruz is the same guy."
"He's someone who's willing to fight to restore our constitutional principles and, with that, make sure the voice of the American people is the number one priority here in Washington, D.C.," said Meadows.
South Carolina polls conducted in January suggest Trump had a sizable lead at the time. More polls will come soon, but Meadows is confident Cruz will do well.
"I know Sen. Cruz has a great ground game there that has been in place for many many months and has been reaching out on a one-on-one basis all over the state," said Meadows, who will work on behalf of Cruz in South Carolina.
As for the general election, Meadows is again defying conventional wisdom by rejecting the nation that Sanders would be easier for the Republican nominee to beat given his open embrace of "Democratic socialism."
He believes Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable.
"I think if Hillary is the nominee, the baggage that she brings makes her a greater drag on that Democratic side of the aisle than anybody else," said Meadows.
- Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders crushed their opponents and conventional wisdom Tuesday night in New Hampshire, as Democratic female voters abandoned Hillary Clinton in favor of Sanders and Trump easily won the women's vote despite his reputation for being crude towards them.
On Tuesday, Trump took 35 percent of the Republican vote. Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, was a distant second at 16 percent, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, finishing third. Exit polls show Trump dominated among all demographics, including women. Trump won 33 percent of the female vote in a nine-candidate race. Kasich had 16 percent, followed by Jeb Bush with 12 percent.
Those numbers follow Trump's famous feud with Fox News Channel anchorMegyn Kelly over Trump's derogatory statements about various women over the years and over Kelly herself.
Women in New Hampshire didn't care.
"They're not taking to the fainting couches and I think that's one of two reasons why Trump is doing okay with women," said Independent Women's Forum Senior Fellow Gayle Trotter, who attracted national attention in 2013 for her passionate defense of the second amendment before the U.S. Senate.
"Women are tough and they understand that politics is not beanbag. They're maybe slightly offended by some of things that he's said, but they really care that he is tapping into these issues that seem to be pressing on our nation right now."
Trotter says Trump also scores points with women for another unspoken reason.
"His other secret weapon are the women who are very successful and accomplished, who are going on the campaign trail for him. Exhibit A is his daughter, Ivanka," said Trotter, noting Ivanka is over eight months pregnant. "He particularly noted Ivanka and said that she had been to seven events politicking for him. She is a great ambassador for him."
So will Trump's reputation ever catch up with him? Trotter doubts it.
"It's hard to imagine. This is the only politician I've ever seen who uses a media firestorm as a campaign strategy. Not only does he say all of these kind of outrageous things, he embraces them. He is excited and proud of saying them," said Trotter.
She says Trump appears immune to the controversies that normally sink campaigns.
"It's hard to believe that he could really say anything worse than he's already said or if he did that it would have any kind of backlash on him. All the political pundits and prognosticators said there's no way he could recover from any of these comments. He's proven them wrong time and time again," said Trotter.
On the Democratic side, observers assumed Hillary Clinton would cruise to the nomination thanks to a stranglehold on the women's vote. She did score a 55-44 margin among Democratic women in Iowa, but Sanders won a majority of female voters in New Hampshire by the very same margin.
Trotter says Hillary's blatant and repeated playing of the gender card is turning women off.
"I think she really feels this nomination is owed to her for all of the time she has put in. Every time she goes out on the campaign trail, she's talking about how hard she has worked. That does not seem to be resonating with Democratic voters who want to be inspired," said Trotter.
She says Sanders is hitting that note with the Democratic base.
"Bernie Sanders is something very different than what we've seen in Washington. He is connecting with voters across the country. On top of that, he is offering something very, very different than what Hillary Clinton is," said Trotter.
Sensing that female support was slipping, Clinton told a debate audience last week that Sanders could not label her as "establishment" because she was a woman and a woman has never been president. Trotter says that was a telling moment.
"That's such a silly statement. That was, I think, the most defining moment of that debate. She's a woman who has been in the corridors of power for decades," said Trotter.
She says that line is in complete contradiction to the rest of Clinton's case to Democratic voters.
"She is also trying to run on the idea that she'll be a third term of President Barack Obama. She's trying to have it both ways and I think the young women who are dissatisfied with the establishment are dissatisfied with that answer. It doesn't answer's Bernie Sanders' criticism," said Trotter.
Trotter says another colossal mistake was Hillary and her surrogates trying to shame women away from Sanders. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told supporters there was a special place in hell for women who don't support each other. Feminist Gloria Steinem told HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" that young women backed Sanders because young men did.
"Those comments do not help Hillary Clinton. There are a lot of young women who expect there will be a woman president one day in their lifetimes, but Hillary Clinton is not the women they want to be commander-in-chief," said Trotter.
On Wednesday afternoon, Republican Carly Fiorina suspended her campaign after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. In her Facebook announcement, Fiorina offered a very different vision of feminism than the one pitched by Clinton.
"To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you're a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn't shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology," wrote Fiorina.
"It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts," Fiorina added.
Trotter says Fiorina should be commended for her campaign.
"I think it's great that she participated. I think she had a great message and a lot of really strong policy proposals. But I think not being on that debate stage really killed her campaign," said Trotter.
She says the contrast between Clinton and Fiorina shows the hypocrisy of the liberals.
"Maybe if Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright had really put into practice their own philosophy of standing up for women and campaign for Carly Fiorina, we might have seen some difference," said Trotter.
"Of course they were never going to do that, because it's never about being a woman. It's about having the proper ideology. That's the key for leftist feminists," said Trotter.
- The World Health Organization calls the Zika virus a global health emergency, but entomologist Joe Ballenger says the U.S. is very unlikely to see much of an outbreak while more tropical climates ought to be more concerned.
Joe Ballenger operates the Ask an Entomologist website. He holds a Master's degree in entomology and now utilizes his expertise in the private sector.
Ballenger says there are two types of mosquitoes responsible for transmitting the Zika virus to humans, but the yellow fever mosquito, or Aedes aegypti, is the primary culprit.
"The yellow fever mosquito is restricted to the southeastern portion of the U.S.. It ranges upward to South Carolina and west to southeast Texas. Then there's some populations in south central Arizona and some in California," said Ballenger.
The other mosquito involved is known as the Asian Tiger mosquito. It has a greater presence in the U.S., going as far north as Iowa, but Ballenger says it's a much less effective vector for Zika than the yellow fever mosquito.
"Large scale viral outbreaks are really only seen in areas with yellow fever mosquito populations," said Ballenger.
While that may sound ominous for the areas of the U.S. where the yellow fever mosquito is present, Ballenger says there is no reason for alarm. First, he says mosquitoes are not a threat at all right now.
"Mosquitoes in the U.S. are very much a seasonal thing. Right now it's winter and transmission is impossible in most of the U.S. because the mosquitoes aren't out," said Ballenger.
But even when things warm up, Ballenger says the track record of mosquitoes infecting people in America with other diseases is quite limited.
"With dengue (fever) and yellow fever, they tend not to stick around too long in the U.S. Transmission hasn't happened in the U.S., at least in the lower 48, in a very long time," said Ballenger.
Ballenger recommends being vigilant but calm.
"Be on the lookout but there's no reason to panic. There's a lot of differences between the U.S. and Brazil in terms of how mosquitoes encounter people and where they bite," said Ballenger.
His advice for reducing exposure to the Zika virus sounds similar to the mosquito advice we get every summer.
"Keep mosquitoes outside by repairing window screens and using air conditioning. Mosquitoes like it warm so they don't like to go into warm houses. Wear long sleeves and pants during summer and avoid dark colors. Wear insect repellent, specifically Deet, Picaridin or something called IR 3535, which is found in Avon skin so soft lotion," said Ballenger.
"Use reasonable amounts," he said. "You don't need to bathe in the stuff."
He also says to dump out sources of standing water like bird baths and flower pots since they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Ballenger also dismisses the contention that genetically modified mosquitoes are to blame. He says that experimentation in South America was over before any Zika outbreak was detected.
"There was an experiment releasing mosquitoes in Brazil two or three years ago but those releases stopped well before this epidemic. So the notion that the mosquitoes are genetically modified in order to carry this virus is not true," said Ballenger.
From a scientific perspective, Ballenger is hoping scientists can glean more insights into the impact Zika has on the human body. He says reports of problems of fetal brain development are very likely linked but that hasn't been proven yet.
- Declaring himself the only leader in the key Louisiana U.S. Senate race, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness says he is the best choice to address tough problems and challenge the leadership of both parties.
While the presidential campaign is sure to dominate the political headlines all year, the fight for control of the U.S. Senate is in full swing and a battle in the Louisiana bayou will provide of the critical tests for direction of the Republican Party and the balance of power in Washington.
Republicans currently hold 54 Senate seats but are playing defense far more than Democrats as a result of the GOP's strong performance in 2010. Several incumbent Republicans are retiring and open seats mean crowded fields in several states. Louisiana is one of them.
Republican Sen. David Vitter is retiring after two terms. While the seat is likely to stay in Republican hands, voters will have to decide which Republican gets the nod. In addition to Maness, Rep. John Fleming and Rep. Charles Boustany are in the race, along with State Treasurer John Kennedy.
Maness says he's running again in 2016 because the United States is craving real leadership.
"I am the outsider. I'm a proven fighter. I fought for my country for 32-and-a-half years. I have a proven track record of leadership that's not a political. It's a military track record of leadership and a corporate track record of leadership and a community track record of leadership. That's what the American people and the people of Louisiana are demanding," said Maness.
Fleming boasts an 88 percent rating from Heritage Action, while Boustany scores a 58. The American Conservative Union gives them ratings of 96 and 68 respectively.
Maness says he doesn't have a lot of negative things to say about his opponents, but he still insists they all lack the most important quality.
"They're all friends of mine. I helped a lot of them get elected. I voted for one of them because the job he's doing at the state level is doing a good job at it. But they're not leaders. They're not proven leaders that are going to go up and lead," said Maness.
"In order to lead you're going to have to go up and push back against the party leadership that you're a part of on minute one. I'm going to be joining folks like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz if he still happens to be there, Rand Paul if he happens to still be there. Those folks all demonstrated that they would go up and push back regardless of the political consequences. That's what the people are expecting," said Maness.
He painted a a contrast between that approach and what he's seen from his two opponents serving in Congress.
"If they've been messing around and voting for the likes of John Boehner or voting for the likes of Paul Ryan, the people are going to reject them. They're going to reject my opponents in this race because they're all political insiders. They've come up the career political track and they're all career politicians," said Maness.
Maness also says he's running because all of our problems keep getting worse.
"Our country is broken. It's in worse condition than it was three years ago when I decided to run against Bill Cassidy and Mary Landrieu. Today , we're weaker than we've ever been. Our allies can't trust us and our enemies don't respect or fear us. Our military's weaker than it's ever been," said Maness.
Other issues concern him greatly, starting with our sluggish economy.
"Our economic situation is not very good. We were able to prevent a great depression but we had a great recession and we're in the longest and worst recovery that we've ever seen in the nation's history," said Maness.
He's also ready to do something about border security.
"Our borders are still not secure. Illegal aliens are coming across our border and taking our jobs and making our country insecure. They're getting through not just our borders but our immigration system as we saw in the San Bernardino attacks. It's easy to fool our immigration system and get through," said Maness.
On issues of special importance to Louisiana, Maness says he would be a tireless advocate of expanding markets for American energy. He also wants to wipe away government regulations that he says are hampering the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast.
In 2014, Maness finished third in an eight-man "jungle primary." In Louisiana, all candidates are on the same ballot, regardless of party. Unless one candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a run-off.
Maness grabbed almost 14 percent of the vote but finished well behind Landrieu's 42 percent and Cassidy's nearly 41 percent.
Maness says he will be much more competitive this time because his name is already known this time, whereas he was a complete unknown two years ago.
"According to one of my opponent's Super PAC polls that came out in December, I start the race with the second highest name identification and the second highest favorability ratings," said Maness.
He says he was also visibly active for conservative candidates and causes in last year's key state races.
"We built a lot capital with the grassroots, not only at the tea party level and the outside the party level, but at the Republican Party level. I think we've got a great advantage because of that and we already have a solid voter base," said Maness.
- The Obama administration is ordering border patrol agents to release illegal immigrants without making them appear in court or keeping track of their whereabouts and it's also dramatically rolling back aerial surveillance along the southern border, leading a senior congressman to suggest the public is unaware it is being "betrayed" by our commander-in-chief.
What's sad is the people of the United States don't recognize that they're being betrayed by their own president and also betrayed by those people in the Congress and the Senate who have been going along with this amnesty program," said Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-California, a leading voice against amnesty and for border enforcement.
On Thursday, reports emerged that the Obama administration was effectively telling U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to stand down and not process people entering the United States illegally. They further state that agents are told not to order illegals to appear at a deportation hearing and not make efforts to track them down inside the U.S.
"We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether," said National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd.
In addition, Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, are imploring the Department of Homeland Security for an explanation for a 50 percent rollback in aerial surveillance of the Texas-Mexico border.
Rohrabacher says he and fellow critics of Obama's immigration policies are well past the point of outrage.
"This president has done so many things that are contrary to the interests of the safety and security and prosperity of the people of the United States that this is no surprise, especially in dealing with foreign entities, whether it's Muslims overseas or whether it's illegal immigrants coming in here from various countries. This is nothing new for this administration," said Rohrabacher.
One of Rohrabacher's top concerns is how Obama's open door policy could further weaken national security.
"He's opening the door. There's not even going to be a guard on the door to watch who's coming in. Do you think the radical Islamist terrorists that have declared war on our country and murder us at any chance, you think they don't see this? They've already got a lot of people here," said Rohrabacher.
"What the president is doing is going to increase the level of criminals that are coming here from other countries and terrorists who come here specifically to hurt Americans and kill Americans," he added.
While Rohrabacher is clearly disgusted with Obama on this issue, he is adamant that blame can be spread throughout the two parties.
"Our president is supposed to be watching out for the people of the United States. Our president has decided that he will not do so. The Democratic Party needs to be held accountable for this. And the people in the Republican Party that have been going along with this open borders, amnesty approach to immigration deserve to be held accountable as well," said Rohrabacher.
The congressman says he understands that people are desperate to escape crippling poverty and other problems in their native countries and even admires their determination to make a better life for their families, but he says compassion for their circumstances cannot supersede the well being of the American people.
"That doesn't mean we're going to bring people in who will take jobs away from Americans, will consume the health care and the education dollars that we have for Americans. We don't need that," said Rohrabacher.
He encourages voters to find out what their congressmen and senators have really been doing on these issues.
"Hold people accountable in public office for the stands they have taken. Our country is in grave jeopardy because of it," said Rohrabacher.
He offers a couple of tips.
"Look and see where your elected officials stand on amnesty. That's a tip-off as to whether they are secretly going along with the president," said Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher says one issue in particular gets twisted beyond recognition.
"How about those people who say we have to take care of the 'Dreamers? Oh, we have to take care of the Dreamers.' What they're talking about is giving benefits to young people who are here illegally when those education benefits should be going to our own people. Our own kids are saddled with debt and we're going to give education benefits to people who have come here illegally?" asked Rohrabacher.
Since January 2015, Republicans have controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. So why can't the GOP do something to to curb Obama's alleged recklessness on the border?
"Controlling Capitol Hill doesn't mean anything unless you have a two-thirds vote against a president who veto anything he doesn't like. It takes a two-thirds vote to override the veto so we haven't been in control of Capitol Hill enough to be in control of a legislative agenda," said Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher has endorsed Ted Cruz for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in what seems like a process of elimination among the major candidates. He says Rubio is simply all over the map on this issue.
"The people of Florida elected him when he pledged not to support amnesty, pledged to fight this idea of open borders. As soon as he got elected to the United States Senate, he flipped over and became a major force for amnesty. Now he wants to flip again and wants us to forget that lie," said Rohrabacher.
The congressman simply doesn't believe Donald Trump is serious about the issue.
"Trump is talking off the top of his head and quite often he says things that are contradictory," said Rohrabacher. "He says we're going to deport the people here illegally. Then he says once they can get home they can immediately come back if they want to. This is nonsense. So the only one who makes any sense to me is Ted Cruz," said Rohrabacher.
- Less than two months after the Obama administration ordered women to be eligible for ground combat, the chiefs of two military branches say it's time for women to register for Selective Service, meaning civilian women could find themselves assigned to the front lines if a national emergency requires the reinstating of the military draft.
The issue arose this week at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing as Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., asked the service chiefs to share their thoughts about gender-integrated basic training. As the discussion ensued, the top-ranking leaders of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps openly endorsed requiring women to register.
"I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
"Every American who's physically qualified should register for the draft," echoed Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.
"This is a logical conclusion that is likely to be imposed by a federal court because the administration has unilaterally changed the rules. Congress has not been involved with this, except to say, 'Well, what are you going to decide executive branch, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary of Defense?' They've got it backwards. Congress should decide this issue," said Donnelly.
The United States has not had a military draft since the early 1970's, so how significant is this push for women to start registering for it?
"If we get into a national emergency, requiring a re-institution of a draft, women will be involved in it," said Donnelly, noting the purpose of a draft is to procure "combat replacements."
The comment from Gen. Neller surprised some since the Marine Corps vigorously opposed the Obama administration decision to make women eligible for ground combat. Donnelly thinks Neller's response was a missed opportunity.
"I expected Gen. Neller to give a solid explanation of the rationale for the disagreement between the Marine Corps and the Secretary of the Navy on that point. I realize his boss is sitting right next to him, but he missed the opportunity to put on the record why the Marines have always had separate gender training, why it is superior and why it should not be changed," said Donnelly.
Donnelly says the Marines separate men and women during basic training so as to eliminate all possible distractions while "making Marines." After basic training, the sexes do go through many training programs together.
The Marine Corps also conducted an exhaustive scientific study to quantify the toll of combat on men and women. It was the centerpiece of its case against putting women into ground combat. However, the administration overruled the Marines.
As the implementation of the Obama administration policy proceeds, Donnelly says it important for everyone to know what it does and what it doesn't do.
"The executive branch announced women would be subject to direct ground combat assignments, including the infantry, on an involuntary basis. This is very important. It's not a matter of being allowed into combat or permitted as a career opportunity. Once you sign up, you're subject to the same orders as the men," said Donnelly.
Donnelly believes adding women to any potential draft to be "militarily disastrous and administratively unworkable. She says only a "tiny minority" of women would meet the physical requirements for combat and the military would have to spend huge amounts of time and money to weed out those who are unfit.
She says the data compiled by the Marines proves what everyone knows but no one wants to admit.
"Women and men are not physical equals in direct ground combat. Physical differences matter: Speed, the ability to carry heavy loads, to march long distances, to have accurate marksmanship at the end of that march. Fatigue matters," said Donnelly.
"All these issues and realities were scientifically measured by the Marine Corps in field exercises over nine months. The truth that came out of those exercises remains. The truth always remains the truth, but the administration is trying to sweep all of that under the rug," said Donnelly.
Ultimately, Donnelly fears involving women in fierce ground combat is a disservice to them and those around them.
"It's really not a fair thing to do. It may be equal but it's not fair because in direct ground combat, women do not have the physical capability and equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers to survive. I hope we never have to reinstate the draft, but if we do, young men are better equipped to deal with that than young women are," said Donnelly.
The Center for Military Readiness is asking 2016 presidential candidates to commit to reconsidering this policy. The questionnaire also asks if hopefuls will push back against the LGBT agenda in the military and fight to uphold the religious liberties of service members, among other issues. So far the response has been sparse, with only one active candidate responding.
"We received responses from Sen. (Ted) Cruz. His answers were right down the line and he added additional comments about women in land combat. We're still waiting to hear from Donald Trump, from Sen. (Marco) Rubio, from several of the other candidates. We're going to keep asking because it's up to the next president of the United States to deal with these issues," said Donnelly.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., also returned the survey with the same answers as Cruz. Santorum left the 2016 race on Wednesday.
Donnelly has a final message for early state voters.
"You need to look at that survey and your favorite candidate has not responded yet, you need to ask that candidate, 'Where do you stand on women being ordered into the infantry, co-ed basic training being changed into the version where sexual misconduct increases? Where do stand on Selective Service and drafting young women in a future national emergency?'" said Donnelly.
- Pro-life activist Jill Stanek is speaking out after her home appeared to be vandalized by political opponents, saying violence is a hallmark of the abortion movement and a sign of a major momentum shift in the debate over unborn lives.
"We were on vacation last week and got home Sunday night. Our front window was broken in our living room. Then we found a package that had been caught up in our curtains," said Stanek, who serves as national campaign chair for the Susan B. Anthony List, which works to elect pro-life women to office.
"We opened the package. Inside was a big piece of cinder block and a note that included an expletive I won't mention," said Stanek.
The message read, "Quit the Pro-Life Bulls--t."
Stanek has been very active in pro-life circles for many years. She famously confronted then-State Senator Barack Obama over his opposition to to legislation that would require life-saving treatment for babies who survive abortions. She was also among the leaders of a Capitol Hill sit-in last year demanding congressional action on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans the vast majority of abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Although she is quick to put the act in perspective, Stanek admits this was a new experience for her.
"In the scheme of things, it's not a big deal, especially when you compare it to what pre-born babies go through, but it's the first time I've been the subject of vandalism since I've been in the pro-life movement," said Stanek.
Hers may not be an isolated case.
"I was asked not to speak publicly about this but there is another activist in the Chicago area who had a cinder block thrown through his window Wednesday or Thursday but there was no note, so they're not sure if it was related or not," said Stanek.
In the bigger picture, Stanek also says pro-life students around the country are frequently attacked.
"On college campuses, a pro-life group cannot erect a display these days without it being vandalized. That's just the way it is. We're seeing attacks like this as the other side realizes it's losing and resorting to what it knows best - violence," said Stanek.
On one hand, Stanek says the timing is odd because she has been keeping an unusually low profile in recent months as she goes about her work for the Susan B. Anthony List. But on another level, she is not surprised at all.
"We know that the foundation of the pro-abortion movement is violence. Their modus operandi is to kill pre-born innocent babies, defenseless babies. So that's their starting point," said Stanek.
But she also sees specific reasons why the pro-choice movement feels threatened right now. In addition to a litany of pro-life laws being passed in states with Republican governors and legislatures, she says there is one flashpoint of the national abortion debate that has abortion advocates very nervous.
"There is a big front that we are very close to a breakthrough on and that's defunding Planned Parenthood," said Stanek.
Earlier this year, Congress approved a defunding bill. It was vetoed by President Obama, but Stanek says opponents are alarmed at how close this is to happening.
"We are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood to the tune of almost $500 million, half a billion dollars a year. The only thing standing in the way is a pro-abortion president. If we elect a pro-life president, (by) this time in 2017 Planned Parenthood will be defunded," said Stanek.
She says the impact of that would be huge.
"The Democrat Party knows that if Planned Parenthood goes down, which it would if it lost half of its funding, it would be almost a fatal blow to the Democrat Party and the pro-abortion agenda. They consider Planned Parenthood an organization that's too big to fail," said Stanek.
She says that fear may be leading to more extreme tactics like she endured.
"We're not just talking about greed. We're talking about ideology and we're also talking about politics. Those three together are definitely fodder for an uptick in violence," she said.
"We are definitely on the offense right now and they feel it," said Stanek.