Vice President Pence says ISIS is waging anti-Christian ‘genocide’

Vice President Pence said Thursday that the reign of terror carried out by the Islamic State militant group should be labeled "genocide" against Christians."I believe that ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time for the world to call it by name," Pence said at a speech to the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association."In Iraq at the hands of extremists, we have actually seen monasteries demolished, priests and monks beheaded, and the two-millennia-old Christian tradition in Mosul virtually extinguished overnight," Pence said. "In Syria, we see ancient communities burned to the ground, we see believers tortured for confessing Christ and women and children sold into the most terrible form of human slavery."Pence said that radical Islamic terror groups also persecute members of other non-Christian faiths and even Muslims who do not share their version of Islam.But "the practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ, and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS," he said."Know today with assurance that President Trump sees these crimes for what they are: vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for the gospel of Christ," he said.Pence also promised that the Trump administration will act to protect religions freedom — for both Christians and non-Christians — around the world."Since the founding of our nation, America has stood for the proposition that the right to believe and the right to act on one's beliefs is the right of all people at all times," the vice president said. "Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration.Trump has been criticized for his willingness to embrace dictators who abuse human rights, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Continue Reading

Vice President Pence meets with billionaire Charles Koch

 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Vice President Pence and several of his top aides met Friday night with billionaire Charles Koch, another sign of the influential donor's increasing willingness to work with the Trump administration to advance his free-market ideas.Pence, who has longstanding ties to Koch's political and policy empire, met with the Kansas industrialist for about 50 minutes and discussed a "range of policies that will benefit the country," including repealing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling the tax system and a law signed Friday by Trump that makes it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire problem employees, said James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch organizations.Koch, whose network rivals the Republican Party's size and budget, did not support President Trump's candidacy, and Trump publicly mocked his rivals who sought to win favor with Koch and his brother, David Koch. But in recent months, the Kochs have committed more resources to backing Trump's agenda, including a multimillion-dollar campaign to help push Trump's tax cuts through the GOP-controlled Congress."We're going to work with them where we can to advance good policy," Davis said of the Trump administration.The high-level meeting came a day before Koch is scheduled to convene his annual summer gathering of the wealthy conservatives who help fund the network's activities. Pence is not attending the three-day Koch summit but was in Colorado Springs on Friday for other events, including an anniversary celebration for the conservative religious group, Focus on the Family. Read more:Friday's meeting included Marc Short, Trump's director of legislative affairs, and longtime Pence aide Marty Obst. Short is a former top official in the Koch network.Those accompanying Charles Koch included key Koch lieutenants Mark Holden and Brian Hooks, who oversee the network's activities, along with Tim Phillips, who runs the Kochs' grassroots Continue Reading

KSC to welcome Vice President Pence today

In Kennedy Space Center’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building today, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to voice strong Trump administration support for human space exploration and highlight KSC’s evolution into a “multi-user spaceport” as a model for future programs. More: On third try, SpaceX launches Intelsat mission from KSC NASA, Boeing and SpaceX space capsules will serve as a backdrop for the vice president’s 1 p.m. remarks to up to 1,000 civil servant and contractor employees gathered in the cavernous VAB, a crowd that will include members of Congress and top industry executives. Pence also will discuss his leadership of a National Space Council that President Trump revived with an executive order signed last Friday in a White House ceremony, hours before the vice president's KSC visit was announced. More: Vice President Pence to visit KSC Thursday Those events prompted speculation Pence might use the KSC stage to make a major announcement, perhaps the administration’s choice to lead NASA or a new policy initiative. That does not appear to be in the plans. NASA is characterizing the visit lasting several hours as a “familiarization tour,” a chance to see up close how KSC has adapted since the space shuttle’s 2011 retirement to not only support NASA’s planned deep space missions, but welcome private companies into surplus facilities. SpaceX, for example, on Wednesday evening launched a commercial satellite from historic pad 39A, the site that launched Apollo astronauts to the moon and dozens of shuttle missions. “This is a fantastic example of commercial industry and government working together,” said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel. “He’ll have a chance to talk to people directly and see it first hand, and obviously that’s better than a PowerPoint presentation.” Air Force Two is expected to touch down around Continue Reading

Vice President Pence in Indy Friday to raise money for his PAC

Vice President Pence will be in Indianapolis Friday raising money for his political action committee.Top tickets to the event are $5,000, according to a copy of the invitation.Supporters who pay $2,500 get into a more exclusive reception at the J.W. Marriott while $1,000 gains access to the main reception.Pence recently created the Great America Committee to support congressional candidates.Vice presidents, much less those in their first terms, don’t typically establish their own political fundraising operations.  In 1985, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush created the Fund for America’s Future as he prepared for his successful 1988 presidential bid.Pence, who served in the House for 12 years before becoming Indiana’s governor, still has strong ties to Congress. As vice president, he’s been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill where he keeps offices in both the House and Senate.And he’s been hitting the road for congressional candidates, including a recent trip to help the Republican running in Georgia’s June 20 special election.A Pence spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Pence had a leadership PAC while in Congress. It was most active during the 2010 election cycle when Pence was a member of the House GOP leadership. His PAC raised more than $630,000 for the 2010 elections, giving more than $300,000 to federal candidates, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Contact Maureen Groppe at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @mgroppe. Continue Reading

Vice President Pence in Cincinnati stop: ‘Obamacare nightmare’ to end

SPRINGDALE, Ohio — Vice President Pence dropped in on an Ohio frame manufacturer Thursday to talk to local business leaders about the beat path forward on health care reform.Accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Pence met at Frame USA for about an hour with the business leaders. The public was not invited to the event."The Obamacare nightmare is about to end," Pence declared.About 100 people including many of Frame USA's employees filled the company's cavernous packaging room to hear Pence. Dan Regenold, the company's CEO, is a vocal supporter of the Trump administration. The company vigorously promotes its Made-in-America picture frames and artwork.The vice president said nothing about the latest turbulence in Washington — that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may not have been truthful about his contacts with the Russian ambassador last year.In a roundtable with small-business executives ahead of his speech, Pence said the Trump administration will “lift the weight of Obamacare off American families and businesses.” Read more:Pence told more than 20 businesspeople that he brought assurances from the president that the administration will “repeal and replace Obamacare,” drawing applause.He said he had spoken earlier to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who has expressed concern about those who gained Medicaid eligibility through the overhaul. Pence said the administration will assure that “the most vulnerable … are seen to and taken care of.”Some protested from across the street. One sign read, “They are lying.”Pence's visit comes two days after President Trump delivered an address to a joint session of Congress in which he presented his policies in broad strokes. During the campaign last year, Trump said he would immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with “something terrific.”Since Trump’s inauguration, Continue Reading

Vice President Pence condemns vandalism at Jewish cemetery

Vice President Pence this week joined in the condemnation of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri and helped with the cleanup of the site.The Chesed Shel Emeth Society Cemetery discovered on Monday that 154 headstones were vandalized. News of the vandalism spread, eventually leading to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens calling for volunteers to assist in the cleanup of the cemetery.On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people showed up to University City, Mo., site — including Pence.“The vice president said, ‘I am so inspired by what the people of Missouri are doing, by the way you are handling this,’” Greitens said, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light. Pence then asked whether he could volunteer, and Greitens, who is Jewish, welcomed the offer.Pence was in the area to give a speech at a business in Fenton, Mo., according to media reports. He took a moment to talk about the cemetery vandalism.“We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms,” he said, according to The Washington Post.He then went to the cemetery with Greitens. By the time they arrived, many of the headstones had already been repaired, the St. Louis Jewish Light noted. Still, Pence delivered a short address to the volunteers before hearing a prayer from a rabbi and clearing away some brush.“There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said. “I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, the Jewish community, and I want to thank you for that inspiration.”Muslim groups raised nearly $75,000 to help the cemetery, the Associated Press reported. Continue Reading

Vice President Pence to speak at anti-abortion march

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence will become the highest-ranking government official to speak in person at an annual anti-abortion march in Washington, D.C., on Friday.Pence, who was an early congressional leader of efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, was a regular speaker at the March for Life during the 12 years he served in Congress.But he will be the highest-ranking White House official to ever speak. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush spoke to marchers via remote audio hookup.Organizers had previously announced that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, would speak.Pence's appearance was first reported by The New York Times on Thursday.The vice president confirmed his appearance in a tweet after meeting with anti-abortion activists in his office Thursday night.Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said participants are thrilled Pence is coming.“Vice President Pence has been a friend and champion of the pro-life cause his entire career," Mancini said in a statement. She said Pence has shown "how one person can, indeed, make a difference in the ultimate human right -- the right to life."Indiana Right to Life officials said 40 chartered buses filled with Hoosiers are on their way to Washington for the march.During the campaign, Pence promised social conservatives he would be their champion in the White House, particularly in fighting abortion and Planned Parenthood.“Let me assure you the Trump/Pence administration will stand for the sanctity of life and defend the unborn from the first day that we take office,” he said when addressing the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in September. “I want to live to see the day that we put the sanctity of life back at the center of American law and we send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history,” he said referring to the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.He promised that a Continue Reading

With Vice President Pence breaking tie, Senate passes anti-Planned Parenthood bill

WASHINGTON — Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking Senate vote Thursday to pass legislation that will allow states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that perform abortions.The measure, which now goes to President Trump for his signature, dismisses an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to such organizations.Pence's vote was needed to break a 50-50 tie. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke with their party, voting against the measure.Republicans have said the Obama rule should be overturned to allow states the right to steer funds away from abortion providers, if they choose.Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the measure reverses a rule that "attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states."Democrats condemned the measure throughout the day, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York calling it "another example of the Republican war on women.""It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don’t deserve the same access to health care as men," he said.The House in February had voted 230-188 largely along party lines to reject the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn recently enacted regulations.The rule prohibits states from withholding family-planning funding from providers for reasons other than their ability to offer family-planning services. It took effect Jan. 18, two days before President Obama left office.Since 2011, 13 states have restricted access to such grants, disrupting or reducing services in several instances. Read more:Women’s marches across the country have protested cuts to reproductive health care services.Pence, an evangelical Christian, was a leader in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood while serving in Congress and he co-sponsored “personhood” legislation calling for constitutional rights at the Continue Reading

Vice President Pence tells March for Life rally: ‘Life is winning’

Energized by a White House administration they see as the most sympathetic in decades, and expecting the new president to pick a Supreme Court nominee who shares their views, thousands of demonstrators rallied and marched against abortion in Washington on Friday."Life is winning in America," Vice President Pence told a cheering crowd gathered near the Washington Monument.Pence quoted the Declaration of Independence's guarantee of inalienable rights to "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and said the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion "turned away from the first of these timeless ideals."He promised that President Trump would not only end federal funding for abortions and abortion providers, he would name a Supreme Court justice who would "uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution."Pence, the highest-ranking official ever to address the annual event that began 44 years ago, said Trump asked him to appear."To all of you marching you have my full support!" Trump tweeted Friday morning.White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also addressed the crowd, saying that anti-abortion forces had been ignored for too long."We hear you, we see you, we respect you and we look forward to working with you," Conway said.Attendees have high hopes."Just like they abolished slavery they should abolish abortion,” said Annette Lancaster, 39, of Burlington, N.C., who said she had once managed a Planned Parenthood center. “It's the most disgusting horrible thing you could ever see."Anna Geer, 26, from Arlington, Va., said she has been coming to these marches on and off for 18 years and feels more encouraged than she did during the administration of the last Republican president, George W. Bush."He wasn't as radical as Trump," Greer said. "We had hope with Bush but he was just your standard Republican president so I don't think this was on his list of priorities."Planned Parenthood promised to Continue Reading

Missouri Senate race catches Vice President Pence’s attention

WASHINGTON — The Missouri Senate race is getting attention from powerful players in Washington — including Vice President Pence.Pence and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., discussed the race over the weekend, while they were horseback riding together in Washington.“We talked about a lot of things, including the Missouri Senate race,” Blunt told the Springfield News-Leader.Blunt said he has not talked to state Attorney General Josh Hawley — who is under pressure from other leading Missouri Republicans to run for the Senate seat — about the race. And he declined to say whether he preferred Hawley or some of the other possible GOP contenders lining up to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.“It’s still developing,” Blunt said of the contest.But another Republican close to Hawley said Pence called the state attorney general and encouraged him to run. A spokesman for Hawley confirmed that phone call after the News-Leader reported it and said Hawley is "giving the race serious consideration.""Josh spoke to Vice President Pence this weekend and has been getting a great deal of encouragement to run. He is giving the race serious consideration," said the spokesman, Scott Paradise. "Josh has also received calls from others interested in running and he is letting them know of his decision to consider the race." Hawley just won his first political office in 2016. But the pressure for him to challenge McCaskill has been growing since Republicans lost their top recruit earlier this month. Rep. Ann Wagner had been planning to run but recently announced she would seek re-election to her House seat instead.McCaskill said she expects Republicans to find a "strong opponent," whether it's Hawley or another contender, and she will be "the underdog" in the race no matter what. She has already been labeled as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats facing re-election in 2018. Asked about the prospect of running Continue Reading