A military jury on Wednesday sentenced a U.S. Army psychiatrist to death for the 2009 mass murder of 13 people, mostly unarmed soldiers, at Fort Hood, Texas, which the convicted gunman said he committed in retaliation for U.S. wars in the Muslim world.
Major Nidal Hasan, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) during the attack and later said he wanted to be a martyr, faces death by lethal injection for the rampage that also wounded 31 people.
The jury deliberated just over two hours before deciding on the death penalty for Hasan, who opened fire with a laser-sighted handgun in a medical facility at the sprawling central Texas military base just weeks before he was to be deployed to Afghanistan.
The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth does not have a death chamber. Under the current agreement with the Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, would carry out an execution, a USDB spokeswoman said.
Immigration reform advocates have a new enemy: the congressional calendar.
Fall’s fiscal fights have lined up in a way that could delay immigration reform until 2014, multiple senior House Republican leadership aides tell POLITICO, imperiling the effort’s prospects before the midterm elections.
The mid-October debt ceiling deadline — an earlier-than-expected target laid out Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — is changing the House GOP leadership’s plans to pass immigration bills that month.
“If we have to deal with the debt limit earlier, it doesn’t change the overall dynamics of the debate, but — just in terms of timing — it might make it harder to find time for immigration bills in October,” one House Republican leadership aide said.
That’s not the only scheduling challenge. There are fewer than 40 congressional working days until the end of 2013 — the unofficial deadline for passing immigration reform — and they’ll present some of the most politically challenging votes for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
It will be difficult to add immigration reform to the list, senior aides say.
Government funding runs dry on Sept. 30. The nine days the House is in session that month will be crowded with the debate over the continuing resolution to keep the government operating. The GOP leadership will have to reconcile the screams from conservatives who want to use the bill to defund Obamacare with their own desire to avoid a government shutdown.
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday defended her decision to allow so-called Dreamers a chance to obtain legal status to stay in the United States and blamed Congress for failing to act on immigration reform.
Napolitano, who is leaving the Obama administration Sept. 6 to become chancellor of the University of California system, pointed the finger at Congress for failing to pass the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for children brought to the country illegally by their parents.
“We instructed our immigration agents and officers to use their discretion under current law to not pursue low-priority immigration cases, like children brought to the United States illegally by their parents,” she said at a National Press Club speech. “Congress had a chance to give these so-called Dreamers a way to stay in our country through the DREAM Act, but unfortunately, that legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed for cloture, falling just five votes short, despite strong bipartisan support.”
Napolitano said she used her “prosecutorial discretion” to allow Dreamers to obtain legal status to stay in the country and said more than 80 percent of the 500,000 requests for deferred action have been approved in the program’s first year.
The deferred action program, Napolitano said, “is no substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, which is the only way to fix the longstanding problems with our immigration system.”