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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released his 2016 campaign immigration plan Friday, outlining a platform that predictably emphasizes bolstering border security but that also calls for a substantial overhaul to the legal immigration system.

Cruz has long positioned himself a hardliner on immigration, and his plan reiterated support for the bills he's recently championed, like Kate's Law and penalties for sanctuary cities. The plan also mirrors many of issues central to Donald Trump's campaign, including building a border wall and ending birthright citizenship. Cruz released his plan while engaged in fight with 2016 rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) over who is tougher on immigration.

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In the latest volley in the battle between Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz that has emerged since Tuesday's GOP debate, Rubio claimed that Cruz is painting himself as tougher on immigration only because the Texan shifted his position.

"He is a supporter of legalizing people that are in this country illegally. If he's changed that position, then he certainly has a right to change his position on that issue, but he should be clear about that," Rubio said at press conference at a Republican summit in Florida Friday.

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The Department of Justice announced Friday that it had settled litigation against Alabama over alleged violations of the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the Motor Voter law.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) and the Justice Department agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding outlining steps the state will take to come into compliance with the law, which requires states to give citizens seeking certain public services, including applying for driver's licenses, the opportunity to register to vote.

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Senate Republicans are finally having their long-awaited "come to Jesus" moment on Obamacare.

After years of promising to repeal the President's crowning health care achievement, even doomed efforts that are essentially political shows are being thrown in to turmoil by the political and policy realities that surround the law. Republicans took over Senate nearly a year ago, and now their first meaningful attempt to get a repeal measure on Obama's desk is being thwarted by the desire of some Republicans to protect the law's expanded Medicaid program -- a major target of conservative scorn.

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The latest effort by Congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare is hitting all sorts of speed bumps, as the Senate GOP is in disagreement as to how far to go, even though their bill stands no chance of being signed by President Obama.

The inability of Senate Republicans to settle on a plan reflects yet again how challenging repealing Obamacare would be, both in terms of policy and politics. It also exposes the gap between the GOP's anti-Obamacare political rhetoric, and the political and practical realities. Further complicating the issue is an attached measure to defund Planned Parenthood, that is also putting in a difficult spot some moderates facing tough re-election bids.

The Senate is currently considering its next steps in advancing a repeal bill through the so-called budget reconciliation process, a complex maneuver that requires only 51 votes and thus would be free of a Democratic filibuster threat. The House passed its version last month which would only repeal some aspects of Obamacare, mainly the employer and individual mandates.

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While other GOP candidates participating in the Fox Business Network debate dodged the question as to whether they would bail out major banks in a financial crisis, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made his opposition to "cronyism" position clear.

"The opening question [moderator Jerry Seib] asked -- would you bailout the big banks again -- nobody gave you an answer to that. I will give you an answer," Cruz said. "Absolutely not."

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Ben Carson insisted scrutiny of his personal backstory was biased and that people who know him know that he's honest.

"We have to start treating people the same. And finding out what people really think and what they're made of," Carson said during the Fox Business Network debate Tuesday. "People who know me know that I'm an honest person."

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The candidates in Tuesday's Fox Business Network undercard debate deserve a participation ribbon and a juice box for collectively refusing to answer a question asking them to name one Democratic lawmaker they admire.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) kicked off the trend: "This is why people are so frustrated with the last debate with these kinds of silly questions."

He instead used his time to rail against lawmakers of both parties in Washington.

"I want to fire everybody in D.C." he said.

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An appeals court delivered a major if not expected blow to President Obama's immigration policies Monday.

If there was a silver lining for supporters of Obama's immigration actions, it was that the court decided the case in way that made it more likely that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule in their favor. Legal experts said that was so broad as to change the fundamental role of the judicial branch in intervening in disagreements between states and the federal government.

The administration is also likely breathing a sigh of relief that the decision gives the White House enough of a window -- if just barely -- to appeal the decision in time for Supreme Court decision at the end of the 2015-2016 term, ahead of November's elections.

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Criminal justice advocates have done an impressive job amassing a broad coalition to support initiatives to curb mass incarceration. Their next challenge? Keeping it together as the 2016 race picks up and candidates are tempted to revert to “tough on crime” rhetoric to attack their opponents.

Already, some conservatives are flirting with the old “Willie Horton”-style politics, invoking racially-charged crime fears. While Donald Trump is often blamed for raising the temperature on crime, even lawmakers who previously have aligned themselves with the movement to overhaul the country's prison system have backed off from some of the efforts.

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