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. Rand Paul (R-KY) -- also a candidate for president -- will push a measure that will block taxpayer benefits for refugees from "high-risk" countries, his office announced Wednesday. He plans to introduce the measure as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act.

Paul is among the many Republicans critical of President Obama's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year. He also has re-introduced 2013 legislation that will put new restrictions on visas issued to refugees.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may have been mocked for his claim during Saturday’s Democratic debate that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” But his comment touched upon what has become a focus of research and planning in the defense and intelligence worlds.

For years, those in the national security community has considered climate change threat to American interests here and abroad, and are now exploring how climate change is exacerbating the conditions that lead to civil unrest.

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Former Secretary of State and Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton weighed in Tuesday on the talk among Republicans to ban Syrian refugees, and specifically Muslim refugees. On Twitter, she called the rhetoric "hateful" and said that "the idea that we'd turn away refugees because of religion is a new low."

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Days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) criticized Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for voting to "weaken the U.S. intelligence programs." The swipe comes after the two 2016 contenders had been engaged in squabble over immigration.

"At least two of my colleagues in the Senate aspiring to the presidency, Senator Cruz in particular, have voted to weaken the U.S. intelligence programs just in the last month and a half," Rubio said, speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, Monday. "And the weakening of our intelligence gathering capabilities leaves America vulnerable. And that is exactly what's happened."

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said it was not up to courts to grant LGBT legal protections and in the process, compared gay people to pedophiles.

Speaking at Georgetown University Law School Monday, Scalia said the Constitution guaranteed only religious and political protections, The New York Times reported, and that it was not up to judges to determine which other minority groups deserved legal protections.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Republicans in a closed-door meeting Thursday that he is looking to address this week the concerns many GOP lawmakers have raised about Syrian refugees in light of the Paris attack, an anonymous source in the room told Politico.

It's not clear which steps Ryan will take, though Politico reported there are several legislative options to consider in the coming days.

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Hopes that Paul Ryan would avoid a shutdown fight in the initial months of his speakership are now in jeopardy with the escalating hysteria over the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Since the Paris attacks that took the lives of more than 100 civilians, lawmakers have ramped up their attacks on the program, which already was the target of Republican opposition. The issue is quick becoming the latest litmus test for politicians to prove their conservative bonafides. More than a dozen governors -- most of them Republican -- said Monday their states did not wish to participate in the federal refugee resettlement program for Syrians.

But it’s not just Obama who has been receiving the criticism for his plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year. Now the pressure is growing on Ryan to do what he can to halt the program.

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Rep. Steve King -- the Iowa Republican who made the infamous "calves the size of cantaloupes" comment when comparing young undocumented immigrants to drug dealers -- endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president Monday.

"I am all of the way in supporting Ted Cruz for president," King said in a video announcement of his endorsement posted to Cruz's campaign website. "I am going to ask you to do one thing on one day: February 1. Do your duty for God and country, come to caucus and support Ted Cruz for president of the United States."

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