(LIN) — It may be hard to believe, but President Barack Obama’s inauguration was just last week.
An estimated 1 million spectators poured into the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to watch Obama’s ceremonial swearing in. Although the crowds moved out and went back to the daily grind, Capitol Hill is still getting a lot of action.
Here’s a look at the post-inauguration top talkers:
On Jan. 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a Congressional hearing on gun violence where lawmakers and advocates from both ends of the spectrum voiced their thoughts on what the government should do to address gun violence in America. The hearing began with opening statements from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from being shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting.
“Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult. But I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you.”
Although brief, Giffords’ statement set the tone for the entire hearing, which presented views from the National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly and Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.
Trotter made a case for women to own guns, stating, “An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home because a defense weapon.”
Obama is expected to promote his plan on gun violence in Minneapolis Monday.
She may have stepped up to the plate to face a panel ready to deliver stark criticism, but on Jan. 23, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended her actions in the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Some parts of her testimony proved emotional – Clinton choked up and described how she felt when she stood alongside Obama to receive the flag-draped caskets at Andrews Air Force base. At one point, she pointed a finger and snapped at Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., telling him that much of what happened in Benghazi that day still remains unknown.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton exclaimed. “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out or a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference – at this point – does it make?”
After that turning point in the hearing, the questions became a little less pointed, and committee members even caught themselves praising Clinton on a job well done.
“We are proud of you,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “All over the world when I travel, you are viewed with admiration and respect.”
This week was jam-packed with conversation regarding immigration reform. On Jan. 28, Congress laid out a bipartisan immigration reform plan. The next day, Obama gave a spirited, campaign-style speech in Las Vegas, stating that his biggest goal in his second term will be passing legislation that will lead in an immigration overhaul.
Of course, politics plays a major role in this conversation.
“The politics on this issue have been turned upside down,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., saying there is more support than ever for immigration changes, and anyone opposing it faces major political risks.
“Elections, elections,” McCain said, stating that the GOP is at risk in losing the support of the Hispanic vote.
Obama told Telemundo this week that “this is something we should be able to get done certainly this year,” and said he’d like to get it done in the first half of the year, if possible.
In what seems to be the least controversial story from Capitol Hill this week, former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., bid the Senate farewell as he begins to prepare for his new role as secretary of state.
He will replace Clinton, who served four years as the country’s top diplomat.
His confirmation process went rather smoothly. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to back his nomination on Jan. 29, and the next day, the Senate confirmed his bid 94-3.
The five-term Massachusetts senator will be replaced temporarily by William “Mo” Cowan, who served as Gov. Deval Patrick’s former chief of staff. A special election will be held June 25 to fill the seat.
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