ISIL

Ransom-to-Iran Charge 'Defies Logic,' Obama Says
President rejects Trump allegation that general election will be 'rigged'

Secretary of State John Kerry (left) meets with senior Iranian officials. On Thursday, President Obama rejected allegations that his administration paid a ransom to Tehran to free U.S. hostages. (Photo via Flickr)

President Obama on Thursday rejected Republican assertions that his administration paid Iran a $400 million ransom to secure the freedom of four American hostages.  

Obama expressed bewilderment that something that “was not a secret” when the funds were transferred has become a major issue following a new report that the payment was made in cash that was delivered via an unmarked cargo plane.  

Obama, Ryan to Lunch Tuesday at White House

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House expects President Barack Obama and the Republican House and Senate leaders on Tuesday to discuss issues ranging from taxes to criminal justice to national security.  

Obama is scheduled to meet privately with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Later, he and Ryan will have a one-on-one lunch meeting. It will be Obama’s first private meeting with Ryan since the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee became speaker in late October. Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the trio should discuss several matters on which they appear to agree. That list includes a sweeping trade pact Obama’s administration negotiated with Asian countries, battling the heroin epidemic, and authorizing the fight against the Islamic State.  

Amid ISIS Worries, Voters Warm to Obama's Economy

Will Obama get credit for the economy being less of a concern?. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Polls show voters are giving President Barack Obama higher marks for guiding the economy, but security concerns could be clouding recent snapshots of the electorate’s mindset.  

Trends in voters’ collective worries have transformed, for now at least, the 2016 election cycle into one focused in large part on national security and foreign policy issues. In recent months, terrorism has surged to the top of lists of voters’ top concerns nearly 10 months before the presidential and congressional elections. “I don’t think that’s a reflection that the president’s policies have worked,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican up for re-election in 2016. “I’m guessing they’re saying national security is their top concern right now.  

Obama and the Mythical Arab Ground Force

Pro-Iraqi government forces wait next to armored vehicles on Tuesday in the al-Aramil area before pushing into Anbar province's capital Ramadi. (AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and Republicans agree on at least one foreign policy issue, calling for Arab countries to do more against the Islamic State. But there are reasons aplenty to see holes in what is a key part of their strategies for defeating the violent extremist group.  

Despite a new Saudi Arabian-led coalition to fight ISIS, the U.S. has gotten little in return from bipartisan calls for its friends in the Middle East to help raise an Arab ground force. And some experts and lawmakers doubt that will dramatically change, further giving the 2016 election the look of a national security referendum. Earnest: Saudi Arabia Human Rights a 'Significant Concern' 

Obama Looking for a 'Mulligan' on ISIS Speech

Obama's prime-time speech on the war against terror was largely panned. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

The unofficial theme of President Barack Obama’s week is the fight against the Islamic State, but there are questions whether the public will give him a do-over after his recent prime-time address fell flat.  

Obama made a rare appearance Monday in the Pentagon briefing room, warning leaders of the group “you’re next” after ticking off a list of their predecessors killed by U.S. and coalition air strikes.  

Graham: Fight ISIS to Prevent More San Bernardino Shootings

Graham is proposing a sweeping AUMF against ISIS. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the way to prevent more mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday is to "make ISIL the losers they are."  

The South Carolina Republican, who is running for president, told reporters that an all-out war against the terror organization would "probably fix the problem more than gun control."  

House Democrats Plan Alternative to Syrian Refugee Bill

Lofgren tried to get changes made to the GOP refugee bill due on the floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:15 p.m. | House Democrats will use procedural gambits to get a vote on their proposal aimed at easing concerns about Syrian refugees coming to the United States but without completely blocking their resettlement.  

The partisan maneuvering has the potential to weaken support for a Republican-backed bill set to come to the floor Thursday. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, but the bill is expected to pass with GOP votes and some from fiscally conservative Democrats.  

Congress Scrambles for Response to Refugees, Paris Attacks

Ryan speaks Tuesday before signing the defense policy bill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Top Republican leaders in Congress called for a "pause" in allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States, as lawmakers in both chambers scrambled for a response to the Paris terrorist attacks.