NH Democrats attack Ayotte for 'playing politics with national security'
CONCORD - State Democratic leaders accuse Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, of "playing politics with national security'' for failing to support a straight up or down vote on a homeland security spending measure.
The attack from Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs comes on the eve of an expected vote in the US Senate on a House-passed bill that contains riders gutting President Obama's executive orders on immigration.
"Instead of just talking about national security on Fox News, it's time for Kelly Ayotte to stand up and support a clean bill to protect our country and fund the Department of Homeland Security without any partisan policy riders," Jacobs said in a statement.
"Homeland Security secretaries from both parties have warned against the dangers of playing politics with funding for our national security, and it's time for Kelly Ayotte to listen to the voices of reason in her own party and stop risking a shutdown of the agency responsible for protecting against cyber-attacks and securing our borders.''
The senator's office quickly responded.
"This is an absurd attack by the Democrats since it is they who are vowing to block legislation passed by the House the funds the Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Ayotte supports continuing funding for our homeland security operations, as the House bill would do, and she will vote to proceed the bill," Ayotte Communications Director Liz Johnson told NH1.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, is the first signed of 44 Democratic colleagues who wrote Senate GOP leaders calling on them to strip the House bill of riders.
"We need to put national security ahead of partisan politics and pass a Homeland Security bill that is free from extraneous policy riders," the letter said.
"As we rapidly approach the date on which the Department of Homeland Security's funding expires, and as law enforcement officials face major threats to our nation's safety and security, we write with one simple request: work with us to pass a clean bill that funds Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year."
"While we agree our current immigration system needs comprehensive reform, including border security enhancements, this appropriations bill is not the place for this debate.''
During a town hall meeting in Auburn two weeks ago, Ayotte defended the practice of attaching riders that support her policies such as preventing the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and re-imposing sanctions on Iran to block the development of a nuclear weapon.
"She has not committed to supporting a clean bill,'' Jacobs told NH1 during a telephone interview.
"We want her to give a straight answer as to whether or not she is going to support a clean bill.''
Last week, Shaheen visited the state's homeland security agency to make a case for spending-only legislation.
Shaheen sought and got a committee assignment change so she would be the ranking Senate Democrat on the working group that deals with homeland security and terrorism prevention legislation.
Jacobs started Monday as the party's chief spokesman after having served as press aide for Governor Maggie Hassan's re-election campaign and her inaugural festivities.
The move is sure to only heighten speculation that Hassan will challenge Ayotte's bid for a second, six-year term in 2016 which would present a titanic campaign between each party's leading figure.
Hassan has said she's only focused on her second term as the state's chief executive but many close to her insist Hassan is the only Democrat who could knock off Ayotte, a young, rising star in the national GOP.