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The Daily Tar Heel
View from the Hill

Carolina Capitol Roundup: Jan. 13-17

This is View from the Hill’s weekly roundup of the most interesting news from Washington, D.C. pertaining to North Carolina and the UNC system.

Hagan misses Obama’s Raleigh speech, states support

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said she supported President Barack Obama’s announcement to establish a manufacturing hub at N.C. State University — although she was conspicuously absent during the speech.

At a Raleigh event Wednesday, Obama said the U.S. Department of Energy will devote $70 million for the next five years to the project.

Hagan said in a statement that the project will be good for the state’s economy.

“The Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute at NC State will create jobs, strengthen the manufacturing sector, foster new scientific research, and help to reduce energy consumption and emissions,” she said.

Hagan’s website also posted a letter she had sent last week encouraging the department to support the project.

But conservatives were quick to point out Hagan’s absence from the event.

Americans for Prosperity criticized Hagan for not attending, saying she was, “hiding out in D.C.”

Greg Brannon, who is running for the Republican nomination to run against Hagan, used the occasion to criticize Hagan and Republican frontrunner Thom Tillis.

Senate records show Hagan was in Washington that day voting for an appropriations bill.

And her campaign spokeswoman said Hagan needed to be in DC to do the job she was elected to do.

“Just like she’s always been, Kay is focused on doing her job today, which includes cleaning up the unemployment insurance mess Thom Tillis created in Raleigh, voting on a bill to avoid a government shutdown, and attending an Armed Services Committee briefing on Iraq and Syria,” she said.

Obama briefly mentioned her absence during the speech.

“Your Senator, Kay Hagan, couldn’t be here, but I wanted to thank her publicly for the great work she’s doing,” he said.

New Voting Rights Act bill will exempt voter ID

Congress has introduced an amendment to the Voting Rights Act that would exempt voter identification laws as penalties against states.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which created a formula of which states’ voter laws required preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice, unconstitutional.

The new provision requires states with five or more voting rights violations in the past 15 years to have changes to their voting laws subjected to clearance by the Justice Department.

But voter ID laws would not count as a violation, making the voter ID part of North Carolina’s recent voting law not count against the state.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state in September regarding the voter law, mainly criticizing N.C.‘s provision limiting early voting.

Aiken tweets support for Obama

During Obama’s visit to North Carolina, former American Idol star Clay Aiken, who is reportedly considering a run for Congress, sent out numerous tweets in support of the announcement.

In the tweets, Aiken referenced his admiration for former N.C. Democratic governors, Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt. Aiken also used the tweets to criticize partisanship in Congress.

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