Face in the News: Security concerns still run deep at the Olympics; Sens. Durbin and Ayotte weigh in on immigration; A new proposal on gay rights

Olympic rings stand in front of the airport in Adler outside Sochi on November 30, 2013. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics that start on February 7, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images) YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

(CBS News) -- American athletes continue to make their way to the top of the medal stand Sochi, but the primary focus of lawmakers and American officials continues to be security and the threat of terrorism at the Olympic games. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told Face the Nation this Sunday that he was encouraged by the lack of terrorist incidents in the first days of the international event. But he cautioned that the work of keeping athletes and visitors safe was far from over. “It's still, I believe, a dangerous situation,” King said. “The worst thing we can do in any way is… if anyone let their guard down between now and the end of the games.”

In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, lawmakers have criticized Russian President Vladimir V. Putin for failing to cooperate fully with American intelligence services. When Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer asked Rep. King about his level of satisfaction with Putin’s cooperation, he said he was only moderately pleased. The extent to which they have worked with American intelligence has been “somewhat better,” he said, “but still not at the same level as the Chinese, the British or the Greeks. [The hosts of recent Olympic Games] They are still reluctant to give intelligence that they feel would allow us to determine their sources and methods, and also there's still a certain amount of pride, I believe, that they feel they can handle a lot of this on their own.”

King’s comments were picked up by The Washington Post, Politico, The Guardian, Reuters, The New York Daily News, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Later in the broadcast, Schieffer turned the focus to the fading prospects for immigration reform. Last week, Speaker John A. Boehner declared such legislation all but dead. “The American people, including many of my members, don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” Boehner said, an apparent reference to President Obama’s mention in the State of the Union that he might act alone to achieve pieces of his agenda.

Schieffer asked Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) about the potential for an end to the impasse. “Today the excuse is the State of the Union address, but when it comes to their opposition to the president, any excuse will do,” Durbin said. “The bottom line is this. We have a strong, bipartisan, fair and balanced bill that came out of the United States Senate. It was sent over to the House of Representatives. If they made a good-faith effort, we can find an agreement on this important issue.”

Ayotte countered that there was a “trust deficit” with the president, in light of the problematic rollout of the Affordable Care Act. “Let's think about it,” Ayotte said. “Immigration means doing a lot of complex things well. And in addition to that, the administration keeps issuing executive orders to change the law very frequently.” She added: “When the president came out in his State of the Union and talked about more executive orders, that certainly, I think, didn't help the situation.”

Sens. Ayotte and Durbin’s comments on immigration were picked up by The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, CNN, UPI, and New Hampshire Public Radio.

Both senators also weighed in on Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that the federal government will soon afford the same rights to same-sex couples as it does to opposite-sex couples within the criminal justice system.

Durbin expressed support for the Holder’s move. “I can tell you it's logical; it's consistent; it's compassionate,” he said. “The courts have led us in this conclusion that, at the federal level, we are recognizing the legal rights of same-sex couples. And what the attorney general has said is that is how we are going to administer justice in this administration, consistent with that Supreme Court decision.

But Ayotte was measured in her response, and criticized what she saw as another potential encroachment by the Obama administration on state-level autonomy. But it appears to be another example of the Obama administration imposing its will on the states,” she said. “For a state like New Hampshire, it's not going to be an issue because our legislature has decided to recognize same-sex marriage. It could be an issue for other states that are having this debate or have made different policy decisions.”

Sens. Ayotte and Durbin’s comments on Holder’s announcement were picked up by CNN,  The Washington Times, and The Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Peter Fulham

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