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Holding: Move against Syria should have 'clear objective'

U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., today said that any military operation against Syria should have a clear objective and "must be an effective use of our military superiority and not merely carried out to adhere to ill-conceived and ill-defined ‘red-lines.’"

The line was a jab at President Obama, who mentioned a red line a year ago in a press conference. At the time, Obama said: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Holding issued a statement that said: "The Assad regime’s disregard for the lives of its own citizens is deeply troubling and the attacks last week send a clear message that they will stop at nothing to hold onto power as long as possible."

He added that if the U.S. is planning military action in Syria, Congress should return to Washington from its August recess.

"Should the president decide to move forward with an armed response to the atrocity in Damascus, members of Congress must be advised, consulted, and have the opportunity to weigh in, and I stand ready to return to Washington to do just that,” Holding said.

Renee Schoof, McClatchy D.C. bureau

Morning Memo: McCrory's earnings disclosed; Chairman's mortgage under fire

PAT McCRORY MADE $175,000 ON CORPORATE BOARDS: Gov. Pat McCrory’s state financial disclosure form offers little insight into his wealth. But newly filed corporate records show the Republican made more than $175,000 in 2012 as a board member for two publicly traded companies. According to federal Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed in May, McCrory made $138,204 in total compensation (salary and stock awards) as a director at Tree.com, an online mortgage lender, through Dec. 31, 2012. SEC records filed in late July show he earned another $38,555 in total compensation as a Kewaunee Scientific director from April 2012 to the end of the year. The company paid his health insurance, which accounts for about $9,000 of the total.

McCrory resigned both boards just before he became governor. What still remains unknown: how much he made as a consultant for his brother’s firm and his previous salary at Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte law firm that does lobbying work. (Not to mention his clients for each.) And his total wealth.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN FACES CRITICS AGAIN: N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is facing heat from his naysayers again. Democratic operative Frank Eaton recently posted new court documents online showing Voller's home subject to foreclosure for delinquent payments.

But Voller refutes the suggestions that his finances -- which previously became a liability for Democrats -- are once again poised to embarrass the party. A day after the July 25 filing from Wells Fargo, Voller was accepted in a mortgage modification program, according to documents he provided to Dome. He said the court filing was merely part of the modification process.

***Read more from Voller and get a roundup of North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.

Morning Memo: With jobless benefits expiring, focus on Moral Monday protest

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: How big will Moral Monday get? That's the top question today at the statehouse. Now in the ninth week, the protests are expected to grow because long-term unemployment benefits end Monday for more than 70,000 workers thanks to a bill approved by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. A rainy weather forecast may dampen the demonstration.

With the House not holding full sessions this week, the Senate is moving forward. At 2 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will meet to look at the chamber's tax plan again. It is expected to send it back to the floor, where it will get a final vote this week and start the conference process on an issue that has stymied Republicans. The full Senate starts at 7 p.m.

UPDATED: McCrory released a public schedule later in the morning saying he would attend the swearing in ceremony for utilities board members.

CHRISTENSEN: Tax debate cherry picks statistics. In his Sunday column, Rob Christensen looks at the motivation for tax reform, picking apart the numbers to conclude: "There may be a legitimate argument for tinkering with the tax code – making sure corporate taxes are not out of line with neighboring states. But the link between lowering taxes and a booming state economy is weak. ...

So what is the value to having one of the lowest business tax rates, if you jeopardize the state’s quality of life? Those business executives don’t just want to move businesses here, but they want to live here as well." Full story.

***Find many more political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Hagan seeks assurances from Hagel on military assaults

Sen. Kay Hagan sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking for a report on the steps he has taken to implement new laws to prevent combat sexual assault in the military.

Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she received assurances from Hagel during his confirmation process that he would take steps to reduce the incidents of assault.

“We must take swift and meaningful action to address the military sexual assault crisis, and the National Defense Authorization Act directives passed by Congress last year are a good start,” Hagan said.

“Sexual assault cannot be accepted as part of the military culture, we owe it to our servicemen and women to ensure they don't have to worry about their personal safety,” she said

The provisions passed by the Senate in the defense bill include establishing a special victim supports unit, enhanced training and education for sexual assault prevention and two independent panels to review the systems used to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate sexual assaults.

Hagan attends White House meeting today on sexaul assault in military

Sen. Kay Hagan will attend a meeting today at the White House to discuss ways to prevent military sexual assault.

Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will join a group lead by senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, the chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Military sexual assault is a crisis in our armed forces, and one that I have about first-hand from service members in North Carolina,” Hagan said in a statement. “That an estimated 26,000 incidents of sexual assault took place in our military last year is nothing short of alarming and completely unacceptable.''

During his confirmation process, Hagan said she talked to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about how he planned to address the issue.

After the meeting, Hagan issued a statement saying: "I have heard first-hand from service members in North Carolina about the military sexual assault crisis in our armed forces, and today I spoke with some of the president’s top advisors about concrete steps we can take to address this problem.''

“It is appalling and unacceptable that an estimated 26,000 incidents of sexual assault took place in our military last year and even more alarming that so few victims actually reported them. Our servicemen and women should not have to worry about their personal safety on bases in the U.S. and around the world while they are bravely serving to protect our nation’s safety.”

Burr, Hagan vote against U.S. Senate's budget -- for different reasons

North Carolina's two U.S. senators voted against the federal budget bill approved in the wee hours Saturday morning -- but for very different reasons.

Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, voted against the spending plan put forth by her party because she was concerned about the cuts to the military. But Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, cast a dissenting ballot because the federal spending cuts didn't go far enough to reduce the nation's debt.

Morning Memo: North Carolina as a model for the national GOP?

N.C. AS A MODEL FOR THE NATIONAL GOP? For most Republicans, November was grim. But in North Carolina it was a happier story. “North Carolina could be a model for ‘red state’ resurgence,” says Marc Rotterman, a GOP strategist from Raleigh.

North Carolina Republicans will showcase their performance this week to the Republican National Committee, which starts its three-day winter meeting Wednesday at the Westin in uptown. A presentation scheduled for Thursday is called “Success in N.C.: A Blueprint for the Future.” But how much of that blueprint can be replicated is debatable.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Click below to read more.***

Kay Hagan targeted in TV ad campaign attacking Hagel nomination

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is the target of a new TV ad campaign from an outside group seeking to block President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel's for defense secretary.

The 30-second spot from Americans for a Strong Defense is targeting senators in five states, hoping to create political pressure on lawmakers to reject the former Nebraska senator's at his forthcoming confirmation hearing.

Obama radio ad on Ryan military spending votes

The Obama campaign is releasing a series of radio ads in seven states today.

The ad in North Carolina, "Big Decisions,"  focuses on GOP candidate Mitt Romney's VP pick, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, and two of Ryan's votes on military health spending.

Morning Roundup: State to press companies on fracking rights

State authorities are stepping up their campaign against home builder D.R. Horton in a bid to pressure the Texas company to return underground fracking rights to hundreds of homeowners in North Carolina.

Their concerns have gained urgency in recent weeks in the wake of the state legislature’s legalization of fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground shale rock formations. More here.

More political headlines:

--Nearly 6,000 delegates are expected in September, representing the 50 states, U.S. territories and “Democrats Abroad.” From California to Maine, Puerto Rico to Sweden, delegates are looking toward Charlotte and their excitement is palpable. Again and again in interviews, Democrats used the same phrase to describe what the convention means to them: “The chance of a lifetime.”

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