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Posts tagged "113th Congress"


Several dozen frustrated House conservatives are scheming to infiltrate the GOP leadership next year—possibly by forcing Speaker John Boehner to step aside immediately after November’s midterm elections.

The conservatives’ exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. Some say it’s enough to coalesce behind—and start whipping votes for—a single conservative leadership candidate. Others want to cut a deal with Majority Leader Eric Cantor: We’ll back you for speaker if you promise to bring aboard a conservative lieutenant.

But there’s a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won’t have the votes to be reelected in January.

The masterminds of this mutiny are trying to stay in the shadows for as long as possible to avoid putting a target on their backs. But one Republican said the “nucleus”of the rebellion can be found inside the House Liberty Caucus, of which he and his comrades are members. This is not surprising, considering that some of the key players in that group—Justin Amash of Michigan, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky—were among the 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in January 2013.

Amash, chairman of the Liberty Caucus, warned at the time that there would be a “larger rebellion” down the road if Boehner’s leadership team did not bring conservatives into the fold. Such an insurrection never materialized, however, as Boehner deftly navigated a series of challenges last year and wound up winning over some of the malcontents.

But conservatives, increasingly irritated with what they see as a cautious approach taken by their leadership, are now adamant that Boehner’s tenure should expire with this Congress.

"There are no big ideas coming out of the conference. Our leadership expects to coast through this election by banking on everyone’s hatred for Obamacare," said one Republican lawmaker who is organizing the rebellion. "There’s nothing big being done. We’re reshuffling chairs on the Titanic."

Boehner isn’t the only target. The conservatives find fault with the entire leadership team. Privately, they define success as vaulting one of their own into any one of the top three leadership spots. But they think they’re less likely to accomplish even that limited goal with a narrow effort focused on knocking out one person or winning a single slot. That’s why this time around, unlike the ham-fisted mutiny of 2013, rebels are broadening their offensive beyond Boehner’s gavel.

Cantor, next in line for speaker and once considered a shoo-in to succeed Boehner, has found himself in conservatives’ crosshairs in recent weeks.

With Boehner out of town in late March, Cantor was charged with pushing a “doc fix” bill across the finish line. When it became apparent the measure might not clear the House floor, Cantor authorized a voice vote, allowing the bill to pass without registered resistance. This maneuver infuriated conservatives, who felt that leadership—Cantor in particular—had cheated them. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Caroline yelled “Bullshit!” outside the House chamber.

Some conservatives are still seething.

"I’m getting used to being deceived by the Obama administration, but when my own leadership does it, it’s just not acceptable," Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said last week, after Cantor met with a group of angry Republican Study Committee members.

Cantor told conservatives that a voice vote was “the least-bad option,” given the circumstances. But many Republicans aren’t buying it. Moreover, they said that with Boehner out of town, Cantor had an opportunity to impress them with his management of the conference—and didn’t.

"It’s an issue of trust. If you want to have a majority that is governing, and a majority that is following the leader, the rest of us need to be in a position where we trust our leadership," Labrador said this week, adding, "When you have politicians actually playing tricks on their own party, and their own members of Congress, I think that erodes the trust the American people have in the rest of us."

"I can’t think of a time where I felt my trust had been more violated since I’ve been here—and that’s pretty stiff competition," Mulvaney added.

Cantor’s allies say the whole episode has been overblown. But there’s no question that it has stirred fresh disillusionment within the rank and file. And it’s not just the tea-party members up in arms. One House Republican who is friendly with Cantor, and hardly viewed as a troublemaker, predicted, “If there’s another vote like [that], Eric won’t be speaker. Ever.”

This backlash has emboldened some of leadership’s conservative critics. Now, they say, they might try to force Boehner out and also demand that Cantor bring on a conservative deputy before agreeing to vote for him as speaker.

"Eric would make that deal in a heartbeat," said a Republican lawmaker who supports Cantor but opposes Boehner.

Neither Cantor nor his office would comment on leadership races.

Even if Cantor does ascend to speaker, there could be fireworks further down the leadership ladder. Doubts persist about whether Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Cantor’s closest friend in Congress, should earn a promotion to majority leader. The Californian is universally well liked, but some colleagues aren’t sold on his performance as whip. And if McCarthy does earn the No. 2 spot, there will almost certainly be a free-for-all to succeed him as whip, imperiling the expected advance of Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam.

Amid all the bold talk about Boehner and Cantor and the other leaders, some conservatives are thinking smaller. There is talk of meeting with leadership officials this fall and making demands about steering committee appointments and chairmanships. The idea would be to redistribute the decision-making and shake up what Rep. Louie Gohmert calls the “centralized, stovepipe dictatorship” that runs the congressional wing of the GOP.

Some members are convinced that Boehner will spare everyone the drama and decide to leave on his own. Sources close to the speaker have begun leaving the exit door ever so slightly open, and rumors of his retirement are now running rampant throughout the conference.

"All of this hinges on whether John is running for reelection," Mulvaney, who refused to vote for Boehner’s reelection in 2013, said of the potential leadership shuffling.

"I’d say about 80 percent of us expect him to step down after the elections," added one House Republican who has known Boehner for many years.

Boehner insists that he’ll seek another term as speaker.

"Speaker Boehner is focused on the American people’s top priority: helping our economy create more private sector jobs," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "He has also said—publicly and privately—that he plans to be speaker again in the next Congress."

But conservative plotters promise that, unlike 15 months ago, they’ve got the numbers to prevent that from happening. Even if they can’t recruit an alternative to pit against him, they’ll tell Boehner in the November conference meeting that they plan to vote against him on the House floor in January “until kingdom come,” one GOP lawmaker said.

It’s similar to the strategy conservatives used in 1998 to depose Speaker Newt Gingrich, who gave up his gavel in November once it became apparent that conservatives had the numbers to block his reelection on the floor in January. In this case, Boehner won’t be able to win a majority vote of the House if a large bloc of conservatives sticks together and votes against him. Sooner rather than later, the conservatives predict, the speaker would spare himself that humiliation and step aside.

But as of yet, there is no sign of a serious conservative challenger willing to run for a top leadership job, let alone for Boehner’s.

Organizers are actively recruiting two highly respected conservatives—Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Jim Jordan of Ohio—hoping that one will agree to lead their opposition movement. But both have told colleagues they aren’t interested. And the other frequently discussed scenarios, such as RSC Chairman Steve Scalise running for whip, would hardly qualify as the splash conservatives are determined to make.

The attempted overthrow in 2013 failed in part because conservatives didn’t have an alternative candidate for on-the-fence Republicans to rally around. Now, with each passing day, organizers fear history could repeat itself.

"Somebody has to step forward," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, one of 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in 2013. "This is not something where after the election you can step forward. There’s going to be months and months of [planning] needed."

Allies of the current leadership team dismiss the legitimacy of any challenge to the ruling order, and they predict that any conservative coup—especially one aimed at winning the speakership—will fail. One senior Republican said that there are only “three Republicans capable of winning majority support to become speaker of the House: John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.”


On Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans blocked Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to reduce workplace discrimination against women. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the bill has nothing to do with women, and that Democrats are simply making show votes for their "powerful pals on the Left." 

Leading up to the Senate debate, both Democrats and Republicans trotted out women to talk about how their political parties help them. The White House is currently under scrutiny for paying female staffers 88 cents on the dollar compared to their male co-workers. (The most widely cited statistic on the matter say that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.) So the GOP has tried to paint the Paycheck Fairness Act as hypocritical. Democrats responded by claiming Republicans don’t care about women at all. We will keep hearing this rhetoric all the way to the midterms. 

As Alan Fram at the Associated Press notes, this is the third consecutive election year where Democrats have brought up a paycheck fairness bill. And Democrats have certainly made the issue about women this time, claiming that Republicans who oppose the bill oppose equal pay for equal work. In practice, the bill would make it harder for employers to pay women less than men (more regulation) and easier for aggrieved workers to sue. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring the bill up for another vote before the midterms. He repeated the party line today, sighing, "For reasons known only to them, Senate Republicans don’t seem to be interested in closing wage gaps for working women." 

Source: Allie Jones for The Wire

h/t: Hayes Brown at Think Progress World


The GOP got ZERO of their demands last night. 


GOP-Controlled House votes to avert government shutdown, delay Obamacare

APThe U.S. House voted to delay the Affordable Care Act and repeal a tax on medical devices as part of a government funding bill.

The White House issued a veto threat on the measure and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would reject the health care language. 

To avoid a government shutdown, Congress must agree to a spending bill before the end of Monday. 

Undeterred, House Republicans pressed ahead with their latest attempt to squeeze a concession from the White House in exchange for letting the government open for business normally on Tuesday. “Obamacare is based on a limitless government, bureaucratic arrogance and a disregard of a will of the people,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which isn’t schedule to meet until Monday afternoon. 

Photo: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, walks to the House Floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (Molly Riley / AP Photo)

The House GOP is the one causing all this government shutdown bullshit.

Also: October 17th is the debt default deadline. 

Vote out ALL Republicans!!

In their ongoing effort to completely destroy the U.S. economy, The House GOP just pushed through a resolution with language that would defund Obamacare. Having already told House Republicans that he would not sign any legislation that would defund the popular healthcare law (assuming it even made it through a Senate vote prior to that), the Obama White House lashed out at Republicans today via Twitter and other social media saying ”They actually did it: The House just passed a resolution that risks a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. #EnoughAlready.”

Unlike previous attempts to overturn Obamacare (which have surpassed forty attempts at millions of dollars per attempt), the language in this bill is a bit different as the legislation it’s tied to is critical to the ongoing functioning of the entire federal government. The House GOP has irresponsibly tied the two together in order to hold the nation hostage. To give you an idea of how frequently this “nuclear” option is used, the last full government shutdown occurred in 1996 (almost two decades ago).

Tying unrelated language to vital legislation is nothing new for Congress. However, in the wake of the multitude of GOP legislators that cried foul over pork contained in a certain recent hurricane relief bill, the chutzpah they’ve demonstrated in their current hostage situation is simultaneously hypocritical and unsurprising. 

What are some of the consequences of this Republican maneuver? ”If this legislation is not enacted and we embark on a government shutdown, the consequences are severe: Our brave men and women of our military don’t get paid; our recovering economy will take a huge hit, and our most vulnerable citizens — including the elderly and veterans who rely on critical government programs and services — could be left high and dry,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY). At the risk of sounding accusatory, the GOP (it would seem) would rather drive the entire country off yet another fiscal cliff and doom us all rather than admit they lost the Obamacare battle at the Supreme Court level. They’d rather harm active military service members and veterans rather than pass a clean bill without defunding language. They’d rather play hyper-fringe politics rather than compromise and keep our government functioning. It’s a sad and telling narrative about the state of the current GOP.

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache

When things get bad during the spring tornado season, what organization is at the forefront of the situation, issuing forecasts and crucial tornado warnings that even the private weather companies like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel follow religiously?

The National Weather Service. A government organization.

If the sequester hits on March 1, all 4,600 National Weather Service employees would need to be furloughed for 4 weeks to make up for the 8.2% cut:

Government managers could also face wrenching decisions on which missions and employees are most needed. For the National Weather Service to handle an 8.2 percent cut, all of its approximately 4,600 employees would have to be furloughed for four weeks, said Richard Hirn, general counsel for the National Weather Service Employees Organization. Under that scenario, Hirn saw no way for the agency to maintain around-the-clock operations at its 122 forecasting offices.

“It’s just not going to work,” he said.

Heading into an active severe weather season with severely understaffed (or flat out closed) National Weather Service offices is exactly what we DON’T need. NWS offices already get stretched thin when there’s a large tornado outbreak. Cutting them down to bare bones or shutting them down altogether will mean lives lost. All those tornado warnings the much-vaunted private industry takes for granted will disappear.

h/t: Weatherdude at Daily Kos

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders are ready to move forward on legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act as soon as next week, a GOP source familiar with the plans told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) still haven’t sorted out whether they plan to take up and amend the VAWA reauthorization bill that passed the Senate or introduce an entirely new bill, said the source. But either way, the Republican leaders are likely to act on some kind of legislation next week, and aides in Cantor’s office have been meeting with committee staff and member offices this week in preparation, the source said.

Cantor spokesman Doug Heye said only that GOP leaders are working on having a VAWA bill ready “in the coming weeks,” and that his office has been in regular contact with GOP staffers on the issue every week for the past several months.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed its VAWA bill last week, authorizing $659 million over five years for various programs targeting domestic violence. The Senate bill includes new protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence, gives more attention to sexual assault prevention and takes steps to reduce a backlog in processing rape kits.

The news that the House is ready to act comes as a handful of House GOP lawmakers unveiled a separate bill that could provide a path forward on what has become the biggest obstacle to getting VAWA through Congress and to the president’s desk: a provision in the Senate bill that grants new authority to tribal courts to prosecute domestic abusers.

Currently, tribal courts have no authority over non-Native American men on tribal lands who domestically or sexually abuse Native American women, who endure such abuse at two-and-a-half times the rate of other women. The Senate VAWA bill includes a provision that would grant tribal courts the authority to prosecute in those cases, but many House Republicans oppose the provision and argue that tribal courts wouldn’t uphold the constitutional rights of non-Native Americans. This specific issue became so divisive in the last Congress — and both sides were so firm in their positions — that it ultimately led to the failure to reauthorize VAWA for the first time since 1994.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Wednesday reintroduced his compromise proposal from last year, the Violence Against Indian Women Act, which would grant tribes the new authority over non-Native American domestic abusers but give those abusers the option to transfer their cases to a federal court if they felt their rights weren’t being upheld. The bill has seven Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Tom Cole (Okla.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), John Kline (Minn.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.), David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Michael Simpson (Idaho).

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), one of the leading proponents of the Senate VAWA bill, told HuffPost earlier this month that she wasn’t sure if she could get behind Issa’s compromise language if it were what passed in the House. But she called his approach “responsible” and noted that, at least in the last Congress, it had the backing of Native American tribes.

"Until I have the language in front of me, and I’m sure it provides protections, I’m not going to commit either way," Murray said. "But tribes have expressed to me that [Issa] is being fair and rational."

Meanwhile, during the final days of the last Congress, Cole told HuffPost that he expected the House VAWA bill to include Issa’s proposal in this Congress. He predicted its inclusion would mean VAWA was “a done deal” in the House, and that it would ease certain Republicans’ fears that tribal courts wouldn’t honor the constitutional rights of non-Native Americans who came before their courts. As it is, tribal courts are already bound by the Constitution.

"People seem to have this fantasy that Indians and courts are going to try to make up for what happened to them for hundreds of years of history," Cole, who is the only registered Native American in Congress, suggested as the reason some GOP lawmakers were so upset by the provision. "That’s just not true. Most tribes want non-tribal members to come in — if you’re gaming, for tourism, commerce. That’s their lifeblood."

h/t: Jennifer Bendery at HuffPo

Eliseo Medina, secretary treasurer of the Service Employees International Union and labor’s point man on immigration, has been waiting decades for a moment like this one.

“I think we get it this year,” a smiling Medina told TPM in his office in Washington. “And if we don’t, the discussion won’t be about whether it’s coming afterwards, just what it will look like and when.”

Over his long career, Medina’s witnessed dozens of promising immigration reform efforts, only to see them countered just as often by a restrictionist backlashes — backlashes that sometimes included support from unions. But everything seems to be coming together at the right time in 2013, with a broad coalition of labor, business, religious leaders, Latino groups, and even some prominent Republicans demanding immediate action.

With victory in sight, SEIU is committing the full force of its 2.1 million members to pushing comprehensive reform in 2013, with plans for rallies around the country, education campaigns for members, and an inside game aimed at lobbying lawmakers in Washington towards a final vote. The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, is on board as well; and the two sometimes rival groups are united around a common set of policy principles after splitting on President George W. Bush’s failed immigration effort. Both organizations identify passing a bill that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented population as one of their absolute top priorities for the 113th Congress.

“The inequality created by our current immigration system is having a deeper effect on our society then anything we’ve seen in recent history,” Ana Avendaño, director of the AFL-CIO’s director of immigration and community action, told TPM. “We have 11.5 million people who really are not benefitting from the hard fought gains that the labor movement and other social movements have accomplished in this country.”

Under pressure from all sides, immigration reform may be labor’s last, best chance at major legislative gains under Obama. Leaders are counting on a comprehensive reform bill to boost living standards for low-wage workers currently vulnerable to exploitation, spur recruitment in growing industries, and bank goodwill with both union members and the public at large.

But it wasn’t always this way. As recently as the 1990s, the movement’s official position was, as Medina put it, “anti-immigrant or at least anti-undocumented immigrant.” And nobody had a better seat for its long shift in attitude than Medina.

From Hawks To Doves

After legally immigrating from Mexico as a child, he began his career picking crops in California. Starting as a teenager, he became active with Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers of America, moving up the ranks over a multi-year strike and boycott campaign against grape growers to unionize their workers.

As part of his efforts to pry concessions from the agricultural industry, Chavez took a hardline position against illegal immigration, which he viewed as an endless source of scab labor. At one point, the UFW deployed members to form a “wet line” along border crossings in order to harass incoming workers. Lou Dobbs, who covered Chavez as a young journalist, would later cite the campaign as a key experience in crafting his populist, anti-immigration worldview.

Medina told TPM that the UFW faced a difficult dynamic in that the vast majority of its members were legal immigrants at the time, creating natural tensions with undocumented workers who they viewed as strikebreakers.

“The growers exploited the misery of one group against the misery of the other,” he said.

As the SEIU encountered similar challenges in many of its fastest growing industries, such as home health-care work, Medina agitated to revise labor’s longtime stance against undocumented workers. The momentum carried over to the AFL-CIO, which adopted a new position in 2000 calling for blanket amnesty for undocumented immigrants and condemning immigration raids against organizing workers.

For supporters of greater restrictions on immigration, like the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian, labor’s defection was a frustrating loss.

“It’s not just that unions are looking for more warm bodies to recruit, they’ve undergone a basic cultural change at the top to become culturally leftist in ways they weren’t before,” Krikorian said. “Americans have pretty much given up on organized labor, so organized labor is giving up on Americans.”

While victory in 2013 is far from certain, labor leaders believe conditions have improved significantly since their disappointing 2007 effort.

For one thing, Republicans acknowledge they’re on defense this time around in a way that was not true during past reform efforts. It was easier for GOP lawmakers to minimize the role of Latino voters in their 2006 midterm losses, which most blamed on Iraq, and their role in Obama’s 2008 blowout, which many dismissed as Bush fatigue. But the 2012 results, in which Obama racked up record margins and turnout among Latinos around the country despite a sagging economy and mediocre approval ratings, are much harder to ignore.

“I think many of the politicians were saying, ‘You know, we keep hearing about this Latino giant and it’s sort of a myth,’” Medina said. “But the reality finally hit home on November 6.”

For another, the same industry groups that backed a bill in 2007 are likely to be less patient with Republicans this time around. Farmers around the country reported huge crop losses in 2012 thanks to immigration crackdowns that pushed away seasonal workers, especially in states like Alabama that passed their own hardline legislation.

Labor will inevitably butt heads with business groups like the Chamber of Commerce over how to deal with these shortages, which unions believe should be addressed by an independent commission instead of a guest worker program that ties workers to one employer. But the increased urgency should help pressure pro-business Republicans into a final deal, even if its provisions don’t perfectly match labor’s demands.

Avendaño and other labor experts caution not to expect a dramatic reversal of fortune in terms of union recruiting once a bill passes. Most of the same factors fueling labor’s decline will remain in place and undocumented workers are plenty engaged in organizing already, not only through unions but through worker advocacy groups like Domestic Workers United.

“We’re not fixing all of the conditions keeping workers from organizing,”Avendaño said. “It’s a step towards restoring the economy and giving workers a more fair shot.”

But according to Ruth Milkman, a sociologist at CUNY who researches labor and immigration, the emphasis on passing a bill does point toward an emerging focus on low wage workers that’s increasingly defining the movement. It’s not just because immigrant-heavy jobs like janitors and nurses assistants are growing the fastest. By stressing their struggles working in typically low wage jobs, the SEIU and AFL-CIO may have a better shot at winning hearts and minds outside the movement than they would by highlighting workers in industries with more generous wages and benefits.

H/T: Benjy Sarlin at TPM

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution expressly provides that nearly anyone born in the United States is a citizen, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Yet, despite the Constitution’s clear command, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants to ignore our founding document and prevent the children of undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens:

It’s the first week of the 113th Congress, and one House member is already trying to stop children born in the United States to undocumented parents — whom he calls “anchor babies” — from gaining citizenship.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken hardliner on immigration, introduced a bill on Thursday that would “clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.” The Supreme Court has consistently held that anyone born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, should receive citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

King disagrees, as do 13 co-sponsors on the bill, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

The Constitution is clear that King’s bill is unconstitutional. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The word “jurisdiction” refers to people that are subject to American law. Thus foreign diplomats and their families, who are granted broad immunity from U.S. law, are not entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Likewise, at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was drafted many Native Americans were subject only to tribal law and thus were not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. Undocumented immigrants and their children, by contrast, are not immune to U.S. law. And thus fit squarely within the Fourteenth Amendment’s command.

h/t: Think Progress Justice

The Violence Against Women Act first became law in 1994 and has since been routinely reauthorized without controversy. By providing resources for law enforcement to combat spousal abuse, it has protected countless women from domestic violence.

But the 2012 re-authorization, like many initiatives of the just-concluded Congress, fell prey to House Republican resistance — in this case, to expanding the Act to cover more women. In the end, House GOP leaders refused bring to a vote a bill that passed the Senate with a bipartisan supermajority.

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a Democratic leadership member, told TPM. “This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

A Republican source familiar with failed last-minute negotiations to save the measure between Vice President Joe Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) disputed that view. The source blamed Senate Democrats for making a resolution impossible by “constantly shifting the goalposts” and adopting a “my way or the highway approach.”

But Senate Democrats peeled off enough Republicans for the new provisions. In April, they passed the expanded version by a whopping 68-31 vote, winning over 8 Republicans.

The legislation then moved to the House, where Republican leaders faced pressure to act, but had no intention of supporting the added provisions. So they introduced a scaled-back version that omitted them and made it harder for illegal-immigrant victims of domestic violence to obtain legal status under a special category called the U Visa.

Republican leaders deployed their female members to make the case for it, notably Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), a leadership member, and Rep. Sandy Adams (FL), herself a victim of domestic violence. Over the objections of some advocates for abused victims, but with thesupport of a so-called men’s rights group, House GOP leaders passed their version on a partisan vote, despite a White House veto threat.

And that’s when the legislation stalled, never to recover.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) invited the Senate to go to conference to resolve the differences. He also argued that the Senate bill was unconstitutional because it would raise new revenue with visa fees (bills with revenues are supposed to originate in the House, though leaders can dodge that problem if they want to). Republicans also said provisions involving tribal jurisdiction were constitutionally impermissible.

Democrats demanded that the GOP take up the Senate version, comparing its strong bipartisan support with the lack of cross-party appeal for the scaled-back re-authorization, and citing President Obama’s veto threat. Boehner stonewalled. The stalemate deepened.

A bipartisan letter authored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), two key sponsors of VAWA, urging Boehner to accept the Senate bill had no impact. Months later, a large House coalition including 10 Republican members pushed him to accept a Senate-like version — again, to no avail.

In December, there was a glimmer of hope for the measure when Biden, the chief architect of the original VAWA, entered negotiations with Cantor to see if they could resolve the disputes. But that, too, went nowhere.

A top Senate Democratic aide said Cantor refused to budge on the LGBT, undocumented immigrant and especially tribal jurisdiction provisions. A GOP source familiar with the negotiations countered that the vice president showed “good faith” but Senate Democrats kept throwing up “roadblock after roadblock” and showed no interest in compromising. 

The 112th Congress ended Wednesday, and the Violence Against Women Act perished with it. The new Congress now has to start all over. A spokesperson said Leahy was disappointed by the failure of VAWA re-authorization and looks forward to soon reintroducing an “inclusive, bipartisan bill covering vulnerable victims.”

h/t: TPM


It’s time to mark your 2013 calendars. Here are some dates and topics we’ve marked on ours! READ and SHARE!

(via thewarroomctv)

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will introduce legislation to ban the production of high-capacity magazines on the first day of the next congressional session, the office of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), one of the lawmakers sponsoring the bill, told The Huffington Post.

The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act will mirror a failed bill introduced during the 112th Congress. Its authors hope that in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 first grade students in Newtown, Conn., there will be heightened political urgency to act when it is reintroduced on Jan. 3.

Backed by DeGette and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), the legislation has gained a wave of Democratic co-sponsors since the shooting, which also claimed the lives of 7 adults. But few Republicans have come forward to offer their support. Even more critical to the bill’s political prospects, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not indicated whether he will allow it to come to the floor for a vote.

Still, backers are hopeful, noting that a ban on high-capacity magazines — which have been involved in many of the recent high-profile instances of mass gun violence — would be a smaller concession for gun-rights advocates than a broader assault weapons ban.

The bill Democrats will introduce would limit magazines, belts, drums, feed strips and “similar device[s]” to 10 rounds of ammunition. It would allow people to hold on to the “large capacity ammunition feeding device[s]” that they currently own, but prohibit them from buying others or transferring the ones they have.

The bill would also exempt retired and current law enforcement officials who use those devices for “purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty)” as well as contractors who have been licensed to carry the devices for security purposes required by federal law.

H/T: Huffington Post