Dear Mr. Moulitsas Zuniga:
In our recent letter, you asked me to publicly support strong net neutrality regulations. Let me be clear: I support net neutrality. You further asked that I tell the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Let me assure you that I will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules populated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules.
Since 2006, I have strongly and publicly supported net neutrality. I believe that the Internet is one of the great equalizers of our time. Especially in a time when dark money threatens to take over our political system, the Internet offers a forum for people to make a difference with ideas, not dollars. And I favor rules that will keep the Internet open and allow ideas and innovation to thrive. This is why in 2011 I led the Senate’s effort to defeat a Republican resolution that would have overturned the FCC’s Open Internet Order.
The Commission is now considering how to promulgate meaningful net neutrality rules in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion in Verizon v. Federal Communciations Commission. I am watching closely as the Commission drafts these rules. And I will work to ensure that these rules give consumers access to the lawful content they want when they want it, without interference and ensure that priority arrangements that harm consumers are prohibited.
I look forward to working with you to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free.
United States Senate
GOP IDIOCY ALERT! Top Republican Presidential Candidate Says Anarchy May Force Cancellation Of 2016 Election
Dr. Ben Carson, a popular Tea Party activist and Fox News contributor who says he will likely seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said on Sunday that he is seriously concerned that there will not be 2016 elections in the United States because the country could be in anarchy by that point. His reasons: the growing national debt, ISIS, and the U.S. Senate’s refusal to consider legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
Host Chris Wallace noted that in light of his potential presidential campaign, Carson’s previous comments were now under a greater spotlight. He noted Carson’s August comment that if the Republicans don’t win a majority in the Senate this year, the 2016 elections might not even be held and asked the retired neurosurgeon if he stood by it:
WALLACE: You said recently that there might not even be elections in 2016 because of widespread anarchy. Do you really believe that?
CARSON: I hope that that’s not going to be the case. But certainly there’s the potential because you have to recognize that we have a rapidly increasing national debt, a very unstable financial foundation, and you have all these things going on like the ISIS crisis that could very rapidly change things that are going on in our nation. And unless we begin to deal with these things in a comprehensive way and in a logical way there is no telling what could happen in just a couple of years.
Carson then noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has “over three hundred bills sitting on his desk” that he won’t bring to the floor for a vote, “thereby thwarting the will of the people.” He made no mention of the Republican House’s refusal to consider popular Senate-passed bipartisan measures like comprehensive immigration reform and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Carson finished a close second Saturday in a straw poll at the 2014 Values Voters Summit for 2016 presidential preferences.
Despite Carson’s fears, the United States has held presidential elections every four years since 1788, despite a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. Carson has been no stranger to controversial comments since he became active in politics. In March of 2013, he compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and NAMBLA. That October, he decried the Affordable Care Act as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” adding that the law “is slavery, in a way.” And earlier this month, Carson defended former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, saying people should stop “demonizing” him and suggesting that his wife also shared some of the blame for being attacked, opining that “they both need some help.”
A GOP Senate means Obama’s executive branch nominees could face major hurdles if McConnell or his members don’t like them. Some nominees may be nonstarters; others may be subject to negotiations with McConnell. You want that nominee? Give me this.
"That’s going to create a dilemma for Obama even on executive nominees," said Ornstein. “Even for people he’d like to see leave, he will probably have to convince them to stay because there won’t be much of an opportunity to replace them. … It’s always tough in the final two years of an administration.”
The stakes rise enormously if a Supreme Court seat were to be vacated in Obama’s final two years. A Republican majority would have a big incentive to run out the clock on any Obama nominee and wait until after the 2016 election to confirm the next justice.
"A Republican Senate would complicate President Obama’s ability to fill a Supreme Court vacancy should one occur, and likely hinder him in winning confirmation of his chosen appellate court nominees," said Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive legal advocacy group.
Progressive legal advocates worry that a McConnell-led Senate would spell problems for Obama to confirm his picks for judges.
"While the progressive base is not as fervent over the courts and judicial nominations as is the conservative base, Majority Leader Harry Reid has demonstrated his understanding of the importance of these matters, and has used the last two years to help bring about a dramatic reduction in the number of vacancies," said Schaeffer. "Obviously, his power to continue in this direction would be drastically reduced if the Senate were to change hands."
h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM
Last month, Daily Kos and other net neutrality activist organizations wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking him to sign on to the efforts of more than a dozen members of his Senate caucus and House Minority Leader Pelosi and dozens of House Democrats to demand that the Federal Communications Commission reclassify broadband and implement strong Net Neutrality rules and to treat the internet as the public utility that it is—like water, telephones, and electricity. We focused on Reid because he’s been quiet on the issue thus far, because we need a united Democratic front in pressuring the FCC to do the right thing to protect the internet, and because Reid is the second most powerful elected policymaker in the country.
Reid has responded, and while he didn’t take a position on reclassification, he stressed that he “will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules populated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules,” and that he would work to “ensure that priority arrangements that harm consumers are prohibited.” Should the FCC decide to reclassify internet service as a public utility, Reid will back the Commission up, and will fight Republican efforts to undermine that rule.
That greatly undermines FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s argument that the easiest route for the FCC to regulate the internet politically would be under Section 706 of the Federal Communications Act. That’s despite the fact, as we pointed out in our letter to Reid, that “legal scholars and even the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—as it struck down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order in January—have made it clear that Section 706 does not provide the FCC with the ability to ban unreasonable discrimination, access fees, paid prioritization, exclusive deals, or discriminatory exemptions to bandwidth caps—all of which were banned or effectively banned in the FCC’s 2010 order.” There’s ample political support for the FCC to reclassify—and it’s been expressed directly to the FCC by many members of Congress, and now is implicitly supported by Majority Leader Reid. As the National Journal reports, this letter from Reid could “give the FCC political cover to enact tougher rules,” and “reassure FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that he has the political support he needs to ignore the Republican outcry and enact strong net-neutrality regulations.”
That’s if, when Wheeler talks about political support, he’s really talking about elected leadership and not the well-heeled telecom lobbyists fighting against strong rules.
You can read Sen. Reid’s response to our letter in full below the fold.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sunday declared that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other Democrats “want” a situation where refugee children were maimed and brutalized.
In an interview on Fox News, Cruz told host Chris Wallace that Reid and President Barack Obama were holding thousands of children “ransom” because they had been unwilling to “fix the problem” by deporting every undocumented immigrant child in the U.S.
"You keep talking about helping the kids," Wallace noted. "One question I have is, how do you help the kids — I understand how it helps the United States not to allow them to come into this country — how does it help the kids to just say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to stay in Central America.’"
"You talk about the violence in Central America, the murder rate in some of these countries," Wallace added. "I’m not saying it’s our responsibility to help the kids, but it doesn’t help the kids."
Cruz asserted that drug dealers who were bringing children to the U.S. were forcing families to pay a ransom.
"Horrifically, they’re cutting off body parts, and they’re sending it back to the families," he remarked. "And they’re forcing little boys and little girls, they’re putting a gun to the back of their head, and they’re saying cut off the finger, cut off the ear of another child. And if the child refuses, they’re shooting and killing that kid."
The Texas Republican said that he had been told that some of the children had been “maimed” and tortured.
From the 07.20.2014 edition of Fox’s Fox News Sunday:
The legislation will be sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO). According to a summary reviewed by TPM, it prohibits employers from refusing to provide health services, including contraception, to their employees if required by federal law. It clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the basis for the Supreme Court’s ruling against the mandate, doesn’t permit businesses to opt out of laws they may object to.
The legislation also puts the kibosh on legal challenges by religious nonprofits, like Wheaton College, instead declaring that the accommodation they’re provided under the law is sufficient to respect their religious liberties. (It lets them pass the cost on to the insurer or third party administrator if they object.) Houses of worship are exempt from the mandate.
This bill will restore the original legal guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans and will protect coverage of other health services from employer interference as well, according to the summary.
"The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives," Udall, who faces a tough battle for reelection in November, said in a statement to TPM. "My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family."
A Democratic Senate aide said Udall is committed to working with leadership to “bring this to the floor as quickly as possible.”
The Murray-Udall proposal stops short of amending RFRA — the 1993 law which says laws that substantially burden a person’s practice of religion must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest — as Democrats had considered doing.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday called the Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby “outrageous” and promised to bring up the Democrats’ legislative response for a vote in the near future.
h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM
Ever since Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., proposed a constitutional amendment designed to restore to Congress and state governments the ability to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections, Republicans and conservatives have absurdly been decrying it as an effort to gut the First Amendment.
On today’s “WallBuilders Live” radio program, David Barton attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for supporting this amendment, saying that his support for it proves that Reid is “an atheist Mormon” who doesn’t realize that he will one day have to answer to God for trampling all over our God-given rights:
Barton: He has actually proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would re-write the First Amendment to take away original protections and limit the protections in the First Amendment.
What it also tells me is, and he’s apparently a Mormon guy, that’s fine. He is probably an atheist Mormon, Mormon in name only and the reason I say that is that so many Mormon folks are so conservative on the Constitution and such great defenders … And so, when you look at what he’s doing, the Bill of Rights is laid out in the Declaration of Independence, you start with the first belief that there’s a Creator, the second belief that the Creator gives us certain inalienable rights, the third belief in the Declaration is that government exists to protect those rights inalienable rights.
So eleven years later when the Founding Fathers did the Bill of Rights they said, hey, these are those rights that we were talking about that the government is not allowed to touch because these come from the Creator and government exists to protect rights from the Creator. So that’s why we’ve never messed with the Bill of Rights because they were always off limits to government because they came from God directly to man, they did not go through government to get here.
If you don’t have the belief that you will answer to God for what you do, you will sell your country, you will sell your kids’ future, you will sell everything going on and that’s where we’re getting. And so it’s not just a belief in God, it’s the belief that you answer to God and you believe that, and see that’s where Harry Reid is not. You know, he may believe in God, he probably says he does; I don’t think he has any cognizance of having to answer to God for what he does.
On what planet is Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid an “atheist Mormon?”
Only In David Barton’s world.
H/T: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved six nominees to federal courts in Georgia, clearing the way for the full Senate to vote on these nominees. Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), however, held back one nominee, the controversial Michael Boggs.[O]ne of the nominees, Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, a conservative Democrat, hit a roadblock when liberals objected to his record in the state Legislature. Boggs voted to reinstate a version of the Confederate flag as the state flag, opposed same-sex marriage and took positions on abortion that critics say would have limited women’s rights.President Obama made a sort of package deal with Georgia’s Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, taking Boggs as one of the package in return for getting judges he wanted. But in addition to the opposition to Boggs from numerous civil rights groups, he’s opposed by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon in his own right. And Boggs did himself no favors with his disingenuous testimony and follow-up answers on the issue of abortion.
The Judiciary Committee decided to move ahead with the other judges, who include Julie Carnes and Jill Pryor to sit on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and four District Court nominees. The six are likely to win approval on the Senate floor.
Boggs is expected to be voted on in committee later. Many Democrats are expected to oppose him, but even if he gets a majority, it is unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) will bring him up for a floor vote.
So far, the only Democratic committee members to announce their position on Boggs are Al Franken and Dick Durbin. Durbin’s opposition is critical, as a member of leadership. Between him and Reid opposing Boggs, it’s hard to see this nomination coming to the floor without an ugly fight. That fight could be avoided in a couple of ways. First, either Boggs himself or President Obama could withdraw the nomination. That would certainly be the cleanest solution. Or Democrats on the committee could vote against, should Leahy schedule that vote.
We’re covering our bases. If you live in a state with a senator on the Judiciary Committee,please sign and send the petition: Reject Michael Boggs’s nomination to the U.S. District Court in Georgia.
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) found a new charge to level at the billionaire Koch brothers Thursday: They lead a cult.
Reid was inspired by recent reports that David and Charles Koch held their latest donor and political organizing conference in California under tight security and secrecy, with no one talking publicly about what was discussed or decided there.
"Attendees were sworn to secrecy. High levels of security, concealment, an oath of silence," Reid said in a Senate floor speech. "That doesn’t sound anything like a typical conference. It sounds more like a cult."
But it’s not your normal cult, Reid said.
"Instead of being a religious movement or a secret sect, this is a cult of money, influence and self-serving politics," Reid said. "This is the cult of Koch."
Reid, who has made the brother oil barons the target of numerous floor speeches, went on to argue that they prove the need to pass a constitutional amendment that would restore caps on spending in politics. Reid said the level of secrecy around the conference, and the multiple groups the Koch brothers fund to promote their agenda without revealing where the money comes from, demonstrate the need to shine more light on their activities.
"Let’s put an end to the cult of dark money, and in this instance, the hidden dark money which is corrupting our elections," Reid said.
Alex Jones Alleges That Las Vegas Cop Ambush Was "Absolutely Staged" By Harry Reid And Other Conspirators
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is alleging that a shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada that left two police officers and another victim dead was “absolutely staged” by the federal government.
On June 8, a married couple identified in news reports as Jerad and Amanda Miller ambushed and killed two police officers at a restaurant and killed a third person before taking their own lives in a “suicide pact" at a nearby Walmart. Witnesses say they heard the shooters state “this is the start of a revolution,” after the officers were shot. The slain officers were allegedly draped in Gadsden flags by the shooters, a symbol commonly associated with the Tea Party. Law enforcement officials believe the couple held extreme anti-government views and Jerad Miller reportedly claimed to have participated in the standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
On the June 9 edition of The Alex Jones Show, Jones claimed “the country is being purposefully imploded right now,” before calling the shootings “absolutely staged.” Jones continued stating, “There is so much proof of this being staged yesterday, when I first read about it, and this morning, that my mind exploded with hundreds of data points, and quite frankly it’s conclusive.” He then claimed that the shooting bore out some of the “hundreds of predictions” that he had made “since the Bundy ranch situation,” including a scenario where a shooting is blamed on the Tea Party. Towards the end of the segment, Jones named Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and referenced actions by the Obama administration in purporting to identify the actual parties responsible for the Las Vegas police ambush. He concluded, “I kept telling, they’re getting ready to false flag, and it happens right in Harry Reid’s district, right in his state, right in his city, with his police department”:
Jones, a founding member of the 9-11 conspiracy theories movement, often claims catastrophes — such as high-profile public incidents of violence or even natural disasters — are false flag operations conducted by the government or shadowy globalist figures. Earlier this year, Jones joined other right-wing media in championing the cause of Bundy, who refused the pay the federal government decades of past-due grazing fees. One Bundy-related conspiracy theory advanced by Jones — that the dispute was actually part of a “land grab” involving a Chinese solar company — made its way on Fox News. (Jones also gave Bundy a platform to falsely claim that he was misquoted after Bundy’s racist comments about “the Negro” came to light.)
Jones’ work is also a fixture on popular conservative website Drudge Report, whose operator Matt Drudge declared 2013 “the year of Alex Jones.” During a two-year period started in April 2011, Drudge linked to Jones244 times.
Jerad Miller was a fan of Alex Jones, according to his Facebook page. In a February 2013 posting, Miller told people to read Jones’ website, writing, “infowars.com get informed or get stupid”:
Miller frequently shared content from Jones on Facebook, including conspiracy theories relating to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, FEMA-related gun confiscation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives:
“Reid’s repeated and mean-spirited attacks violate federal laws and Senate rules against using taxpayer-funded resources for partisan politics and he knows it, yet he repeatedly takes to the floor of the Senate and the media to attack those with whom he disagrees – and then turns around and devotes the Senate floor to a ‘talk-a-thon’ on a major donor’s key issue of climate change,” she continued.
The formal complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee will unsurprisingly not stop Reid from bashing Charles and David Koch’s political spending.
“We are shocked — shocked! — that a publicity-seeking, extremist Tea Party group which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Koch brothers’ secret bank would attempt a frivolous publicity stunt to distract from the Kochs’ efforts to rig the system for billionaires like themselves,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told Roll Call in response to the complaint. “The shadowy, billionaire Koch brothers are pulling out all the stops to get Senator Reid to stop shining a light on their efforts to buy our democracy, but he will not be silenced.”
Harry Reid has more integrity than either of the Koch Brothers would ever dream of having.
It did not go well.
The Washington NFL team — desperate to defend the name that Native Americans, members of Congress, a majority of the United States Senate, religious leaders, civil rights groups, several former NFL players, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and even President Obama have said should be changed because it is a “dictionary-defined” racial slur — started a Twitter campaign to rally support Thursday afternoon.
It started with this tweet asking fans to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has made a habit of chiding the team over its name, how they felt:
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 29, 2014
No one, other than perhaps the people running the team’s communications effort, thought this was going to go well:
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) May 29, 2014
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) May 29, 2014
And, well, it didn’t:
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) May 29, 2014
— Danielle Siver (@danielleybelly) May 29, 2014
— Jonathan Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) May 29, 2014
— Erica Mauter (@swirlspice) May 29, 2014
— Jacqueline Keeler (@jfkeeler) May 29, 2014
— RichmondOpus (@RichmondOpus) May 29, 2014
— Dani (@xodanix3) May 29, 2014
— Hugh C. McBride (@hughcmcbride) May 29, 2014
— Beau Boughamer (@Beau1u) May 29, 2014
— Sean O’Leary (@stholeary) May 29, 2014
— Chris Shue (@Chris_Shue) May 29, 2014
— Jack Szeltner (@JackSzeltner) May 29, 2014
Nearly 50 Democratic U.S. senators, and not one Republican, called on the National Football League this week to change the team name of the Washington Redskins, in the largest congressional effort of the decades-long effort to replace the term the senators called a racial slur.
They urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to follow National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver, who recently fired Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after a recording surfaced of the 80-year-old making racist comments.
“We urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C., football team,” the 49 legislators wrote Wednesday in their letter.
President Barack Obama and other elected officials, as well as civil rights organizations, sports leaders and members of the general American public, have expressed their concerns about the meaning of the term “redskin,” saying it possesses negative racial connotations. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused to register the team’s trademark and has determined the word is a “derogatory slang” term.
Earlier this week, the New York State Assembly passed a unanimous bipartisan resolution denouncing the use of racial slurs as professional sports team names. The state is home to NFL headquarters.
The Democrats questioned Goodell about what message his failure to act sends. The NBA punished Sterling for his comments against African-Americans, but the NFL allows a team to endorse negative language toward Native Americans, they wrote.
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises,” they said in the letter.
Among the signees were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Barbara Boxer of California, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Reid separately urged Redskins owner Dan Snyder to learn from Sterling’s firing. Speaking on the Senate floor at the end of April, Reid noted the change 17 years ago of the Washington Bullets to what is now the Wizards, a motion made to disassociate the franchise from guns and violence in the District of Columbia.
A group of nine Democratic House lawmakers and one Republican last May renewed a decades-old debate about the controversial name when they sent a letter to Snyder and Goodell. Several other legislators have since crafted similar letters to the two leaders.
Oneida Nation, a federally recognized tribe, aired their “Change the Mascot” campaign nationwide through radio advertisements during the most recent NFL season. This week they praised the senators’ effort.
“The R-word is a dictionary defined racial slur, which likely explains why avowed segregationist George Preston Marshall decided to use the term as the team’s name. Continuing an infamous segregationist’s legacy by promoting such a slur is not an honor, as Mr. Snyder and Mr. Goodell claim. It is a malicious insult,” Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Nation, said in a statement Thursday.
Snyder created a foundation to provide resources and opportunities for Native Americans and to preserve the heritage of his team’s name in what he called his attempt “to do more” for the group of individuals.
It’s about time to change the team name!
WASHINGTON — All four Senate Democratic leaders have now signaled that either they will vote against President Barack Obama’s embattled judicial nominee Michael Boggs or they have serious concerns with him. During a Thursday press conference, Sen…
WASHINGTON — All four Senate Democratic leaders have now signaled that either they will vote against President Barack Obama’s embattled judicial nominee Michael Boggs or they have serious concerns with him.
During a Thursday press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said flatly that he won’t vote for Boggs, given the nominee’s strong record as a social conservative. Reid had suggested on Wednesday that he was leaning no, but he couldn’t have been more clear on Thursday.
"I’m going to oppose him," Reid said. "He’s a person who, in my opinion, is out of the mainstream and I don’t think deserves to be a federal judge."
Boggs, who is up for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, has come under fire for votes he took during his time as a Georgia state legislator. Among other things, he voted to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, to keep the Confederate insignia on the state flag and to pass a measure that would have required doctors who performed abortions to post online their names and the number of abortions they performed.
Asked if he would let Boggs receive a floor vote if he makes it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee — something that is by no means a done deal — Reid said only, “We’ll see.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he too has “real concerns” about Boggs and “several things” raise red flags. He singled out Boggs’ Confederate flag vote and said he wasn’t satisfied with Boggs’ responses on that front during his confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee, of which Durbin is a member.
"His answers really were not very good," Durbin told The Huffington Post, adding that he thinks Boggs’ positions on abortion are "extreme."
Durbin said he still wants to talk to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) before making a final decision. Lewis, who is a civil rights icon, has become a key voice in the debate around Boggs. Asked whether he was looking to Lewis for a way to ease his concerns about Boggs, Durbin emphasized that he’s not looking for a way to support Boggs.
"I’m not asking him to ease my concerns," Durbin said. "I just want his honest opinion."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, told reporters that he has “significant doubts” about Boggs given his record.
"The flag, all these other votes," Schumer said. "I’m weighing it."
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference, “is not inclined to support this nomination,” according to her office.
Top Democrats may be piling up the opposition to Boggs, but the White House is standing by its nominee, given that Boggs is part of an all-or-nothing package of judicial nominees to which the president agreed with Georgia’s Republican senators. The White House maintains it had to compromise on Boggs to get other nominees backed by Democrats into the package. And compromise it did: Four of the seven nominees are GOP picks, and only two are black, despite the state’s large black population. The tradeoff, the administration argues, is that long-empty seats can get filled.
But that deal doesn’t apply to anyone else in the Senate, and some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are signaling that they’ll vote against Boggs even making it out of the committee. The Judiciary panel isn’t likely to vote for at least a few weeks.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the committee, said his concerns about Boggs “have only deepened” since his confirmation hearing earlier this week. Blumenthal expressed frustration with Boggs for not providing certain documents to the committee relating to opinions he issued as a Georgia state judge. One such opinion relates to reproductive rights.
"It’s a document I regard as absolutely and irrefutably relevant that so far has not been submitted," Blumenthal said, noting that Boggs already had to submit additional material to the committee in mid-April — and apologized for that — months after he submitted what were supposed to be all documents relevant to his nomination.
"The failure to submit everything relevant the first go-around, having to supplement it on April 10, maybe is excusable," Blumenthal continued. "Another round of documents raises even more substantial questions … questions about competence and integrity."
Boggs’ backers recognize the limits of their deal. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president “of course” supports Democrats voting their conscience on Boggs. On Thursday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) conceded that his agreement with the White House is done.
"Our deal was that the committee would hear all seven of them and the committee would vote whichever way they vote," Isakson told The Huffington Post. "Beyond that, there was no deal."
Bundy Supporter Vanderboegh Threatens Civil War, Says Harry Reid Will 'Have His Balls Ripped Off' (VIDEO)
Mike Vanderboegh is a self-described “wolverine” and leader of the Three Percenters, a right-wing militia group whose specific purpose is to prepare to fight a war against an imaginary tyrannical government. Yet, he blames Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for attempting to incite an epic second Civil War. Vanderboegh sent Reid a clear warning during his speech to the collective troops at the Cliven Bundy Nevada ranch.
“Don’t poke the wolverine with a sharp stick, Harry, unless you want your balls ripped off.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked an election-year Democratic bill on Wednesday that would boost the federal minimum wage, handing a defeat to President Barack Obama on a vote that is sure to reverberate in this year’s congressional elections.
The measure’s rejection, which was expected, came in the early months of a campaign season in which the slowly recovering economy — and its impact on families — is a marquee issue. It was also the latest setback for a stream of bills this year that Democrats have designed to cast themselves as the party of economic fairness.
The legislation by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would gradually raise the $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months and then provide automatic annual increases to account for inflation. Democrats argue that if fully phased in by 2016, it would push a family of three above the federal poverty line — a level such earners have not surpassed since 1979.
"Millions of American workers will be watching how each senator votes today. To them, it’s a matter of survival," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote.
He pointedly added, “For Republicans, this vote will demonstrate whether they truly care about our economy.”
Republicans, solidly against the Democratic proposal, say it would be too expensive for employers and cost jobs. As ammunition, they cite a February study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that estimated the increase to $10.10 could eliminate about 500,000 jobs — but also envisioned higher income for 16.5 million low-earning people.
"Washington Democrats’ true focus these days seems to be making the far left happy, not helping the middle class," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
"This is all about politics," said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas. "This is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted."
The vote was 54-42 in favor of allowing debate on the measure to proceed, six votes short of the 60 that Democrats needed to prevail. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only Republican to cross party lines and vote “yes.” Reid switched his vote to “no,” which gives him the right to call another vote on the measure. No other Democrats opposed the bill.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been seeking a deal with other senators on a lower figure than $10.10, said Wednesday that she will continue that effort. Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who usually sides with Democrats, said he too favors finding middle ground.
But Democratic leaders have shown no inclination to do that — a view shared by unions that favor an increase and business groups that oppose one.
"We’re not going to compromise on $10.10," Reid told reporters after the vote.
In a clear sign of the political value Democrats believe the issue has, Democrats said they intend to force another vote on the increase closer to this year’s elections.
The White House issued a statement urging the bill’s passage and saying the administration wants legislation “to build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and create more opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead.”
Supporters note that the minimum wage’s buying power has fallen. It reached its peak value in 1968, when it was $1.60 hourly but was worth $10.86 in today’s dollars.
The legislation is opposed by business groups including the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the International Franchise Association. The National Restaurant Association has hundreds of members at the Capitol this week lobbying lawmakers on several issues, including opposition to a higher minimum wage.
Also opposed were conservative organizations including Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers are spending millions this year to unseat congressional Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his allies are casting them as unfettered villains.
Other Democratic bills that have splattered against GOP roadblocks this year would restore expired benefits for the long-term unemployed and pressure employers to pay men and women equally. Democrats plan future votes on bills easing the costs of college and child care.
Opposition from Republicans running the House makes it unlikely that chamber would debate minimum wage legislation this year.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of the 3.3 million people who earned $7.25 an hour or less last year worked in service jobs, mostly food preparation and serving.
More than 6 in 10 of those making $7.25 or under were women, and about half were under age 25. Democrats hope their support for a minimum wage boost will draw voters from both groups — who usually lean Democratic — to the polls in November, when Senate control will be at stake. The GOP’s hold on the House is not in doubt.
Harkin’s bill would also gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped workers like waiters to 70 percent of the minimum for most other workers. It is currently $2.13 hourly, which can be paid as long as their hourly earnings with tips total at least $7.25.
The minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 and set at 25 cents.
Congress has passed nine laws slowly increasing it, including one each decade since the 1980s. The minimum has been $7.25 since 2009.
Yet more proof the obstructionist duncebuckets in the Republican Party and the policies they champion are bad for America’s morale.
They’d rather pander to the far-right whackos than use common sense, and that’s a crying shame.
h/t: Alan Fram at AP, via Yahoo! News