Breaking news on James Traficant:
Congressman Jared Polis filed today to force a vote in the House on a newly revised ENDA.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) today filed a discharge petition with the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives to force Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican leadership to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.
Polis, the chief sponsor of the bill and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, has crafted a revised ENDA with “narrowed religious exemption,” the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reports this morning. Polis’ discharge petition would go into effect, forcing a vote, “if a majority of House members, or 218, sign the petition.”
Johnson notes that Rep. Polis filed the petition today, “just two months before a mid-term election in which Democrats are fighting to maintain control of the Senate. The lack of Republican signers on the ENDA discharge petition could serve to highlight to difference between the Democratic and Republican parties just before Election Day.”
Indeed, supporters face an “uphill battle in attempting to pass ENDA by initiating a discharge petition. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), an original co-sponsor of ENDA, has already told the Blade she wouldn’t sign the petition, saying through a spokesperson it’s a ‘partisan political tool.’ No Republican co-sponsor has agreed to signing a discharge petition for ENDA.”
LGBT organizations, after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, pulled their support from ENDA because of its extensive religious exemptions. It is believed those exemptions could effectively write anti-gay religious discrimination into law, rather than protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
THE TERRIBLE THIRTEEN: Here Are 13 GOP Congressmen Who Oppose Gays More Than Than They Support Our Troops [TW: Anti-LGBT Bigotry, Homophobia]
13 Republican Congressmen have voted against giving spouses of veterans in same-sex marriages equal benefits as spouses of veterans in different-sex marriages.
In yet another display that last year’s Supreme Court ruling striking down only Section 3 of DOMA did not go far enough, yesterday 13 Republican Congressmen on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs refused to pass an amendment that would merely have extended equal benefits to spouses of veterans in same-sex marriages.
Those benefits include medical and disability benefits, death and burial benefits, insurance, housing, education, and more.
“This inequality for those who wore the uniform of the United States armed forces and their families is unacceptable,” Titus said yesterday.
All Republicans on the Committee, but one, voted against the amendment. The lone Republican supporter of equality was Jon Runyan (R-NJ). All Democrats on the Committee voted in favor of the amendment.
The anti-gay Republicans claimed theirs was merely an issue of states’ rights, not animus.
“Deference to the state is not motivated by hostility, it is motivated by adherence to the Constitution,” Chairman Miller told the Washington Blade. “As such, I believe that it is not appropriate to usurp the states’ power to democratically define marriage for their citizenry — not for personal belief, and not for bureaucratic convenience.”
One notable Republican who voted “no” on the amendment was Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), who’s considered one of four sitting House Republicans to support marriage equality.
Although he said “the current system is not fair” for gay veterans, Jolly said he couldn’t bring himself to support the amendment because he felt it was non-germane to the larger bill.
One of Congress’ most anti-gay members, GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, claimed, “I don’t want the VA or this committee to impose its views on the State of Kansas.” Congressman Huelskamp is pushing a bill that would add a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Congresswoman Titus, after the amendment failed, said, “It makes no sense that legally married soldiers receive benefits while in the military but lose those benefits when they become veterans if they live in the wrong place. Sadly, my Republican colleagues chose no.”
There may still be long-term hope. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely take up at least one same-sex marriage case this fall. And civil rights group Lambda Legal is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs, ”arguing that the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses of veterans living in states that refuse to recognize their marriages is in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.”
All images official government portraits, via Wikipedia
Yoho might be the most recent. In an interview with the Tea Party Express highlighted by Buzzfeed recently, the Florida congressman (pictured, right, with his wife next to Speaker John Boehner) said, “If impeachment comes up, it’s not because Congress wants to do that, it’s because the president has chosen to bring that upon himself by not enforcing the laws on the books.”
A few weeks before Buzzfeed highlighted Yoho’s comments, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) said that House Republicans should stop wasting time with a lawsuit against Obama and just go straight to impeachment.
The number of Republicans who have called for or suggested impeachment doesn’t even reach two dozen but many of them are the conservative Republicans who have served as the biggest thorn in the side of Republican leadership, effectively holding much of the House GOP’s agenda hostage.
Even Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the new House majority whip, has opened the door to impeachment. Scalise, in late July, refused to rule out the prospect of impeaching Obama when he was asked three times about it. Then there was Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who told Breitbart that if Obama enacts more executive actions “we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives” adding “that’s my position and that’s my prediction.” King, in a later interview, would refuse to say “impeachment” but make the same warning. King’s comments on impeachment were spurred by his objections to Obama on immigration.
Republicans suggesting impeachment often float the idea in the context of their favorite attack at Obama. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in 2013 said impeaching Obama was a possibility in response to his handling of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Bengahzi. A few months later Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) said if the House were to try to impeach Obama, there would probably be enough “votes in the House of Representatives to do it.”
Way back in 2011 Farenthold’s colleague, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) seemed to echo his Texas colleague when he said impeachment of Obama “needs to happen.”
Actually, a number of Republicans who have called for impeachment in the 2014 cycle are outgoing House members. Outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in 2013 declined to throw out the possibility of impeachment, saying “as I have been home in my district, the 6th District of Minnesota, there isn’t a weekend that hasn’t gone by that someone says to me, ‘Michele, what in the world are you all waiting for in Congress? Why aren’t you impeaching the president? He’s been making unconstitutional actions since he came into office.”
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) and two other little-known candidates in the Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate said they would seek to impeach Obama if they got the opportunity. Broun opted not to run for re-election and lost in the Republican primary.
On the campaign trail there are also some candidates who are singing the impeachment tune. Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R), who is all but certain to inherit Georgia’s 11th Congressional District this fall, has suggested that Obama deserves impeachment but that effort may not be worth it if it’s not sure to succeed.
In New Hampshire, the Republican frontrunner in the race to face Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH), Marilinda Garcia, has also called for impeachment.
"If it’s an impeachable offense, as the process will show, then every member of Congress is also sworn to uphold that and needs to vote appropriately," Garcia said in late July. Less than two weeks earlier all four of the Republican candidates running for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional seat also said they would likely support impeaching Obama.
Calls for impeaching Obama aren’t just solely in the House of Representatives. State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, had to backtrack, after all, after comments surfaced where she suggested impeaching Obama. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Hucakbee (R), too, had to reverse course when he said Obama is worthy of impeachment.
But while some Republicans see impeachment as a good idea, others have tried to suffocate that idea before it gets any bigger. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), recently said that Democrats would love for Republicans to try and impeach Obama but said that’s because it would be a trap for the GOP.
"Believe me, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. The only people who want impeachment more than the right wing of the Republican Party is the entire Democrat Party," Mulvaney said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had a hard time listening to Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) blast her party’s handling of the border crisis on Friday night. So hard, in fact, that she couldn’t stay in her seat — let alone on her side of the aisle. Instead, Pelosi got up midway through Marino’s comments, passing in front of the House floor cameras, to apparently challenge the Republican’s statements up close, ABC News reports. Marino turned his comments directly toward her, saying, “Yes it is true. I did the research on it. You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader.” Later, off-camera, Pelosi reportedly followed Marino up the Republican aisle, pointing her finger at him and arguing further. Pelosi’s staff later released a statement saying she merely “wanted to remind the Congressman that the House Democrats had the courage to pass the DREAM Act,” and that “Pelosi accepted the Congressman’s apology.” Marino’s chief of staff countered with a statement of his own, saying the congressman had neither apologized to Pelosi nor intended to. Watch Marino’s comments in the video, below, and keep your eyes peeled for Pelosi’s passing across the cameras around the 50-second mark. —Sarah Eberspacher
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had a hard time listening to Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) blast her party’s handling of the border crisis on Friday night. So hard, in fact, that she couldn’t stay in her seat — let alone on her side of the aisle.
Instead, Pelosi got up midway through Marino’s comments, passing in front of the House floor cameras, to apparently challenge the Republican’s statements up close, ABC Newsreports. Marino turned his comments directly toward her, saying, “Yes it is true. I did the research on it. You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader.”
Later, off-camera, Pelosi reportedly followed Marino up the Republican aisle, pointing her finger at him and arguing further. Pelosi’s staff later released a statement saying she merely “wanted to remind the Congressman that the House Democrats had the courage to pass the DREAM Act,” and that “Pelosi accepted the Congressman’s apology.”
Marino’s chief of staff countered with a statement of his own, saying the congressman had neither apologized to Pelosi nor intended to.
Watch Marino’s comments in the video, below, and keep your eyes peeled for Pelosi’s passing across the cameras around the 50-second mark. —Sarah Eberspacher
Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen went to the House floor to get clarification about a dead-of-night rule change that ensured only one Member – the Majority Leader or his designee – could bring up any version of transportation trust fund bill for a vote. The same tactic was used by House Republicans last October to shut down the government and keep it closed. The Speaker’s designee repeatedly refused to answer his simple question, and Congressman Van Hollen then spoke about how democracy has once again been suspended in the House of Representatives. Below is a transcript of his remarks, and the full video of the exchange is above.
“Yesterday we were on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker, and our Republican colleagues passed a measure to sue the President of the United States – waste millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to sue the President of the United States – and the claim was the President has exceeded his authority. That’s a specious claim, but what’s incredible is the very next day our Republican colleagues are here suspending democracy in the House, changing the standing rules of the House to take away from any Member of the House the opportunity to offer a motion with respect to the transportation bill, which is what the standing rules of the House provide. And they want to say, no, we’re going to take that right away from a Member and we’re going to give it exclusively to the Republican Leader or the Republican Leader’s designee.
“You know, Mr. Speaker, the last time we saw this happen? On the government shutdown. Our Republican colleagues used the same measure to refuse to take up the Senate bill which would have ended the government shutdown. They didn’t want to end it, so they kept it going. That cost the American taxpayer $24 billion – $24 billion in damage to the economy. Let’s not play games with the rule. This rule allows every Member their rights. The Speaker is not the king, and we should make sure every Member has an opportunity. Thank you Mr. Speaker.”
BREAKING: House passes GOP's $694 million border supplemental funding bill, 223-189. The bill faces a veto threat and will not see a vote in the Senate - @frankthorpNBC
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry taps $38 million in emergency funds to pay for National Guard border deployment - @davidSrauf
I’ll keep the commentary low, because the event speaks for itself. So much for the religious tradition the Republican party prides itself on and uses as the basis to deny so many rights. A recent bill introduced in the house suggests a resolution honoring the Pope “for his inspirational statements and actions” as well as his goals to ameliorate inequality and promote solidarity.
What do the Republicans think about this? According to reports from The Hill, it looks like they aren’t too happy.Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.
The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”
Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.And what exactly did the Pope Francis say to deserve such ire? Last year he wrote:Personally, I’d choose the Pope as my go-to-guy for financial reform over the likes of men like Alan Greenspan any day.
I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
With the Republicans opposing honoring the Pope, could this possibly mean that they are (gasp!) selectively choosing what they practice in their religion and exercise a degree of hypocrisy? Seriously, I understand getting worked up about divisive political issues like health care, but at this point you’re acting like children.
Less than two months after his stunning primary upset and just hours after stepping down as House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor said Thursday that he will resign his seat in the House of Representatives effective Aug. 18.
Dear Mr. Rob Woodall, it’s YOUR party that’s holding up a bunch of bills in the House, preventing passage. #StuckInTheHouse #StuckInTheSenate
House Republicans officially gave Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) their seal of approval on Wednesday to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president. The House adopted the resolution by a vote of 225-201. Five Republicans and all Democrats voted against the measure.
The resolution authorizes Boehner to challenge Obama in court for exceeding his authority by unilaterally delaying deadlines under Obamacare. Although he has said he’ll target the one-year delay of the health care reform law’s employer mandate penalties, the text of the GOP resolution gives the Speaker room to legally challenge implementation tweaks to other provisions of the law.
"This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. It’s about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold," Boehner said. "Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our founders have built?"
The move comes as Boehner feels elevated pressure to wage new battles against Obama from confrontation-hungry conservatives. It’s a politically awkward one for his party given that Republicans despise the employer mandate, and have voted to eliminate and delay it. Republican aides say they chose the issue for legal reasons as they think it gives them the best chance of victory in court.
"Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a law they want to repeal," said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). "It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base."
Democrats are aggressively fundraising off the planned lawsuit, portraying it as a precursor to impeachment. They’ve boasted about raising millions of dollars from donors recently over the two issues. Boehner has repeatedly insisted he has no plans to impeach Obama, describing it as a Democratic “scam.” The White House responds that House Republicans were discussing the issue long before Democrats mentioned it, and that GOP leaders also vowed they wouldn’t shut down the government before that happened last fall.
Boehner faces an uphill battle in court. The first big question is whether he can achieve “standing” which requires proving a material injury to the House. Legal experts say that’s a very difficult task because no lawsuit emanating from members of Congress against the president has ever achieved standing in court. The next question, if the courts grant standing, is whether the lawsuit has merit to succeed. Republicans may have better luck on this question, experts say, as Obama’s unilateral decision to delay a statutory deadline is arguably problematic from a legal standpoint.
Progressives and some conservative legal minds warn that if the lawsuit succeeds, it would declare open season for the executive and legislative branches to sue each other over any legal disagreement and empower judges to resolve such disputes.
BREAKING: House Passes a Rare Bipartisan Response to the VA Scandal, The Bill Goes To The Senate, Then Hopefully To President Obama For Signature
In a rare bipartisan vote, the House approved a bipartisan compromise responding to the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill now heads to the Senate, which could pass it this week.
The House on Wednesday signed off on a $17 billion bipartisan measure responding to the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs over patient deaths and long wait times at VA medical facilities.
The overwhelming, 420-5 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which could pass it by the end of the week before lawmakers leave for their annual August recess. Five Republicans opposed the measure.
A rare compromise struck by House Republicans and Senate Democrats, the bill would allow the VA to add more doctors and facilities to reduce the backlog of veterans who served in the nation’s long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also cut money for executive bonuses, as well as make it easier both for veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities and for under-performing top officials to be fired or demoted.
Source: Russell Berman for The Wire
BREAKING: The Frivolous Lawsuit Against President Obama has passed the US House 225-201-7. #P2 #UniteBlue #GOPLawsuit
The GOP putting politics over the American People as usual, edition 4,500.
— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)July 30, 2014
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats)July 30, 2014
— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)July 30, 2014
Rather than acting to improve America, House Republicans are pursuing a meritless lawsuit at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) July 30, 2014
Today’s vote in the House to sue the President was a shameful display of political pandering & misplaced priorities. http://t.co/elGGg4k0mn— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) July 30, 2014
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews)July 30, 2014
House resolution to sue Obama passes 225-201. Five Republicans join all Democrats in voting against it. http://t.co/Tm0lTmx2tN— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur)July 30, 2014
Five GOPers voted against, most likely because it didn’t go far enough:
Five Republicans voted AGAINST the resolution authorizing a lawsuit against Pres Obama: Massie Jones Broun (GA) Stockman Garrett— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC)July 30, 2014
Now this is more like it. House Democrats aren’t sitting idly by while John Boehner tries to assuage his angry right wing with a lawsuit instead of impeachment. No, they’re making Republicans pay for their folly by forcing votes that make them look like rubes and fools.
Democrats asked for a provision that would require Republicans to regularly disclose how much this lawsuit was costing American taxpayers. Republicans said no.
Democrats asked for a conflict-of-interest measure that would prevent lawmakers from hiring lawyers for this case who lobby Congress. Republicans said no.
Democrats asked for a separate conflict-of-interest amendment that would stop Congress from hiring a law firm for this case that has a financial stake in the implementation of the ACA. Republicans said no.
Democrats asked for a disclosure requirement that said congressional contracts with outside counsel would be disclosed before they’re approved. Republicans said no.
Democrats asked for a measure that would require Republicans to explain where the public funds will come from that will pay for the lawsuit. Republicans said no.
There were 11 proposed improvements in all, Each were defeated with zero Republican votes.
Could the federal government shut down again this fall? Th idea sounds absurd on its face, especially one month before an election, and one year after Republicans took a drubbing in the polls for forcing a shutdown over Obamacare. But it could happen. Congress is currently on course for a battle to keep the federal government funded when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Even though the two parties agreed to a discretionary spending level of $1.014 trillion for fiscal year 2015, the appropriations process has screeched to a halt over extraneous policy issues and procedural disputes. And so a stopgap measure appears inevitable.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday the House will consider a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown once Congress returns from summer recess on September 8. The funding measure will probably expire in mid-November, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, told TPM.
Once Congress returns from the August recess, it’ll have a mere 10 working days to agree to a bill before the government partially shuts down. And there are two contentious issues in particular that are roped in with the CR debate.
The first is reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which supports billions of dollars in U.S. exports and thousands of American jobs through loan guarantees and other products. Its charter expires on Oct. 1, and many House conservatives, including incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are enthusiastic about shutting the bank down, bashing it as an emblem of corporate welfare and crony capitalism. Senate Democratic leaders recognize that and may force the issue by attaching renewal of the bank to their CR.
"Well, the thing we’d like to do is pass a long-term approval of the Export-Import Bank but we certainly don’t want to let it expire. We’re weighing all options," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, told TPM when asked if leadership will attach Ex-Im to the CR.
Passing such a bill through the Senate shouldn’t be a problem. Democrats broadly support Ex-Im renewal and a significant number of Senate Republicans do, too. “I think we do need to have an Export-Import Bank because we do need to be global competitively,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said. “We don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The question, in that case, becomes whether House Republican leaders back down and accept such a bill. That would anger conservatives who are campaigning to shut the bank down and cost Republicans some support within their own ranks.
"I think it should be a clean CR," Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told TPM. "I may end up opposing a CR if it has [Ex-Im] attached to it. Because I oppose the reauthorization."
The second issue is the battle over President Barack Obama’s recently proposed rules on coal-fired power plants to combat climate change. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who faces a tough reelection fight in his coal-heavy state, has aggressively fought to attach his amendment blocking the rule to appropriations legislation — an idea Senate Republicansstrongly support — and has vowed to continue offering it on all government funding measures.
The problem is Senate Republicans would arguably feel most of the pain of a government shutdown in the Nov. 4 elections, jeopardizing their chance to win the majority. So it’s unclear they’ll push the issue. With Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promising that the amendment won’t fly in the Senate, McConnell faces a choice: filibuster government funding legislation or surrender his best opportunity to reverse the climate change rules.
McConnell will want to avoid doing anything that damages his odds of becoming majority leader in January. But his fighting words make it hard to back off.
"Everyone knows the administration’s war on coal jobs is little more than an elitist crusade that threatens to undermine Kentucky’s traditionally low utility rates, splinter our manufacturing base, and ship well-paying jobs overseas," McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor, promising he’ll "keep fighting" for his amendment.
Portman said he’s hopeful that because both sides have agreed on how much the government should spend, “I think we can avoid a government shutdown.”
Cole, a Boehner ally, also expressed hope Congress can avert a shutdown.
"I think so," the congressman told TPM, although he added that it’s not a certainty. "Could you stumble into a bad situation? It’s always possible. But I think people are working hard to avoid that sort of thing."