Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

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Posts tagged "US Senate"

h/t: Zeke J. Miller at Time Magazine

H/T: Kelly Kennedy at USAToday.com 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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."

No surprise here sadly. 

h/t: Donna Cassata at AP, via Yahoo

h/t: George Zornick at The Nation

From Sen. Patty Murray (D)’s Official Senate Page:

Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) will introduce the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Senator Murray. “This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies.”

"The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives. Coloradans understand that women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control or other critical health services,"said Senator Udall. ”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.”

“With this bill, Congress can begin to fix the damage done by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow for-profit corporations to deny their employees birth control coverage. The Supreme Court last week opened the door to a wide range of discrimination and denial of services. This bill would help close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it,” said Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  ”As the nation’s leading advocate for women’s reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is committed to making sure women can get the no-copay birth control benefit that we and others fought so hard to pass and protect. No woman should lose access to birth control because her boss doesn’t approve of it.” 

"Last week, we heard a collective gasp across the country as Americans everywhere tried to make sense of five male Justices on the Supreme Court deciding that our bosses could have control over our birth control in the Hobby Lobby decision,” said Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Today, we hear those gasps turn to cheers as we see champions in Congress move to right this wrong. Ninety-nine percent of American women use some form a of birth control in our lifetimes, and all medical experts agree that these remedies should be included in comprehensive healthcare. Anything less than this amounts to discrimination against women in the workplace. If there’s one thing we can agree upon more than the idea that politicians aren’t equipped to decide for us how and when and with whom we have families, it’s that our bosses are even less so. This bill is the first step in making sure those personal healthcare decision stay where they belong — in the hands of the women whose lives are affected.”

“This critical legislation will protect women’s health care services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and safeguard their rights,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President, National Women’s Law Center. “Women have worked for and earned the right to have their health needs covered—just as men do.  This legislation makes it unmistakably clear that businesses, in the name of religion, can neither discriminate against their female employees nor impose their religious beliefs on them.  Bosses should stick to what they know best—the board room and the bottom line—and stay out of the bedroom and exam room.”

Senators Murray and Udall were joined in introducing the legislation today by: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Timothy Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Walsh (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

In January, Senator Murray led eighteen other Senate Democrats in filing an amicus brief in support of the government’s position in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. The brief filed by Senator Murray and her colleagues provided an authoritative account of the legislative history and intent underlying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Senators urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Tenth Circuit’s expansion of RFRA’s scope and purpose as applied to secular, for-profit corporations and their shareholders seeking to evade the contraceptive-coverage requirement under the ACA.

Senator Udall decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to allow some employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of employees’ health insurance policies and vowed to introduce legislation to restore Americans’ freedom to make their own health care decisions without corporate intrusion. A longtime champion for Colorado women’s access to affordable health care, Senator Udall has fought to expand access to preventive health care services for women and has championed women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.

Read full bill text here

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

h/t: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM

H/T: Good.As.You

h/t: Joan McCarter at Daily Kos