Do You Need A Reason to Vote for Catherine Cortez Masto?

Do you need a reason to get off your couch and head to the polls this fall to cast your vote for Catherine Cortez Masto for U.S. Senate?  Well here’s a good one:

Mitch McConnell told Fox News that he believes the NRA must approve of our next US Supreme Court justice nominee to receive any consideration by a Republican Senate.  The NRA disapproves of Judge Garland’s nomination, therefore, the current Republican majority will not allow his nomination to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote on confirmation.

This utter nonsense has to end.  We need to take the Senate back!  To do that, we need to make sure that Catherine Cortez Masto is elected to replace retiring Senator Harry Reid.  We cannot allow Republican Joe Heck to become Nevada’s next Senator and allow him to rubber stamp replacement of potentially FOUR retiring Supreme Court justices with “Scalia clones.”

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Demanding Strict Constitutional Abidance Until It’s Inconvenient

Justice01Within minutes of the news breaking that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died, Republicans said (more specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said) they would refuse to consider ANY Obama nominee to replace him, no matter what. Such a lengthy vacancy on the court would likely preserve the status quo in a number of high-profile cases this term, including those affecting the issues of affirmative action, immigration, abortion access and possibly even the president’s climate regulations. It would also leave in legal limbo countless other cases Scalia and his clerks have worked on this term.

Several critical cases are already pending before the Supreme Court, including:

  • The latest attack on abortion rights in Texas
  • President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to fight climate change
  • The president’s action to allow the “Dreamer” undocumented immigrants to stay in our country
  • The right-wing attack on the right of teachers and other workers to form strong unions
  • An extremist proposal to roll back voting rights by ending the “one person, one vote” rule
  • A Texas case that would limit affirmative action in higher education

It’s time to say resoundingly, “ENOUGH!” Republican obstruction has its limits. We, as Democrats, need to commit to doing everything it takes to retake the U.S. Senate this fall. If the Senate leaves town on recess (which they shouldn’t, the President should hold them in session), President Obama could make an appointment during that recess. And, if the GOP-controlled Senate does successfully manage to block all consideration of President Obama’s nominee, we need to make sure that we elect those who, once seated and sworn in the first week of January, will confirm President Obama’s nominee before our next President is inaugurated.

Along with other matters, such as overturning Citizens United, these cases remind us just how important it is that the next Supreme Court justice share America’s progressive values and rules the right way on these issues. We have an historic opportunity to have a progressive majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in more than 25 years.

Catherine Cortez Masto is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Harry Reid. To assure that our concerns and issues are effectively considered and dealt with by the U.S. Senate, you need to make sure you get out this fall, either during early voting, or on election day, and cast your vote for Catherine. The last person we need claiming to represent Nevada’s interests is a Senator Joe Heck. It’s time to send him packing. We’ve seen what he did in the House and we don’t need even more of that in the Senate.

Everything You Need To Know About The ‘Nuclear Option’ And Harry Reid’s Plan To Fix The Senate

By Ian Millhiser

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took the first step to invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” a Senate procedure that will allow a majority of the Senate to effectively change its rules to limit widespread obstructionism by the minority. As the trigger for this reform involves seven executive branch nominees being held up by Senate Republican filibusters, the likely consequence of this round of rules reform will be to eliminate the minority’s ability to filibuster nominees to non-judicial jobs. Here’s what you need to know about the showdown in the Senate that will occur next week:

What Is The “Nuclear Option?”

Although the term “nuclear opinion” was embraced by its opponents in an effort to cast aspersions it — its supporters have at times preferred to call it the “constitutional option” or the “Byrd option” — this maneuver is deeply rooted in the Senate’s history. As an article published by the conservative Federalist Society explained in 2004, the basic mechanism was devised by Republicans in 1890 to defeat a Democratic filibuster of a bill permitting military intervention in southern states that prevented African-Americans from voting.

Under this 1890 plan, Sen. Nelson Aldrich (R-RI) proposed introducing a motion asserting that “[w]hen any bill, resolution, or other question shall have been under consideration for a considerable time, it shall be in order for any Senator to demand that debate thereon be closed.” Aldrich then envisioned a series of steps where the presiding officer of the Senate would reject the process proposed by his motion, and a simple majority of the Senate would reverse the presiding officer’s decision. Aldrich, however, never executed this plan because Democrats eventually caved and allowed a vote on the bill out of concerns that Aldrich would succeed.

More recently, in 1977, Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV) successfully used a similar process to prevent senators from forcing debate on amendments introduced purely for the purpose of delay. Under this maneuver, Byrd asked Vice President Walter Mondale, who was then presiding over the Senate, to rule that he was required to “take the initiative” to rule such dilatory amendments out of order. When Mondale sustained Byrd’s request, supporters of more delay appealed that decision, and Byrd led the Senate to table this appeal by a majority vote. Thus, Byrd effectively eliminated a mechanism allowing a minority of senators to prevent a vote on a matter the majority supports, just as Reid seeks to do now.

Indeed, in a memo provided to ThinkProgress, Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) office identifies 17 additional times since Byrd originally executed this maneuver in 1977 when the Senate has changed its procedures by a majority vote. The most recent example occurred on October 6, 2011, when the Senate voted 51-48 that senators could not use “motions to suspend the rules in order to consider non-germane amendments post cloture” in order to delay a vote.

Wasn’t There A Big Fight Over This During The Bush Administration?

Yes. President George W. Bush nominated a number of unusually ideological judges to the federal appellate bench. As a Texas Supreme Court justice, for example, Judge Priscilla Owen took thousands of dollars worth of campaign donations from Enron, and then wrote an opinion reducing Enron’s taxes by $15 million. As Alabama’s Attorney General, Judge William Pryor defended handcuffing prisoners to a hitching post in the hot sun, and then making them remain there for up to seven hours with barely any water and no bathroom breaks. Judge Janice Rogers Brown compared liberalism to “slavery” and court decisions upholding the New Deal to a “socialist revolution.” Since joining the federal bench, she wrote an opinion suggesting that all labor, business or Wall Street regulation is constitutionally suspect. Democrats filibustered these nominees, and a handful of others.

Many Republicans who are now playing a key role in defending the filibuster labeled Democratic filibusters unconstitutional in 2005. Future Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused Democrats of wanting “to reinterpret the Constitution to require a supermajority for confirmation.” Future Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) labeled Democrats’ actions an “unconstitutional use of the filibuster.” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has since voted to filibuster several Obama nominees, declared that “I would never filibuster any President’s judicial nominee, period.”

The Democrats’ filibusters did not last very long, however, in the so-called Gang of 14 agreement, seven Democrats agreed to a near total surrender to Republican demands — agreeing to permit Owen, Pryor and Brown to be confirmed to federal appeals courts. As an added bonus for Republicans, this agreement left the filibuster intact, thus allowing them to turn it against President Obama.

But Wait, Didn’t Democrats Oppose The Nuclear Option In 2005?

They did, but circumstances have changed quite a bit since then. Democrats filibustered nominees like Owen, Pryor and Brown because they viewed them as uniquely offensive nominees justifying the use of unusual tactics. Republicans under Obama, by contrast, say that there are some jobs that they will confirm no one to, no matter who President Obama nominates. Many Democrats who still believe that the filibuster can exist if it is only used, in the words of the Gang of 14 agreement, in “extraordinary circumstances,” now see that filibusters are being used in extraordinarily ordinary circumstances. They believe this is a bridge too far.

If Republicans succeed in maintaining the filibuster, moreover, it will cripple much of the government’s ability to function and lead to severe consequences for many American workers and consumers. By refusing to confirm anyone to the National Labor Relations Board, Republicans will likely shut down nearly all of federal labor law. Without the NLRB,

there will be no one to enforce workers’ rights to join a union without intimidation from their employer. No one to enforce workers’ rights to join together to oppose abusive work conditions. And no one to make an employer actually bargain with a union. Without an NLRB to enforce the law, it may be possible for an employer to round up all of their pro-union workers, fire them, and then replace them with anti-union scabs who will immediately call a vote to decertify the union.

Similarly, a Republican filibuster of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordary will likely shut down that agency’s new authority to regulate Wall Street. Anticipated filibusters of three nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will enable Republicans to strike numerous rules promulgated by the Obama Administration to protect workers, consumers and the environment. The filibuster is no longer being used to block unusually offensive nominees, it’s being used to hobble America’s ability to govern itself.

Beyond these specific examples, there can be no doubt that filibusters spiked significantly since McConnell took over at the Senate’s Republican leader. A common mechanism used to measure the frequency of filibusters is to count the number of “cloture motions” filed in a particular Congress — cloture motions are the mechanism used to attempt to break a filibuster. The number of such motions spiked massively the minute McConnell became Minority Leader:

Indeed, nearly 3 in 10 of all cloture motions filed in the history of the Senate were filed during McConnell’s reign as Minority Leader.

With respect to filibusters of executive branch nominees, the issue likely to be addressed next week, the data shows a similar spike in McConnell-led filibusters once President Obama took office:

Why Is This Happening Now?

In the past three years, Democrats twice agreed to minor rules changes that did little to quell McConnell’s tactics. This time, however, they appear likely to pursue meaningful reform. This shift is likely due to a pair of court decisions by Republican judges that created a looming crisis Senate Democrats can no longer ignore.

The reason why the NLRB is in danger of going dark, stripping away much of American labor law in the process, are two decisions joined by five Republican judges that effectively strip away President Obama’s power to fill these seats via a recess appointment. And, while there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will uphold these decisions, the fact remains that there are five Republicans on the Supreme Court and only four Democrats.

If the NLRB goes dark, unscrupulous employers could do significant and irreversible damage to workers and the unions they rely upon to protect their livelihoods. Even if the Senate were eventually able to fill the open seats on the NLRB, the labor movement may never recover from the blow such employers could deal in the absence of an NLRB capable of enforcing federal law. Thus, the irony of the five Republican judges’ decisions stripping away much of the government’s ability to function is that it could ultimately have the opposite effect. Because Democrats no longer have the option to delay filibuster reform without risking permanent harms, robust reform is more likely today than it has ever been. And that will lead to a far more functional government than the one we have under Mitch McConnell’s preferred regime.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Looks Like Harry’s Working Up Some Intestinal Fortitude for a Fight

We all hoped beyond hope that Senator Reid would fix the filibuster problem that has ground Washington to a halt.  Instead, he put his trust in yet one more handshake deal with a charlatan named Mitch McConnell who broke that deal shortly after making it.  As result, nominations have been held, filibustered and ground to a standstill.  Unable to be confirmed, nominee after nominee has withdrawn forcing the administration to have to start over from scratch.  Instead of confirming the best and brightest, rule-by-the-minority is forcing confirmation of the weakest possible progressive candidates possible.

But, good news may, and I say MAY, be on the horizon.  Harry seems to be getting a bit agitated and we finally might see him go for his “nuclear” option some time in July:

“Today, Senator McConnell defended the status quo of gridlock and obstruction in Washington, saying ‘there is no real problem here.’ I could not disagree more. Senator McConnell may choose to ignore it, but the problem of gridlock in Washington is real and it needs to be fixed.

Presidents — be they Republican or Democratic — deserve to have the people working for them that they choose. The Senate’s role is to advise and consent. But Republicans have corrupted the Founders’ intent, creating an unreasonable and unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees. Due to Republican obstruction, the de facto threshold for too many nominees to be confirmed has risen from a simple majority to a super-majority of 60 votes. On judicial nominees, Republicans’ obstruction is equally unprecedented…There is no reason to delay qualified nominees for so long except delay itself, and it is little wonder we have a judicial vacancy crisis in this country.

Despite the agreement we reached in January, Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated. I want to make the Senate work again – that is my commitment.”

S47: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) has dramatically enhanced our nation’s response to violence against girls and women, boys and men. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 64%.

VAWA provides for a coordinated community approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers to better meet the needs of victims. These comprehensive and cost-effective programs not only save lives, they also save money. In fact, VAWA saved nearly $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years.

A significant number of Senators appreciate the savings in terms of both social and financial costs, but twenty two members of the right-wing clearly see no value in continuing such efforts.  S47—the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013—passed the Senate on February 12th with a 78/22 vote.  Here’s the list of Senators who prefer to escalate the war on women:

  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. James Risch (R-ID)   ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2018
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2018
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)  ….  up for re-election in 2018

22-VAWA-NOs

Get to know these faces ladies.  It’s time to watch closely,  just exactly how they vote on issues near and dear to our hearts.  If, through their words, their actions and their votes, they’re showing us that WE have NO value, then it’s clearly time that WE, as women, show them that they have no value and that WE no longer want them in decision and leadership positions where they would be able to impose their lack of values on us.  Two faces in particular are quite disappointing, Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.  Apparently they’ve clearly joined the “I’ve got mine, good luck getting yours” club.

Reauthorization of the law, first passed in 1994, now heads to the House, where swift passage is far from guaranteed. House Republicans killed the legislation last year, though Democrats have now dropped some of the provisions that drew GOP objections, including expanded visas for abused immigrants.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rubio-gop-white-house-hopefuls-oppose-violence-women-act-article-1.1263096#ixzz2KpTyVbqF