The Irony of Ironies via Republican Poison Pills

H.R. 2577 is a conglomeration of a number of bills (Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017) that  the Senate needs to take action on failed a super-majority vote (60 votes) for cloture (the ability to be considered and voted for/against on the Senate floor).  One version of that bill was passed by the House and a different version of that/those bills passed the Senate.  Thus, it’s now gone to conference committee to work out the wrinkles between the two versions.

This conference agreement now includes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act, 2016, the Zika Vector Control Act, and an unacceptable ‘division’ on funds to be rescinded from programs the Republicans don’t particularly like.  That’s what came to the floor for a cloture vote, and it failed miserably — 52-48.

Really, Senator McConnell?  It’s too difficult for the general public to understand?  I don’t think so.

It’s one thing for Republicans to short-change President Obama’s funding request.  It’s another thing to start attaching ‘poison pills’ to the proposed legislation that limit or outright prohibit women’s choices.  When you introduce a funding proposal that limits the distribution of contraceptives and that prevents family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood from participating in the effort to help women in Zika-affected areas delay pregnancy, from a disease that not just contracted from a mosquito bite, but from sexual activity with an infected male partner, did you really think that Senate Democrats would just roll over and vote for that?

When you start gutting provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, did you honestly believe that Democrats would just roll over and just vote for that?

SEC. 2. MOSQUITO CONTROL WAIVER.
Notwithstanding section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342), during the 180 day period following the date of enactment of this Act the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (or a State, in the case of a permit program approved under subsection (b)) shall not require a permit for a discharge from the application by an entity authorized under State or local law, such as a vector control district, of a pesticide in compliance with all relevant requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) to control mosquitos or mosquito larvae for the prevention or control of the Zika virus.

When you start stripping funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), did you really expect Democrats to just roll over, see the light and vote your way?  Or, when you decide to fund your bill by stripping balances  from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, did you really expect Democrats to go “oh yeah, that’s a great idea” and vote in favor of your bill?  Or better yet, given that we already know that you stripped a bunch of funding from the State Department for Embassy security that might have made the outcome in Benghazi drastically different, did you really expect the Senate Democrats to let you strip even more funding for the State Department and other Foreign Operations?

Are you nuts?  They certainly weren’t and neither am I.  It took me hours to sort through all the links on Congress.gov, but here’s what I found:

DIVISION D–RESCISSIONS OF FUNDS

Sec. 101.
(a) $543,000,000 of the unobligated amounts made available under section 1323(c)(1) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18043(c)(1)) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.

Sec. 1323. Community health insurance option. Requires the Secretary to offer a Community Health Insurance Option as a qualified health plan through Exchanges. Allows States to enact a law to opt out of offering the option. Requires the option to cover only essential health benefits; States may require additional benefits, but must defray their cost. Requires the Secretary to set geographically adjusted premium rates that cover expected costs. Requires the Secretary to negotiate provider reimbursement rates, but they must not be higher than average rates paid by private qualified health plans. Subjects the option to State and Federal solvency standards and to State consumer protection laws. Establishes a Start-Up Fund to provide loans for initial operations, to be repaid with interest within 10 years. Authorizes the Secretary to contract with nonprofits for the administration of the option.

(b) $100,000,000 of the unobligated balances available in the Nonrecurring expenses fund established in section 223 of division G of Public Law 110-161 (42 U.S.C. 3514a) from any fiscal year is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.

DIVISION G–DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008
Title I–Department of Labor
Title II–Department of Health and Human Services
Title III–Department of Education
Title IV–Related Agencies
Title V–General Provisions
Title VI–National Commission on Children and Disasters

(c) $107,000,000 of the unobligated balances of appropriations made available under the heading Bilateral Economic Assistance, Funds Appropriated to the President, Economic Support Fund in title IX of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015 (division J of Public Law 113-235) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act: Provided, That such amounts are designated by the Congress as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

Personally, I side with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who declared, “It is unbelievable that somebody would have the audacity to come to the floor and say it’s Democrats’ fault. A significant amount of American women, especially young women, go to Planned Parenthood, and the Republicans want to say, ‘you can’t do that.’” Why indeed would Democrats not just prohibit Planned Parenthood from providing any services, but gut the EPA’s ability to assure clean water and harm HHS’s ability to manage health insurance options for not just Puerto Ricans, but millions of American families across our nation?  Apparently Sen. McConnell completely missed the irony of claiming to improve women’s health by prohibiting and defunding health opportunities for women altogether.


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Supreme Court on DACA Tied 4/4 (Updated)

SupremeCourt

The Republican Congress has done everything possible to NOT to address effective and efficient Immigration Reform legislation.  And to assure that NOTHING happens, 113 Republicans chose to use our limited tax dollars to sue the President for attempting to take whatever action he can constitutionally take to resolve the situation that our current Immigration system finds itself in today.  21 red-state Republicans have also jumped into the fray to challenge the legality of President Obama’s DACA/DAPA actions.  Nevada’s own Rep. Joe Heck may talk a good story and may not have voted to “deport Dreamers,” but he’s done relatively nothing to resolve
immigrations issues and has in fact, voted to defund implementation of a presidential executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA].

DACA and DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans] are  two programs outlined in Presidential Executive Orders issued in 2014 that are designed to shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and make them eligible to work in the United States.  They were challenged in Court by Texas, 25 other states, Congressional Republicans and a number of Governors individually.  By strategically filing their suit in right-leaning Federal Court Districts, they were able to get favorable decisions for blocking implementation of those Executive Orders.

That ruling was challenged and the case ended up before the supreme court for resolution. Resolution, however, was not forthcoming as no final ‘decision’ was reached.  This morning’s announcement from the Supreme Court declared that they couldn’t agree on the basis of the case.  Four justices sided with the lower court, and four justices sided with the President’s actions. That tie vote sets no national precedent, but it does leave the ruling by the lower court prohibiting implementation in place.

Since many believe that a single, right-leaning jurisdiction should not be able to dictate what our national laws should be, we can now anticipate that supporters of President Obama’s executive actions may try to coalesce a different group of states to file suit in a different jurisdiction sympathetic to their position to get a ruling forcing implementation.  If successful, that would create a potential ‘split’ allowing an executive order to be considered constitutional in some parts of the U.S., while viewed as unconstitutional in other parts of the U.S.

In the meantime, we’re in the midst of a Presidential Election year.  The presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has declared that he would scrap both DACA and DAPA and deport en masse, some estimated somewhere between 5 and 11 million people. The presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has declared that she would keep both DACA and DAPA and find potential other ways to protect those who registered under those programs.

Elections are important folks.  There are some serious opportunity and economic costs associated with today’s ruling with puts not just those who trusted President Obama and registered for the program, but for a much larger population of people weary of what might happen if the government had information about them and are still sitting in the shadows.

We need to elect a Congress that is willing to dig in and work on issues.  We’ve now had a Congress unwilling to work for the money we pay them to manage our nation’s resources and laws.  It’s time for a change and I’m not talking about a change in the White House, but a change in Congress.


Statement from former NV Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic candidate for Senate representing Nevadans re: Supreme Court Ruling on DACA/DAPA

“A knock on the door should not cause someone to fear that their family will suddenly be torn apart. This ruling is a setback for thousands of Nevada families, and Republicans like Donald Trump and Congressman Heck share the blame. This issue is personal for me – my grandfather came to this country from Chihuahua, Mexico. Contrary to what we hear from Republican politicians who call Mexicans ‘rapists,’ or promote debunked conspiracy theories about ‘Sharia Law’ coming to the United States, our country is stronger, not weaker, because of the contributions of immigrants. If Washington Republicans like Congressman Heck had actually done their job and passed comprehensive immigration reform, DACA and DAPA wouldn’t have even been necessary. Congressman Heck voted to join this anti-immigrant lawsuit that will result in families being torn apart – Nevada’s Latino community will hold him accountable for it in November.”

At the time of this writing, Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican candidate for Senate representing Nevadans has issued no statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this morning.


Hillary Clinton Statement on Texas v. United States

Today, following the Supreme Court’s deadlocked decision in Texas v. United States, Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

“Today’s deadlocked decision from the Supreme Court is unacceptable, and show us all just how high the stakes are in this election. As I have consistently said, I believe that President Obama acted well within his constitutional and legal authority in issuing the DAPA and DACA executive actions. These are our friends and family members; neighbors and classmates; DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents. They enrich our communities and contribute to our economy every day. We should be doing everything possible under the law to provide them relief from the specter of deportation.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is purely procedural and casts no doubt on the fact that DAPA and DACA are entirely within the President’s legal authority. But in addition to throwing millions of families across our country into a state of uncertainty, this decision reminds us how much damage Senate Republicans are doing by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Our families and our country need and deserve a full bench, and Senate Republicans need to stop playing political games with our democracy and give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote.

“This decision is also a stark reminder of the harm Donald Trump would do to our families, our communities, and our country. Trump has pledged to repeal President Obama’s executive actions on his first day in office. He has called Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers.’ He has called for creating a deportation force” to tear 11 million people away from their families and their homes.

“I believe we are stronger together. When we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them. When we build bridges, not walls. That is why, as president, I will continue to defend DAPA and DACA, and do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families. It is also why I will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship within my first 100 days. Because when families are strong—America is strong.”

Las declaraciones de Hillary Clinton sobre Texas versus Estados Unidos

Hillary Clinton publicó las siguientes declaraciones luego de la decisión dividida en el caso Texas vs. Estados Unidos:

“La inhabilidad de la Corte Suprema de llegar a una decisión en el caso Texas vs. Estados Unidos hoy es inaceptable y nos confirma la importancia de esta elección. Como he dicho consistentemente, creo que el presidente Obama actuó adecuadamente dentro de su autoridad legal y constitucional al emitir las acciones ejecutivas DAPA y DACA. Estos son nuestros amigos y familiares, vecinos y compañeros de clase; DREAMers y padres de residentes permanentes legales. Ellos enriquecen nuestras comunidades y contribuyen a la economía todos los días. Debemos hacer todo lo posible bajo la Ley para proveerles alivio de la sombras de la deportación.

“La decisión de hoy de la Corte Suprema es puramente procesal y no deja ninguna duda del hecho que DAPA y DACA están totalmente bajo la autoridad legal del presidente. Pero en lugar de echar a millones de familias a través de todo el país en un estado de incertidumbre, esta decisión nos recuerda cuánto daño los senadores republicanos están haciendo al rehusar considerar nombrar la vacante del presidente Obama a la Corte Suprema. Nuestras familias y nuestro país necesitan y merecen que se nombre esa vacante y los senadores republicanos tienen que parar de seguir estos juegos políticos con nuestra democracia y darle al juez Merrick Garland una audiencia justa y un voto.

“Esta decisión representa más evidencia de cuánto daño Donald Trump le haría a nuestras familias, nuestras comunidades y nuestro país. Trump se ha comprometido en revocar las acciones ejecutivas del presidente Obama en su primer día de administración. Ha llamado a los inmigrantes mexicanos “violadores” y “asesinos”. Ha enfatizado que creará una “fuerza de deportación” para separar a 11 millones de personas de sus familias y hogares. No podemos permitir un presidente que promueve la intolerancia de esta forma.

“Creo que somos más fuertes cuando nos unimos, cuando damos la bienvenida a los inmigrantes, no cuando los degradamos; cuando construimos puentes no murallas. Es por esto que, como presidenta, implementaré fielmente DAPA y DACA y haré todo lo posible bajo la Ley para ir más allá y proteger las familias inmigrantes. Es por esto, también, que introduciré una reforma migratoria integral con un camino a la ciudadanía durante los primeros 100 días de mi administración. Porque cuando las familias están fuertes, el país está fuerte”.

 

 

 

 

Make America Gray Again


— by  CAP Action War Room

Donald Trump Unveils His Energy PlatformTrump02

This afternoon after he really, officially clinched the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump went to the heart of America’s current oil boom to unveil his energy platform. He gave his speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. While he was sure to fit in his usual anti-immigrant rhetoric and pro-Second Amendment rhetoric, Trump did give us a few insights into what his energy policy could look like.

Unsurprisingly, Trump more or less stuck to the trusty GOP energy handbook: denying climate change, calling to abolish crucial public health standards, and promising to undo progress made in the fight against climate change. Here are just a few of his most noteworthy ideas and their consequences:

Cancel the Paris agreement: Unsurprisingly, Trump reiterated his call to withdraw from the Paris Agreement saying, “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” The Paris agreement is a landmark step in the global fight against climate change that was made possible by U.S. leadership. Global coordination, like the kind orchestrated in the Paris agreement, is necessary for the world’s collective goal of addressing climate change and is good for markets and U.S. companies seeking a clear and consistent path forward. Walking away from the agreement would weaken our position in the global community and threaten American lives and livelihoods.

Abolish the Clean Power Plan: When he referred to the Clean Power Plan in his speech today Trump said, “How stupid is that?” And as part of his big promise to “free up the coal,” he vowed to get rid of all regulations on the coal industry. Not only is the Clean Power Plan key to ensuring the U.S. meets its goal under the Paris agreement, it is also crucial for the public health and economic security of our country. For every $1 invested in the Clean Power Plan, Americans will see $7 in health benefits. And the plan is expected to prevent thousands of premature deaths.

Protect Welfare for Oil Companies: Like the Republican establishment, Trump said “under my plan we’re lowering taxes very substantially, as you know, for businesses…” Oil and gas companies already get nearly $4 billion in tax breaks annually. Meanwhile, a GOP led Congress phased out tax incentives for clean energy. At the same time, Mr. Trump declared that government should not pick winners or losers when it comes to energy. But billions in tax breaks does exactly that.

In addition to these proposals, Trump vowed to stop environmental executive action, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and lift moratoriums on energy production on public lands, all of which would have serious economic and environmental consequences.

BOTTOM LINE: Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree on the science behind human-caused climate change. The Pentagon called it an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” Donald Trump called it a Chinese hoax. In today’s speech, Trump repeated the same old, tired GOP energy policies that would endanger public health and undo meaningful progress in the global fight against climate change.


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. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

With Women and Doctors in Danger, House GOP Called upon to End Their ‘Witch Hunt’

‘We disgrace ourselves by allowing this misconduct to continue,’ 178 House Democrats say in letter to Speaker Paul Ryan

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

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The Democrats’ letter says the panel’s chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tx.) “has used her unilateral subpoena power to intimidate scientific researchers, doctors, clinics, health care providers, universities, and other entities.” (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Backed by key women’s health and civil liberties groups, 178 House Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to Republican Speaker Paul Ryan demanding he disband an anti-choice investigative panel that has been issuing subpoenas to abortion providers and medical researchers around the country.

The so-called “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” was created to look into fetal tissue research in the wake of last summer’s video smear campaign by anti-abortion activists that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials admitting to selling fetal body parts. In January, a grand jury empaneled to investigate those charges indicted the anti-abortion activists for fraud instead.

Women’s health and academic freedom advocates have long warned that the panel could have a chilling effect on both the provision of healthcare and university research.

But the panel’s “pattern of reckless disregard” has only escalated, according to House Democrats, with Republican members sending 36 subpoenas to researchers and healthcare providers, including a physician who was recently identified by name.

“From the beginning, Chair Marsha Blackburn has used her unilateral subpoena power to intimidate scientific researchers, doctors, clinics, health care providers, universities, and other entities,” reads the letter, which asks Ryan to respond in writing no later than June 6, 2016.

“On May 11, 2016, the majority reached a new low when it posted a press release identifying a doctor and his clinic by name,” the letter continues. “The press release’s hyperbolic rhetoric and misleading allegations pose a real danger to the doctor, the staff at the clinic, and the patients of the named clinic. These recent steps are completely outside the bounds of acceptable Congressional behavior. We disgrace ourselves by allowing this misconduct to continue.”

Indeed, the signatories—who include Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Donna Edwards (MD), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Barbara Lee (CA), and Maxine Waters (CA)—declare:

The most recent subpoenas are only the latest in a series of aggressive tactics that constitute a virtually unprecedented abuse of Congressional power, perhaps only matched by the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. To this day, the Panel still lacks credible evidence to support its case that any federal laws were broken. Yet the Chair and majority staff continue to harass individuals, researchers, clinics, and health care facilities, issuing a total of 36 subpoenas so far, often without reaching out to the subject of the subpoena to ask for voluntary compliance first or without giving subjects sufficient time to comply. Congress simply has no business “prosecuting” these unfounded allegations.

The danger posed by the Panel is real and serious. There is a long and undeniable history of violence against women’s health care clinics, physicians, and patients. As recently as November 27, 2015, a gunman murdered three people and injured nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, repeating the “baby parts” rhetoric pushed by the very members of Congress leading this investigation. Despite this horrific event, the same inflammatory language has been used repeatedly during Panel hearings, in communications with the press, and in other documents. The majority has also refused to take necessary steps to protect the names and privacy of those subject to the investigation. Indeed, some names and targets have already been publicly disclosed. We are deeply disappointed by the majority’s decision to continue down this road despite these well-known risks.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ACLU expressed support for the Democrats’ call.

“By issuing broad and baseless subpoenas,” said Louise Melling, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, “the Select Investigative Panel is not only wasting time and taxpayer money, but also violating the civil liberties of health care providers, medical researchers, and staff. This panel’s actions are clearly meant to harass and intimidate healthcare providers to prevent them from providing constitutionally protected care women need.”

And there are even more insidious goals in play, said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“By promoting falsehoods in order to close clinics, the Select Panel has been endangering women, students, researchers, and health care providers since it was formed,” Hogue said in a statement on Tuesday. “House Democrats are right to call on Speaker Ryan to disband this committee and put a stop to its taxpayer-funded witch hunt.”

The panel and its actions, she said, offer “one more example of the anti-choice GOP’s reckless disregard for safety of women and the priorities of most Americans.”


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GOP Lawmakers Capitalize on Zika Threat to Pass Bill Dubbed ‘Making Pesticides Great Again’ Act

denguemosquito-a_1 (1)
An Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit the Zika virus.

House Democrats and Obama administration, meanwhile, criticize bill’s assault on Clean Water Act
— by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The Republican-controlled U.S. House on Tuesday passed legislation—newly rebranded with the word “Zika” in it—that Democrats say is in fact not at all about the addressing the threat of the virus but making it easier for pesticides to contaminate the nation’s waterways.

Previously called the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,” the “Zika Vector Control Act”passed the House 258-156.

According to House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md), H.R. 897 “is nothing but a Trojan horse, with practically nothing to do with Zika.”

It was sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who, as Cleveland.com reported last week, “For years […] has tried to get Congress to change permitting requirements for pesticides sprayed near water.”

The Obama administration issued a statement earlier this week saying (pdf) that it “strongly opposes” the legislation, as it “would weaken environmental protections under the Clean Water Act.” Indeed, the Act’s summary states that it

establishes exemptions for the following discharges containing a pesticide or pesticide residue: (1) a discharge resulting from the application of a pesticide in violation of FIFRA that is relevant to protecting water quality, if the discharge would not have occurred but for the violation or the amount of pesticide or pesticide residue contained in the discharge is greater than would have occurred without the violation; (2) stormwater discharges regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES); and (3) discharges regulated under NPDES of manufacturing or industrial effluent or treatment works effluent and discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel, including a discharge resulting from operations concerning ballast water held in ships to increase stability or vessel biofouling prevention.

Gibbs, The Hill notes, “said it would help to eliminate a ‘duplicative and unnecessary permitting regulation’ that has made it more difficult for some local governments to spread for mosquitoes.”

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Leighton Woodhouse, for his part, referred to the bill as “Straight up #disastercapitalism.”

Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.)., meanwhile, said it “is a sham.”

“It is nothing but trying to weaken the environmental regulations. It exempts, a broad exemption, of toxic pesticides from the Clean Water Act,” she said to PBS NewshourMonday, adding that the bill stands to “pollute our rivers and contaminate our water.”

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.) spoke out against the measure on the House floor Tuesday, calling it “misguided” and “harmful.”

“I am very concerned about the effect of these pesticides on the health of our rivers, on our streams, and especially the drinking water supplies of all our citizens, including pregnant women,” Napolitano added.

Slamming the repeated iterations of the bill that threatens “to undo protections that safeguard our environment and public health,” Hoyer said that to “bring the same bill back to the Floor last week and again today, renamed with ‘Zika’ in the title, is one of the most egregious displays of dishonesty I’ve seen while serving in the House.”

“It is an act that seeks to provide political cover for Republicans who refused to act on President Obama’s urgent request for funding to address the Zika outbreak in a serious way. House Republicans might as well bring this bill to the Floor and rename it the ‘Making Pesticides Great Again’ Act, because in truth it would remove virtually all federal oversight concerning the use of chemical pesticides to ensure they do not end up in our water supply,” he charged.

The bill also met outrage from Natural Resources Defense Council’s government arm, which tweeted:

Capture1

Capture2

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The Associated Press notes that the Obama administration’s statement “stopped short of threatening a veto” of the bill.


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Republimen Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bars on Discrimination

DiscriminationRus

On Thursday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D-NY] offered an amendment to the military construction and veterans affairs spending bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in hiring and employment activities. It was very similar to an amendment that was offered last year by Rep. Scott Peters [D-CA] which upheld President Obama’s 2014 executive order banning federal contractors from making hiring decisions that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 60 Republicans voted forRep Peters’ bill which was adopted 241-184 [HR2577, Roll Call 326, 6-9-15]. However, Rep. Maloney’s amendment by a single vote, 212-213 [HR 4974, Roll Call 226, 5-19-16], after seven Republicans switched their votes at the last minute.

Rep. Mark Amodei [NV2] and Rep. Cresant Hardy [NV4] voted against passage of BOTH amendments (last year’s and this year’s). It should, therefore, be noted that BOTH are in favor of allowing discrimination to take place.

Although the identities of the seven vote-switchers were not publicly recorded on the House floor, here’s the names of those Reps who switched there votes and deserve your shaming:

  1. Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA]
  2. Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA]
  3. Rep. David Valadao [R-CA]
  4. Rep. Mimi Walters [R-CA]
  5. Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR]
  6. Rep. David Young [R-IA]
  7. Rep. Bruce Poliquin [R-ME]

“House Republicans are so committed to discriminating against LGBT Americans, that they broke regular order to force their members to reverse their votes and support Republicans’ bigotry,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] said in a statement.

On the other side, Speaker Ryan had this to say: “This is federalism. The states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in this business.” UH … Hello? This had to do with FEDERAL contracts for which States hold NO responsibility for issuance, nor enforcement.

Here are the names of 30 Republicans who voted for the Peters amendment but against the Maloney amendment:

HR4974-30R

Stomping on Our Constitutional Rights

Several states have made it a crime to record corporate animal abusers in the act.

— by

Jim HightowerImagine the outcry by tea party Republicans if state legislators were passing laws banning the use of video cameras in banks to capture images of robbers.

Yet those very same tea partiers have been passing laws in various states to ban the recording of inhumane, immoral, and disgusting abuses of turkeys, hogs, and other animals by giant factory farm operators like Tyson.

The only reason the public knows about chickens being stomped to death and pregnant sows being driven insane because they’re caged so tightly they can’t even turn around is that courageous whistleblowers have secretly recorded videos of the intolerable violence inside these animal concentration camps.

Chickens in Cages
Farm Sanctuary/Flickr

In response to the exposés, however, eight states run by shameless, corporate-hugging Republicans have rushed to protect the worst abusers, making it illegal to release such videos to the media or the public.

North Carolina’s corrupt legislature, for example, has decreed that videographers who cause bad publicity for corporate animal torturers can be sued by the corporation and fined $5,000 for each day abuses are recorded. To add to the Kafkaesque absurdity of this “ag gag law,” the state legislature’s corporate servants mandated that releasing videos ofabuses in nursing home chains, day care centers, and veterans’ facilities is now also banned.

In their eagerness to please corporate lobbyists and get campaign donations from these abusive profiteers, tea party Republicans across the country are stomping on our constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of the press, just as callously as the animal abusers stomp chickens to death.

For information and action tips on stopping this disgraceful industry-legislative cabal, go to www.aspca.org/OpenTheBarns.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board. OtherWords.org

Pelosi Statement on Failed House Republican Veto Override Vote

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after House Republicans failed to override the President’s veto of their budget reconciliation bill to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act:

“It is deeply fitting that Republicans chose Groundhog Day for their failed veto-override vote. Today, instead of working to create good-paying jobs or raising the paychecks of hard-working Americans, Republicans once again recycled their dead-end special interest assault on women and working families.

“Today’s failed vote represents Republicans’ 63rd vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act and their 12th vote to attack women’s health in the 114th Congress alone. With this vote, Republicans have once again tried to take family planning and lifesaving preventive care away from millions of women across America. With this vote, Republicans tried to shatter the affordable health care of 22 million Americans.

“Again and again and again, the Republican Congress returns to these toxic, hollow bills. House Republicans’ self-declared ‘factory of new ideas’ is stuck in a miserable remake of Groundhog Day – and the women and working families of America aren’t laughing. The American people need the Republican Congress to set aside their radical obsessions and join Democrats to grow their wages and strengthen their security for the future.”


Note: All three of Nevada’s Republican members of the US House voted FOR passage of the bill to override President Obama’s veto of HR 3762.  Their efforts failed.

Obama Takes a Walk on the Greener Side

As Nevada short-circuits its solar boom, the White House gets more committed to renewable energy.

— by

Emily Schwartz GrecoUntil now, President Barack Obama has embraced gas and oil fracking, encouraged the construction of new nuclear reactors, and hailed government investment in wind and solar power. In keeping with this “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, he’d call for climate action one minute and sign off on measures destined to boost carbon pollution the next.

Suddenly, it looks like Obama may have ditched his inherently contradictory approach.

“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy,” he asserted during his final State of the Union address. “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

Barack-Obama-solar-panel-green-energy
Wikipedia

Just three days later, the Obama administration moved in that direction by declaring a three-year moratorium on new leases to mine coal from federal land.

Obama’s speech also cast switching to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels in a business-friendly light.

“We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy —  something environmentalists and tea partiers have teamed up to support,” he said. There’s plenty going on at a larger scale too. Wind and solar energy are generating more than half of the new power that came online last year.

The Republican Party’s obsession with “job creators” should make it a fan of green energy. Nearly 210,000 Americans now work for the solar industry, and some 73,000 are employed in the wind business. Renewable power forged at least 79,000 new jobs between 2008 and 2012 as 50,000 coal jobs vanished.

But the fossil fuel industries and their political allies won’t surrender without a fight. As Obama put it: “There are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo.”

To see what he meant, check out what’s up in Nevada.

Right before Christmas, the state’s electric-sector regulators short-circuited policies that rewarded homeowners for investing in their own solar panels. Nevadans may end up paying for the privilege of generating their own electricity while simultaneously padding the profit margins of NV Energy, rather than getting compensated for it.

The Nevada Public Utility Commission, whose three members were all appointed by Republican governor Brian Sandoval, effectively killed demand for rooftop solar power and the jobs that diversifying industry would have created in Nevada—overnight. The new policies also punish consumers who previously bought or leased panels.

This about face prompted companies like SolarCity, Vivint, and Sunrun to shutter their operations in the state. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive is calling this move an act of “sabotage,” and two Las Vegas residents have already filed a class action lawsuit.

Along with rigging the rules, fossil fuel lobbyists are trying to extract new political favors. The coal industry, for example, wants new government handouts from West Virginia’s cash-strapped government. And, there are rumblings about a federal bailout for Big Oil.

This money ought to support and ramp up the green transition, not delay it. That’s what Obama meant when he asserted: “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”

And although polls have shown that government efforts to expand solar and wind power enjoy bipartisan support, GOP presidential contenders and many Republican leaders dismiss these increasingly competitive industries.

“Why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” asked Obama, raising an excellent question. “The jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve  —  that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”

Indeed. Supposedly pro-business politicians who are out to kill the green energy boom make no sense. Neither does an all-of-the-above energy strategy.


Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org.