Archive for bill

ENDA: Times Have Changed, So Have The Votes




The Senate passed historic gay rights legislation Thursday to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, another victory for the gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

Senators voted 64 to 32 to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

One could ask, "What took so long?" Then again, it's better late than never.

Back in 1996 there was a bill brought to the Senate floor, very similar to ENDA. Two senators, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) who were both serving back then, voted no. Today they voted yes.

In the words of Bob Dylan, "Times they are a changin'." At least they are for some people.

The largest battle is yet to come, the House of Representatives. Their consternation boils down to one man, Speaker and anti-gay rights activist, John Boehner. If he brings it up for a vote, it's most likely to pass. But he has already said he won't allow a vote on this issue.


Well, when you're looking for bogus excuses, John Boehner's America's man. He's never met a lie or dissemination of inaccurate information that didn't please the Boehner. The government shut down was all his doing because of his ignorance and obstinance. I'm not sure of the exact proportions of each, but they were his two major ingredients.

Boehner's pre-offered protestation number one was that giving protection to the LGBT community would cause a rush of frivolous lawsuits at a huge expense to the business community. Isn't that for the courts to decide? So Boehner's now assuming the role of Chief Justice, not just Speaker of the House.

His next foray into dissing the bill is that it's already covered under the law. Well, that's not true.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in many more aspects of the employment relationship. It applies to most employers engaged in interstate commerce with more than 15 employees, labor organizations, and employment agencies.The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Sex includes pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

It DOES NOT PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION. Therein lies the rub and the reason for this bill. When this was pointed out to Boehner, he went to his next excuse.

He postures this law affects employment by churches and other religious organizations. Well, first off Boehner, they shouldn't be discriminating under any circumstances -- but let's give you that one. But just for a second.  Okay, your second is up.

The senate added an amendment to their bill authored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).  It was approved with the bill and prevents state and local governments from taking legal action against religious groups that take advantage of the bill’s religious exemption clause.

So now, it's going to be your turn, Mr. Speaker. Let's see what kind of American you are. Are you one who believes that all men are created equal and should have equal protections under the law, or are you a GOP hypocrite?


Empty Chairs, Empty Heads



In our government, we have a bicameral legislature -- made up of two parts. The House and the Senate. We all knew that. Sorry to recap so early.

And when a bill is proposed, it's ultimately got to get approval of both chambers. Okay, you knew that too.

Most often, a bill goes from one chamber to the next for approval, but there are changes proposed. What you end up with are two versions of the same bill. And to reconcile those differences, a committee of members of both the House and the Senate are picked and conference -- that's the verb usage of that word -- it simply means to negotiate the finer points. A little back and forth, a few votes and presto-digito, a reconciled bill ready for the President to sign. You probably knew that too.

So what don't you know?

Well, for starters, as a last minute (actually with about 32 minutes left in government funding Monday night) the House pushed through an agreement to fund the government, that old, CR thingy they're always talking about, but-- yup, once again there's a but-- the Senate first had to agree to put the funding bill through conference (still a verb).

empty table.

While Eric Cantor and his All-White Band waited, good ol' Harry Reid and his Senate came back to session only to say, "No way, Jose."

Now, let's just consider this for a moment. To conference a bill the size of the national budget, isn't like negotiating for a good deal on a room at a cheap motel, or rental rates on a car. You don't have just a few choices -- you have a whole darn national budget that's supposed to last for a year. I mean with hugeous, ginormous numbers and everything. It would make your iAbacus smoke.

That's got to take some time -- especially when you have two warring tribes like the Republicans (warring with themselves) and then toss in the Democrats who don't agree with either of the two GOP fractions. What do you think? Gotta take a few hours, no?

Just figuring out who is going to sit where takes a day with the Senate and two with the much bigger House, so it's got to take at least that long. Probably a month is a safe estimate. Some of the members have pressing fund-raising to go to, photo ops with Rafael 'Ted' Cruz or Rand Paul, or maybe the new panda cam that's being set up by Time Magazine with stuffed animals -- some concessions to the government shutdown. Oh, that's so cute. Stuffed Panda cam.

Now that you're back from looking at the stuffed animals, you can see that this is a drawn out process. At this rate, and with the votes needed to reconcile the reconciled versions, we're talking conservatively, and the Republicans wouldn't have us talking any other way, two months.

That being the case, shouldn't this have been done months ago? Why didn't they start this earlier?

Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray. The Patty Murray? The Senate Budget Committee chairperson, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)? So it's all her fault. As the chair, she should have been asking for this six months ago. Somebody needs to talk to her and find out why she hasn't asked a single time for this meeting, this conferencing (verb again) to take place.

What? She did ask. Well if she did and didn't get an answer, why didn't she ask again? It's not like these things just happen on their own.

I suppose there's lots of reasons her request could have gotten lost. Maybe a goat ate it, or Martian's jammed all the text messaging from the Senate floor and it didn't go through. Don't scoff. In a recent Pew Poll, 48% of Republicans say they've suspected Martian interference on their cell calls when talking about their second right amendments. It's a fact.

Oh, wait. You say Senator Murray did ask more than once. Twice? Oh, even more than that? How many times? Eighteen? Jeez, and nobody answered?

I see, they did answer -- right, with 32 minutes left before the shutdown. That just doesn't seem like enough time to make something happen before the money runs out.

There's only one place to turn when you're as confused and I am right now. I need Rachel Maddow to solve this conundrum for me and for you. Please watch.


Video- MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Calls Out NRA For Lying About Filibustered Gun Violence Prevention Bill


Via MM.


Video- Sen Manchin: Background Checks Will Fail, NRA Has "Lost Credibility"