Read the Key Provisions in the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act here
President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after signing the Violence Against Women Act as he is joined by Vice President Joe Biden and members of women’s organizations, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, at the Interior Department on March 7, 2013. The law strengthens the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking
@VP meets with parents of teen dating violence victims in his office today
Statement from the President:
Today, Republicans in the Senate faced a choice about how to grow our economy and reduce our deficit. And instead of closing a single tax loophole that benefits the well-off and well-connected, they chose to cut vital services for children, seniors, our men and women in uniform and their families. They voted to let the entire burden of deficit reduction fall squarely on the middle class.
I believe we should do better. We should work together to reduce our deficit in a balanced way – by making smart spending cuts and closing special interest tax loopholes. That’s exactly the kind of plan Democrats in the Senate have proposed. But even though a majority of Senators support this approach, Republicans have refused to allow it an up-or-down vote – threatening our economy with a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts that will cost us jobs and slow our recovery.
Tomorrow I will bring together leaders from both parties to discuss a path forward. As a nation, we can’t keep lurching from one manufactured crisis to another. Middle-class families can’t keep paying the price for dysfunction in Washington. We can build on the over $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction we’ve already achieved, but doing so will require Republicans to compromise. That’s how our democracy works, and that’s what the American people deserve.
Ever since they took control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have made journeys to the fiscal brink as commonplace as summertime visits to the beach or the ballpark. The country has been put through a series of destructive showdowns over budget issues we once resolved through the normal give-and-take of negotiations.
The old formula held that when government was divided between the parties, the contending sides should try to “meet in the middle.” But the current Republican leadership doesn’t know the meaning of the word “middle,” so intimidated by the tea party has it become.
Washington Post Editorial: “This is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress,” Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced during a Supreme Court argument Wednesday.
The subject was the Voting Rights Act, one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, and in particular its Section 5….
“It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation,” Justice Elena Kagan said, in what might seem a self-evident point.
But not to Justice Scalia. “Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against …. They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
ThinkProgress: After nearly a year of partisan infighting on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives and the Senate finally agreed to send a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to President Obama’s desk.
…. by a vote of 286 to 138, the House passed the bipartisan Senate-approved version of the bill … all 138 votes against the bill were Republicans.
A watered down Republican version of the bill, which was offered as a substitute amendment, failed to garner enough votes to slow the process. It was struck down by a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans voted against their own party’s replacement measure. Twenty-seven members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against both versions….
President Obama and VP Joe Biden talk with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in the Outer Oval Office, following his swearing-in ceremony in the Oval Office, Feb. 28 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Greg Sargent: As expected, the Obama administration has submitted a friend of the court brief in the case challenging Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court. Just as gay rights advocates had hoped, Obama’s Solicitor General has made a sweeping case against Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, which is a bold move and makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will strike down the law with a similarly sweeping argument. This in turn could set a precedent for challenging the constitutionality of other state laws banning gay marriage — potentially leading to full equality across the country.
In short, in this brief, the United States government has put the force of a fully fleshed out legal argument behind Obama’s historic words during his Inaugural Address: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
TPM: Chrysler is investing millions in the Kokomo, Indiana, area as it shifts most of its vehicles to new transmissions that save fuel and better suit the driving habits of Americans.
The automaker will invest nearly $400 million at four plants in the Kokomo, Indiana, area, adding 1,250 jobs to what it says it the largest transmission factory complex in the world. The plants will make fuel-efficient eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions.
Still catching up with stuff on poor threatened Bob Woodward, these are just a few snippets that you probably all read, oh, hours ago. That he’s appearing on Hannity says it all, really –
Steve Benen: …. This would be an ideal time for Woodward to start walking back some of his increasingly bizarre claims, but instead, he’s agreed to appear on television tonight – with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
When it comes to his chosen profession, Bob Woodward has had the kind of career most media professionals can only dream of … Which is why it saddens me to see him become so reckless for no reason. I just can’t figure out what’s gotten into Woodward, or why he’s acting so erratically. But at this point, it seems Woodward is doing lasting, possibly irreparable harm to his once-sterling reputation, and that is a genuine shame….
Michael Tomasky: … it’s obvious to anyone who knows [Sperling] that he meant Woodward would regret having a big factual error hanging around his neck for the sake of his historical reputation… A big factual error Woodward made over the weekend that is misleading in very important ways. He said that Obama and his people were lying when they claim that revenues have been understood to be part of any sequester deal. He is wrong. Dead flat-out wrong.
He doesn’t correct this, and the Politico story, which started this whole thing, doesn’t correct it…
…. And all this is happening, of course, in a larger context in which you have one side, the side that lost the last election by the way, taking a “negotiating” position that is supported by 19 percent of the people and refusing to budge from it one inch. Which is somehow Obama’s fault because he just needs to show “leadership.” The economy is at serious risk here, and this is what our agenda-setters are feeding us? These people are children, and this is really as bad as Washington gets.
Charles Pierce: [Politico] were summoned to an undisclosed location where Bob Woodward is hiding because someone in the Obama administration pointed out that he might one day regret having been publicly stupid on the subject of the sequester, and Bob knows what that means. So, huddled in his bunker, fiddling with the knobs on the crystal set and eating cold Spaghetti-O’s out of the can, Bob summoned two of the only reporters he knows who share the same level of self-delusion that he does.
…. Jesus H. Christ on a two-picture deal, Bob, you got your ass kicked by Ezra Klein, let alone the White House. This is the guy who bravely walked into darkened parking garages in the dead of night to bring down a criminal president? He now believes himself “threatened” by Gene Fcking Sperling, because Sperling said Woodward was “going to regret” being wrong? ….
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday announced an effort to engage 50,000 schools in an effort to bring physical activity back to the classroom, and she’s getting a big assist from Nike.
The shoe-maker will spend $50 million on the “Let’s Move Active Schools” effort over the next five years. Several other organizations are combining to donate $20 million, including the GENYOUth Foundation, ChildObesity180, Kaiser Permanente and the General Mills Foundation.
…. “With each passing year, schools feel like it’s just getting harder to find the time, the money, and the will to help our kids be active,” Michelle Obama said. “But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should stop trying – it means we should try harder. It means that all of us – not just educators, but businesses and non-profits and ordinary citizens – we all need to dig deeper and start getting even more creative.”
President Barack Obama: “I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse.”
“Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice.
“I want to thank leaders from both parties – especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy – for everything they’ve done to make this happen. Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”
A year ago: President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick listen as students from Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury, Mass., perform Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Feb. 28, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President has no public appearances scheduled
12:0 EST: First Lady Michelle Obama will return to her hometown of Chicago to make a major announcement about bringing physical activity back to schools. She will be joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, NIKE President & CEO Mark Parker, Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas, Allyson Felix, Bob Harper, Bo Jackson, Colin Kaepernick, Sarah Reinertsen, Paul Rodriguez, Serena Williams, a surprise musical guest and thousands of Chicago area teachers and students (Details here)
12:30 EST: Press briefing by Jay Carney
3:25 EST: First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Springfield, Missouri to see changes Walmart has made as part of the company’s commitment to Let’s Move! to open or expand up to 300 stores in communities with limited access to healthy, affordable food. (Details here)
Bloomberg: Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, showing companies were looking beyond looming government spending cuts and maintaining staffing.
Jobless claims decreased by 22,000 to 344,000 in the week ended Feb. 23, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 360,000 applications. The number of people collecting unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level since June 2008.
Dana Milbank: For a quarter-century, Antonin Scalia has been the reigning bully of the Supreme Court, but finally a couple of justices are willing to face him down.
As it happens, the two manning up to take on Nino the Terrible are women: the court’s newest members, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The acerbic Scalia, the court’s longest-serving justice, got his latest comeuppance Wednesday morning, as he tried to make the absurd argument that Congress’s renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House did not mean that Congress actually supported the act. Scalia, assuming powers of clairvoyance, argued that the lawmakers were secretly afraid to vote against this “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Kagan wasn’t about to let him get away with that….
Washington Post: Seeking to avoid a protracted and politically damaging fight over reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Republican leaders are prepared to allow the House to vote Thursday on a version of the bill favored by Democrats, an unusual move that acknowledges GOP divisions on the touchy issue.
The House will vote first on a Republican version of the bill, which authorizes funding for programs to aid prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases and assist victims.
But with Democrats unified in opposition and Republicans divided, the GOP’s alternative appears likely to fail.
Steve Benen: Given how contentious the process was surrounding Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s confirmation process, it was easy to forget that Jack Lew’s Treasury Secretary nomination was advancing at roughly the same time – and Senate Republicans don’t like him, either….
But with his detractors unable to generate any meaningful controversies, and with Hagel drawing the most fire, Lew managed to earn confirmation late yesterday without much trouble.
…. Consider it this way: President Obama nominated a qualified official to a key cabinet post; the nominee had already been subjected to Senate confirmation processes before – five times – and had never received an opposition vote; and the nominee’s detractors couldn’t find anything especially wrong with him. But when it was time for a vote, 25 of the Senate’s 45 Republicans opposed the nomination anyway.
Michigan Chronicle: … On Wednesday, the statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol ….. The audience included many of Parks’ surviving relatives, most of whom currently live in Detroit.
One moment that stole the show was an adorable photo snapped of President Obama with one of the legendary leader’s youngest family members. It shows 3-year-old Terrell Anderson Jr. in the arms of our nation’s leader as he curiously touches his hair.
A year ago: A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama prior to a Faith and Community Groups Leading the Way event at Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., Feb. 11, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
12:30: VP Biden holds a roundtable discussion on gun safety with law enforcement officials in Philadelphia
1:45: President Obama will present Clint Romesha with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony
2:0: Senate lawmakers will debate and vote on re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act
On Thursday at 4:30 ET: “Fireside Hangout” with President Obama
23 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released from prison having been locked up for 27 years by a racist state
NYT: President Obama will use his State of the Union speech to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives – drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world – after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third.
…… White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000. Currently there are about 1,700, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.
But Mr. Obama, according to an official who was involved in the deliberations, “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions – and save a lot of money – without compromising American security in the second term. And the Joint Chiefs have signed off on that concept.”
Washington Post: President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues.
TPM: The Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization early this week, with a final vote expected Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
…. Despite the unusually large Senate consensus, there has been no perceptible movement among House Republican leaders since they passed a scaled-back version of VAWA on a party-line vote last year, rejecting the Senate legislation.
In an exchange on the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) needled Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on VAWA….. Cantor responded that it’s a “priority” for Republicans to “move and act on this bill”….
…. By the end of the week, House Republican leaders had no progress to speak of. “Silence,” said a senior House Democratic aide.
NYT Editorial: If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:
* It called a halt to predatory practices by mortgage lenders, ensuring that borrowers are not saddled with loans they can’t afford and preventing brokers from earning higher commissions for higher interest rates.
* It won an $85 million settlement from American Express, which it accused of deceptive and discriminatory marketing and billing practices.
* It opened an investigation into questionable marketing practices by banks and credit card companies on college campuses, which often take place after undisclosed financial arrangements are made with universities….
Paul Krugman: Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed – and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
NYT: (Missoula, Mont) This funky college town …. has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues.
…. these students, and dozens of other young people interviewed here last week, give voice to a trend that is surprising pollsters and jangling the nerves of Republicans. On a central philosophical question of the day – the size and scope of the federal government – a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force….
…. Here in Montana, a state that backed John McCain in 2008 and Mr. Romney last year, voters under 30 have helped elect two Democratic senators and a new Democratic governor. Nationally, young voters have since 2004 been casting their ballots for Democrats by far wider margins than previous young generations – a shift that could reshape American politics for decades.
Later in the article, the GOP response to young voters in Montanta helping elect Gov Steve Bullock and re-elect Sen Jon Tester (“Both times, polls stayed open hours past their official closing time to accommodate huge lines of students. Both times, Forward Montana ran huge voter registration drives”)?
They are “now trying to undo a Montana law that permits voters to register on Election Day”.
ThinkProgress: Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, will be Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday.
NYT: Gabrielle Giffords looked slightly stricken as she considered the question: Would she feel bad about starring in a political advertisement against her former House colleagues who declined to stand with her on guns? “Yes,” she said, it would be painful.
“Sometimes you have to do things that are hard,” said Mark E. Kelly, Ms. Giffords’s husband, as she tucked herself close to him on their couch. Ms. Giffords nodded, as she often does when Mr. Kelly — as he often does — intuits the many thoughts she is still unable to express fully. “Really hard,” she added.
Ms. Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, a gun owner, an astronaut’s wife, a shooting survivor and an incipient gun-control advocate, is settling into the third act of her public life.
ThinkProgress: The NRA is a big spender when it comes to lobbying and campaigns. ThinkProgress investigated the NRA’s contributions to Members of Congress and — lo and behold — the most heavily NRA-backed congressman are leading the charge against new gun violence prevention measures.