Steve Benen: When the House Republicans’ temporary spending measure failed on Wednesday night, the GOP leadership effectively had two broad options. House Speaker John Boehner could move to the middle, stop playing games with emergency disaster relief, pick up Democratic votes, and resolve the dispute. The threat of a government shutdown would disappear, and lawmakers could enjoy a week off.
Or Boehner and Republican leaders could move to the right, make the spending bill worse, pass a plan they know will be rejected, and invite another government shutdown crisis.
Which course did the GOP leadership choose? Take a wild guess.
…. Boehner and Republican leaders followed through on their threat to hold disaster aid hostage …. they deliberately chose to invite yet another standoff that threatens to shut down the government….
… Americans, for whatever reason, have elected ill-tempered, right-wing children to run the House of Representatives, and the result is not only one crisis followed by another, but a government that struggles badly to even complete the most basic of tasks …. they made matters worse on purpose…..
ThinkProgress: The Washington Post’s blogger Jennifer Rubin reports that the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel has a new ad accusing President Obama of “siding with the Palestinians” in his May 19 speech….
….Yet here’s what ECI’s own executive director Noah Pollak tweeted about the speech as it was happening:
So, first Pollak thought the line about the ’67 borders was no big deal ….. but then, when there was an opportunity to attack President Obama, the line about the ’67 borders magically became a dangerous betrayal of Israel. You really couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of bad faith.
One shouldn’t, of course, expect Jennifer Rubin herself to report any of this. In addition to being Pollak’s former colleague at Commentary, back in February Rubin took a trip to Israel, courtesy of the Emergency Committee for Israel.
Washington Post: …. The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act failed to pass last night. Despite unanimously passing the Senate, it only garnered a 241-166 majority in the House. Since House rules were in suspension, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, had a blunt response in a late-night press release:
“The action on the House floor stopping the Child Marriage bill tonight will endanger the lives of millions of women and girls around the world. These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth. Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill.”
His frustration makes sense: the corresponding House Bill had 112 co-sponsors! What the heck happened?
In the hours before the vote, Republicans circulated a memo to pro-life members of Congress alleging that the bill could fund abortions and use child marriage “to overturn pro-life laws” …. when it came time for a vote, a number of the bill’s pro-life supporters in both parties abandoned ship.
Time for the facts. First of all, the act is short – the body of the bill is around ten pages long – and does not mention abortion … a quick read suffices to show that the bill is not dealing with abortion.
Second, it does not appropriate any additional funding. It requires that the President and the State Department make child marriage a core part of American international development strategy. One more time: this means that this bill can’t provide funding for abortion. It’s not a appropriations bill. Nonetheless, some Republicans appear determined to showcase their conservative credentials at all costs - even when the facts make it unnecessary, even when the world’s most vulnerable children bear the bill.
At this point, the bill’s future is uncertain, but the ongoing bizarre misrepresentation of a bill designed to empower young girls and women is the worst sort of political gamesmanship. Why play politics with their lives at stake?
And on Thursday:
Senate Republicans blocked the long-awaited 9/11 health care and compensation bill, making good on a pledge to reject all legislation until the Bush-era tax cuts are passed.
The 9/11 health bill, known as the Zadroga bill, would continue health care funding for tens of thousands of 9/11 emergency responders, construction laborers and downtown residents, workers and students. It would also potentially compensate people with post-9/11 health conditions and the survivors of those who have died.
Thursday’s vote went even worse than expected. The Democrats need 60 votes to open debate — and 60 to close it. Democrats had thought they had 59 votes and a few possible centrist Republican contenders for the 60th vote. But GOP discipline held strong, and the Democrats only hit 58. Newly-elected Illinois Republican Senator Ron Kirk stayed with his party. Kirk, who was elected to President Obama’s former seat voted for the House version when he was there in September. He had assured Democrats he would again now that he is in the Senate.
Republicans are concerned the Zadroga bill would create a new entitlement program. The Democrats say they can fund it without raising taxes by closing a loophole on international companies that locate in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes. Republicans, however, say that amounts to a new tax on companies that operate here and employ American workers.
9/11 responder John Feal lashes out Friday at GOP politicians holding up theJames Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
New York Daily News: Lawmakers stung by the failure of the 9/11 health bill returned to Ground Zero Friday in hopes of breathing life into the measure.
Republicans filibustered the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Thursday, blocking the start of debate on the bill because they want to see tax cuts passed first.
Manhattan Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney ripped the move as “immoral” and “truly sad.” “Health care for Americans who are ailing because of 9/11 should not be held hostage to partisan politics,” Maloney charged.
Dozens of responders who showed up for the press conference were still in disbelief over the potentially fatal setback. “I was a registered Republican. I have no idea what I am now,” said Ray Simons, 60, a retired FDNY ambulance worker who said he’s ill from two weeks at The Pile. “For senators to turn this down, it’s like, oh, my God, it’s the ultimate betrayal.”
NBC NY: Arizona Sen. John McCain is under fire from his Democratic counterparts for a remark on the Senate floor yesterday, where he said lawmakers who support a health care bill for Ground Zero workers are “fooling around.”
The bill, which would provide up to $7.4 billion in aid for workers sickened by World Trade Center dust after the 9/11 attacks, was shot down by Republican lawmakers this month after they refused to consider the legislation until tax cuts were extended.
On Friday, McCain said Democratic leaders needlessly stalled a vote on a missile treaty with Russia “after all of the fooling around we’ve been doing” by holding loose votes on immigration and the Ground Zero health-care legislation.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), one of the main supporters of the bill, took to the Senate floor, saying “To call helping (first responders) fooling around is saddening and frustrating.”
And today, they defeated the DREAM Act:
ThinkProgress: Forty-one mostly Republican senators voted against a bill which would have provided young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents a path to legalization by pursuing a college education or serving in the military. 55 voted in the affirmative.
Immediately before the vote failed, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took the Senate floor to tell the young DREAMers who have come to his office that they were “wasting their time” because the border hasn’t been secured:
“…to those who have come to my office — you’re always welcome to come, but you’re wasting your time. We’re not going to pass the DREAM Act or any other legalization program until we secure our borders. It will never be done as a stand-alone. It has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform.”
What Graham didn’t mention is that though he has supported immigration reform in the past, he and his party are largely responsible for blocking it in 2010. First he held it hostage to health care reform, pitted it against climate change legislation, and then turned his back on it altogether. This summer, he declared his support for changing the 14th amendment to deny the U.S.-born children of immigrants citizenship.
And as we speak, they’re still trying to block the repeal of DADT and the passing of the START Treaty in the Senate