Friday, May 28, 2010

The Daily Strike-5/28/10-Getting Out of Town/DADT

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I will not be talking about the media-generated fake Joe Sestak scandal. Nor will I talk about President Obama's visit to the Gulf Coast. A few items of note after we left you last night:

DADT: It turned out to be a monumental night in the House of Representatives Thursday. The House passed an amendment offered by Iraq War Veteran Patrick Murphy (D-PA) that rescinds the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, effective after the Pentagon finishes its review of the proposed changes. With a similarly positive vote in the Senate Armed Services committee last night, it's looking more and more likely that the policy will be overturned, which is a major victory for the LGBT community.

The vote last night was 234-194. Non-member delegates (from DC, Guam etc.) were allowed to vote since it was an amendment. Every Republican opposed the amendment, except for Reps. Biggert (IL), Cao (LA), Djou (HI), Paul (TX) and Ros-Lehtinen (FL). The only real surprise there is Paul, who as recently as last year was supportive of DADT. Ros-Lehtinen is an otherwise conservative member who has always been supportive of gay rights. Djou cast his first controversial vote in Congress by voting with the Democrats.

Here is the list of Democrats who voted in opposition. It reads like your average Blue Dog roster:

Berry (AR), Bishop (GA), Boucher (VA), Bright (AL), Carney (PA), Childers (MS), Costello (IL), Critz (PA), Davis (TN), Donnelly (IN), Edwards (TX), Etheridge (NC), Gene Green (TX), Lipinski (IL), Marshall (GA), McIntyre (NC), Ortiz (TX), Peterson (MN), Rahall (WV), Ross (AR), Shuler (NC), Skelton (MO), Spratt (SC), Tanner (TN) and Taylor (MS).

The full bill, which authorizes defense programs for next year, passed later today by a vote of 229-186, with 9 Republicans voting yes and 26 Democrats voting no (mostly because of the DADT amendment). The one part of the bill I'm not happy with is additional funding for the unnecessary F-35 fighter jets. Obama has threatened to veto any bill that contains that program, and rightly so. It amazes me that 100 Democrats, many of whom were crying about deficit spending for unemployment benefits, wouldn't vote to cut an expensive, unnecessary defense program.

JOBS BILL: The House was finally able to agree on a jobs bill, though it was drastically scaled down to appease the misplaced worries of deficit hawks. The bill extends expiring tax provisions and unemployment insurance through the end of the year. It also includes the so-called "doc fix." What's extremely unfortunate is that leaders took out expanded Medicaid funding for states, as well as an extension of COBRA health insurance. Critical programs that will give struggling Americans needed security in trying times was cut just to appease some faux deficit hawks. The bill was passed in two parts, by votes of 215-204 and 245-171.

Despite promising that the Senate would stay in session to complete the jobs bill, Majority Leader Reid decided to let members skip town yesterday. This means that unemployment benefits will expire for some at the beginning of next week. Pretty disgusting.

The House also finally passed a bill that funds math and science education, the America COMPETES Act by a vote of 262-150. All no votes came from Republicans. This was the bill that had been held up because of a Republican poison pill porn amendment.

That's it for now, have a great holiday weekend! And see you Tuesday!

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