Breaking News from Politico: Pelosi Introduces House Bill with Public Option

Jodi Jacobson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a health reform bill Thursday that would cost $894 billion over 10 years and includes a public option. It meets President Obama’s goal of not adding to the federal deficit, cutting the deficit by about $30 billion in the first 10 years.

Breaking News from Politico:

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a health reform bill Thursday that would cost $894 billion over 10 years and includes a public option. It meets President Obama’s goal of not adding to the federal deficit, cutting the deficit by about $30 billion in the first 10 years."

News Law and Policy

Battle Over LGBTQ Rights Throws House Floor Into Disarray—Again

Christine Grimaldi

Two anti-LGBTQ amendments that made it into the same energy and water appropriations bill did not appease conservatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) charged that the amendments constituted support for North Carolina’s discriminatory, anti-transgender "bathroom bill."

A partisan battle over LGBTQ rights tanked a routine energy and water appropriations bill Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The 305-112 vote reflected frustration on both sides of the aisle about how the federal government treats LGBTQ people while their rights are increasingly under attack by state-level Republicans, including a fresh lawsuit filed against the Obama administration over its recent guidance on transgender rights.

House lawmakers appeared to have reached a truce late Wednesday on an amendment to nullify language undoing President Obama’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination measures for federal contractors found in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (HR 4909).

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, attempted last week to counter the NDAA provision as an amendment to a House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 military construction and veterans affairs. Democrats led chants of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” after GOP leaders undermined passage of the amendment, holding open the vote and convincing seven Republicans to switch their “aye” votes to “noe.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Democrats at the time accused House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) of subverting regular order to appease anti-LGBTQ members of their party.

In a reversal, the House on Wednesday adopted Maloney’s amendment to the fiscal year 2017 energy and water appropriations bill (HR 5055) on a bipartisan 223-195 vote. Forty-three Republicans voted in favor of the amendment after Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) added language amounting to a religious exemption for federal contractors.

The amendment would have applied “except as required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.”

Maloney initially hailed the vote on the amendment. “After House Republican Leadership broke their own rules to rig a vote and stack the deck for discrimination—tonight proved that equality will always win,” he said in a statement.

Despite the concession, a number of conservatives informed GOP leadership Thursday morning that they would not vote for the overall legislation, citing objections to the Maloney amendment, Politico reported. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), an increasingly vocal advocate for transgender rights, voted to pass the appropriations bill. Ros-Lehtinen’s son publicly came out as transgender this month.

Two anti-LGBTQ amendments that made it into the same energy and water appropriations bill did not appease conservatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) charged that the amendments constituted support for North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 law forcing transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity. Pelosi said that the amendments would further encourage the nationwide spread of anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Reps. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL) authored the amendments. Pittenger characterized his amendment as an attempt to “block President Obama’s bullying of North Carolina,” and Byrne, to “protect religious freedom.”

Maloney joined all but six Democrats in voting down the energy and water spending. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) office told Rewire that the final vote was doomed from the start.

“Democrats already opposed this bill because of poison-pill riders; the anti-LGBT amendments only solidified that vote,” a Hoyer spokesperson said via email. “But let’s be clear, Republicans can’t blame their bill going down on us—it was their own members that took it down because it banned discrimination.”

Each party tried to foist the blame for the failed appropriations vote on the other.

Ryan during his weekly press conference lambasted Democrats for voting down the appropriations bill after they got the Maloney amendment. “What we learned today is that the Democrats were not looking to advance an issue but to sabotage the appropriations process,” he said.

In a statement to Rewire, a Pelosi spokesperson reiterated Hoyer’s assessment that the appropriations bill could not overcome “the Republicans’ insistence in inserting controversial riders.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: GOP Candidates Offer a Collective ‘No’ on Merrick Garland

Ally Boguhn

Ohio Gov. John Kasich noted that while he thought the president shouldn’t have made a Supreme Court nomination, Republicans were also to blame for the chaos the matter has caused.

Republican presidential candidates this week reacted to President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee exactly how you might expect, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released a plan to create an “AIDS and HIV-free generation.”

Republican Presidential Candidates React to Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination

Republican senators weren’t the only party members vowing to oppose Obama’s Supreme Court nomination this week. GOP presidential candidates also doubled down on their charges that the next president should be the one to appoint the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Republican presidential candidates moved swiftly to denounce the president’s decision after Obama nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“I think the next president should make the pick. And I think they shouldn’t go forward. And I believe I’m pretty much in line with what the Republicans are saying,” Donald Trump said on CNN’s New Day ahead of Obama’s decision.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took the opportunity to again attack Trump. “A so-called ‘moderate’ Democrat nominee is precisely the kind of deal that Donald Trump has told us he would make—someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor,” Cruz said in a statement on the nomination. “Make no mistake, if Garland were confirmed, he would side predictably with President Obama on critical issues such as undermining the Second Amendment, legalizing partial-birth abortion, and propping up overreaching bureaucratic agencies like the EPA and the IRS.”

Cruz reiterated that the Senate “should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office.”

Speaking in Pennsylvania Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) noted that while he thought the president shouldn’t have made a nomination, Republicans were also to blame for the chaos the matter has caused.

“What I felt should have happened—I don’t think the president should have sent anybody up now,” Kasich said, according to CBS News. “Because it’s not going to happen. It’s just more division. Now we have more fighting, more fighting, more fighting.”

“I think this is not good for our country. It’s a roving debate. Both sides, you know, hands are guilty. That’s where we are,” Kasich concluded.

Across the aisle, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sanders called on Republicans to consider Garland. 

“He has chosen a nominee with considerable experience on the bench and in public service, a brilliant legal mind, and a long history of bipartisan support and admiration,” Clinton said in a statement on the decision. “Now, it’s up to members of the Senate to meet their own, and perform the Constitutional duty they swore to undertake.”

“Judge Garland is a strong nominee with decades of experience on the bench,” Sanders said in a statement. “Refusing to hold hearings on the president’s nominee would be unprecedented. President Obama has done his job. It’s time for Republicans to do theirs.”

However, speaking on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Thursday night, Sanders noted that while he will support Garland, “there are some more progressive judges out there” who could have been picked, and if elected, he would ask Obama to withdraw Garland’s name so he could pick a nominee of his own.

Sanders Releases Plan to “Create an AIDS and HIV-Free Generation”

Sanders on Monday released his plan to combat HIV and AIDS, promising to expand treatment and help lower drug prices.

“Today, one of the biggest problems in caring for the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV is the crisis of access to affordable drugs,” reads the plan’s introduction. “One of the great moral issues of our day is that people with HIV and AIDS are suffering and, in some cases, dying in America because they can’t afford to pay the outrageous prices being charged for the medicine they need to live.”

Among the ideas in Sanders’ plan is the establishment of a “a multibillion-dollar prize fund to incentivize drug development,” which would award $3 billion annually to innovations in HIV and AIDS therapy. Sanders promised that his universal health-care plan would include efforts to ensure insurance companies could not discriminate against those with HIV or AIDS, that he would expand mental health and addiction treatment services, and to stop trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would increase the price of medication.

Sanders’ plan notes that there should be “prevention and treatment beyond health care,” which would include civil rights protections for LGBTQ people and those living with HIV or AIDS, as well as ensuring that schools provide “age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education and all Americans should have access to scientifically-accurate information regarding HIV infection.”

This isn’t the first time Sanders has addressed HIV and AIDS, as the Hill reported. In May 2012, Sanders called for the elimination of HIV and AIDS drug monopolies, which he suggested keep prices for treatment so high that many are forced to go without.

“The simple fact is that the prices of patent medicines are a significant barrier to access to health for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans and people die because of it,” Sanders said at the time, before the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security.

Sanders’ proposal came just days after rival Democratic presidential candidate Clinton faced harsh criticism for praising the late President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan for having started a “a national conversation” on HIV and AIDS. Clinton later apologized for her remarks, noting a post on Medium that her assertion had been a “mistake.”

“To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS,” Clinton wrote. “That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.”

What Else We’re Reading

Comedian and television host Samantha Bee had the “perfect response” to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough telling Clinton she should “smile.”

A new report from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that Donald Trump’s health-care plan would leave 21 million Americans without health insurance “as the replacement health-care policies would only cover 5 percent of the 22 million individuals who would lose coverage upon the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The study found that Trump’s plan would cost between $270 billion and $500 billion over the next ten years.

In an exclusive for Fusion, Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy reports on NARAL’s new campaign to hold Trump accountable for “the way he and his campaign have targeted and victimized women,” and contrast the Republican presidential candidate with Clinton.

Cecily Hilleary outlines for Voice of America the many ways voting restrictions and barriers impact Native Americans, many of whom are unable to get proof of citizenship or residency, face language barriers, and have to make hours-long trips to get to a polling location.

“I feel empty inside. I feel like I don’t have a say in the political process. This is taxation without representation all over again. If we already paid our debt, we should be released without the bondage. But we’re being punished for a lifetime,” Harold Pendas told ThinkProgress about losing his right to vote due to a felony conviction. Florida, which had a critical primary battle on Tuesday, blocked more than 1.5 million state residents from voting this week due to the state’s felon disenfranchisement laws.

International Business Times’ Ned Resnikoff explains how a Republican brokered convention could allow mega-donors a “second chance” to push through their favorite candidate to the nomination.