Category Archives: Civil Rights

The Senate begins the DACA debate today

The Senate is doing something highly unusual today in the strictly scripted and tightly controlled Mitch McConnell era: it is beginning an open-ended debate on immigration and DACA legislation.

As Axios reports:

In the words of a senior Senate aide, Mitch McConnell will effectively tell his colleagues: “Listen boys and girls, you all have lots of different ideas about what should be done on immigration. So put your big boy and big girl pants on, and put your ideas on the floor for a vote. Do your best; try to get to 60 votes to pass a bill.”

POLITICO adds, McConnell’s immigration gamble:

Usually careful with his every move, the Senate majority leader is taking a gamble this week with his pledge for a free-for-all debate over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

No one knows the GOP leader’s endgame, nor how he personally prefers the stalemate over Dreamers be resolved. It’s highly unusual for a Senate majority leader, particularly one as calculating as McConnell, to bring a divisive issue to the floor with no clearly intended result in sight.

Even his top lieutenants aren’t sure whether McConnell would ultimately support a final immigration deal that can clinch the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

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Do Arizonans believe in equal rights for all Arizonans, or not? Give HB 2586 a vote

Since at least 1994, to the best of my recollection, a bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community. (Many Arizonans falsely believe that such protections already exist). As I recall, there may have been one year the bill actually got a committee vote — and was defeated — but almost every year the bill does not even get a hearing in the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature.

This remains true even after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court have recognized equal protection for same-sex marriages, and same-sex spouses have the same parental rights as opposite-sex spouses under Arizona law.  Another lawsuit enjoined a 2009 statute that made domestic partners of state employees ineligible for health benefits.

Too many Arizona Republicans resist “the arc of the moral universe [that] bends towards justice,” under “a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a Union that could be and should be perfected over time.”

To paraphrase Joseph Welch, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, GOP legislators, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

The GOP-controlled Arizona legislature is, once again, kowtowing to the hateful lobbyist for religious bigots, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, whose undue influence over the Arizona legislature makes her “Arizona’s 31st Senator.” It’s time to revoke her status.

The Arizona Republic reports, Bill to bar discrimination against LGBT people can’t get a hearing:

For the first time ever, a proposal to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in Arizona has gained support from a Republican in the Legislature, along with GOP municipal leaders.

But that doesn’t appear to be enough to get a hearing at the Capitol.

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After Aqua Buddha shutdown, Congress passes bipartisan CR spending bill; Senate to take up DACA next week

You may have missed it overnight while you were sleeping, but we had the second government shutdown in history under one-party control of the government, this time due to the antics of Senator Aqua Buddha, Rand Paul (R-KY).

Aqua Buddha used the arcane rules of the Senate that allow a single senator to hold up business in the chamber to inveigh against the GOP embracing deficit spending (after he voted for the GOP tax bill in December that guaranteed deficit such spending). The dumbest shutdown ever:

Incensed that a bipartisan budget deal would balloon the national debt, Paul delayed a roll call on a long-term budget agreement until after the midnight deadline to fund the government.

That set in motion a shutdown that ultimately lasted just over six hours — even though Paul’s protest didn’t change a single word of the document, and he knew it wouldn’t from the very beginning.

“When Rand Paul pulls a stunt like this, it easy to understand why it’s difficult to be Rand Paul’s next door neighbor,” Rep. Charlie Dent told Politico. “The whole delay and filibuster exercise on the budget agreement is utterly pointless.” (The congressman was referring to an incident last year in which Paul’s neighbor Rene Boucher attacked Paul, breaking multiple ribs, in a landscaping dispute).

After Aqua Buddha’s publicity stunt finally ended, the Senate moved to pass the bipartisan budget deal. The House followed suit early this morning. Congress votes to end government shutdown:

The Senate passed the measure on a 71-28 vote shortly before 2 a.m.

The House vote, around 5:30 a.m., was 240-186. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had urged her members to oppose the bill over the GOP’s failure to resolve the standoff over 700,000 Dreamers, but her efforts ultimately fell short. Seventy-three Democrats ended up backing the bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks.

The defeat was a bitter one for Pelosi and other top Democrats, who have sought for months to tie a resolution of the fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the budget caps negotiations.

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Arizona House votes to expel Rep. Don ‘Tequila’ Shooter

I’m glad if I helped to advance this story to its proper conclusion, for what it’s worth. Arizona House expels Rep. Don Shooter, citing ‘dishonorable’ pattern of workplace harassment:

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said earlier this week that he would hold a vote Thursday to censure Shooter, a reprimand that would be part of the chamber’s historical record.

But moments before the House session Thursday, Mesnard issued a statement saying he would push for Shooter’s expulsion instead. The change was due to a letter sent by Shooter to his House colleagues challenging portions of the investigation.

* * *

The Arizona House of Representatives voted Thursday to expel Rep. Don Shooter from office over complaints that he that he sexually harassed women.

The vote comes after an investigation into sexual-harassment allegations against Shooter found “credible evidence” that he behaved inappropriately toward multiple women.

An explosive report from the investigation graphically details lewd language and actions from Shooter, a powerful Republican lawmaker from Yuma, who has openly behaved in a crass manner, but did so unchecked by his peers for years.

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Rep. Don ‘Tequila’ Shooter to be censured for sexual harassment? It should be expulsion (Updated)

A House investigation finally confirmed yesterday that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don “Tequila” Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol. Well no shit.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Rep. Shooter sexually harassed women, created hostile work environment, investigator finds:

A House investigation confirmed today that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol.

After the allegations against Shooter surfaced, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard suspended Shooter from his powerful position as the chairman of the House Appropriations committee.

Mesnard said today Shooter will be permanently removed from all committee assignments immediately. Mesnard also said he will seek to censure Shooter for his behavior.

Excuse me? I’m sorry, but the remedy here is one of only two options: Rep. Shooter can either voluntarily resign his seat, or the House should vote for expulsion of a member. A censure is merely a slap on the wrist with no serious consequences.

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‘In Mitch We Trust’ for a DACA vote to end the ‘shit-show’ shutdown? That was your whole plan, Chuck? (Updated)

This reminds me of the library ghost scene in Ghostbusters where Dr. Raymond “Ray” Stantz confronts a full torso apparition of a librarian in the library.

Ray tells his colleagues, “OK, I have plan. I know exactly what to do. Now stay close. Do exactly as I say, get ready — get her!” (The ghost transforms into an evil demon and turns on them).

Later, Dr. Peter Venkman laughs, “Hee hee hee! ‘Get her!’ That was your whole plan, huh, ‘get her.’ Very scientific.”

Dr. Venkman’s response — “‘Get her!’ That was your whole plan, huh, ‘get her.'” — is similar to my response to the deal struck today by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer with the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to end the “shit-show” shutdown: “In Mitch We Trust” to bring up a vote on DACA after February 8? That was your whole plan, Chuck, “In Mitch We Trust.” You’re kidding me, right?

The Washington Post reports, Senate breaks budget impasse, paving way for government to reopen:

Senate Democrats bowed to pressure to reopen the government Monday, joining Republicans in backing an immigration and spending compromise that was quickly denounced by liberals and immigration activists.

Roughly 60 hours after the federal government first shut down, a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate prevailed with leadership, trading Democratic support for reopening the government for a commitment by Republicans to hold a vote resolving the status of young undocumented immigrants by mid-February.

The Senate voted 81-18 to end a filibuster of a spending bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. The upper chamber was expected to pass the measure Monday afternoon, then send it to the House for quick approval.

The government can reopen once President Trump signs the funding into law.

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