Entries in Bill (19)


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Signs Bill to Restrict Abortions

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin abortion providers are criticizing Governor Scott Walker for signing a controversial bill after the Fourth of July holiday. The bill requires women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound of the beforehand, so that they can see the fetus that they would be aborting.

Republican state Senator Mary Lazich, the sponsor of the bill said, "This wasn't the only bill. I don't know, there must have been at least maybe a dozen or more that he signed today." The abortion bill would also require all doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.

Planned parenthood has already filed a lawsuit challenging the new law.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the bill would cut the number of abortion clinics in the state from four to two and would force one of the remaining two to dramatically limit the number of abortions they provide.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gay Rights Push Could Endanger Immigration Bill

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A push to include gay couples in a bipartisan immigration reform bill threatens to upset the delicate coalition backing the proposal in the Senate, Politico reports.

Under current law, Americans in a heterosexual relationship can sponsor their foreign-born spouses for green cards. But gay and lesbian couples cannot do so, since federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages. As written, the "Gang of Eight" bill leaves same-sex couples out.

But now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), is strongly considering offering an amendment to the bill during a markup session next week that would extend the ability to sponsor a spouse to gay and lesbian couples. That provision could affect as many as 40,000 binational same-sex couples.

That could complicate efforts to pass the bill, because Senate Republicans who backed the immigration bill have already taken a significant political risk in supporting a proposal that would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. Tacking on an expansion of rights for same-sex couples, another fractious debate within the GOP, might be enough to break apart the bipartisan coalition.

Republican negotiators on immigration have long said that including same-sex couples in the immigration bill would be a deal breaker. And if a large number of GOP senators decide to vote no, that may prevent sponsors from attracting the 70-vote majority they hope to achieve in order to force the House to act.

"Immigration is hard enough. Let's not go down the road of redefining marriage," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters last month, adding that the language "is not going to be in the bill."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) echoed that point to Politico.

"It will virtually guarantee that it won't pass," he said. "This issue is a difficult enough issue as it is. I respect everyone's views on it. But ultimately, if that issue is injected into this bill, the bill will fail and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart."

And as Politico's Carrie Budoff-Brown points out, the provision might also provoke a host of evangelical and Catholic leaders who have endorsed the "Gang of Eight" effort. Support from religious groups has been viewed by advocates as crucial to winning the backing of GOP lawmakers and approval from conservative voters.

But for many Democrats, the political calculus is different.

Immigrant-rights and gay-rights advocacy groups have been prodding Democratic lawmakers for months to include same-sex couples in the bill. And they were reportedly frustrated that the "Gang of Eight" bill left out that language after Republicans threw up a red flag.

"Our total focus is on making sure that we have the votes in committee to ensure that the bill, when it reaches the full Senate, does include our families," Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, told ABC/Univision last month.

Some advocates believe that if the Supreme Court decided to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act this summer, the ruling would give same-sex couples rights equal to heterosexual couples under immigration law. But they also appear to be wary of depending on a court ruling to decide the issue.

Democrats who back same-sex protections also believe they are negotiating from a position of strength, coming off an election in which President Obama won seven in ten Latino voters. Democrats also hold a majority on the Judiciary Committee and the amendment would pass if all Democratic senators on the panel vote for it. They don't believe that including the language will sink the bill.

"It's not going to kill the bill," Leahy said, according to Politico.

All of this could put sponsors of the bill in a tough position, making this issue one of the top ones to watch at next week's markup.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Proposed Immigration Bill Has Widespread Support

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., emerged from a White House meeting Tuesday confident that President Obama supports the immigration reform bill they plan to introduce Tuesday night.

“While he certainly might not agree with every single part of it, he was very supportive of the bill we have put together and simply wants to make sure we keep moving it along and get something done,” Schumer told reporters at the White House.

“No one’s going to get everything they want in a bill,” he continued. “But if we meet in the middle, we can do a lot of good for America.”

The bill would create a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, but only after steps are taken to increase border security.

McCain said that, unlike previous reform efforts, this legislation has widespread support.

“All major players that are involved in this issue are now on board, literally every major player, whether it be business or labor,” he said.

Shortly after their meeting, the president issued a statement urging the Senate to move quickly on the legislation.

“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” he said. “But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform.“

The senators had planned to introduce the bill during a press conference on Tuesday, but delayed it “out of respect” for the people of Boston, Schumer said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


White House: Leaked Immigration Bill Draft Is Plan B

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Leaked draft legislation reportedly authored by the White House would be used as a backup proposal should negotiations fail in Congress over comprehensive immigration reform, administration officials said on Sunday.

White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough was asked about the USA Today story on a political talk show on Sunday morning. On ABC’s This Week, McDonough told Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl lawmakers would have to “make sure that it doesn’t have to be proposed.”

“Let’s make sure that that group up there, the ‘Gang of Eight,’ makes the good progress on these efforts as much as they say they want to,” McDonough said, referring to efforts of the Senate’s bi-partisan working group.

The president has previously stated that his administration would be prepared to offer their own bill should Congress fail to reach consensus. Some details of the draft, which has not been finalized or released to Congress, match previous White House proposals including a 2011 immigration blueprint.

The newspaper says it obtained the unfinished bill from an anonymous administration official, one not authorized to disclose the information.

Among its particulars, if passed, would be the creation of a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” status, that could be applied for by the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented residents. The new visa would allow its holders to legally live and work in the United States, as well as leave the country for short periods of time. After eight years visa holders who passed the program would be allowed to apply for full citizenship.

Earlier this month Democratic Gang of Eight members Sen. Richard Durbin and Sen Bob Menendez indicated the group was weighing similar a proposal that would extend the wait to 10 years. But Saturday a leading Republican in the group, Sen. Marco Rubio, immediately lambasted the White House version as “dead on arrival” in Congress.

“This legislation is half baked and seriously flawed,” he said in a statement on Saturday night. “It would actually make our immigration problems worse.  If actually proposed, the president’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come.”

Rubio said Republicans had not been consulted regarding the hypothetical legislation. On ABC, McDonough denied the claim.

“We’ve been working with all the members up there [of the Gang of Eight.] We have our staff working this very aggressively with their staffs and with the members, and we’re working this very aggressively, as you think we would with such a high priority for the country,” he said.

USA Today’s article states that immigrants who seek citizenship under the White House draft would first have to submit to biometric screening, pass a criminal background check, and pay fees for the visa. Successful bids could still be disqualified for crimes, including those that would equal one year in prison, or three separate 90-day sentences.

Also included in the document are undisclosed increases to the Border Patrol, expansion of Homeland Security technologies along the border, and the hiring of an additional 140 judges to handle immigration violations.

As of press time White House officials have refused to comment directly on the specifics of the report.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


President Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Via Autopen

The White House(HONOLULU) -- President Obama has signed the “fiscal cliff” legislation into law via autopen from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

The bill to avert the fiscal cliff arrived at the White House late Wednesday afternoon and it was immediately processed, according to a senior White House official. A copy was delivered to the president in Hawaii for review. He then directed the bill to be signed by autopen back in Washington, D.C.

The Bush administration deemed in 2005 that the use of the autopen is constitutional, although President George W. Bush never used the mechanical device to replicate his signature on a bill.

The office of legal counsel found at the time that Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution allows the president to use the autopen to sign legislation, stating “the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill to sign it.”

Obama has used the autopen twice in the past to sign legislation, both times while he was overseas.

The president, who arrived back in Hawaii early Wednesday morning to continue his family vacation, spent the afternoon golfing with friends at the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay.

Obama is slated to remain in Hawaii through Saturday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Senate: Hold That Vote, We Have a Party to Attend

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The highway bill will have to wait; senators, after all, have a party to get to Tuesday night.

Votes on the $109 billion federal highway bill has been stopped Tuesday in the Senate so that senators can attend the engagement party of one of their own, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

“There is a very important event tonight that does not mean much to anyone outside of the Senate family, but to us being able to recognize Susan Collins on a very special occasion in her life,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced early Tuesday evening on the Senate floor. “We’re going to leave here so that people that want to go to that event can do that.”

Last month, 59-year-old Senator Collins became engaged to Thomas Daffron, chief operating officer of Jefferson Consulting Group, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. A small, private ceremony is being planned in Maine this summer.

Federal highway funds are set to expire on March 31, and for weeks the Senate has been debating over the particulars of the bill to extend funding. After more than 15 amendments, the bill inched closer to passage Tuesday. Many thought that with the bill having just a few amendments left to vote for, final passage could come Tuesday night.

But not anymore.

With some senators attending the soiree Tuesay, Reid announced that they will finish the bill Wednesday. The Senate will hold three or four more votes on amendments to complete the bill, with final passage expected after that.

That is, if the senators have no other parties to attend.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Reid Declares House Payroll Tax Cut Bill 'Dead on Arrival' in the Senate

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling the House-passed payroll tax bill a “pointless partisan exercise,” a visibly frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., took to the Senate floor Tuesday evening and declared that the bill will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

“It was dead before it got to the Senate. The Senate will not pass it,” Reid said after the House passed the bill moments earlier. “The sooner we demonstrate, that the sooner we can begin serious discussion on how to keep taxes from going up for middle class Americans.”

The bill passed in the House Tuesday evening by a vote of 234 to 193. Ten Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with the Republican majority, while 14 Republicans voted against the measure.

The bill extends the payroll tax credit but is tied to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  President Obama -- who has often blamed the payroll tax cut not being passed on Republicans, has said he would veto this legislation if it came to his desk in its current form.

Reid said that Democrats would have liked to vote on the bill in the Senate Tuesday night to “prove that the bill was DOA -- dead on arrival,” but said that Republicans were blocking the vote; something his predetermining the bill "DOA" effectively did in the Senate.

“I spoke to Minority Leader McConnell this evening and he told me he needs more time.  He will not be able to make a decision until tomorrow morning,” Reid said. “I can’t set the vote without his approval this time.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Congress: Vote on Jobs Bill This Month

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama insisted Monday that Congress vote on the American Jobs Act before the end of this month, saying he wants the bill back on his desk and that he is “ready to sign it.”

“My expectation is, is that, now that we're in the month of October, that we will schedule a vote before the end of this month. I'll be talking to Sen. [Harry] Reid, [Mitch] McConnell, as well as Speaker [John] Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, and insisting that we have a vote on this bill,” Obama told reporters Monday of the legislation he sent to Congress three weeks ago.

The president urged Republicans to spell out which proposals in the $447 billion jobs bill they are willing to support and make clear why they object to others. “We've been hearing from Republicans that there are some proposals that they're interested in,” he said. “And if there are aspects of the bill that they don't like, they should tell us what it is that they're not willing to go for, they should tell us what it is that they're prepared to see move forward.”

“I'm very much looking forward to seeing Congress debate this bill, pass it, get it to my desk, so we can start putting hundreds of thousands and millions of Americans back to work,” Obama said.

Speaking at the top of a meeting with his Cabinet, the president said he has assigned each secretary to identify steps they can take now to accelerate job growth over the next few months, but that “ultimately, we still have to have congressional action.”

“I will be continuing to put as much pressure as I can bring to bear on my administration and our agencies to do everything we can without Congress's help, but ultimately they've got to do the right thing for the American people,” Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems Call for End of Tax Breaks for Big Oil

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Three Senate Democrats unveiled a bill Tuesday to scrap some tax breaks for the five biggest and most profitable oil companies and pledged to turn over the savings from the proposed cuts to pay down the federal deficit.

The bill, known as the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, would cut about $2 billion per year in tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies by eliminating the domestic manufacturing tax deduction and closing a loophole Democrats say “amounts to the U.S. government subsidizing foreign oil production.”

The sponsors of the legislation -- Sens. Robert Menendez, Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill (all of whom are up for reelection in November 2012) -- said the savings from their bill would go directly to deficit reduction, not reallocated for new spending.

While there is little appetite among Congressional Republicans to support what could be perceived as a vote to increase taxes, the confrontational move comes after House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News in an exclusive interview last month that oil companies deserve "some part of this to blame" for rising gasoline prices and that he believes reviewing oil subsidies is "certainly something we should be looking at." 

President Obama quickly wrote a letter to Congressional leadership encouraging both parties to "take immediate action” to clear the daunting legislative hurdle and “eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and use the dollars to invest in clean energy."

The Senate bill faces a tough battle as Democrats would not only have to secure votes from all 53 members in their caucus, but also seven Republicans as well.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Senators Introduce Bill to Ensure Military Gets Paid in Event of Shutdown

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan group of senators is now introducing a bill to make sure that members of the military still get paid even if the government shuts down.

The senators leading the effort are Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jim Inhofe and Democrat Bob Casey. Also signing on are Republicans Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski, John Hoeven, Susan Collins & Kelly Ayotte. According to the senators, the Ensuring Pay for our Military Act of 2011 would “make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown” and it would “give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.”

In a paper statement, Hutchison said, "I am not willing to place the well-being of our military personnel and their families in the balance as we await a budget agreement. Our troops are serving our country, and our country must continue to serve them."

Said Casey, “Military men and women put their lives on the line and sacrifice every day to ensure our security. They should not have to worry about getting paid on time.”

"The last concern our service men and women need to have while serving in harm's way is whether or not they can pay their bills - rent, car payments, and food for their families,” said Inhofe. “This country and this Congress has an obligation to care for our military and their families, just as they care for and protect this nation every day.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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