Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on how to “restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act” since the supreme court struck down a key part of the historic 1965 law in late June.
The court’s highly controversial 5-4 decision last month invalidated the coverage formula of the law, which determined which states, counties and towns with histories of voting discrimination would have to seek “preclearance” from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
The court’s decision did, however, permit congress to work out an updated version of the coverage formula. While many consider the political odds of such a measure moving through both houses of this congress pretty grim, that’s what today’s first hearing, convened by senator Pat Leahy, is here to consider.
The Guardian’s Jim Newell is live-blogging the first of what will hopefully be several Senate hearings as one-half of Congress gets to work on restoring some form of voter protection in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling. Here’s hoping this becomes one of the few issues that supersedes partisan bickering. We’re not holding our breath though.
14:45 // 4 months ago
The Senate dodged a constitutional showdown Tuesday with a bipartisan pact to confirm several nominees to run agencies overseeing Wall Street and labor relations, stopping the Democratic effort to change filibuster rules on a party-line vote that threatened to turn the chamber’s already chilled partisan tensions into a deep freeze.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the key GOP negotiator, announced the deal minutes before a scheduled vote on President Obama’s choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, paving the way for acting director Richard Cordray’s full confirmation to lead the new agency.
In exchange for Republican promises not to impede the Senate’s approval of several presidential nominees, Senate Democrats have agreed not to push for a change in the congressional body’s existing filibuster rules, though few believe that the demand for changes to the Senate’s filibuster procedures will stay gone for long.
15:19 // 4 months ago
When [Scott] Schaben expressed that view during his interview with the Times Herald, he said, reporter asked if his wife was African American.
“I said, ‘yeah, she’s black, so if Bruce Braley wants to go ahead and paint me as a racist, have fun with that,’” he explained. “That’s what it was. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, come at me.’”
He continued, “Republicans are getting painted as these old, rich, white racists. I’m not old – I’m under 40. I’m not rich – I don’t have a million dollars in the bank. And I am not racist. … That’s one angle that you’re not going be able to take on me.”
Sort of a weird note for Schaben to start out on … he literally just announced he was running for Tom Harkin’s soon-to-be-vacated seat like a couple of days ago. His platform otherwise is to run as a “common-sense conservative” who is anti-abortion but in favor of same-sex marriage.
22:44 // 5 months ago
Momentum grew for Senate passage of gun legislation when a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday announced agreement on deals to expand background checks and tighten laws against gun trafficking.
The first breakthrough came in a deal on background checks announced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who agreed on an amendment that would exempt all “personal” transfers of weapons between individuals, but would close the infamous gun show loophole and also require background checks on Internet sales.
"All personal transfers are not touched whatsoever," said Manchin. "We’ve done these two [gun shows and Internet sales], and we’ve done them and done them right."
While the bill is likely to be passed by the Senate, it’s unclear if it has any chance of passage in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, with many GOP lawmakers remaining openly opposed to new gun control legislation. Still, the development is likely to be welcomed by many proponents of the bill, some of whom didn’t expect the agreement to survive a filibuster.
14:40 // 8 months ago