Updated 2:43 p.m. Eastern Time
On the heels of the House vote to repeal the health care reform law, Republicans turned Thursday to the issue of abortion, holding a morning press conference on the planned "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who led a press conference on the bill, said it would "make clear that taxpayer funding of elective abortion will not be the policy of this government."
The current law, he said, "does not reflect he will of the American people." Added the speaker: "Our members feel very strongly about the sanctity of human life."
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who is introducing the bill in the House, said that it would ensure that taxpayers "no longer are coerced into using taxpayer money to subsidize the killing of an unborn child." He cited President Obama's call for abortion to be "rare" and argued that abortion rates drop without federal subsidies.
Smith also said that the bill includes so-called "conscience protections" that would empower courts and ensure that doctors, nurses and other health care professionals can opt out from having to perform abortions.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement arguing the bill is designed "to end insurance coverage for virtually all abortions, including private insurance coverage that Americans pay for with their own money, even in cases involving the most severe dangers to a woman's health."Continue »
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday formally unveiled a bill to ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used by alleged Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.
The bill would mandate that clips sold in the United States allow for at most ten rounds. The clip allegedly used by Loughner, which became legal when Congress allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, could hold up to 33 rounds.
Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey plans to introduce the bill, which would not ban the possession of high-capacity clips purchased before passage of a ban, in the Senate.
(At left: A YouTube video of a man shooting a Glock 19 with a 33-round high-capacity clip.)
"How many people have to die because of these clips?" McCarthy asked in introducing the bill Tuesday. A longtime advocate of stronger gun control laws, McCarthy ran for Congress following the 1993 shooting of her husband and son on the Long Island Railroad. Her husband was killed in the attack.
McCarthy said at the unveiling that such clips are "not needed in our society," while Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, deemed the proposal "extremely moderate." Yet as Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, noted at the hearing, no Republicans have come out in favor of the bill. And it cannot get through the GOP-led House without at least some Republican support.Continue »
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson Saturday, pundits have spent countless hours debating the role of Sarah Palin in the story - despite the fact that there is no evidence that alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner is a Palin supporter or had ever seen or heard her rhetoric.
What they have spent less time discussing are the tools that allowed Loughner to allegedly carry out the attack - the high powered weapon and ammunition that helped him do so much damage so quickly. Arizona has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation, laws that allowed Loughner to purchase and carry a Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic pistol - and high-capacity clips - despite the fact that he was barred from his community college campus because administrators saw him as a mentally-unstable security threat.
Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, who ran for Congress after her husband was killed in a 1993 shooting, plans to introduce a bill targeting the high-capacity clips allegedly used by Loughner to kill six people and injure 14 more. (Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey plans to do the same in the Senate.) The clip allegedly used by Loughner, which allows for 33 shots without reloading instead of about 10 in a normal clip, would have been illegal under the assault weapons ban that Congress let expire in 2004.Continue »
Early this year, a striking scene emerged from the Conservative Political Action Conference: A speaker was essentially booed offstage when he condemned CPAC for allowing gay Republican group GOProud to participate in the conference.
The incident - which occurred at perhaps the nation's premiere conservative gathering - suggested that, after decades of demonization, gays may have finally found a place in the GOP. Further evidence came when former Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman came out of the closet - and was subsequently widely embraced by establishment Republicans.
Yet opposition to homosexuality remains strong among some conservatives. This week, two socially conservative groups, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women of America, announced that they are opting out of next year's CPAC because GOProud had been invited. The Family Research Council's Tom McClusky told far-right news website WorldNetDaily that part of the reason for the decision was CPAC's "movement away from conservative principles," as evidenced by the inclusion of GOProud.
WorldNetDaily, incidentally, has a dog in the fight: In August, conservative commentator Ann Coulter was dropped from its "Taking America Back National Conference" because of her participation in a GOProud event called "Homocon." The site's editor said Coulter "clearly does not recognize that the ideals to be espoused there simply do not include the radical and very 'unconservative' agenda represented by GOProud."Continue »
"My feelings about this are constantly evolving," he said. "I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people. And this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about."
He continued: "At this point, what I've said is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have, and I think that's the right thing to do. But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think this is something that we're going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward."
Mr. Obama added that "this is going to be an issue that is not unique to the military, this is an issue that extends to all of our society and I think we're all going to have to have a conversation about it."Continue »
Updated 5:13 p.m. Eastern Time
President Obama signed historic legislation to allow repeal of the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military on Wednesday morning, hailing the bill as one that will "strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend."
"No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced the leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter the zeal or exemplary performance because they happen to be gay," he said. "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie."
The president described the signing as "the right thing to do for our military," as well as "the right thing to do, period."
Passage of the bill represents a victory for Mr. Obama, who promised to end the policy as a candidate, as well as the gay rights activists who crowded into an Interior Department auditorium for the event. Many have harshly criticized the Obama administration over the past two years for what they see as a failure to move aggressively on gay rights issues.
The activists cheered the president wildly when he emerged onstage, breaking out into a chant of "Yes, we can," a phrase whose use has faded -- in conjunction with the enthusiasm of many in Mr. Obama's liberal base -- since the election. One yelled, "thank you, Mr. President."
"I am just overwhelmed," Mr. Obama said. "This is a very good day."Continue »
The initiative, which Brock describes in a press release as a "communications war room for gay equality," comes as activists start to shift their focus to other issues in the fight for gay rights.
"Yesterday was a very important breakthrough," Richard Socarides, who will be the president of Equality Matters, said in a Sunday interview with the New York Times. "President Obama's comments, especially following the vote, were very significant, where he for the first time connected race and gender to sexual orientation under the banner of civil rights."Continue »
Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET
In a major victory for gay rights advocates as well as President Obama, the Senate today voted to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military.
Now that the repeal bill has overcome its final hurdle in Congress, the president is expected to sign the measure into law next week, bringing to an end the 17-year-old policy and delivering Mr. Obama a victory on one of his chief campaign promises.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the sponsor of the legislation, cast it as an important civil rights bill that reflects "a step forward toward larger societal acceptance" of gay men and women.
Eight Republicans joined nearly every Democrat to vote for repeal. The Republicans voting for repeal were Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Ensign (Nev.), Richard Burr (N.C.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).
"I want to thank all of the gay men and women that are fighting for us today in Afghanistan and Iraq," Collins said after the vote. "We honor your service and now we can do so openly. This is indeed an historic day."
Burr explained his surprise decision to vote yes on the final bill by saying that while he still feels the timing is wrong for repeal, he joined the majority because "this policy is outdated, and repeal is inevitable."
It was the third Senate vote on the matter, after two previous votes -- in which the measure was attached to a defense authorization bill -- failed amid procedural objections from Republicans who said they were sympathetic to appeal.
"This is exactly what the American people want from this Congress," New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said after the vote.
The president released a statement praising the Senate's actions and expressing confidence that the military can responsibly transition to the new policy while ensuring its strength and readiness.
"By ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love," Mr. Obama said. "It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed."Continue »
Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET
The Senate today overcame a Republican-led filibuster to move forward with consideration of a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," essentially ensuring that the 17-year-old policy of barring gays from serving openly in the military will come to an end.
After multiple failed attempts to pass the repeal, hearings on the issue and reviewing an exhaustive Pentagon study on the matter, the Senate voted 63 to 33 to move the bill forward. The Senate will take one more vote at 3 p.m. ET today to officially pass the repeal; only a majority vote is needed for the bill's official passage.
Once the Senate takes that final vote, the bill will go to President Obama to be signed into law. The signing will likely take place sometime next week, according to the White House. The House passed its version of the bill on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid quoted the late Sen. Barry Goldwater to defend the repeal: "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight," he said.
"The fact is removing a form of legalized discrmination from our books is not a liberal or conservative idea, it's not a Democratic or Republican idea," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the sponsor of the legislation. "It's an American idea consistent with American values."
The repeal was met with resistance down to the very last moment from Republicans who argued the repeal would have a negative impact on the nation's armed forces.
"Today's a very sad day," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Citing the concerns of Marine Commandant General James Amos, who is opposed to the repeal, McCain said, "When you're life's on the line, you don't want any distraction."Continue »
Updated 5:06 p.m. Eastern Time
Independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said Friday that he is "confident" that there are now enough votes in the Senate to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and send a repeal bill to the president to sign. The vote could come as early as tomorrow.
Supporters of repeal have twice brought to the Senate floor a measure that would allow repeal the 1993 policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military, but both times they fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.
Many Republicans who said they were sympathetic to repeal said they voted no because of procedural concerns about the way Democrats introduced the measure, which was actually a Defense authorization bill with the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal attached.
In the wake of those defeats, supporters in both the House and Senate introduced a standalone repeal bill. That bill passed the House on Wednesday, and the Senate is planning to vote on it this weekend.Continue »
In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday morning, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin talked about what she perceives as a "double standard" for women in politics when it comes to displaying emotional vulnerability.
Referencing recent tearful displays on the part of incoming House Speaker John Boehner, Palin said she thought women were less likely to get a "pass" when it comes to "breaking down."
"I respect John Boehner because he has worn his feelings on his sleeve on things that are so important to him," Palin told Robin Roberts.
"I don't know if a woman would be given a pass necessarily," Palin continued. "But that's one of those things where a double standard certainly is applied. I'm sure if I got up there and did a speech and I started breaking down and cried about how important it is to me that our children and our grandchildren are provided great opportunities, I'm sure that I would be knocked a little bit for that."
"It makes us work that much harder and be that much tougher and more committed to the message and the mission at hand," she added.Continue »
Updated 5:46 p.m. Eastern Time
Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that would allow for repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays from serving openly in the military.
Fifty-seven senators voted to move to debate on the bill, while 40 opposed it. Because of the filibuster role, 60 votes were needed to move forward.
The repeal provision was included in a defense bill lawmakers have been arguing over for months. The House already cleared the path for repeal, and there are 60 senators in the Senate who say they support repealing the 1993 policy.
But some Republicans who say they support repeal, including Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, voted against moving forward based on procedural objections.
Immediately after the vote, Independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins said they planned to introduce a freestanding bill to repeal the policy, providing a glimmer of hope to advocates of legislative repeal this year. They could introduce the bill as early as today.
Lieberman said that while Thursday's vote was a setback, "it ain't over till it's over." He promised to "keep fighting until the last moment of this session."
If the standalone bill gets through the Senate, it will still have to go to the House before moving to the president's desk for signature.
Immediately following the vote, Lieberman and Collins, joined by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, questioned why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held the vote when he did not have 60 votes to move forward.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe gay men and women should be allowed to serve openly in the military, a new CBS News poll finds - an increase of seven points since October.
Just 23 percent oppose allowing gay men and women to serve openly.
The poll comes as the Senate holds hearings on a Pentagon report that found little long-term risk to responsibly repealing the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that mandates that gays can only serve if they hide their sexuality.
On Friday, the Army and Marines Chiefs expressed concern about repealing the policy in testimony before Congress. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the military's top uniformed officer who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have called for Congress to repeal the ban during this month's lame-duck session. Gates has warned that not doing so amounts to rolling the dice on a court-mandated repeal that would not give military leaders the time they need to effectively implement new policy.
The poll found that 53 percent of Americans "strongly" favor allowing gay men and women to serve openly, in addition to the remaining 16 percent who say they "favor not so strongly."Continue »
The military has released its much-anticipated report on the impact of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving openly, and it found what early leaks suggested: While some servicemembers object to repeal and short-term issues are possible, allowing gays to serve openly would not have long-lasting negative consequences.
Now the question turns to whether repeal will actually take place. Advocates have pinned their hopes on the lame duck session of Congress, since the next Congress in January will have a higher percentage of Republicans and thus diminished prospects for overturning the policy.
The House voted back in May to allow the Defense Department to repeal the 1993 policy. Under the House provision (which is attached to a broader defense bill), the policy could be repealed 60 days after the release of the Pentagon report if and when military leaders, including President Obama, certify that repeal would not be disruptive.
Mr. Obama has expressed support for repeal, and the report out Tuesday will not change his mind. (He put out a statement to that effect late Tuesday afternoon.) In addition, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen backed the report upon its release. That means the only real stumbling block to eventual repeal is the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.Continue »
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said in an interview with CBS News today that he is "looking at dropping a bill early in the 112th Congress" to end the practice of giving U.S. citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.
King, who will likely head the immigration subcommittee when the new Congress begins work in January, predicted that hearings on the bill would not be immediate, since there are "other priorities" to be dealt with. He said he expected hearings "in the next couple months" after the legislation is introduced.
The practice of offering citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants in the United States is known as "birthright citizenship," and defenders say it is protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment opens this way: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
King says that the clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means that babies born to illegal immigrants do not necessarily have Constitutionally-protected citizenship rights. He also argues that it is important to consider the history behind the amendment, which was adopted in 1868.Continue »