Bipartisan Filibuster Compromise Hails Promising End to Senate Gridlock
A compromise Tuesday between Senate Democrats and Republicans will, at least temporarily, reduce the gridlock of executive appointments. Republicans agreed to move several confirmations through in exchange for Democrats halting their plans to dramatically alter the rules of the Senate, especially the filibuster.
The compromise allowed the appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to move through the Senate with a vote of 66 to 34 immediately after it was announced. The Senate also approved the appointment of Tom Perez as the Secretary of Labor, who has been supportive Several other nominations are expected to be confirmed soon, including the Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues and positions in the Environmental Protection Agency.
In exchange, Democrats withdrew two nominations made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board that Republicans contested were illegally made during recess and bypassed the Senate. President Obama has announced two new nominations for the positions that Republicans have said will be confirmed.
Fix the Senate Now, a coalition that "advocates for sensible change to the rules governing the U.S. Senate," said that this was an important step but that there is still a lot of work to be done to streamline the legislative process. "Until the Senate raises the costs of obstruction to make gridlock for gridlock's sake a less viable strategy, we will continue to work to fix the broken Senate," they said.
Media Resources: Fix the Senate Now 7/16/2013; Los Angeles Times 7/16/2013; New York Times 7/16/2013; Washington Post 7/16/2013
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .