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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .