If your head is spinning from everything that went down this week, you’re not alone. This is the week when the Trayvon Martin trial and the arrest of a New England Patriot weren’t even the top stories! So just in case you aren’t caught up and want to know what all the commotion has been about, we’ll try to break it down for you…
Wendy Davis vs. Texas Abortion Bill:
Starting at 11am on Tuesday, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis began an epic filibuster of the controversial SB 5. She couldn’t sit, she couldn’t lean on anything, she could only talk about the bill at hand, and for over 10 hours she didn’t stop talking. With over 200,000 people watching on a live stream, she talked and talked and talked. SB 5 is a bill which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy limit abortions to surgical centers. Davis could not stop speaking until the 12am deadline. Protesters gathered both outside the doors of the capitol and inside the gallery. Shortly before midnight Davis, wearing a back brace, received her third strike after she mentioned ultrasounds, a subject which Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst claimed was not relevant to the bill, bringing the filibuster to an end and causing an uproar in the chamber’s gallery and on the Senate floor. SB 5 did make it to a vote, passing with a vote of 19-10. However, the bill was deemed dead due to its failure to meet the 12 AM deadline. Gov. Rick Perry has called for a Special Session in order to attempt to pass it again.
Obama’s Plan to Fight Climate Change:
In hopes of circumventing Congress, President Obama outlined his plan to fight climate change at Georgetown University on an appropriately warm Tuesday. Through executive orders and the regulatory powers held by the EPA, the basis of his plan is to impose restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants, stricter efficiency standards for a wide range of power hungry devices, from big trucks to kitchen appliances, to create better infrastructure for dealing with storm damage, and provide $8 billion in loans and many more permits for clean energy projects while at the same time cutting funding for coal power plants abroad. In what may be a victory for climate change activists opposed to the construction of a Canadian oil pipeline across the US, Obama said he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it increases green house gas emissions and emphasized the importance of international cooperation in fighting climate change.
Supreme Court Decisions:
An historic week of Supreme Court decisions started with a Tuesday ruling that essentially made the 1965 Voting Rights Act unenforceable. Voting rights advocates clashed with conservative lawmakers over the question of whether racism is still a factor in the creation of discriminatory voting laws. Then on Wednesday, the court struck down Defense of Marriage Act and California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8. That sent people into the streets in celebration across the country. These decisions have profound implications for the United States and the State of California. Federal institutions will immediately start extending employee benefits to same-sex couples, California will once again be able to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and the number of states allowing same-sex marriage seems only likely to increase.
After months and months of negotiations, amendments, and debate, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill S. 774 finally reached a vote in the senate and passed 68-32. The bill was drafted months ago by the bipartisan “gang of eight.” In its present form, it will send over $30 billion to increase border security while providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill has a series of triggers requiring the beefing up of security on the southern border before the 11 million undocumented immigrants can become legal. In addition the bill establishes a guest worker program providing 200,000 guest worker visas. Nearly 300 amendments were considered while the bill was in committee. It passed in the Senate but, its fate in the House of Representatives is in doubt. GOP lawmakers have stated that the bill will not pass if it remains in its current form.
So that’s some news for the first half of the week. We’ll do this again if there’s ever some days as news-packed as the last few. But somehow we don’t think that will happen for a while.