UPDATE 2/24/2015: President Obama has officially vetoed the Keystone XL Bill. This is only the third veto in the President Obama’s six plus years in the Oval Office. In his statement on the veto the President said, “Because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.”
The Senate is expected to hold an override vote in within the next couple of weeks. However, it is unlikely that both the House and the Senate will be able to muster the 2/3 majority necessary for a veto override.
UPDATE: In the wake of yesterdays primary election defeat Eric Cantor will announce that he will be resigning as the House Majority Leader. The House Republican caucus will select a new Majority Leader on June 19th. Senior house Republicans are already jockeying for position in the hopes of replacing Cantor in the House’s No. 2 post. Some names that have already been floated as possible replacements for Cantor are: current Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Pete Sessions (R-TX). Paul Ryan (R-WI) 2012 VP nominee and the house budget committee chairman has been brought up but has declined to run saying, “I’ve passed up elected leadership, I’m a policy guy. I’ve already said no.”
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is again in the world spotlight less than one week after the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russian troops have crossed the border into the Crimea region of Ukraine, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union. This conflict in Ukraine has stemmed from the violent protests that have embroiled the nation over the last three months.
Ukraine is a nation that is sharply divided between the pro-Russian East and the pro-European West. The protests began when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (whom many in the West consider to be a Russian puppet) rejected a proposal for Ukraine to have a closer relationship with, and in time possibly join the EU. Over the past month, the protests have resulted in hundreds of casualties, the burning Independence Square in Kiev, and the ousting of Yanukovych.
Science and religion clash yet again, this time deep in the Bible Belt in Petersburg, Kentucky. Tonight’s debate pits Bill Nye The Science Guy against Ken Ham, arguably the most well known spokesman for Creationism. Ham founded the Creationist Museum that will host the debate.
The key question to be debated tonight:
The format of the debate will be as follows: Each side will have a 5 minute opening statement, followed by a 30 minute presentation to make their case. After the presentations, there will be two rounds of 5 minute rebuttals followed by approximately 45 minutes of Q&A from the audience.
At first glance, it may seem counter intuitive that a government shutdown actually COSTS the taxpayers money. However each day this shutdown continues, it costs taxpayers an estimated $160 Million dollars in lost revenue and diminished economic output.
Now that the Federal Government has shut down, the political posturing has begun. It looks like we are in for a shutdown lasting at least three or four days and possibly much longer. By day two, we have seen the political strategies of each party begin to unfold. For the moment the Democrats seem to be standing strong, staying on message, and firmly holding The Political Highground. However, we know all to well that Democrats are capable of losing their discipline and buckling at any moment. The Republicans on the other hand, are trying to change the optics and position themselves as the reasonable party begging for negotiation.
President Obama addressed the press this afternoon on the issue of the looming government shutdown saying: “You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing something you are supposed to be doing anyway.”
President Obama To Speaker Boehner:
The Senate has stripped the delay of Obamacare provisions and passed a clean Continuing Resolution to fund the government and sent it over to the House. Speaker Boehner has the votes to pass a clean CR, but the majority of the votes would have to come from the Democrats. Speaker Bohener doesn’t want to put the clean CR to a vote because it would break the Hastert rule (a strategy in which as Speaker, you don’t allow a bill on the floor if it will pass but without a majority of your caucus voting for it.) and he fears that would weaken his speakership. We will see if the Speaker can gain control of the right wing of his party and avert a government shutdown at midnight tonight. However, at the moment that does not look very likely.
PRESIDENT OBAMA broke news today when he announced that he and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran just had a phone conversation. This is the first diplomatic contact between the heads of state of the two nations since 1979. The president characterized the new diplomatic efforts as constructive and expressed his optimism in the ability for the two nations to come to a resolution on the issue of nuclear weapons. President Obama pointed out that the Iranian supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons and that President Rouhani has pledged to never develop nuclear weapons. President Obama also acknowledged the right of Iran to develop peaceful nuclear technology in order to generate power.
The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling on the case Shelby County v. Holder,voted to strike down an integral portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Tuesday. The vote split along partisan lines with the justices appointed by Republican Presidents forming the majority and justices appointed by Democratic Presidents dissenting.
The sections of the Voting Rights Act in question are Sections 4 and 5 which, in Section 4, prohibits voting discrimination based on race by setting up a formula to give certain states and voting districts with a history of racial discrimination at the polls special scrutiny in regards to their voting laws. In Section 5, those states and voting districts that were specified are required to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their election laws.