Virginia targets historic push on equal rights amendment for women
The election of a Democratic legislature in Virginia is breathing new life into a decades-long push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would enshrine equality for women into the U.S. constitution.Ratifying the ERA, a longstanding goal for women's rights advocates, needs approval from just one more state to cross the three-fourths threshold of support needed to become a constitutional amendment. Proponents believe ERA will protect women from discrimination and gender-based violence at a time of heightened sensitivity to women's issues sparked by the #MeToo movement.
The House on Friday passed a package of bills aimed restoring protections of the Voting Rights Act rolled back by a key Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act would, among other things, update the formula used to determine which states must preclear their voter registration practices, require public notice for voting registration changes, and allow the attorney general to send federal observers anywhere in the U.S.
The package passed 228-187, with GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick joining all Democrats in favor of the measure.
House passes bill to stop robocalls
In a political climate when Democrats and Republicans can't agree on anything, the bill to stop illegal robocalls passed 417-3.The vote on the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act known as TRACED comes as a sharply divided House considers articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump for allegedly withholding military aid until Ukraine announced an investigation into political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) — a former Freedom Rider who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 — sat in the chair to gavel in the final vote, prompting a round of applause from his colleagues when it passed.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Terri Sewell, whose Alabama district includes Selma’s infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge, called the bill’s impending passage “incredibly personal and special to me and my district.” Sewell has introduced the bill in each of the last three Congresses.
“We protect the legacy of the foot soldiers of the voting rights movement” with the package, the Alabama Democrat said in a press briefing before the vote, which she argued ensures “that voting equality is alive and well today.”
She singled out praise for Lewis, one such “foot soldier,” who stood at her flank in the briefing. “So many of us walk the halls of Congress because of this legislation,” she said, referring to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, before telling Lewis: “To say thank you ... doesn’t seem adequate.”
‘We ate their lunch’: Democrats claim legislative victories with dealmaker Trump
On a trade deal and a parental-leave agreement, Democrats locked in long-sought policy changes as the president seeks reelection winsThe frustrations of Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) about provisions of the new North American trade agreement were part of a contentious exchange that came as U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer briefed key Senate Republicans on details of the deal, according to three officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the private conversation.
In brief remarks at the event, Lewis called voting "the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our Democratic society," but said Friday's vote came in the midst of an "ongoing struggle to redeem the soul of America, and we’re not there yet."
"While literacy tests and poll tax no longer exist, certain states and local jurisdictions have passed laws that are modern-day barriers to voting,” Sewell said on the floor before the vote. “That is why it is critically important that we fully restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act by passing H.R. 4.”
Speaking on the House floor before the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that the legislation merely made “improvements insisted upon” by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in the 2013 decision, Shelby County v. Holder. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the bill restores the "central enforcement tool of that critical statute" in reference to the landmark civil rights legislation.
Pelosi brokers deal with liberals on drug pricing bill
The chamber's liberal wing had threatened to stall the bill, if Pelosi refused to make a series of last-minute changes to the legislation.The expected pact between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive leaders includes an agreement to expand the government’s authority to directly negotiate drug prices under the legislation, ultimately requiring federal officials to hammer out the cost of at least 50 medicines a year, from the original 35.
Republicans have largely dismissed the legislation as a messaging bill, and House Judiciary ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) pointed out that the White Housethe measure, though he added he was willing to work with Democrats on other improvements.
“We do not in this body vote on ideas. We do not vote on thoughts. We vote on words on paper. And the words on paper here do not fulfill what is being said about this bill,” Collins said on the floor prior to the vote.
Still, Republicans took pains to emphasize that their opposition was not to voting rights on the whole, calling the package an attempt at forcing control over state and local elections into the hands of the federal government.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act is key plank in House Democrats’ legislative agenda — one of a series of bills they campaigned on in their successful effort to take back the House in 2018.
And the package is one of a number of election-related bills the House has passed this year, following itsof election and campaign finance reforms approved this spring and a passed last month.
Chrome will now let you know if your password has been stolen
A new feature that Google is baking directly into its Chrome browser will ostensibly help all of us stay much safer when surfing the web. As explained in a new company blog post today penned by Google senior product manager AbdelKarim Mardini, the search giant is adding a feature to Chrome similar to one it's been working on for a while that showed up as an extension earlier this year. The gist is that when you're logging into a website while running Chrome, Chrome can kick in and alert you if that username and password have been stolen as part of the cavalcade of data breaches we’ve all read about.
Democratic leaders have long planned to vote again on key pieces of that bill in a bid to put pressure on Republicans while reminding the public about a signature proposal.
But the legislation, like many of the marquee messaging bills the House has already passed this year tackling gun violence, climate change and election interference, will be ignored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has boasted about being the “grim reaper” for Democrats’ legislative priorities.
“We have 400 bills sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a CNN town hall Thursday night. “And he keeps saying, ‘All they do is impeach’ — no, we have 400 bills, 275 of them are bipartisan bills.”
In the pre-vote press briefing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), sponsor of the companion bill in the Senate, demanded McConnell bring up the bill and “undo the damage done by the Shelby County decision.”
Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
Package thief taunts St. Paul victim with thank you note .
A package thief who made off with a woman's delivery in St. Paul this week decided to leave something behind for the victim — a handwritten thank you note taunting her for the package. © Saint Paul Police Department via Twitter (@sppdmn)Homeowner Hilary Smith said she found the note on her porch after she got home from work, hours after she received a text saying that her package had been delivered. The note said: “So just a quick little thank you for leaving me the opportunity of stealing your package. Very nice of you. Thank You." It was signed: “The new owner of your package."St.