Open Eyes on a Shutdown Government
For the first time in 17 years, the federal government has partially shut down. House Republicans offered the Senate three different compromises on ObamaCare, only to be rebuffed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) three times. After attempting to defund ObamaCare and fund the government, Republicans passed a bill Sunday morning to fund the government and delay ObamaCare, only to be rejected again.
Last night, Republicans attempted to fund the government and bring fairness to the average American by delaying the individual mandate, since the administration had already delayed ObamaCare's mandates on employers. The compromise also attempted to bring Congress in line with the rest of America with regard to the health plans of Congress's own staff. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had issued a regulation saying they'd still pay these offices a massive federal subsidy -- unavailable to the rest of Americans being forced into ObamaCare exchange plans. The Republican amendment would mean Members and their staff would be stuck with ObamaCare plans just like everyone else.
However, Reid led the Senate in voting to keep their special health care status including their federal contribution, which often covers up to 75% of the cost of their premiums. Senator Reid outdid himself by claiming "Members of Congress and congressional staffers live by the same rules as other Americans" while voting against the House passed amendment to guarantee just that!
To add insult to injury, OPM yesterday announced a final regulation FRC previously opposed which will ensure that Congress and their staff get their exclusive federal contribution, and also bypass the law banning taxpayer-funding for the "administrative expenses in connection with" health plans that include "coverage for abortion." As Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told the Washington Times, "You can't break the law, Mr. President, and just issue a final rule as if somehow you're comporting with the law...We don't want to subsidize abortion on demand, and the public is absolutely with us." For a Senate that holds out for special treatment for itself and forces Americans to subsidize abortion coverage, a partial government shutdown is the least of its problems. Keep the pressure on your Senators and let them know that you won't stand for letting your tax dollars subsidize abortion!
Standing Up and Following Suit
You may recall the controversy last year involving Dr. Angela McCaskill, a senior university official at Gallaudet University, who was suspended because she had signed a ballot petition supporting Maryland voters having the right to vote on marriage. The punishment sparked nationwide outrage, demonstrations at the University, and thousands of petitions calling for her reinstatement. For months, the University refused to reinstate her even after they were advised that the law doesn't allow a person to be punished for signing a petition, or for exercising any other basic citizenship right to participate in the democratic process. The University's intent was very clear: engage in voter intimidation so that a chilling effect would take hold in workplaces prior to the election.
Only after the election was over did the University move to quietly reinstate her, apparently in an effort to limit exposure in an expected lawsuit and pacify Dr. McCaskill's persistent supporters. Today, we learned that Dr. McCaskill followed through on that lawsuit. I commend her for taking this stand which will not only help protect her right to pursue a livelihood but also serve as deterrent to others who might be inclined to be as intolerant as Gallaudet University. Unfortunately, Dr. McCaskill is only one of many who have experienced the consequences of standing up to marriage redefinition.
Almost every day we learn of someone's livelihood threatened or lost because of their refusal to embrace same-sex "marriage." We know wedding cake bakers, T-shirt makers, bed and breakfast owners, military chaplains, high school teachers, restaurant owners, photographers, churches, Massachusetts parents, and others who have been fired, sued, harassed, fined, and suspended. Growing awareness of these incidents may explain why opposition to redefining marriage is increasing among evangelicals. Dr. Angela McCaskill, Arelene's Flowers, Elane Photography, and others who refuse to be intimidated are a testament to how American Christians can simply stand, unapologetically while also speaking the truth in love.
Not So Fast
Unless you have a scandal chart you might have forgotten one of the earlier scandals of the Obama Administration, Fast and Furious. Fast and Furious is the Mexico gun-running scandal that resulted in the shooting death of at least one American federal border agent with one of the weapons that was smuggled to Mexico as part of the Obama administration's botched law-enforcement operation. House Republicans sued Attorney General Eric Holder over his refusal to turn over documents and answer questions on the operation, Holder refused when President Obama invoked executive privilege to block further testimony. The U.S. House held Holder in contempt of Congress -- a rare and serious step -- and demanded disclosure of the information.
Yesterday the U.S. District Court in D.C. denied the Justice Department's motion to dismiss the case. That ruling will now likely go on appeal to the D.C. Circuit federal appellate court. Assuming that the appeals court upholds the lower court's ruling and the case goes forward, FRC's Ken Klukowski -- one of only a handful of lawyers who has published a scholarly work on executive privilege -- says that if the court later rules on the merits of the executive-privilege claim, it is "close to a slam dunk" that Holder will lose. This is yet another example of the Obama administration refusing to follow the rule of law that all government officers -- and especially the President and his attorney general -- are sworn to uphold.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.