NBC NEWS/MEET THE PRESS
BY STEPHANIE CONDON
A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed with strong support in the Senate on Thursday, bringing Washington one step closer to accomplishing a major milestone that both Democrats and Republicans have long sought.
Now, however, the bill goes to the House, where, at best, it faces significant headwinds.
The measure passed 68 to 32, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the Senate chamber and the senators all casting their votes from their desks. Senators are rarely seated at their desks for votes — the largely symbolic move is typically reserved for confirming Supreme Court nominees or major votes, such as the 2010 Affordable Care Act vote or the 2011 resolution commending troops and the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Fourteen Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting for the bill, including Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, R-N.J., the Republican who was appointed to his seat this month after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. No Democrats voted against the bill.
After the legislation passed, President Obama released a statement commending the Senate and urging the public to lobby the House to pass some version of the bill.
“As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye,” he said. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen.”
AUSTIN, TEXASGov. Rick Perry on Wednesday called a second special session of the Texas Legislature to pass widespread abortion restrictions across the nation’s second-largest state, after the first attempt by Republicans died overnight following a marathon one-woman filibuster.
Perry ordered lawmakers to meet again on July 1 to act on the abortion proposals, as well as separate bills that would boost highway funding and deal with a juvenile justice issue. The sweeping abortion rules would close nearly all the state’s abortion clinics and impose other widespread restrictions.
Perry can call as many 30-day extra sessions as he likes, but lawmakers can only take up those issues he assigns.
The debate over abortion restrictions led to the most chaotic day in the Texas Legislature in modern history, starting with a marathon filibuster and ending with a down-to-the wire, frenetic vote marked by questions about whether Republicans tried to break chamber rules and jam the measure through.
Democrats put their hopes of thwarting the bill in the hands of Wendy Davis, a state senator clad in pink running shoes, for a daylong attempt to talk the bill to death. Over the duration of the speech, Davis became a social media star, even becoming the subject of a tweet from President Obama for her efforts.
But just before midnight, Republicans claimed she strayed off topic and got help with a back brace — two things that are against filibuster rules — and cut her off.
That cleared the way for a vote.
By Ian Reifowitz
I’ll leave the legal analysis to others who are far more expert than I on that matter.
My point is this: for all those who may have temporarily, let’s say, forgotten or even denied that there is any substantive difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, this decision should remind you exactly what those differences are.
The decision was 5-4. The justices who voted to declare parts of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional were all appointed by Republican presidents, including two by George W. Bush, who took in office in 2001.
Do you still think there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats?
Look, this has not been a good couple of weeks for our government, and a lot of liberals have been rightly agonizing over just how much they support the Democratic Party.
To those people, I say this: Criticize President Obama all you like, and criticize the Democratic Party or various figures for whatever you think needs criticizing. It’s important to speak out, as speaking out can help move our party and the President in the right direction.
But don’t forget that there are real, substantive differences between the two parties. They are not the same. The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party for our country, for our economy, for justice, for equality, and yes, for liberty. Barack Obama is better than Mitt Romney or John McCain would have been on all those counts as well.
To deny those facts is to deny reality. Furthermore, denying those facts makes it more difficult to motivate progressives to do what needs to be done to achieve the broad, progressive goals we share.
The two parties are not the same. And that matters. [Full Quote]