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Brad Luna 202/216.1514
Trevor Thomas 202/216.1547
Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following
statement after a new law in the District of Columbia permitting
same-sex marriages became effective today.
law is an important step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal
rights for all residents of our nation's capital," said HRC President
Joe Solmonese. "Starting today, same-sex couples in D.C. will be able
to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that come with civil
marriage. At the same time, the law also preserves the right of clergy
and congregations to adhere to their faith traditions. Today
represents a hard-fought victory for D.C. residents and a poignant
reminder - here in the home of our federal government and most
cherished national monuments - of the historic progress being made
towards ensuring equality for all across the nation."
to the D.C. Council, Mayor Fenty and the many advocates of equality in
our community who worked hard for marriage equality in D.C. and who
will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that these basic rights are
protected in the future," Solmonese added. "As the courts have
uniformly recognized in upholding D.C.'s broad anti-discrimination
laws, no one should have to have their marriages - or any of their
civil rights - put to a public vote."
Nathan Harris, pastor of Lincoln Congregational Temple, United Church
of Christ, and member of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality,
praised the new law. "Today is a historic day in our community for
social justice and inclusion in keeping with the proudest traditions of
our religious heritage," said Harris. "For too long it has been unjust
to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to consecrate their
relationships in the same way in which we allow opposite-sex couples.
Our coalition of nearly 200 D.C. clergy believe that marriage equality
fulfills our commitment to God's love and justice. Nevertheless, we
respect our friends who hold different views and are pleased that
today's law embraces our nation's strongest traditions of religious
December 15, 2009, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly passed the Religious
Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009. The bill was signed
by Mayor Adrian Fenty and transmitted to Congress for review. Marriage
equality opponents attempted to stop the legislation from taking effect
by proposing a referendum. However, the D.C. Board of Elections and
Ethics ruled last month - for the third time on the marriage issue -
that the proposed ballot measure would violate the D.C. Human Rights
Act and therefore was not a proper subject matter for the referendum
process. A D.C. Superior Court judge recently denied opponents'
request for a preliminary injunction to stay the legislation, which
followed two previous court rulings rejecting opponents' efforts for a
referendum or initiative on similar grounds. The D.C. Court of Appeals
and the U.S. Supreme Court denied opponents' emergency appeals.
law took effect today, at the conclusion of the mandatory 30-day
Congressional review period. During this period, Representative Jason
Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah) introduced
legislation that would have halted implementation of the new law. Both
bills attracted only minimal support and did not move through their
respective chambers. Opponents of marriage equality continue to pursue
a ballot initiative defining marriage between a man and a woman - and
in the wake of several legal defeats have appealed to the D.C. high
court. The Court of Appeals has said it plans to hear oral arguments
on whether the initiative can go forward in May 2010.
a law enacted last June, same-sex couples living in D.C. who were
legally married elsewhere were recognized as married in D.C. and
received the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage. Pursuant
to the new law, same-sex couples may now enter into civil marriages in
D.C. The law ensures that clergy and religious organizations are not
required to provide services, accommodations, facilities or goods for
the solemnization of a same-sex marriage.
this time, besides D.C., five states permit marriage for same-sex
couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and
New Hampshire. Five states-California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington,
and Nevada-provide same-sex couples with access to the state level
benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions
or domestic partnerships.
Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island and Wisconsin provide same-sex
couples with limited rights and benefits. New York recognizes marriages
of same-sex couples validly entered into outside of the jurisdiction,
and just last week the Maryland Attorney General issued an opinion that
the state may start recognizing out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages.
recognized marriages by same-sex couples between June and November of
2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the
state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married
during that window remain married under California law, but all other
same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the
state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that
occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred
on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships. The Prop. 8 vote
has been challenged in federal court; testimony recently concluded in a
trial in San Francisco.
couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state or
D.C. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in
the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
"The American people understand that healthcare is a human right," said the Vermont senator.
"The current healthcare system in the United States is totally broken, it is totally dysfunctional, and it is extremely cruel."
That was how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) kicked off his speech Tuesday night at a town hall in Washington, D.C., convened hours before the planned reintroduction of Medicare for All legislation in the House and Senate on Wednesday.
Sanders, who is leading the updated bill alongside Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said that the U.S. can "no longer tolerate" a profit-driven healthcare system under which the country spends twice as much per person as other major countries with disastrous results.
The Vermont senator, a longtime single-payer proponent, rattled off the alarming statistics: More than 80 million people in the U.S. are uninsured or underinsured, a quarter of Americans struggle to afford prescription medicines, and tens of thousands die every year in the richest country on the planet due to lack of insurance.
"What an outrage," Sanders said Tuesday to an audience of nurses, doctors, other healthcare workers, and patients.
While the text of the latest Medicare for All bill has not yet been released, it will likely bear a close resemblance to previous versions that called for a dramatic transformation of the U.S. healthcare system over a period of several years, virtually eliminating private insurance and incrementally expanding and improving Medicare until it provides every person in the country with comprehensive care—for free at the point of service.
The bill stands no chance of passing in the current Congress given Republican control of the House and still-insufficient Democratic support, as well as massive industry opposition.
"What we're looking at is an industry that has spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions. Right now, as we speak—this moment, right here on Capitol Hill—the pharmaceutical industry has over 1,800 well-paid lobbyists," Sanders said. "They've got three lobbyists for every member of Congress. Former leaders of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party—they are swarming all over this place."
But given how deadly the status quo has become—with its intractable flaws amplified by the coronavirus pandemic—Sanders said the fight for a just healthcare system is more urgent than ever and must continue despite the significant political obstacles.
"Where we are today is not complicated," the senator said. "The American people understand this system is failing, the American people understand that healthcare is a human right."
"And our job," he added, "is to finally end a disastrous system and make it clear that every man, woman, and child in this country is entitled to healthcare because they are a human being."
\u201cLIVE: Join me and @RepJayapal as we hold a town hall at the U.S. Capitol on the need for Medicare for All. https://t.co/Zawjrh77KX\u201d— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1684280198
Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stressed during her remarks Tuesday night that support for Medicare for All has been growing across the country in recent years even as congressional backing for the legislation remains inadequate.
More than 100 localities across the U.S. have passed resolutions supporting Medicare for All, according to a Public Citizen tally.
Jayapal pointed specifically to Dunn County, Wisconsin voters' approval of a ballot measure endorsing a national health insurance program in 2022. The county leans heavily Republican, indicating the widespread appeal of a system like the one Medicare for All would usher in.
"The momentum is on our side in this movement," said Jayapal, who also cited growing support in the House Democratic caucus and recent congressional hearings on Medicare for All.
"It can sometimes feel like we're pushing boulders up mountains, but know this: We have made incredible progress," Jayapal added. "And we will continue to do that work across the country."
\u201c"We know that improved #MedicareForAll is the answer to our health care crisis!"\n\nYes we do, @RepJayapal! And nurses are ready to fight and WIN guaranteed health care for every single one of our patients. \u270a\u201d— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNursesUnited) 1684281417
The town hall also featured remarks from healthcare professionals who have experienced firsthand the horrors of the privatized U.S. system, which has left millions of people one medical emergency away from financial ruin.
"Even during a public health crisis, healthcare corporations prioritized their own profits instead of trying to save lives," said Nancy Hagans, RN, president of the New York State Nurses Association.
According to peer-reviewed research published last year, more than 338,000 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if the country had a single-payer healthcare system. Meanwhile, insurance and pharmaceutical giants have seen their revenues continue to skyrocket.
"As a critical care physician, I have seen the results of this," said Dr. Adam Gaffney of the Cambridge Health Alliance, noting the large number of U.S. adults who are likely to experience lapses in insurance coverage over a two-year period. "I have seen patients with life-threatening illnesses due to chronic conditions that were treatable but were not treated because those patients lacked access to care."
"We need Medicare for All in this country for one reason," Gaffney argued. "It is the solution to the inequities and injustices of our healthcare system, and no other reform is."
"MAGA Republicans don't give a damn about the deficit, and today's estimate of the cost of kickbacks for their friends and donors is further proof," said Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse.
While congressional Republicans hold the global economy hostage by refusing to raise the U.S. debt ceiling without major spending cuts that would hurt the working class, a federal analysis revealed Tuesday that GOP plans to extend 2017 tax breaks for the wealthy could add nearly $3.5 trillion to the nation's deficit.
The relevant section of the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report focuses on the potential extensions of policies from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which Republican lawmakers passed and then-President Donald Trump signed in late 2017.
Just extending the TCJA's changes to individual income tax provisions would cost almost $2.5 trillion through 2033, according to the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation. Debt service costs would tack on another $278 billion.
If three other policies—higher estate and gift tax exemptions, changes to the tax treatment of investment costs, and certain business tax provisions—are extended plus debt service costs are included, the total hits nearly $3.5 trillion.
"MAGA Republicans don't give a damn about the deficit, and today's estimate of the cost of kickbacks for their friends and donors is further proof," said Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). "Republicans racked up the national debt by giving tax breaks to their billionaire buddies, and now they want everyone else to pay for them. It is one of life's great enigmas that Republicans can keep a straight face while they simultaneously cite the deficit to extort massive spending cuts to critical programs and support a bill that would blow up deficits to extend trillions in tax cuts for the people who need them the least."
"Republicans who say they're worried about the deficit have brought our economy on the brink of default, and yet they want to run up the debt by locking in the Trump tax law that remains horribly skewed toward corporations and the wealthy."
Whitehouse and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) requested the report. Wyden said Tuesday that "$3.5 trillion is an eye-popping long-term price tag for the Trump tax law that Republicans swore up and down would pay for itself."
"Republicans who say they're worried about the deficit have brought our economy on the brink of default, and yet they want to run up the debt by locking in the Trump tax law that remains horribly skewed toward corporations and the wealthy," he added. "The Republican game plan is clear. For every penny they give in tax handouts to the rich, down the road they're going to demand equivalent cuts that boot people off their health care, increase child hunger, and raise the cost of living for typical Americans."
After economist Marc Goldwein noted the $3.5 trillion figure and a relevant graph from the report on Twitter, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Democrats tweeted an apparent dig at their GOP colleagues: "This doesn't sound very fiscally responsible to us."
\u201cThis doesn't sound very fiscally responsible to us \ud83e\udd14\ud83e\udd14\ud83e\udd14\u201d— Ways and Means Democrats (@Ways and Means Democrats) 1684262841
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said that the so-called Limit, Save, Grow Act (H.R. 2811), which the chamber's Republicans passed last month, "puts us on a fiscally responsible path." The bill would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024, whichever comes first, but also impose severe spending cuts.
McCarthy and other congressional leaders met with President Joe Biden at the White House Tuesday afternoon, and pressure for a resolution is mounting, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other experts projecting that the U.S. could face its first-ever default as early as June 1.
While Biden—whose March budget blueprint called for major social investments along with tax hikes targeting rich individuals and corporations—has publicly insisted on a clean debt limit hike, fears are growing that he'll cave to GOP lawmakers' demands to prevent a default, which economists warn would be catastrophic for the global economy.
The Limit, Save, Grow Act does not include TCJA extensions, but it would repeal billions of dollars in Inflation Reduction Act funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to crack down on rich tax cheats, which the CBO warned last month could increase the deficit by $120 billion over the next decade.
In a Washington Post opinion piece on Tuesday, economists Natasha Sarin and Mark Mazur explained the true cost could be far higher:
In new work, we estimate how much additional revenue the IRS is likely to collect as a result of the extra funding and, conversely, how much revenue would be lost if House Republicans' proposal became law. We conclude, very conservatively, that the additional funding would shrink the tax gap (the difference between taxes owed and taxes collected) by nearly $500 billion over the next 10 years—and about $1.5 trillion over the course of the next two decades. Without this funding, federal budget deficits would increase by approximately this amount.
What drives the differences between our estimates and official government estimates? We were both engaged with these issues as Treasury Department officials during the period that the Biden administration was making the case for adequately funding the IRS (Mazur as acting assistant secretary for tax policy, Sarin as Treasury's counselor for tax policy and implementation). So, we saw firsthand the ways that the impact of additional investment in the IRS is underestimated or even ignored by government estimators.
In other words, the pair argued, "House Republicans' newfound fiscal responsibility isn't all it's cracked up to be: Theirdebt ceiling demands include a proposal that will balloon the debt—and by much more than previously understood."
Linking to their Post piece, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) similarly tweeted that Republicans "don't care about 'fiscal responsibility.' They want to force extreme cuts to veterans' benefits, nutrition assistance for seniors and kids, and affordable housing programs—all so they can continue to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected."
\u201cMAGA Republicans don't want you to know: Their plan wouldn\u2019t solve the default crisis\u2014it would WORSEN it.\nhttps://t.co/1XAFGrG1MT\u201d— CAP Action (@CAP Action) 1684274520
As Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy federal policy analyst Joe Hughes highlighted in a blog post earlier this month, rescinding the IRS funds isn't the only way Republicans in Congress plan to serve their superrich benefactors—the GOP is also working to extend 2017 tax cuts.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in February introduced the TCJA Permanency Act (H.R. 976), which "would dramatically increase deficits and would primarily benefit the richest Americans," Hughes wrote, noting that the bill's sponsor is "one of the wealthiest members of Congress."
As he detailed:
The top 5% would receive $112.6 billion in tax cuts in the first year, more than the entire bottom 80%. Under this plan, the richest 1% would save nearly $26,000 on their taxes on average.
When Republicans passed the 2017 tax law, many of its provisions were set to expire at the end of 2025. The lawmakers who wrote the bill didn't actually want those provisions to expire, but they needed to make their bill appear less costly than it actually was so they structured them as temporary measures that they could later extend. (Even as enacted without extension of the temporary provisions, the bill was enormously expensive, increasing deficits by $1.5 trillion.)
When the permanent and temporary provisions of the bill are taken together, its effects are massively tilted toward the rich. The top 1% will receive a benefit of more than $37,000 in 2026 while the bottom 20% will pay more on average. This is an entirely unreasonable proposal for so-called "budget hawks" to put forth in the middle of a conversation about lowering public debt.
"Astoundingly, this is not the only wasteful tax cut proposal floating around House GOP chambers," Hughes continued, citing Roll Call. "Republican tax writers are readying a separate package of tax breaks for big businesses. This package looks to be mostly a refurbishment of a plan that failed to pass at the end of last Congress, largely because Democrats would only get on board if it included support for low-income children."
Roll Callreported in late April that "the bill would revive three tax benefits for businesses that lapsed or began to phase down under the GOP's 2017 tax law, which Republicans have been eager to extend. Tax writers are still working on the package, but it could include a broader set of provisions."
The outlet added that "Republicans are aiming to unveil the legislation in May or June, according to a source familiar with the discussions, though it wasn't immediately clear how quickly it would reach the floor."
Democrats control not only the White House but also the Senate, though tax cuts passed under former Republican President George W. Bush were made permanent with bipartisan support. As Bobby Kogan, senior director of federal budget policy at the Center for American Progress, recently pointed out, "If not for the Bush tax cuts and their extensions—as well as the Trump tax cuts—revenues would be on track to keep pace with spending indefinitely, and the debt ratio (debt as a percentage of the economy) would be declining."
"Instead, these tax cuts have added $10 trillion to the debt since their enactment and are responsible for 57% of the increase in the debt ratio since 2001, and more than 90% of the increase in the debt ratio if the one-time costs of bills responding to Covid-19 and the Great Recession are excluded," Kogan wrote. "Eventually, the tax cuts are projected to grow to more than 100% of the increase."
Blasting attempts to jam through "harmful cuts" to food aid as "reckless," Sen. John Fetterman said that "it's time to stop playing games and guarantee the full faith and credit of the United States."
With a possible first-ever U.S. debt default looming closer by the day, progressive lawmakers and groups on Tuesday implored President Joe Biden to stand firm in the face of what some called "Republican budget sabotage" while stepping up warnings about the harmful impacts that potential spending cuts could have on the most vulnerable Americans.
Biden has unnerved progressives in recent days by signaling an openness to "cutting spending" and including more stringent work requirements for recipients of federal safety net programs in order to reach a debt ceiling compromise with Republicans.
"We have made clear publicly and privately that not just work requirements but spending cuts, broad spending cuts, these are off the table," Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) toldHuffPost on Tuesday as the president prepared to meet with congressional leaders.
Echoing Jayapal, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a statement that "I cannot in good conscience support a debt ceiling proposal that pushes people into poverty."
\u201cI sure didn\u2019t come to Washington to take vital assistance away from working people at the same time big bank CEOs nearly crash the economy and get to jet off to Hawaii scot-free.\n\nI cannot in good conscience support a debt ceiling proposal that pushes people into poverty.\u201d— Senator John Fetterman (@Senator John Fetterman) 1684271014
"We're already addressing SNAP in a bipartisan way in the Farm Bill," Fetterman added, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "But with default looming, jamming through harmful cuts to that program is reckless. It's time to stop playing games and guarantee the full faith and credit of the United States."
A Congressional Budget Office analysis published Tuesday estimated that Republican plans to extend 2017 tax breaks for the wealthy could add nearly $3.5 trillion to the national deficit.
Claire Guzdar, a spokesperson for the progressive ProsperUS coalition, said in a statement Tuesday that "we urge President Biden to oppose any deal that would hurt the most vulnerable people in our economy."
"If House Republicans were serious about reducing deficits and raising revenue, they would stop shielding the wealthy and big corporations from paying their fair share in taxes," Guzdar added.
\u201cThe debt ceiling must be raised to safeguard the lifelines of Medicaid and SNAP. Cutting these programs would leave millions without essential services. Raising the debt ceiling is crucial to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.\nTake action: https://t.co/tzUl1RGfWl\u201d— COPAL (@COPAL) 1684275481
With the U.S. potentially just two weeks away from a catastrophic default, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) "is busy elevating the economic threat level by drawing a red line at one of the more unreasonable and harmful MAGA demands," warned Liz Zelnick, director of the economic and corporate power division at the watchdog Accountable.US.
"McCarthy is busy elevating the economic threat level by drawing a red line at one of the more unreasonable and harmful MAGA demands," she continued.
"Apparently the best the MAGA majority can do on any default deal is to make the lives of low-income seniors, single moms, and veterans more difficult while they protect every penny of the costly Trump tax breaks for billionaires and big corporations that never trickled down to anyone else," Zelnick added.
\u201cNEW BLOG: Instead of easing the squeeze on working families\u2019 budgets, the @HouseGOP is using the debt default crisis to make raising a family even more unaffordable.\n\nhttps://t.co/jNboSz1NRF\u201d— Accountable.US (@Accountable.US) 1684268520
McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that Tuesday's White House meeting was "a little more productive" than previous talks last week, but that the two sides were still "a long way apart."
As part of their debt limit bill, which the House approved on a party-line vote last month, Republicans proposed a new limit on Medicaid benefits for unemployed adults without dependents, as well as expanding existing "work requirements" for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill would limit SNAP benefits to unemployed childless adults up to age 55 instead of limiting them only to those younger than 50, as under current law.
Most households that receive SNAP benefits include minors, people with disabilities, and seniors. The Republican proposal only targets able-bodied adults without dependents.
The White House—which on Tuesday tapped Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti to lead debt ceiling negotiations going forward—called the meeting "productive and direct."
"The president emphasized that while more work remains on a range of difficult issues, he's optimistic that there is a path to a responsible, bipartisan budget agreement if both sides negotiate in good faith and recognize that neither side will get everything it wants," the White House said in a statement.
\u201cPresident Biden on Tuesday debt limit negotiations with congressional leaders:\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s disappointing that in our discussions congressional Republicans have not been willing to discuss raising revenues, but the policy differences \u2026 should not stop Congress from avoiding default.\u201d\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1684272662
According toGovernment Executive:
Biden and congressional Democrats previously refused to negotiate and demanded a "clean" debt limit increase without conditions. The Senate is not expected to take up the House's bill, and the White House has said Biden would veto it. The Biden administration has warned the Republican plan would force furloughs across federal agencies and, in at least some cases, layoffs of federal workers.
The White House said Tuesday that Biden will still travel to Japan on Wednesday to attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima. However, the president will curtail what was meant to be a multi-nation trip to Asia and Australia and return to Washington, D.C. on Sunday "to be back for the final negotiations with congressional leaders."
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) told HuffPost that he believed Biden shouldn't be negotiating with Republicans at all.
"I'm frustrated that we even have to engage in these conversations because it gives credibility to what Republicans are trying to do, which is pretty much hold the global economy hostage to fake as if they are fiscally responsible when they're not," he said.
\u201cNEW: Progressives warn of "huge backlash" if Biden concedes too much in debt ceiling talks.\n\nAOC says WH can "expect pushback on nearly any significant concession."\n\n"It makes us look weak and like we don't know what we're doing," says Bowman.\n\n@Axios https://t.co/hloFhSueSG\u201d— Andrew Solender (@Andrew Solender) 1684199170
Referring to McCarthy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that she understands that Biden is "in a difficult position with such a man who is willing to inflict so much damage on the nation."
"But we cannot accept cuts that will do real damage to millions of people in this country at the same moment that every billionaire, every billionaire corporation, and every loophole to protect those billionaires and billionaire corporations is carefully protected," she added.
A day after she said that the U.S. government would only be able to pay its bills through the end of the month without a debt limit increase, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Tuesday that a default would have severe consequences, including a likely recession.
"It is very conceivable that we'd see a number of financial markets break—with worldwide panic triggering margin calls, runs, and fire sales," Yellen said. "Our economy would suddenly find itself in an unprecedented economic and financial storm, and the resulting income shock could lead to a recession that destroys many American jobs and businesses."