Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a strong ally of the National Rifle Association and its legislative priorities, told CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday that she could support tighter regulations of high-capacity magazines in the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
“You know, I think we ought to be looking at where the real danger is, like those large clips, I think that does need to be looked at,” Hutchison, who is retiring from the Senate, said. She added, “it’s the semi-automatics and those large magazines that can be fired off very quickly. You do have to pull the trigger each time, but it’s very quick.” Watch it:
Hutchison urged lawmakers to talk to real hunters who “say what is a sporting rifle capability that continues this for” and also address some of the violence in American culture.
The NRA has taken any discussion of gun control off the table, arguing that government should instead station armed security guards in schools, limit cultural violence, repair the mental health system, and get tough on crime. Though group endorsed Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) in his gubernatorial primary against Hutchision in 2010, the Texas chapter of the organization gave her an A+ rating, noting that it is the policy of the group to endorse incumbents.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Nov 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm
The Obama administration announced its opposition on Wednesday to a GOP immigration proposal that would add visas for highly skilled workers while actually reducing legal immigration. The House will vote Friday on the bill, which Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced. The measure failed in September when the House voted on it under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote.
Under the guise of trying to expand the number of visas available to international students who earn masters and doctorates in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, mathematics — at U.S. universities, Smith’s bill would cut the Diversity Visa program, which is intended for immigrants from countries that do not already send large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. And any unused STEM visas would disappear, shrinking overall legal immigration into the U.S.
In the White House’s statement of administrative policy against the bill, the administration emphasized its commitment to an immigration reform plan that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.:
As a part of immigration reform, the Administration strongly supports legislation to attract and retain foreign students who graduate with advanced STEM degrees, to establish a start-up visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs to start businesses and create jobs, and to reform the employment-based immigration system to better meet the needs of the U.S. economy. However, the Administration does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President’s long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform. [...]
Such an approach must provide for attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants and uniting Americans with their family members more quickly, as well as other important priorities such as establishing a pathway for undocumented individuals to earn their citizenship, holding employers accountable for breaking the law, and continuing efforts to strengthen the Nation’s robust enforcement system.
In addition to President Obama’s support for comprehensive immigration reform — he said he expects to begin working on a reform bill “very soon after my inauguration” — the Congressional Hispanic Caucus outlined nine principles for a reform bill on Wednesday, including protecting families.
But while Democrats are discussing plans to address what voters say should be included in immigration reform, Republicans are pushing bills that roll back the clock on immigration. Smith’s STEM visa proposal treats immigrants as one-to-one competitors with native workers, and earlier this week, retiring GOP Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) introduced the ACHIEVE Act that fails to provide a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. If Republicans truly wanted to do something about immigration reform during the lame duck session, they would have worked together with Democrats. But their commitment to ideology doomed the effort from the start.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Nov 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed new interest in comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, after Latino voters overwhelmingly supported President Obama in the presidential election. But the bill introduced on Tuesday by retiring Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), dubbed the ACHIEVE Act, is nothing more than a watered-down version of the bipartisan DREAM Act without a clear path to citizenship for those who would qualify under the measure.
Hutchison emphasized that the measure, which would require applicants to apply for three different visa programs over several years, does not offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It doesn’t allow them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the rules of our laws today,” she said during a press conference. “It doesn’t keep them from applying under the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.”
Kyl sought to dismiss the necessity of providing immigrants with a path to citizenship by suggesting that they should — unlawfully — marry U.S. citizens for immigration purposes:
KYL: Realistically, young people frequently get married. In this country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens. A U.S. citizen can petition for a spouse to become a citizen in a very short time…so I don’t think it’s any big secret that a lot of people who might participate in this program are going to have a very quick path to citizenship, if that’s the path they choose.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) challenged the GOP’s implications that the Obama administration or the FBI sat on the Gen. David Petraeus sex scandal until after the election, describing such claims underhanded and unsubstantiated.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday with retiring lawmakers Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Frank pushed back against Hutchison’s claims that “top level officials,” including the President, may have known about the scandal before Election Day. He pressed her to define her accusations and identify whose integrity she was impugning:
HUTCHISON: I’m very worried about this. I’m very worried. I want to know a whole lot more about what these first emails really were and did it really trigger an FBI investigation of the CIA director and a low level and it wasn’t raised to a higher level? I mean, if anybody is investigating the director of the CIA, the President of the United States should know immediately, and I feel like a, we don’t know enough, and, b, I have great concerns about a lot of this. [...]
FRANK: Are you suggesting there was some coverup, that the FBI are playing games? I think we ought to be explicit about this. I’m troubled by the implication of your statement and are you suggesting that something wasn’t legitimate here? Because that would trouble me.
HUTCHISON: I’m suggesting that I have great concerns about the legitimacy of…
FRANK: Excuse me, “great concerns” is kind of a weasel word….
HUTCHISON: …It appears the President didn’t know until two months later? ….
FRANK: It seems to me frankly you’re kind of hinting at something bad, and I don’t see what that could be.
HUTCHISON: I’m hinting at something out of control and not with the proper authority.
FRANK: Do you distrust the FBI? Is [FBI Director Robert] Mueller lying? Who are you accusing of not having done the right thing?
HUTCHISON: I’ve always had great respect for him and great respect for General Petraeus.
There is no evidence to suggest that the public timeline of the Petraeus scandal is improper. Attorney General Eric Holder defended his department’s handling of the investigation last week, noting that standard protocol prohibits DOJ from sharing information about pending investigations with members of Congress or the president, so long as they do not undermine national security. The rule, which has been in place since 1993, is designed to prevent politics from contaminating the process.
Justice Department officials had known about the investigation since the summer, but were told that the matter did not affect national security. Petraeus’s boss, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr, was notified about the affair on Election Day, after the FBI concluded its review. That night, Clapper advised Petraeus to resign.
From the very beginning, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) — even leading Senate Judiciary Republicans to unanimously vote against it because they object to its protections for LGBT victims, immigrants and Native Americans. Grassley has now teamed up with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) “offer a substitute that would address GOP concerns with the bill.”
Although the full details of Grassley and Hutchinson’s watered down protections for domestic violence victims have yet to be released, it is likely that they will map Grassley’s previously stated opposition to providing greater support for LGBT, undocumented, and tribal victims of domestic violence. The Hutchison/Grassley amendment will likely leave out some victims who face particularly harsh discrimination. If Senate Republicans embrace Grassley’s earlier objections to reauthorizing VAWA, they will show that they are willing to tolerate a certain amount of domestic violence by ignoring certain victims:
For Native victims: In 86 percent of reported rapes or sexual assaults on Native women, the perpetrators are non-Native. While Hutchison has criticized the tribal provisions, saying that ‘any American’ could be imprisoned by tribal courts, in actuality, the provisions allow tribal members to prosecute a non-tribal people who commit domestic violence and who either live or work on a reservation, or are married to a tribal member. The Grassley / Hutchison amendment requires any domestic violence to be prosecuted in federal courts, meaning that rural tribal victims won’t seek help. Additionally, federal prosecutors “already decline to prosecute half of Indian Country crimes that are referred to them,” and with the added number of domestic violence crimes, victims are likely to never see justice.
For LGBT victims: The new version of the bill also lacks any additional provisions for the LGBT community, blanketing over LGBT-specific issues with gender neutral language that lumps the needs of gay and lesbian protections in with the needs of straight couples. The original version of VAWA says that domestic violence shelters cannot discriminate against gay, lesbian, or trans people, but the new version says nothing about this issue. Grassley has said that he does not believe discrimination in shelters is an issue — despite the fact that “44.6 percent of LGBT/HIV-positive survivors of intimate partner violence were turned away from shelters.”
For undocumented victims: The Grassley/Hutchison version of the bill takes out the added visas for undocumented people who are beaten and seek assistance from the state. The visas are put in place so that victims aren’t too scared to contact the authorities when they find themselves physically harmed or in danger. When such protections don’t exist, people are forced to work outside of the law to protect themselves.
But there may be a bit of good news in the amendment. It may offer increased funding for rape kits, the processing of which is notoriously backlogged in the criminal justice system across the U.S. This funding should be increased, but LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims should not have to suffer for it.
Devon Boyer, a council member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and a former law enforcement officer, shared the stories of two women who couldn’t see justice done to their abusers:
White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett spoke out against the Grassley/Hutchison amendment today, saying, “We believe it takes us backwards. It discourages local police departments from arresting domestic violence offenders, it deletes the new provisions for assisting same sex victims, which we believe are important, and it greatly weakens the new proposals to address the high rates of violence on college campuses, which is so important for our young people, and the Hutchison bill just generally leaves too many victims without protection.”
The men in the Republican Party may not think they’re fighting a “war on women,” but its female senators certainly do. Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joinedSens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Kay Bailey Hutchison in criticizing the GOP’s push for legislation to restrict access to contraception and other basic health care services:
“It makes no sense to make this attack on women,” she said at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “If you don’t feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters.”
Murkowski — who recently said she regretted her vote for the anti-woman Blunt amendment — promised to fight for Planned Parenthood funding and also spoke out against Rush Limbaugh’s attack of Sandra Fluke, adding, “To have those kind of slurs against a woman … you had candidates who want to be our president not say, ‘That’s wrong. That’s offensive.’ They did not condemn the rhetoric.”
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:46 am
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has made it clear he wants to push for a GOP-backed DREAM Act that would give undocumented students legal status — but not citizenship — and now Republicans hope to use this watered-down version of the bill to win support from Latino voters. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) are also working on a bill like this, which is being kept under wraps and is expected to be unveiled if or when Mitt Romney wins the GOP presidential nomination.
Rubio told The Hill that he has nothing to announce about a non-citizenship DREAM Act, but said, “We’re working toward that and hopefully very soon.” While Rubio, Kyl, and Hutchinson are supposedly prepping a Republican plan, it’s worth noting that the original DREAM Act — to provide citizenship to undocumented students if they meet certain requirements — was a bipartisan plan that had support from GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and John McCain (AZ).
Now if Rubio introduces the legal-status-only plan, it will likely be little more than posturing and doubtful to make it far because Republicans like Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are categorically opposed to the DREAM Act and it is doubtful Democrats would support creating a permanent underclass of immigrants. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out that Republicans have already opposed this measure too, which would impose a class system for immigrants:
At an event on Capitol Hill, Reid cautioned that if Republicans offer a new DREAM Act, it will be a watered-down version of the bill most Republicans opposed when it came up for a vote last year. [...]
[G]roups that advocate for immigrants are skeptical of reforms that fail to grant a path to citizenship.
“Any proposal that is put on the table as to the fate of these children, who are in all consideration American, should be measured by what place they’re going to have in our society,” said Clarissa Martinez, director of immigration at the National Council of La Raza.
Martinez said creating “a class of nation-less people” would not be good for the country.
Earlier this month in an interview with Geraldo Rivera, Rubio teetered between his opposition to the current DREAM Act, which would provide citizenship, and trying to lay out a plan that would appeal to Latinos. “You can legalize someone’s status in this country with a significant amount of certainty about their future without placing them on a path toward citizenship,” he argued.
But his plan would force potentially millions of undocumented students to become non-voting residents of their home country if they were only given legal status in the U.S. After the extremely anti-immigrant views that the Republican presidential candidates have staked out during the primaries, a plan to create a system of second-class citizenship is not likely to be what Latino voters are looking for from the Republican party.
During an interview on MSNBC this morning, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) voiced rare support for Planned Parenthood, noting that the organization provides much-needed preventive care to low-income women. The outgoing Texas senator also condemned a recently-enacted Texas law that prohibits Planned Parenthood from participating in the Medicaid program and providing health care services to some 130,000 women. The controversial measure has led the federal government to officially stop funding the Texas Women’s Health Program, but Gov. Rick Perry (R) insists that the state will fill the funding gap using state funds.
Hutchison criticized Perry’s decision to turn his back on the federal dollars, which she argued, provide critical care to lower-income women:
HUTCHISON: We cannot afford to lose the Medicaid funding for low income women to have health care services. We cannot. We keep turning back federal funds that every state gets and then try to find money in our budget, which is already being cut in key areas like education. I do think that the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out so we can have our share — our fair share not more — of money for Medicaid to help low-income women have their health care services.
TODD: So it sounds like you think he should not be excluding Planned Parenthood?
HUTCHISON: I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms, they do so much of the health care — the preventive health care and they’re doing that, we need to provide those services, absolutely.
Last night, the House went off for summer recess without reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has been shut down for days now due to lack of funding. The House’s action means that the FAA will remain shut down for at least another month, leaving 4,000 federal employees furloughed, tens of thousands of workers stuck on stalled construction projects, and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal airline taxes uncollected. Airport inspectors are currently working without pay.
The FAA is the victim in the GOP’s assault on organized labor, as House Republicans are insisting that any FAA reauthorization include a provision making it harder for workers at airlines and railways to unionize. However, the House GOP’s intransigence doesn’t extend to all Republicans. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) yesterday criticized her party’s stance, saying “it’s not honorable” to hold up the FAA over unrelated policy disputes:
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, breaking with her party, called on Congress to pass a temporary extension that was devoid of any complicating policy issues.
“We’re getting ready to leave for a month. We should not shut down the FAA because of a rider put on the extension of the FAA legislation that has not been negotiated,” Hutchison said.
“It is not honorable for the House to send an extraneous amendment” on a funding extension, she said.
House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL), in a fit of spite, attached extra cuts to rural airports (in mostly Democratic states) to his version of the bill, which he admitted was merely meant to tweak Democratic senators for not going along with the GOP’s union busting. If the FAA shutdown continues for another month, it will cost the government about $1.2 billion. But for the GOP, that seems to be an acceptable price for advancing an anti-union agenda.
Last night, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) attempted to pass a clean FAA reauthorization through the Senate by unanimous consent. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) objected.
Hutchison took to the Senate floor today to plead her case for a “clean” FAA bill. However, she said she supports Republicans’ anti-union agenda on the issues, but that it should be done through the proper procedure. Watch a video of her floor speech released by Senate Democrats:
Hutchison Hits Perry’s Secessionism: ‘We Are Part Of The United States’ |
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) looks increasingly likely to enter the 2012 presidential race, with sources telling the Daily Caller he is “90 percent” in. This morning, to discuss the potential run and Perry’s bombastic rhetoric, MSNBC host Chuck Todd brought on Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), who unsuccessfully ran against Perry for the governorship last year. Hutchison took a subtle jab at the governor by stating the obvious when she said, “I think we have to clear that we are part of the United States of America.” As Todd pointed out, Hutchison’s comment is a clear reference to the fact that Perry has, on several occasions, floated the idea of Texas seceding from the union.