Congressional gym deemed “essential” by Boehner during government shutdown

Even the right-wing site Drudge Report is mad at this one.

We may have to cut nutritional support for poor kids, but I guess House Speaker Boehner felt Rep. Paul Ryan needed his workout, so the Congressional gym is deemed “essential” to stay open during the government shutdown….

A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.

According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed.

(via Think Progress)

So what happens if the government does shut down?

With the Republicans in the House doubling down on demanding defunding or at least postponing ObamaCare for a year in exchange for keeping the government running, it is almost certain the government is heading for a shutdown as of midnight Monday night.  How long is unsure – could be hours, days or weeks.

What happens in that case?  Just a few examples of what to expect – via Yahoo News:

• If you’re one of the 800,000 federal workers who are deemed as
non-essential, you will be directly affected immediately and not report
to work.

• If you’re
applying for a passport or visa, you will likely be out of luck.

• First-time home buyers looking for a mortgage will be delayed because
the Federal Housing Administration will be closed.

• The 401 national
parks will be off-limits starting Tuesday morning.

• The biggest fear for
hundreds of thousands of federal workers – and members of the military
will be if they receive back pay. In the last shutdown nearly two
decades ago, workers received lost wages. That’s not guaranteed this
time.

• And finally –  a shutdown will cost, not save,
taxpayers’ money. A study from the non-partisan Office of Management and Budget puts
the overall economic price tag for a shutdown around $2 billion.

It should be noted that never before in the history of the country has a budget bill been tied to repealing an existing law, i.e. ObamaCare.

Also, the last time the government shut down was 17 years ago and it cost the Republicans dearly at the following election.

Just saying…

Just a few ways the GOP-led House could have done more of the people’s work

On the final day of the House’s recent session before taking a five week summer recess, Republicans voted for a 40th time to repeal ObamaCare. An act that will serve no purpose, as the Senate has no intention of voting on such a repeal.

That in mind, Geoffrey Cowley at MSNBC has thought up some issues the House COULD have taken up to make lives for American better. Here’s just a few:

Head over to Geoffrey’s article for more ways the House could have done the people’s work.

Respect for Marriage Act re-introduced in Congress

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions, the Respect for Marriage Act was re-introduced in both houses of Congress, Freedom to Marry reports:

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California today reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the entirety of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and assure all married couples equal treatment for all federal programs and purposes.

The move swiftly followed today’s powerful ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down a central part of DOMA and calling into question marriage discrimination.

Two more Democratic congressmen publicly support marriage equality

Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin released a statement endorsing marriage equality via a post on Facebook, saying that history has shown that “discrimination never works:”

“My 18-year marriage to Tawni has taught me that we’re both stronger because we love and support each other. I support marriage equality because if two people want to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for one another, then the government shouldn’t stand in the way.

“As the Supreme Court deliberates the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, I’m reminded that throughout history, discrimination has never worked. I have never voted for discrimination, and I look forward to supporting legislation like the Respect for Marriage Act that will help committed same-sex couples gain the same rights as everyone else.”

Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana announced his support for marriage equality via Facebook also:

“I support marriage equality for all couples and believe that every single American should be able to marry the person they love. I believe that it is unfair that, under current law, same-sex couples are legally prohibited from taking advantage of the federal laws that provide financial and legal benefits to married couples. I believe that we can no longer allow the states to discriminate against same-sex marriages. Rather, I believe that the federal government should ensure that all consenting adults, no matter who they are or who they love, have the exact same marriage rights.”

Visclosky voted for DOMA in 1996. His spokesman says Visclosky now “regrets that vote.”

Michele Bachmann under investigation for alleged presidential campaign “improprieties”

According to the Daily Beast, Michele Bachmann is currently being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics for “improprieties” regarding her failed presidential campaign.

From the Daily Beast report:

Federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee.

Former staffers tell The Daily Beast that investigators have allegedly asked about allegations of improper transfer of funds and under-the-table payments actions by Bachmann’s presidential campaign, specifically in relation to the campaign’s national political director, Guy Short, and Bachmann’s onetime Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Questions directly about Bachmann, they said, have been primarily focused on what she knew about those men’s actions and when she knew it.

Well, well, well… things that make you go “hmm…”

US House: Violence Against Women Act passes 286-138

From the Human Rights Campaign: The US House has passed the Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
that includes important protections for LGBT individuals.

The  bill was passed 78 to 22 in a bipartisan Senate vote and today’s 286 to 138 vote included 87 Republicans.

Today’s victory marks a rare occasion when Republicans and Democrats
came together to ensure explicit protections in the federal code for
“sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  It is also the first time
that any federal non-discrimination provisions include the LGBT
community.

President Obama has pledged to sign the bill which prohibits any
program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a
victim based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender
identity.  It also explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key VAWA
grant programs. 

Sen. Tom Harkin promises movement on ENDA this year

Senator Tom Harkin, the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, promised during remarks this morning at an event at the Center for American Progress that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will “move thie year.”

ENDA has clearly been a huge concern for LGBT activists for years and the glacial pace of the bill through Congress has been frustrating to say the least.

Here’s hoping we see SOMETHING happen this year.

(via Towleroad)