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Ear to the Ground

Wendy Davis Won’t Back Down, Maher Rips Voting Rights Act Decision, and More

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Posted on Jun 30, 2013

No Surrender: Expect more to come from Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, the lawmaker whose marathon filibuster blocked the passage of a strict anti-abortion bill during a special session of the legislature. Proponents of the legislation, which would ban pregnant women from obtaining an abortion after 20 weeks and would close nearly all of the state’s clinics that provide the legal procedure, say Davis has only delayed the inevitable; they contend the bill will eventually pass. But Davis isn’t backing down. A day before Texas’ second special legislative session begins, Davis pledged to continue the effort to prevent the anti-abortion legislation from becoming law in the Lone Star State. “We will fight as we begin the session again on Monday,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think that we will concede that the battle is over.” (Read more)

Student Loan Fight Continues: Barring any last minute action by Congress, the student loan interest rate is about to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent Monday. But students have at least one advocate in the Senate who is actively working to prevent this from happening—Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts Democrat—who previously had introduced legislation that would give students the same rates that banks that were bailed out by the federal government get—is fighting with Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student loan provider. Warren sent a letter Friday to Sallie Mae’s CEO, contending that the lender is saddling students with excess amounts of debt while continuing to enjoy government perks. “While Sallie Mae is finding unique ways to profit from government programs, its borrowers are paying interest rates that are far in excess of the low cost of funds supported by the U.S. taxpayers,” she wrote, adding “If we are serious about investing in our future, we should help our students pay for their education—not find ways to squeeze more profits from them. I believe it is time to align priorities in Washington with those of the American people.” (Read more)

Looking Into Her Crystal Ball: Several days after the Supreme Court gutted the federal Defense of Marriage Act and handed gay marriage supporters a victory in California, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speculated on the future of same-sex marriage in the country. During an interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Pelosi said she was hopeful that gay couples would be allowed to marry in all 50 states legally in five years. “Course I’ve been in this—shall we say—crusade for a long time,” the pro-gay rights Democrat from California said. “And to see the pace with which it has accelerated in the past few years is very encouraging. Let’s hope it’s even sooner than that.” (Read more)

Bad Sports: The Senate’s top two Republicans are working to ensure that the National Football League does not promote Obamacare when the season starts in September. After reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the NFL would be involved with promoting a key portion of President Obama’s signature health care law, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn sent a letter to the commissioners of the NFL and other major sports leagues—including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League—in an effort to prevent them from showing public support for the law. In the letter, dated Thursday, the two senators implore the leagues to let them know if they are being pressured by the Obama administration to help market the health care law. “We have long been concerned by the Obama Administration’s record of using the threat of policy retaliation to solicit support for its policies or to silence its critics,” the pair wrote. (Read more

Video of the Day: “Real Time” host Bill Maher blasted the Supreme Court justices who voted to throw out a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on Tuesday, calling it a reflection of “racism 2.0” on his HBO program Friday night. Of Chief Justice John Roberts’ contention that the U.S. had changed enough that that portion of the law was no longer needed, Maher said, “These Supreme Court dudes, they don’t live in the real world. They don’t know how much the country has changed.” Maher accused Roberts of pulling the ruling “out of his ass,” and had some harsh words for Justice Antonin Scalia as well.

 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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