A Gentle Nudge: As House Republicans try to figure out what to do on immigration reform, former President George W. Bush weighed in on the issue Wednesday, expressing hope that the current debate will yield a “positive” outcome. Bush had previously backed a comprehensive immigration reform plan that failed during his presidency. “I hope during the debate, we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country,” he said. “We’re a nation of immigrants. And we must uphold that tradition, that has strengthened our country in so many ways.” The ex-president made his remarks at a naturalization ceremony at his new presidential library in Dallas. (Read more)
Thanks for Nothing: More than a week after federally subsidized student loan interest rates doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent at the beginning of this month because of congressional inaction, the Senate failed to pass a bill pushed by Democrats that would have retroactively lowered the rate for one more year. The vote, which was mostly along party lines, fell short of the 60 it needed to pass. “Helping students is the right thing to do and a smart way to strengthen our economy,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said after the vote on the legislation he sponsored. “But once again, while a majority of senators voted to keep student loans affordable, some senators used procedural tactics to block help for middle-class families.” (Read more)
Lone Star State Showdown: By a 96-49 vote, the Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives approved one of the strictest abortion bills in the nation during its second consecutive special session. Now the legislation will go to the state Senate, where it failed to pass last month after Sen. Wendy Davis mounted an incredible 11-plus-hour filibuster against it as the first special session expired. A vote could take place there as early as Friday. The bill, among other things, prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would impose regulations on facilities and providers that could effectively shut down most of the state’s clinics. (Read more)
Like Texas, Maybe Worse: Once again, North Carolina Republicans have inserted anti-abortion measures into a non-related bill without providing any public notice ahead of time. Last week, the sweeping abortion restrictions were added to an anti-Shariah-law measure in the state Senate, but Republican Gov. Pat McCrory threatened to veto it “unless significant changes and clarifications are made.” On Wednesday, GOP lawmakers in the state House of Representatives reintroduced most of the same abortion amendments, in the same underhanded fashion, into a motorcycle safety bill. Republicans were so sneaky this time around that some of their Democratic colleagues found out about the amendments literally minutes before the committee meeting began. “It is a disgrace to North Carolina that legislators have again resorted to sneak attacks to move their anti-women’s health agenda forward,” said Melissa Reed, Planned Parenthood Health Systems’ vice president of public affairs. “This is outrageous and not how the people’s business should be conducted.” (Read more)
Spitzer Leads: Well that didn’t take long. Just days after announcing he was running for New York City comptroller, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is leading the race. According to an NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll released Wednesday night, Spitzer—who resigned the Empire State governorship five years ago in the wake of a prostitution scandal—has the support of 42 percent of registered Democrats compared with 33 percent for his potential challenger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. One possible hiccup: Spitzer still has to qualify for the Democratic primary, which will be held in September. He has until Thursday to gather the 3,750 signatures needed to get his name on the ballot. (Read more)
Video of the Day: Oops! NBC News got an earful from viewers, and at least one U.S. senator, when it left the state of New Hampshire off of a map that aired on its “NBC Nightly News” program Monday. Anchor Brian Williams addressed the flub the following night with a mea culpa that included a list of New Hampshire’s accomplishments (did you know, for example, that it was the birthplace of paper towels?).