Anti-Abortion Bill Passes: The Republican-controlled House has approved a restrictive abortion bill that would ban the procedure starting 20 weeks after conception. The “fetal pain” legislation passed late Tuesday afternoon by a 228-196 vote that fell mostly along party lines, with six Democrats supporting it and six Republicans opposing. It has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate, however, and even if it did, the White House has already said it would veto the bill. (Read more)
Crossing Party Lines: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who once supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, now says same-sex couples should be allowed to wed. In an op-ed posted to her website Wednesday, the senator explained her new position. “The Supreme Court is set to make a pair of decisions on the topic of marriage equality shortly, and the national conversation on this issue is picking back up,” she wrote. “This is a significant moment for our nation when it comes to rethinking our society’s priorities and the role of government in Americans’ private lives and decisions, so I want to be absolutely clear with Alaskans. I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government. When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values. I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives—while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.” Murkowski, along with Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois, are the only three Senate Republicans who have voiced support for gay marriage. (Read more)
She Means Business: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced on the Senate floor Wednesday that she would be voting against President Obama’s nominee to head the country’s trade office, Michael Froman. Warren’s reason: Froman denied a recent request she made that a major Asia-Pacific trade agreement involving the U.S. be more transparent to the public. “I am voting against Mr. Froman’s nomination later today because I believe we need a new direction from the Trade Representative—a direction that prioritizes transparency and public debate,” she said. “The American people have the right to know more about the negotiations that will have dramatic impact on the future of the American economy. And that will have a dramatic impact on our working men and women, on the environment, on the Internet.” (Read more)
Open Mic: After a congressional hearing on the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program Tuesday, things got a little chummy between NSA Director Keith Alexander and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce. Thanks to a hot mic (oops!), Alexander was overheard offering Joyce praise for his testimony. “Thank you, Sean,” Alexander could be heard saying. “Tell your boss I owe him another friggin’ beer.” The exchange was caught by journalist Ben Doernberg, who was the first to report it. (Read more)
Role Playing: In a speech Monday on the House floor supporting the Defense of Marriage Act that was filled with ideas possibly ripped from the 1950s television series “Father Knows Best,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., suggested that children be taught about traditional gender roles in marriage because, in his warped view, dads do some things “maybe a little bit better” than mothers. He argues that young girls and boys should be taught “at a very early age” that “this is what’s important” for their gender. Gingrey, the leading GOP candidate in Georgia’s Senate race, added that he believes for families to thrive, children need to have fathers and women need to have husbands. Think Progress debunks Gingrey’s claims: “While Gingrey is right that each parent brings different strengths to a family, his suggestion that only opposite-sex couples can bring complementary skills is nearly as archaic as his view that children should be taught to conform to his outdated view of gender roles. And despite his assertions, the gender of parents has never been proven to be a relevant factor in the quality of parenting.” (Read more)
Video of the Day: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has consistently spoken out against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. And on Wednesday, he put his money where his mouth is by introducing an amendment aimed at ending corporate personhood. “Montanans expect real people and their ideas—not corporations and their money—to decide our elections,” Tester said in a video posted to his site. “The Citizens United decision undermines Montana values and distorts the democratic process. Montanans rejected corporate control of elections a century ago, and I’m proud to join them in standing up for our long-held values.” Sorry, Mitt Romney ... Tester’s right. Corporations are not people.