U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., dove last week into the back-and-forth bickering between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-headed House over the federal transportation spending bill that also would direct billions of dollars in BP fine money to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.
Landrieu participated with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who is chairing the transportation conference, at a rally on Wednesday at which words such as “militant” and “extremist” were reportedly used to describe some House Republicans.
Transportation spending has a June 30 deadline, but time is getting short and the political rhetoric is increasing.
“If House Republicans are concerned about falling job numbers, they should be grabbing this bill and running it to the speaker’s desk to pass it, because this is, in essence, a jobs bill. It will put hundreds of thousands of people to work. So we are a little confused as to why the Republicans in the House are sitting on their hands while jobs are being lost,” Landrieu said. “In addition to the basic transportation infrastructure that is in this bill, there’s also the RESTORE Act, which will put the Gulf Coast back to work.”
The conference committee vice chairman, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., did not take long to respond to the rally in saying his fellow House Republicans are working to achieve a compromise bill.
“We believe our solutions are fair and practicable,” Mica said in a prepared response. “For example, at a time when we should be consolidating and eliminating federal programs the Senate bill actually creates programs that cost $3 billion a year. We in the House are opposed to that. … Unfortunately, the Senate has refused to offer any substantive cuts to bureaucratic red tape associated with building a highway or bridge, and the Senate does not appear ready to compromise on the Keystone pipeline issue either.”
The Senate has approved a more comprehensive two-year transportation bill, while the House passed a shorter extension.
The RESTORE Act provisions guarantee that 80 percent of the fines collected from the April 2010 BP oil leak — an amount that could reach $20 billion — would be distributed for coastal restoration to the five states along the Gulf: Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Texas and Alabama.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Wednesday introduced legislation seeking to ban sex-selective abortions.
The legislation essentially seeks to ban abortions that are made after determining the sex of the fetus because the parents preferred a boy, or vice versa.
The legislation would open the door for more civil lawsuits from parents and grandparents of the people who have the abortion. The bill would allow for the fine or imprisonment of doctors who perform abortions if they suspect the motivation for the procedure was related to the sex of the fetus and also require doctors to report such suspicions.
The legislation is considered dead on arrival after a similar bill was defeated in the Republican-controlled House.
Vitter calls the legislation the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.
“It’s flat out morally wrong to assign different values to unborn babies’ lives based on gender, but believe it or not, it happens,” Vitter said in his announcement.
The White House contends the legislation is impractical and would put doctors in prison for failing to figure out the motivation of a person having an abortion.
While Landrieu is known for her horse advocacy, Vitter was the Louisiana senator this week to write a column in The Hill publication touting his efforts for animal rights.
He noted that he got more involved in animal rights after his family adopted a dog from a New Orleans-area shelter after Hurricane Katrina.
Vitter’s column noted his bipartisan bill to stop unregulated puppy mills, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, and his Captive Primate Safety Act legislation, the latter of which he co-sponsored with Boxer.
Vitter also noted that he was honored last year by the Humane Society of the United States.
“I expect this award is rare for a conservative Republican,” Vitter wrote. “But again, promoting the well-being of animals transcends partisanship and ideology.”
Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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