American Bridge Statement on Senators Graham, McCain, Johnson, and Cassidy’s Press Conference

American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah released the following statement responding to a healthcare press conference held by Senators Graham, McCain, Johnson and Cassidy:

“It’s tough to take this rhetoric seriously considering recent history. If Senators McCain, Graham, Johnson, and Cassidy are sincere about working in a bipartisan fashion, they need to vote down this bogus ‘skinny repeal’ bill. Full stop. Hedging their bets on some bogus assurances that they may get from Speaker Ryan won’t cut it. House Republicans aren’t working in good faith and no one should think otherwise.”

Read more after the jump.

Republicans Still Unwilling To Protect Voting Rights and LGBT Equality One Year After Supreme Court Rulings

One year after major Supreme Court decisions on the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act, conservative leaders are still denying equal rights for all Americans by failing to address the issues raised by these cases.

After the Supreme Court struck down a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act, or VRA, there has been little appetite among conservatives in Congress to fix the sections of the law that have been almost universally considered the most successful part of the landmark civil rights legislation. The VRA enjoyed bipartisan support when it was reauthorized in 2006; House Speaker John Boehner said at the time that the law had been “an effective tool in protecting a right that is fundamental to our democracy.” However, in the face of extreme opposition from the Tea Party, conservatives have either questioned the need for a legislative fix or ignored the issue entirely.

Sadly, the inaction on this issue – which has led to the passage of voter suppression laws in several states – is almost certainly politically motivated. As Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, bluntly stated in 1980, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” In fact, analysis has shown that election fraud, particularly the in-person voter impersonation that supposedly prompted tougher voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent. In addition, the voters who are disproportionately affected by voter ID laws – the poor, students, Africans Americans and Hispanics – all tend to vote for Democrats.

Read more after the jump.

Senate Finance Committee Republicans To Continue Cruz’s Crusade

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the October launch of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges. While the committee’s Republicans are expected to keep up their extreme, Ted Cruz-led attacks calling for the wholesale repeal of Obamacare, it’s worth remembering that a number of them sang a different tune during the problematic implementation of Medicare Part D in 2006.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), for example, now the Finance Committee’s ranking member, said of Medicare Part D in 2006 that “any program of that size and magnitude will have problems initially!” Hatch also commended a CMS administrator for doing a good job with “this very, very difficult to implement bill that we saddled you with.” And fellow Finance Committee member Mike Crapo (R-ID) argued in 2006 that glitches shouldn’t outweigh the benefits of positive public policy, saying of Medicare Part D that “we should not let these problems overshadow the fact that every day there are folks who are paying far less for their medications than they were before.”

But the similarities between the rollout problems facing the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Part D are unlikely to buy Obamacare any leeway from a Republican Party that has been bent on destroying health care reform from the outset. Like their counterparts in the House, who have voted nearly 50 times to repeal or defund the health care reform law, Senate Republicans have introduced dozens of bills designed to chip away at the law and repeatedly tried to use political tactics to undermine its viability. Yet the GOP’s blind devotion to sabotaging the health care law at any opportunity ignores the millions of Americans who would suffer if the legislation were repealed, including those with pre-existing conditions and seniors who fall into the prescription drug “donut hole.”

Wednesday’s hearing follows several similarly themed events held in recent weeks by other Senate and House committees, at which Republicans berated witnesses from CMS and HHS and used the opportunity to attack Obamacare as a whole. With the Finance Committee’s Ted Cruz-led Senate Republicans likely to pile on, it’s clear that the GOP’s real interest is partisan grandstanding, not fixing the glitches in the law.

Read more after the jump.

Barriers To Reform: The Anti-Immigration Policies And Extremist Money Blocking Progress In The Senate

As immigration reform moves forward in the Senate, the success of any legislation will depend on the cooperation of conservative lawmakers with troubling histories on the issue. However, it is not only their past policy positions and quotes that are disturbing. These key conservative senators also share a history of campaign contributors who also fund extremist anti-immigrant organizations, including those labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Each of the Republican senators in the immigration “gang of eight” have supported extreme positions and aligned themselves with anti-immigrant forces. Beyond the “gang,” leading conservatives such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, David Vitter, and Ted Cruz will figure prominently into the fate of immigration reform despite having similarly concerning records.

Read more after the jump.