senate

Some Republicans in Senate Planning to Break with NRA on Guns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Image via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia.org

After a filibuster and four failed bills trying to deal with gun violence, the Senate may have found a way forward, reports The Hill.

Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), plan to bring forward a bipartisan bill that would block people on two different terrorist watch lists from buying guns.

5 Powerful Moments From Chris Murphy’s Senate Filibuster on Gun Legislation

Screenshot via C-Span.org

“I'm prepared to stand on this floor and talk […] for, frankly, as long as I can because I know that we can come together on this issue.”

That’s how Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) explained his mission on June 15 — to hold the floor until the Senate decides to act on gun violence prevention. Murphy has temporarily yielded to other senators, most notably his fellow democratic Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, but his filibuster is still going, hours after it started at 11:21 a.m.

Democratic Senator Launches Filibuster Until Senate Agrees to Act on Gun Legislation

Screenshot via C-Span.org

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is occupying the floor of the U.S. Senate until the chamber agrees to pass gun violence legislation, reports The Hill.

So far, Murphy has yielded the floor a few times — without losing the right to keep speaking afterwards — to both Republican and Democratic senators so that they can ask questions or make comments.

Black Clergy Demand Senate Consider Obama Supreme Court Nominee

Image via jamalbryant/Twitter

Black clergy from across the country are expressing moral outrage about the Republican-led Senate’s vow to block any nominee President Obama picks to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, saying it reflects racism and disrespect. The Rev. Freddy Haynes of Dallas said on March 4 that Senate Republicans have condemned statements about racism by the leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump but he said they need to act on those words.

Rabbi David Saperstein Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom

Photo via RNS
Rabbi David Saperstein preaches at a Washington, D.C., service in 2002. Photo via RNS

The Senate has confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, making him the first non-Christian to hold the job.

Saperstein, who led the Reform Jewish movement’s Washington office for 40 years, focusing on social justice and religious freedom issues, was nominated by President Obama in July and confirmed by a 62-35 vote on Dec. 12.

Saperstein takes a liberal bent on domestic issues, and all but one of the votes against him came from a Republican.

“Religious freedom faces daunting and alarming challenges worldwide,” Saperstein said at his confirmation hearing in September. “If confirmed, I will do everything within my abilities and influence to engage every sector of the State Department and the rest of the U.S. government to integrate religious freedom into our nation’s statecraft and foreign policies.”

Saperstein, named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine in 2009, will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, where he will be tasked with monitoring religious freedom abuses around the world.

Unemployment, the Vote, and Hope

Lisa Sharon Harper/Sojourners
President Obama speaks after the Senate cleared a three-month extension of Unemployment benefits. Lisa Sharon Harper/Sojourners

I stood in line and waited until they called my number.

“Neeeext,” the woman behind the counter called!

The woman put out an energy that dared anyone to cross her, challenge her, even speak to her. She gave me a pile of papers to fill out “over there,” she waved her hands dismissively in the general direction of all the other losers sitting in rows of old school desks — the kind where the chair and the desk are attached. They were all fully engrossed in one task: filling out their unemployment insurance applications. I joined them.

Of course we weren’t losers, but it felt like we were. We were grown adults. We represented many races: white, black, Latino, and Asian. We represented a small fraction of the sea of people who were out of work at the height of the economic crisis. If you had come to us only weeks before we were school teachers and firemen, opera singers, Wall Street brokers, and justice advocates (like me). But now we were all numbers, experiencing the same humiliating moment together.

But, how much more humiliating it would have been to be thrown out of my apartment? How much more dehumanizing would it have been to become homeless or go without food?

Activists to Fast on Capitol Hill Until Congress Passes Immigration Reform

An altar set up in honor of immigrants, including those who have died on their journey to the U.S. Photo: Katherine Burgess/RNS

As an icy wind whipped the sides of a packed tent, five activists committed themselves Tuesday to fast from food and drink and to camp in front of the U.S. Capitol until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.

“I know that there are going to be difficult days ahead of me,” said Eliseo Medina from the Service Employees International Union. “I know that going without food will not be easy and I know that I will suffer physical hunger."

“But there is a deeper hunger within me, a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream.”

Religious and labor leaders joined immigration activists at the launch of the “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.” Many will participate as “solidarity fasters,” fasting for a shorter time.

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