Category Archives: Senate

Let’s Move Outside! with First Lady Michelle Obama at Red Rock Canyon

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh

Junior rangers Isabella Davis and Paige Owens (L), and First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, (D-NV) participate in a mountain stretch during an event to help launch Obama's Let's Move Outside! initiative to promote more outdoor activity for children June 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Let's Move Outside! is a part of the first lady's Let's Move! initiative aimed at solving the problem of childhood obesity. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Yesterday, I was fortunate to join First Lady Michelle Obama, Representative Dina Titus and Senator Harry Reid at the launch of Let’s Move Outside! in the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The Canyon is just a short drive from the bustle of the Las Vegas Strip; this 197,000 acre property takes you to another time and with its solitude, wide open vistas and soaring red sandstone cliffs. Red Rock Canyon is one of only sixteen National Landscape Conservation Areas in the country, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

This amazing backdrop was the perfect setting for the First Lady’s to announce a new component of her Let’s Move! campaign — Let’s Move Outside! As the first lady said in her remarks:

Our overall goal for “Let’s Move Outside” is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals  agree that outdoor activity is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get – and stay – fit. And boy, did we have fun!

Twenty energetic kids from nearby elementary schools joined us for the afternoon’s activities. The First Lady and Senator Reid led the group in a series of geology stretches. Then, we all hiked over to a sandstone slope, where we watched some able rangers guide kids on a “rock scramble.” Even though it was a steep climb, the pay-off at the top was terrific — a panoramic view of the canyon as far as the eye could see. Finally, children were sworn in by First Lady Michelle Obama as official Let’s Move Outside! Junior Rangers, capping off an afternoon of adventure, exercise, and good cheer.

There are no better places for America’s children to get moving than in the parks, trails, and waters in all of our communities. Whether you are walking, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or mountain biking –America’s public lands have a wide range of affordable activities and adventures for every family. These lands are America’s backyard—they are owned by everyone in this country and provide opportunities to get outside in every state, county, and city in the country.

The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months. We will engage partners across the public and private sectors to expand access to these places and connect American families to our great big collective backyard. Check out the Let’s Move! website to find opportunities to get outside and have fun today!

Rhea Suh is Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management & Budget

Full Remarks by the First Lady at “Let’s Move Outside” event with Senator Harry Reid

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Childhood Obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama, Nevada, Uncategorized

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2010 Women’s Summit in Reno, Nevada

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama greets the crowd after making remarks at the Women's Summit with Senator Harry Reid in Reno, Nevada. June 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Today First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Reno, Nevada where she delivered the keynote address to the 2010 Women’s Summit. The Summit, hosted by Senator Harry Reid, brought together a diverse group of women from across the country to talk about the issues that impact their lives as women and as Americans.

In her remarks, Mrs. Obama used the example of health care to illustrate women’s unique and increasingly significant role when it comes to keeping families healthy:

Eight in 10 mothers report that they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to the appointments, managing follow-up care. And many women are making the same decisions for their spouses. And more than 10 percent of women in this country are currently taking care of a sick or elderly relative, often a parent, and making critical health care decisions for them as well.

But women aren’t just disproportionately affected because of the role we play in our family, we’re also affected because the jobs we do are more likely to be part-time or in small businesses, jobs that are — less likely provide health insurance. Women are more likely to be denied coverage because of so called preexisting conditions like having a C-section or a previous pregnancy. In some cases, insurance plans don’t cover basis women’s health services like maternity care or preventative care for mammograms and Pap smears. And a recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 84 percent more than 25-year-old men for the same coverage. And at age 40, it’s 40 percent more — for the exact same coverage.

Now, we know this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for women. It’s unacceptable for families. And it is unacceptable for our country.

And that’s part of the reason why so many people fought so hard to pass health reform this year. Under the new law, starting this year, insurance companies will never again be allowed to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions.

In closing, the First Lady noted that while issues like health care, the economy or caring for families may affect women in particular, they aren’t just women’s issues:

When insurance companies deny coverage to women for preexisting conditions or refuse to cover treatment, it can devastate an entire family. When women make less than men for the same work, that hurts families who find themselves with less income and have to work harder just to get by. And when employers don’t allow employees the flexibility to care for their family, that hurts children, it hurts grandparents, it hurts husbands, and it puts a strain on an entire household.

But the good news is that thanks to so many extraordinary women who came before us, we’ve really come a long way. We know that all of us are here today because of all those generations who put in that time, who packed up their things, and staked their claims in places here, and who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that we could have opportunities that they never dreamed of.

And we know that it will be up to all of you — the leaders, the activists, the visionaries, the organizers, the everyday women, to carry that work forward, because what we’re working towards — all of us — is to ensure that our daughters and our granddaughters can dream just a little bigger and reach just a little higher than we did. That’s really why I’m here.

So what I can promise is that if you keep the discussion going, and if all of you keep fighting and organizing and standing up for the causes that we all share, then I know that together — together — we will keep moving forward, not just as women, but as Americans.

So I really, truly, can’t express to you how grateful we are for your leadership. We look to you for that energy, so don’t ever stop. Keep it up. And thank you. Thank you for all your support and your hard work.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, First Lady Michelle Obama, Nevada, Women's Issues

Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies” Are Devouring the GOP Not Obama

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Sarah Palin recently told an anti-abortion activist group that “mama grizzlies” will eat up the Democrats in November and shove the country back into the GOP’s arms. Her home grown, home state animal kingdom analogy would have been more apt and frightening a year ago when the Tea Party first gathered steam. Then GOP leaders banked that the Tea Party would be their back channel hammer to pound Obama and the Democrats in November. Things went well in the beginning. The party’s angry protests, marches, and parades, the passion, zealotry, their sloganeering, name calling, their anti-tax, anti big government, and defense of freedoms code word racism boded well. President Obama seemed the perfect made-in-heaven foil. He’s a moderate, African-American, Democrat who they recast as a closet unpatriotic, race baiting, socialist.

The set script, though, has suddenly radically changed. In quick succession, GOP stalwarts in Utah, Florida, Kentucky, and Maine, and John McCain in Arizona have either been knocked out the box or are under withering fire from Tea Party activists. The white hot anti-incumbent rhetoric in Tea Party circles is almost totally aimed at the GOP incumbents and candidates. Any hint from a GOP incumbent in their words, actions, or voting record of making nice with Democrats and Obama guarantees a tongue lash from Palin, and relentless hectoring, harassment, and even physical threats from street level activists. GOP leaders have slowly woke to the recognition that Tea Party activists will settle for nothing less than a full blown exorcism of any trace of moderation or compromise from the GOP.

The danger looms for the GOP that 2010 could be 1964 all over again. That was the year that a right insurgency powered by ferocious Deep South and Western opposition to the civil rights movement, legislative and court ordered desegregation, and pending civil rights rights bills rammed the GOP to the hard right and in that year’s presidential election, to political disaster. The GOP suffered mightily in the aftermath of LBJ and the Democrat’s landslide sweep. But the crushing defeat did not totally transform the GOP into a hard core rightwing opposition party. There were many conservative Republicans who were still willing to compromise, conciliate, and work when necessary with Democrats.

The best case in point is McCain. Pre-presidential candidate Obama’s ascension, he was widely held up as the standard model of the responsible, pragmatic, Republican conservative who was willing to reach across the congressional aisle to get things done. It’s a far different story in the Obama White House days. McCain’s sprouted wings on his heels in his mad dash to the right to keep his Senatorial job. His rush to the right typifies the GOP’s Catch 22 dilemma. He can’t win, or at least the perception is that he can’t win, by ticking off Tea Party activists. Yet, catering to them types him as a pandering, captive of the loose jointed right, shill.

Either case scenario poses the grave threat that the GOP could be a fractured, unhinged party months before the November showdown. Polls and surveys show this potentially chilling scenario. In a Pew survey 40 percent of Democrats say they have no faith in their elected representatives in Congress. That’s an all time low in the history of the Pew survey. But even fewer Republicans say that they have any faith in their congressional representatives. That’s a crushing load the GOP could drag into the fall elections. A pack of hard right candidates that carry the GOP banner will be a powerful turn-off to thousands of politically crucial independent voters. In past polls, many of them registered disgust, frustration and anger at Obama and the Democrat’s policies and signaled a willingness to shift back to the GOP. This could be out the window.

Then there’s Palin. She poses absolutely no threat to Obama’s solid or lukewarm Democratic base. The mere mention of her as a possible presidential candidate is more than enough to terrorize disappointed liberal Democrats out of their Obama inertia. The real damage that she can do will be to further confuse, rile up, and split Republicans. Polls show that while voters in general say Palin’s not presidential timber, a huge minority of Republicans say that she is. This could translate into a stock of disgruntled, frustrated voters who would be sorely tempted to push, prod and hector the GOP to give Palin her due as a possible presidential candidate. This kind of talk will propel even more independents away from the GOP.

Palin can talk all day about “mama grizzlies” ousting Democrats from power in November and beyond. But the stark political reality is that so far the only ones who have been threatened or devoured wear the GOP tag. This wasn’t in the GOP mainstream’s script for Palin and the Tea Party.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press).
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Filed under 2010 Elections, 2012 Elections, Conservative, Democrats, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized

Jon Stewart Realizes Glenn Beck Is More Reasonable Than John McCain

Posted by: BuellBoy

TPM~Jon Stewart was upset last night when he heard that John McCain is opposed to reading Miranda rights to the man who allegedly attempted to bomb Times Square.

He choked up a little bit as he addressed McCain: “This next clip’s gonna hurt me as much as it’s gonna hurt you,” before showing Glenn Beck saying he supports reading the man his Miranda rights.

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Filed under Glenn Beck, Humor, John McCain, Jon Stewart, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, New York, NY, Pakistan, Uncategorized

Al Franken To Hold Fundraiser Featuring Fellow Saturday Night Live Veterans

Posted by: Audiegrl


Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is set to reunite with some fellow Saturday Night Live veterans at a Democratic fundraiser this weekend in Los Angeles.

The event, taking place at the renowned House of Blues, will be hosted by Dan Aykroyd and his wife Donna, who are expected to be joined by former SNL regulars Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Proceeds from the first reception — which will cost between $2,400 and $4,800 a person — will go to “Franken MVPs,” a new PAC that splits donations between Franken’s personal 2014 Senate reelection campaign and other leadership PACs, the Tribune reports.

A less expensive event is also scheduled to take place later in the night, featuring the same notable guests from the entertainment and political world.

Sen. Franken also pulled some strings with his SNL connections last month, when he borrowed “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers for a Minneapolis fundraiser.

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Republicans and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) Vote As Bloc To Filibuster Wall Street Bill

Posted by: Audiegrl

Undaunted by a Senate setback, Democrats appeared increasingly confident Monday they will be able to take advantage of Americans’ anger at Wall Street and push through the most sweeping new controls on financial institutions since the Great Depression.

The Senate, in a 57-41 vote, failed to get the 60 supporters needed to proceed on the regulatory overhaul. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined with the Republicans.

But the evening vote was just part of a legislative ballet keeping bipartisan talks alive. At the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to “no,” too, but that was just a maneuver that will enable him to call for a new tally as early as Tuesday.

Democrats believe that public pressure and the scent of a Wall Street scandal have given them the upper hand. Republicans themselves have taken up the Democrats’ Wall Street-bashing rhetoric and have voiced hope that a bill will ultimately pass. In that light, the path to final approval seems clearer than it ever did during the contentious debate over health care.

Statement by President Obama on Financial Reform

“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.”

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Banking, Democrats, Economy, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized

An Unprecedented Level of Obstruction

Posted by: Audiegrl

White House.gov/Jen Psaki~Faced with an unprecedented level of obstruction in the Senate, the President announced his intention to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts. While the President respects the critical role the Senate plays in the appointment process, he was no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Many of these fifteen individuals have enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but have found their confirmation votes delayed for reasons that have nothing to do with their qualifications. It has more to do with an obstruction-at-all-costs mentality that we’ve been faced with since the President came into office. Because of political posturing, these fifteen appointees have waited an average of 214 days for Senate confirmation.

This opposition got so out of hand at one point that one senator put a blanket hold on all of the President’s nominees in an attempt to win concessions on two projects that would benefit his state. And another nominee’s confirmation was delayed by one senator for more than eight months because of a disagreement over a proposed federal building in his home state. When that nominee was finally given the vote she deserved, she was confirmed 96 to 0. When you attempt to prevent the government from working effectively because you didn’t get your way, you’re failing to live up to your responsibilities as a public servant.

To put this in perspective, at this time in 2002, President Bush had only 5 nominees pending on the floor. By contrast, President Obama has 77 nominees currently pending on the floor, 58 of whom have been waiting for over two weeks and 44 of those have been waiting more than a month. And cloture has been filed 16 times on Obama nominees, nine of whom were subsequently confirmed with 60 or more votes or by voice vote. Cloture was not filed on a single Bush nominee in his first year. And despite facing significantly less opposition, President Bush had already made 10 recess appointments by this point in his presidency and he made another five over the spring recess.

A few more numbers to put this in perspective:

  • These fifteen nominees have been waiting a total of 3,204 days or almost nine years to start their respective jobs.
  • Even the most recently nominated of these fifteen individuals has been waiting 144 days or nearly five months.
  • Jeffrey Goldstein was nominated to serve as the top domestic finance official at Treasury, a crucial position for fixing the economy and preventing another financial crisis. Goldstein has been waiting 248 days or over 8 months.
  • Jacqueline Berrien was nominated to serve as Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC currently lacks a quorum and cannot fulfill its mandate to protect American workers from discrimination. Berrien has been waiting 254 days or over 8 months.
  • Craig Becker and Mark Pearce were nominated to serve on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which protects American workers from unfair labor practices. The five member board has been trying to operate with only two members. Becker and Pearce have been waiting for 261 days or over 8 months.

The roadblocks we’ve seen in the Senate have left some government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission impaired in fulfilling their mission. These agencies can now get back to working for the American people.

These nominees will remain pending before the Senate for what we hope will be the expeditious confirmation that candidates of their caliber deserve. But we also hope that this politically motivated gridlock comes to an end, because each day we dedicate to a strategy aimed at gumming up the works of our government is another day we aren’t doing right by the American people.

The 15 newly appointed nominees are:

  • Jeffrey Goldstein: Nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Department of the Treasury
  • Michael F. Mundaca: Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Department of the Treasury
  • Eric L. Hirschhorn: Nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce
  • Michael Punke: Nominee for Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative
  • Francisco “Frank” J. Sánchez: Nominee for Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce
  • Islam A. Siddiqui: Nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
  • Alan D. Bersin: Nominee for Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
  • Jill Long Thompson: Nominee for Member, Farm Credit Administration Board
  • Rafael Borras: Nominee for Under Secretary for Management, Department of Homeland Security
  • Craig Becker: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  • Mark Pearce: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  • Jacqueline A. Berrien: Nominee for Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Chai R. Feldblum: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Victoria A. Lipnic: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • P. David Lopez: Nominee for General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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Filed under Congress, Creepy right-wing antics, Obama Administration, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized