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On the News With Thom Hartmann: US Senate to Begin Immigration Debate; and More

In today’s On the News segment: United States Senate will begin debate on the so-called comprehensive immigration plan.

In today’s On the News segment: United States Senate will begin debate on the so-called comprehensive immigration plan; Fifty years ago yesterday, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, but the gender wage gap still stands; women’s rights groups won a year-long battle with the Obama Administration, Monday, over an age restriction on the so-called “morning after pill.”; and More.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Today, the United States Senate will begin debate on the so-called comprehensive immigration plan. Senators will consider the overall legislation, and dozens of amendments, before a final vote can be reached. The debate is likely to last weeks, which means a decision may be delayed until after the Senate’s Fourth of July recess. A large portion of that delay will be the result of several “poison pill” amendments, like Sen. John Cornyn’s border security benchmarks, and Sen. Rand Paul’s provision, which “requires Congress to vote every year on border security.” Democratic Senators have called Cornyn’s amendment “unfeasible”, because it requires 90 percent of all illegal border crossings to be stopped before any undocumented immigrant could even apply for legal status. Immigration advocates have called Senator Rand Paul’s amendment “extremely problematic”, saying the requirement would mean a path to citizenship is subject to the partisan politics of future Congresses. And Senators Cornyn and Paul aren’t the only Republicans trying to gum up immigration reform. Senator Orrin Hatch will also offer an amendment to increase the number of H1B visas, and allow tech companies to hire immigrants directly, without having to search for American citizens willing to take those jobs. Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Coburn, and Lindsey Graham are also getting in on the action by demanding even stronger border security measures, and congressional control of a plan to secure our Southern border. These “poison pill” amendments show that many Republican senators are determined to make citizenship – which they call amnesty – unattainable for the 11 million immigrants already living in our country. They include provisions in the legislation that doom it to failure, so they can try to convince Latino voters that it wasn’t their fault if and when the immigration bill gets voted down. We’ll have to wait and see if Democrats can defeat these poison-pill amendments, and start fixing our broken immigration system.

In screwed news… Fifty years ago yesterday, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, but the gender wage gap still stands. A half century after the 1963 bill, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and that gap shows no signs of closing any time soon. When the bill went into effect, women made 60 cents on the dollar compared to men, but the wage gap narrowed throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. However, since 2001, the wage gap has only closed one point, and actually widened again starting in 2011. According to the Think Progress Blog, the remaining pay gap exists regardless of education level, and the Government Accountability Office found it has nothing to do with job tenure, industry, work pattern, race or marital status. Democrats in Congress attempted to close the wage gap with the Paycheck Fairness Act, but Republicans have voted against it multiple times. Simply put, there is no justifiable reason that women continue to earn less than men for equivalent work, and no reason besides sexism that Republicans continue to block equal pay for equal work.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Yesterday, women’s rights groups won a year-long battle with the Obama Administration, over an age restriction on the so-called “morning after pill.” On Monday, federal officials informed U.S. District Judge Edward Korman that they will submit a plan to comply with his April ruling, which permits the sale of Plan B “without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale restrictions.” The April ruling was praised by women’s health advocates, and scorned by social conservatives and anti-abortion activists. Opponents argue that making the drug available over-the-counter takes away parental rights, but pro-choice groups insist women and girls should have “the absolute right to control [their] bodies without having to ask a doctor or a pharmacist for permission.” According to the Justice Department letter to Judge Korman, the FDA has advised the drug maker to submit new labeling that accounts for over-the-counter sales. The FDA said that once the new application is received, it will be reviewed and promptly approved.

New York City is getting ready for hotter summers. A report commissioned by city officials warns that by 2050, the Big Apple will be as hot as Birmingham, Alabama, and will have two or three times the number of days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The report also indicates that the sea level around New York City will likely rise by two feet during that time, and will endanger low-lying homes and businesses. Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to propose plans for dealing with projected climate change, and offer estimates of how much those plans may cost New York City taxpayers. On Monday, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway warned that New York’s underground subway system could become too hot for commuters, saying it would be “like being in an oven beneath the streets.” Holloway would not disclose projected costs in yesterday’s news conference, but explained that “there is going to be a real cost of inaction” if New York City doesn’t implement plans for climate change.

And finally… Last week, residents of Augusta, Georgia began experiencing strange issues with their garage doors. Almost 500 residents complained to the Overhead Door Company that their garages would no longer open or close by remote. Well, the Fort Godon Army Base is apparently the cause of all the garage door issues. The base upgraded their land-mobile radio system last week, and began using it on a 390 megahertz bandwidth…which happens to be the exact same frequency used for automatic garage door remotes. For security, the Army base blocked the signal of other devices operating on that frequency, and inadvertently jammed all the garage remotes. Fort Gordon issued a statement Monday, explaining that the Army post was planning on notifying the public about the radio transition, but testing began earlier than expected. So, not only are people sacrificing their privacy in the name of national security, but now they have to get out of their car and open their garage doors manually. Time for Issa to investigate…

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, June 11, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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