Senate Renews Violence Against Women Act with new protections for The Gay Community
The Senate voted Tuesday, Feb. 12, to renew the Violence Against Women Act with new precautions to ensure that gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women will have equal access to the act’s anti-domestic violence programs. The act, which expired in 2011, was reauthorized in a 78-22 vote to shield millions of women from abuse and help reduce national rates of domestic violence as it has done the past two decades. All 20 women of the Senate voted for the bipartisan bill.
Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: First in 600 years
The pope’s spokesman said that the pope is not being forced to resign based on any specific health problem. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, current director of the Holy See Press Office, stated that the decision was a “spiritual” one and that the pontiff is resigning because he does not feel he has the strength to continue as the church’s leader. The pope will hold his final audience in St. Peter’s Square on Feb 27 and will remain at his post until Feb. 28. There is still not a concrete date as to when the Cardinals will meet in conclave to decide the next pope.
Some Republican governors support Medicaid expansion for states
Republican governors have recently showed their backing for the extension of Medicaid to 17 million Americans clause of President Obama’s health-care law.
Many Republicans had previously dismissed the expansion when the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional in its ruling last summer. Backers of the law worried that the disapproval could weaken the resolve of the overhaul of the law by reducing the number of Americans who would benefit from it. Since this decision by the court, many hospitals and health care providers have urged insistently to expand Medicaid.
Deportation policies remain unaltered
The Obama administration hit a record by deporting nearly 410,000 people last year. Tuesday, Feb 5, Obama met with 16 progressive and labor leaders at the White House, where the advocates strongly urged him to curb the enforcement of the many undocumented workers who are in the country illegally but still abide by the law and contribute to society. The president declined to make adjustments due to his preparation for his public push for overhauling immigration laws. Obama told the advocates, “there may be some gaps in implementation of the polices,” but the president emphasized that he is focused on “getting reformed passed, and not easing up on enforcement.”
Obama bringing 34,000 troops back from Afghanistan within the year
President Obama announced in his State of the Union address that 34,000 U.S. troops will be returning home from Afghanistan within the year, which is around half the U.S. forces currently serving in Afghanistan. This marks another step in the administration’s plans to formally finish the war there by the end of 2014.
Plans for the size to remain there as a military presence after the war ends are still being finalized. The White House has admitted to its openness of the concept of leaving no troops in Afghanistan, however it’s likely that a small number will remain due to the preferences of the Pentagon.