A new TV ad featuring Caren Teves, who son was slain in the Colorado movie theater massacre, hits Sen. Jeff Flake for not supporting the Manchin-Toomey background-check legislation.
Flake responds via Facebook:
If you are anywhere close to a television set in Arizona in the coming days, you’ll likely see an ad about gun control financed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg.
Contrary to the ad, I did vote to strengthen background checks. I voted for the bipartisan Grassley Amendment, which included language from a bill I helped write which strengthened background checks for those with mental illness. The Grassley amendment also included language to increase prosecution of criminals and fugitives who circumvent the current background check system.
Mayor Bloomberg can spend millions trying to get me to support his view of background checks. That’s his call. But we Arizonans aren’t easily bullied. The legislation that would have done the most to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them was the Grassley Amendment. And that’s the amendment I supported.
The Range reported on Flake's background-check history here.
State Sen. Steve Farley is feeling downright ebullient about the state budget that made it through the Senate's Committee of the Whole after a marathon session today.
"It's an amazing day," the midtown Tucson Democrat told The Range in a phone interview after the COW session wrapped up. "I haven't felt this good about a budget since (former governor Janet) Napolitano left. … This is the type of budget that the people of Arizona have been waiting for for a really long time."
Among the highlights, from Farley's perspective:
• Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level is now in the budget.
• A GOP plan to eliminate school funding for soft capital—books, computer accessories, etc.—was blocked and for the first time in years, the soft capital is actually funded.
• Child Protective Services will get a funding boost.
• An elections omnibus bill that emerged from the Senate Appropriations Committee stalled before coming up for a vote in the Senate Rules Committee. "I have it on pretty good authority that it isn't going anywhere," Farley says.
• About $4 million a year in interest from the state's rainy-day fund will go to support state parks and arts organizations.
"We managed to come today across the partisan divide, which is not easy," Farley said. "We found the things we have in common."
The Senate bills still need a final vote in the Senate, which Farley hopes to see tonight. Next, it'll head to the House of Representatives, which is now scheduled to get back to work on Tuesday, May 21.
More to come as lawmakers react and the legislation advances.
Sen. Jeff Flake’s name popped back up in the national news last week as someone who might potentially flip on the question of expanding background checks to gun shows, Internet transactions and other advertised sales.
Supporters of the legislation need at least five U.S. senators to flip on the question of expanding background check on gun sales that don’t go through a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Flake’s name comes up when supporters of background-check legislation talk about trying to resurrect their proposal.
The chatter is partly because Flake is close to Gabby Giffords, who has been lobbying hard for the expansion of background checks; partly because supporters of the legislation have kept pressure on Flake by protesting outside his offices; and partly because the Arizona Republican saw his approval numbers (as surveyed by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling) take a dive in the wake of the vote, with 51 percent of 600 Arizona voters surveyed disapproving of Flake’s job performance and just 32 percent saying they approved of the job he was doing.
The same poll showed 70 percent of Arizonans supported the idea of “requiring background checks for all gun sales, including gun shows and the Internet.”
Flake has given the appearance of being open to the legislation; in a handwritten letter to the mother of a victim of the Colorado movie theater massacre that was delivered before the vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendment, Flake said “strengthening background checks is something we agree on.”
And CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash came away from an interview last week reporting:
Gov. Jan Brewer told the press on Friday that lawmakers might as well stop sending her bills because she’s not signing anything until she gets a budget that includes the Medicaid expansion she’s been fighting for since she delivered her State of the State speech.
From the Arizona Republic's Mary Jo Pitzl:
Gov. Jan Brewer has told lawmakers she’s done signing bills until they get moving on Medicaid expansion and the state budget.
“The governor believes it’s time to buckle down and get working on Medicaid and the budget,” said her spokesman, Matthew Benson.
“It’s about time,” Wheeler says. “Nothing was moving. Now this will certainly spur something to start happening.
The stalemate over Medicaid expansion has held up budget negotiations this year. So far, GOP leaders haven’t even gone through the pretense of running a budget through the appropriations committees in either chamber.
We’ll see what happens next. Brewer’s threat comes a bit late in the session; since she’s signed a lot of key bills so far, so many lawmakers feel as if they’ve already gotten what they want. (A key exception is the election overhaul pushed by Sen. Michele Reagan.)
But the budget, which is entwined in the Medicaid expansion, is the big job left to get done and Brewer has the ability to wait out lawmakers on that one.
But we’re hearing that some deep pockets who oppose expansion may be gearing up to start spending against GOP lawmakers who are crossing party lines to support it. And national Republican Party officials are giving every sign that they'll be running hard against Obamacare in 2014, so Republican lawmakers who help advance the Affordable Care Act in Arizona will open themselves up to attack on that front.
After watching this video, I imagine a lot of Americans are disappointed that they did not support Newt Gingrich in his quest for the White House last year. Newt observes that his gizmo can do more than make phone calls. You don't say?
Slate's Josh Voorhees has fun with grandpa:
Newt Gingrich wants you to know that he is "puzzled" about what to call his cellphone, which can do a whole lot more than simply make calls. I'm puzzled by his entire video on the topic, but mostly by the fact that he hasn't heard of the term smartphone.
On AZ Illustrated Politics: Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Lea Marquez-Peterson, Pima County Democratic Party chairman Don Jorgensen and Republican strategist Sam Stone talked about the U.S. Senate's markup of the comprehensive immigration reform package; the troubles in the Tucson Unified School District; the county's budget; and the recent restaurant boom in downtown Tucson.
Roxanna Green, whose 9-year-old daughter Christina-Taylor Green was killed in the shooting rampage at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event on Jan. 8, 2011, has a Mother's Day message asking people to call their senators to demand support for background checks in Congress.
In other background-check news: Peter Ambler of Americans for Responsible Solutions sent out a bulletin today announcing that a background-check bill has emerged in the U.S. House of Representatives:
Because of your commitment to the issue, there's reason to hope we'll see movement on gun violence legislation again ... as soon as the next few months, maybe.
Let me explain why.
First, Senator Manchin has vowed to bring his bill back up, and several of his colleagues who voted NO are showing signs that switching their votes might be possible.
But a bill doesn't get to President Obama's desk until it passes the House of Representatives, and now there's a vehicle for that to happen.
Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced a bipartisan bill that is IDENTICAL to the Manchin-Toomey Senate legislation.
More info here.
This is a big day for the comprehensive immigration reform package put forward the by the Gang of Eight: The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to start hearing proposed amendments to legislation. Talking Points Memo rounds up the big issues:
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin examining about 300 proposed amendments to the bipartisan immigration bill, kicking off a new phase in the reform effort. While most are unlikely to pass, the amendments give a valuable preview as to which issues the final battle over immigration will be fought hardest over. You can expect to see lawmakers come back to some of these same debates many times over before any kind of legislation hits the president’s desk.
Oh, Jeff Flake. Things just keep looking bad for you.
According to Behavior Research Center's Rocky Mountain Poll, first-term Senator Jeff Flake's polling numbers are doing rather poorly, which is rare for a freshman in Congress, as first-timers typically enjoy a honeymoon period with their constituents during their first term.
In Senator Flake’s case, however, only 18 percent are willing to rate his performance favorably while a surprising 26 percent already opine that he is doing a “poor” or “very poor job”.
By way of comparison, retired Jon Kyl’s first job ratings as a U.S. Senator in 1996 were almost a mirror opposite of Senator Jeff Flake: 34 percent positive to only 12 percent negative. The current poll was completed just before Senator Flake parted company with the senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain, by voting against background checks for gun buyers which implies that Senator Flake’s negative rating at the time of this survey may trace to others issues.
This piles on release from Public Policy Polling we covered earlier this week, which noted that Flake's numbers took a dive in the wake of the vote on background checks for firearm sales.
Read the report from the Rocky Mountain Poll here.
Oh Matt Salmon.
You're one of those strange, rare cases in American politics where someone actually sticks to their word despite how detrimental it may be to their political career — because they don't view politics as a career.
Salmon, who is in his second stint representing Arizona in Congress, last week proposed an amendment to the United States Constitution that would place universal term limits on members of Congress, restricting representatives to three two-year terms, and senators to two six-year terms. His bill would also restrict people from running for those offices again after taking a leave into the private sector — though it doesn't appear that the language of the amendment would restrict people from chasing a Senate seat after completing their time as a representative.
Not as if that matters though, as the bill (which has six co-sponsors) would not only have to pass a two-thirds majority of Congress, but would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states — in other words, this has practically no chance of passing.
Of course, the irony here is that Salmon is currently in his fourth term in Congress, meaning that if his amendment had already existed, he couldn't be serving again — though it would also mean that Jeff Flake (who entered Congress alongside Salmon, making the same initial promise of stepping down after serving three terms before reneging on his word) would be gone as well...which probably would have spared his ego from viewing the ass-kicking he's taking in public polling right now.
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