Senator Bob Dole’s Thank You Tour
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is trying to reach out to citizens in all 105 of Kansas’ counties. At 90 years of age, he’s not running for elective office again. He’s taking the time to thank his former constituents for all their support—and providing his insights into politics today as well. You could say he’s measured in his criticism. For instance, he says he thinks “President Obama certainly means well” but that he has failed to do his duty in cultivating relations with both parties in Congress. On the other hand, he also has criticism for some Republicans. As The Washington Post reported, “‘I believe in a party of inclusion,’ he told an audience at the First Lutheran Church in Ottawa Monday night. ‘You don’t say, “You’re not a good enough Republican, you’re too moderate.”’”
Divisions on Mental Health Care Halt Republican Newtown Legislation
Following the horrific Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, Republicans argued that reforms to the mental healthcare system in the United States would prevent such incidents in the future. Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, who was a practicing psychologist before his political career—he’s even published a book on the topic—has been working on a bill to improve mental healthcare in the country. However, it has been held up because of disagreements on the part of key stakeholders. Strict laws limit the extent to which a person can be involuntarily submitted to mental health treatment, and some say that families should have greater authority to intervene when a relative has a psychological disease. Patients’ rights advocates are concerned that involuntary care could result in abuse of some individuals. Representative Murphy’s bill would permit families greater access to medical records and would make a states’ passage of more lenient involuntary treatment laws a condition for receiving money for mental health programs. Former Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has been working with various stakeholders on compromise provisions.
Members Views on Immigration Reform
Immigration reform remains one of the trickiest policy and political issues facing Washington these days. Both parties have followers that favor what might be considered more “extreme” positions, but both also have advocates who tread a more moderate path. For instance, Republican Representatives Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger, both of Illinois, recently argued that residents who entered the country illegally should be provided with some way of acquiring legal status. Representative Schock went so far as to say that he supported citizenship for illegal residents. On the other side of the aisle, some moderate Democrats have criticized the idea that the President should make changes to policy, such as stopping deportations, without congressional approval. These have included Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, whose father immigrated from Mexico; Representative Daniel Lipinski of Illinois; and Representative Ron Barber of Arizona.
And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate