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Earlier this evening, House Republicans rejected $125 million in federal stimulus money for expanded unemployment benefits, ensuring that Virginians’ share of the stimulus will be sent to other states instead of families here in the Commonwealth.
Shortly before the vote, Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong took to the floor to express how badly his district needed the support – last month, the unemployment rate in Martinsville hit 20.2 percent.
In response to Republican attacks on the federal stimulus package signed into law this week, Del. Ward Armstrong took to the floor yesterday to question the consistency of those speaking against the stimulus who nevertheless plan to take full advantage of its extra funding boost. “When it comes to economic stimulus,” Armstrong said, “I think that all the ideas that have come from the other side of the aisle would fill a thimble.”
House Republican Leader Morgan Griffith’s response?
“Clearly, it would be foolish when the check arrives to say ‘No thank you, give my money to California, they’re bankrupt and we’re not.’ That would be foolish.”
Last month, the House Republican majority made short work of a number of initiatives aimed at easing voter access to the polls – for example, allowing early in-person voting and expanding absentee voting. They were swiftly killed (along with several redistricting reform bills) in a predawn subcommittee meeting that fell on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.
Today, the House GOP killed Senate versions of the same legislation. Sen. Janet Howell’s SB810 would have allowed registered voters to vote absentee for any reason, Sen. Louise Lucas’ SB819 would have allowed early, in-person voting beginning two weeks before Election Day, and Sen. John Miller’s SB1010 would have allowed registered voters over the age of 65 to vote absentee.
Sen. George Barker’s SB1230 would have provided for a court-ordered extension of polling hours in emergency situations.
Finally, Sen. Creigh Deeds’ SB926 would have established a Bipartisan Redistricting Commission.
While most passed the Senate by sizable margins (Sen. Deeds’ redistricting bill passed unanimously), all were killed this morning on party-line votes, with Republicans John Cosgrove, Chris Jones, Steve Landes and Jeff Frederick voting against Democrats Rosalyn Dance and David Englin.
Today marks the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the “Great Emancipator” and first Republican president of the United States. Oddly, Republican Party of Virginia chairman Jeff Frederick chose to commemorate the occasion by launching a random attack on Charles Darwin.
The motion to adjourn in President Lincoln’s honor was instead made by Democratic Delegate Jennifer McClellan, who noted that Lincoln gave his life so our nation “shall have a new birth of freedom.”
Incidentally, House Republicans made international news two years ago by defeating legislation to help with Lincoln bicentennial celebrations.
House Republicans in a General Laws subcommittee last night killed Del. Adam Ebbin’s HB2385, which would prohibit discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation. A majority of the House Democratic Caucus co-patroned the bill, while GOP Del. Todd Gilbert argued that the measure “may not be in the best interest of our society.”
Video of the vote is below:
Republicans killed an identical bill from Del. Ebbin last year.
As the nation observed the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, Del. Ken Melvin of Portsmouth spoke about his own journey in the House – and the journey our new president begins tomorrow.
The 46th House District faced its third day without a representative today, as the House Republican majority again denied a seat to Charniele Herring, certified winner of Tuesday’s special election. Shortly after the vote, House Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong filed a request for an official opinion from Attorney General Bob McDonnell on the matter.