Last week, there was a bit of a stir surrounding Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) upbraiding a House staffer riding with her in a "members only" elevator. Foxx reportedly said to the staffer, "This is a 'members-only' elevator; can you read?" before demanding the aide exit at the next floor.
For the record, the signs at the elevators say they are reserved for members of Congress "during votes." Foxx, according to The Hill report, didn't care.
One tipster recalls it was either the first or second week of his congressional internship in October of last year when he was running an errand to a committee room, and still had a "healthy fear of the members-only elevator."
But after seeing a parcel deliveryman hop on one of the lifts in the Longworth House Office Building, our source stepped on, too. The deliveryman got off on the next floor, and that's when Foxx got on.
Our insider says the congresswoman asked if he had seen the "members-only" sign outside the elevator before demanding his name and the office he worked for.
The aide added, "She walked up to a [Capitol] police officer and told on me for riding on her elevator, and he was as dumbfounded as I was."
Then another House staffer said he, too, was reprimanded by Foxx in the members-only elevator, in which she asked whether he could read and demanded his congressional ID.
Raise your hand if you think Virginia Foxx cares just a little too much about elevators.
From the Hill today, an awesome encounter with North Carolina Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, in the elevator reserved for electeds:
Foxx said to the staffer, “This is a ‘members-only’ elevator; can you read?” She then demanded the staffer’s name before the elevator stopped after going just one more floor up. “Get out here,” Foxx supposedly commanded.
Before our insider and the berated staffer exited, the politician exclaimed, “What does this sign say? It says, ‘Members of Congress only.’ ”
But that wasn’t it. The innocent staffer attempted to point out that the sign next to it stated, “during votes,” which is when, our tipster says, Foxx started yelling, “Members only!” as she pointed to signs.
For those who can't watch or listen to clips online, here's the part of Foxx's comments that stood out:
"I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money.... I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there's no reason for that. We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that."
There are a few relevant angles to comments like Foxx's. For one thing, House Republicans made Foxx the chair of the House panel on higher education, which make her comments that much more disconcerting. For another, she went to a state school four decades ago, when tuition was far more affordable, and students and their families didn't need to take out exorbitant loans.
There's also the matter of Foxx's party's presumptive presidential nominee, who put himself through school thanks to money from family stock sales, and who now wants to scrap college aid for millions of American students, on purpose, for ideological reasons.
But what also stood out for me is Foxx's choice of words: she lacks "tolerance" for families burdened by massive debts, because they had the nerve to want more education.
It's not just that conservative Republicans are indifferent to those who are struggling; the larger truth appears to be that these GOP policymakers seem to have disdain for these Americans, even during difficult economic times.
This goes well beyond education aid.
We also learned this week, for example, that House Republicans are scrambling to pay for additional Pentagon spending that the Pentagon says it doesn't want. How does the GOP intend to finance the additional spending? By cutting food stamps.
From food stamps to child tax credits and Social Service block grants, House Republicans began rolling out a new wave of domestic budget cuts Monday but less for debt reduction -- and more to sustain future Pentagon spending without relying on new taxes. [...]
At one level, the pro-Pentagon, anti-tax stance fits traditional Republican doctrine. And the whole goal is to come up with enough savings to forestall automatic spending cuts that will fall most heavily on the Defense Department in January.
But what's also driving the latest cuts is a newer narrative, voiced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), that the social safety net is at risk of becoming a "hammock."
Got that? Republicans want to spend money on defense that the Defense Department doesn't want, and it wants to pay for the spending by slashing aid to struggling families -- because they have it way too easy right now.
Say hello to The Sympathy Gap.
It's also why Republican policymakers have opposed extended unemployment aid -- the problem in 2012, the GOP argues, is that life has just become too comfortable for those Americans who just barely getting by. Congress should make conditions considerably more difficult for them, while giving tax breaks (and protecting tax loopholes) for millionaires.
It may seem like a ridiculous message for a major political party to push in the wake of the most devastating economic disaster since the Great Depression, but Republicans apparently assume most low-income voters won't show up on Election Day anyway, and those voters who do participate can be scared by talk about "socialism."
Debates over abortion rights in this country often include abstract talk about the mother's life, whether the people trying to take away a woman's constitutional right to choose would make an exception to spare that same woman's well-being.
Yesterday, as the House was on its way to passing another bill that restricts access to abortion, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-California) made that abstract talk very personal and very real:
Now, let me tell you something. My story is pretty well-known now. But I was pregnant. I was miscarrying. I was bleeding.
If I had to go from one hospital to the next, trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today?
And what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are attempting to do is misogynist. It is absolutely misogynist. The time has come for us to stop taking up this issue over and over again this year and do something that the American people really care about.
They want jobs. They want to be able to hold on to their homes. They want some mortgage relief.
And what do we do? We stand here on the floor and create yet another opportunity for women to be cast in shackles.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) explained today why House Republicans' Protect Life Act is not misogynist:
And for my colleagues across the aisle who say this is a misogynist bill, nobody has ever fought more for the rights of women than I have. But 50 percent of the unborn babies that are being aborted are females, so the misogyny comes for those who promote the killing of unborn babies. That's where the misogyny comes in, Madam Speaker.
The House plans to vote on the bill today. It would block women using a health reform subsidy from buying coverage for abortion.
The House late Tuesday was thrown off its schedule and is now expected to complete work on a healthcare bill Wednesday. The bill, H.R. 1216, would scale back federal funding for graduate medical student education. One amendment to the bill, from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), would ensure remaining funds are not used for abortion training. Debate on that amendment turned into a nearly two-hour affair, culminating in a Democratic objection to Republican attempts to move the debate along. That delay prompted Republicans to hold a vote on the two amendments it had fully debated, and delay further debate until later Tuesday evening.
Nebraska lawmakers closed the door Monday on a practice that has made drug-induced abortions more easily available in Iowa. Senators voted 38-9 to pass a bill blocking the use of telemedicine for such abortions. They also advanced a separate bill that would require parental consent for a teenage girl to get abortions.
A House committee has approved legislation to outlaw abortion in Louisiana, despite concerns that the bill would knock the state out of compliance with federal law and risk the loss of federal funding for Medicaid. Abortion opponents at the hearing Tuesday applauded the committee's decision to send the bill to the House floor, where it will force lawmakers during an election year to take a stance on abortion. Republican John LaBruzzo, of Metairie, told lawmakers he hopes his bill will prompt lawsuits from abortion-rights groups, suits that could undermine the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling establishing a women's right to an abortion. The court ruled in Roe v. Wade that states cannot outlaw abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, but LaBruzzo's law would do just that. Louisiana already has a crime of feticide, but the bill would repeal the exception for consensual abortion, in direct contrast to the Supreme Court's ruling.
The new Republican-controlled Alabama Senate rushed through a package of bills Tuesday designed to make it tougher to get an abortion in the state and to define that life begins with fertilization and implantation in the womb. The lopsided votes on the five bills were a dramatic departure from the old Democrat-controlled Senate, when abortion bills usually died in committee. The votes came after Republicans cut off stalling tactics by some Democrats. "Today was historic," Republican Sen. Phil Williams of Rainbow City said.
A Catholic chapel focused on prayers to end abortion will open in an office building neighboring North Dakota's only abortion clinic. The Catholic Diocese of Fargo will open the Visitation Chapel at 502 1st Ave. N. on June 1. The chapel will offer Mass at 8 a.m. Wednesdays, followed by Eucharistic adoration and recited prayers until 3:45 p.m. It will be locked the rest of the week. The Red River Women's Clinic is at 512 1st Ave. N., and sees patients on Wednesdays.