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Trump Picks Anti-Gay Georgia Congressman as Secretary of Health and Human Services

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Nomination Poses Significant Threat to Women and LGBT People

Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia is Donald Trump’s nominee to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. The six-term congressman is the chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee and a staunch opponent of Obamacare. As the head of HHS he is expected to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare, with the help and support of Speaker Paul Ryan, who shares those goals. At minimum, 20 million people are at risk of losing their health insurance, millions more at risk of losing Medicare.

Price will oversee nearly 80,000 employees and be responsible for policy across a large number of important institutions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Georgia Republican is an anti-gay extremist who holds views dangerous to the LGBT community and to women. 

Rep. Price has supported the false claim that “promoting” the “homosexual agenda” has a “tremendous medical health impact and economic impact.” He also has said that LGBT equality is “a huge cost-driver to state pensions and other things, many of these areas would significantly alter state balance sheets.”

When the Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell ruling, Price issued a statement calling it “not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.”

Last year Price joined other Georgia Congressmen in signing a letter of support for fired Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who was terminated after not obtaining permission to use his official capacity to promote a book he wrote that disparages LGBT people under the cloak of religion. The letter falsely described both Cochran’s actions and the reason for his termination. 

Price, as On The Issues details, voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted to constitutionally define marriage as one-man-one-woman and to amend the Constitution to define traditional marriage. He’s earned a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign and a 17% rating from the NAACP.

Rep. Price, 62, opposes a woman’s right to choose, he opposes stem cell research, and supports banning all federal funding of Planned Parenthood. He also supports granting embryos personhood status and thus equal protection under 14th Amendment.

Price, an orthopedic physician, is a former chair of the House Republican Study Committee, which at the time was the most conservative caucus in Congress.

Here’s Rep. Price in 2010 sharing his vision at the conservative conference CPAC:

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

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Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.

Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.

Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.

Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.

Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.

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'ARE YOU KIDDING?!'

Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human

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Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.

“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.

The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.

The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.

Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.

Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.

In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”

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'A WAR FOR AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY'

Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat

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When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.

However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.

“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.

To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.

The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.

Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.

Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.

Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.

While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.

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