My colleague of twenty five years, Ted Kennedy, left an enormous imprint on the Senate and on our country. Today we quietly mark the 30th anniversary of one of his most visionary legislative accomplishments.
The Refugee Act of 1980 paved the way for what is now the most robust and effective refugee program in the world. Thirty years later, we can celebrate the almost three million refugees we have welcomed into our land and our lives.
Many fled unspeakable horror and persecution. All learned firsthand our country's generous spirit of welcome. The "lost boy" from southern Sudan whose village was destroyed in civil war. The young man unlucky enough to be born an ethnic Rohingya in Burma, despised by his own government and denied even the basic identity papers that connote official personhood. The mother of three whose husband was killed by insurgents in return for his service to American troops in Iraq. The American people have welcomed all of them -- and many more.
Last weekend our family had the privilege of joining colleagues from both political parties on a walk through the historic sites of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery and Selma, Alabama. We will never forget the experience. I served as co-leader of the 10th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage sponsored by the Faith & Politics Institute.
We arrived in Montgomery on Saturday afternoon and made our way to the home church of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sitting in the front pew at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, we heard from Dorothy Cotton about her years working with Dr. King. She spoke of the faith that sustained their work and the historic importance of music and singing to the movement.
We then made our way to the Civil Rights Memorial, where our kids were given the privilege of laying a wreath to honor those who had lost their lives in the struggle for equality, and into the nearby museum with its inspiring displays of history. But it was the personal stories of segregation, told by the people who lived it and peacefully fought against it, that were most moving to us. Hearing firsthand accounts of how African Americans in the South were systematically denied the right to vote, intimidated, beaten and even killed fighting for that right will never leave us.
How far we've come since last June when I first committed to you that I would do all I could to work toward repeal of the corrosive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Since then, I've worked hard to whip support for an amendment to
temporarily halt the enforcement of the policy; I secured the
commitment of Chairman Levin to hold the first Senate hearings on DADT,
the first of which, I'm proud to say, was held early last month; and
just last week, I was thrilled to stand with my colleagues as an
original co-sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010,
which will repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and prohibit
discrimination of servicemembers based on their sexual orientation.
We are now closer than we've ever been to repealing this unjust and
discriminatory measure that both hampers our national security and
violates the civil rights of some of our bravest Americans.
At a time when we're fighting multiple wars abroad, we need all of our best and brightest serving.
During the past year I've had conversations with thousands of people
from all parts of Colorado, and I've heard a common refrain: Washington
isn't working. Last week, the obstructionist actions of Republican
senator Jim Bunning left no doubt that the people of Colorado are right
-- Washington is broken, and it's getting worse.
The filibuster was originally intended to protect minority rights
and encourage meaningful debate on the Senate floor. Today, this
important rule is being abused at an unprecedented rate, and it's
grinding the business of the Senate to a standstill.
That's why I am introducing new legislation to reform the Senate's
rules -- to reform the filibuster in a responsible, practical way. My
bill protects minority rights, while allowing the Senate to more
efficiently conduct the people's business and put an end to pointless
I said it on Wednesday, and I'll say it again: the Republicans really are just a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.
Thursday's summit proved it: They want to destroy Medicare, shovel money to insurance companies, and screw over the American people.
First we let the Gang of Six make the rules, then we let Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman have their turn. It got us nothing!
We need to let the majority make the rules. The public option passed in the House and it's time to force a vote in the Senate.
February 23, 2010, 06:38 pm
By Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.)
Contrary to some reports, health care is not dead.
The Democratic loss in Massachusetts did not change the fact that
health care inflation is dangerously sandbagging our economy, and it
didn't change the fact that tens of millions of Americans remain
Right after the Massachusetts election, I had a chance to speak to
the House Democratic Congressional Caucus. Members were anxious,
frustrated, and generally pessimistic about the loss and what it meant
for all of our major policy plans, especially for health care reform.