Here’s your weekly quick look at few developing stories in the political arena:
- President Obama on Monday spoke at the White House Summit on Working Families, where he talked about his own family’s struggles to balance work and family and called on Congress to take action to help Americans find an easier balance between the two. President Obama specifically mentioned expanding flexibility in the workplace and increasing paid parental leave, noting that the United States is the only developed country to not offer paid maternity leave. President Obama said, “When a new baby arrives or an aging parent gets sick, workers have to make painful decisions about whether they can afford to be there when their families need them the most. Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth. Now, that’s a pretty low bar.” The President also asked for the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make accommodations for pregnant workers to be able to keep working while pregnant and prevent them from having to take unpaid leave.
- Republican businessman Curt Clawson, on Tuesday, won Florida’s special general election to replace Rep. Trey Radel. Florida’s 19th district hasn’t had representation since January, when Radel stepped down after pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession. Clawson said, “I got into this race because I felt like we needed more outsiders in Congress.” Clawson, 54 years old & a retired millionaire and former Purdue University basketball player, will have to vie for reelection in November as this election was simply to serve out the rest of Radel’s term.
- Speaker of the House John Boehner on Wednesday told reporters that he plans to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive action. Boehner said, “You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws.” Boehner announced later that day that in July he would bring a bill to the House floor authorizing a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to file the lawsuit against the President. Democrats and the White House have responded by saying Republicans have done nothing in Congress but say no, and tried to block everything else.
- In a very rare and strong bipartisan vote, the Senate this week overwhelming approved a rewrite of federal workforce training programs that are designed to improve job skills and drive down the unemployment rate. Republican Senator from Georgia Johnny Isakson, who helped negotiate the bill said, “This bill deals with the skills deficit in America and is going to match some of those unemployed with some of those jobs.” The legislation which passed 95-3, is now headed to the House where there is cautious optimism that it will pass there and become law.
- And finally, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down three of President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board on the grounds that they were unconstitutional. The court ruled 9-0 that Obama’s appointments in were unconstitutional because the Senate was not truly in recess when he made them. In Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion he said, “Because the Senate was in session during its pro forma sessions, the president made the recess appointments before us during a break too short to count as recess. For that reason, the appointments are invalid.” This ruling deals a bit of the blow to the powers of any President going forward. Obama said the Senate, for all intents and purposes, was in recess, and under the Constitution, presidents can fill vacancies during recesses for up to two years without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court’s ruling also means that hundreds of decisions made by the labor board while dominated by Obama’s recess appointees could be called into question and those cases may need to be revisited.