The results from yesterday’s midterm elections are in, and across the country, Democrats did not fare well. Though some of the Congressional races were close, Republicans managed to win enough seats to take full control of the Senate, capturing a majority with wins in several highly contested states. Republicans also dominated gubernatorial races with wins in states including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland Wisconsin, Kansas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine, Georgia and Texas, where Sen. Wendy Davis—who rose to national prominence following a 13-hour filibuster to prevent anti-abortion legislation—was defeated. Pennsylvania was an exception to the trend, where Democrat Tom Wolf beat out incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.
Ballots across the country also contained some notable measures for local voters to decide. In Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska, voters approved measures to legalize the use of marijuana. In Florida though, a pro-medical marijuana initiative did not get the votes it needed to become a constitutional amendment. Anti-abortion measures in Colorado and North Dakota—focusing on the personhood of the unborn—both failed to pass. Measures linked to raising the state minimum wage passed in Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alaska and Illinois ... Discuss
For the first time in history, more than half of Congress—you know, that collection of elected officials whose job it is to represent the interests of everyday Americans—is made up of millionaires. According to new findings from the Center for Responsive Politics, 268 of 534 of those currently serving in Congress are millionaires at a time when the median household income in the country they create legislation for is about $53,000 a year. And, when they aren’t shutdown because of internal squabbles, these millionaire public “servants” work an average of only three days a week. As the executive director of the Center noted, the stats reflect a reality of our modern democratic system. “It's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with" ... Discuss
This video, from the quirky educational YouTube channel C.G.P. Grey, attempts to answer the surprisingly complicated question, “How many countries are there?” By trying to get to the bottom of a seemingly simple inquiry, in just five minutes, the clip uncovers a series of global diplomatic issues that make it basically impossible to know the actual answer … Discuss
Narrowly avoiding the deadline to increase the debt ceiling, last night lawmakers agreed to end the government shutdown. Had the shutdown stretched into a 17th day (with Congress not approving a debt ceiling increase), the U.S. government would soon not have the ability to pay for commitments like Social Security and veterans' benefits. Because of last night’s deal, hundreds of thousands of federal employees can now return to work and will start receiving paychecks. So, what did the shutdown accomplish? Aside from costing the American economy an estimated $24 billion, essentially, nothing. The Affordable Care Act, which was originally a point of contention, was pretty much unchanged. The only notable tweak to the new insurance program is that the government must confirm that who people receive federal health care subsidies are eligible. Even some of the lawmakers who originally orchestrated the shutdown strategy conceded that it was basically a failure. House Speaker John Boehner told a radio station in his home state, "We fought the good fight; we just didn't win." Before your faith in the legislative process is restored too greatly, we are reminded that lawmakers will once again have to approve government funding in January, meaning we could be heading for the same sort of stand-off again in just a few months … Discuss
The Senate has passed an immigration reform bill that would give 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and allocate $30 billion for new border security measures. The new bill even managed to garner some bi-partisan support, with 14 Republicans voting to pass the measure on a 68-32 tally. President Obama said that the Senate vote helps in "bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all." The new immigration reform legislation could still fall in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has said that he doesn’t even plan to bring the bill to the floor unless it receives support from a majority of Republicans … Discuss