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Potential job seekers speak with employers at a job fair in New York, New York, November 20, 2013..

Jobless aid bill shifts from Senate to House

04/08/14 08:00AM

It wasn't easy, it took nearly four months of negotiations, and the bill failed several attempts at passage, but the Senate finally approved an extension of federal unemployment benefits late yesterday afternoon.
The Senate voted 59-38 to pass a five-month extension that would retroactively restore federal benefits to an estimated 2.3 million Americans who are long-term unemployed. The vote was a victory for Sens. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, who've spent more than three months trying to persuade a small group of GOP senators to break with their party to support an extension.
 
Democrats retooled the bill to satisfy Senate Republicans, who demanded that the benefits be paid for. The $10 billion cost is offset by tweaks to federal pension payments and higher customs fees. The bill also prohibits millionaires from receiving benefits
The final roll call is online here. Note that while the vast majority of Senate Republicans opposed the bipartisan compromise, the bill picked up six GOP votes en route to passage. The measure enjoyed unanimous Democratic support.
 
President Obama is eager to sign the bill and has lobbied repeatedly for its passage, but the legislation will first go to the Republican-led House, where it's odds are, well, not good.
 
But before we simply assume the bill has no chance at all, it's worth appreciating the nuances, because it's still possible we'll see some action on this.

Kissing Congressman and other headlines

04/08/14 07:52AM

Army releases detailed account of Fort Hood shooting rampage. (NY Times) Congressman who campaigned on family values apologizes after video surfaces of him kissing a woman who is not his wife. (The Hill) Today is the deadline for TX lawmakers to turn over emails in voter ID lawsuit. (Huffington Post) House Panel set to refer ex-IRS official Lois Lerner's case to the Justice Department. (WSJ) GOP solution to the 'war on women': women. (Politico) read more

Republicans lose Obamacare as campaign prop

Republicans lose Obamacare as campaign prop

04/07/14 11:05PM

Rachel Maddow reviews the history of Scott Brown as the first Republican candidate to run after Obamacare and how that issue has disappeared as a campaign issue for Republicans now that Obamacare has successfully reached enrolment targets. watch

GOP put too many eggs in Obamacare basket

GOP put too many eggs in Obamacare basket

04/07/14 11:03PM

Frank Rich, writer-at-large for New York Magazine, talks with Rachel Maddow about the lack of available messages or accomplishments for Republicans to run on now that their inveighing against Obamacare has turned out to be a poor investment as a... watch

Momentum builds in US probe of NJ scandal

Momentum builds in US probe of NJ scandal

04/07/14 10:54PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the latest developments in the investigation into the New Jersey bridge traffic scandal, including a separate investigation into former Port Authority chairman David Samson by the U.S. Attorney public corruption unit. watch

Clues suggest US attorney progress in NJ case

Clues suggest US attorney progress in NJ case

04/07/14 10:51PM

Lisa Brennan, contributor to Main Justice, talks with Rachel Maddow about what can be extrapolated from newly learned details in the New Jersey bridge traffic scandal, like David Wildstein reportedly meeting with the U.S. attorney. watch

No wasted time

No wasted time

04/07/14 08:08PM

Bill Wolff, executive producer for The Rachel Maddow Show, previews Monday night's show, with coverage of stories ranging from fossils to fossil fuels. watch

This photo taken March 22, 2013, shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington.

Issa accused of 'cherry-picking evidence' and 'disregarding documents'

04/07/14 04:45PM

As recently as two weeks ago, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) seemed to be annoying just about everyone with his increasingly pointless investigation into the IRS "scandal." Democrats were publicly frustrated with Issa's partisan antics and belligerent witch hunt, while Republicans were quietly complaining about Issa's incompetence.
 
If the California Republican thought he'd get things back on track with a new report, he's mistaken.
The IRS singled out conservative Tea Party groups for scrutiny, according to a new report released Monday by Rep. Darrell Issa and Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.
 
The report argues Democrats are pushing a "myth" when they say the IRS closely examined groups of all political stripes.
The Republican report is available in its entirety here. Note that it says it's "flat out wrong" to claim progressive groups received similar treatment from the IRS. "[T]here is simply no evidence," the document states, "that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization's political views."
 
Soon after, I heard from Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), whom Issa refused to let speak at a recent hearing on the matter, who said in a statement, "Chairman Issa has in his possession -- right now -- IRS documents that show definitively that both progressive and conservative groups were highlighted for scrutiny. Unfortunately, the Chairman insists on cherry-picking evidence and simply disregarding documents that directly contradict his partisan narrative, instead promoting misleading claims that hurt his own credibility and that of the Committee."
 
This seems like a knowable thing, doesn't it? There's nothing subjective about the underlying question: Republicans on the committee believe there is no evidence progressive and conservative groups were subjected to the same scrutiny, while Democrats on the committee believe there's all kinds of evidence progressive and conservative groups were subjected to the same scrutiny. So who's right?
 
I'll give you a hint: it's not Issa.
New Jersey Governor Christie speaks to local residents of Belmar, New Jersey and other shore towns in Monmouth County during a Town Hall meeting to discuss federal funds for recovery from hurricane Sandy, in Belmar

Christie's simmering scandals grow more serious in NJ

04/07/14 03:51PM

Two weeks ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) handpicked legal team issued a report -- it was more taxpayer-financed propaganda than legal analysis -- clearing their client of wrongdoing. As part of the public-relations push surrounding the stunt, Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked the governor, "So this report has just come out, it exonerates you completely. Do you feel exonerated?"
 
Christie responded, "Yes, I do. But I also always knew that this is where it would end."
 
Except, literally nothing about the governor's ongoing scandals has "ended." On the contrary, as Rachel noted on the show on Friday night, the probe is growing more serious, not less.
A federal grand jury has begun hearing testimony in the criminal investigation of the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal, and Gov. Chris Christie's chief spokesman is among those who have testified, his lawyer said Friday.
 
The grand jury action is considered a major development in the ongoing controversy that has enveloped the Christie administration for months. What began as a preliminary inquiry into whether federal laws might have been "implicated" has morphed into a deepening criminal probe to determine whether federal laws have actually been broken.
And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Since these revelations on Friday, the developments have grown even more alarming.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined by attorneys Paul D. Clement, far left, and Rick Esenberg, second from left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and th

A dejecting pattern of behavior in Wisconsin

04/07/14 12:58PM

Up until fairly recently, Wisconsin's Bill Kramer was the Republican Majority Leader in the state Assembly. As Rachel noted on the show on Friday, that changed when the state lawmaker was charged with two counts of felony second-degree sexual assault -- charges that cost Kramer his GOP leadership post
 
The charges were not, however, enough to compel Wisconsin lawmakers to throw Kramer out of the state Assembly all together. He's no longer the Republican Majority Leader, but he's still a voting member of the legislative body. Some in the party have called on Kramer to quit, but for now, he seems to be determined to stay in office, and his colleagues aren't prepared to force the issue, at least not yet.
 
Perhaps they'll be interested to know that the recent sexual-assault allegations are not the first time Kramer has been accused.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, his chief of staff and a Waukesha County GOP official were all told three years ago of allegations that a then-aide to the senator had been sexually assaulted by state Rep. Bill Kramer, but none of them took the matter to the police or Assembly leaders.
 
The woman told her supervisor in Johnson's office and a number of other people, but decided at the time to have her attorney send a letter to Kramer rather than go to the police, records show. Last month -- nearly three years after the alleged assault outside a Muskego bar -- the woman learned of Kramer's alleged mistreatment of other women and filed a complaint with Muskego police that has resulted in two felony charges of second-degree sexual assault.
According to the weekend report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a woman who worked for Ron Johnson was allegedly assaulted by Bill Kramer in 2011, who then quickly informed several people, including her supervisor in Johnson's office, Tony Blando, the senator's chief of staff, who informed the senator himself.
 
But they didn't tell anyone and remained silent when Republican state lawmakers elevated Kramer to the Majority Leader's office. The aide in the 2011 incident only came forward after the 2014 allegations against Kramer came to public light.
 
So why didn't the senator say something at the time? Initially, Johnson and his office didn't want to comment, but after the Journal Sentinel was published online, the senator's office changed its mind.

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