Connect with us

Politics

Republicans on House Appropriations Subcommittee accused of anti-LGBTQ bigotry

Ranking Member Quigley talks to the Blade ahead of markup

Published

on

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), ranking member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (Photo credit: Office of Rep. Quigley)

Republican members of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) filed en bloc amendment on Tuesday striking three Community Project Funding requests from a spending package containing a total of 2,680.

Speaking to the Washington Blade minutes before markup was set to resume, the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), pledged to file an amendment restoring funding for the three projects: LGBTQ Secure Housing Inc., Gay Community Center of Philadelphia, and The LGBT Center of Greater Reading.

“The only three they pulled out were projects for the LGBTQ community,” Quigley said. “So, you know, it’s not hard to draw conclusions with that,” in fact, “it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.”

Quigley added, “You’ve gotta ask yourself, how did they find these three?”

Quigley added, “one could speculate — reasonably — that somebody in leadership said, ‘we have members that won’t vote for the base bill if it has projects for the gay community.'”

Having served on the Appropriations Committee for the better part of a decade, Quigley told the Blade he has “never seen anything like” Tuesday’s move by his Republican colleagues.

“If you’re going to do this sort of thing, which I would argue is is prejudiced,” the congressman asked, “why would you do it so publicly?”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) drew attention to two additional Community Project Fundings that would ultimately go to benefit LGBTQ individuals—however those are not being targeted for removal.

If instead of these three projects, Republicans had struck funding from “the NAACP or the Urban League, [they] would — rightfully so — be called racist bigots,” U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a member of the Appropriations Committee and chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, told colleagues during the first THUD markup on Tuesday.

“When you do it to the LGBT community, it’s another frickin’ day in Congress,” he said, adding, “This is below the dignity of this Committee.”

The congressman recalled instances in which he had been the victim of homophobic hate, such as when “I wasn’t out yet [and had] left a gay bar and two people followed me and beat me with a baseball bat till I was bloodied and unconscious and called me a ‘faggot.'”

“This is what you guys do by introducing amendments like this,” Pocan said.

The congressman said U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) should not vote for the bill unless he is looking for a path to early retirement, given his new Congressional district includes the famously gay city of Palm Springs.

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), ranking member of the U.S. House Budget Committee, issued a statement objecting to the Republicans’ revocation of funding for one of the projects he had earmarked.

“As a member of Congress, I’m able to designate up to 15 worthy recipients in my district of federal funding,” he said. “One of those is the historic William Way LGBTQ Center in Center City, Philadelphia.”

“Well, just today with no notice, the Republican majority filed an amendment that out of over 3,800 projects from members of Congress, 3,800 that have been approved, they are now voting to strip funding from the only three projects that have LGBTQ in the organization’s name,” Boyle said.

“This is outrageous,” the congressman said. “This is one of the most obvious and disgusting examples of bigotry that I have seen in my career and in my life.”

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Congress

Laphonza Butler sworn in as California’s newest senator

Former vice president advisor will succeed Dianne Feinstein

Published

on

U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), left, with her wife, Neneki Lee, at the U.S. Senate on Oct. 3, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday swore in Democrat Laphonza Butler as California’s newest U.S. senator during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

The first Black lesbian to serve in the Senate, Butler was president of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to electing women to public office, EMILY’s List, and previously was a senior advisor to the vice president during her 2020 bid for the Oval Office.

Harris, the country’s first woman vice president as well as the first Black and South Asian person to serve in that role, also made history with her tenure as attorney general and then senator for California.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Butler to fill the vacancy caused by the death, on Friday, of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had represented the state in the upper chamber since 1992.

Per the terms of her appointment, Butler will be eligible to run for the seat during next year’s elections, in which case she would face competition from three high profile Democrats now representing California in the House: U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff.

Newsom in 2021 pledged that he would appoint a Black woman to Feinstein’s seat. Lee, so far the only Black woman among the declared candidates, congratulated Butler in a statement in which the congresswoman said she is “singularly focused on winning” her Senate campaign.

California “deserves an experienced senator who will deliver on progressive priorities,” she said. “That’s exactly what I’m running to do.”

Consistent with her work in progressive politics, Butler was previously a labor leader with Service Employees International Union, SEIU, the powerful union where her wife, Neneki Lee, serves as director of the Public Services division.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson and Claire Lucas and Judy Dlugacz were among those who attended the swearing in alongside Butler’s wife.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) escorted Butler into the chamber. Lee and Schiff were among those who attended the ceremony.

“It’s a good day,” Lucas told the Washington Blade as she left the chamber.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story.

Continue Reading

Politics

Laphonza Butler appointed as California’s first openly LGBTQ U.S. senator

Dianne Feinstein died in D.C. on Sept. 28

Published

on

EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler speaking at EMILYs List's annual We Are EMILY National Gala, May 16, 2023. (Photo Credit: EMILY’s List/Facebook)

On Sunday evening, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he is appointing Black openly lesbian EMILY’s List President, Laphonza Butler, to the vacant seat of the late U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein who died Friday at age 90.

Butler’s wife is Neneki Lee, the D.C.-based director for labor union SEIU’s Public Services Division.

News of Butler’s selection by Newsom was first reported by Politico’s California Bureau Chief Christopher Cadelago. A source knowledgeable on the governor’s team told Politico there were no preconditions about whether she could run in 2024.

Newsom’s office confirmed that he has picked Butler, a Democratic strategist who rose to prominence in the labor movement, to fill Feinstein’s seat.

In an emailed statement, Newsom said:

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the U.S. Senate. As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.” 

Equality California tweeted a statement praising Newsom’s action:

Democrat Alex Padilla, now serving as California’s senior U.S. senator, released the following statement after Newsom appointed Butler to fill the vacancy created by the late Senator Feinstein: 

“Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights, and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics. I’m honored to welcome her to the United States Senate.

“Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California.” 

Butler is a longtime leader in Democratic politics in California and beyond. She has been involved in campaign strategy, and the labor movement for two decades, and according to her official biography she has dedicated her life to empowering women and supporting them in finding their voice, and using it to make meaningful change.

Newsom’s office noted in its statement:

“Butler, a longtime senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, labor leader and advocate for women and working people, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She will also be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.”

Prior to joining EMILYs List, Butler served as Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb. She also was a partner at SCRB Strategies, a political consulting firm where she was a strategist for candidates running up and down the ballot and a senior advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.

With nearly 20 years in the labor movement, Butler has served as the president of the biggest union in California, and the nation’s largest home care workers union, SEIU Local 2015. She was elected to this position at just 30 years old, one of the youngest to take on this role. As president, Butler was the leading voice, strategist, and architect of efforts to address pay inequity for women in California and a top advocate for raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour — the first state in the nation to do so, benefiting millions of working women in low wage jobs. That effort also gave hundreds of thousands of home workers access to paid time off. She also served as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council.

Throughout her career, Butler has been highly regarded as a strategist working to elect Democratic women candidates in political offices across California and nationally. A long-time supporter of Kamala Harris in her California runs, Butler was a key leader in Vice President Harris’ presidential campaign. She served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California during the primary and general elections. Most recently, Butler was a campaign operative behind the campaign to make the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors all-women for the first time in its history with the election of Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

She has been a member of the University of California Board of Regents and a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Defense Fund and BLACK PAC.

Laphonza grew up in Magnolia, Miss., and attended one of the country’s premier HBCUs, Jackson State University. She lives in Maryland with her wife, Neneki, and together they have a daughter, Nylah.

EMILY’s List is an American political action committee that aims to help elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights to office. It was founded by Ellen Malcolm in 1985. The group’s name is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast.” Malcolm commented that “it makes the dough rise.”

Newsom appoints Laphonza Butler to the U.S. Senate:

Continue Reading

Congress

Shutdown averted with bipartisan bill over objections of far-right House caucus

45-day continuing resolution passed 335-91.

Published

on

U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) (Screen capture/PBS News)

The U.S. House on Saturday approved a 45-day continuing resolution that, should the Senate approve the stopgap measure, as expected, will avert a government shutdown.

In a stunning turn of events, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats backed the proposal, H.R. 5860 advanced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was passed with a vote of 335-91.

Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted against the continuing resolution which, in addition to funding U.S. government agencies through mid-November, will provide billions in disaster relief .

Screenshot/C-SPAN

Democrats agreed to the bill even though it did not contain U.S. aid to Ukraine. Still, the most conservative members of McCarthy’s caucus have warned they would replace their speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown.

In recent weeks, these members advanced far-right anti-LGBTQ amendments to spending packages that stood no chance of becoming law.

The Senate voted 88-9 to pass a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government at current levels through Nov. 17 and gives the Biden administration $16 billion it requested to assist victims of natural disasters.

“Bipartisanship, which has been the trademark of the Senate, has prevailed. And the American people can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

After the Senate voted late Saturday evening to pass the House stop-gap continuing resolution, the White House released the following statement from President Biden:

“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans. This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people.

But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis. For weeks, extreme House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.

While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

Biden is expected to sign the measure once it is delivered to the White House before the midnight deadline.

UPDATED:

On Saturday, September 30, 2023, the President signed into law:
 
H.R. 5860, which provides fiscal year appropriations to Federal agencies through November 17, 2023, for continuing projects of the Federal Government and extends several expiring authorities.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular