Restore Our Republic, which Politico calls a "hard-core PAC for hard-right Republicans," aims to raise money to support fiscal and social conservatives in races for the U.S. House of Representatives, though it hasn't announced formal support of any candidates yet.
Landry, who expressed his disgust with Washington on his way out the door (some of his fellow legislators say the feeling was entirely mutual), told the media his first priority upon returning to Acadiana was getting back to duck hunting. That didn't stop speculation that Landry might stand against Sen. Mary Landrieu in the 2014 election, a notion that Landry himself has never quite discouraged. But Politico speculates the establishment of the SuperPAC makes a Landry candidacy less likely:
Last month, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu addressed her position on same sex marriage as the U.S Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. U.S. Senate Democrats had only a handful of marriage equality opponents — Landrieu among them. Today, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp came forward in support.
Donnelly wrote the following on Facebook: "With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all."
"After speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships," Heitkamp wrote. "The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring."
Landrieu has not outright opposed the concept — she even has acknowledged the "progression" of public opinion and its influence. Last month, Landrieu told Buzzfeed that she feels "very strongly that people should be allowed to love who they love," but added, "unfortunately my state has a very strong ban against gay marriage constitutionally."
When asked if they have a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things, voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34-37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen (32-57), and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress.
The good news for Congress: America's august legislative body is more popular than telemarketers, North Korea or gonorrhea. So there's that. But overall:
Congress’s overall favorability rating stands at just 9% favorable and 85% unfavorable. Women (13-81) view Congress slightly more favorably than men (6-89), as do Democrats (13-82) than Republicans (9-87), perhaps reflecting Democrats’ higher level of satisfaction with the recent fiscal cliff deal.
Get the full details here.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was named the Humane Senator of the Year for his leadership on securing needed funding to strengthen USDA enforcement of key animal welfare laws, as well as on bills to require licensing and inspections of puppy mills selling directly to the public via the Internet or other means (the PUPS Act, S. 707) and to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in nonhuman primates for the pet trade (the Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1324). Sen. Vitter helped get a bipartisan group of 34 Sens. to join in seeking funding for USDA to improve its oversight of puppy mills, laboratories, zoos, circuses and other regulated facilities; rein in the illegal “soring” of show horses (where trainers inflict severe pain on the animals’ legs and hooves to make it hurt them to step down, so they will exaggerate their high-stepping gait and win prizes); strengthen enforcement of the humane slaughter law; prevent illegal animal fighting; ease a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas and USDA positions through student loan repayment; and help address the needs of animals in disasters. Sen. Vitter also has been a champion over the years on legislation to require accurate labeling of fur apparel regardless of dollar value, to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting, to ban the creation and distribution of obscene animal torture (“crush”) videos, and to strengthen the law against shark finning (cutting the fins off and throwing the rest of the living animals back in the water).
Vitter announced the news himself on his Twitter feed, noting "My fmly adopted rescue dog-Elle-in '09."
Last month, the Humane Society named Sen. Mary Landrieu its "Humane Horsewoman of the Year":
because of her tireless efforts to introduce and gain support for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176/H.R. 2966) in the U.S. Senate. We also recognized her successful efforts as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to help secure a 40 percent increase in funds for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to crack down on criminal soring of Tennessee walking horses in show competitions."
Catholic Bishops, including New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, say a federal ruling that will require religious-affiliated employers — hospitals and colleges but not places of worship — to provide employee insurance that includes contraception is “an unprecedented attack on our religious liberty, which is a founding principle of our nation.” (Interestingly, here in New Orleans, the Catholic Loyola University now offers contraceptive coverage in its employee health insurance plan, according to the benefits handbook posted on its human resources web page.)
Their parishioners, however, feel differently, at least according to survey results released today by the Public Religion Research Institute. 55 percent of total respondents — and 58 percent of Catholic respondents — told PRRI they believed that employers should provide contraception coverage. When it comes to religiously affiliated hospitals and schools, only 49 percent of total respondents felt the same way. Among Catholics, however, 52 percent again said they felt those institutions should be required to cover birth control as part of their employee insurance.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (a Catholic) has signed on as a cosponsor of a bill, filed by (Catholic) Florida Republican Marco Rubio, that would extend conscience based exemptions to the requirement to any employer, not just religious institutions. Vitter didn't respond to Gambit's request for comment on the issue.
But here's what (Catholic) Sen. Mary Landrieu had to say:
“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 87 percent of Louisiana women of all faiths have used preventive birth control methods — including preventive birth control medication — at some point in their child-bearing years. It is important that these women continue to have access to affordable, preventive birth control under a doctor’s supervision. Equally important, I am sensitive to the position and beliefs of the Catholic Church on this issue. I am taking this issue under advisement, and will be open to views from a wide variety of organizations and individuals.”
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