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Senate vote on same-sex benefits 'within weeks'

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The Senate could vote on a bill extending fringe benefits to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees "within weeks" and well before July 4, according to aides to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The Nutmeg State senator is lead sponsor of the measure, which would cost an estimated $310 million through 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

That's a notable, but not terribly hefty price tag by Washington standards, and Lieberman is fine with the anticipated cost.

“This legislation would cost about two-hundredths of a percent of the federal government’s overall costs for the civilian workforce," Lieberman said Tuesday. "That is a very small price to pay for the improvements we would see in recruitment, retention, and morale. OPM has committed to provide an offset for the legislation before it is enacted, making it that much more reasonable.”

Indeed those offsets -- first requested by Lieberman and Senate Republicans in December -- aren't ready yet and won't be until Lieberman is ready to introduce the bill to the full Senate, according to an OPM spokesman.

Lieberman's bill may win some Republican votes, but a House version passed last year with no GOP support. The House bill also covers eligible federal retirees, giving it a heftier price tag that the GOP considers unacceptable.

"At a time when unemployment is at 9.9 percent, it’s absurd that Democrats would push a costly new benefit for federal employees when so many Americans in the private sector are out of work," said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which first approved the benefits bill. "This legislation is a good example of how this Congress and administration have neglected efforts to rein-in spending and create jobs in favor of an agenda to satisfy their political base."

Thoughts? The comments section awaits you.

Question of the Week: In an effort to reform the federal hiring process, the Obama administration is moving away from essays for applicants and to resumes. It also wants to significantly cut the time it takes to get a government job. Will this improve the quality of the federal workforce? E-mail your answer to federaleye@washingtonpost.com and include your full name, hometown and employer. We may use your answer in Friday's Washington Post.

Cabinet and Staff News: White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Tuesday night that the naturalization process is being looked at to see if there can be improvements. The rules for working as a waiter at a White House State Dinner. White House deputy chief technology office reprimanded for using Gmail instead of government e-mail. Beau Biden is out of the hospital.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Kabul bomb attack on NATO convoy kills 5 U.S. troops: The Islamist Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the blast, which it said was carried out by a suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with 1,650 pounds of explosives.

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT:
Va. Tech failed on campus security: The school disputes the department's finding that it violated the Clery Act's requirement of a “timely warning” to the campus when crimes or threats are reported.

Officials find evidence of fraud at Head Start centers: The Government Accountability Office told Congress on that investigators posed as fictitious families to test whether Head Start centers in six states and the District followed federal rules. In eight of 15 cases, staff at the centers fraudulently misrepresented important financial information from applicants.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
Interior chief says department shares responsibility for cleanup: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Minerals Management Service shares the responsibility for not ensuring the safety of a BP-run deepwater drilling rig.

SECRET SERVICE:
Secret Service probes Ala. teacher geometry lesson: School officials said he used an hypothetical example of shooting at the president to teach geometric angles.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION:
SEC unveils rules aimed at preventing another 'flash crash': The agency announced new measures aimed at avoiding a repeat of the recent market swoon, saying it would propose that trading in any given stock would pause if a stock dives more than 10 percent in five minutes.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
Agreement on draft resolution for new Iran sanctions: Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shrugged off a surprise deal in which Iran would swap a portion of its low-enriched uranium for higher-grade uranium.

VETERANS AFFAIRS:
Webb questions inclusion of U.S. Navy Veterans Association in VA guide: The Virginia senator asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to clarify how groups that are included in the agency's directory of veterans service organizations are vetted.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

Most gay groups are focusing on DADT repeal or ENDA. I really hope that congress and the White House aren't going to expect that this bill is going to represent substantive change to one of their most loyal constituencies. That's just going to lead everyone to be disappointed.

Posted by: DCCharles | May 19, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

AFAIK, this bill doesn't extend benefits to cohabiting straight couples because they can marry.

If the bill passes and the Defense of Marriage Act is later repealed or struck down, we'll have a blatant inequity on our hands, as gay cohabiting couples get benefits while stright couples are denied them. (I assume the benefits bill doesn't address this with a sunset provision.)

Posted by: acesdc | May 19, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Acesdc,

It seems that the Democrats are more in favor of "special rights" for LGBT people rather than just equal rights. What are they afraid of?

Posted by: DCCharles | May 19, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Acesdc,

It seems that the Democrats are more in favor of "special rights" for LGBT people rather than just equal rights. What are they afraid of?

Posted by: DCCharles | May 19, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

As much as I support this, ignorant remarks like Acesdc will ensure Democrats in the end will NOT support this. It's election year and Democrats feel they need to cater to the hate groups out there in order to get the .0005 percent vote from them.

Posted by: mjcc1987 | May 19, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

To acesdc,...if you are straight...get married, as you have that human and civil right while America's gay citizens are still deprived of that basic right. Your concern is misplaced, so go out and fight to get gay citizens the same rights as privileged straigt citizens, which are favored by the KKKristofascist state.

Posted by: BelmontBayNeighbor | May 19, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I wa spleased to see that this post clarified yesterday's misleading post on the same subject (CBO estimate). The CBO estimate for this bill is almost 50% less than the original OPM estimate for annual costs, making this bill the legislative equivalent of a no-brainer. Equality for pennies. Those who oppose it do not do so on the basis of costs, that is clear. Once again, its simply the bigots versus the enlightened. An old chestnut that never seems to get tired.

Let's get this done ASAP!

Posted by: gilbert6 | May 19, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I'd suggest to the "Honorable" Mr. Issa that he either fire his spokesman or truly take his title to heart.
Using the bad economy to blackguard an equality proposal? There may be reasons not to do this (since the Fed doesn't recognize gay marriage, any single person could put anyone else on their plan), but a high unemployment rate in the private sector has nothing do to with this and he knows it.

Posted by: nadie1 | May 19, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

You know what else would save $$? Denying health care benefits to federal employees that marry, say, people of Lebanese background.

Or those that marry outside their religion.

Or, heck. Just deny them to all women and Asians.

That makes about as much sense as claiming it's too expensive to provide health care to the same sex partners of government employees. Employees that pay federal tax.

It's doubly hypocritical for Issa to be fighting to deny working class federal employees basic benefits like this, given that Issa is worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars.

Nothing quite like someone worth hundreds of millions of dollars leading the fight to deny life-saving health benefits to those that may make as little as $40,000 a year.

Posted by: Hillman1 | May 19, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

If Issa is worried about the cost, then reduce benefits for all, rather than letting an inequity continue. There are hundreds of ways to even things up financially, if that is actually his concern (such as a small increase in deductables). If not, he's blowing smoke, and using the financial issue to continue a policy of bigotry. Of course, he wouldn't want to do that, would he?

Posted by: garoth | May 19, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

There is a concerted effort to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States; however, polygamy is scorn. In 2008, we watched the State of Texas take children from a polygamist ranch where allege rape was underway. The mothers of these children were assumed guilty of child abuse where they underwent quasi-media chastisement until the state officials came to their senses and allowed the children to return to their parents. The polygamist mothers were depicted as a plain Jane happy in her lifestyle. Thus, is not disingenuous to legalize gay marriages while continuing to vilify polygamist marriages that espouse multiple marital partners? If roughly 40 percent of the babies born in the US are to non-wed parents, it is obvious we have redefine marriage. In polygamist homes the children will grow up with both parents versus today’s baby mama and baby daddy dysfunctional family.

Posted by: ShermanMiller | May 19, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Gay people are citizens and deserve equal protection under the law.

Gay people don't hurt children, polygamists do. I know because I was born and raised in polygamy.

Watch the video: BANKING ON HEAVEN . COM

Posted by: PoeticJustice1 | May 19, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sherman Miller (above) doesn't know what he's talking about. When Texas authorities raided the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado they didn't know there were over 500 hundred children on that ranch. Texas law enforcement was not prepared so the children were returned to their parents. Now most of the mothers and their children currently live outside the ranch where CPS and other agencies can monitor their safety and care. The mothers are also adapting to the outside world and becoming more independent as a result of the raid.

The YFZ raid also resulted in the indictment of 12 polygamist men for impregnating underage girls, and 5 of those men have already been convicted. One Leroy Jessop received a 70 year sentence!

Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy is a heinous lifestyle that subjugates women and practices mind control on children from birth. The majority of polygamous families are living on taxpayer dollars because only one wife is legal...the other ten wives are considered single mothers who qualify for welfare, food stamps, and other social benefits.

Another big problem with polygamy are male to female birthrates. Mother nature only creates one female for each male, so hundreds of young males are cast out to free up young girls for older patriarch pedophiles operating under the guise of religion.

Religion is no excuse for abuse!

BANKING ON HEAVEN , COM

Posted by: PoeticJustice1 | May 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It's time for full equality!
Onward,
Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Washington, Connecticut, USA

Posted by: cornetmustich | May 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Passing this bill is important to the Federal government's ability to compete for the best workers. Right now, talented gay Federal employees have a powerful incentive to leave the government for the private sector. Most large companies provide health care benefits for employees' same sex partners.

Though extending partner benefits to Federal employees would be a significant accomplishment, I hope Democratic leaders aren't under the illusion that they can persuade gay voters to turn out without taking action on at least one of the big three: DADT repeal, DOMA repeal, and ENDA.

Posted by: equalrights | May 19, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

RE: "At a time when unemployment is at 9.9 percent, it’s absurd that Democrats would push a costly new benefit for federal employees when so many Americans in the private sector are out of work"
This isn't a new benefit! This is a benefit that already exists for married couples. If a couple is married, regardless of straight or gay, they should be afforded this benefit, or else don't offer it to anyone. That will definitely save some money.

Posted by: plainmike | May 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm Latino, Democrat, Gay, and I support this Arizona law!

The fact is, illegal aliens have “more” rights than gay people. Illegal aliens can see their opposite sex partners in hospitals, and up until over a month ago when Obama signed an executive order allowing same-sex couples to see one another in hospitals, same sex couples would have been continually barred from seeing one another. Illegal aliens can marry an American citizen, gay people cannot marry in most states in the US. Illegal aliens can march on Washington and request some type of amnesty from a president who supports selective amnesty, gay people can march on Washington, but Obama doesn't support same sex marriage.

Adult Illegal aliens broke the law entering our country and are using their "anchor babies" (born here in the USA) to anchor onto benefits that taxpayers pay for which include: public housing, free rent, food stamps, and free healthcare. When adult illegal aliens or their children go to the emergency room, it's mandated by law that they be treated. Guess who pays for the bill? YOU! You pay for it in the form of HIGHER healthcare costs and rising premiums! And for the "anchor babies" you also pay for their state-funded Medicaid and the cost to educate them and others in the public school system throughout the country!

There's really nothing to stop them from having more kids in order to convince a judge to let them stay in the US. On the other hand, many states don't allow gay Americans to adopt children.

Illegal aliens should all be deported now. We need to end birthright citizenship for anchor babies, and deny illegals access to basic social services. Americans are ultimately left to pick up the bill for the billions in services they receive for free all the while paying nothing into the system and then sending all their earned money back to Mexico to help our their country, not ours.

Citizens paying taxes into the system, regardless of sexual orientation, should come FIRST before illegal aliens who are leaving struggling Americans in a tough recession to foot the entire bill. Illegal aliens are also blatantly disregarding our citizenship laws, that is, the LEGAL and the RIGHT way to enter our country and are abusing the system to their advantage. This needs to stop NOW!

Posted by: latinsa06 | May 19, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The National Library of Medicine pubs confirm that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced in the first trimester of pregnancy, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned, bearing no relation to an individuals ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society.

From the American Psychological Association: homosexuality is normal; homosexual relationships are normal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Asociation and American Psychiatric Asociation have endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens mental and physical health and longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors.

America's premier child/mental health associations endorse marriage equality.

Posted by: shadow_man | May 20, 2010 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

(Change *** to www)
***.soulfoodministry.org/docs/English/NotASin.htm
***.jesus21.com/content/sex/bible_homosexuality_print.html
***.christchapel.com/reclaiming.html
***.stjohnsmcc.org/new/BibleAbuse/BiblicalReferences.php
***.gaychristian101.com/

Posted by: shadow_man | May 20, 2010 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don't choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.

(Change *** to www)
***-news.uchicago.edu/releases/03/differential-brain-activation.pdf
***.newscientist.com/channel/sex/dn14146-gay-brains-structured-like-those-of-the-opposite-sex.html
Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ
***.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155990,00.html
***.livescience.com/health/060224_gay_genes.html
***.springerlink.com/content/w27453600k586276/

Posted by: shadow_man | May 20, 2010 5:15 AM | Report abuse

I wonder who will have the honor of paying for this? These bureaucrats expect the taxpayers to pay for all their progressive motives.

Posted by: Kansasgirl | May 20, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I am in full favor of this bill passing. My partner of 10 years has worked for the federal government for 20 years, loyally. I am currently unemployed and Cobra is extremely expensive, it would save this high tax paying family plenty of money if I could be covered under this plan. It is ridiculous that I am not able to be covered, but the child I gave birth to is able to be covered because my partner legally adopted him. Basically the government is saying I am not a part of this family, we are not a family. We (gays and lesbians) pay the same amount of taxes- more actually. It is also interesting that no matter how many children you have- you pay one family rate. Whether you have no children or 10, same price for insurance- how is this fair to private sector Americans, who are usually charged increases in insurance rates for the amount of dependants?

Posted by: hrockh | May 20, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Kansasgirl
"These bureaucrats expect the taxpayers to pay for all their progressive motives."

Is there something bad about progress?

Posted by: scooterj2003 | May 20, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Kansasgirl -- "I wonder who will have the honor of paying for this? These bureaucrats expect the taxpayers to pay for all their progressive motives."

Kansasgirl, perhaps we should pay for it by denying federal benefits to the spouses of girls from Kansas. That would make about as much sense as current policy.

Posted by: dblethnk | May 23, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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