After passing the Senate by unanimous consent on Monday, it seemed as if the FOIA Improvement Act would become law—a nearly identical version passed the House earlier this year. Today, however, it was up to Speaker of the House John Boehner to allow a vote on the bill’s final passage before the House adjourned this week. Instead, it was “held at the desk,” meaning Boehner may have just killed FOIA reform.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law, signed in 1966, that gives U.S. citizens the right to access information from the federal government. Through FOIA, journalists and citizens alike have uncovered stories like the U.S. government turning down hundreds of millions of dollars in Katrina aid, the Pentagon ignoring a tip alleging 135 cases of fraud amounting to nearly $200 million, shortages in funding hampering cleanup at hazardous waste sites and 17,000 bridges failing to be inspected on schedule, to name a few.
“It is an uniquely American act, but it is a tool that needs to be continually sharpened,” says Nate Jones, the Freedom of Information Act Coordinator at the George Washington University’s National Security Archive. “The government is pretty good at giving information to people it wants to give, but the Freedom of Information Act is really a gem that allows the public to have a fighting chance to get the information from the government that they want.”
Congress approved a defense authorization bill Friday, setting priorities for the military and clearing the way for cuts to troop benefits next year.
The bill passed a final 89-11 vote in the Senate, and lays out plans for military personnel, equipment such as the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft, and the war in Iraq and Syria. It sets the servicemember pay raise at 1 percent, and tightens up housing allowances and Tricare pharmacy coverage as the Department of Defense grapples with mandatory caps on its spending in the coming years.
The cuts were requested by the Pentagon and White House and finally approved in the National Defense Authorization Act despite opposition in the House. Military brass had lobbied for deeper cuts but the bill takes some first steps toward what many in Congress believe will be years of reductions in personnel costs, unless lawmakers can strike a deal to lift the budget caps designed to deal with the national debt.[…]
The NDAA calls for a $495.5 billion base defense budget and $63.7 billion for overseas military operations related to the war. Here are the key changes to benefits:
Servicemembers have gotten 1.8 percent pay raises but the NDAA allows President Barack Obama to continue with a plan to reduce the increase to 1 percent.
The military’s basic housing allowance covers 100 percent of rental costs for troops and the bill brings that down to 99 percent. The Pentagon wants to slow inflation increases in the coming years until it pays only 95 percent of costs, with troops covering the remaining amount.
It will increase Tricare out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicines by $3 per year, which puts off any decision of more copay increases after 2015 but still tracks with a Pentagon plan to increase troop contributions by $30 over a decade.
Meanwhile, the bill offers some protections for the A-10, known as the Warthog, which is much loved by infantry troops but slated for retirement by the Air Force.
That’s the message the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is asking rank-and-file cops to send to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who the union has insisted are rolling out anti-cop policies and have not supported the police force.
“DON’T LET THEM INSULT YOUR SACRIFICE!,” a bold red message on the union’s webpage reads. “Download and sign a request that Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stay away from your funeral in the event that you are killed in the line of duty.”
The form itself, which allows an officer to fill in their name, gets more specific for the reason behind spurning the presence of the officials.
“Due to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito’s consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve, I believe that their attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice,” the form reads.
Richard A. Viguerie is absolutely right when he calls most of the Republican leadership “boneless wonders.” And as Senator Rand Paul correctly labeled the CRomnibus, it is an “abomination of a bill,” and it passed narrowly last night thanks to the betrayal of John Boehner. Boehner lied himself silly as he did exactly what I predicted he would do… he claimed that the Republicans didn’t dare shut down the government and had to pass the CRomnibus to find out what was in it, a la Pelosi. He also claimed the good in the bill, outweighed the bad. So many lies in such a short time. He went all the way with Obama, knowing that the President would kick him out of bed in the morning. Conservatives were Grubered by Boehner and the other Progressive RINOs who wanted everything they passed – they also gave Obama ALL he asked for and oh, so much more.
Every Republican who voted for the CRomnibus must be targeted in primaries and gotten rid of. They are cancerous to the Republic – they are Progressives on the Right side of the aisle and are every bit as much a danger to our country as the Progressive Liberals are. Every one of these Republicans owns this. They weren’t ‘forced’ into anything… they chose this because of money and power. It’s as simple as that.
The Millersville, Tennessee Police Department will institute policy changes after an officer pulled over a vehicle with a dead child in the trunk.
Millersville Police Chief David Hindman said an officer pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 65 Wednesday afternoon because the temporary tags were unreadable.
The driver presented a Saudi driver’s license and told the officer he had a deceased baby in his trunk that he was transporting for a proper Muslim burial.
The officer asked to see the child, but the driver refused and told him it was against his religion. The officer then let the driver go.
When the officer reported the incident to superiors, they put out the word for neighboring agencies to be on the lookout.[…]
At a press conference Thursday, Hindman said the father and two relatives were carrying a dead fetus to a private Muslim cemetery in Franklin, TN. The father had a permit from the coroner allowing him to do this.
“You have to understand this is a one in a million incident,” Hindman said. “In my 30 years of law enforcement, I have never seen or heard of something like this happening.”
Hindman added that the father tried to show the permit to the officer, but the language barrier made that difficult.