TPM News

Congressional Republicans' pledge to mount a legislative push against the Obama administration's requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control comes with a risk: Alienating their members who have previously pushed or voted to mandate contraception coverage.

Back in 2001, six Republican senators sponsored legislation decreeing that health insurance plans may not "exclude or restrict benefits for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration." In other words, they would be required to provide birth control. The bill never made it out of committee, but that wasn't for a lack of effort from the GOP.

The measure's lead sponsor was Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and cosponsors included Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME); the other four have since left Congress. Counterpart legislation in the House was introduced by former Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) and cosponsored by 14 others Republicans including incumbent Rep. Todd Platts (PA) and now-Sen. Mark Kirk (IL).

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After Rick Santorum kept everyone up late by pulling off three wins on caucus night, today was a time to fire up the burners and cook up a pot of joe.

On cable news today, the lack of sleep was made up with some extra doses of caffeine (both drunk and in "puff pouches"). So, grab a cup of your favorite coffee, sit back and understand the ramifications of last night's results.... cable style.

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Even at the best of times, Fox News' Shep Smith doesn't really go in for the whole faux jokey approach that many cable news anchors use these days.

But when a Florida judge gave a defendant a jokingly light sentence in a domestic violence case, Shep was even stonier faced than usual.

Watch the shocking sentence that brought Shep's judgmental glare... and indeed the glare itself... in the video below.

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Graphene, the wondrous nano-material made up of graphite shavings that promises to revolutionize everything from consumer electronics to electric car batteries, may also revolutionize another product: booze.

When scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK placed placed water in a metal container coated with sheets of graphene oxide -- a derivative of graphene covered in other molecules -- the water evaporated through the container as if it weren't even there, forming sheets of ice one molecule-thick on the outside before sloughing off.

But when they tried repeated the experiment by filling the graphene oxide container with other substances -- including extremely transitory helium gas -- the molecules remained trapped inside the container, due to the fact that the molecules weren't shaped correctly to fit through the graphene oxide sheets.

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In 2011 there was a "relatively low level of radicalization among Muslim-Americans" and that number has been continuously decreasing over the last couple of years, according to a report by a professor at the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

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Washington state legislators on Wednesday took one final step closer to becoming the seventh state in the nation in which same sex marriage is legal. 

The Washington House passed the measure in a 55-43 vote after the state Senate approved it last week. The Democratic governor is expected to sign the bill next week, 90 days after which same sex couples will be able to wed. 

 

 

The moment that many in the Earth science community have been waiting for has come. Actually, it occurred over the weekend: On Sunday, February 5 at approximately 11:25 am ET, a Russian drill broke through to a prehistoric subglacial lake located more than 2 miles below the surface of Antarctica, Russian state news outlet Ria Novosti reported.

It was the first time in 15 to 34 million years that any outside light or air have hit Lake Vostok, according to the New York Times.

Vostok, Russian for "East," is the largest of Antarctica's at least 150 subglacial lakes, which are thought to have formed due to relative warmth emitted from the friction of layers of ice grinding over one another.

Vostok is 160 miles long and 30 miles across, according to the Associated Press.

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Pro-choice Republicans are begging their party to drop this fight over contraception before it's too late. Turning to a discussion about access to birth control will be nothing short of a disaster, they say.

The new and unexpected war over contraception may not end up as only a battle between the White House and the Republican party. It could end up as a fight between the GOP and itself. As we saw during the 2011's push to defund Planned Parenthood -- when some Republican Senators rebuked their colleagues in the House for attacking the organization -- Republicans on Capitol Hill do not speak with one voice on matters of women's health. Now, as Speaker John Boehner seemingly prepares to turn the House GOP's attention to contraception, pro-choice Republicans are warning that the GOP may become the next Komen For The Cure.

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The White House went after Mitt Romney on Wednesday, saying the former Massachusetts governor is an "odd messenger" to criticize the president on a rule that would require insurance plans to cover contraceptives. The Obama Administration's policy, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, is "virtually identical" to a policy in Massachusetts when Romney was governor.

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Sen. Susan Collins's (R-ME) spokesman emails TPM this response regarding her prior support for legislation that included a birth control coverage requirement:

Senator Collins is an original cosponsor of Senator Rubio’s bill because she disagrees with the Administration’s decision.  She believes it presents the Catholic church, and other faith-based organizations, with an impossible choice between violating their religious beliefs or complying with federal regulations.  Senator Collins believes, in issuing these regulations, the Administration has chosen to ignore thousands of comments that were submitted expressing concern that the proposed narrow religious exemption is insensitive and a direct affront to the conscience and beliefs of many religious people and organizations.

It’s important to note that Senator Snowe’s bill was a mandate on insurance companies, not employers.

And, Senator Snowe always said that she intended to work with religious groups to include a conscience clause.

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