Morning Action: Supreme Court Hands Down Marriage Decisions Today

MARRIAGE. This morning, the Supreme Court released its opinion on the case the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and will soon hand down it’s decision on the Prop 8 case.  Heritage notes:

The Court should uphold Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, respecting the constitutional authority of the American people and our elected representatives to determine marriage policy. We should continue to stand up for marriage as the union of one man and one woman because of the reality that children need a mom and a dad.

Regardless of the Court’s decisions, the debate will continue, and Americans should continue to uphold the truth of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the interest of children and limited government. The American people and our elected officials should be free to make marriage policy. Courts should not stop the debate about marriage policy currently underway through the democratic process.

AMNESTY. It is unclear whether the Senate will vote on any further amendments to the Gang of Eight amnesty bill (sub. req’d):

Hopes are starting to fade that the Senate will vote on further amendments to the immigration bill because of the difficulty between the two parties in reaching an agreement.

“I am going to wrap up immigration either Thursday or Friday,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. “The only question now is whether we can come up with a list of amendments. I think both sides want to do that. Having said that, I don’t know if we can do it. I want to do everything I can to maximize the number of votes.”

But Reid noted that since he has filled the amendment tree on the bill the only way more amendments could be offered is through unanimous consent.

FARM BILL.  It was a victory for taxpayers and consumers when the House defeated the trillion dollar food stamp and farm bill last week.  Now, some Republican lawmakers are trying to revive the farm bill process (sub. req’d):

The road to reviving the farm bill process after last week’s defeat of the House measure remains a bumpy one.

The Republican leadership team was expected to huddle on Tuesday evening when House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, returns from a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. But leaders are unlikely to decide the way forward until after they meet with their conference Wednesday morning.

At that meeting, leaders are expected to discuss the five-year policy bill for agriculture, nutrition, conservation and rural development programs that fell Thursday on a 195-234 vote. Sixty-two Republicans voted against the bill (HR 1947), while only 24 Democrats voted for it.

Lawmakers had no good excuse to vote for this legislation in the first place, and if it is brought up again for consideration, it must be reformed.  Food stamps should be considered separately from farm policy.

STUDENT LOANS. Student loan rates are set to double July 1, and Congress has not come to an agreement on how to approach the issue (sub. req’d):

With immigration center stage and a bipartisan agreement to stave off the student loan interest rate hike nowhere in sight, principal negotiators on both sides concededTuesday that rates will likely double on July 1 and will need to be fixed retroactively.

Harkin has been working with Sens.Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to craft a proposal that Republicans can swallow. Meanwhile, Alexander has been working with Sens. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Angus King, I-Maine; and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., on a proposal that appeases Democrats.

The two camps have been negotiating for weeks running up to the July 1 deadline, at which point the 3.4 percent interest rate on the subsidized portion of the federal Stafford loan is set to double for all new borrowers.

The groups have been making strides on an evolving proposal that would shift the fixed rate to a market-based rate pegged to the 10-year Treasury bill, but are currently sparring over whether to include a cap on the rates.

Democrats have said from the beginning that any proposal without a cap, including the White House proposal, is a non-starter.

The conservative approach would be for the federal government to eventually get out of the student loan business altogether.

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