Slatest PM: Senate Dems Unveil Assault-Weapon Ban

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 24 2013 4:47 PM

Slatest PM: Senate Dems Unveil Assault-Weapon Ban

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Senator Dianne Feinstein walks from the lectern after speaking at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The "Assault Weapons Ban of 2013": New York Times: "During a lengthy and at times emotionally wrenching news conference, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday announced legislation that would ban the sale and manufacture of 157 types of semiautomatic weapons, as well as magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The bill, which Ms. Feinstein said she would introduce in the Senate on Thursday afternoon, would exempt firearms used for hunting and would grandfather in certain guns and magazines. The goal of the bill, she said, would be 'to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.' ... Since the expiration of a ban on assault weapons in 2004, there has been a deep reluctance among lawmakers to revisit the issue. They cite both a lack of evidence that the ban was effective and a fear of the powerful gun lobby, which has made significant inroads at both the state and federal level in increasing gun rights over the last decade."

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Senate Leaders Strike Deal on Limited Filibuster Deal: Washington Post: "Senate leaders reached a deal Thursday that keeps the chamber’s long-standing, 60-vote threshold for halting a filibuster but streamlines some of the chamber’s more cumbersome procedures. ... [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell are presenting the draft proposal to their caucuses Thursday afternoon, and if they get a positive response, the changes could come to a vote by the end of the day. ... The key new proposal allows the elimination of one filibuster vote during the 'motion to proceed' to a bill, when the chamber begins considering legislation. Republicans have increasingly filibustered the motion to begin debating legislation to either slow passage of or block bills altogether."

Instant Analysis: Weigel: "Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin has been backing filibuster reform packages for most of his Senate career. A group of reporters stopped him today on his way into the caucus meeting where the party will be told the virtues of what Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell agreed on. Harkin fluttered open his binder, pulled out the new rules, and read them slowly, grimly. 'They're baby, baby steps,' he said. He'd wanted the Democrats to go ahead and change the Senate rules with 51 votes, and Reid had forestalled that. ... Bloomberg's Jim Rowley asked the obvious follow-up: Should Obama go on vacation? 'He can go out and give wonderful speeches, things like that,' said Harkin. 'But with the House in the hands it's in, and the fact that the Senate, now, you have to have 60 votes to pass anything... well, I daresay that Obama's package, his very aggressive proposals, will not get very far. They'll be so watered down that they won't be recognizable.'

Happy Thursday and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Smooth Sailing for John Kerry: Boston Globe: "More than four decades after he testified before the panel as a Vietnam War veteran-turned protestor, Senator John F. Kerry on Thursday returned to the witness chair before the Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination to be secretary of state. Kerry’s prepared statement opening the hearing focused on his view that foreign policy is increasingly geared toward global economics. He also touched on Iran—sure to be a hotbed of international diplomacy given its advancing nuclear program—saying, 'our policy is containment, not prevention.' ... Kerry is expected to easily garner the support needed for confirmation, which will likely be voted upon next week. Though a handful of committee members openly expressed their support and forthcoming votes for Kerry’s confirmation, their questions ranged from economic development in Africa to diplomatic involvement in Syria to women’s rights in Afghanistan."

Obama's Covert Climate Plans: Politico: "President Barack Obama got green hearts fluttering when he devoted more time to climate change than any other single issue during his inaugural address. But don’t expect a climate crusade. It’s more like covert action. ... Energy insiders say the White House will dribble out executive actions and federal rules over the next four years  — the same low-key, bureaucratic approach the administration has taken since 2009. While it's not a moon shot, the piecemeal strategy can achieve real results in reducing America's carbon footprint, even if it doesn't hold a candle to the type of climate bill that failed in 2010 and would have almost no chance of passage in the Republican-controlled House now."

Te'o and Tuiasosopo: ABC News: "Manti Te'o still doesn't know why he was the victim of a hoax that left him scared, confused and the butt of countless jokes, he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Katie Couric. Te'o says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has spoken to him by Twitter and then in a phone call to confess to engineering the elaborate hoax, but gave little explanation for his actions. 'He just basically... explained what he did and why he did it,' Te'o told Couric. But he added, 'He didn't say why [he did it]. He just explained that he wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people, of being someone that he wasn't.'"

It's Official: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is lifting the ban on women in combat. "Our military is more capable, and our force is more powerful, when we use all of the great diverse strengths of the American people," he said.

Obama's SEC Pick: Associated Press: "President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney who built a reputation prosecuting white-collar criminals, terrorists and mobsters, to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency has a lead role in implementing changes on Wall Street. ... White spent nearly a decade as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, handling an array of white-collar crimes and complex securities and financial fraud cases. She brought down mobster John Gotti and won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa."

Instant Analysis: Matthew Yglesias: "[I[t's symbolically significant to choose a prosecutor for the post. As a federal prosecutor in both Brooklyn and Manhattan she oversaw cases against everyone from John Gotti to Ramzi Yousef. She doesn't lack experience with Wall Street—in fact, she prosecuted some high-profile securities fraud cases—but her interactions with it were a subset of her overall prosecutorial brief. Finance doesn't come to the attention of the US Attorney's office unless the point is to crack down hard—you don't go there for a rubber stamp, and banks aren't lobbying the US Attorney on a day-to-day basis.

The Latest From Mali: Reuters: "A split emerged on Thursday in the alliance of Islamist militant groups occupying northern Mali, as French and African troops prepared an offensive aimed at driving them from their safe haven in the Sahara. A senior negotiator from the Ansar Dine rebels who helped seize the north from Mali's government last year said he was now part of a faction that wanted talks and rejected the group's alliance with al Qaeda's North African franchise AQIM. It was unclear how many fighters had joined the new Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA) faction. But the announcement will encourage international negotiators who have long sought to prise apart the Islamist alliance, seen as a major threat by Washington and other Western and regional powers."

Recommended Reading: The Atlantic: At Supreme Court, Gay Marriage Foes Make Their Strongest Case Yet

Your Obit of the Day: New York Times on Linda Riss Pugach: "She was 22, a sheltered, dark-haired Bronx beauty said to look like Elizabeth Taylor. He was a decade older, a suave lawyer who courted her with flowers, rides in his powder-blue Cadillac and trips to glittering Manhattan nightclubs. He was married, though not to her. Before long, tiring of his unfulfilled promises to divorce his wife, she ended their affair. He hired three men, who threw lye in her face, blinding her, and went to prison for more than a decade. Afterward, she married him." Read the full thing here.

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