Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: In praise of clean votes

Enough congressional Republicans finally have gotten the message that refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling and shutting down the federal government is bad policy and terrible politics. The Senate sent to President Barack Obama on Wednesday no-strings-attached legislation to raise the debt limit so the nation can continue to pay its bills for another 13 months. The narrow Senate vote followed the House's approval a day earlier, and there is no reason why Congress shouldn't tackle other issues in similar fashion.

House Speaker John Boehner finally stood up to the tea party followers Tuesday when he allowed lawmakers to vote on a debt ceiling bill unfettered by other conditions. Just 28 Republicans joined 193 Democrats to pass the measure 221-201, effectively ending the three-year showdown on the debt ceiling, which lets the government borrow money to pay costs it has already incurred. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the bill Wednesday after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell helped clear away a filibuster hurdle. The backlash from conservative groups already is in full swing, but voters are tired of partisan gridlock in Washington.

This week's votes are pragmatic efforts to keep the Republican Party out of another public relations fiasco such as the one triggered by last year's 16-day government shutdown. Lawmakers eventually reached a deal in October that allowed the government to operate until the end of this month, but opinion polls showed the public blamed Republicans for the shutdown. This time, Republicans first tried to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to the restoration of modest cuts to military pensions, which had been approved as part of a budget deal in December. When that failed to win enough House support, Boehner abandoned his usual practice of requiring legislation to be supported by a majority of Republicans and allowed a clean debt ceiling bill to be passed with primarily Democratic votes.

Only a handful of Republicans stood with Boehner, voting yes in favor of paying the nation's bills. Not a single member of Florida's Republican delegation was among them. Reps. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor and Richard Nugent of Spring Hill once again voted for ideological purity rather than a sensible way forward.

Of course, Republicans are looking toward the midterm elections and trying to avoid creating controversy as they continue bashing health care reform. But as long as Boehner is allowing condition-free votes on controversial issues, he should allow clean votes on immigration and flood insurance. Americans want Congress to focus on bipartisan solutions rather than ideological stalemates.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Airís safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administrationís reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrierís high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Womenís work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castroís handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Natureís Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. ē The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18