Thursday, June 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: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Updated: 10 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

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Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldnít jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the systemís vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18