Saturday, January 20, 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.

Comments
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18