Speed Read: LGBT Congressional Caucus

1-    SINEMA SENDS MIXED MESSAGES ON ACA FIX: Openly bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) applauded President Obama’s announcement Thursday that he would urge insurance companies to reinstate the thousands of policies held by individuals –policies that were canceled because they do not meet the basic requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  In a press release issued Thursday, Sinema, who has expressed concerns about the ACA, called the president’s announcement a “common sense fix” that is “long overdue.” But Sinema said she also supports a bill introduced by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), a bill that has been characterized as an attempt to sabotage the ACA. President Obama said he would veto the measure if passed by Congress. The House is due to vote on the Upton bill today.

2-   MICHAUD CALLS FOR EXTENDED DEADLINE: Newly out Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) told the Portland Press Herald he thinks the Obama administration must extend the deadline for people to enroll in an insurance program under the ACA. A report in the Herald yesterday quoted Michaud as saying the “failures” of the website developed to enable people sign up for affordable health insurance policies require an extension of the deadline. February 15 is the deadline to get health insurance coverage or else be fined the larger of either $95 or one percent of taxable income.

3-   BALDWIN AIMS AT NSA AND WOMEN’S HEALTH: Openly lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced two bills this week. One is the “Freedoms and Privacy Act of 2013.” The text was not yet available at deadline, but Baldwin’s website says the bill “protects Americans’ right to privacy under the 4th Amendment and improves constitutional due process procedures in relation to intelligence community and law enforcement information sharing.” The second, the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” is aimed at stopping state laws that limit women’s access to reproductive health services.

4-   TAKANO AND POLIS PUSH THE SPEAKER: House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he has “no intention of ever going to conference” committee on the Senate-passed immigration bill. Later that day, openly gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) suggested, in a brief colloquy on the floor with openly gay Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), that a way to “honor the Speaker’s word and not go to conference would be to simply take up the Senate immigration bill and advance it directly to the president.” Takano agreed and said he was “taken aback” by the Speaker’s comment. He said he has received hundreds of letters from people in his district, including young people whose parents are being deported. “These are letters from children, Mr. Speaker, children whose families are being ripped apart.”

5-   POCAN AT WHITE HOUSE PROTEST: Openly gay Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) joined a demonstration outside the White House Thursday to “strongly oppose” a proposal from President Obama that would reduce the cost-of-living increase seniors get now on Social Security payments. Pocan has rallied outside the White House before in opposition to Obama’s proposal. Pocan said the cut isn’t fair because it hurts seniors and because Social Security does not contribute to the deficit. “I refuse to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors who deserve the benefits they’ve paid for and earned,” said Pocan.

6-   CICILLINE ON LIBERIA: The Providence-based district of openly gay Rep. David Cicilline is home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Liberian refugees. The Providence Journal reported Wednesday that Cicilline has just returned from a four-day U.N.-sponsored trip to see conditions in the West African nation torn by civil war. Cicilline told the Journal that one of the toughest parts of the trip was hearing from sexual assault victims as young as nine.

7-   MALONEY PUSHES FOR BRIDGE: Openly gay Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) grilled an official of the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers Thursday about why it has taken more than two years to repair a small two-lane bridge washed out by a storm in his district. “If the 411th Engineer Brigade of the Joint Task Force Empire can quickly build bridges all over Afghanistan in a combat environment, we should be able to get a bridge built in America in less than two years.”

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