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Birth Control Debate in Senate; Why Long-Term Unemployment Is At Record Levels; Foreign Language Study in JCPS: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: Access to contraception was debated in the Senate Thursday, and Senators voted down a measure that would have let insurance plans and employers, not just at religious institutions, refuse to cover health services that violate their religious beliefs or morals. The measure was sponsored by Republicans Roy Blunt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida. It would have let insurance plans and employers refuse to cover health services that violate their religious beliefs or morals. We’ll talk about the political repercussions.

1:12pm: Why can’t people who have been unemployed for more than six months find jobs? Analysts say the number of people who have been long term unemployed hasn’t been this high since the Great Depression. Those on the political right might say it’s because they’ve become dependent on unemployment benefits, and those on the left might say it’s because their skills are outdated and they need training. According to some new research, it’s neither. Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute says the reason is simpler: there are just no jobs.

1:35pm: When they’re at home, many Jefferson County Public Schools students speak a language other than English—more than 100 different languages across the city. But the school district only teaches six, and one of them is Latin. Kentucky has made small gains to encourage students to study foreign languages, but much of that the work has been overshadowed by changing assessment standards for other subjects. WFPL’s Devin Katayama has more on the present and future of foreign language study in Kentucky.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

McConnell Vows Contraceptive Controversy “Will Not Go Away”

Appearing on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged President Obama will face continued challenges from Congress and the courts regarding insurance coverage of birth control.

Last week, the president announced a compromise over a rule that required full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions. Several Catholic groups and other organizations had voiced concern that the new law would undermine their religious principles.

Mr. Obama’s political opponents charged it violated individuals and organization’s freedom of religion and the president quickly intervened with a middle of the road offer. The White House will now require insurers be the ones responsible to offer complete coverage that is free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.

But McConnell says Mr. Obama’s original plan underscores the administration believes the Constitution takes a back seat to its ideological goals.

From CBS News:

“They don’t have the authority under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to tell someone in this country or some organization in this country what their religious beliefs are…This issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down,” McConnell said.

McConnell said he expects the Senate to take up the issue as soon as possible to overturn the contraceptive rule, although his party’s minority status would hamper offering up legislation.

McConnell said Republicans are also filing an amicus brief—a legal brief in support of a position—to the Supreme Court Monday challenging the president’s health care law.

White House officials also appeared on the Sunday morning shows, pledging to stick with the current contraceptive plan.

Other GOP leaders, however, such as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., denounced the plan as an “accounting trick” and promised the Republican-controlled House will block the legislation.