Tags Posts tagged with "Congress"

Congress

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Silly Democrats
"And I promise that we will stand here and obstruct every single one of Trump's attempts to make America great again, isn't that right Nancy?"

The democrats continue to show signs of desperation as they file a “no confidence” resolution against President Trump. Rep. Steve Cohen along with few other House Democrats questioned President Trump mental fitness to serve as the commander in chief of the United States.

“President Trump has been President for six months and his probationary period is long over,” Cohen argued. “This resolution sends a clear message to the President that we disapprove of his cumulative actions, that we are simpatico with our constituents and a majority of the America people, and that we have no confidence in his service.”

Talking about Trump’s past experiences, Cohen argues that Trump is a “president that you wouldn’t want your children to look up to.” “The way he talks about women, the press, the language he uses, the use of Twitter — you don’t want him to be a role model,” Cohen added. . “It’s injurious to our culture, and it’s injurious to … our foreign policy.”

While, highlighting the very famous former FBI Director James Comey’s firing, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, the controversy surrounding Trump’s connections with Russia over the release of classified information and his excessive use of Twitter to discuss important issues and to insult the press — all symbolize “unacceptable behavior.”

Cohen was joined in his decision of filing the resolution by lawmakers such Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Bonnie Watson Coleman and other members of Congress.

“Enough is enough,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. “This is not a president who respects our norms, our laws or even our people. He has no compassion and, therefore, he does not have our confidence.”

“It’s clear President Trump has no idea what makes this country great,” she added.

While, the resolution barely has a chance to survive in the Republican controlled chamber, it lists eighty-eight reasons that highlight that President Trump is not suitable to continue his presidency. The real motive of the Democrats for filing the resolution still remains in question, as Cohen argue that the resolution was not filed to make an effect on Trump. “Is it going to have an effect on him? Apparently, his family members don’t have an effect on him; his Republican friends don’t; his Cabinet members don’t,” Cohen stated. “This is an attempt at a political intervention,” Cohen said.

Cohen further mentioned that he sought the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s blessing before he filed the resolution. Pelosi along with few other member of the Democratic Party has been focusing on anti-Trump efforts such as pushing for setting up an independent commission to look into the possibility of a collusion between President Trump and Russia. Talking about Pelosi, Cohen stated, that “She said she didn’t have a problem with us going forward with these types of actions.”

He added, “She preferred people to stay focused on what she thinks is the most important item present, which is an independent prosecutor bill, which I support.”

It is to be noted that the Democrats need to pay attention to the levels of fitness of their own party members, as Pelosi read a false account of the 56 Declaration of Independence during a press conference help this week.

As per FreeBeacon:

“Pelosi read the article during an event held by Democratic lawmakers to discuss the “Democrats for Democracy Reform Legislative Package” and #wethepeople campaign. The legislative package and campaign is a so-called ‘task force’ aimed at “[reforming] government to ensure it works for all Americans.”

The discredited piece, titled ‘The Price They Paid,’ was a popular essay circulating around the internet on Independence Day. The article outlines the fates of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, but according to the fact checkers at Snopes, ‘many of its details are inaccurate.’

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Blame Game
"The buck stops over there!" "No it doesn't, it stops over there!"

Mitch McConnell faced embarrassment and failure once again as two more Republicans announced their disapproval of the Affordable Health Care Act. In his two and a half years as the Senate majority leader, this Monday was perhaps the most humiliating defeat for McConnell.

The GOP healthcare bill collapses with seven years of hard work going down the drain, as the Republicans fall short of votes and lost, with only 47 of the 50 votes they needed. The effort to “repeal and immediately replace” Obamacare “will not be successful,” stated McConnell.

“In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” McConnell said.

The blame game started immediately as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) expresses how surprised he was to read in the Washington Post that McConnell was debating that “major reforms to Medicaid were so far in the distance that they would never take effect. Johnson said Monday that he’d confirmed through conversations with other senators that McConnell had made the remarks,” as noted by Politico.

“The reported comments from Leader McConnell before last Thursday about ‘don’t worry about these Medicaid changes, they won’t take effect,’ that’s troubling to me. I have talked to senators that basically confirmed that. I’ll see what Leader McConnell says tomorrow,” Johnson stated. “From my standpoint, it’s a pretty serious breach of trust, those comments. I’m just troubled by those comments,” he added.

McConnell didn’t stand back from replying and fired back that, “I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released.”

While, their “Failure to pass an Obamacare repeal could upend the entire Republican agenda. The party has spent nearly seven months on a health care overhaul, with hopes it would ease the path to tax reform. Now Trump and the GOP-led Congress are staring at an impending August recess with no major legislative achievements in hand.” noted Politico.

However, the President Trump administration doesn’t seem to be very least shook by the failure. It was noted that President Trump held a dinner with GOP senators on Monday evening where he mentioned that entire party were like “dopes” in event that they fail to pass the bill after a repeal bill was successfully passed under the Obama administration. “If the Republicans have the House, Senate and the presidency and they can’t pass this health care bill they are going to look weak,” Trump had stated. And that,“How can we not do this after promising it for years?”

However, as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas announced that they would not be supporting the bill, the Trump administration took it as a good sign with President Trump  tweeting, “Republicans should just ‘REPEAL’ failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

“President Trump, intent on delivering a win no matter the terms, insists on pushing on now with flat-out Obamacare repeal, content to set the clock back to 2009 while waiting for the mythic unicorn of a workable replacement bill to arrive,” notes the NY Post, just as Gov. Cuomo, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor de Blasio announced that they are willing to sue the federal government if President Trump decides on signing the failed bill into a law.

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Senator Schumer
"Show me the beef, er, I mean... the BILL!!"

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the US Senate Minority Leader, announced on Monday that Democrats will be looking forward to use a new strategy to protest the Senate health care bill introduced by the Republicans.

Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy declared it a “quintuple red alert.”

“Radical departure from normal procedure on a bill of such consequence,” Schumer announced from the floor, “leaves the Senate minority little choice but to depart from normal procedure as well.”

“Starting this evening,” he added, “Democrats will begin objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate, save for honorary resolutions. We will seek, in as many ways as we can, in as many times as we can, to refer the House-passed health care bill to committee. Where it can be vetted, debated and amended in the open, for the American people to see, as is their right.”

“And tonight Democrats will hold the floor late into the evening in a series of speeches to highlight just how unprecedented this process is,” he continued. “If Republicans are not going to allow debate on their bill on the floor or in committee, Democrats will make opportunities to debate.”

“And these are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on the shameful TrumpCare bill, and reveal to the public the GOP’s backroom deal-making,” he concluded.

To protest what they consider secrecy with which the bill is being drafted, Democrats used the hashtag #showusthebill with their tweets as a way to register their criticism.

House Republicans managed to pass their own version of what seems to be an Obamacare replacement bill, by a narrow margin. However, that legislation was met with severe criticism from President Trump, who reportedly called the bill “mean” and another vulgar term in a meeting with congressional Republicans.

Senate Republicans have said they will craft their own health care bill, starting from scratch. But the blanket of secrecy under which they’re drafting the legislation seems to be causing Democrats some serious issues.

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ObamaCare

Should Congress repeal Obamacare now or wait until they have a suitable replacement drafted?

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congress

If one were to count how many times in the last 40 years Congress has passed — on time — all the appropriation bills necessary to keep the government running and avoid a government “shutdown,” you would need but one hand. Only four times in four decades (1976, 1988, 1994, and 1996) did Congress successfully manage to complete the task for which the Constitution grants it exclusive power – appropriating the monies needed to fund all federal agencies and programs.

This inability or unwillingness to do its job speaks volumes about the lack of leadership and resolve by what our Founders considered to be the most important of the three branches of the government created more than two and a quarter centuries ago.

A major factor in this congressional lethargy is the rise of special interests. Special interest groups have long wielded significant influence during the appropriations process; but their impact in this era of legislative somnambulism and massive federal spending – now at some $3.7 trillion — has become particularly pronounced. Time and again, special interests have flexed their muscle to stall the appropriation process by turning small issues into major partisan battles.

Last week, for example, Congress passed yet another short-term spending bill so as to narrowly avoid a government “shutdown.” Yet even here, this so-called “last resort” was not certain to pass, due to bellyaching from the Michigan delegation that its local community of Flint was not getting the cut of federal tax dollars it felt it deserved, when compared to flood victims elsewhere in West Virginia, Louisiana, and Maryland. Last minute negotiations by congressional leaders, including the promise of additional spending-to-come for Michigan, was needed to overcome the partisan wrangling over “Flint” and keep the government operating. This “crisis” followed earlier hissy fits over Zika funding and Planned Parenthood restrictions.

There was a time in which there were clear differences between the majority of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats regarding federal spending levels and priorities. However, those differences have largely disappeared — lost in the fog of fiscal indifference that now prevails in both Chambers of Congress. The fact that the Democrats are at least honest about their desire to keep open the spigot of federal spending at all costs, is of little solace when compared to the manner in which the GOP time and again caves in to Doomsday cries that failure to keep that faucet wide open will haunt them on election day.

The consequences of this fiscal irresponsibility by the Congress extend far beyond the appropriations process. The legislative graveyard at the end of every Congress increasingly is littered with legislative measures that should have been – but were not – acted on. This year was no different, except perhaps in the magnitude of Congress’ failure.

By failing to pass a measure to stop the Obama Administration from making good on its plan to cede control of the internet from the United States to an international nonprofit organization, the Republican-controlled Congress gave up, without so much as a whimper, global leadership over the most important communications network in modern times.

The Obama Administration’s unilateral (and now, irreversible) decision transfers control over the free internet to a private entity over which the United States has minimal, if any influence; leaving the door open to countries like Iran, Russia, China and Syria to exert “public policy” input on the manner by which the internet is managed.

While the Democrat Party lauds itself as the champion of “free speech,” nary one of its members called for a “sit in” to protest the Administration’s plan to potentially stifle the freedom heretofore fostered by America’s control of the internet. For its part, the GOP was largely silent in the face of Obama’s assault on a free internet; unlike its repeated and very vocal opposition to Obamacare.

There were a few courageous members of Congress who stood up and challenged the assault on a free internet orchestrated by Obama – led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Unfortunately, Cruz and his stalwart band were drowned out in the end by fears that standing up for internet freedom might endanger the Flint spending deal and a billion dollars in taxpayer funding for the Zika scare. And, they simply did not have the votes to counter plaintive cries of “free us so we can go home to campaign” by so many of their feckless colleagues. Go home to campaign now they can, but not with heads held high.

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oversight

Looking back on Monday night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, you easily could conclude that there is no problem they couldn’t solve. They promised to defeat ISIS, create millions of jobs, and bring prosperity and happiness to all.

That is, if you were willing to give them your vote. While the media may have been giddy with this “blockbuster”/“epic”/“historical” debate between two people who are convinced they deserve being given the authority and power to fix America’s woes – our Founding Fathers would have been horrified at what has become of their great philosophical experiment of a government of limited, defined, diffuse powers.

For decades now, the American public has viewed the role of president far different from the one envisioned by our Founders. Where the drafters of our Constitution sought to empower the President with just enough authority to balance out the Courts and Congress, today the public views the President as if only he or she is the “fixer” for whatever problem ails the nation.

“The men who designed our Constitution never thought of the president as America’s ‘national leader,’” wrote Cato Institute’s Vice President Gene Healy in 2008, reacting to campaign rhetoric at the time. “Indeed, for them, the very notion of ‘national leadership’ raised the possibility of authoritarian rule by a demagogue who would create an atmosphere of crisis in order to enhance his power.”

While an “imperial presidency” was not planned by our Founders, they understood human nature sufficiently to foresee its rise if unchecked.

To counter this threat, they placed in the hands of a bicameral Congress three fundamental powers: the power to appropriate monies, the power to draft and pass legislation, and the power of oversight. Congress over the decades has become quite adept — eager, even — to appropriate money and to legislate (which presidents are just as eager to sign into law).

It is, however, the third of the great powers residing in the Congress –oversight — that should be, but is not, employed effectively to rein in presidential abuses and power grabs. This lack of interest in, or understanding of, how to conduct effective, meaningful, and consistent oversight of presidents — to ensure they operate within the letter and intent of the legislation passed by the Congress — has contributed mightily to the dangerous situation in which we now find ourselves, with one president after another engaging in extra-constitutional actions without worry that the Congress will do anything meaningful in response.

This atrophied oversight power was on full display last week when a congressional committee sought to “investigate” why EpiPen manufacturer Mylan dramatically increased the price of this life-saving device.

Rather than focus on the real, underlying problem of how the regulatory environment through which the Food and Drug Administration is causing unconscionable delays in bringing new medicines and competing medical devices to the market, Members of Congress spent their time during the highly publicized hearing on the easy target — Mylan’s CEO.

Grabbing a headline with a “gotcha” question to the beleaguered businesswoman obviously was more important to those on the congressional panel than asking serious questions focusing on those factors properly within the responsibility of the Congress to remedy.

Important issues not raised, or barely touched on, included the Rube Goldberg-like medical-device approval system in place at the FDA, and troubling ethical issues regarding the CEO’s lobbying relationship with her father, a sitting United States Senator from West Virginia.

The list of other congressional “oversight” hearings that similarly have failed to result in any meaningful reform of problematic actions or policies by the Executive Branch is long.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent, made-for-social-media grilling of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, and the “impeachment” hearing on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen come readily to mind, as clear examples of how a once-crucial responsibility has now been reduced to partisan showmanship.

This problem is exacerbated by the archaic rules of the House, which limits each Member to a short, five minutes of questioning. All this essentially guarantees that nothing of real substance can ever be developed.

This troubling phenomenon is made far worse by virtue of the fact that for the past century, our federal courts have largely deferred to the other two branches of government to decide for themselves whether their actions are appropriate — something which each is more than happy to do.

With the current nominees for President of both major political parties on record as favoring a continuation of the same, virtually unchecked executive branch power that has been the hallmark of their predecessors, one can only hope — vainly, I fear — that the next Congress finds the oversight backbone that has been absent from Washington for so long.

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shutdown

In what some are calling a publicity stunt by one member of Congress to make “government shutdowns” hit lawmakers where it hurts in the pocketbook, Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced a bill late last week that would prevent members of Congress from getting paid if government grinds to a halt because Congress and President Obama fail to agree on a budget deal.

According to Nolan, his bill, which goes by the name of ‘‘No Government No Pay Act of 2015” should be passed because:

“It’s time to put an end to government by crisis management.” “And it’s time for Congress to start living in the real world – where you either do your job – or you don’t get paid.

If hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are to go without their salaries – twisting slowly in the wind in a government shutdown – then the Congress should not be paid either.”

According to the bill’s language:

“…a government shutdown shall be considered to be in effect if there is a lapse in appropriations for any Federal agency or department as a result of a failure to enact a regular appropriations bill or continuing resolution.”

Nolan introduced similar legislation during a government shutdown in 2013 that sent 800,000 federal workers home without pay for 16 days. That bill, which gained little traction, led Nolan to donate the money he was paid during the shutdown to charities in his district.

This time around, Republican lawmakers have crafted legislation that would cut $500 million in taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood – an organization that’s been rocked in recent months by a series of hidden camera videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, (CMP).

The CMP videos allegedly show senior Planned Parenthood executives bargaining with CMP undercover journalists posing a human tissue buyers over the sale of baby body parts for profit – which, if true, would be a clear violation of federal law.

Planned Parenthood says they use federal funding to conduct cancer screening, birth control and other women’s health services which do not violate the 1976 Hyde Amendment that says taxpayer dollars cannot be used for abortions.

But since money is fungible, everyone knows that federal tax dollars would free up other Planned Parenthood resources for abortions, and apparently, the sale of baby body parts for profit.

Congressional leaders on both sides say they want to avoid another shutdown but Congress has not yet passed appropriation bills containing Planned Parenthood funding and are unlikely to do so before October 1, 2015 – the beginning of the government’s new fiscal year.

For his part, President Obama has said he will veto appropriation bills that do not include Planned Parenthood funding.

With the news media on his side, President Obama’s veto of funding bills passed by Congress that include the spending cut would lead to a government shutdown – an event that will no doubt be blamed on congressional Republicans and not the president’s veto.

Rep. Nolan’s bill includes no language for halting President Obama’s pay in the event of a government shutdown.

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