Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

So much for the Democratic ‘tide’ forming in Georgia

Jon Ossoff got thumped. Karen Handel is the new congresswoman from Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

It was supposed to be a potential sign of a Democratic Party “wave” that could sweep the minority party back into control of the House of Representatives.

One little thing happened, though. Democrats fielded a candidate with an eligibility problem. He doesn’t live in the district. 

Ossoff lives about six miles outside the district; he’s sharing a residence with his fiancée. Ossoff said he grew up in the district, he knows it well and the fact that he didn’t abide by the electoral rules didn’t matter. Well, actually, young man — it does matter. A lot.

As for Handel, she tied Ossoff at the hip to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose name has become a four-letter word among Republican political operatives.

Did I want Ossoff to win? Sure. I’ve said that already. I did express some concern earlier about this residency issue and how it might nip him in the backside. It did.

The Sixth District is a reliably Republican one. It’s former representative, Dr. Tom Price, now serves as health and human services secretary. Donald J. Trump carried the district by a percentage point in 2016, while Price was being re-elected by double digits.

If Democrats have any hope of peeling off GOP districts in the future, my suggestion is to find better-quality candidates to carry the message forward.

They can start by ensuring their candidates actually live in the district they seek to represent.

Wake up, Congress, to greater civility

Ted Cruz believes this past week’s shooting at a baseball practice that wounded several of his fellow Republicans should be a “wake up call” for members of Congress.

The Texas U.S. senator is right, of course. He almost seems to state the obvious, that the tenor and tone of current political discussion has been filled with too much poison.

Five people were hurt in Alexandria, Va., while practicing for Congress’ annual charity baseball game. The shooter was angry at Donald J. Trump and, apparently, at GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who was wounded by a rifle shot from the gunman. Scalise’s condition is improving and for that we all are grateful.

The gunman died in a shootout with police.

“We may disagree on whether the federal government should have a simple flat tax or a massively confiscatory federal income tax, but those differences should not lead to demonization, vilification and personal attacks,” Cruz said in remarks to supporters.

But that’s what we’ve been hearing. It goes back many years. It’s been a bipartisan mantra. Democrats and Republicans point at each other across the aisle on Capitol Hill and question each other’s motives for whatever it is they seek to accomplish.

Politics used to be a noble calling. That’s not the case these days. It has become a contact sport. Some suggest politics has turned into a blood sport.

The dips*** shooter in Alexandria exemplified the danger of letting our emotions get the better of us.

Americans are numb to congressional hypocrisy

It’s no surprise to anyone that hypocrisy exists in the halls of federal government power.

What I think is a surprise is how we are now so numb to it, that it doesn’t bother us.

U.S. Senate Republicans are in the process of doing precisely what they criticized their Democratic colleagues of doing just eight years ago. They are meeting in secret to cobble together a health care overhaul they say will replace the Affordable Care Act. In 2009, Republicans were frothing at the mouth because of what they said was occurring when Democrats crafted the ACA.

Video recordings of Republican Senate and House leaders bear out their anger then. Eight years later, well, here we go again.

The weirdness of it, though, shows itself in the apparent tolerance among average Americans at what’s going on.

A newly elected president, Barack H. Obama, sought Republican help in crafting the ACA. He didn’t get it. They stiffed him. The ACA process did include public hearings and testimony from those who favored and opposed it.

Another president new to his office, Donald Trump, hasn’t extended his hand to Democrats. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are plowing ahead with an ACA replacement with no input from Democrats, no public hearings, no testimony.

Same song, different verse? Yes. The major difference appears to rest in the tacit acceptance that hypocrisy is now the norm in Washington, D.C.

I’ll go on record here to say that not all Americans accept this as business as usual. I believe it stinks to high heaven!

Whoever wins had better deliver in the House of Reps

Jon Ossoff vs. Karen Handel has turned into a serious spectator sport.

Ossoff is a Democrat running against Handel, a Republican, for a little ol’ congressional seat representing a district in Georgia.

But here’s the deal: The contest is going to cost more than any congressional election in U.S. history. Why is that? Well, Democrats see it as a referendum on Donald J. Trump, the Republican who is president of the United States. Republicans want to keep the seat in GOP hands and hope Handel is the candidate who can do it.

The former member of Congress from this district, Tom Price, is now secretary of health and human services. Trump carried the district during the 2016 presidential election. It’s a solidly Republican district. It should remain Republican Red, yes?

Hold on! Ossoff won the primary a month ago over a large field of opponents. He didn’t run up a 50-percent victory to win outright, so now he and Handel — the second-place primary finisher — are competing in a runoff election set for Tuesday.

Political analysts are crowing about the size of the early-vote turnout. Let ’em crow. We’ll know soon whether it represents a gigantic total turnout.

With all this attention and money being heaped on this special election, my own view is that whoever wins had better be ready for prime time the money he or she takes the oath of office. The media being what they are, you can bet there will be loads of attention piled on to the winner.

My own hope — not surprisingly, I’m sure — is for Ossoff to win. It doesn’t matter. I don’t live there. I have no tangible voice, other than use this blog to say that Donald Trump needs to face the prospect of his party possibly losing control of Congress after next year’s mid-term election.

Congressional shooting produces a glimmer of hope

It’s only a glimmer, a flicker, a slight flash of light.

It might not last past the first serious floor debate in either chamber of Congress. However, the two leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are saying something about unity, about common good, about patriotism and love of country.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today pledged to get the House to work more closely together, to set partisanship aside whenever possible. Their pledge came in the wake of that frightening shooting in Alexandria, in which House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured critically by a gunman who wounded four others before being shot to death by Capital police officers.

A ‘kumbaya’ moment?

Dear reader, we have entered a dangerous time in American political history. The shooter reportedly was highly critical of Donald J. Trump; he also reportedly had some sort of hard feelings against Rep. Scalise, who appeared to be his primary target at that baseball practice field where Republican lawmakers were preparing for their annual charity game against Democratic colleagues.

As near as I can tell, this about the only good thing to come from this terrible event. I am praying, along with the rest of the nation, for the victims’ full recovery. Yes, the police responded with valor and gallantry; the lawmakers who rushed to Rep. Scalise’s aid also performed heroically.

I will await the outcome of Ryan and Pelosi’s pledge to work together, to put the bitterness aside, to argue civilly but maintain respect for each other’s side, their point of view … and appreciate the other’s love of country.

What a shame, though, that it took an even such as this to possibly make them reach this point.

Is all hell breaking loose in D.C.?

WASHINGTON — I had intended to post this blog as a comment about the political divisions that roil inside the building pictured here.

Those divisions seem to belie the calm and serenity we saw while strolling along Capitol Hill. We came up on the Capitol Building at sunset and just, oh, took it all in.

Then came the news this morning that five people were injured in a shooting at a park in Alexandria, Va. One of the victims is U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the Republican Party’s congressional whip, the No. 3-ranked member of the House of Representatives.

We have heard as well that Scalise’s injury is not life-threatening, which is good to hear.

In some manner or form, the picture here juxtaposed with the events this morning perhaps give even more credence to the notion that all hell appears to be breaking loose near the halls of power.

My goodness! This has to stop!

The shooting took place reportedly where Republican members of Congress were practicing for the annual baseball game that occurs between GOP members and their Democratic colleagues. It’s a good-time charity event. It is viewed as a bipartisan event that enables lawmakers to have some pure fun away from the rough and tumble of the political battles.

Now this event has been sullied by senseless violence.

I’m going to pray for the victims of this act. I believe I’ll also say a prayer or two for our great nation.

Mueller pick enables Congress, POTUS to get back to work

One of my first takeaways from today’s blockbuster news about the appointment of a special counsel to probe the “Russia thing” suggests that Congress and the president can get back to actual work.

You know … governing!

Robert Mueller is going to lead the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election; he’ll look at whether Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia connection; he might even find some other things we haven’t even thought of … yet.

You’ll recall that a former special counsel, Kenneth Starr, was tasked initially with examining a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that the president was having an “inappropriate” relationship with a young White House intern. The rest became history.

Mueller, himself a former FBI director, is an excellent choice to lead this probe. I give Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein high praise for making this choice.

Senators, House members and the president now can get back to arguing over some other things: health care, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration matters, North Korea, Syria, NATO.

We can argue ourselves hoarse over the merits of what Donald Trump wants to do. I don’t mind that debate continuing at full throttle.

This Russia matter and all its tendrils have strangled the government. For his part, Trump has made a mess of just about everything he has touched. Congressional leadership hasn’t acquitted itself much better, either.

Yes, House and Senate committees will continue to examine the “Russia thing” along with whatever Mueller uncovers. Let them pursue their charter as prescribed by congressional rules.

The rest of the House and the Senate — along with the guy who is president of the United States — ought to concentrate more fully on what they were sent to Washington, D.C., to do.

That is to govern.

Is Rep. Chaffetz the GOP answer man on impeachment?

Given that I am a red-blooded American male, which means that I am wrong a good bit more than I am right, I will advance this notion with some trepidation.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz could emerge as the stand-up congressional Republican who gets his GOP caucus members to see the unvarnished truth behind the president of their party.

Donald J. Trump might be in some serious political trouble with what we’re hearing now about what he allegedly “asked” FBI Director James Comey to do; he reportedly suggested that Comey shut down an investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russian government officials.

Obstruction of justice, anyone?

So, where does Chaffetz fit into all of this?

He chairs the House Government and Oversight Committee. He has announced he will not seek re-election to his Utah congressional district seat in 2018. He is a lame duck. He has no more pandering to do to get elected. He need not worry about his “base” of supporters.

Chaffetz said this week he is preparing to ask to see a memo that Comey wrote after meeting with the president shortly after Trump fired Flynn from his national security adviser job. The memo reportedly is part of a meticulous paper trail that Comey has left that details conversations he had with the president.

There could be much more to this than we know about already. Chaffetz might want to see all that Comey wrote down and which now is in the FBI files, presumably locked away somewhere inside the J. Edgar Hoover Building. If the FBI has its former director’s memoranda, then it belongs to the public. Chaffetz, therefore, would seem to be entitled to see them as a representative of a committee charged with examining “government operations.”

Chaffetz is set to chart a new life for himself away from Congress. The timing of these revelations — and of the chairman’s decision to step away from the House — suggest to me that Chaffetz has far less to lose politically than other congressional leaders who have been unable or unwilling to take decisive action against the president.

Mr. Chairman, are you up to the task of rooting out the truth, no matter where it leads?

GOP now reaping what it has sown

John Boehner was angry, man. He was furious when he took the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican congressman from Ohio was furious that Democrats had pushed a bill that sought to reform health care without even reading the massive piece of legislation.

He bellowed, blustered and berated his “friends” on the Democratic side of the floor for shoving this bill down the throats of their Republican colleagues.

Boehner’s anger was righteous.

The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. Boehner would eventually become House speaker. He would file a lawsuit to get the law repealed. Speaker Boehner, though, bailed on public service after continuing to fight with the TEA Party wing of his Republican House caucus. He’d had enough.

Then the 2016 election occurred. Donald J. Trump was elected president. He promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA. This past week, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill we’ll call “Trumpcare.” It’s an alternative to the ACA. It passed by just four votes out of 430 cast in the House.

But wait! Did the GOP leadership know what was in the bill? Did they read the legislation? Did their GOP caucus members read it? Do they know all the nuts and bolts of it?

Hah! Hardly.

They’ve repeated the sin of their colleagues. Does it make their effort to “shove it down Democrats’ throats” any more palatable? Not in the least.

Instead, GOP House members are hearing loud and clear from their constituents a ringing message: The folks back home don’t like what they’ve passed and what they have foisted onto the Senate for its consideration.

Meanwhile, the president who has crowed about keeping his campaign pledge now has to persuade the Senate to follow the House’s lead. Trump, the guy with zero government experience or knowledge of how it works on Washington, D.C., is going to recieve yet another lesson in how Congress just doesn’t do the president’s bidding whenever he barks the order.

And those Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted for Trumpcare are going to get a taste of what they sought to deliver to Democrats in 2010.

Payback truly is a bitch … you know?

Talk to us, Rep. Thornberry

The fellow who represents me in Congress has made his point pretty clear: He doesn’t intend to conduct “town hall meetings” with constituents during these lengthy congressional breaks.

I beg to differ with Rep. Mac Thornberry’s reluctance to speak to groups of his constituents.

The Clarendon Republican lawmaker has just voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to replace it with a Trumpcare version of health care overhaul.

Congress is taking some time off. Its House members and senators have fanned out across the land. Some of them are facing their critics, namely their constituents, who are questioning them about their votes in favor of Trumpcare. Rep. Thornberry, to my knowledge, hasn’t scheduled any such public events.

He ought to rethink his schedule.

Do I expect him to get a dressing down from angry 13th Congressional District constituents? Well, I don’t know. He is considered a lead-pipe cinch for re-election in 2018; his district is as reliably Republican as any in the country. Then again, other GOP House members who are equally safe and secure have been getting pounded by their constituents.

I actually want to applaud those Republicans who have voted for Trumpcare to stand before their “bosses” and explain themselves. I think much less of those who have chosen other pursuits while they are at home, ostensibly tending to “constituent business.”

Thornberry’s been in Congress for a long time now. He took office in 1995. He chairs the House Armed Services Committee. He’s got a big job. He once led a GOP effort to come up with ways to protect us against cyber-crime. I’m hoping whatever he came up with is being employed by our spooks to protect our national security secrets against hackers from, oh, Russia!

However, health care is on people’s minds these days. Even, perhaps, out here in the 13th Congressional District.

We’ve been represented in Congress by someone who has aligned himself with those who want to throw out the Affordable Care Act. The Trumpcare replacement well could cost a lot of Thornberry’s constituents their health insurance.

I believe he owes them a thorough explanation of why he cast one of the House’s “yes” votes.