Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

This Senate campaign could be a scream … really!

Go, Dan, go!

Dan McQueen is running for the U.S. Senate now held by Ted Cruz, aka the Cruz Missile.

McQueen is not exactly new to politics. He was mayor of Corpus Christi for all of 37 days. Then he quit amid a huge splash of bad publicity, a social media feud via Facebook with constituents and the media.

Now he’s decided to go after Cruz, who’s going to seek a second Senate term in 2018.

Read Texas Monthly’s report of McQueen’s candidacy.

McQueen was new to politics when he was elected mayor in 2016.

Then questions emerged about his academic credentials and his business expertise. He fought with the media and with city council members. McQueen got entangled in a clean water dispute. Then came questions about a relationship he was having with a business associate.

He had enough. So he walked away from his mayor’s job after a little more than month.

Is he the right person for Republicans to nominate next spring when he runs against Cruz? I have no clue.

But a guy who couldn’t stand the heat at City Hall now wants to step straight into the white-hot fire of Capitol Hill. How in the world is he going to withstand the scrutiny he is going to get as he campaigns against Cruz?

But you know what? The more I think about it, the more Dan McQueen sounds like he’d be a good fit in that zoo we call Congress.

Trump is right: GOP blew it on ACA repeal/replacement

I hope you’re sitting down as you read this next sentence: Donald Trump is correct — to a point — in criticizing the congressional Republican caucus for failing to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The president, who has opened a new front in his all-out war against the Washington political establishment, tore into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s failure to have a replacement ready for enactment when Trump took office.

Do I wish the Republicans had done such a thing? No. I do not like the idea of total repeal of the ACA; I would prefer mending it, fixing it, repairing what’s wrong with it.

My point about the president’s criticism is that the congressional GOP caucus had many years to come up with a replacement plan. It didn’t. It dawdled and twiddled. It didn’t have the wisdom to come up with a reasonable alternative to the ACA. It instead chose to fight with the President Barack Obama on all manner of issues.

Then came Donald Trump to the scene. He won a presidential election while making some grossly overstated promises. He pledged to take Washington by the back of its neck and shake, rattle and roll it to do his bidding.

That didn’t happen, either.

The president was right to at least expect to have a starting point on this repeal-and-replace effort regarding health care insurance. There was nothing waiting for him when he took office.

To the extent that GOP members of Congress were at fault, then the president is correct. They didn’t deliver the goods.

However, the president’s anger at the GOP breaks down because of his refusal to accept any personal responsibility for his party’s failures. It might have been better for Trump to say something like this: “The Republicans in Congress had seven years to replace ‘Obamacare,’ but they didn’t. It’s not entirely their fault, though. As the leader of the Republican Party, I must share in this disappointing outcome. I am the president of the United States, the head of the executive branch of government, which shares power with Congress. I also must share the blame. That’s part of the deal.”

Trump told McConnell that he needs to “get to work.”

Yes. So should the president.

Now for Main Event: The Donald vs. Mitch

It’s a rare event indeed when a president beset with unanimous opposition from the “other party” decides to declare virtual political war on someone who’s aligned with him in the same political party.

Donald John Trump Sr. is now tweeting his angry thoughts about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here’s the best part: McConnell offered a perfectly reasonable, rational critique of the president’s difficulty in enacting legislation, while the president responds with a typically juvenile tweet.

I’m shaking and scratching my head at the same time.

McConnell noted that Trump is “new” to the political process, and said he set “excessive expectations” about how quickly he could enact his legislative agenda. The president’s newness is an honest assessment; the man had zero public service experience prior to running for president. He doesn’t understand government and doesn’t grasp the notion that effective governance is a team sport, that it requires the executive branch of government to work hand-in-glove with the legislative branch. It also requires pols from both parties to compromise while searching for common ground.

Good grief! McConnell could have said it much more harshly than he did. He sought instead to be the diplomat.

Trump fired back with that tweet reminding us that Congress had seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but still hadn’t gotten the job done. Trump’s allies in the right-wing media — namely Fox News commentator Sean Hannity — weighed in, calling for the Senate majority leader to resign.

The utterly ridiculous aspect of this is that Trump and McConnell supposedly are on the same team. The president needs McConnell to assist him in furthering his agenda. Is this how he intends to harvest that help, by continuing these attacks?

Meanwhile, the loyal opposition on the other side of the political chasm — congressional Democrats — are remaining quiet.

Smart.

With ‘friends’ like these …

Donald John Trump Sr. needs all the friends he can find on Capitol Hill.

Why, then, does the president of the United States insist on waging rhetorical war with the leader of the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority? Why is he picking a fight with Mitch McConnell, a master Senate parliamentarian and a guy known as one who can move legislation?

That’s what Trump is doing.

I’m going to put my money on McConnell getting the better of this battle of wits.

McConnell was mildly critical of the president for setting “excessive expectations” for his legislative agenda. Trump then fired back — via Twitter, of course! — this message: “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

You see, this is another demonstration of what the president fails to acknowledge. He is the leader of the Republican Party. He’s the head of the executive branch of government. He owns the GOP’s failure to enact an Affordable Care Act replacement bill as much as the congressional Republican leadership.

Except that he refuses to take ownership on that failure. Or any failure, for that matter.

This deteriorating relationship is going to bring great harm to the president’s ability to enact any kind of legislative agenda. The more he fights with members of his own party, the weaker he appears across the land.

Democrats, meanwhile, should follow the time-honored credo of refusing to butt in when principals of the other party are fighting so openly.

What’s more, if the special counsel’s investigation into that “Russia thing” gets any hotter, and it produces actionable results, the president is going to seriously need friends on his side of the aisle. This intra-Republican squabbling isn’t going to help him.

This might be where I should say: Awww, cry me a river.

That’s it: Blame Congress now

Here, dear reader, is a tweet that came from the president of the United States. It is just another in an endless litany of shocking pronouncements from Donald John Trump Sr.

Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!

There you have it. The president has blamed Congress for enacting a tough sanctions bill against Russia. He didn’t say a word in that tweet about his signing the bill into law. Lawmakers approved the bill with overwhelming majorities and they undoubtedly would have overridden any presidential veto.

Indulge me for a moment.

The U.S.-Russia relationship has tanked because the Russians have been caught — and please pardon the somewhat dated description here — red-handed in their effort to attack the U.S. electoral process. The Russians sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election. Intelligence analysts have concluded the Russians did it. Members of the Trump administration have drawn the same conclusion.

The only high-ranking U.S. official to equivocate is the highest-ranking of them all: the president.

Congress acted as it should have acted by imposing new sanctions on the Russians — and by assuring that Congress has the final say on any effort to lessen or eliminate them.

Yet the president continues to hold tightly to this notion that he can “negotiate” better deals with Russians than Congress.

I should add that Trump signed the sanctions bill without the usual fanfare associated with high-profile bill signings. No TV cameras were present; the president didn’t hand out pens to officials as he etched his signature to the document. The signing was carried in the proverbial dead of night. Why is that?

Now he’s going after Congress yet again for doing what it is entitled to do.

Just suppose for a moment that Donald Trump finds himself in grave political trouble down the road. Suppose special counsel Robert Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian effort to sway the election; let’s also suggest that Mueller might find evidence of obstruction of justice stemming from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

All of this well might bring the president to the brink of impeachment by the House of Representatives. It is at that point that the president is going to need every friend he can find on Capitol Hill to save his backside.

Is this how he nourishes those relationships, by blaming Congress for the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations?

Is bipartisanship making a comeback in the Senate?

Oh, I do hope my ears and eyes aren’t deceiving me.

I’ve heard during the past day or so that the failure of the Republican-authored bill to replace the Affordable Care Act has produced a remarkable event.

It is that Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington are going to actually talk to each other about how they might find a path toward improving the ACA.

Alexander chairs the Senate Health Committee and is committed to working with Murray to commence bipartisan hearings next month that would fix some elements of the existing health care law.

I do believe this is how effective government is designed to work.

The Senate Republican caucus sought to craft an ACA replacement without any Democratic help. The House of Representatives did approve its version of an ACA replacement, also without Democratic input or votes. It fell to the Senate to complete the job. The Senate failed when they lost three GOP senators, killing the totally partisan measure.

Now the Senate is blundering its way toward a compromise solution. Sens. Alexander and Murray are leading the way.

They’re both Capitol Hill veterans. They’ve been around long enough to know how the place can actually work. Alexander and Murray aren’t alone in that knowledge, to be sure.

It well might be time for Republican congressional leaders — in both legislative chambers — to accept that the ACA is the law of the land and that it’s likely to remain the law of the land.

Many of us out here in the heartland have noted that the ACA is far from perfect. Its chief proponent, former President Obama, has implored Republicans to find a bipartisan solution to repair the law. GOP lawmakers, though, have been hung up on repealing the ACA.

A one-party solution hasn’t worked out for the Republicans.

There now appears some momentum building for a return to the proven strategy of working together — with both parties sitting at the same table — to find some common ground.

That’s how you legislate.

Open wide, Mr. President, and swallow this bill

Congress has just force-fed Donald J. Trump a heaping helping of his least-favorite veggie, chased down with a bitter concoction of political reality.

The president signed a bill that imposes tough new sanctions on Russia. He doesn’t like the bill. He signed it anyway, then took a series of shots at Congress for — as the president implied — undermining executive authority to conduct foreign policy.

Poor guy. What lawmakers have done is hold him more accountable for the way he deals with Russia, the nation that meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to remain virtually silent on the meddling matter. He has said utterly nothing in public about the harsh retaliation that Vladimir Putin recently took in response to the sanctions bill; the Russian president ordered the expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats and foreign service staffers. Trump’s reaction? Silence, nothing.

So now we have imposed more sanctions on Russia. The president needs congressional authority to lighten them, which gets under Trump’s paper-thin skin.

He lashed out at Congress for its inability to approve a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and said he, alone, is able to negotiate better deals with foreign powers than those nincompoops on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the probe into Russia’s meddling continues. The president needs to let that investigation proceed full throttle. If it produces nothing, then Donald Trump can crow himself hoarse. If it comes up with something, um, incriminating, then he has to deal with whatever consequences fall into his lap.

If the president isn’t going to speak out on behalf of our electoral system, then it behooves Congress to articulate a nation’s outrage. That is what lawmakers have done with this sanctions bill — and they have forced it down the president’s throat. Good for them!

Listen to this senator

This video lasts 4 minutes and 34 seconds. It is part of a speech that U.S. Sen. John McCain delivered in the midst of an impassioned debate on the Senate floor about whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

McCain came back to Capitol Hill to cast a decisive vote against repeal and replacement of the ACA, effectively killing the Republican effort to affect one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

McCain’s speech, though, deals mostly with the political process that has rendered the Senate virtually impotent. The body has become infected with a win-at-any-cost mentality that McCain says strips the Senate of the title of being “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

McCain — who’s battling brain cancer — took responsibility for being part of the problem. He would go on later to call for a return to “regular order.” He wants the Senate — and I presume the House of Representatives, too — to return to process that encourages compromise and cooperation among lawmakers of both political parties.

It’s not that way now. The word “compromise” has become an epithet. Sen. McCain is right to call for a return to the old way of doing things on Capitol Hill. It’s the only way out of the morass that has engulfed the nation’s legislative branch of government.

Listen to this snippet. It speaks volumes about a brave and heroic American. Our political system needs many more just like him.

Hold on, Rep. Waters!

Donald John Trump Sr. isn’t the only American politician who needs to bind up his hands to keep him from abusing his Twitter account.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters? I’m talking about you!

The California Democrat is one of the president’s most vocal and consistent critics. She fired off a tweet that said Vice President Pence already is planning his inauguration in anticipation of Trump’s impeachment and conviction of assorted “high crimes and misdemeanors.” She said former White House press flack Sean Spicer and ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus will “lead the transition.”

Read my lips here: I take a back seat to no one in my disdain for this president and the way he has conducted himself. But impeachment is not even close to occurring.

Waters has been around Capitol Hill for a long time. I am going to presume she does an adequate job representing her California congressional district, given that she’s been re-elected numerous times since her first election to Congress in 1990.

She tends to make a national name for herself, though, by popping off during heated political debates. It’s getting pretty damn hot in Washington these days, as I believe we all can attest.

Waters isn’t the first anti-Trumpkin to talk openly about impeachment. Fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Green of Texas has filed articles of impeachment, but it isn’t going anywhere — at least not yet.

But this business of using Twitter as a platform to make these kinds goofy political pronouncements is beginning to annoy many of us. You may count me as among the annoyed.

Yep, Mitch, it’s time to ‘move on’

Mitch McConnell sounds like a man who has cried “Uncle!” in his long-running effort to toss out a law that is linked to a man he once vowed he would make a “one-term president.”

The U.S. Senate majority leader didn’t succeed in limiting former President Obama to a single term; nor did he succeed in repealing his signature piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

It’s time to “move on,” he said this week after the latest — and most dramatic — failure to repeal the ACA.

Yes, Mr. Leader, it is time. Sure, you now have a chance to tinker with the ACA, to improve it. The Senate’s top Republican can work with Democrats — for a change! — in finding some common ground.

But the task of legislating, which McConnell knows as well as any one in the Senate, involves lots of complicated things. It involves building and rebuilding relationships with your colleagues from the “other party.” It means you have to deal with myriad crises that crop up around the world without a moment’s notice; and brother, we have a lot of ’em, right, Mitch?

It also means that the leader also has constituents back home in Kentucky who need matters dealt with that concern only them and only their state. I am going to presume that McConnell has a Senate staff that is tasked with tending to those needs on his behalf.

The Battle of the Affordable Care Act is over, Mitch. You lost. The other side held together.

The Senate can fix what’s wrong with the ACA, keep its name, and deal forthrightly with a heaping plate of issues that need its attention.

Oh, yes. We also have that “Russia Thing” that needs our attention.