Tag Archives: Congress

Veto likely will hold up, but then what?

Donald Trump’s first veto of his presidency is likely to withstand congressional efforts to overturn it.

It’s good to ask, though: What happens next?

The president vetoed House and Senate bills that sought to toss aside his national emergency declaration that he sought to build The Wall along our southern border. Congress based its action on a couple of key issues: there is no national emergency, the president’s action sets the stage for future presidents to do the same thing and it usurps congressional authority to appropriate money for specific projects.

Trump wants to divert funds allocated for various programs to build The Wall.

Twelve Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to wipe out the declaration. Democrats control the House, so that vote was a done deal from the get-go. Neither vote was veto-proof, however.

Trump is messing with fire with this veto. Sure, the Constitution grants him the authority to do what he did. However, it’s not yet clear whether his action will withstand a legal challenge if it comes from congressional Democrats.

Never mind that Attorney General William Barr said when Trump signed the veto document that he was within his right legally; we all expected the AG to stand with the president.

The animosity between the legislative and executive branches of government is as vivid as ever. Trump’s veto is likely to stand. However, the fight over The Wall is far from over.

Term limits for SCOTUS? Really, Sen. Booker?

Cory Booker needs to take a breath.

The U.S. senator from New Jersey and one of dozens (or so it seems) of Democrats running for president has pitched a notion of setting term limits for members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

C’mon, senator. Get a grip here!

The founders had it right when they established a federal judiciary that allows judges to serve for the rest of their lives. Lifetime appointments provides judges — and that includes SCOTUS justices — the opportunity to rule on the basis of their own view of the Constitution and it frees them from undue political pressure.

Sen. Booker is a serious man. I get that. He has an Ivy League law degree and is a one-time Rhodes scholar.

He’s also running for a political office in the midst of a heavily crowded field and is seeking to put some daylight between himself and the rest of the Democrats seeking to succeed Donald Trump as president.

Term limits for SCOTUS justices isn’t the way to do it.

We don’t need term limits for members of Congress, either. My view is that lifetime appointments for the federal judiciary has worked well since the founding of the Republic. There is no need to change the system based largely on a knee-jerk response to the current political climate.

Veto would inflame already red-hot tensions

Donald Trump had a one-word, four-letter response to the U.S. Senate vote rejecting his declaration of a national emergency on our nation’s southern border.

“VETO!” he wrote via Twitter.

OK, so the president has thrown down on both chambers of Congress.

The House and the Senate both have rejected Trump’s view that a national emergency exists on our border. They contend that no such emergency exists. A majority of both legislative chambers has stood up against the president.

This is what divided government brings to the table.

Trump has the constitutional authority to veto the legislation that rejects his national emergency declaration. Congress also has the authority to override a presidential veto. It cannot do so with a simple majority. The override sets the bar higher than a vote to enact a law in the first place.

Should the president carry out his veto threat? Does he risk sticking in the eye of a co-equal government branch that has spoken ostensibly for the constituents who elected its members?

Trump’s national emergency declaration is as phony as it gets.

Astonishingly, the president himself has admitted that the declaration is unnecessary. “I didn’t need to do it,” he said immediately after declaration the emergency. The move is meant to empower the president to reallocate money approved by Congress for specific projects; he wants to redirect the funds to build The Wall he says would stem the flow of criminals pouring into the country.

Twelve Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration. The rest of the Senate GOP caucus, interestingly, stood behind the president of their own party after chiding his predecessor — Democrat Barack Obama — for the alleged “lawlessness” of his own executive procedures.

To my way of thinking, Trump’s serious overreach in reaction to a phony immigration crisis is far more “lawless” than anything that Obama ever did.

But that’s just me.

The president is empowered to veto the rejection that is heading for his desk. He’ll likely carry through with the threat. It won’t solve any of the political problems that are piling up around him.

So the battle rages on.

And on and on.

‘Big announcement’ coming from Beto?

Beto O’Rourke’s political team says the former West Texas congressman is planning a “big announcement.” It will come perhaps later this week.

Everyone this side of the Trans-Pecos believes O’Rourke is going to announce he is running for president of the United States in 2020. Yep, that’s a big announcement, all right.

Think about an alternative.

Is it a “big announcement” for Beto to say that after all the deliberation with his wife Amy and their friends and confidants that he’s decided to wait until 2024?

Donald Trump is certain to be gone by then. Perish the thought that he actually runs for re-election and wins next year. Anything is possible, as Trump’s election in 2016 demonstrated in all its narcissistic glory.

Run, Beto. Run?

O’Rourke, who once represented El Paso in the U.S. House and came within a cow chip toss of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz this past year, is showing all the signs of becoming a presidential candidate in 2020.

I just want to suggest that a “big announcement” can arrive in more than one form.

Democrats split over impeachment

So, here we are.

Congressional Democrats comprising the fiery left-wingers and the “establishment” wing are at each other’s throats over whether to impeach Donald John Trump.

The firebrands want to impeach the president now. They’ve heard and seen enough to persuade them that Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Thus, it’s time to impeach — in the words of one of the House rookie Democratic bomb throwers — the “motherf*****!”

Oh, but wait. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming the breaks on that move — at least for the moment. She opposes impeachment. Pelosi, one of the experienced hands on Capitol Hill, doesn’t want to go there.

“I’m not for impeachment,” she says.

Pelosi speaks wisely

I happen to agree with Pelosi. Yes, that’s right. Critics of this blog think I am frothing at the mouth to impeach the president. Not true.

I want to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller III to finish his job of investigating whether there was “collusion” between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russian government goons who attacked our electoral system.

Moreover, I also believe Pelosi’s mind can change if Mueller’s report reveals some impeachable nastiness. There’s also the Southern District of New York, the federal judicial district that is looking deeply into possible criminality. The SDNY also needs to finish its work as well before we should determine whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump.

But for now the speaker is speaking wise words of caution. She is a seasoned politician who knows if she has enough bipartisan support to proceed with impeaching the president. She has calculated that she doesn’t have it. Impeaching the president would be a loser for her and House Democrats.

Pelosi is a wise woman.

Just as Republican members of Congress engaged in fights between establishment politicians and TEA Party fanatics, Democrats are engaging in something quite similar at the other end of the big political spectrum.

The GOP establishment had the country’s best interests when it fought with the TEA Party over spending. The Democratic establishment has the upper hand over the issue of impeaching Donald Trump.

But . . . let’s wait.

Congressman goes from nobody to somebody . . . rapidly!

Matt Gaetz used to be a back-bench member of Congress from the Florida Panhandle. Few folks outside of his congressional district knew his name.

Then he does what a lot of back-benchers do: He says something quite outrageous and in a forum that is bound to gather maximum attention.

He tweeted a message that warns former Donald Trump friend/fixer/lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen about allegations of “girlfriends” that Cohen allegedly has on the side. Why this Twitter message now? Because Cohen is slated to talk publicly Wednesday before the House Government Operations Committee about what he knows regarding Donald Trump’s conduct as a businessman, politician and president.

Gaetz employed a time-honored scare tactic. Watch what you say or I’ll expose dirt on your background. President Clinton’s brother, Roger Clinton, did something similar two decades ago, threatening to expose naughty behavior among congressional Republicans if they proceeded with impeachment against the president.

Cohen is going to take center stage Wednesday in a drama that has been playing out for as long as Donald Trump has been president. Yes, Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress; thus, his credibility is being called into question. He’s not a good guy. He is facing a three-year prison term for lying to Congress.

However, for this congressional tinhorn — Gaetz — to toss out a horrendous accusation on the eve of Cohen’s testimony smacks of witness intimidation. If this were a legal proceeding, Gaetz would be indicted for committing a criminal act.

I do know this much: I intend to listen carefully Wednesday to what Michael Cohen has to say. The notion that he faces hard time in the slammer, it seems to me, might have this way of unleashing the truth-telling even in the most committed liars.

As for Gaetz, he ought to return to the end of the bench in the back of the room and keep his trap shut.

‘Unhappy’ Trump should sign off . . . then move on

Donald Trump is far from the first governing executive to be “unhappy” with legislation that comes to his desk.

The president says he is displeased with the bipartisan deal that came out of Congress to enhance border security, keep the government running and allow all sides to get the heck off each other’s backs.

The deal provides about $1.4 billion to build portions of The Wall that Trump wants to erect along our southern border. It is far less than the $5.7 billion that Trump insisted on spending for The Wall.

Let’s get real here.

It’s all about ‘border security’

The president wants ostensibly to tighten border security. His insistence on The Wall is what has stymied progress in unifying the White House with congressional Democrats on the issue. The president keeps insisting that Democrats actually favor “open borders” and by association embrace increases in crime committed by criminals who come into this country illegally.

That is pure nonsense. Demagoguery at among its worst. It is phony, bogus and ridiculous.

Trump has been contending in recent hours that we’re already building The Wall along our border. He even urged rally crowds to change their chants from “Build the wall!” to “Finish the wall!” Clever, yes?

Whatever. Trump’s unhappiness with the deal appears to rest solely on the money it doesn’t contain. Does it boost border security? I believe it does. It allocates money to erect more barriers, but also enables the deployment of more technology, more border personnel.

Isn’t that all aimed at the same thing, to make our country more secure? What in the name of national security is wrong with that?

I’ll say again, Mr. President: Sign off on the deal! Let’s move on to all those other issues that need our government’s attention.

Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about climate change? Or gun violence? Or our electoral integrity? How about all of them . . . and more?

It’s all about ‘compromise,’ Mr. President; sign the deal

I could swear on a stack of Bibles I heard Donald Trump say the word “compromise” during his State of the Union speech the other evening.

He mentioned it as one of the benchmarks he said he seeks to set as he and Congress look for ways to govern the United States of America.

So, we have a deal to avert a partial government shutdown. The deal contains some money for The Wall, but not the $5.7 billion Trump wanted. It contains some other perks and expenditures to stiffen security along our border.

Trump returned from his campaign rally in El Paso and said he is unhappy with what a bipartisan group of senators and House members cobbled together. He said he needed time to — cough, cough! — “study” the deal that has found its way to the White House.

Effective legislating almost always requires compromise, which means no one gets what they want fully. You have to give a little here and little there and then you come up with something that is mutually acceptable.

I believe that’s what we have in this deal. I wouldn’t consider it perfect, either.

However, it moves us along and gives everyone ample breathing room to consider longer-term repairs to whatever the hell it is that troubles them.

Sign the damn deal, Mr. President! You pledged to work toward a system of government that includes “compromise.” Here’s your chance to prove — for once! — that you’re a man of your word.

No back-slapping, high-fiving on this deal, Congress

Wait for it. Members of Congress are likely to pat themselves on the back, toast each other with adult beverages over an agreement “in principle” they have reached that aims to avoid another partial government shutdown.

A bipartisan negotiating group has come up with a border security plan that provides some money for The Wall, but which falls a good bit short of the amount of money that Donald Trump insisted should be spent.

They announced the agreement tonight. They’ll draft the legislation Tuesday.

The president could torpedo this deal. He should think long and hard before he considers it.

Congress should avoid the back-slapping just because it came up with a deal that keeps the government up and running. This incredible sequence of events has been a terrible demonstration of how not to govern this great nation of ours.

The idea that we have a president who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing is bad enough. That we have a Congress that cannot craft a long-term budget that spares us this political melodrama only worsens Americans’ view of their government.

Yes, the president deserves the bulk of the blame for what we have witnessed, given his insistence on building The Wall. However, Congress isn’t full of political statesmen and women, either.

John Dingell: RIP, dean of the House

I predict that after a certain amount of time has passed that some congressional critics are going to suggest that the late John Dingell was the embodiment of the need to impose limits on the terms of members of Congress.

I would argue that John Dingell embodied instead the best argument against such a restriction.

Dingell, a Democrat, served his Michigan congressional district for 59 years, the longest continual service in the history of the House of Representatives. He succeeded his father, who died in office. When he left office, Dingell turned it over to his wife, Debbie, who’s in the office at this moment.

Dingell served alongside every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

What is most remarkable about Dingell is that he accomplished so much while serving in the House. He was far from just a placeholder, a backbench bomb-thrower.

He was a former board member of the National Rifle Association, he helped champion environmental legislation, he was a friend of labor, he sought to elevate government oversight in Congress, he supported civil rights legislation and turned against the Vietnam War in 1971.

What we need to understand about Dingell’s nearly six decades in the House is that the voters who kept re-electing him were satisfied with the representation he gave them. Had he run off the rails at any time during his lengthy time in the House voters would have taken matters into their own hands. They would have booted him out. They chose instead to keep John Dingell on the job.

Therefore, I stand by the assertion that Rep. Dingell is a testament against a foolish and unnecessary restriction on members of Congress.