Tag Archives: House GOP

GOP caucus leaders render Rep. King useless . . . good!

A resignation might not be too far off for U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican with a big mouth but, more importantly, repugnant views about white supremacy and white nationalism.

The House of Representatives GOP leadership has just stripped King of all his committee assignments. He will not serve on a single committee during the 116th Congress, a move that renders him essentially useless. He’ll get to vote on issues that come to a full floor vote, but he will not have any substantial input in crafting legislation that committees prepare prior to that vote.

What prompted this unusual move? King managed to reveal once again that he is no friend of ethnic or racial minorities. He said during a New York Times interview that he couldn’t understand why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became “offensive language.”

No kidding? He didn’t understand it? Those terms became “offensive” when groups that carried those labels lynched African-Americans and brutalized other non-white, non-Christian Americans.

This idiocy is not the first time King has been linked to these hideous groups and their beliefs. The GOP House leadership has had enough of their colleague.

Now he ought to take the next logical step, having been stripped of any committee assignments in the People’s House.

Steve King should resign and go home.

Paul Ryan: big-time letdown

I had high hopes for Paul Ryan when he was dragged kicking and screaming into the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Wisconsin Republican reportedly didn’t want to become the Man of the House when John Boehner resigned his speakership and left public office in 2015. Ryan had to be talked into it.

He took the job. I was hopeful that this policy wonk, a serious young man who knows the ins and outs of public policy would be able to manage the House effectively and work to enact meaningful legislation. I had hoped he could work effectively with the Democratic minority in the House chamber.

Then I had hope that after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 that he could resist some of the new president’s more bizarre impulses.

Well, he didn’t deliver the goods. He didn’t work well with the other party. He certainly didn’t resist the president. He became a Trump Man. Not a Republican Party Man. But a Trump Man. He became the president’s enabler.

Ryan ran on the 2012 GOP ticket for vice president. He and Mitt Romney lost that election to President Obama and Vice President Biden. He went back to the House, resumed his post as Budget Committee chairman. Then fate — and Speaker Boehner’s frustration with the TEA Party wing of his party — delivered him to the House’s highest post.

If only he could have shown a bit of spine as the Republican In Name Only president proceeded to hijack a great political party. There were faint signs of spine-stiffening, such as when he would offer mild criticism of some crazy Trump utterances.

But then he would roll over as Trump pushed through the House a tax cut that over time will benefit only the wealthiest of Americans.

Speaker Ryan gave a farewell speech today, bidding goodbye to the House where he served for two decades. He lamented the “broken politics” that afflicts the House. Uh, hello, Mr. Speaker? You helped break it.

I, of course, live far away from Janesville, Wis., from where Ryan hails. However, given that he managed the legislative body that approves legislation that affects all Americans, I have a significant stake in the job he did.

Thus, I shall declare that I won’t miss Paul Ryan.

Term limits for congressional leaders? Why not?

I dislike the idea of term limits for members of Congress.

However, the idea of imposing such limits on congressional leaders is another matter. To that end, the next speaker of the House of Representatives is on to something constructive.

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democratic caucus, has agreed to serve only two terms as speaker once she takes the gavel in January. She is set to favor a vote among congressional Democrats to impose similar limits on committee chairs, following the lead set by their Republican colleagues.

Pelosi getting push back

I like the notion of imposing those limits on leadership, despite my aversion to mandatory limits on the number of terms House members can serve on Capitol Hill. I have said all along that we already have limits on terms; they occur in the House every two years and every six years for senators. The 2018 midterm election demonstrated quite vividly the power of the electorate to give incumbents the boot.

Congressional leaders, though, aren’t necessarily beholden to the voters for the power they obtain in the halls of Congress. They are beholden to their fellow lawmakers.

Why not enact mandatory regular changes in committee chairmanships — as well as the speaker of the House?

It’s a good call from the new speaker.

Bring on the women!

In 2017, Amarillo voters had the good sense to elect an entirely new City Council, given that the previous one had become so dysfunctional.

Three of the new council members are women, which on a five-member governing body means its majority comprises females.

I commented on my blog at the time about that marvelous turn of events and a couple of soreheads chastised me, suggesting that the presence of a female-majority council didn’t mean a damn thing will change.

Guess what. Now we’re about to welcome more than 100 women to the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s the most ever for Congress’s lower chamber. It’s all the talk in Washington as these individuals get set to take their seats.

The vast majority of the newly elected women are Democrats, so they constitute part of that so-called “blue wave” that swept over Congress, flipping the House from Republican to Democratic control.

I’m wondering now: Where is the thought that these women won’t make a difference, that they won’t have an impact on the flow of legislation, or the topics to be considered?

One of the returning women, Nancy Pelosi of California, is poised to become speaker of the House. She’s “killing” her intraparty foes with promises of committee chairmanships and prioritizing legislative items to their liking. That’s how you play the “inside game” and Speaker-to-be Pelosi is proving to be pretty damn good at it.

I am one American voter who is glad to see women making a greater impact, leaving a bigger and deeper footprint on the nation’s legislative agenda. I remain committed to the notion, too, that a female-majority City Council in the city of my former residence is going to make a positive difference in the community’s future.

Democrats suffer a gigantic electoral shock

Something happened to U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s inexorable march to the chair occupied by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He got beat! In a Democratic Party primary no less!

His conqueror is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time political candidate, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” a community activist who worked the neighborhoods of Queens and The Bronx in New York City.

Crowley had poured lots of money into this race. He outspent Ocasio-Cortez by about 18 to 1. All that money went for naught, given that Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley by double digits Tuesday night.

One problem emerged with Crowley’s re-election effort, just as it did in 2014 when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia GOP primary contest. It turns out Crowley was more interested in his own political ambition than in the problems facing the constituents who sent him to Congress in the late 1990s. He wanted to push Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi aside; he kept yapping about the need for “new leadership” among the House Democratic caucus.

His hope has been that Democrats could retake the House this year and he — not Pelosi — would be chosen as the next speaker of the House.

Did he care about the home folks? They spoke Tuesday night and delivered their verdict that, nope, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Is there a lesson here. Yep.

Somewhere, the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill is laughing out loud. It was O’Neill who coined the well-worn phrase: “All politics is local.”

GOP House caucus stampedes lame-duck speaker

It’s no secret that the U.S. House of Representatives Republican majority at times can turn into an unruly bunch.

The TEA party faction, along with the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus, drove former Speaker John Boehner batty enough to make him quit.

Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, is getting the same treatment. The House Freedom Caucus helped torpedo a new farm bill for reasons that hardly anything to do with farm policy.

Ryan is a lame duck. He isn’t seeking re-election to the House from Wisconsin. Indeed, his speakership has been no picnic from the get-go. He now is finding it difficult to keep his own partisan troops in line, let alone getting any help from Democratic House members who don’t much like or respect him to begin with.

The farm bill got entangled with immigration, according to The Hill:

The House bill became inextricably linked with immigration after the Freedom Caucus demanded a vote on the conservative measure as moderates neared the 206 signatures needed to force a vote on a separate immigration plan that falls well short of the proposal pushed for by the White House.

Despite leadership offering the group of conservative hardliners a vote on the immigration measure in June, the members refused to back the legislation.

House conservatives seemingly want to poison an important aid to farmers and ranchers with an issue that ought to stand on its own.

As for the speaker, he told the country he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to seek the job he now holds. I guess he meant it.

Speaker Ryan’s remaining time as the Man of the House appears headed for a rocky conclusion.

Tell the whole story about GOP findings, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump keeps leaving out a critical portion of a U.S. House Intelligence Committee report on the ongoing Russia meddling investigation.

This really matters. Honest. It does.

The president once again thanked the Intelligence Committee for concluding “there was no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for one little thing. The “exoneration” came from committee Republicans. Intelligence panel Democrats are having none of it. The GOP members drafted the 250-page report all by themselves, with no comment, input or contribution from Democrats who serve on the committee.

According to RealClearPolitics: “No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing, it is a witch hunt,” the president said. “The report was very powerful, very strong. There was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian people.”

“With that all being said, we can get along with Russia. That is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he added.

With that the House Intelligence Committee has wrapped up its work.

However, there’s more work to be done. It’s occurring at the other end of the U.S. Capitol Building, by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Perhaps when the Senate panel finishes its work it will issue a report that includes all its members, not just one side whose only interest is to provide cover for the president.

I should note, too, that former FBI Director James Comey — who’s on a speaking tour promoting his new book — has said that “collusion” isn’t covered specifically by federal statute. If there are indictments to come from, say, special counsel Robert Mueller, they will involve charges of conspiracy or attempts to defraud the government, according to Comey.

Is this investigation nearing an end?

I, um, do not believe that’s the case — no matter what House Intelligence Committee Republicans might think.

‘I’d rather be a vegetarian’

Paul Ryan is giving up one of the most powerful political offices on Earth.

Who is going to succeed him as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? It won’t be U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon (Texas) Republican who came to the House in 1995 after winning the 13th Congressional District office the previous year.

Thornberry was part of the Contract With America team led by insurgent firebrand Newt Gingrich, who went on to become speaker for a couple of congressional sessions.

A quote is attributed to Thornberry, who came from a Texas Panhandle ranching family, that sums up his interest in the speakership. “I’d rather be a vegetarian,” he reportedly said after John Boehner quit the speakership some years ago.

To be honest, Thornberry strikes me as more of a follower than a leader. Yes, he chairs the House Armed Services Committee (for now). I’m beginning to think there’s an increasing chance someone else will chair that panel when the next Congress convenes in January 2019; that “someone else” well could be a Democrat.

Thornberry has served in the House for 23 years. He is not prone to making himself available to the media for constant Q&A, which is what he would face as speaker of the House. He has been for much of his time on Capitol Hill a classic back bencher.

Would he like to be speaker? This isn’t even a serious question.

But … they’re asking it of the Texas Panhandle Republican anyhow.

How does ‘Speaker Thornberry’ sound?

A ‘wave is coming’

Terry Sullivan, a Republican political strategist who ran Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign had this to say about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from Congress:

“It’s just another illustration of the harbinger of things to come. There’s no Republican who’s optimistic about the November elections. It’s the 300th example that there is a wave coming.”

Is this the Gospel According to Sullivan? Is he all-knowing, all-feeling, all-understanding? Does he know something the rest of us cannot know or can possibly know?

I have no clue.

However, I am beginning to rethink my view of Ryan’s stated reason for leaving the speakership. He said he wants to spend more time with his wife and young children.

Ho … hum.

It is sounding more like a standard dodge than anything that’s actually real.

Ryan became speaker reluctantly after John Boehner quit the House. He said he didn’t want the job and the headaches that came with it. Then he slid into his post as Man of the House. I considered him initially to be somewhat of a grownup.

And then Donald Trump got elected president of the United States. That’s when it all fell apart. Ryan sought to be a good soldier. He considered himself to be loyal to the party. The problem appeared to expand and explode as Trump began to assert himself while trying to learn a thing or two about the process of governing.

It has been a cluster-fudge since the beginning of Trump’s time as president, putting the man who stands third in line to the presidency in the line of fire.

I cannot pretend to know what is in Speaker Ryan’s head and heart. It just strikes me today, just a bit after Ryan’s startling retirement announcement, that he really didn’t want to become speaker.

It now becomes apparent that despite his stated desire to be more of a family man that he just might realize that the speaker’s job didn’t pay him enough to deal daily with the chaos that emanates from the White House.

Yep, Sen. Rubio’s strategist just might be on to something about a “wave coming.”

Ex-congressman faces a possible prison term

I would feel a hint of compassion for a former congressman.

Except that I cannot.

Steve Stockman once was a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He served two non-consecutive terms. He now faces a possible decades-long prison sentence if a jury convicts him of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and election law violations.

He allegedly treated himself to lots of campaign cash, not to mention using it to pay for non-political related expenses for staffers and family members.

I don’t know whether he’s guilty of the charges brought against him. That will determined by a Houston-area jury. I do know of Stockman as one of the strangest politicians I’ve ever encountered.

He first won election to the House in 1994 as part of the GOP Contract With America tidal wave. He managed to sweep from Congress a powerful Democratic committee chairman, Jack Brooks of Beaumont, who at the time was the senior member of the Texas congressional delegation. Brooks chaired the House Judiciary Committee when he lost to Stockman — who knew next to nothing about the congressional district he represented for two years.

He most recently invited the angry man of rock ‘n roll music, Ted Nugent, to attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013; that occurred during Stockman’s second term in the House.

He didn’t distinguish himself at all during his time in the House. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014, but lost to incumbent John Cornyn in the GOP primary.

Stockman was a goofball while he served in the House. As the Texas Tribune reported, Stockman once had a bumper sticker printed that read: “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.”

Doesn’t this jokester just crack you up? Naw, me neither.

Well,  I’ll await his verdict and I might offer a comment when the jury delivers it.

I would wish him well, if only he had learned how to behave himself while he served in the People’s House.