Tag Archives: House GOP

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.

‘Rumor’ might shake it all up in D.C.

I always steered far away from reporting on “rumors” when I worked for a living as a print journalist.

The worst kind of rumors came from people with no direct knowledge of the tidbit they were passing on.

Still, this item is worth a brief note here. U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, a Nevada Republican, told a Nevada news station that House Speaker Paul Ryan is considering resigning his House seat and that the next speaker will be Rep. Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican lawmaker who was seriously wounded in a shooting involving GOP congressmen who were practicing for a charity baseball game.

Ryan’s office denies the speaker will quit. Which is what you expect them to say.

The Hill reported: Amodei, who is not a close ally of Ryan’s, emphasized that he was just repeating a rumor. But the on-the-record comments from a Republican lawmaker — and the suggestion that Ryan could resign before the midterms — made waves on Monday, briefly crashing the Nevada Newsmakers website.

Ryan might be looking ahead to those midterm elections across the country and the possibility that Democrats could reclaim the majority in the House of Representatives; that, of course, would hand the speakership over to a Democratic House member.

Might it be that Ryan wants out before the so-called “blue tide” washes him out of office?

Hey, it’s only a rumor. Then again …

You’re up, congressional Democrats

Congressional Democrats — in both chambers of Capitol Hill’s legislative body — now have a chance to make good on where congressional Republicans have face-planted.

The GOP wanted to replace the Affordable Care Act. They wanted first to repeal the law, then substitute something else in its place. They just couldn’t cobble together a law that pleased everyone within their caucus, let alone the rest of this vast country.

They have cratered. Their repeal and replace effort is done. Gone. Kaput. Toast.

What’s left? Oh, wait! They can work with congressional Democrats. They can figure out a way to make changes to the ACA, if only congressional Republicans can stomach the idea of maintaining something with Barack H. Obama’s name on it.

In order, though, for Republicans to reach across the aisle, their legislative colleagues — Democrats, I must add — need to offer a starting point.

Suppose it comes to a repair and revamp effort on the ACA, what might the Democrats offer as their chief sticking point?

Are premiums too high? Do Americans have enough choices of doctors? Are there ways to actually make the ACA more, um, affordable for every American who applies for insurance under the government plan?

Democrats have said they are willing to work with Republicans to improve the ACA. To get the discussion started, though, we need to hear from Democratic political leadership on where they intend to start.

We’ve hearing a lot of yapping and yammering from Republicans — for too long, if you were to ask my opinion. Now it’s time for Democrats to take the stage.

Work with Dems to fix ACA? Wow, what a concept!

Am I hearing things or did I actually hear U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say he might be willing to work with Senate Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act?

Yep, I think I heard the Kentucky Republican say such a thing.

What a friggin’ concept, Mr. Majority Leader. Who’da thunk it?

Senate Republicans cannot muster enough votes among themselves to repeal the ACA and replace it with the abomination they cobbled together. Donald J. Trump called the House of Representatives’ version of ACA replacement the greatest thing since pockets on shirts, then the president called it “mean.” He wanted the Senate GOP to come up with a bill with “heart.”

It didn’t. The Congressional Budget Office — that non-partisan agency — issued its “score” on the Senate bill and found out that 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance over the next decade. That’s pretty mean, too, right? Yes.

GOP moderates hate the Senate bill, as do GOP conservatives, although for different reasons. Senate Republicans can afford to lose only two of their votes; at last count, about 10 or 12 of them dislike the bill that’s on the table.

What’s the alternative? McConnell is signaling that the ACA might stand, but that his Republican caucus can work with Democrats to tweak and tinker with what they dislike about the ACA.

My memory now reminds me that President Barack Obama said on numerous occasions during his time in office something like this: I have no deep pride of authorship of the ACA. If Republicans can find a way to improve it, to make it better, then I’m all in!

Didn’t the former president say something like that? Yes, I believe he did.

So, here we are. After all the futile votes to repeal the ACA in the GOP-controlled Congress, all the declarations that the ACA was ruining the lives of Americans and that it is failing, the Republicans in both congressional chambers cannot agree on a plan to replace it.

So, let’s fix what’s wrong with it.

Time to get busy, ladies and gents.

Speaker rises to the need to calm an edgy nation

Paul Ryan has taken a lot of hits of late over some of his political missteps.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, though, today delivered comments containing precisely the correct political tone in the wake of the shooting in Alexandria, Va., involving Republican members of Congress.

House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured in the shooting. He will recover fully and the nation should be grateful for that — and for the recovery of the other individuals who were wounded.

“An attack on one is an attack on all of us,” Ryan said in a House floor speech. “We feel so deeply about the things we fight for and believe in. At times, our emotions can get the best of us,” he added.

Ryan also said, “I ask each of you to join me in resolving to come together…to lift each other up…and to show the country—show the world—that we are one House.”

The shooter is dead. The authorities are investigating what might have motivated him to apparently take aim at Scalise, who was standing at second base during a baseball practice, for crying out loud.

The political rhetoric of late has gotten extremely overheated, overblown and overstated by pols of all stripes, persuasions and philosophies. It well might be that the shooter’s actions this morning was a terrible result of that rhetoric.

Speaker Ryan has sought to calm his House colleagues. The president offered his own words of support and encouragement to the families of those who were wounded by the shooter.

Let us all calm down, take a deep breath and try to reflect on what we all have in common: the love of our country.