Tag Archives: House of Representatives

Mr. Ryan is moving to Washington

I don’t know exactly why this is such a big deal, why the media are making hay about it, but it kinda/sorta is a big deal.

Former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is moving from his beloved hometown of Janesville, Wis., to Washington, D.C. Yep, he’s moving his family — all of ’em — to the nation’s capital city.

Why is it a big deal?

Here’s my take. Ryan made quite a big splash about how he loved getting out of Washington, how he cherished his time away from The Beltway, how he wanted to commune with the home folks to get a feel of what the rest of Middle America was thinking.

He’s now out of office. He left the speakership and the House of Representatives at the end of 2018. Maybe he’s had all the Middle America perspective he can stand.

Let’s remember, too, that Ryan ran for vice president in 2012 on the Republican ticket led by now U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Indeed, I recall vividly during that campaign how Ryan espoused the virtues of going home, of how he wanted to spend as much time as possible away from the halls of power.

To be fair, Ryan is not selling his Janesville home. He and his wife will rent a house in the D.C. ‘burbs in Maryland. He plans to return home to Janesville. His foundation will be based back “home.”

It’s just that when a national politician makes a lot of noise about spending time away from the Center of the Political Universe, only to return to it, well … it does make me scratch my noggin.

Rep. King needs to go … get with it, Iowa voters!

I normally wouldn’t care what a two-bit member of Congress from far-away Iowa thinks about anything.

Except that Steve King, an ultraconservative Republican with a history of making fiery remarks about this and/or that happens to vote on laws that affect all of us far from his western Iowa congressional district.

So, when this clown pops off, it reflects badly on all of us.

What has he said … this time? He told The Des Moines Register that rape and incest are largely responsible for the existence of the human race.

Hoo, boy!

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” he said.

Hey, there’s a bit more. “Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

That’s it! Humanity exists because many of our forebears raped women or had sex with their siblings or even their own children!

Isn’t that simply mind-boggling in the extreme?

This is the guy who once told us about “illegal aliens” with “calves the size of cantaloupes” smuggling drugs into the country. He also recently said he doesn’t understand how the term “white supremacy” has gotten such a bad rap.

OK, he’s one of 435 members of Congress. He also thrusts himself into the spotlight on occasion with remarks such as the nonsense about rape and incest.

And remember, too, that he writes and votes on laws that affect all of us. You and me.

Does he make you proud? I, um, didn’t think so.

Speaker Rayburn’s credo: Just tell the truth

BONHAM, Texas — The text below the picture posted with this blog item offers a fundamental and irrefutable truth about those who serve in public office.

It is simply to tell the truth at all times. “You don’t have to remember what you said,” the text tells us.

Who said it? The late great U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, arguably Bonham’s favorite son.

He was known simply as Mr. Sam. He mentored many huge Texas political icons, men he taught the lessons of legislating and leadership. He was known to be a plain speaker, a man of enormous integrity. Mr. Sam did not enrich himself at the public trough.

I came to his library and museum today. My wife and I took a tour of the simple but still elegant exhibit and learned a little more about this legendary political figure.

I was struck by the text I cited at the beginning of this blog post because — and you likely know where this is going — of the conduct we have seen exhibited by the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

I have no idea how Speaker Rayburn would react to the incessant, relentless and unceasing lies that pour forth from Donald Trump. I only can presume to believe that he would be appalled, aghast and astonished at what would he hear.

The library and museum speak silently but eloquently to the kind of man Rayburn was. He represented his North Texas congressional district with honor, as he did the House of Representatives as the Man of the House.

Sam Rayburn’s honor, to my mind, was built on his effort to speak honestly and truthfully. It is a lesson that is lost totally on too many politicians who have come along after him.

That means you, too, Donald John Trump.

‘Must-see TV’ on tap soon

A major broadcast television network used to hype its programming as “must-see TV.”

I believe Americans interested in the fate and future of our republic will be getting set for their own version of must-see TV. That will be when former special counsel Robert Mueller III swears next Wednesday to tell the truth before two U.S. House of Representatives committees.

He will make an opening statement and then he’ll be asked questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee and then the House Intelligence Committee.

The nation has waited for a long time to hear from the special counsel — who also used to run the FBI — about what he learned during his 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump colluded with Russians who attacked our 2016 election. It also wants to know about whether the president of the United States obstructed justice, sought to block efforts to get to the truth of what happened.

This ought to be pretty compelling TV for those of us interested in such things. I happen to be one of them.

I want direct questions from the committee members. I do not want to hear speeches. They need to cede the floor to Mueller to the extent they can. They need to let this man tell us what he concluded and how he made those conclusions. Nor do I want Republican committee members to turn the proceeding into a sideshow, which they well could be inclined to do as they seek to discredit a man known to be a longtime public servant of impeccable personal and professional integrity.

I happen to be interested in a couple of areas of inquiry.

  • Did the special counsel’s statement that had there been no evidence of wrong doing he would have said so imply that there was wrong doing? To what extent was there wrong doing on anyone’s part, and that includes the president?
  •  If Donald Trump were not the president of the United States, would the special counsel have indicted him on charges that he obstructed justice?

Mueller has said his 448-page report should stand as his testimony. It could be an exercise in futility if he doesn’t offer much beyond what he has written.

I remain hopeful that we’re going to get a whole lot more light shed on this sordid and seedy endeavor.

Take it away, Mr. Special Counsel.

House condemns Trump’s racist tweets … what happens now?

This is no surprise in the least.

The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, has voted along most party lines to condemn Donald Trump’s racist tweets aimed at four progressive Democratic members of the House.

All the Democrats voted for the resolution. Four Republicans joined them. The rest of the GOP caucus stood with the president. I am sorry to say that my congressman, Van Taylor of Plano, stood with Trump and his idiotic notion that the Democrats — all of whom are U.S. citizens and three of whom were born in the United States — could return to their country of origin.

Oh, the racism element? They’re all women of color. One of them hails from Somalia, but she moved here when she was 12 years of age.

All of the women were duly elected to the House in 2018. They all have left an immediate imprint on the body. Sure, I have grown impatient at a couple of them. Rep. Rashida Tlaib used some profane language about impeaching the president even before she took office; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the most ubiquitous freshman member of the House in my recent memory.

But they do not deserve to be treated with such racist rhetoric by the president of the United States.

My question now is this: What happens with this condemnation?

Trump won’t give a damn about it. His Republican allies in Congress won’t care, either, as they have followed virtually in lockstep with a president who brought zero political history with him to the White House. Yet the GOP remains loyal to this guy? The reasons for that fealty boggle my mind.

I am not going use this blog to declare that Donald Trump is a racist. I am going to endorse the House resolution that declares that his Twitter tirade against four member of Congress was racist to its core. Of that there can be no doubt.

Why do congressional Republicans, with so frighteningly few exceptions, fail to recognize what most of the rest of us understand?

Jon Stewart stands up for our heroes

Forgive me for using a word that I have contended over the years has been misused, but I’m going to use it anyway.

Jon Stewart is my newest hero. He stood up today for the first responders, the men and women who rushed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11. He sat before a House Judiciary subcommittee and excoriated the House members for failing to act to protect those heroic first responders.

He spoke for millions of Americans who want the government to deliver on the promise it made 18 years ago, that it would ensure that the first responders — the firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, military members — would always have the medical protection they would require if the needs arose.

The comedian, producer and writer spoke of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that has yet to be extended. Why? Because the Senate cannot muster up the guts to do what it should do, which is provide the money set aside for the fund; the House has approved this legislation, but it goes to the Senate essentially to die.

Steward acknowledged that he sounded “angry and undiplomatic” but still spoke forcefully to House members. Were they moved in any form by what Stewart said? I have no clue. They should have been moved.

He berated House members for their “callous indifference” and their “rank hypocrisy” as it relates to the 9/11 victims fund. He noted that first responders have died from illnesses related directly to their exposure during those first horrific hours after the terrorist attacks.

Jon Stewart put on a rare display of visceral anger coming from a celebrity who happens also to be a taxpayer, a citizen and a man whose voice needs to be heard.

Will those who serve in our federal government answer the call to stand behind those who risked their lives on their behalf?

Yes, those responders are the real heroes in this discussion. I want to salute Jon Stewart, too, for the courage he exhibited in giving Congress the a**-chewing it deserves.

Trump tempts impeachment … but wait!

Donald Trump is tempting the U.S. House of Representatives to enter into a most dangerous political minefield.

The leader of the House, though, isn’t having any part of it.

At least not just yet.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to dig in on her resistance to impeaching the president of the United States. I happen to believe she is taking the correct course.

She wants more “evidence” to come forth in order to proceed with a full-blown impeachment inquiry. I agree with those who believe there’s a mountain of circumstantial evidence already building. However, I believe the House’s consummate political operative — the speaker — understands the consequence of impeaching the president only to have him “acquitted” if the Senate fails to convict him of a high crime or misdemeanor.

I also understand that momentum might be shifting under Pelosi’s feet. Trump keeps stiffing Congress’s effort to conduct oversight hearings. He instructs his staff and former staff to ignore congressional subpoenas. Trump, therefore, is building all by himself a case of obstruction of justice, but he’s not there just yet.

He also is losing court fights. Judges are ruling against the president’s efforts to keep his personal financial records out of congressional hands. He hasn’t yet been issued a court order to fork them over. If such an order arrives, and then the president decides to break the law by disobeying a direct order from a duly constituted judicial authority, well . . . there’s your high crime and misdemeanor.

This rush to impeachment, though, is a fool’s errand. Speaker Pelosi knows it.

I want Donald Trump to walk out of the Oval Office for keeps. I want voters to boot him out in November 2020. I intend to use this blog as a forum to boost that electoral result.

If impeachment is in this nation’s immediate future, I also intend to speak loudly and often in favor of this action.

However, I want the House of Representatives to get it right. I want there to be no room for Trump wriggle free.

Might that moment come? Perhaps. I am willing to wait for it.

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.

House Democrats flex their muscles; Senate GOP is up next

The Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives stuck together today. They got a few of their Republican friends to join them in blocking Donald J. Trump’s emergency declaration.

The vote was 245-182, which is almost a full House tabulation. The issue is that important.

Trump has declared there to be an emergency on our southern border. He did so even while acknowledging that “I didn’t need to” make the declaration. He did so to make a political point.

The president’s ostensible point is to stem the tide of drug dealers, killers, rapists, human traffickers and terrorists he says are pouring into the country. Military officials say no such emergency exists. Indeed, the president’s declaration is as phony as a degree from Trump University.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Republicans still run the upper chamber. However, some GOP senators are peeling away from the president, who now stands likely to lose this emergency declaration travesty.

Trump is likely to veto whatever Congress sends to him. The margins of defeat in the House and Senate are not “veto proof,” meaning that Congress likely will be unable to override a presidential veto.

But what does this mean to the president’s declaration?

It means to me that he doesn’t have the support of a majority of a co-equal branch of the federal government. Will he proceed anyway with this idiotic emergency declaration? Oh, more than likely he will because he doesn’t understand the political implications of what he intends to do — which is build The Trump Wall along our border with Mexico.

This is getting weirder by the hour.

Pass the popcorn; this show is going to be a good one

I am going to have the popcorn handy when House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings gavels a hearing to order.

The Maryland Democrat and his fellow members of Congress are going to listen intently (I am presuming) to a potential superstar witness: Michael Cohen, the former friend and fixer of Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

Cohen is facing a three-year hitch behind bars for lying to Congress. He’s going to take an oath swearing him to tell the truth. He’ll then answer questions about what he knows about the president’s business dealings, his conduct, his attitudes toward women and racial minorities.

Cohen has said he is done lying on behalf of the president. He then is likely to be asked specifically about the lies he told for Trump.

Can’t you just feel the excitement building? Maybe. Maybe not. I am, though, highly interested in hearing what this admitted felon has to say to members of Congress.

Then again, there might be what they call a “nothing burger” offered up by this soon-to-be prison inmate. Part of me thinks that’s possible.

A bigger part of me believes he is going to spill plenty of beans and that there might be more than a few jaws dropping in that House committee hearing room.