Tag Archives: House of Representatives

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.

Watch the body language at the SOTU

I don’t know about you but I plan to try to interpret some body language that will be on full display this evening in front of the entire United States of America when Donald Trump delivers the presidential State of the Union speech.

Sitting over his left shoulder will be a woman with whom he has had, um . . . words. Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited him to the House of Representatives chamber, then uninvited him, then reinvited him.

The president and the speaker aren’t exactly close. They’re fighting over The Wall. Trump wants money to build it along our southern border; Pelosi says it is an “immoral” request and opposes its construction.

Hey, we’ve seen this kind of thing play out many times over many decades. Speaker John Boehner and later Paul Ryan never looked all that thrilled when Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speeches. The speakers were Republicans, the president was a Democrat.

How about when Speaker Pelosi sat behind GOP President Bush, or when GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich had to listen to Democratic President Clinton deliver the SOTU? Same thing, man. The speaker of a different party than the president usually doesn’t jump to his or her feet to applaud when POTUS delivers a line that suggests he expects some hand claps.

The animus between the current speaker and the president, though, is more visceral. Or so it appears. Sure, Trump said some nice things about Pelosi when House Democrats elected her speaker at the start of this congressional session. Did he mean them? Hah, you figure it out!

Pelosi, meanwhile, has been even less generous in her public comments about Trump. I believe the president knows it and likely will feel the speaker’s icy stare on the back of his neck while he talks about the State of the (dis)Union.

Pass the popcorn.

So, just how is the ‘state of our Union’?

Donald J. Trump is going to stand in the U.S. House of Representatives next week to deliver his State of the Union speech.

I really am wondering how he’s going to characterize the state of our Union.¬†Will he declare it strong? Is it vibrant? Does our Union reflect his aim to “make America great again”?

Were the president to ask me about how I view the state of our Union, I would have tell him the harsh truth as I see it. The Union is broken. It is damaged badly. It needs repair.

I get that the economy is rocking along. We’re adding tens of thousands of jobs each month. Unemployment is at near-historic lows. The economic improvement has accelerated during the first two years of the president’s term. For that I give him due credit.

However, there is so much more that is fractured.

The president cannot possibly declare, given the state of our federal functionality, declare the Union to be strong. Oh, but he’ll likely seek to do exactly that. He might draw laughter from the Democratic side of the House chamber along with the cheers that will come from the Republicans.

Our federal government is on life support. Congress and the president cannot pay for it to run for longer than weeks at a time. They are haggling over The Wall. Trump is trying to keep a profoundly stupid campaign promise to build the thing; he is trying to foist the cost on you and me while ignoring the pledge he made dozens of times that Mexico would pay for The Wall.

He will declare that there’s a “crisis” on the southern border. There is no crisis. Indeed, the only crisis I can find is within the United States, where gunmen keep killing fellow Americans. Do you remember the president’s pledge that “this American carnage” was going to stop? It hasn’t ended. He will ignore that, too.

Well, I look forward to hearing from the president. I cannot support him or his agenda. I cannot condone the way he berates his national security team, or how he insults his foes and denigrates the media.

How will he frame the state of our Union, which in reality is as divided as it has been for the past two decades? It likely will bear no resemblance to what many millions of Americans perceive.

The Woman of the House shows her mettle

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid it on the line to the president of the United States.

Donald Trump is no longer invited to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union speech.

She wrote the president a note telling him of her concerns over “security,” given the government shutdown and how the furloughing of critical security personnel makes it impossible for Congress to protect the president, the vice president, the full congressional membership, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the diplomatic corps.

So, her message to the president? Deliver the SOTU speech in writing, as other presidents have done. That’s if he is wedded to the Jan. 29 date scheduled for his in-person, live TV speech.

Pelosi wants the government reopened fully before the president speaks to a joint congressional session.

Thus, she is demonstrating — as if the president needed any proof of it — that she is the Woman of the House and that Donald Trump has met his match.

Elections always have consequences

I have long understood and appreciated the consequences that elections bring to those in public service.

It’s an accepted part of the electoral process. If the individual you want doesn’t get elected to any office, you then must face the prospect of the other individual doing something with which you likely will disagree.

It happened certainly in 2016 with the election as president of Donald J. Trump. He won the Electoral College as prescribed by the Constitution, but more of us cast ballots for his major foe than for the winner. Still, we are paying the consequences of the previous presidential election.

Well, here we are. Two years later and the president finds himself facing his own consequential electoral result in the wake of the congressional midterm election. The House of Representatives, half of the legislative branch of government, is about to flip from Republican to Democratic control; the gavel-passing occurs on Jan. 3 when Nancy Pelosi ascends to the speakership. Committee chairs will get their respective gavels, too.

Get ready, therefore, for hearings. Get ready for lots of questions that House Republicans so far have been  unwilling to ask of the president of their own political party.

The president appears to be in trouble. His GOP “allies,” and I use that term guardedly, have been reticent in seeking the truth behind the many questions that swirl around the president. They aren’t “friends” with Trump as much as they are frightened by him. He has bullied them into remaining silent.

The president won’t be able to play that hand with Democrats who are in charge of the lower chamber of Congress. Thus, it remains increasingly problematic for the president to do something foolhardy, such as fire the special counsel who is examining those questions concerning the alleged “collusion” between the president’s campaign and Russian government agents who interfered in our electoral process.

Yes, indeed. Elections have serious consequences. We are likely to witness them play out in real time . . . very soon.

Pelosi employs her superb ‘inside game’

This is what they mean, I suppose, when they say Nancy Pelosi plays an unparalleled “inside game” on Capitol Hill.

The Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives is knocking off her former foes by “killing” them with promises. She intends to become the next/returning speaker of the House and she is lining up her friends to ensure they cast their votes in her favor.

Rep. Brian Higgins of New York had been a foe. He’s now on her side, thanks to a pledge to prioritize infrastructure legislation and Medicare expansion next year. Earlier, Pelosi struck a deal to win over Rep. Marsha Fudge of Ohio, who had considered running against Pelosi for speaker; Fudge climbed aboard the Pelosi haywagon after the presumptive speaker promised her a committee chairmanship and pledged to work to correct voting problems.

Isn’t that the sign of someone who knows how to turn foes into friends and start the process of organizing an occasionally unruly caucus of partisans with their own agendas, their own concerns and their own constituents?

This kind of skill is precisely what made her such an effective speaker during her first go-round, from 2007 until 2011.

Republicans will continue to demonize her. They do so at their peril.