Tag Archives: House of Representatives

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.

Trump claims victory, but wait a minute!

Donald John Trump was right to declare victory (of a sort) in the wake of the 2018 midterm election.

His fellow Republicans gained a couple of seats in the U.S. Senate. The president did campaign on behalf of GOP candidates and most of them won their contests.

The Senate now has a bit of wiggle room for Republicans to operate. That wiggle room makes it a bit less critical when a GOP senator decides to bolt, as was the case when Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate.

But then … we have the House of Representatives.

Democrats didn’t ride home the “big blue wave” that many had predicted would occur. The “wave” turned out to be a success nevertheless. They got control of the House. Nancy Pelosi is likely to become the next speaker. The president did phone her Tuesday night to congratulate her.

Trump should have acknowledged the Democrats’ House victory today. He didn’t. He chose instead to ascribe a bit too much importance to the Senate victory. That’s fine. It’s the president’s call.

Just as George W. Bush learned quickly when he became Texas governor in 1995 with a Democratically controlled Legislature, Trump needs to learn now how to work with Democrats who control one legislative chamber of Congress. Gov. Bush learned how to develop alliances with Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney and Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock.

Donald Trump needs to find a way to forge an alliance with a speaker of the other party, just as Bill Clinton did with Newt Gingrich, as Ronald Reagan did with Tip O’Neill and George H.W. Bush did with Tom Foley.

Sure, Trump won a victory. It wasn’t a total win. He took it on the chin in one house of Congress. He has some learning ahead of him. If he is capable.

Cool it with the accusations, Democrats

So much to say about the 2018 midterm election … so I’ll start with this item.

The presumptive speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said prior to the election that Democrats should cool it with talk of impeaching Donald J. Trump. She said impeaching the president is a non-starter and she didn’t want the campaign to be decided on that issue.

Here is her chance to make good on that plea.

Democrats seized control of the House last night. Senate Republicans gained a couple of seats, cementing the GOP control of the upper legislative chamber. The former House “ranking members” will become committee chairs. They’ll be able to call the shots in the House. The ballots were still being counted Tuesday night when word came out of Washington about Democrats wanting to subpoena the president’s tax returns, which he has (in)famously refused to release for public review.

I want to see them, too. However, Democrats also campaigned for office demanding that “pre-existing conditions” are honored if the House considers amending the Affordable Care Act. They have health care to consider.

They also have budgeting issues to ponder. They have to consider potential new tax cuts. That budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

The president called the new speaker last night to congratulate her for the Democrats’ House victory. The two of them reportedly talked about bipartisanship and working together to get things done on behalf of the people.

I don’t know if Trump actually means it, given his propensity for lying. Pelosi should heed that call, even if the president reneges down the line.

Those of us who want to see government re-learn how to function on behalf of the “bosses” — that’s you and me, folks — must demand that a divided Congress learn to unite within itself. We also must demand that the president and Congress set aside the fiery rhetoric and start acting as if they mean what they said about cooperation and compromise.