Tag Archives: Nancy Pelosi

Chuck and Nancy no longer pals with Donald

Hey, I thought Donald Trump had made new friends in Congress.

Didn’t he once say he and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were partners in an effort to actually get some legislation approved?

He called ’em Chuck and Nancy. He supposedly worked out an agreement with them to keep the government functioning until early December.

Now, though, the friendship is on the rocks. Surprised? Neither am I.

He said today that he didn’t see a deal in the making that would prevent a government shutdown. Chuck and Nancy were supposed to go to the White House to meet with Republican congressional leaders … and the president.

Then they backed out. They left their chairs empty at the White House conference room table.

Who’s to blame for the scuttling of this friendship? Who among them is the most stubborn? POTUS or Chuck and Nancy?

Here’s what needs to happen, though. The government funding measure is set to expire a week from this coming Friday. If the two sides don’t rekindle their friendship, then the feds are going to shut down the government.

This kind of brinkmanship is not why voters elect these people. It’s damn sure not why they sign on to “serve the public.”

Can’t they all be friends … again?

Can this congressman promote Capitol Hill unity?

Steve Scalise is back at work.

His office is on Capitol Hill. He is a Republican member of Congress from Louisiana. Rep. Scalise also serves in a leadership position with the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives.

He has been away from the office for a while. You see, Scalise was nearly shot to death earlier this summer while practicing for a congressional baseball game along with his fellow Republican caucus teammates.

Scalise was rushed to the hospital. His condition became critical. His bullet wounds caused immense internal bleeding.

But now, thank goodness, he is recovering. He walks with crutches. He is unsteady on his feet. This past week, though, he walked onto the floor of the House to a thunderous ovation from a packed chamber of his colleagues.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.

The tears of joy flowed across both sides of the partisan aisle. Democrats cried and cheered along with Republicans. Their friend and colleague was back. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, took the floor to proclaim her joy at Scalise’s return and credited jokingly that his “Italian heritage” — which Pelosi shares — enabled him to return to work after suffering such grievous wounds.

So, the question emerges: Was this bipartisan joyous welcome a harbinger of a potentially new era on Capitol Hill?

It might be said that such a “new era” would in fact be a return to an older time, when Ds and Rs got along after hours. They were just political adversaries, not enemies.

Scalise said on a “60 Minutes” episode broadcast tonight that he doesn’t believe Republicans and Democrats are that far apart on many key issues. He wouldn’t predict a return to a more civil atmosphere under the Capitol Dome, but he sounded mildly hopeful that his near-tragedy well might signal a return to the collegiality that’s been missing for far too long in Washington, D.C.

Can unity return?

Americans of all stripes should hail the recovery of Rep. Scalise. We all should welcome the tremendous affection demonstrated on the floor of the House when he made his dramatic return to work.

Let us hope it does signal a renewed spirit of unity.

The ‘swamp’ is draining … finally?

Tom Price is not a political whippersnapper. He’s not wet behind the ears. He’s been around Washington, D.C., first as a member of Congress and then — until today — as secretary of health and human services.

Dr. Price quit his HHS Cabinet job in the wake of boiling controversy involving his use of private aircraft that taxpayers paid for. It smacked of a spendthrift philosophy that smacked Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in D.C. squarely in the face.

Price’s travel expenses ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had promised to pay back $52,000, which amounted to a fraction of the bill he ran up flying aboard private charter jets rather than commercial airlines, which had been the custom over many previous administrations.

Price is now gone. He resigned today. Is the proverbial “swamp” now starting to drain? Well, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Price once complained loudly against then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of “luxury jets” while she flew around the country. Then he gets caught doing something quite similar, if not identical, to what he accused Pelosi of doing.

It all kind of reminds me of how another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, wailed and railed against President Bill Clinton for his affair with the White House intern in the late 1990s — while at the same time Newt was taking a tumble with a congressional staff member while he was married to someone else.

Sigh …

Where do we go from here? The president has made precious few wise moves since stepping into the Oval Office. One of them is his hiring of John Kelly as White House chief of staff. Indeed, it appears quite likely that Gen. Kelly had a hand in Dr. Price’s resignation. Moreover, it also is being reported that Kelly’s fingerprints appear to be all over a new White House directive that mandates that all Cabinet officers and senior staffers clear their travel plans with Kelly and White House legal counsel.

Price’s departure is not a surprise, given the president’s own expressions of anger over the revelation about the former secretar’s travel habits.

The Trump administration, though, needs to pull a lot more plugs at the bottom of that “swamp” to ensure it gets drained.

DACA ‘deal’ produces more … chaos

Chaos, anyone? Anyone?

“Chuck and Nancy” had dinner Wednesday night with the president of the United States of America and then announced they had reached an agreement with Donald J. Trump on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals rule.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the deal involves legislation to restore DACA that “excludes the wall” that Trump wants to build across our nation’s southern border.

Cheers went up. The illegal immigrants who were brought here as children wouldn’t be rounded up and deported back to countries they don’t know, given that they grew up as de facto Americans.

Trump had rescinded the DACA executive order and gave Congress six months to craft a legislative solution to this problem. The Chuck-and-Nancy announcement seemed to give the DACA residents some hope, some reason to believe they could proceed toward full U.S. citizenship or permanent immigrant status.

Not so fast, said the president.

He insists he didn’t agree to forgo money for the wall — which he has said Mexico would pay for, over the strenuous objections of that country’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto.

Good grief, dude! Two leading Democratic politicians — both of whom have been at this governing thing for a long time — make an announcement, that is contradicted immediately by the president of the United States.

Perhaps Chuck and Nancy should bear some responsibility for this latest round of chaos as it involves the president.

But all told, the rollout of this so-called deal bears the marks of the man who is unable to formulate a smooth strategy — for anything. 

Do they have a deal or don’t they?

Just think: We’re only eight months into a four-year term for the president. This confusion and chaos does seem to make the time drag, doesn’t it?

DACA pact? Deal … or no deal?

Donald J. Trump had a couple of dinner guests at the White House tonight.

They were Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the Senate and House Democratic leaders, respectively. “Chuck and Nancy” emerged from the dinner meeting and announced a “deal” they struck with the president that would produce a permanent agreement to keep “Dreamers” in the United States.

I refer to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals act that Trump supposedly rescinded the other day. He gave Congress six months to work out a legislative fix to DACA, which seeks to protect those who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

It seems that the DACA matter has been put on a fast track. Oh, and get this: They report that Trump has agreed to forgo building the wall.

Not so fast, says White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who tweeted out something about minutes after Chuck and Nancy announced the deal that the president didn’t agree to scrap the wall idea.

Who do you believe? Two seasoned politicians who know their way around the Capitol Hill pea patch or a president who is not wired to tell the truth?

Trump, by the way, hasn’t yet weighed in with his own tweet about what he agreed on with Chuck and Nancy.

I believe the two leading congressional Democrats have just scored another win over the “best deal maker” the world has ever seen.

Congressional shooting produces a glimmer of hope

It’s only a glimmer, a flicker, a slight flash of light.

It might not last past the first serious floor debate in either chamber of Congress. However, the two leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are saying something about unity, about common good, about patriotism and love of country.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today pledged to get the House to work more closely together, to set partisanship aside whenever possible. Their pledge came in the wake of that frightening shooting in Alexandria, in which House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured critically by a gunman who wounded four others before being shot to death by Capital police officers.

A ‘kumbaya’ moment?

Dear reader, we have entered a dangerous time in American political history. The shooter reportedly was highly critical of Donald J. Trump; he also reportedly had some sort of hard feelings against Rep. Scalise, who appeared to be his primary target at that baseball practice field where Republican lawmakers were preparing for their annual charity game against Democratic colleagues.

As near as I can tell, this about the only good thing to come from this terrible event. I am praying, along with the rest of the nation, for the victims’ full recovery. Yes, the police responded with valor and gallantry; the lawmakers who rushed to Rep. Scalise’s aid also performed heroically.

I will await the outcome of Ryan and Pelosi’s pledge to work together, to put the bitterness aside, to argue civilly but maintain respect for each other’s side, their point of view … and appreciate the other’s love of country.

What a shame, though, that it took an even such as this to possibly make them reach this point.

Congressman gets a taste of retribution

What in the world do you make of this?

U.S. Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson went home to his South Carolina congressional district, sought to conduct a town hall meeting with constituents, and was given a healthy dose of the treatment he tossed at then-President Barack Obama.

Wilson, a Republican, infamously shouted “You lie!” at the president during a televised speech to a joint session of Congress. He received a stern look from then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden at that heated moment.

Wilson received bipartisan scolding

As Mother Jones reported: “In 2009, Wilson was the subject of bipartisan condemnation after he interrupted Obama’s address to Congress by calling him a liar when the president said his proposed health care plan wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants. The congressman was forced to apologize for violating congressional decorum with the heckling, but he benefited in the end: Shortly after the incident, an aide confirmed Wilson had raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions thanks to the outburst.”

Well, he was telling constituents this week about how hard he has worked to deter violence against women. The response from the crowd? A chorus of “You lie!”

Wilson stepped away from the microphone as the chants continued, which was something the president couldn’t do when the congressman shouted the epithet while sitting among his congressional colleagues.

Payback can be a bitch. Can’t it, congressman?

GOP turns tables on Democrats

John Boehner was a year away from becoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, but he stood on the floor of the House to express his intense anger at his Democratic colleagues.

They were rushing the Affordable Care Act into law, the then-House minority leader declared. Democrats were shoving this “down our throats,” he hollered. He bellowed that no one had “read the bill!”

The ACA passed with no Republican votes.

Now the GOP is in charge of Congress. Boehner became speaker in 2011 and served until 2015. Republicans sought to repeal the ACA many times during Boehner’s tenure. They failed.

Now it’s Paul Ryan’s House. Speaker Ryan is working with a Republican president to enact something called the American Health Care Act.

What is the GOP strategy being mapped out by Ryan and Donald Trump. Why, they’re trying to rush this to a vote. They’re trying to “shove this down the throats” of conservative lawmakers who oppose it. They aren’t bothering to persuade Democrats, who are lined up en masse to oppose the AHCA, just as the GOP locked arms against the ACA in 2010.

Is it good enough now for Republicans to do the very thing they accused Democrats — with good reason, candidly — of doing?

Of course it isn’t!

The president declared that repealing and replacing the ACA was his top priority. The House was supposed to vote tonight on the AHCA. Ryan backed away from the vote. It’s now scheduled for Friday.

The president says a Friday vote — up or down — will be the end of his negotiating a replacement for the ACA. He said today he’s going to “move on” to other issues. Whether he does will depend on who gets to him. Trump does have this way of changing his mind.

Has there been sufficient comment and analysis on this Republican alternative to ACA, which was trotted out less than a month ago?

Nope. Not even close.

One difference between now and 2010: You aren’t going to hear the current House minority leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, screaming on the House floor about not having enough time to consider this health care insurance replacement. Rep. Pelosi is actually chuckling at what she calls the president’s “rookie mistakes.”

That’s the major difference. The tactics of today’s Republicans certainly resemble those employed by yesterday’s Democrats.

A congressional breakthrough … maybe?

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A single dinner involving two political leaders of opposing parties likely doesn’t signal much all by itself.

It might portend a potential thaw in relations on Capitol Hill. I reiterate … it might.

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., invited House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to his Capitol Hill office for a two-hour get-together. They had a meal in the office and talked a little shop and got to know each other a little better.

What does this mean?

It might be a precursor to some actual progress in Congress between political leaders who’ve been fighting each other — often using some intemperate language to describe the other sides’ motives and intentions.

Democrats and Republicans are battling at the moment over a new budget. They did manage to cobble together a five-day stopgap measure that keeps the government running … but only for a short time. More bargaining is due in the next few days for everyone to agree on a $1.1 trillion federal budget that funds the government through most of next year.

Oh yeah. It’s also an election year.

Ryan and Pelosi reportedly don’t know each other well. This meal in Ryan’s office was billed as sort of an ice-breaker.

Where do we go from here? That remains anyone’s guess.

Congress, though, needs to figure out a way to assert its constitutional responsibility to actually govern. There’s been too much fighting between the parties, not to mention between the majority party — that would be the Republicans — and the White House.

The president must share responsibility in this ongoing inability to find common ground. However, just as members of Congress want to take credit for the good things that happen, they also need to take responsibility for the negative occurrences.

Ryan and Pelosi likely aren’t going to become best friends forever — aka BFFs. A dinner, though, well might set the stage for a new working relationship that restores the concept of good government to Capitol Hill.

Scalia recuse himself from race cases? Not a chance

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U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is angry at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

She’s mad at remarks that Scalia made during oral arguments involving an affirmative case involving the University of Texas. Scalia contended that African-American students might not do as well academically at UT as they would in “slower-track schools.” The statement has drawn much criticism against the outspoken justice.

Pelosi thinks Scalia now must recuse himself from future discrimination cases because of his bias.

Let’s hold on, Mme. Minority Leader.

Don’t misunderstand me. I dislike Scalia’s world view as much as the next progressive. But calling for him to recuse himself from these cases goes way too far. According to Politico: “It’s so disappointing to hear that statement coming from a justice of the Supreme Court. It clearly shows a bias,” Pelosi said. “I think that the justice should recuse himself from any case that relates to discrimination in education, in voting, and I’m sorry that he made that comment.”

Consider something from our recent past.

The highest court in the land once included two justices who were philosophically opposed to capital punishment. The late Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan voted automatically in favor of capital defendants’ death sentence appeals. If a death row inmate’s case made it to the Supreme Court, he or she could depend on at least two votes in favor of the appeal.

In fact, Justice Marshall was particularly blunt about it. He said repeatedly that he opposed capital punishment, yet he took part in those appeals.

Did he ever recuse himself? Did pro-death penalty forces make the case that he should? No to the first; and unlikely to the second.

Federal judges — and includes the nine individuals who sit on the highest court — all have lifetime jobs. That’s how the Constitution set it up. Presidents appoint then; the Senate confirms them and then they are free to vote their conscience.

Scalia need not recuse himself. He is free — as he has been since President Reagan appointed him to the court in 1986 — to speak his mind. He has done so with remarkable candor — and even occasionally with some callousness — ever since.