Tag Archives: Congress

Take the offer, Mr. POTUS

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Joe Biden has received an offer he cannot in good conscience refuse.

It came from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has invited Biden to speak to a joint session of Congress on April 28. Accept the invitation, Mr. President.

The speech won’t be a State of the Union address, per se. It would give the president a chance to speak to the nation all at once, seeking to lay out his legislative agenda and to keep a pledge he made to tell us “Help is On the Way.”

And it is.

The president has scored one key legislative triumph in the form of the COVID-19 relief bill. He wants more victories that he says will benefit Americans.

The Hill reported: “Nearly 100 days ago, when you took the oath of office, you pledged in a spirit of great hope that ‘Help Is On The Way.’ Now, because of your historic and transformative leadership, Help Is Here!” Pelosi wrote in a letter inviting Biden to address both chambers.

“In that spirit, I am writing to invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Wednesday, April 28, to share your vision for addressing the challenges and opportunities of this historic moment,” Pelosi added.

Pelosi invites Biden to address Congress on April 28 | TheHill

Joe Biden has a full plate of “challenges and opportunities” as he seizes control of our government’s executive branch.

My fervent hope is that he accepts the offer, agrees to speak to us directly, candidly and honestly. We keep hearing about the progress we are making in eliminating the pandemic. We see job creation accelerating after the battering our economy took in 2020 when the pandemic shut the nation down.

There’s more to do, to be sure.

Talk to us, Mr. President. Say “yes” to the speaker’s offer.

Gaetz won’t quit; he certainly should

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Matt Gaetz says he isn’t going to quit his seat in Congress.

He said the allegations against him — that he had sex with an underage girl and might be involved in a sex trafficking ring — are the work of a conspiracy.

Forgive me for saying so, given that Gaetz ain’t my representative, but he needs to get the heck outta there. Why? It’s because he will not ever outrun the allegation, particularly if a federal investigation provides evidence that he, indeed, has been boinking little girls.

Why do I care, living as I do in North Texas, about the political future of a loudmouth who represents a Florida congressional district? Because … this blowhard actually votes on federal laws and regulations that affect all Americans. Members of the House and Senate vote on federal legislation. They propose these laws. They debate them in public. They influence how their colleagues should vote on them.

‘Absolutely not resigning’: Gaetz blasts Justice Dept. probe — and critics (nbcnews.com)

That’s how it’s supposed to work. We have, though, among those serving in the House a seedy cabal of miscreants, not to mention the wacky conspiracy theorists who adhere to the nonsense promoted by QAnon and other traitorous groups.

The scouting report on Matt Gaetz tells me he is interested only in promoting the political future of his former godfather, Donald John Trump. Gaetz keeps a seat warm on the House Judiciary Committee, which gives even more power than your average back-bench member of Congress.

I haven’t been following this story closely enough to be able to project how it will end up. Those who are close to the Gaetz matter suggest that there’s an indictment in the works. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has said that if an indictment comes down, then Gaetz needs to exit the Judiciary panel.

The bitter truth, though, is this: Matt Gaetz cannot outrun these allegations. Every issue he touches as a House member becomes tainted by a tawdry allegation. Pols call it a “distraction.” Yeah, it’s that and a whole lot more.

Get out of there, Matt Gaetz. You have sullied my House, young man.

It’s now Biden the Legislator

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to stand firmly and stand tall (to the extent that I can do that) behind my belief that President Biden’s lengthy history as a legislator will serve him well as he seeks to advance his policy agenda.

Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate before being selected to run as vice president with Barack Obama in 2008. The Obama-Biden ticket, of course, won that election and served two successful terms leading the executive branch of government.

Joe Biden, though, was a man of the Senate. He built friendships and alliances across the aisle. He worked well with Republicans as well as with his fellow Democrats.

Now that he is president, he brings that extensive knowledge of (a) the leaders of the legislative branch of government, (b) of how the legislative system works and (c) the language that members of both congressional chambers speak to each other.

That’s not important? Of course it is!

President Biden is the most legislatively accomplished president since, oh, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

This is worth mentioning once again as Joe Biden begins crafting a strategy to enact a massive — and I mean gigantic — infrastructure bill.

To be sure, he will deal with a Republican minority in the House and Senate that is still chapped at having lost their majority and at Biden whipping Donald Trump’s keister in the 2020 election. I am going to retain my faith that President Biden’s legislative experience will hold him in good stead as he moves his agenda forward.

I do like Joe Biden’s style of leadership. He seeks to remind us of the good work that government can do for us. We need help fighting the pandemic. Our economy needs a big push. The federal government is a monstrous, often cumbersome machine. It needs a president who knows which levers to pull, which buttons to push.

We have one on the watch now.

Experience matters

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This needs to be repeated — with emphasis.

Joseph R. Biden brings important experience to the presidency that was sorely lacking in the individual he succeeded, Donald J. Trump.

I’ve talked already on this blog about whether President Biden will be able to shepherd an infrastructure bill through Congress. My hunch is that he stands a much greater chance of doing so than Donald Trump ever had. Why? Because Biden is a creature of Congress and Trump is, well, someone with zero government experience.

That kind of thing matters when a president chooses to operate the complicated machinery called the federal government.

Trump trumpeted his business experience as a selling point while winning election in 2016. I’ll set aside that he lied about his success as a business mogul. I believe we have learned that Trump’s business record at best is considered, um, checkered. He spent his entire professional life propping his own image up. Trump never grasped the concept of teamwork, which is an essential element of governing with a co-equal branch of government, the men and women who work on Capitol Hill.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, knows the Senate well. He was a major part of that legislative body for 36 years. He chaired key Senate committees. Biden developed first-name relationships with foreign leaders. He worked well with Republicans. He is fluent in the legislative jargon that senators and House members use among themselves.

This is the kind of experience that should serve President Biden well as he seeks to push an agenda forward. Trump’s experience in business, in show biz, in self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment provided a prescription for failure.

I consider myself a good-government progressive. Therefore, I intend to look carefully over time at how well our government functions with a president who knows which levers to pull and which buttons to push.

When will GOP wake up?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What in the name of all that is holy is it going to take to get the Republican members of Congress to realize that they took an oath to defend the nation, not to defend the reputation of a disgraced former GOP president?

Some of the GOP congressional honchos traipse down to Mar-a-Lago to tee it up with Donald Trump. Meanwhile, back at their place of employment — Washington, D.C. — the man who succeeded Trump, President Joe Biden, is trying to craft a legislative agenda that works for the nation he was elected to govern.

Biden took office wanting to unify the country gripped in the throes of a killer pandemic. Drug companies have developed vaccines and now are flooding pharmacies and government mega-vaccination centers with tens of millions of doses of vaccine to inoculate Americans.

Democrats are on board with President Biden. Republicans aren’t. They continue to spew the crap that comes from Donald Trump’s pie hole, speaking for the disgraced ex-president as if whatever he says is actually relevant. It isn’t. He isn’t relevant.

It frustrates me to no end to watch the president cobble together alliances within his own party but falling short in his efforts to bridge the still-gaping divide between the Democratic and Republican parties. All the while there is that chatter about Trump wanting to retain some position of power and influence within the Republican Party.

Let me be among those who hold a contrary view of Donald Trump’s future. He is toast. I am getting that nagging feeling in my gut that there might be an indictment or three in Donald Trump’s future. The men and women who continue to march to No. 45’s cadence will have to look elsewhere for actual political leadership.

They won’t have to look far. It resides in the White House.

Keep talking, GOP hypocrites

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The checks are in the mail — so to speak.

At least a good number of “checks” are showing up this weekend in Americans’ bank accounts, thanks to President Biden and his Democratic Party allies in Congress, who worked to enact the COVID relief package over the strenuous objections of their Republican “friends” and colleagues.

But wait a minute.

Now comes word from around the country that Republican members of the House and the Senate are trying to take credit for something they opposed. I hear, for instance, that Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, one of the 50 Senate GOP “no” on the relief package, is heralding the benefit it will have on education in his state.

Yeah, keep talking Sen. Wicker. The voters in Mississippi ought to be wise to what’s up with him.

This kind of doublespeak occurs from time to time. Lawmakers who find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion look for ways to weasel their way into voters’ good graces. It turns out the COVID relief package totaling $1.9 trillion is quite popular with the masses out here. Eighty-plus percent of Democrats favor it and a slim majority of — gulp!Republican voters look kindly on the government relief effort.

None of that swayed the GOP cultists in Congress to sign on.

However, here they are, trying to glom onto the benefits being sent out en masse to those who have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. They have lost their jobs, not to mention lost their loved ones, to the disease. The package provides unemployment relief for the next several months and seeks to lessen the misery that has befallen so many millions of us.

What’s more, President Biden spoke to us the other evening and implored Americans to help in steering the nation away from the effects of the virus. “I need you,” he implored, which I consider to be a marvelous about-face from the “I, alone, can fix it” mentality offered by Donald John Trump.

However, don’t be fooled by the GOP fools who are trying to hoodwink Americans into thinking they played some role in bringing this relief to beleaguered pandemic victims.

‘Diverse opinions’? Huh?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Van Taylor strikes me as an earnest young man who seeks to answer questions from his constituents, which he has done with a question from me to the second-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Plano Republican, who is my congressman, provided a written response to a question I posed to one of his staffers, which was: Why did Rep. Taylor vote against sanctioning QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene? You’ve heard of Rep. Greene, yes? She is a fire-breathing fruitcake who has adhered to insane notions that notorious school massacres were “staged,” that they didn’t occur.

I wondered why Taylor voted against removing the Georgia Republican from key committee assignments, such as her seat on the House Education Committee.

He stood behind his decision, declaring that we must not succumb to the “tyranny” of those who oppose individuals who offer opinions that differ from their own. He said Congress shouldn’t “excommunicate members for diverse opinions.”

Whoa! That takes my breath away.

Arguing over whether human beings are responsible for climate change provides an avenue for “diverse opinions.” The same can be said over whether we should balance our federal budget or whether the Second Amendment means we shouldn’t try to create laws that make it more difficult for criminals to acquire firearms.

However, what Marjorie Taylor Greene has said over the years has nothing to do with policy. She and other QAnon adherents foment fear, lies and bigotry with their hate-filled rhetoric.

I do not want any part of that to occur in my House of Representatives. As Rep. Taylor notes in his letter to me, “The United States Marine Corps taught me the importance of servant leadership, and as your Representative in Congress, I work for you.”

Yes, he does. I wanted my congressman to kick that conspiracy kook off those committees.

Relief on its way

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden appears to be set to receive his first legislative triumph in the form of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that the U.S. Senate has just approved.

It has gone back to the House of Representatives, which will approve it once again, given its slim Democratic Party majority.

I want to stipulate a couple of points.

One is that the bill isn’t perfect. It contains some expenditures within the massive amount of money that really do not belong in legislation aimed at providing relief for Americans afflicted by the pandemic. It has killed more than 500,000 Americans and causing millions of others to lose their jobs.

Americans are hurting from this killer virus and the federal government needs to respond, given that every member of Congress as well as the president and vice president swear oaths to protect the citizens of this country.

As the saying goes and has been repeated all too often, it does no good to “let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

So, the legislation ain’t perfect, but it does do plenty of good.

It provides $300 a week in unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs; it provides $1,400 payments to individuals who earn less than a certain amount of money.

The bill that President Biden will sign — perhaps next week — lacks a $15 hourly minimum wage component, which is something congressional progressives insisted it contain. I figure the minimum range boost will end up eventually on Biden’s desk contained in another stack of legislation.

The most regrettable aspect of this legislation is that it is squeaking through Congress with just Democrats voting for it. The Senate vote was 50-49; Vice President Kamala Harris was poised to cast the tie-breaking vote, but one GOP senator, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, was absent from the roll call tally.

My own center-left philosophy hopes that Congress no longer will need to enact more measures to provide this kind of relief. I acknowledge that $1.9 trillion is a mighty hefty price tag and it gives me the nervous jerks to realize we are spending this kind of money that the government just doesn’t have in the bank.

But the president and most of Congress have answered the call. Those in Congress who have refused to lend aid to those who need it will have to deal with their consciences.

I am glad the COVID relief bill is heading toward the president’s desk. It isn’t perfect, but it does what it should be doing, which is to assist Americans who have fallen victim to the pandemic and the damage it has done.

Biden battles obstructionists

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Call me naive … I suppose.

My hope for President Biden was that he would parlay his 36 years of experience as a U.S. senator and eight years as vice president into a smooth governing machine once he settled into the Oval Office.

It’s not turning out that way.

The president is staking his legislative agenda on a COVID-19 relief bill that is aimed at bringing aid to a nation struggling against a killer virus. Congressional Republicans signaled their opposition to it. The $1.9 trillion bill passed the House on a largely partisan vote; it sits in the Senate and the president hopes it will clear that body, too.

However, it appears it will take a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris to clear the upper chamber.

Republicans still are steamed that Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election. They aren’t giving up the phony notion that Biden somehow “stole” it from Trump. He didn’t. President Biden won fair and square.

He is trying to get the Cabinet seated. GOP senators are holding up key picks for attorney general and health and human services secretary.

The AG nominee, Merrick Garland, has to get to work reassembling the Justice Department decimated by the Trump administration; moreover, he wants to commence a key investigation into the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6. Oh, and HHS Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra needs to get that department ramped up and working to facilitate an end to the COVID virus that is still killing Americans.

President Biden thought he could get to work immediately. He thought he could broker the friendships he developed during his years in government into a working coalition. I guess he didn’t count on the hard feelings that translates into blind obstructionism.

I will cling to the hope that the president can bring his legislative acumen to bear.

Censure the loony bird

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Marjorie Taylor Greene certainly has made a name for herself in just a few days in public office.

Her name is, well, mud. She is a Republican congresswoman from Georgia who is aligned with the QAnon comprising conspiracy nut jobs and lunatics.

What does the House of Representatives do about this moron in its midst? Jack Shafer, senior media writer for Politico, has an interesting idea: censure her and then let the voters in her congressional district decide whether to keep her in 2022.

Not a bad idea. As Shafer writes in Politico: Nowhere in the Constitution—and this is excellent news for freshly sworn-in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)—does it stipulate that a House member must have the mental capacity to cook on all four burners.

This is in keeping with the Framers’ general idea that only the lowest bars should be set for officeholders. They declined to cordon off Congress with credential and qualification roadblocks, stating in Article I, section 2, clause 2 that House members need only be 25 years old or older and a U.S. citizen for at least seven years. This left plenty of room for the daft, the moonstruck, the brainsick, the rabble-rousing and the witless to run for the seats. And they have, often gaining office, as Rep. Greene recently did, to the horror of many.

Opinion | Expelling Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Just Crazy Talk – POLITICO

The House has punished members for making untoward statements. Former Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who repeatedly spoke fondly of white supremacy, was stripped of his committee assignments. All he could do for the remainder of his term was cast recorded votes on the floor of the House. The voters in his House district took care of King’s political career … by voting him out of office.

That well could happen to Marjorie Taylor Greene, if the House has the gumption at the very least to censure her.