Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington 04/20/20
The House and Senate are scheduled to be in recess until May 4. Given that the District of Columbia is under a shutdown order until May 15, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that May 4 date slip. Except that maybe, MAYBE, the House will have to come back briefly this week to pass another coronavirus response package.
On the legislative front, Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – acting in concert with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – last week blocked a bill offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would have added another $251 billion to the funds in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money last Thursday. Democrats refused to let the funding bill pass with a Unanimous Consent agreement because they wanted to add more money for hospitals and for state and local governments whose treasuries are being socked by the double whammy of less revenue coming in because of less economic activity, while their spending on social programs goes up.
Over the course of the last several days, Republicans have indicated they may be willing to add money to the bill for hospitals, but they’re still holding firm against adding more money for state and local governments. As of Sunday morning, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Schumer, and House Speaker Pelosi all said they were very, very close to a deal – so close to a deal that they set out a timeline, indicating passage through the Senate on Monday and passage through the House on Tuesday.
The deal-in-the-making would add another $300 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, along with $50 billion more for emergency disaster loans for small businesses in another loan program. In addition, there could be as much as $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for more testing for COVID-19. But as of Sunday morning, at least, the deal does NOT include an additional $150 billion for state and local governments beyond what they already had allocated in the third coronavirus response bill.
Since yesterday, we’ve had more news on this front. The latest indications are that the SBA PPP program would receive $310 billion, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program would receive $60 billion, hospital funding would receive $75 billion, and coronavirus testing would receive an additional $25 billion. There will be no additional funding for state and local governments in this bill – that will be held over for the next big coronavirus funding bill, which won’t be too far away.
The money for state and local governments is very important to both sides. Keep in mind, 43 of the state governments are operating under state constitutions that require them to run balanced budgets. They simply do not legally have the option that the federal government does, to spend money they have to borrow. So when they get hit with the double whammy I described above – shrinking tax revenues, combined with soaring social welfare spending – they are really screwed.
Democrats want to use federal taxpayer dollars to bail out state and local governments, many of which are run by Democrat governors and Democrat mayors. That is, national Democrats in the Congress want to dun the taxpayers of Utah and Alabama to pay for the consequences of decisions made by Democrat governors in New York, and Illinois, and California.
Republicans in Congress, on the other hand, understand that sending federal money to the state and local government would do nothing but prolong the shutdowns. They know that if they can keep from funding the state and local governments, the state and local governments will be under pressure to reopen their economies, just to get money flowing back into the state treasuries.
Republicans seem to have been successful in this round. But the Democrats will come back soon, demanding money for the state and local governments. In fact, there’s already a bipartisan bill – offered by New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez and Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy – to send another $500 billion to the state governments. So we’ve still got a fight on our hands.
Meanwhile, President Trump, it seems to me, has made the calculation that he’s got his base behind him – from an electoral standpoint, at least, I think he believes that anyone who’s pushing to reopen the economy now is going to be with him in the fall, no matter what he does between now and then, because they will believe he would be the better man to have in the Oval Office to lead us out of this depression. That’s the only conclusion I can come to, based on his somewhat erratic behavior earlier in the week – Monday, he declared that as president, he had total authority over the decision whether or not to reopen the economy, but by Thursday, he was effectively ceding control and authority to the state governments. And we know that the state governments – many of which are led by Democrats – are in no rush to reopen their states.
Meanwhile, grassroots demand to reopen is bubbling up from below. Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen demonstrations at state capitals in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina, with tens of thousands of protesters demanding that their governors reopen their states for business. On Friday – less than 24 hours after saying he was happy to let the governors take the lead on reopening their states – President Trump was tweeting in support of the end-the-shutdown protesters.
More on the Russian collusion front. You’ll recall that last year, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a report on the FBI’s activities in seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrant against a U.S. citizen, Carter Page, who had been a volunteer for the 2016 Trump for President campaign. That 400-odd page document revealed that Horowitz had found no fewer than 17 major errors or omissions across the four different warrants the FBI sought.
As definitive as the Horowitz report was, it was not totally definitive for the public, because there were classified footnotes included – included, but redacted, so we in the public could not read them. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican from Wisconsin who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, pushed the DOJ to declassify the footnotes, and a week ago Friday, they were released.
The declassified notes reveal that the FBI itself believed that Steele was part of a larger Russian intelligence disinformation campaign, and that his so-called report – upon which the FBI relied for much of the documentation behind its applications for FISA warrants against Carter Page – was compromised by Russian efforts to poison the well.
Wrote The Wall Street Journal:
But the footnotes reveal the FBI was further warned that the investigator’s network had been infiltrated by Russian intelligence. The FBI received a report in 2017 outlining an “inaccuracy” in the dossier about the activities of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. “The [REDACTED] stated that it did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and assessed that the referenced subset was a part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.”
The footnote also says a report in 2017 told the FBI that claims involving Trump activities during a 2013 trip to Moscow were false and the result of Russian intelligence “‘infiltrat[ing] a source into the network’ of a [REDACTED] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities.” A separate footnote noted the FBI ignored a warning that a Steele contact was “rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer,” while another footnote showed the FBI closed its eyes to Mr. Steele’s “frequent contacts” with Russian oligarchs.
There are still portions of the footnotes that remain classified. Grassley and Johnson are seeking further declassifications, so we can all see what the full Horowitz report had to say.
Since we last talked, Vermont Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders decided to end his second bid for the Democratic nomination for president, and then shocked the political world by following that up with an endorsement of the Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden.
Sanders’ endorsement was quickly followed by an endorsement from former President Barack Obama. And that endorsement was followed by an endorsement from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson – chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security – maintains that later this summer, he will release his committee’s report on Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine, serving on the board of the nation’s largest natural gas company while his father was vice president and overseeing U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:
CORONAVIRUS SECOND THOUGHTS: