Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington for 11/04/19
The House is in recess this week. The Senate will return Tuesday and stay in session through Thursday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House came back to work on Monday, and passed two bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday, the House passed two Rules, and then turned to the matter of Turkey and its recent attacks against the Kurds in northeast Syria. The House took up H. Res. 296, affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, thereby smacking the Turkish government on one of its most sensitive points – the genocide launched against the Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire. Then the House took up and passed H.R. 4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act, by a vote of 403-16. That bill imposes sanctions against Turkey related to its invasion of northeast Syria.
On Wednesday, the House took up H.R. 2181, the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act. After considering a number of amendments, the House passed the bill by a vote of 245-174. Then the House took up H.R. 1373, the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. After considering a number of amendments, the House passed the bill by a vote of 236-185.
On Thursday, the House took up H. Res. 660, a resolution “directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”
Every Republican in the chamber voted against the resolution. Two Democrats – Collin Peterson of MN and Jeff Van Drew of NJ – voted against the resolution. All the other Democrats in the chamber voted for it. It was as close to a pure party-line vote as you could get.
Then the House took up H.R. 823, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act. After considering a number of amendments, the House passed the bill by a vote of 227-182.
And then they were done.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House is in recess this week.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Monday, and voted to pass the Cortez-Masto amendment to H.R. 3055, the minibus appropriations bill the Senate was finally considering. Then the Senate took up the amendment from Sen. Paul to cut the appropriated funding level by two percent, and that failed. Then the Senate took up the amendment offered by Sen. Jones of Alabama, and that passed.
On Wednesday, the Senate took up S. J. Res. 52, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the rule submitted by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to “State Relief and Empowerment Waivers.” In other words, this was a Democrat attempt to roll back a Trump Administration rule that allows states to ignore certain parts of ObamaCare. The effort failed, by a vote of 43-52.
Then the Senate moved to invoke cloture on the Shelby amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 3055, the minibus appropriations bill. That vote went through by a vote of 88-5. Then the Senate considered two amendments to the bill, and then the Senate voted on the bill itself – and it passed, buy a vote of 84-9.
Then Majority Leader McConnell moved to the next minibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2784, a bill making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the FY 2020 fiscal year. Cloture failed, by a vote of 51-41.
And then they were done.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will return on Tuesday, with the first vote set for 2:15 PM. That will be a vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of David Austin Tapp to be a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Then, based on the Majority Leader’s cloture filings before the Senate left town last week, I’d say the schedule for the Senate this week is all about confirmations, as follows:
- Danielle J. Hunsaker to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit
- William Joseph Nardini to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit
- Lee Philip Rudofsky to be a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas
- Jennifer Philpott Wilson to be a United States District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Majority Leader McConnell also entered a motion to reconsider the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2740, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, Foreign Operations, Energy and Water appropriations bill.
On Friday, the Treasury Department released data showing that the national debt has surpassed $23 trillion for the first time in history. The debt has grown 15 percent since President Trump was inaugurated.
In the 2019 fiscal year that just ended, the federal government had to pay $376 billion in interest payments. That’s roughly half the defense budget.
On Monday, reversing herself, Speaker Pelosi announced that the House would vote on a resolution related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry. She insisted for the next three days that this was not a resolution authorizing the inquiry, because she did not NEED a resolution authorizing the inquiry, but that left everyone wondering – if she didn’t need a resolution to authorize the impeachment inquiry, why were they voting at all?
What was interesting about the resolution is that it was not what you would expect. At least, it was not what I expected. I expected a resolution that looked an awful lot like the resolutions that authorized the launching of impeachment inquiries against both Presidents Nixon and Clinton. This was not that.
In those two cases, for instance, the authorizing resolution directed that the House Judiciary Committee was authorized by the House to conduct an inquiry to determine whether or not the House should exercise its power to impeach a sitting president. In this case, however, H. Res. 660 authorizes not the Judiciary Committee, but the Intelligence Committee, to continue conducting its ongoing investigation.
Further, the resolution shrinks the number of committees that have access to the ongoing witness interviews. Before passage of H. Res. 660, three committees – the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Oversight and Reform Committee – were involved in interviewing witnesses, and three other committees – Ways and Means, Financial Services, and Judiciary – were continuing their own investigations. Between them, those three interviewing committees had 110 members, about one-fourth of all the members in the House. Under the terms of H. Res. 660, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform are removed, and the Intelligence Committee is running the show by itself. That committee has just 22 members – 13 Democrats, and nine Republicans. Pro-Trump stalwarts like Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and Lee Zeldin have now been removed from the room.
The resolution authorizes the Intelligence Committee to continue holding hearings, and to put together a report for the Judiciary Committee. It directs the chairman of the committee to hold at least one public hearing, and says he can release transcripts of witness interviews.
The resolution also contains this paragraph:
“The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution pursuant to the procedures submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules, including such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel.”
What was that about? Well, it was about Democrat trickery.
While all the political world was focused Tuesday on the release of the text of the authorizing resolution, the real action was taking place elsewhere, where no one was paying attention. A few hours after the release of the text of the resolution, House Democrat leaders released a second document, with ground rules to govern the conduct of the House Judiciary Committee’s proceedings when it gets its hands on whatever comes out of the Intelligence Committee’s “investigation.”
Unlike the language of H. Res. 660, the Judiciary Committee ground rules were not the subject of a vote by the full House. They were not even the subject of a vote by the full Judiciary Committee. They were simply dropped into the public realm Tuesday night, hours after the media had been distracted by the text of H. Res. 660.
So few reporters paid heed to the unveiling of the Judiciary Committee paperwork that since its release, the number of major media outlets reporting on it can be counted on one hand.
Even a quick glance at the three-page document reveals why the House Democratic leadership wanted to slip these ground rules into place without anyone noticing.
There, on page three, tucked into the third-to-last paragraph, is this: “Should the President unlawfully refuse to make witnesses available for testimony to, or to produce documents requested by, the investigative committees listed in the first section of H. Res. 660 in furtherance of the investigations described in the first section of H. Res. 660, the chair shall have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies, including by denying specific requests by the President or his counsel under these procedures to call or question witnesses.”
In other words, if President Trump declines to hand over documents sought by any of the six House committees now engaged in the impeachment inquiry – say, for example, the personal tax returns sought by the Ways and Means Committee, or the Deutsche Bank financial papers sought by the Financial Services Committee – then Nadler can use his “discretion” to deny Trump and his counsel access to the impeachment proceedings.
So much for President Trump’s right to due process. Under these ground rules, if he fails to turn over his personal tax returns or the paperwork on his company’s financial dealings with a particular bank, Nadler can refuse even to let Trump’s counsel hear the witness testimony, let alone cross-examine witnesses.
Jenny Beth’s latest column focuses on this chicanery.
Thursday morning, the House voted to approve H. Res. 660, by a vote of 232-196. Two Democrats – Collin Peterson of MN and Jeff Van Drew of NJ – crossed party lines to vote against the resolution. Otherwise, it was a straight party-line vote – all Republicans voted against it, and all the other Democrats voted for it. This, despite Speaker Pelosi’s comments earlier this year that impeachment would only go forward if it was “overwhelming” and “bipartisan.”
Meanwhile, House Democrats continued interviewing witnesses. On Tuesday, they interviewed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who works on the National Security Council staff as its Ukraine expert. He was listening to President Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, and he is the first person to testify before the House Intelligence Committee who was actually on the call. According to leaks from his testimony, Vindman told the committee that the White House electronic record of the call was inaccurate – it omitted certain words and phrases. He said he tried to correct the record after the call ended, but failed.
What was missing, according to Vindman? First, he said President Trump referred to recordings of former Vice President Joe Biden discussing Ukrainian corruption, and, second, he said Ukrainian President Zelensky referred explicitly to Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy firm on whose board Biden’s son Hunter Biden sat.
On Thursday, the Intelligence Committee heard from former NSC Director for European Affairs Tim Morrison. Morrison told Schiff’s committee that, “I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” and he also testified that he had no reason to believe that the Ukrainians even knew the military aid was being withheld at the time the phone call took place. According to Morrison, he had no reason to believe the Ukrainians knew about the holdup until late August, when Politico published a piece reporting on the delay.
Morrison also pushed back against the testimony offered last week by U.S. Ambassador William Taylor. Morrison said, in contrast to Taylor’s testimony, that Morrison had never met in his private hotel room with the Ukrainian National Security Adviser, and Morrison said that he had a different recollection of a conversation U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland had had with the Ukrainian National Security Adviser.
On Wednesday morning, TPPA filed an ethics complaint against Speaker Pelosi with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The complaint was signed by 40 conservative groups, and charged Pelosi with violating Rule XXIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives. That’s the one that says that a Member of the House “shall act at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
You can find a link to the complaint in the Suggested Reading.
President Trump announced Friday that he was tapping DHS Undersecretary for Strategy, Policy and Plans Chad Wolf, a favorite of former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, to serve as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. Some immigration groups that support cutting the number of immigrants panned the choice – before joining the Trump Administration, Wolf had worked as a lobbyist advocating for firms that used H-1B visas to employ foreign workers.
There are also all kinds of reporters’ gossip that White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney may be on the way out. NBC News went out of its way to report that Mulvaney was left out of the planning for the raid to take out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and wasn’t in the Situation Room a week ago Saturday as the military action was taking place. And President Trump sat down late in the week with reporters and editors for The Washington Examiner, and declined to defend Mulvaney. Asked during the interview if he is happy with the job Mulvaney is doing, Trump responded, “Happy? I don’t want to comment on it.”
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: