Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington for 2/10/20
The House and Senate will come back Monday and stay in session through Thursday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House came back to work on Wednesday, after Tuesday evening’s State of the Union Address.
On Wednesday, the House passed three bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Thursday afternoon, the first vote was a privileged resolution offered by Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger of TX. She’s the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. Her resolution was aimed at putting the House on record disapproving of the conduct of Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday evening, when, following the conclusion of President Trump’s remarks at the annual State of the Union Address, the Speaker ripped up her copy of the speech. The Democrats countered with a motion to table, and the motion to table Granger’s resolution of disapproval carried by a vote of 224-193. It was a straight party-line vote.
Then the House took up the Rule that would govern floor consideration of H.Res. 826, expressing disapproval of the Trump Administration’s harmful actions toward Medicaid; H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019; and H.R. 5667, making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes.
The House spent the rest of Thursday voting on amendments to H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. And then, late Thursday evening, the House voted to pass H.R. 2474, by a vote of 224-194. Just a few Democrats (7) and Republicans (5) crossed party lines on this one. Then the House took up and passed H.Res. 826, expressing the House’s disapproval of the Trump Administration’s harmful actions toward Medicaid, by a vote of 223-190.
On Friday, the House considered H.R. 5667, the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. The bill passed by a vote of 237-161, with 17 Republicans crossing party lines to vote with the majority, and zero Democrats crossing party lines to vote against the bill.
And then they were done.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House will return on Monday, with the first votes set for 6:30 PM. At that time, the House is scheduled to consider nine bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday, and for the balance of the week, the House will consider H.R. 2546, the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act of 2019, and H.J. Res. 79, removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. This is not a constitutional amendment, so it only requires a simple majority to pass.
Then the House will deal with one more bill under Suspension of the Rules, and then they’ll be done.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Monday to hear the closing arguments from both sides in the impeachment trial of President Trump. Beginning at 11 AM, and running until 3 PM, each side was given two hours to make its case. Then the Senate broke from the trial session and went into regular session, where each senator was allowed to speak for up to ten minutes and share his or her thoughts on the case.
That continued through the day Tuesday, and into Wednesday. At 4 PM Wednesday, the Senate went back into session as the impeachment trial, with Chief Justice Roberts presiding.
Then began the roll call vote on conviction or acquittal, with the clerk calling out the names of each senator, and each senator calling out his or her vote. Since this was an impeachment trial, and all 100 senators were in their seats, the threshold for conviction was 67 votes. In other words, the only way to convict the president would have been if 20 of the 53 Republican senators crossed party lines to vote to convict the president, and no one – not even Speaker Pelosi – believed that was going to happen.
The roll call vote went as expected, except for the vote of one senator on one of the articles of impeachment – Mitt Romney of Utah, who crossed party lines to vote to convict President Trump on Article One, “Abuse of Power.” Romney then voted against convicting the President on Article Two, “Obstruction of Congress.”
So the final tallies were 48-52 to convict on Article One, and 47-53 to convict on Article Two. Both articles of impeachment failed to reach the threshold of 67 votes needed to convict. The trial ended, and the Senate went back into regular session, and then adjourned for the week.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will return on Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM. That will be a cloture vote on the nomination of Andrew Lynn Brasher to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.
Then, the Senate will move to confirm four more judges:
- Joshua M. Kindred to be a United States District Judge for the District of Alaska
- Matthew Thomas Schelp to be a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri
- John Fitzgerald Kness to be a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois
- Philip M. Halpern to be a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York
President Trump will submit his proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget today, and early word is that the Administration plans to request just $2 billion in new funding for construction of a border wall. That’s significantly less than was requested last year, and Administration officials say on background that’s because they’ve already met so much of their funding goals by shifting Pentagon funds over the last few years toward wall construction. Last year, the Administration shifted $6.7 billion from military construction and counternarcotics projects. This year, the Administration plans to divert $7.2 billion from those two pots of money.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection say that through the end of January 2020, it has built 104 miles of new fencing. But only one of those miles contains a portion of the border where no fencing of any kind existed before. The Trump Administration says it hopes to have 450 miles of new fencing built or under construction by the end of this year.
That said, you should not make the mistake of thinking that “replacement” is not significant because it’s “replacement” and not “new.” What’s being replaced, in many places, is simple anti-vehicle fence posts made of railroad ties that would do nothing to prevent pedestrian traffic. What it’s being replaced with is 30-foot-tall Bollard Walls that block passage of vehicles AND people.
Last night, the White House leaked details of the FY 2021 federal budget proposal it will publicly release today. The budget proposes to spend $4.8 trillion over the next fiscal year. The plan says it will reduce the federal deficit to zero by FY 2035, 15 years from now. It would accomplish that by saving $4.6 trillion over the next decade.
We’ve had this discussion before, but I’m going to remind you again – while the media and Democrats, predictably, will go nuts over this spending plan, and will use words like “slash” and “cut” and even the somewhat tamer “decrease” to describe what’s going to happen to spending if this budget were to be adopted, we must remember that if this budget is adopted, we will spend more money next year than we did this year, and more money the following year than next year, and so on. This budget proposal does NOT propose to spend less money next year than this year.
What it proposes is to spend less money next year than was budgeted for in a previous year. So if last year, the budget for the out-years said we were going to raise spending by 4 percent, and this new budget says we’re only going to raise spending by 2 percent, you and I would call that 2 percent spending GROWTH – while the Swamp would scream bloody murder about what they see as a 2 percent spending CUT, because we’re shaving some off the planned INCREASE.
So keep that in mind when you see headlines that say “Trump Proposes To Slash Domestic Spending” or anything like that. That is just more Swamp gibberish designed to raise temperatures among liberal voter groups in a presidential election year.
Under the plan, savings taken from non-defense discretionary programs would amount to 5 percent next year – allowing spending of $590 billion – and $2 trillion over the next decade. The budget extends the individual and family tax cuts that were part of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act but which were, under that law, scheduled to expire in 2025. Changes in Medicare prescription drug pricing would save another $130 billion.
The budget for foreign aid would be cut by 21 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency would have to do with 26 percent less next year than it had this year. HUD’s budget would be reduced by 15 percent.
Meanwhile, the budget for DHS would grow by 3 percent, and the VA budget would grow by 13 percent. And military spending would increase by 0.3 percent to $740.5 billion.
House Democrats are already racing to the microphones to trash this budget. Its proposals will not become law. But it is, nevertheless, important, if only as a document laying out the Trump Administration’s priorities. What we can tell from this budget document is that Trump wants to spend more on defense, and less on non-defense spending. And the document acknowledges a need to get spending under control over the long term.
On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service held a hearing on a proposed rule change that would negate the current requirement for 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations like Tea Party Patriots Action to include with their annual tax return a piece of paper called a “Schedule B,” which is a list of the names and addresses of every donor who gave $5,000 or more to the organization. Jenny Beth testified, along with several of our colleagues from other organizations such as The Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, the James Madison Center for Free Speech, Americans for Prosperity, the Institute for Free Speech, and the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.
As Jenny Beth testified, the IRS’s own senior leadership acknowledges it does not need the Schedule B in order to properly administer the tax code, and the IRS is burdened by the necessity to redact the information from the public versions of social welfare organizations’ returns. It hasn’t always succeeded in maintaining donor confidentiality, to the great detriment of both the organizations and the donors who gave to them. So if you don’t need the document, and it’s a hassle to protect its confidentiality, and you haven’t always been able to maintain its confidentiality, why require it in the first place?
We anticipate that the IRS will go forward with its rule change sometime later this year.
IMPEACHMENT FOLLOW UP:
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long after the Wednesday votes to acquit President Trump that he made personnel changes. Escorted out of the Old Executive Office Building on Friday were the Vindman brothers – Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified against President Trump in the House’s impeachment hearings, and his brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who served as a lawyer on the staff of the National Security Council. Also leaving his position at the request of the president was former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who had also testified against the president during the House’s impeachment hearings.
Democrats and the media, predictably, went nuts. But the fact is, Lt. Col. Vindman is still a member of the U.S. Army, he’s just not working at the White House any longer. And the president – ANY president – has the right to have working for him people he trusts.
After the impeachment trial ended, two GOP Senate committee chairmen – Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee – requested Hunter Biden’s travel records from when his father Joe served as Vice President. They made the request to the director of the Secret Service after the final vote to acquit President Trump.
The two senators announced in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray that their committees “are reviewing potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration.”
Said the letter, “We write to request information about whether Hunter Biden used government-sponsored travel to help conduct private business, to include his work for Rosemont Seneca and related entities in China and Ukraine.”
Georgia Republican Congressman Doug Collins announced he would run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kathy Loeffler, setting up a domino effect. Under GOP House rules, Collins is required to give up his position as the Ranking Minority Member on the House Judiciary Committee. Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan will now move over to take the Ranking Member slot on Judiciary. That opens up the Ranking Minority Member slot at the Committee on Oversight and Reform that had been held by Jordan. North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows will now take that slot.
But remember, Meadows has announced he’ll be leaving Congress at the end of this session, so the Ranking Member slot – or, possibly, the chairmanship of the committee, if the GOP recaptures control of the House in the November elections – will be open again at the beginning of the 117th Congress next January.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: