Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington for 7/01/19
The House and Senate are both in recess. The Senate will return on Monday, July 8, while the House will return on Tuesday, July 9.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House came back to work on Monday and resumed consideration of H.R. 3055, the minibus appropriations bill combining the appropriations bills for Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. They voted on four amendments on Monday evening, and then picked up again on Tuesday. On Tuesday, they considered another two amendments, and then they moved to final consideration. The bill passed, by a vote of 227-194.
Later Tuesday, the House began consideration of H.R. 3351, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The House considered two amendments to the bill on Tuesday, and then put it aside to deal with other pressing business.
That pressing business was H.R. 3401, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act. That’s the $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental funding requested by the White House two months ago. The bill passed by a vote of 230-195.
On Wednesday, the House returned to consideration of H.R. 3351, the Financial Services and General Government spending bill. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, the House passed the bill by a vote of 224-196. Also, it should be noted that immediately prior to passage of the bill, the minority offered a Motion To Recommit with instructions, and the instructions added language increasing funding for the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence by $10 million to support enforcement of sanctions against the government of Iran. 37 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the Motion To Recommit, and it passed by a vote of 226-195.
On Thursday, the House took up the Senate amendment to H.R. 3401, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Humanitarian Assistance at the Southern Border Act. The bill passed by a vote of 305-102 at 5:17 PM, and then they were done and off for their 4th of July district work period.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House is in recess.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Monday, and resumed consideration of S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020. At 5:30 Monday, the first vote of the week was a vote on the Motion To Proceed to consideration of S. 1790. The motion passed, by a vote of 86-6.
On Wednesday, the Senate took up H.R. 3401, the emergency supplemental spending bill for the border crisis, as passed by the House. Majority Leader McConnell put the House bill on the floor as it passed the House just to show that it could not pass the Senate. The bill went down, by a vote of 37-55.
Then the Senate considered the Shelby amendment to H.R. 3401, that is, the Senate version of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the border crisis. That’s the bill that went through the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 30-1. On the Senate floor, it did almost as well – it passed by a vote of 84-8. Then the Senate considered H.R. 3401 as amended by the Shelby amendment, and it passed by a vote of 84-8.
On Thursday, the Senate moved to consideration of S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020. After voting on an amendment, the Senate moved to final consideration of the bill, and ultimately passed it on Thursday afternoon by a vote of 86-8.
But the Senate wasn’t through with its work for week yet. Because of the Democratic presidential debates last week – debates in which no fewer than seven Senate Democrats took part – the Majority and Minority Leaders had worked out a deal on a vote on an amendment. The amendment, offered by Democrat Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Tim Kaine of Virginia, would have required President Trump to get congressional authorization before launching any military action against Iran. And all those seven Democrat Senators running for President wanted desperately to have a chance to vote on that amendment. So McConnell and Schumer worked out a deal to allow a vote on the amendment AFTER the vote on final passage of the bill. If the amendment carried, it would be added to the bill retroactively; if the amendment failed, the bill as passed would go to the House. That led to the longest vote in Senate history – because beginning at 5:02 AM Friday morning, and not ending until 3:15 PM, the vote stayed open on the Senate floor, to allow those seven Democrat wannabes the opportunity to return from the debate site in Miami and get to the Senate floor to cast a vote. The measure needed 60 votes to pass; in the end, it only won 50 votes, and failed, and the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon was sent to the House.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate is in recess.
The big news on the border security/immigration front last week was two-fold:
First, passage in the House and Senate of the Senate’s bill to provide $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental spending for the border crisis. It’s important to note that Senator Majority Leader McConnell played his cards well, and jammed Speaker Pelosi. For the first time in the 116th Congress, Speaker Pelosi lost a high-stakes negotiation. Her body’s version of the bill had far more restrictions on how the money could be spent than did the Senate’s version of the bill, and her progressive wing is screaming bloody murder now that they’ve had to swallow the Senate’s version of the bill. Her allies are blaming Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer for not holding his caucus together on the first vote in the Senate – the one that went through 84-8. Once the Senate bill had demonstrated such strong bipartisan support, it was going to be very, very difficult for Pelosi to get what she wanted. And to prove the point, McConnell took the House bill and put it on the floor of the Senate, where it only got 37 votes. Once THAT vote was cast, it was all over but for the cryin’. McConnell didn’t need to go to conference with the House, because he had just demonstrated that the House’s bill couldn’t even get 40 votes, let alone 60; meanwhile, he had a bill that had passed with 84 votes.
Second, late in the week, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case next session to determine whether or not President Trump acted lawfully when he chose to terminate President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That decision should be made public right in the middle of the 2020 presidential race.
On Saturday, President Trump met for 80 minutes with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He emerged from the meeting and announced that he would not proceed with threats to impose a new 25 percent tariff on another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. “We’re holding on tariffs, and they’re going to buy farm product,” the President told reporters after his meeting with Xi at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The U.S. will keep in place the 25 percent tariff it has imposed earlier against $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
President Trump took advantage of his post-G-20 visit to South Korea to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. On Sunday, the two leaders met at the Demilitarized Zone, and then Kim invited President Trump to cross into North Korea. He did so, and became the first American President ever to visit North Korea. The two leaders then crossed the international border again and held talks for less than an hour on the South Korean side of the border. They emerged from their meeting and said denuclearization talks were back on track.
Good news for those who believe Members of Congress and their staffs already make quite enough money, thank you – House Democrat leadership has backed off its plan to allow a 2.6 percent, $4,500 per year cost of living adjustment to the compensation package for Members of Congress. You can thank Mitch McConnell for that, believe it or not – once he made clear that the Senate would not entertain a pay raise for Members of Congress, House Republicans made clear to the House Democrat leadership that they would not be voting for any pay raises, and that was that.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees jointly announced that on July 17, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller would testify in two sessions before the two committees. The two committee chairmen – Jerry Nadler of Judiciary and Adam Schiff of Intelligence – served Mueller with a subpoena late Tuesday evening after the two committees and the former special counsel failed to come to agreement on the terms of his voluntary public testimony.
The good news for Democrats is that they’re once again going to have an opportunity to refocus the nation’s attention on the Mueller report. The good news for Republicans is that they’re going to be given an opportunity to ask Mueller a whole lot of questions about what he did and did not choose to investigate.
In addition, “high level” members of Mueller’s “team” – we do not yet know who, exactly – will also answer questions from lawmakers in a closed-door setting.
The Supreme Court, in its final week of its session, on Thursday made public its rulings in two key political cases, and we got split decisions. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with his four conservative allies on the gerrymandering cases, and voted with his four liberal colleagues on the Census citizenship question case.
On gerrymandering – that is, the practice of drawing political districts to favor one party over the other – the Supremes ruled, by 5-4, that the courts had no business intervening into the essentially political exercise of drawing jurisdictional boundaries, and ruled that federal courts are essentially powerless to hear challenges even to extreme cases of partisan gerrymandering. Wrote Roberts for the majority, “We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political question beyond the reach of the federal courts.” He continued, writing that courts lack the authority and competence to decide when or if politics has played too large a role in the drawing of district lines. “There are no legal standards discernible in the Constitution for making such judgments, let alone limited and precise standards that are clear, manageable and politically neutral.”
In the Census citizenship question case, Roberts ruled with the liberal wing of the court that the Trump Administration could not add a citizenship question to the Census for the reasons it stated, because those reasons, in the view of a majority of the court, were not the real reasons it wanted to add the question.
Wrote Roberts, referring to Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, “The Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the attorney general himself to ask if the DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process. Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision.”
So that case goes back to the trial judge, who had given the Trump Administration another chance to provide an explanation for why the citizenship question should be asked.
Wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, “For the first time ever, the court invalidates an agency action solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale.”
So the Trump Administration does have another chance here. The Administration says it needs to begin printing the Census forms in July, but the groups challenging the citizenship question say in their court filings that the real deadline is October.
President Trump has asked his lawyers to investigate whether or not it’s possible to delay the launch of the Census. Stay tuned.
Beginning this week, there will be a new face behind the podium at the White House press briefings – Stephanie Grisham, who has been working for the last year-plus as Press Secretary to the First Lady of the United States, will now add two more roles to her portfolio: White House Press Secretary, and Communications Director. Yes, you heard that right, she will take on all three jobs at the same time.