Tea Party Patriots Weekly Report from Washington for 8/28/17
The House and Senate have both left for their August recess, and will not return until Tuesday, September 5.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has advised Congress that he will reach the limit of his ability to use what he calls “extraordinary measures” – what regular people call “smoke and mirrors” – to keep paying the nation’s bills on September 29. After that, if Congress has not passed legislation to either raise or suspend the debt limit, we will start missing payments.
Congress still has not yet worked out a deal. Stay tuned.
There’s a deadline looming on the immigration front. One week from tomorrow, if the President has not announced he is rescinding his predecessor’s so-called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” amnesty for certain illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, then Texas and nine other states are going to sue the federal government. And they’ll likely win.
As the deadline approaches, the Trump Administration is strongly considering announcing that it is overturning the policy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is known to be a strong opponent of the program, and is reported to be pressuring to overturn the policy.
We learned a week and a half ago that the IRS had rehired 213 former employees who had been terminated for failure to file or pay their own taxes, and for other violations of the law.
And on Thursday, August 17, Federal District Judge Reggie Walton ordered the IRS to name the specific employees the agency blames for the tea party targeting scandal, and said the federal government must show him proof that it has stopped the illegal targeting. He also ordered the IRS to explain the delays for 38 groups that are part of a lawsuit where they are suing to get a full accounting of their treatment.
One question that’s left outstanding was noted by the Daily Signal – why are President Trump’s Justice Department appointees protecting the IRS? And why haven’t Trump’s political appointees at DOJ reversed the refusal of the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to enforce the contempt citation against former IRS official Lois Lerner issued by the House of Representatives for her refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation of this scandal? That citation should be presented to a federal grand jury for action.
A week ago, President Trump addressed the nation on prime-time television, and laid out his Administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan. Rather than withdraw from Afghanistan entirely, and allow Afghanistan once again to become a haven for radical Islamic terrorists to plot against us, he decided to increase U.S. troop levels. Though he did not say in the speech itself just how much larger he would make the U.S. presence there, Administration leaks put the size of the increase at about 4,000 more troops. That would bring the total U.S. military deployment to about 16,000.
In deciding to up the troop presence, he chose against two other options – total withdrawal, or replacing U.S. troops with mercenaries, an option he considered but rejected.
To some critics, this looks an awful lot like a policy that could have come out of a Hillary Clinton White House. But it certainly couldn’t have come out of a Barack Obama White House – in fact, there’s a specific rejection of the Obama strategy. The President said we would not set a time limit on the deployment, but would instead make decisions on implementation of the strategy based on conditions on the ground. That difference alone is essential to the strategy.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe entered a new phase, as he subpoenaed several prominent Washington lobbying firms that did work for two former Trump advisers, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. The subpoenas indicate that Mueller’s team is looking closely at the two of them, both of whom face possible legal jeopardy for failing to register as agents of a foreign power for work they did that was unrelated to the Trump campaign.
But remember, the way these investigations typically work, the feds will gather evidence showing proof of crimes by lower-ranking targets, then use that evidence to threaten prosecution and force cooperation from the lower-ranking witnesses against higher-ranking targets. So the fact that the evidence they seem to be gathering now may have nothing to do with the Trump campaign doesn’t mean the Trump campaign is off the hook, it simply means the feds are going after this in a typically methodical manner.
There’s trouble looming on the horizon. We know September is going to be a brutal month, but based on what we heard last week, it has the potential of being even more brutal than what we thought.
Remember, there are several fiscal deadlines coming in September. Congress will have to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling by September 29; Congress will have to pass a bill funding the government for all or part of fiscal year 2018 by September 30; and, sometime before September 30, Congress will also have to pass bills reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the National Flood Insurance Program.
And here’s what we picked up last week: GOP congressional leadership is working to put together a deal that includes the following elements: 1) a $2 trillion increase in the debt limit, that would likely last past the 2018 midterm elections; 2) full funding of ObamaCare’s Cost-Sharing Reduction payments for one year – those are the payments that President Trump has referred to as insurance company “BAILOUTS” – likely costed out at $7 billion; 3) a Continuing Resolution that funds everything as we fund it now, with no funding for the border wall.
There’s nothing in there at all for conservatives. That package, if it comes to pass, will rely on Democrat votes to pass. We are going to do everything we can to oppose this.
On Friday, August 18, the White House announced that Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon would be leaving the White House staff.
Bannon had tendered his resignation on August 7, with plans to have it announced the following week, which would have marked the one-year anniversary of his joining the Trump Campaign. But as events unfolded in Charlottesville that following weekend, the decision was made to hold the announcement for a few days.
Bannon returns to Breitbart, where he has made clear he will focus the news organization’s fire on Trump opponents inside the administration and out.
One week after Bannon’s departure, National Security Staffer Sebastian Gorka also left the White House staff. He insists he resigned, and circulated a scathing resignation letter; the White House responded by putting out a statement denying that he had resigned, but confirming that he no longer worked at the White House, leaving it to the reader to conclude he had been fired.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: