Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Weekly Report from Washington for 7/23/18
The House and Senate will both return on Monday, and will stay in session through Thursday. Then the House will begin its August Recess, and won’t return until Tuesday, September 4.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House returned to work last week on Monday, and passed two bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday, the House passed three more bills under Suspension.
On Wednesday, the House passed a Motion To Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2, the Farm Bill. Later Wednesday, the House passed H.Res. 990, supporting the officers and personnel who carry out the important mission of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The measure passed on a 244-35 vote, with 135 Democrats voting “present.” We’ll talk about this more in a moment.
Then the House passed another bill under Suspension of the Rules.
Then the House took up H.R. 6147, the Department of the Interior appropriations bill for FY 2019. They considered amendments to the bill through the rest of Wednesday and into Thursday.
On Thursday, the House passed H.Con.Res. 119, expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy. That resolution passed by a vote of 229-180.
Then the House voted for final passage of H.R. 6147, the Department of the Interior appropriations bill. The bill passed by a vote of 217-199.
And then they were done.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House will return on Monday, with first votes set for 6:30 PM. At that time, the House is scheduled to consider 20 bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to consider another 17 bills under Suspension. Then the House will consider H.R. 184, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is scheduled to consider another four bills under Suspension of the Rules. The House will also consider H.R. 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018, and H.R. 6311, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Account Act of 2018.
The House may also consider the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019.
And then they’ll be done, and they won’t be back until September.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate returned on Monday and voted on the confirmation of Scott Stump to be Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education of the Department of Education. He was confirmed by a vote of 85-0.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm James Blew to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education. He was confirmed by a vote of 50-49.
Later Tuesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Randal Quarles to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The vote to invoke cloture was 66-33. Then the Senate voted to confirm him to that position, by a vote of 66-33.
Then the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Andrew Oldham to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cloture was invoked by a vote of 50-49.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm Oldham to that position. The vote to confirm him was 50-49.
Then the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Ryan Wesley Bounds to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The vote to invoke cloture was 50-49.
But before that nomination could go any further, Republican Senators Tim Scott of SC and Marco Rubio of FL told Senate Republican leaders that would vote against Bounds on confirmation, if his confirmation were to be put to a vote. They objected to what they considered racially insensitive writings of his from his college days at Stanford University. So the White House withdrew the nomination.
On Thursday, the Senate voted by 98-0 to pass S.Res. 584, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate against the making available of current and former diplomats, officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin.
And then it was 2:45 on a Thursday afternoon, so it was time for the Senate to go home.
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 vote to confirm Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Following the disposition of the Wilkie nomination, the Senate will move back to the legislative calendar to consider H.R. 6147, the second Minibus appropriations bill. This one wraps up the appropriations bills for Agriculture, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.
On Saturday evening, the Department of Justice released heavily redacted versions of the FISA warrant applications seeking permission to surveil former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. I read the first FISA warrant application. It’s 62 pages long. And it contains a few key assertions – including, in particular, the FBI’s belief that Page was at the time acting as the agent of a foreign power, Russia, without having registered as such, and that Page met with two Russian government officials he claims he never met with – without offering any evidence in unredacted form.
You’ll recall that several months ago, both the Republican side and the Democrat side of the House Intelligence Committee released dueling reports concerning these FISA warrant applications. The Republican memo castigated the FBI for relying on the Steele Dossier to back up its claims against Page in pursuit of its warrant. The Democrat memo said the GOP memo was full of it. Having read the redacted version of the warrant application, I side with the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee on this. It’s clear that the FBI relied on the Steele Dossier. It’s clear that the FBI relied on a Yahoo! News article authored by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff for backup of the claims in the Steele Dossier – even though the Isikoff article was based on information Isikoff was given by the author of the Steele Dossier. And it’s clear that the FBI did NOT make clear to the FISA court that the Steele Dossier was nothing more than opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC agrees. Appearing Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Graham said that government surveillance of Page was “not at all” justified.
The week before last, House Republican leaders were thinking of making Democrats pay the price for introducing progressive-supported legislation to abolish the Immigrants and Customs Enforcement service. The bill had been introduced by Democrat Mark Pocan of WI, in response to the primary win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over incumbent Joe Crowley a few weeks ago.
But when GOP leaders thought about it, they decided not to bring up the legislation. They feared it would actually give many Democrats the opportunity to vote against the bill to separate themselves from left-wing activists. So, instead, they brought up a pro-ICE resolution offered by Republican Congressman Clay Higgins of LA.
Democrats were no less angered by the move, and the vast majority – 135 of them – voted “present.”
Frankly, that was a rather silly move. Voting “present” on this particular piece of legislation is no better than voting “no,” for campaign ad purposes – in both cases, you’re failing to vote “yes,” which allows your Republican opponent to accurately say in a campaign ad that “when given the opportunity to stand up for tough immigration enforcement, Congressman X failed to do so.”
Score this a minor win for the Republicans.
The Treasury Department announced Monday evening that certain tax exempt groups will no longer be required to provide the names and addresses of major donors to the IRS on the groups’ tax returns.
That information is required by law to remain confidential, but in recent years there have been leaks from the IRS of such information. In 2012, for instance, names of donors to the National Organization for Marriage were deliberately leaked, and the group’s donors were targeted by the left.
“Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Exempt groups will still have to keep the information on file, in the event of an audit, but it will no longer have to be forwarded to the IRS along with tax returns.
The left is not taking this lying down. Even though the IRS has now acknowledged it has no need for the information on a tax return, and even though the law required that the information remain confidential anyway, the left is outraged that the IRS will no longer be receiving the information in the first place. Why? Obviously, because if the IRS never receives the information in the first place, there’s no information to leak. That is the ONLY reason one could be upset at this decision.
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of OR is so incensed that he promised to vote against IRS Commissioner nominee Charles Rettig unless Retting would commit to restoring what Wyden called “this critical disclosure requirement.”
On Monday, President Trump met with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin behind closed doors, with just translators present, for more than two hours.
In his prepared remarks at the joint press conference afterwards, President Trump read a statement that was full of unobjectionable remarks about what he and Putin had discussed during their meeting.
But when reporters got a chance to ask questions, things went sideways.
First up was a question from a Russian reporter about gas imports into Europe. Nothing objectionable there.
Second up was a question from Jeff Mason, a reporter for the Reuters news agency:
Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you — what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?”
Said Trump in response:
Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible.
I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office.
And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia, and we’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping — you have to do it, ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we could be working on.
But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the — the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart, it’s kept us separated.
There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. And people are being brought out to the fore (ph). So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign.
That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And, frankly, we beat her — and I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. And it’s a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that, people understand it.
But the main thing — and we discussed this also — zero collusion.
And it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries.
It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.
The reporter asked a follow up question of Putin:
For President Putin, if I could follow up as well, why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided?
And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?
And Putin responded:
Now let’s get back to the issue of these 12 alleged intelligence officers of — of Russia.
I don’t know the full extent of the situation, but President Trump mentioned this issue and I will look into it. So far, I can say the following things off the top of my head.
We have enacting (sic) an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999. The Mutual Assistance on Criminal Cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently.
On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states. For instance, the last year there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States.
So this treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer the appropriate commission headed by Special Attorney Mueller. He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal — an official request to us so that we would interrogate — we want to hold a questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. And our law enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States.
Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller — we can let them into the country and they will be present at this questioning.
But in this case, there is a — there’s another condition. This kind of effort should be a mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate, and that they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence service of the United States, whom we believe are — who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia, and we have to — to request the presence of our law enforcement.
For instance, we can bring up the Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States, and yet the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Well, that’s the personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself, but the way the money was earned was illegal.
So we have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions. So we have a — an interest of questioning them. We can all — that — that could be a first step, and we can also extend it. Options abound, and they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.
Then came a question from a reporter for RT, the Russian propaganda channel, asking about cooperation in Syria.
Then came the final question, from AP reporter Jonathan Lemire:
A question for each president; President Trump, you first.
Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.
What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?
My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
And President Trump answered:
So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server — haven’t they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?
I’ve been wondering that, I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?
With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.
I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server.
But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I — I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing; where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone — just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 e-mails.
So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. OK?
Reaction back home in the United States was decidedly negative. Across virtually all points of the spectrum, commentators criticized President Trump for his seeming nod to the moral equivalence argument, and his failure to simply say “I agree with my intelligence community, and I warned President Putin that our government will no longer tolerate Russian interference in our election process.”
The White House spent the rest of the week trying to turn things around. But the topic dominated the political conversation for a week, only getting knocked off the Sunday shows by the Saturday evening release of the FISA warrant applications.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week revealed he isn’t about to let Senate Democrats’ demands for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s paper trail sidetrack the nomination. Speaking with Senate Republican colleagues midweek, McConnell revealed he has a plan – if Senate Democrats’ demands become too onerous, he’ll just keep the Senate in session during the month of October and hold the confirmation vote right before the election.
That would accomplish two political goals – first, it would keep vulnerable red-state Democrats in Washington, rather than back home campaigning; and, second, it would highlight what he expects will be a big conservative victory (that is, the successful confirmation vote) right before the election, taking the wind out of progressives’ sails.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: