Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Weekly Report from Washington for 1/29/18
The House will return Monday, and stay through Wednesday. Then House Republicans will go off to their annual retreat. The Senate will return Monday, and stay in session through Thursday. On Tuesday evening at 9 PM EDT, President Trump will deliver his first official State of the Union address.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
At 6:09 PM last Monday evening, the House voted on H.R. 195, the vehicle for the Continuing Resolution that had earlier that day passed the Senate. The CR passed, by a vote of 266-150, and was then sent to the President for his signature.
And then they were done.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
It’s going to be a short workweek for the House.
The House will return today. The House will hold its first vote at 6:30 PM. The House is scheduled to take up seven bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday evening, the House will host President Trump for his State of the Union address.
On Wednesday, the House will go into recess for the annual party retreats.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
Last Monday, at 4:05 PM, the Senate voted to pass the Continuing Resolution. The vote was 81-18, and the bill went to the House.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted by 84-12 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Jerome Powell to serve as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Then the Senate voted to confirm Powell to that position. The vote to confirm was 84-13.
Later Tuesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, replacing Tom Price.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm Azar to that position, by a vote of 55-43.
Then the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to serve as Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom. The vote to invoke cloture passed, by a vote of 49-49, with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Then the Vice President stuck around for the vote on the confirmation itself, and his tie-breaking vote was needed again.
On Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm R.D. James to be Assistant Secretary of the Army.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will come back into session today. This afternoon, the Senate will take up consideration of S. 2311, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill would prohibit elective abortions after 20 weeks.
Also on the calendar for this week will be the confirmation of David Stras to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed Congress that he had recovered missing text messages from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials whose earlier released text messages indicated a pro-Clinton, anti-Trump bias while they were working on the Clinton email investigation and the Mueller probe. Horowitz said he would share the recovered text messages with the Department of Justice and that he had “no objection” if DOJ chose to share them with Congress.
H.R. 469: CONGRESSIONAL ARTICLE I POWERS STRENGTHENING ACT:
On last week’s call, we had a question asking for an update on H.R. 469, the Congressional Article I Powers Strengthening Act. The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of GA on January 12, 20017, and has 21 cosponsors. The House passed it on October 25, 2017, by a vote of 234-187. It now awaits action in the Senate, where it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The companion legislation in the Senate is S. 119.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice threatened to subpoena 23 states, cities, and localities that view themselves as “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants if they don’t hand over documents DOJ wants. The DOJ had previously been in touch with these 23 jurisdictions, warning them that they might be in violation of federal law barring such jurisdictions from implementing policies that block communications with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Today, the White House will officially release President Trump’s proposal for immigration reform. We had background briefing calls Thursday and Friday with White House officials who seemed to be under the misapprehension that the proposal will win support from conservatives AND liberals. I think they’re in for a rude surprise.
The proposal has four pillars:
- A legislative fix for DACA. The fix would offer a path to citizenship in 10-12 years, and would more than double the number of people who could receive it, to 1.8 million. Essentially, that would be everyone who could have qualified for President Obama’s DACA program, whether or not they applied for permits, and it would change the threshold date from 2007 to 2012. The White House recognizes this as what it calls “the most substantial concession” in the proposal.
- Border security enhancements. The proposal calls for $25 billion in funding for the wall and increased personnel – new Border Patrol agents, new Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, new immigration judges, new immigration lawyers. It would also close loopholes that make it difficult to deport certain illegal immigrants, and would give the same treatment to all illegal immigrants, regardless of their country of origin. And the money would be put in a trust fund, so future Congresses could not claw it back.
- End family-based chain migration by limiting sponsorships to the nuclear family – only children and spouses. This would apply prospectively, so those in line with applications on file would still be in line.
- Ending the visa lottery. Instead, those visas would be reallocated to help reduce the backlog of those waiting in line for visas.
The obvious problem, of course, is the President’s concession on offering citizenship to 1.8 million illegal immigrants. That’s exactly what the Democrats want more than anything else, and it ought to be a bargaining chip, at the very least, even if you’re someone who thinks amnesty for illegal immigrants is all right. Instead, it’s included in his opening offer. Worse, don’t think it’s going to take them 10-12 years to get citizenship – if Congress passes something like this now, a future Congress will act to shorten that time.
Democrat leader Chuck Schumer has already panned the proposal. Not surprisingly, so have many conservatives, despite White House officials’ statements to the contrary.
Sources inside the Trump Administration say the President has settled on a new IRS Commissioner – he’s a tax lawyer by the name of Charles “Chuck” Rettig. Rettig has given an awful lot of money over the years to Democrats, and virtually none to Republicans that I could find in a quick review of his FEC contribution records. But he supported Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns while they’re under audit.
THE NUNES MEMO:
The Department of Justice is now screaming bloody murder about the four-page memo prepared by the staff of the House Intelligence Committee, demanding that it not be released publicly and demanding that the Intelligence Committee allow DOJ to see it. Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has so far resisted those demands, and with good reason – the information in the memo came from the FBI itself, after several months of stonewalling. So for DOJ to be demanding anything right now is a bit rich in irony, to say the least.
The House Intelligence Committee could vote as soon as this week to release the memo. That would happen by a simple majority vote. At that point, the White House – as the head of the executive branch, which “owns” the intelligence used in the memo – would have five days to review the memo and object to its release, or approve its release. If it approves release, the memo would be released. If it objects, the full House could vote by a simple majority vote to override the White House’s objections and release the memo.
Appearing on FOX News Sunday yesterday, White House Legislative Director Marc Short said President Trump would like to see the memo released publicly. And appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – who has read the memo – said it should be released publicly.
According to a report last night in The New York Times, the memo says that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved an application in the spring of 2017 for a renewal of the FISA warrant allowing the government to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor.
The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a business meeting for 5 PM this afternoon. We’re not sure they’re going to vote today to make the memo public, but it’s a very real possibility.
President Trump on Wednesday announced that he plans to speak with Special Counsel Robert Mueller under oath, provided that his lawyers can work out conditions of the interview to their liking. He said he expects to speak with Mueller in two to three weeks.
But that wasn’t the biggest news of the week on the Russia probe. That was reserved for Thursday’s New York Times report saying that last June, President Trump ordered Don McGahn, his White House Counsel, to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. According to the piece, McGahn refused to follow the order, in the belief that Trump would not fire Mueller himself. So McGahn refused to follow the order, and told senior – but unnamed – White House officials that he would quit before doing that. He waited out the President, and the President dropped it.
Asked about the report on Friday morning, President Trump dismissed it as “fake news.”
We’re now on our fourth Continuing Resolution since October. This one runs out on February 8, and is meant to give negotiators time to come to agreement on new budget caps, which is another way of saying Congress is about to do a deal that lifts the Sequester level spending caps and spends a lot more money over the next two years. But don’t be at all surprised if we need one or even two more Continuing Resolutions – because they’re just not going to be able to come to agreement before February 8 on those spending levels.
The budget caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 worked for a few years. In fact, under the budget caps, federal spending fell for three straight years – from $3.6 trillion in 2011 to $3.51 trillion in 2014. That three-year spending reduction was the first time that had happened since the 1950s, when the federal government was retrenching after spending massively on World War II.
But now the spenders in both parties are thinking it’s time to end whatever kind of fiscal restraint the budget caps imposed on them. Defense hawks are adamant about increasing defense spending – they want a $108 billion increase over last year’s spending. Democrats know that, and are looking to match that with dollar-for-dollar increases in domestic spending. And then you need to throw in disaster relief funding, and funding for a border wall, and more money to bail out the insurance companies, and by the time we’re done, we could be looking at a $300 billion increase over two years.
STATE OF THE UNION PREVIEW:
On Tuesday evening, President Trump will deliver his first official State of the Union address. According to White House officials speaking on background, the theme will be “Building a Safe, Strong, and Proud America,” and the President will be talking about his accomplishments from his first year in office, how his Administration’s policies are lifting all Americans, and how these policies are setting a foundation for building a safe, strong, and proud America.
There will be five key issue areas of focus: Jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade, and national security.
In the jobs and the economy section, he’ll talk about the Tax Cut and Jobs Act and the Administration’s deregulation effort.
In the infrastructure section, he’ll discuss his $1 trillion plan for rebuilding depleted infrastructure.
In the immigration section, he’ll reiterate the legislative principles he’ll release tomorrow.
In the trade section, he’ll talk about how he’s insisting on fair and reciprocal trade. The speech he just gave in Davos at the World Economic Forum summit – which you can find in the Suggested Reading – is an example of his approach on this front.
In the national security section, he’ll discuss rebuilding our military, returning to a policy of peace through strength, and returning to clarity about friends and adversaries. He’ll discuss North Korea and nuclear issues, and the Administration’s efforts to defeat terrorists around the world.
But the dog that didn’t bark is the missing element in the President’s speech – there’s no mention of continuing the fight to repeal ObamaCare.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:
THE NUNES MEMO: