Tag: congress
James Comer

Hapless Oversight Chair Keeps Digging 'Dirt' On Biden

The Biden impeachment resolution the House GOP unanimously approved last December has hilariously collapsed (Russian moles, sawdust “cocaine”), but that’s not stopping the utterly inept Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, from throwing spaghetti at the wall to make something stick. The chair of the House Oversight Committee made it clear that his intention is to amass as much “evidence” of alleged wrongdoing as he can, with an eye toward setting up criminal prosecutions for a hypothetical Trump presidency.

“Since January 2023, we’ve launched investigations into President Biden’s border crisis, energy crisis, federal pandemic spending, federal agency telework policies, abuse of power at the FTC, the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes, the federal government’s efforts to combat CCP influence, and more,” Comer told Politico.

Those investigations, he promised, “will culminate in reports with our findings and recommended solutions to prevent government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” Expect that to be as solid as all the previous work from him and his fellow MAGA zealot Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee.

The “and more” Comer referred to includes such burning questions as the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic (which occurred under Trump) and the administration’s use of theStrategic Petroleum Reserve. Comer has made it clear that this volley of attacks is designed to generate criminal referrals.

“I want to hold the Biden family accountable. I believe the best way to hold the Biden family accountable is through criminal referrals. We’ve proven many crimes have been committed,” Comer told Fox News’ Trey Gowdy. “If the Merrick Garland Department of Justice will not hold this family accountable, then maybe if Trump is president, a Trey Gowdy Department of Justice can hold this family accountable.”

The Comer oversight overreach extends to a threat to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt if he doesn’t turn over the audio tapes of the interview special counsel Robert Hur conducted with President Biden in his classified documents probe. That’s after the disastrous hearing Jordan and Comer held last month, intended to show that Biden is too old and doddery to be trusted as commander in chief.

That backfired when the Justice Department released the transcript of the Biden interview, which showed that Biden’s memory was not failing, and in fact Hur remarked on Biden’s “photographic understanding and, and recall of the house” in Delaware where documents were found. But Comer and Jordan—who have been given free rein by GOP leadership to continue to embarrass them all—are sure that they can find some nugget of a cover-up on the part of Garland in all of this.

Mostly, though, they want to help Trump in his revenge plots. So they’re just going to keep burrowing into the hole they’ve dug. They could quit while they’re behind, but the need to avenge Trump just won’t let them.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

New York Suburbs May Return Democrats To Power In Congress

New York Suburbs May Return Democrats To Power In Congress

Those days are obviously gone. The recent election of Democrat Tom Suozzi to replace George Santos in Long Island's 3rd district suggests that Democrats and independents in these swing districts now recognize that they must choose sides. And that may end up reversing more of the Republicans' recent advances in these near-in suburbs.

Those gains reflected the social chaos unleashed by COVID and shrieking headlines about crime in the big city. As a result, Republicans in 2022 took five of the six congressional House districts on Long Island and in the lower Hudson Valley. Four had gone for Joe Biden two years earlier.

The New York suburbs, of all places, helped the GOP obtain its thin House majority.

The problem for these voters, however, is that the House is not run by their kind of nice-guy Republicans but the right-wing Speaker Mike Johnson, Donald Trump and a coterie of fringe extremists with near zero interest in these suburbanites' concerns. On the contrary, they're hostile to reproductive rights, national security and health care.

The Republicans' successful pitch to these suburbs centered on crime, immigration and taxes. Crime in New York, never as rampant as the scary reports suggested, is now down. New York was still one of the safest cities in America, but with COVID keeping a lot of suburbanites working at home, many had little in the way of a reality check. In any case, the city is back to gridlock.

On immigration, the Republican House just smothered a bipartisan Senate deal that would have actually curbed the chaos at the border. Trump ordered that the problem not be solved, so he could campaign on it.

As for tax relief, the impotence of the suburban Republicans recently went on full display in their failure to restore any of the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). In 2017, then-President Trump and a Republican Congress slashed the deduction to $10,000.

One intention was to shake down taxpayers in blue states, where incomes, local levies and the cost of living are high. They were thus forced to pay taxes on taxes they'd already paid.

Limiting the deduction to $10,000 not only affected rich people. A cop married to a nurse on Long Island could easily have a combined income of $200,000 — and state, local and property tax bills well north of $30,000.

Mike Lawler, a Republican representing the lower Hudson Valley, had campaigned on the promise to address this thorn in his constituents' side. He called for doubling the cap on SALT deductions to $20,000 and only for married couples. But Republican House leaders swatted down even that modest proposal.

Other changes since 2022 may blow wind in Democrats' sails. Democrats are unlikely to again forget to campaign, which contributed to the loss of at least two seats. One of the overly confident Democrats neglected to do any background check on his opponent, the wildly fraudulent George Santos.

Come November, Trump is sure to be on the ballot, and you don't have to be a Democrat in these affluent suburbs to detest him. Recent redistricting in New York State also slightly enhances Democrats' prospects. Finally, with inflation down and stock prices up, moods are improving across middle class America. Then there's the abortion issue.

And so exactly what are Lawler and other suburban Republicans doing for their constituents other than helping keep in power the very people who hold their interests in contempt? Little that we can identify.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Mike Johnson

Can Biden Fix House GOP's Looming Budget Disaster?

Since Republicans took control of the House following the 2022 midterms, the U.S. has faced a crisis of governance. Unable to quit their own petty infighting, caught up in ugly leadership squabbles, and unwilling to move without the blessing of Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson now commands a Congress well past the brink of disaster. After being unable to pass necessary legislation and wasting endless hours on a faux impeachment inquiry of Biden that is going nowhere, Republicans have generated such a maelstrom of incompetence that it’s putting millions of lives and the stability of the planet at risk.

Contrary to what Republicans apparently believe, Congress is expected to do things. It has to meet the challenges of the day, promote policies that assist the nation, and deal with the day-to-day affairs that keep government functional. Since they gained their narrow margin, Republicans have done exactly none of these things.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden summoned Republican congressional leaders to a meeting at the White House. With Ukraine in retreat after running out of critical ammunition and a government shutdown only four days away, this could be the most consequential meeting in decades. Will Republicans wake up for one moment to place the nation and the world ahead of their desire to please Trump and feed their childish egos? Or will they drive the nation, and the world, onto the rocks?

After being selected for speaker on the basis that no one knew who the hell he was so no particular faction was out for his throat, Johnson has shown himself to be singularly inadequate for the role.

As Joan McCarter has reported, Johnson …

  • Swiftly burned through any honeymoon period and found that his every statement or action was being scrutinized by House members sure that they would do a better job in the big office.
  • He betrayed other congressional leaders by reneging on a budget deal after everyone thought the issues were settled.
  • When months of negotiations in the Senate produced a border bill that gave Republicans everything they had been demanding, Johnson refused to even consider it on orders from Trump.
  • With the clock winding down on the end of the year, Johnson wasted time on a pointless impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • With the stability of the Western world on the line, Johnson has repeatedly dithered and stalled on providing any assistance to Ukraine while Republicans increasingly look to Putin.
  • And with a government shutdown looming, Johnson sent the House out on a vacation that’s not set to end until three days before the deadline.

Johnson is not just courting disaster, he is a disaster. Either he’s astoundingly ineffectual, or he’s an arsonist set on burning down America. It’s genuinely unclear which of these things is true.

We may find out today.

“Every day that Speaker Johnson causes our national security to deteriorate, America loses,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. “And every day that he puts off a clean vote [on assistance to Ukraine], congressional Republicans’ standing with the American people plunges. Running away for an early vacation only worsens both problems.”

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is tired of the incompetence on the other end of the Capitol. “Shutting down the government is harmful to the country. And it never produces positive outcomes—on policy or politics,” said McConnell.

At the same time everyone is trying to get Johnson to do his job, extremist Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus are doing everything they can to provide more road bumps.

Last week they submitted a list of policy riders to Johnson, including such nonsense items as zeroing out Mayorkas’ salary, blocking military members from traveling out of state to obtain abortions, and defunding environmental and climate policies. In all, there are more than 20 of these poison pills, and the Freedom Caucus is declaring that it will block any attempt to reach an agreement unless America is forced to swallow the whole bottle.

A real speaker, one with respect from the members of their party and the strength to push past fanatics bent on nothing more than causing disruption, would push past this. Unfortunately, America is saddled with Mike Johnson.

That doesn’t make a good outcome impossible, but it certainly makes it almost infinitely more difficult.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Mike Johnson

Speaker Follows Impeachment Charade With Call To End 'Political Posturing'

House Speaker Mike Johnson has plenty of excuses for not taking up the Ukraine aid package the Senate passed early this week, saying that he’s just got too many serious issues on his plate to help in the fight for democracy against Russian totalitarianism. He told reporters Wednesday morning that “we have to address this seriously, to actually solve the problems and not just take political posturing as has happened in some of these other corners.”

Yes, he seriously accused Ukraine aid proponents of “political posturing” just hours after he led House Republicans in their second—barely successful—sham impeachment vote of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. By the way, that reporter’s question was spot on. Johnson effectively killed the original Senate bill that included a border security package by saying it would be dead on arrival in the House. Now he complains that the aid bill “has not one word about the border.”

Johnson also insists that he’s too busy figuring out how to avoid a government shutdown on March 1 and that it will take time for his team to “process” the Senate’s package. Guess what’s not on the House schedule this week? That’s right: Any appropriations bills to fund the government ahead of the looming deadline. Again, he was able to carve out more time to impeach Mayorkas and to force the Senate to deal with that just days before the government funding deadline.

The Senate is out until Feb. 26 and is going to have to deal with the Mayorkas impeachment as soon as they return. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the process in a statement, indicating that the House impeachment managers will “present the articles of impeachment to the Senate” as soon as they’re back in, and “[s]enators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day.”

Which means two days of valuable Senate time will be wasted on this because the Senate will never vote to convict Mayorkas, but they have to deal with it anyway. They’ll dispense with it as quickly as the Senate can do anything, but they need every hour for the long process of passing the bills to keep the government from shutting down.

That process between the House and Senate is going nowhere fast because of all the poison-pill riders about abortion, contraception, and trans issues the House Republicans crammed into their spending bills.

On top of all that, Johnson—who just spent an embarrassing week and a half of floor time impeaching one of Biden’s cabinet members—is now demanding that Biden take him seriously and have a face-to-face meeting with him on the Ukraine bill. A White House spokesperson told NBC that Johnson “needed to wrap the negotiations he has having with himself and stop delaying national security needs in the name of politics.” Biden is not included to help Johnson out of this one.

“That body language says: ‘I know I’m in a tough spot. Please bail me out,’” one Democrat involved with the supplemental aid package told NBC.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.