Tag: congress
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.

House Republicans Mount A New Sneak Attack On Social Security

House Republicans Mount A New Sneak Attack On Social Security

Republicans just cannot give up on their dream of ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Nor can they give up on the idea that they’ll be shielded from the voters’ blowback of cutting those programs if they get someone else to tell them to do it. That’s what they tried back in 2010 with the Bowles-Simpson fiscal committee, dubbed the “catfood commission” by the left, and again with the failed “super committee” in 2011.

The House Budget Committee was back at it this week, approving yet another fiscal commission they want to see included in the final appropriations package they should be voting on in March, having kicked that can down the road again with the short-term funding bill they passed this week. They want another commission that could fast-track cuts to social insurance programs, blocking efforts by Democrats to add protections for those programs in the bill.

The House GOP has been harping on this since they regained the majority in 2022. They tried to include a fiscal commission in their failed attempt to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government back in September. It even featured highly in the fight to find a new speaker after the Freedom Caucus ousted Kevin McCarthy last fall.

Cutting the programs took center stage when GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma nominated Jim Jordan for the job. Jordan showed “courage,” Cole said, in fighting “to get at the real drivers of debt, and we all know what they are. We all know it's Social Security, we all know it's Medicare, we all know it's Medicaid.”

We all know that cutting these programs has been at the top of Republicans’ wish list since the programs were created decades ago. It’s never going to change. But it is providing yet another powerful opportunity for President Joe Biden to shine.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Kevin McCarthy

Why Speaker McCarthy May Suffer Newt Gingrich's Dismal 1998 Fate

In a Friday, September 22 op-ed published by Truthout, University of California at Davis lecturer and columnist Sasha Abramsky argues that "it's hard to see, given current polling on the issue," how the GOP's attempt to impeach President Joe Biden "will meaningfully hurt him," and that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) political reputation could plummet the way ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's did in the 1990s during ex-President Bill Clinton's presidency.

The columnist writes:

When [investigative counsel Kenneth] Starr's office discovered that Clinton had sexual relations with [ex-White House intern Monica] Lewinsky, and when Clinton subsequently dissembled in answering intimate questions about his sex life, Gingrich pounced, with the House voting to open an impeachment inquiry in the early fall of 1998. Two months later, after a 14-hour debate, the House voted in favor of articles of impeachment against the president.

By then, however, the public had grown restive, wanting Congress to focus on issues other than what the majority of voters came to see as fishing expeditions against the president. In the midterm elections, which were held one month into the impeachment inquiry, the Republicans underperformed: Although they clung onto their majority, the party lost enough seats to render Gingrich's job untenable. Soon afterward, he lost the speakership. In February 1999, after a short trial, the Senate voted not to convict Clinton on the two articles of impeachment the House had delivered to them. When he left office, two years later, Clinton's popularity rating was a stunning 66 percent, the highest of any outgoing president since Harry Truman.

Abramsky then notes, "A quarter century on, the GOP is engaged in a similar fishing expedition against President Biden, and "it's somewhat easier to see how McCarthy's speakership might end up suffering much the same fate as did Gingrich's in the late '90s."

He adds, "Only eight percent of voters have a very favorable opinion of McCarthy, and another 22 percent have a somewhat favorable view of him. The remaining 70 percent either dislike the man or, despite his being second in line to the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, don't know enough about him to have an opinion."

Abramsky emphasizes, "History contains a salutary lesson for McCarthy as to how this could all potentially go terribly wrong for him."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

George Santos

House Ethics Committee Widens Probe Into Alleged Santos Offenses

An investigation into United States Representative George Santos (R-NY), led by the House Ethics Committee, will expand to address "allegations that he fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits," which are already included in his recent federal indictment charges,The Washington Post reports.

After the right-wing congressman "was released on a $500,000 bond," following his New York arrest on 13 federal charges last month, Rolling Stone reports "the court revealed on Thursday Santos' father, Gercino dos Santos, and aunt his aunt, Elma Preven, were the two individuals who helped bail him out."

Per Rolling Stone, in March, the ethics committee began its probe into "whether Representative George Santos may have: engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office."

Now, the Post reports, the ethics panel's probe will also encompass "the federal charges, which allege that he defrauded his donors, used their money for his personal benefit and wrongfully claimed unemployment benefits.

The Post also notes:

While the ethics committee traditionally paused investigations into lawmakers charged with federal crimes so as not to interfere with the work of the Justice Department, members had previously signaled that they would continue with their inquiry into Santos. The committee's latest statement acknowledged 'the risks associated with dual investigations,' noting that they're 'in communication with the Department of Justice to mitigate the potential risks while still meeting the Committee's obligations to safeguard the integrity of the House.'

Following the GOP lawmaker's May federal indictment, United States Attorney Breon Peace said, "This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations," adding, "Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself. He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives. My Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituents who elected them."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.