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Tag: nancy pelosi

House Democrats Advance Biden's Nearly $5 Trillion Spending Plans

Washington (AFP) - US President Joe Biden's plans to spend nearly $5 trillion to change the world's largest economy advanced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, after Democratic leaders reached an agreement with centrist lawmakers to end a dispute that threatened the bills.

Biden and his Democratic allies controlling the chamber are pushing for passage of both a $1.2 trillion overhaul to the country's infrastructure and a bill costing $3.5 trillion over ten years that would pay for improvements to education, health care and climate change resiliency.

While the infrastructure bill has already won passage in the Senate with some votes from Republicans, Democrats have found no opposition support for the second, larger bill, and are planning to approve it with their votes alone -- a tough task given their narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The dispute erupted when centrist Democrats in the House said the infrastructure bill must be voted on first, but on Tuesday, those lawmakers backed a compromise resolution that would see the infrastructure measure put to a vote in about a month.

"I am committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27. I do so with a commitment to rally House Democratic support for its passage," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The resolution paves the way for further negotiations over the $3.5 trillion measure with the aim of unveiling it by September 15.

The Democrats can afford to lose no votes in the Senate, where two of their lawmakers have already said they won't vote for the bill unless its price is reduced.

Final votes on the bills are not expected until next month or later in the fall.

The infrastructure measure includes $550 billion in new spending and is aimed at revitalizing and expanding the nation's roads, railways, bridges and broadband access.

The $3.5 trillion measure is supported by the Democratic leaders and the party's progressive faction, and includes funding for climate measures, infrastructure investments left out of the other bill, residency status for millions of migrant workers, and two years of paid tuition at public universities.

The Sedition Caucus, Under Oath

It is an indisputable fact that House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were at the very heart of former President Donald Trump's coup plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. While more than hints and clues have pointed to their involvement ever since the January 6 insurrection, their central role emerged this past week when notes of a December 27, 2020, conversation between Trump and the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen were disclosed.

Informed by Rosen that the Department of Justice could not and would not reverse President Joe Biden's election victory, Trump urged him to "just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen." Moments later, Trump referred specifically to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, founder of the Freedom Caucus and close associate of Mark Meadows, the former Freedom Caucus chair who left Congress to become Trump's White House chief of staff.

Jordan is so far unwilling to say whether he will testify about the insurrection if he is summoned, just as he refused years ago to assist official inquiries into hundreds of sexual assaults on the Ohio State wrestling team in which he was suspected of complicity or worse. But this time, if the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol requests his appearance, either voluntarily or by subpoena, he will have to show up or face legal consequences. So will several other members of the Capitol Hill "sedition caucus" who sought to invalidate Biden's election, including McCarthy and Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, to name a few of the most prominent.

And so will their longtime confederate Meadows, who has already been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee in the Rosen matter and "may face significant criminal exposure," according to the Just Security website published by New York University School of Law.

Each of these Republican myrmidons has serious questions to answer. Brooks, donning a flak jacket when he addressed the pre-riot Trumpist rally at the Ellipse on January 6 calling for "kicking ass," has claimed immunity, a justification denied by the DOJ. Boebert allegedly gave a tour through the Capitol with unknown persons later identified as insurrectionists in December and January. "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander boasted of concocting a plan to intimidate Congress from certifying the election with Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks.

Jordan was implicated in the coup effort very early, even before Election Day, when he publicly accused Democrats of planning to corrupt the balloting. In the weeks leading up to the insurrection, he plotted with Meadows and Trump at the White House; in the days afterward, he was given the Medal of Freedom by Trump in a closed ceremony there. It is undoubtedly the first time that high honor has been awarded for seditious conspiracy against the Republic.

As the Lincoln historian and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal pointed out in a recent Guardian column, members of Congress possess no immunity against a subpoena from a House investigating committee. Moreover, as Blumenthal also noted, there is richly ironic precedent to summon all of these characters, voluntarily or otherwise, in the official Senate probe of John Brown's infamous Harpers Ferry raid on the eve of the Civil War. Leading that investigation was none other than Mississippi Sen. Jefferson Davis, the traitor who later served as president of the Confederacy (whose battle flag soiled the Capitol hallways on January 6.)

Harper's Ferry was the last domestic insurrection to come under congressional scrutiny — until now. Among the witnesses called to testify about the events leading up to Brown's attack were two antislavery Republican senators suspected by Davis of knowing or aiding him. And it is safe to say that Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and other Democrats on the committee are aware of that precedent.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans named to the committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has suggested that Jordan and McCarthy, both of whom spoke with Trump on January 6, should be called — and a very large and rapt television audience awaits her questioning of them.

Meadows, who spent that day and the days preceding the insurrection with Trump in the White House and knows what the former president did and didn't do, will have to face the music. It will not be the last time he's been caught in a coup. In January 2013, when he conspired with Jordan to overthrow Republican House Speaker John Boehner, he was exposed in the failed attempt. He later came to the speaker's office, according to Boehner, got down on his knees, and pleaded, "Will you please forgive me?" Meadows will undoubtedly have another opportunity to get on his knees soon.

These ultra-right Republicans are the face of an authoritarian and frankly nihilist insurgency that began its takeover of the Grand Old Party back when their model Newt Gingrich rose to power as speaker. It is no surprise that this miscreant crew now surrounds their would-be dictator Trump like a praetorian guard, or that they spearheaded his attempt to destroy democracy. But the time is rapidly approaching when they will have to answer for those actions under oath. Of course, Jordan and Meadows and Brooks and Boebert and the other members of the gang can always plead the Fifth Amendment.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Why So-Called Tough Guys Are Always Punching Down

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay's right to say whatever, said, "His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power." Clay's core audience, Carlin said, were "young white males" threatened by Clay's targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. "I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …" — well, you get the idea.

In today's cruel world, it's not just comedians punching down, reaching for the "easy" joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don't feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the "punching" is the point, and it's always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country's history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent, threatening words involved actual hitting, in this case the speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency, Nancy Pelosi. At a Republican fundraiser in Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend, when presented with an oversize gavel, McCarthy said: "I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it." According to audio, the crowd of about 1,400 laughed.

McCarthy can almost taste the speakership, with voting restrictions in the states and new gerrymandered districts being teed up, and the Supreme Court and a Senate stalled on voting legislation helping to clear the way. He's already referring to Pelosi as a lame duck. For him and his followers, the angry rhetoric isn't something to be ashamed of; it's dessert, a way to rile up the base and rake in the cash.

While not approving of the violent January 6 insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, McCarthy tried to block an investigation of the attack and said he ignored the testimony of brutalized police officers before the select committee that's proceeding without him. McCarthy seems to have forgotten his reported initial pleas to then-President Donald Trump to rein in his supporters that day.

Does he remember or care, as he's piling on, that the rioters particularly targeted Pelosi, defiled her office and called out "Where's Nancy?" in their best impression of Jack Nicholson's demented howl in The Shining?

The trickle-down effect that Republican politicians are so fond of when it comes to justifying tax cuts for the wealthy is certainly true when it comes to this style of "tough guy" posturing, as January 6 proved, though you can bet those rioters would not have been so free employing their weaponized flagpoles and bear spray if they were confronting each officer one-on-one.

The same goes for the bullies who don't need masks, but want to fight businesses trying to safely staff and operate their shops and restaurants, or the anti-vaxxers who show little concern for children too young to get vaccinated or neighbors who because of age or medical complications are at risk.

It's predictable that the tough guys and gals, so anxious to pick a fight — verbal and otherwise — offer a tsunami of excuses when called to account. That's usually the case with bullies.

The January 6 lawbreakers are blaming Trump, QAnon and the heat of the moment; some Republicans unbelievably blame Pelosi herself for the violence that targeted her. Professional comic Che says he was hacked, and amateur comic McCarthy claims he was "obviously joking" when he taunted the speaker.

I'd respect them all a lot more if they'd just own their perfidy. Instead, they do their damage with a wink before backing off, managing to look both mean and weak.

When I spoke with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn last week on my Equal Time podcast, he didn't have the time or desire to insult anyone. As someone who in the 1960s was in the middle of the fight for the Voting Rights Act, he would rather talk about the current battle to protect the rights promised in that landmark legislation — and to save democracy itself.

Convincing those who don't believe it's their fight won't be easy. But Clyburn has the optimism of someone who, in the face of real danger, helped take on the segregated South. In "punching up" at a system designed to hold "powerless" Americans down, he and all those who changed history showed a toughness that a gavel-toting McCarthy and company can only dream about.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer, and was national correspondent for Politics Daily. She is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Spooked By Negative Polls, Republican Politicians Now Push Vaccination

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Vaccinated Americans are pretty damn upset about the lagging vaccination rates—mainly among white GOP voters—that have led to a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in red states.

Now Senate Republicans want Americans to know who to blame for the low vaccination rates of GOP voters: Democrats.

In case you missed it, Republicans are now pro-vaccine, and the sudden surge of the Delta variant is all President Joe Biden's fault. At least, that's the bridge Senate Republicans and some GOP governors are selling.

Before we go any further, let's be clear about what the GOP's latest gaslighting effort represents: an all-hands-on-deck clean-up on aisle COVID-19.

"When it comes to COVID, there should only be one message to the American people and that should be: Vaccines work," Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told reporters Tuesday in the ultimate Johnny-come-lately of pandemic statements. Barrasso then went on to accuse the White House and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of "medical malpractice" for having chaotic messages on masking, lockdowns, and other coronavirus mitigation efforts. Never mind the fact that the red-state surge is what has landed the country back in masking territory.

Now that Republicans have driven the country back into a COVID-19 ditch, they're planting the keys on President Joe Biden. Indeed, anti-masker and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pinning the Sunshine State's deadly outbreak on Biden's border policies. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is suddenly a huge promoter of "VACCINATIONS!" And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who's 'perplexed' by the vaccine hesitancy mostly coursing through red America—is now funding radio ads urging residents of Kentucky to get vaccinated. Just eight of the state's more than 120 counties have reported vaccination rates above 50 percent, according to recent CDC data.

Here's one thing we can all be assured of: Mitch McConnell doesn't lavish campaign funds on public health for the sake of public health. His campaign expenditure is a sure sign that Republicans—particularly those in swing states and swing districts—don't like what they are seeing in the polling.

In fact, a newly released Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index is offering a window into the motivations behind the GOP's latest blame-shifting campaign. Of the roughly 70 percent of vaccinated Americans, nearly eight in 10 blame unvaccinated Americans for the latest wave of infections. Beyond faulting the unvaccinated, 36 percent of those who are vaccinated blame Donald Trump, 33 percent blame conservative media, and 30 percent blame people from other countries traveling to the United States. In other words, the vaccinated among us overwhelmingly blame Republicans, Trump, and right-wing media for erasing the gains made by the Biden administration's speedy vaccination program. That's exactly why Republicans are so desperate to recast Biden as responsible for the delta uptick.

Congressional Democrats are reportedly seeing something similar in their own polling, according to Washington Post's Greg Sargent. Internal polling by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has shown that "56 percent of likely voters in four dozen battleground districts have serious doubts about Republicans after hearing that they are spreading lies about vaccines to further conspiracy theories." The DCCC is now pushing its candidates to emphasize Republican disinformation on both the vaccine and the January 6 insurrection at their campaign events. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been offering a master class in how to highlight the radicalization of the Republican Party.

The vaccine message is also a natural for Democrats since the public widely trusts Democrats over Republicans on health care issues. The fact that Republicans are now trying flip public perception of GOP extremism on a public health issue is also telling—they simply cannot afford to chart a new course on the Jan. 6 insurrection, since many of their voters now support the terrorist siege and most adamantly believe the election was stolen from Trump.

But Republicans will have to stage a massive cover-up in order to retroactively recast themselves as part of the solution on taming COVID-19 spread. Rewriting history would be a cinch among Trump cultists and avid Fox News watchers. But the people Republicans need to convince of their rationality are actually rational people—those who still believe in facts and science and might be willing to vote Republican if the party wasn't overrun by extremists.

That's going to be a much tougher sell after congressional Republicans led the charge in sowing doubt and confusion about the vaccines. Republicans comparing the White House vaccination campaign to tactics used by the Nazis wasn't exactly helpful. Neither was Republicans smearing localized vaccination campaigns as "door-to-door" spying. Some Republicans hyped the idea that President Biden's vaccination effort was really a ploy to raid people's homes for their Bibles and guns.

As of mid-May, 100 percent of congressional Democrats reported being vaccinated while a meager 45 percent of House Republicans said they had gotten the shot. And last week, House Republicans spent much of the week railing against mask mandates in the lower chamber—even as their own caucus poses a primary threat to the health of everyone else in the Capitol.

Whatever whopper congressional Republicans and GOP governors are trying to sell now, they carried the mantle on hamstringing Biden's extraordinary vaccination push. Based on the polling, vaccinated Americans seem to both know that and resent it.

McCarthy Excoriated Over ‘Joking’ Threat To Hit Pelosi With Gavel

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Democratic lawmakers are up in arms after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it would "be hard not to hit" Nancy Pelosi if he were to win the Speaker's gavel in the 2022 midterms, with a growing number calling for him to either resign or apologize for his remark.

"I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It'll be hard not to hit her with it," McCarthy said at a July 31 event with Tennessee Republican state lawmakers, according to audio published by local Tennessee reporter Vivian Jones.

As the audio spread, Democratic lawmakers condemned McCarthy's remark, saying his violent joke is not funny at a time when lawmakers are already receiving death threats associated with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

"It's been 24 hours since @gopleader McCarthy threatened violence against @SpeakerPelosi. RT if he should apologize or resign," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted Sunday night.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) also called for McCarthy's resignation tweetingSunday night that McCarthy "is now threatening to assault the Speaker of the House."

"His lies about the violence on January 6th are disgusting," McGovern added. "I've said it before & I'll say it again — he should RESIGN!!"

Multiple other lawmakers said McCarthy must apologize.

"@GOPLeader, not only are jokes about violence not funny, they can incite violent & tragic outcomes like January 6th," Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) tweeted. "This type of behavior is unbecoming of an elected official & diminishes Congress as an institution. You need to apologize & stop the reckless, partisan rhetoric."

A number of other comments made the connection to the insurrection at the Capitol, which McCarthy at one point blamed Trump for but later walked back as he tried to stonewall any investigations into the violent attack.

"Not shocking to see @GOPLeader invoke violence against @SpeakerPelosi while he continues to deny the danger she and so many others, on both sides of the aisle, were in on January 6th," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tweeted. "He owes the Speaker an apology."

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) also said McCarthy's comment "encourages more violence like we saw on January 6th."

Pelosi herself has yet to comment. However, Drew Hammill, her deputy chief of staff, tweeted, "A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting."

The relationship between Pelosi and McCarthy has been fraught in recent weeks.

Since Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy's picks for a House committee to probe the insurrection, McCarthy has been wrongly blaming Pelosi for the insurrection. He did despite once blaming Trump and even as Pelosi was a target of the Trump-supporting mob on Jan. 6.

And he's also wrongly blamed her for new mask-wearing requirements on the House side of Capitol Hill, which were not put in place by Pelosi but rather by Congress' attending physician as cases of COVID-19 skyrocket.

McCarthy recently revealed that close to one-third of the House Republican conference has refused to get vaccinated as he argued against the new mask mandate. Every Democratic lawmaker on Capitol Hill is vaccinated.

Pelosi called McCarthy a "moron" for his anti-mask comments.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy Weirdly Parrots QAnon Rhetoric: ’The Storm Is Coming’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

"The storm" is a term that the far-right conspiracy theorists of QAnon are fond of using, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used that term during a July 29 press conference when he was criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support of a mask mandate for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The mandate came from Capitol Physician Brian Monahan, and Pelosi has said that she will "honor it." But McCarthy, obviously pandering to anti-masker extremists and coronavirus deniers in the MAGA movement, is vehemently opposed to the mandate. Monahan is calling for the House mask mandate in response to the COVID-19 surge that has been attacking the United States, especially in red states with low vaccination rates.

McCarthy, during his July 29 speech, was standing near Rep. Elise Stefanik — who chairs the House Republican Conference — when he said, "If you are vaccinated and you get the variant, there's .003 percent you'd go to the hospital. There's a greater chance you'd get hit by lighting. For some reason, Pelosi thinks the storm is coming."

The fact that McCarthy used a QAnon term was not lost on Vox's Aaron Rupar, who tweeted:

Pelosi expressed her frustration with McCarthy's anti-masker views when, on July 28, she told reporters, "He's such a moron."

House Republicans Explode As Capitol Police Enforce Masking Rules

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans vehemently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Capitol Police officials announced they would begin enforcing COVID-19 safety rules once again.

"In today's edition of Pelosi's abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals," Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted.

"To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren't wearing masks," added House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. "This isn't about science—it's about power and control."

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed in a separate tweet that Pelosi was an "authoritarian" for reissuing the mask directive, while Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it "insanity."

"Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!" he wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers dared the House Speaker to punish them for not complying.

"Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People's House, not her House," tweeted Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. "Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won't comply — have an issue with that? Come see me."

The barrage of complaints came after the Capitol Police issued a memo citing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to curb the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, and a decision by Congress' attending physician to require mask use in the federal building.

The CDC made its determination based on new evidence that some fully vaccinated people may still contract and spread the Delta variant.

House rules, adopted by the majority of its members in accordance with the Constitution, already require face mask use in the chamber. That rule had been eased prior to the latest public health data for vaccinated members, but was tightened again after two GOP lawmakers announced they had contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks (one had been fully vaccinated, the other had previously had the disease).

The Capitol Police memo stated that any "visitor or staff member" found not wearing a mask would be "denied entry to the House." If an unmasked individual continued trying to circumvent the rule, it read, they could be "subject to an arrest."

Many of the Republicans lashing out on Thursday have made efforts in the past to frame themselves as defenders of "law and order."

In a July 1 tweet, Stefanik branded herself "the North Country's Law & Order Candidate."

And in February, Biggs claimed only Republicans could be considered "the party of the Constitution, law and order, freedom, and smaller government."

On Wednesday, Republicans spent more than an hour of House time making repeated failed motions to adjourn the work day, in protest of the mask requirements. During a floor speech, Texas Rep. Chip Roy suggested that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down" over the reintroduced safety measures.

On Thursday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that she had directed staff to work from home over the requirements, tweeting, "No one should be arrested over a mask. We should follow the science not Speaker Pelosi."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

‘He’s Such A Moron’: Pelosi Exasperated By McCarthy’s Latest Anti-Mask Outburst

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With the Delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus surging in the United States — especially in red states with large numbers of unvaccinated Americans — Capitol physician Brian Monahan is reinstituting a mask mandate for the U.S. House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is honoring that mandate, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pandering to the GOP's MAGA base, is opposed. And when Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about McCarthy's opposition, she had some scathing words for the California congressman.

In Washington, D.C. on July 28, reporters asked Pelosi about the mask requirement as she was getting ready to enter an SUV. Pelosi told reporters, "That's the purview of the Capitol physician.... the mandate from him. I have nothing to say about that except we honor it."

NBC News reporter Frank Thorp told Pelosi, "Leader McCarthy says it's against the science" — and before getting into the vehicle, a frustrated Pelosi responded, "He's such a moron."

On July 27, McCarthy had tweeted, "Make no mistake — The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state."