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Tag: richard burr

GOP Senators Torpedo Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal They Endorsed

Reprinted with permission from American independent

Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule on Wednesday to block consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure deal — weeks after several of them endorsed the $579 billion package.

Every member of the Democratic Senate majority backed beginning consideration of H.R. 3684, a procedural step needed to debate and pass the bipartisan framework, but because Senate rules require a three-fifths supermajority for this type of legislation, the Republican minority was able to block it.

President Joe Biden proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan in March, asking Congress to improve the nation's transportation, water systems, broadband, clean energy, climate change, and caregiving infrastructure.

On June 16, after lengthy negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators agreedon a deal, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, to invest $579 billion in "core infrastructure" programs only, including transportation, broadband, and water systems.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN) all signed onto a joint statement with 10 members of the Democratic majority, affirming their support for the deal.

"We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation's core infrastructure needs without raising taxes," the statement read. "We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America's critical infrastructure challenges."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) endorsed the plan later that day.

On June 24, Biden signed on to the bipartisan plan and has been urging its passage since.

"We should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on," he said on Monday. "We shook hands on it."

But not long after the agreement, some Republicans began to have second thoughts.

Some objected to acknowledgements by Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress that they would later try to pass some of their other priorities — including the omitted climate change, child care, and caregiving "human infrastructure" provisions — through a separate budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support. Graham complained that this plan amounted to extortion.

They then abandoned one of the key provisions that financed the bipartisan agreement: a crackdown on wealthy tax dodgers who are not currently paying their fair share. Portman said Sunday that they had dropped the provision due to "pushback" from Republican senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed Internal Revenue Service to enforce the tax code.

Again, Graham protested the deal he'd backed, telling Axios on June 30, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to bring up the framework on Wednesday as a way to speed up the bill writing process. "I understand that both sides are working very hard to turn the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will continue to have more time to debate, amend and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to take up this crucial issue," the New York Democrat explained to colleagues on Monday. "But they have been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already, and it's time to begin the debate."

Republicans said they were not ready to move forward.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune — who memorably ran for his seat in 2004 by lambasting the Democratic incumbent for using his position "to slow down, to obstruct, to stop" then-President George W. Bush's agenda — opposed even beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. "I can't say we will have every Republican, but he [Schumer] is not going to get 60," he vowed Monday.

On Wednesday, all of the 11 Republican backers who supported the bipartisan deal previously — along with the rest of the Republican minority — voted against debate on the matter.

Schumer voted "no" as well, for procedural reasons.

"At the end of the vote, I changed my response [from a yes] to a no so that I may move to reconsider this vote at a future time," the majority leader explained, moments after the vote failed, 49 to 51.

Due to Schumer's last-second maneuver, the Senate is still able to reconsider the vote in the future. Alternately, the Democratic majority could simply add the provisions to a budget reconciliation package and pass it with a simple majority, if they can remain united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

In Key '22 Senate Races, Republicans Already Face Headwinds

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Last year, Senate Republicans were already feeling so desperate about their upcoming midterm prospects that they rushed to wish Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa a speedy and full recovery from COVID-19 so that he could run for reelection in 2022. The power of incumbency is a huge advantage for any politician, and Republicans were clinging to the idea of sending Grassley—who will be 89 when the '22 general election rolls around—back to the upper chamber for another six-year term.

GOP fortunes have improved slightly since then, with historical trends improving their midterm prospects since Democrats now control the White House and both chambers of Congress. But the Senate map is still a long ways away from a gimme for Republicans, and several recent developments have brought good news for Democrats.

The first of those is a new poll from the Des Moines Register showing that nearly two-thirds of Iowa voters (64 percent) believe "it's time for someone else" to hold Grassley's seat versus the 27 percent who want to see the octogenarian reelected to an eighth term. Women voters were especially brutal, with seven out of ten saying they were ready to give Grassley the heave-ho.

Grassley's numbers with GOP voters lagged too, with just 51 percent committing to supporting him again, while just seven percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents agreed. Grassley's overall job approval clocked in at a meager 45 percent; it's his lowest level since 1982.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., upends Republican thinking that another Grassley run could help safeguard the seat. In fact, Grassley may be a liability in the general election, or GOP primary voters may choose an alternative. In any case, Iowa's Senate race could prove more competitive than Republicans had hoped.

Meanwhile, the GOP primary race for North Carolina's open Senate seat has been scrambled by Donald Trump's surprise endorsement of hard-right Congressman Ted Budd, according to Politico. Following Trump's input at the state party convention earlier this month, former North Carolina governor-turned-Senate candidate Pat McCrory rushed to dismiss the endorsement as falling "flat" in the room.

Now, retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr is coming to McCrory's rescue, reportedly arguing both publicly and privately that he is "the only one in the race" who can win the seat statewide. "Pat McCrory has a commanding advantage," Burr told Politico.

Burr, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges, also took a swipe at Trump's rationale, or lack thereof.

"I can't tell you what motivates him," Burr said of Trump. "I've never seen individuals endorse a candidate a year before the primary. That's unusual."

Judging by Budd's own internal polling, Burr has a point. McCrory enjoys far higher statewide name recognition, and he's leading Budd by about two dozen points, 45 percent to 19 percent. Another Republican contender, former Rep. Mark Walker, garners just 12 percent of the vote, with 23 percent still undecided.

McCrory, who has been meeting with GOP senators to make his case, is running as an establishment Republican. Budd obviously occupies the Trump lane now. It's a scenario that could easily leave one side or the other feeling resentful depending on which Republican prevails, and any result on the GOP side could wind up depressing at least some general election turnout among Tar Heel Republicans.

But that's the least of the GOP's worries, according to McCrory's camp, which is intent on catastrophizing the ultimate result of a Budd primary win.

"If Republicans want a majority in the U.S. Senate, they will nominate Pat McCrory," said McCrory adviser Jordan Shaw. "Otherwise, Democrats are going to take this seat and keep the majority."

Fearful Senate Republicans Will Filibuster To Stop Capitol Riot Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The odds that the Senate will pass a bipartisan commission to study the origins of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol are growing increasingly slim, as Senate Republicans are coming out one by one to say they do not support the probe.

Even Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection say they do not support the commission, twisting themselves in pretzels to justify their decision.

And that makes it increasingly likely that the commission will be the first thing Republicans filibuster during President Joe Biden's tenure. Current filibuster rules say that legislation in the Senate must garner 60 votes in order to proceed. Given that the Senate is split 50-50 along partisan lines, that means Democrats need 10 GOP votes to pass bills.

"I don't think there will be 10 votes on our side for it," Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), told Politico. "At this stage, I'd be surprised if you're gonna get even a handful."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the commission up for a vote, whether or not it has enough GOP support to avoid a filibuster — meaning that if 10 Republicans do not vote in favor of the commission, it will be officially blocked.

"Senate Republicans can show everyone if they want to pursue the truth about January 6th or just want to cover up for Donald Trump and insurrectionists," Schumer tweeted on Thursday. "I will bring the House-passed legislation for the January 6th Commission to the Senate floor for a vote."

Republicans who have come out against the commission have falsely claimed it's not bipartisan and will be used as a witch hunt by Democrats.

"The current commission proposed by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats appears to be a platform to score partisan political points," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement about why he opposes the commission.

The framework of the commission, however, was brokered by the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and the GOP ranking member on that same body.

The members of the commission would be equally appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, according to the agreement. And any subpoenas would require a majority vote, meaning there would need to be buy-in from the GOP-appointed members.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who came out against the commission on Wednesday, said the arrests by federal law enforcement are sufficient, even though the arrests will not lead to a comprehensive report about what went wrong and how to prevent future attacks like the Jan. 6 insurrection again. That's something a commission would explicitly do.

Even Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, came out against the commission.

Burr told Politico that part of his opposition to the commission is that it would drag into the midterm elections.

Multiple GOP lawmakers have said that they believe the commission could hamper Republican chances of taking back the House and Senate in November 2022, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) saying that a probe could uncover that some Republican lawmakers played a role in the attack.

"I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That's jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders — not relitigating the 2020 elections," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told CNN.

Republicans filibustering a bipartisan commission to probe a deadly attack on democracy gives progressive Democrats who have been railing against the arcane Senate procedure more fuel to their argument that the filibuster must go.

"Filibustering a bipartisan Commission regarding the January 6 insurrection is a three dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Bipartisan Senate Panel Referred Trump Family Members Over Suspected Lying

Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee last year notified the Department of Justice that members of President Donald Trump's family and close circle "might have presented misleading testimony" to the panel during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports.

According to the Post, then-Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) referred a list of individuals, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner to federal prosecutors after their accounts of a pre-election meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya "were contradicted by the president's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates" during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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Sen. Burr Gives Up Intel Committee Chair As FBI Probe Intensifies

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Sen. Richard Burr will be stepping aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the investigation into his stock trades, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday.

“Senator Burr contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision," McConnell wrote in a statement. “We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow."

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Sen. Burr And Brother-in-Law Dumped Stocks On Same Day — Then Market Crashed

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Sen. Richard Burr was not the only member of his family to sell off a significant portion of his stock holdings in February, ahead of the market crash spurred by coronavirus fears. On the same day Burr sold, his brother-in-law also dumped tens of thousands of dollars worth of shares. The market fell by more than 30 percent in the subsequent month.

Burr's brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, who has a post on the National Mediation Board, sold between $97,000 and $280,000 worth of shares in six companies — including several that have been hit particularly hard in the market swoon and economic downturn.

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Sen.Burr Pushes Healthcare Industry Legislation While Trading Its Stocks

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

In his 15 years in the Senate, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has been one of the health care industry's staunchest friends.

Serving on the health care and finance committees, Burr advocated to end the tax on medical device makers, one of the industry's most-detested aspects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. He pushed the Food and Drug Administration to speed up its approval process. As one of the most prominent Republican health care policy thinkers, he has sponsored or co-sponsored dozens of health-related bills, including a proposal to replace “Obamacare." He oversaw the implementation of major legislation to pump taxpayer money into private sector initiatives to address public health threats. “The industry feels very positive about Sen. Burr," the president of North Carolina's bioscience trade group said during Burr's last reelection campaign. “He's done a stellar job."

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Watchdogs Seek Probe Of Rep. Gaetz Over Dubious Lease Deal

A government watchdog group on Wednesday announced it had filed multiple complaints against Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, demanding an investigation into a lease agreement for congressional office space.

Politico reported last Friday that Gaetz rented office space in Florida for below market value from Collier Merrill — a Florida-based developer who Politico reported is a longtime friend and donor to Gaetz's campaign.

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