Tag: House Democrats
House Passes Biden $1.9T COVID-19 Relief Bill Without A Single Republican Vote of Support
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package now awaiting President Biden‘s signature, marking the first measure to address the pandemic that made its way through Congress entirely along party lines.
House Democrats cleared the legislation by a 220-211 vote on Wednesday, after the Senate passed it in a 50-49 vote on Saturday.
Republicans lined up in opposition against the legislation by arguing it is overly partisan and filled with unnecessary provisions that wouldn’t help defeat the pandemic.
“This should be a targeted relief bill, but instead, this is an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to further promote her socialist agenda,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
By contrast, past pandemic relief measures enacted last year after protracted negotiations between the Democratic-House, GOP Senate and the Trump administration passed with bipartisan support. But now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the presidency, they opted to craft a relief measure without GOP input.
“If you are a member of the swamp, you do pretty well under this bill,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “I believe the American public wants something different. I believe they were proud of the fact we did something here that was bipartisan.”
Polling shows that the legislation is broadly popular with voters, particularly the expanded tax credits and $1,400 stimulus checks.
A Pew Research poll released on Tuesday found 70 percent overall favored the bill, while a CNN survey out Wednesday found that 61 percent support the relief measure.
But the support dropped sharply among Republicans in both surveys, while Democrats and independents largely favored the legislation.
Only one centrist Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), defected from his party during Wednesday’s vote.
Golden said he believed the Senate went too far in some areas to scale back the bill, specifically the unemployment insurance payments and minimum wage increase, while not going far enough in other areas such as the stimulus checks.
“While the Senate made modest changes to the legislation, some of those changes undermined parts of the bill I do support, and others were insufficient to address my concerns with the overall size and scope of the bill,” Golden said.
Republicans sought a variety of amendments to the bill in the House and Senate, including requiring K-12 schools to reopen for in-person classroom instruction in order to access funding and eliminating $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts that’s intended to help arts organizations that have faced layoffs and budget cuts during the pandemic.
Senate Republicans briefly secured the adoption of an amendment with the support of centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to keep the weekly supplemental unemployment insurance payments at $300, rather than increasing them to $400 as under the original House bill.
Democrats unveil impeachment procedures against Trump
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a resolution to outline the next phase of their impeachment inquiry that will bring their case before the public after weeks of closed-door witness testimony.
The resolution, unveiled by House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), sets up procedures for open hearings by the Intelligence Committee and releasing witness testimony.
It also allows Republicans to request witness testimony and documents, similar to previous impeachment inquiries. But Democrats on the Intelligence panel still have the ability to block the requests.
The resolution is expected to hit the House floor on Thursday.
The leaders of the committees involved in the impeachment process — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and acting Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) — said that the resolution will prepare lawmakers for the next stage of the inquiry.
“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election. Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct,” they said in a joint statement.
The resolution further outlines the format for the upcoming public hearings, which will provide for extended time for questioning and allow committee staff to cross-examine witnesses. Only House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), or committee employees are allowed to ask questions.
That would be a departure from the typical format of congressional hearings, in which members of each party alternate with five minutes of questioning.
The format is similar to how lawmakers on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry have been conducting the depositions behind closed doors in a secure facility in the sub-basement of the Capitol for the past month.
Republicans would have to provide “detailed written justification” to suggest subpoenas or request witness testimony. But Democrats have veto power to block Republicans’ requests with a party-line committee vote.
The resolution also directs the House Intelligence Committee to issue a report on its findings and recommendations.
The resolution further outlines the process for transferring materials to the House Judiciary Committee, which would be tasked with formally drafting and approving articles of impeachment.
The Judiciary Committee would be authorized to “promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings.”
The resolution is not meant to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry that is already ongoing, as Republicans and the White House had been demanding for weeks. But it does state that the relevant committees involved in investigating the Trump administration “are directed to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”
A ‘LYNCHING’: Trump swings back against impeachment inquiry; Dems cry racism
WASHINGTON– President Donald Trump on Tuesday hit back at House Democrats that are leading an impeachment inquiry they hope will remove him from office.
“So someday, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights,” Trump tweeted. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”
The president’s comments were quick to draw criticism from those on the left who deemed his use of the term “lynching” as “racist.”
“I really believe this man is prone to inflammatory statements and that is one word no president ought to apply to himself,” Rep. James Clyburn, (D)-S.C., told CNN’s “New Day.”
“I’ve studied presidential history quite a bit and I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this,” Clyburn said. “I am not just a politician up here. I’m a Southern politician, I’m a product of the South. I know the history of that word, that is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using.”
“By comparing his current situation to lynching, Trump is engaging in both the weaponizing of race and his sense of victimhood,” Clyburn continued. “He is purposely dredging up some of the darkest images of our country to vent his anger and rally his supporters to his cause.
It is, in a word, gross.”
Calls for response from the White House were not immediately returned.
BLUMENTHAL: Mueller must testify before Congress
WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller must testify before Congress on the details relating to his investigation of President Donald Trump, Sen. Richard Blumenthal declared Monday.
“I think he has to understand that part of his job as special counsel is to appear before congressional committees,” Blumenthal told CNN’s “New Day”.
“I hope he will do it voluntarily. If not, a subpoena may be necessary,” Blumenthal continued. “Robert Mueller wrote the book and it is a powerful 450-page description, obstruction and a threat by the Russians. Most Americans won’t read the book, they have to see the movie and Robert Mueller is the movie.”
“The key is accountability and Bob Mueller is the absolutely critical witness to holding the president accountable for his lawbreaking,” he added.
The senator also commented on House Democrat’s plans to call those mentioned in the Mueller report who have not worked in the White House and therefore cannot claim executive privilege to testify.
“They have no claim of executive privilege,” Blumenthal said. “But I’d argue that those individuals who worked in the White House previously like [former White House Counsel Don] McGahn and some of the others also lack a viable claim of executive privilege and it will be rejected by the courts.”
DEMS PUSH BACK: House passes electoral reform bill by 234-193 vote
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — House Democrats passed a sweeping electoral reform bill in a 234-193 party-line vote on Friday.
The For The People Act, better known as H.R. 1 — spearheaded by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) — aims to expand voting rights, implement new ethics rules and increase transparency in elections, according to its proponents.
The bill includes provisions to enable automatic voter registration, strengthen resources to stave off foreign threats on elections and make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.
Democrats unveiled the legislation shortly after the start of the 116th Congress, underscoring its importance in their agenda. Supporters of the bill argued it’s necessary in order to tackle corruption and dark money in politics. Under the legislation, the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which got rid of some limits on corporate and union political spending, would be overturned and coordination between super PACs and candidates would be prohibited.
Freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) lamented that Washington is home to 11,000 registered lobbyists — “25 lobbyists per member of Congress,” he said — and recounted a lobbyist dinner he attended on one of his first nights in Washington.
“I thought it was going to be a chance to talk about some of the issues that I hear from families in our community,” he said. “Imagine my surprise when the only thing these lobbyists wanted to talk about was what would benefit their clients.”
“It’s far too easy for well-financed lobbyists to crowd out the needs of our families in favor of their clients,” he continued.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that enactment of the package is vital if Congress is to restore the voters’ trust in the idea that Congress is working in the public interest.
“It is fundamental to our democracy that people believe — they believe — that actions taken here will be in their interest,” she said. “That is what this legislation will help to restore.”
Portions of the bill appear to directly take aim at President Trump, including language requiring the president and vice president and candidates for those positions to disclose a decade’s worth of their tax returns.
But Republicans have blasted the bill as a power grab by Democrats, arguing it limits free speech and overreaches on states rights. Top Republicans have also slammed Democrats for failing to work across the aisle on bipartisan reforms, with many saying there are provisions in the bill they could have supported.
Language that would create a 6-to-1 federal campaign match on small donations has been one of the most controversial for Republicans, who argue taxpayer dollars should not be used for campaign purposes.
“The most important bill that the democrat socialist majority has is to take more of your money and give it to the politicians who want to vote for this bill. How ironic,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“Now, even though H.R. 1 has such broad spectrum of where to go, it was referred to 10 committees —imagine that, 10 committees but 40 percent of this bill has not even been marked up.”
Provisions advocating for D.C. statehood, a prohibition on gerrymandering and language allowing federal workers to take up to six days of paid leave to work at polls also received strong pushback from the GOP.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vocally opposed the bill, which Republicans have dubbed the “Democrat Politician Protection Act,” asserting the measure is going nowhere in the upper chamber.
McConnell’s pushback played a key role in rallying all House Republicans against the bill and helping them remain on message, one senior GOP aide told The Hill.
“We really did unite everyone in opposition to this and pushed hard against it,” the source said. “Obviously, we’ll lose the vote, but I think there’s satisfaction among members that we had a cohesive and unified message against this. And working with McConnell and getting him engaged against this was huge.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis contributed to the contents of this report.
WITCH HUNT: Dems demand records detailing communications between Trump and Putin
WASHINGTON — House Democrats are pressing to receive communication records related to President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democratic leaders announced on Monday.
The move follows allegations by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that the president had at one point attempted to have the records of those communications destroyed.
“President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people,” the trio wrote, citing a Washington Post report that claimed such.
The lawmakers further alleged that Trump “may have been manipulated or withheld from the official record in direct contravention of federal laws, which expressly require that Presidents and other administration officials preserve such materials.”
Democrats claim manipulating or withholding such records would violate the Presidential Records Act, which was instituted as a result of President Nixon’s Watergate controversy.
“These allegations, if true, raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections,” the chairmen wrote in separate letters to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Schiff and his cohorts are also demanding that White House and State Department employees with knowledge of the Trump-Putin talks and interpreters who were present at such meetings make themselves available for interviews with the committees.
Republicans swung back at the allegations Monday, calling the effort just another ploy by Democrats to try to impeach Trump.
“With their Russian collusion allegations imploding, the Democrats are weaponizing congressional committees to try to manufacture some new case to use to impeach the president,” Jack Langer, a spokesperson for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement to The Hill. “After they hyped the collusion hoax for more than two years, I don’t know how anyone can view them as honest investigators as opposed to zealous, partisan operatives.”
READ THE DOCS: Pelosi asks Trump to suspend State of the Union address in light of ongoing government shutdown