WASHINGTON (Washington Times) — Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday blocked the Senate’s attempt to fast-track President Biden’s $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine over concerns there is insufficient oversight and transparency into how the money is being spent.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, both hoped for a swift final passage of the bill, after the House overwhelmingly approved the aid 368-57 on Tuesday.
But Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, blocked Mr. McConnell’s request for unanimous consent on the measure Thursday afternoon without the addition of language into the bill that would create a special inspector general to oversee the disbursal of aid to Ukraine.
The move was met with vitriol from both the Democrat and Republican leaders anxious to get the aid out the door. Mr. Paul’s objection will push the Senate’s final vote on the measure into next week.
“He is simply saying my way or the highway,” Mr. Schumer said. “When you have a proposal to amend a bill, you can’t just come to the floor and demand it by fiat. You have to convince other members to back it first. That is how the Senate works.”
WASHINGTON (Breitbart)– Senate Democrats on Wednesday failed to pass legislation that would prohibit local, state, and federal governments from preventing abortions.
The Senate attempted to invoke cloture and end debate on S. 4132, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022. The motion failed 49-51, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposed the motion, and it required 60 votes to invoke cloture. The legislation would prohibit government restrictions on access to abortions. Specifically, the legislation states that governments may not limit a healthcare provider’s ability to:
- Prescribe certain drugs
- Offer abortion services via telemedicine
- Immediately provide abortion services when the provider determines a delay risks the patient’s health
The legislation, according to Congress.gov, stipulates:
In addition, governments may not (1) require patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits before receiving abortion services or disclose their reasons for obtaining such services, or (2) prohibit abortion services before fetal viability or after fetal viability when a provider determines the pregnancy risks the patient’s life or health.
The bill also prohibits other governmental measures that are similar to the bill’s specified restrictions or that otherwise single out and impede access to abortion services, unless a government demonstrates that the measure significantly advances the safety of abortion services or health of patients and cannot be achieved through less restrictive means.
The Department of Justice, individuals, or providers may bring a lawsuit to enforce this bill, and states are not immune from suits for violations.
The bill applies to restrictions imposed both prior and subsequent to the bill’s enactment.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sponsored the legislation after Politico leaked a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade. The Senate Democrats proposed the legislation to attempt to enshrine many of the pro-abortion protections enabled by the landmark Supreme Court ruling.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a statement after the vote:
Today’s vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act is a continuation of the left’s mission to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and prop up their abortion-on-demand agenda. This bill would force states to legalize late-term abortions, remove informed consent laws, and prevent restrictions on gruesome fetal dismemberment procedures. Today, I stood up to the woke mob and voted to protect women and their unborn children.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who voted against the bill, said that the bill “would disenfranchise every voter in Missouri, overturn our state laws – and give the power to DC Democrats.”
Sean Moran of Breitbart contributed to the contents of this report.
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The top Republican candidates hoping to win back control of the Senate have embraced former President Trump as a kind of running mate in the first weeks of their campaigns, a recognition that the ousted president is still the party’s best fundraiser and most recognizable figure even from exile in Florida.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who has Trump’s endorsement in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), mentioned the former president seven times in a press release announcing his candidacy. His leading rival, former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard (R), recently held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
In Missouri, former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) promised to defend Trump’s “America first policies” less than a minute into an interview on Fox News in which he announced he would run to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R). Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) mentioned Trump twice in his own announcement video.
“We need to promote President Trump’s America first policies. That’s what’s going to help to bring that kind of broad-based prosperity back,” Greitens told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo last month.
“President Trump built the strongest economy our country has ever seen, and I am going to fight to bring it back,” Schmitt said in his announcement video.
In Ohio, a state Trump carried by 8 points, the former president is the star of the show. Former Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) mentioned Trump a dozen times in a press release announcing his campaign to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R). Businessman Bernie Moreno (R) cited Trump four times in his own announcement, and businessman Mike Gibbons (R) praised Trump twice.
“Josh Mandel was proud to be the first statewide elected official in Ohio to support President Trump in 2016 when others were supporting John Kasich. After seeing the second sham impeachment take place this February, Josh was motivated to run for the U.S. Senate to continue to fight for President Trump’s America First agenda,” said Scott Guthrie, Mandel’s campaign manager. “Ohioans overwhelmingly elected President Trump because his policies created unprecedented economic success, kept our borders secure and America safe. When Josh gets to the U.S. Senate, he will fight tooth and nail to keep advancing President Trump’s agenda.”
Former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken (R) reversed herself last month and called on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January, to resign.
“President Trump is the most popular Republican in America and his agenda worked for Ohioans,” Timken said in a statement. “I’ve championed those America First policies over for the past four years as his hand-picked Party Chair, and it’s what I will stand up for in the U.S. Senate because it’s what is best for Ohio.”
Trump is so ever-present in Republican campaigns that his absence is notable in itself.
Pennsylvania real estate developer Jeff Bartos (R), who has not aligned himself closely with Trump, has mentioned the former president only once on Twitter, praising his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, and only once on his website, citing Trump as the candidate who fought for overlooked voters.
The only time former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) mentions Trump’s name on his website is in support of a border wall Trump pledged to build while in office.
Republican strategists working for some of the leading candidates say their clients have two goals in leaning so heavily on an ousted incumbent. First, Trump remains the singular focus of the Republican primary electorate that will decide which contenders make it through crowded primary elections.
“The fever will break eventually, but right now we are in a time when the key qualification to win a primary is whether the candidate supported President Trump,” said one Republican strategist involved in several key races, who asked for anonymity to be candid about his client’s strategy.
Second, Trump remains the best fundraiser within the Republican Party. Several strategists said the average email solicitation with Trump’s signature raises much more than an email without his name.
“Low-dollar fundraising is driven by the organic DNA of the recipient’s original donation. Donors are much more likely to give to an appeal that mirrors the original appeal that they answered. The thing that made them get off their couch and off the sidelines and into the game as a donor is what’s most likely to motivate them subsequently,” said another party strategist involved in other key campaigns.
The original motivator for Republican low-dollar donors remains Trump himself, the Republican candidate who raised more money through small-dollar solicitations than any other candidate in party history.
Trump has sought to maintain his leverage over the GOP, dropping in on fundraisers for candidates who spend money to hobnob with donors at his Florida resort and endorsing those he deems as sufficiently supportive. Trump has so far endorsed eight U.S. Senators facing reelection next year, along with Brooks in Alabama and two candidates running for Congress.
The fealty to Trump, observers say, is a sign of his hold on core Republican voters — even if some of his support may be slipping. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found 44 percent of GOP voters said they considered themselves more a supporter of Trump than of the Republican Party, a tremendous amount of loyalty to one man but one that has slipped significantly, by 10 points, since just before the 2020 election.
“That’s what counts, especially when party base voters are likely base voters,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina. “Will a full-throated support for the former president be the determining factor over the next year’s primary battle? Yet to be seen.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization effective Friday, accusing the organization of caving to pressure from China and criticizing its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The world needs answers from China on the virus,” Trump said in a statement at the White House. “We must have transparency.”
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
In previous remarks Trump said that China had not properly reported information it had about the Covid-19 virus to the World Health Organization and said China had pressured the WHO to “mislead the world.”
“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities,” Trump said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”
The president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization was met with criticism from both the left and right.
“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after the president’s announcement.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the American Medical Association’s chamber’s health committee, warned Trump “in the strongest possible terms” to reverse the decision.
“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a released statement. “Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with Coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”
Many conservatives, however, praised the president’s decision, calling out the organization not only for its treatment of China but also its record of support for pro-abortion organizations.
“I am proud that our country will no longer be sending taxpayer dollars to support this radical regime,” said Allan Parker, president of The Justice Foundation, a pro-life legal group. “True, life-saving health measures can be funded through other organzations without an abortion agenda.”
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to subpoena over 50 witnesses as Republicans step up their investigation into the 2016 Russia probe.
By a 12-10 vote, Republicans on the panel gave Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sweeping authority to subpoena the individuals to testify, many of whom include high-profile Obama administration officials. Documents detailing what Obama knew at the time of the probe were also ordered to be turned over.
“I find myself in a position where I think we need to look long and hard about how the Mueller investigation got off the rails,” Graham said on Thursday. “This committee is not going to sit on the sidelines and move on.”
President Donald Trump has called for former president Barack Obama, himself, to be called before the panel to testify.
“If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama,” the president tweeted. “He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!”
So far Graham has indicate that he is not ready to take such a drastic step just yet.
“It’d be a bad precedent to compel a former president to come before the Congress,” Graham said. “That would open up a can of worms and for a variety of reasons I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Senator Rand Paul is recovering at his Kentucky home following lung surgery over the weekend.
Paul, 56, underwent the procedure after complaining of shortness of breath. Physicians at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center say a damaged portion of Paul’s lung was removed and that the injury was sustained when a neighbor attacked him outside his Kentucky home in 2017.
“Sen. Paul will need to recover from his surgery for a few weeks, which will limit his travel and events,” Paul’s spokeswoman, Kelsey Cooper, said in a statement. “He will continue to work on diplomacy, legislative and constituent issues during that time.”
“Unfortunately, I will have to limit my August activities. Part of my lung damaged by the 2017 assault had to be removed by surgery this weekend,” he wrote on Twitter. “The doctors, nurses, & staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center were great. I should be able to return to the Senate in September.”
Rene Boucher, who admitted to attacking Paul in 2017 in a dispute over lawn maintenance, plead guilty to assaulting a member of Congress. Paul sued Boucher and a jury awarded Paul more than $580,000 in damages and medical expenses.
Calls for comment to Boucher’s attorneys were not immediately returned.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-run Senate firmly rejected President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border on Thursday, setting up a veto fight and dealing him a conspicuous rebuke as he tested how boldly he could ignore Congress in pursuit of his highest-profile goal.
The Senate voted 59-41 to cancel Trump’s February proclamation of a border emergency, which he invoked to spend $3.6 billion more for border barriers than Congress had approved. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump in a showdown many GOP senators had hoped to avoid because he commands die-hard loyalty from millions of conservative voters who could punish defecting lawmakers in next year’s elections.
With the Democratic-controlled House’s approval of the same resolution last month, Senate passage sends it to Trump. He has shown no reluctance to casting his first veto to advance his campaign exhortation, “Build the Wall,” which has prompted roars at countless Trump rallies. Approval votes in both the Senate and House fell short of the two-thirds majorities that would be needed for an override to succeed.
“VETO!” Trump tweeted minutes after the vote.
Trump has long been comfortable vetoing the measure because he thinks it will endear him to his political base, said a White House official, commenting anonymously because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Though Trump seems sure to prevail in that battle, it remains noteworthy that lawmakers of both parties resisted him in a fight directly tied to his cherished campaign theme of erecting a border wall. The roll call came just a day after the Senate took a step toward a veto fight with Trump on another issue, voting to end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition’s war in Yemen.
In a measure of how remarkable the confrontation was, Thursday was the first time Congress has voted to block a presidential emergency since the National Emergency Act became law in 1976.
Even before Thursday’s vote, there were warnings that GOP senators resisting Trump could face political consequences. A White House official said Trump won’t forget when senators who oppose him want him to attend fundraisers or provide other help. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on internal deliberations.
At the White House, Trump did not answer when reporters asked if there would be consequences for Republicans who voted against him.
“I’m sure he will not be happy with my vote,” said moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a GOP defector who faces re-election next year in a state that reveres independent streaks in its politicians. “But I’m a United State senator and feel my job to stand up for the Constitution. So let the chips fall where they may.”
Underscoring the political pressures in play, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., one of the first Republicans to say he’d oppose Trump’s border emergency, voted Thursday to support it.
Tillis, who faces a potentially difficult re-election race next year, cited talks with the White House that suggest Trump could be open to restricting presidential emergency powers in the future. Tillis wrote in a Washington Post opinion column last month that there’d be “no intellectual honesty” in backing Trump after his repeated objections about executive overreach by President Barack Obama.
Still, the breadth of opposition among Republicans suggested how concern about his declaration had spread to all corners of the GOP. Republican senators voting for the resolution blocking Trump included Mitt Romney of Utah, the party’s 2012 presidential candidate; Mike Lee of Utah, a solid conservative; Trump 2016 presidential rivals Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a respected centrist.
Republicans control the Senate 53-47. Democrats solidly opposed Trump’s declaration.
Presidents have declared 58 national emergencies since the 1976 law, but this was the first aimed at accessing money that Congress had explicitly denied, according to Elizabeth Goitein, co-director for national security at New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Trump and Republicans backing him said there is a legitimate security and humanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico. They also said Trump was merely exercising his powers under the law, which largely leaves it to presidents to decide what a national emergency is.
“The president is operating within existing law, and the crisis on our border is all too real,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Opponents said Trump’s assertion of an emergency was overblown. They said he issued his declaration only because Congress agreed to provide less than $1.4 billion for barriers and he was desperate to fulfill his campaign promise on the wall. They said the Constitution gives Congress, not presidents, control over spending and said Trump’s stretching of emergency powers would invite future presidents to do the same for their own concerns.
“He’s obsessed with showing strength, and he couldn’t just abandon his pursuit of the border wall, so he had to trample on the Constitution to continue his fight,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Republicans had hoped that Trump would endorse a separate bill by Utah’s Sen. Lee constraining emergency declarations in the future and that would win over enough GOP senators to reject Thursday’s resolution.
But Trump told Lee on Wednesday that he opposed Lee’s legislation, prompting Lee himself to say he would back the resolution.
The strongest chance of blocking Trump remains several lawsuits filed by Democratic state attorneys general, environmental groups and others. Those cases could effectively block Trump from diverting extra money to barrier construction for months or longer.
On Twitter, Trump called on Republicans to oppose the resolution, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., helped drive through the House last month.
“Today’s issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!” he tweeted, invoking the name of a Democrat who boatloads of GOP ads have villainized in recent campaign cycles.
Other Republicans voting against Trump’s border emergency were Roy Blunt of Missouri, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The National Emergency Act gives presidents wide leeway in declaring an emergency. Congress can vote to block a declaration, but the two-thirds majorities required to overcome presidential vetoes make it hard for lawmakers to prevail.
Lee had proposed letting a presidential emergency declaration last 30 days unless Congress voted to extend it. That would have applied to future emergencies but not Trump’s current order unless he sought to renew it next year.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Padmananda Rama and Andrew Taylor contributed to the contents of this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A splintered Senate swatted down competing Democratic and Republican plans for ending the 34-day partial government shutdown on Thursday, leaving President Donald Trump and Congress with no obvious formula for halting the longest-ever closure of federal agencies and the damage it is inflicting around the country.
In an embarrassment to Trump that could weaken his position whenever negotiations get serious, the Democratic proposal got two more votes than the GOP plan. There were six Republican defectors, including freshman Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who’s clashed periodically with the president.
There were faint signs that lawmakers on both sides were looking for ways to resolve their vitriolic stalemate. Moments after the votes, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., went to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
But Thursday was mostly a day for both parties, in conflicting ways, to show sympathy for unpaid federal workers while yielding no ground in their fight over Trump’s demand to build a border wall with Mexico.
The Senate first rejected a Republican plan reopening government through September and giving Trump the $5.7 billion he’s demanded for building segments of that wall, a project that he’d long promised Mexico would finance. The 50-47 vote for the measure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.
Minutes later, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open padlocked agencies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. It was aimed at giving bargainers time to seek an accord while getting paychecks to 800,000 beleaguered government workers who are a day from going unpaid for a second consecutive pay period.
Flustered lawmakers said the results could be a reality check that would prod the start of talks. Throughout, the two sides have issued mutually exclusive demands that have blocked negotiations from even starting: Trump has refused to reopen government until Congress gives him the wall money, and congressional Democrats have rejected bargaining until he reopens government.
Thursday’s votes could “teach us that the leaders are going to have to get together and figure out how to resolve this,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader. He added, “One way or another we’ve got to get out of this. This is no win for anybody.”
For now, partisan potshots flowed freely.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of a “let them eat cake kind of attitude” after he said on television that he didn’t understand why unpaid civil servants were resorting to homeless shelters for food. Even as Pelosi offered to meet the president “anytime,” Trump stood firm, tweeting, “Without a Wall it all doesn’t work…. We will not Cave!” and no meetings were scheduled.
As the Senate debated the two dueling proposals, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Democratic plan would let that party’s lawmakers “make political points and nothing else” because Trump wouldn’t sign it. He called Pelosi’s stance “unreasonable” and said, “Senate Democrats are not obligated to go down with her ship.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the GOP plan for endorsing Trump’s proposal to keep the government closed until he got what he wants.
“A vote for the president’s plan is an endorsement of government by extortion,” Schumer said. “If we let him do it today, he’ll do it tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.′
Still smarting from its clash with Pelosi over the State of the Union, the White House closely monitored the Senate votes and Trump spoke with lawmakers throughout the day. He was waiting to see if many Democrats crossed over to back his plan, but West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin proved to be the only one.
Even so, there were suggestions of movement.
Vice President Mike Pence attended a lunch with GOP senators before the vote and heard from lawmakers eager for the standoff to end, participants said. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said their message to Pence was “Find a way forward.”
In consultation with their Senate counterparts, House Democrats were preparing a new border security package they planned to roll out Friday. Despite their pledge to not negotiate until agencies reopened, their forthcoming proposal was widely seen as a counteroffer to Trump. Pelosi expressed “some optimism that things could break loose pretty soon” in a closed-door meeting with other Democrats Wednesday evening, said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.
The Democratic package was expected to include $5.7 billion, the same amount Trump wants for his wall, but use it instead for fencing, technology, personnel and other measures. In a plan the rejected Senate GOP plan mirrored, Trump on Saturday proposed to reopen government if he got his wall money. He also proposed to revamp immigration laws, including new restrictions on Central American minors seeking asylum in the U.S. and temporary protections for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
In another sign of hope, Thursday’s vote on the Democratic plan represented movement by McConnell. For weeks, he’d refused to allow a Senate vote on anything Trump wouldn’t sign and has let Trump and Democrats try reaching an accord. McConnell has a history of helping resolve past partisan standoffs, and his agreement to allow Thursday’s vote was seen by some as a sign he would become more forcefully engaged.
With the impacts of the shutdown becoming increasingly painful, however, lawmakers on both sides were trumpeting their willingness to compromise in the battle over border security and immigration issues, such as protection against deportation for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
“We can work this out,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
At a panel discussion held by House Democrats on the effects of the shutdown, union leaders and former Homeland Security officials said they worried about the long-term effects. “I fear we are rolling the dice,” said Tim Manning, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official. “We will be lucky to get everybody back on the job without a crisis to respond to.”
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram contributed to the contents of this report.