Category Archives: Congress

House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown (Updated)

The U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 256-167 (proceeding under the TARGET Act) has approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown and to fund federal agencies through Sept. 30, sending the measure over to the Senate ahead of a midnight Friday deadline.

Arizona Delegation: YES McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema; NO Biggs, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Schweikert.

The Senate is expected to vote late on Thursday or Friday, before current government funding expires at midnight on Friday. There could still be another brief Aqua Buddha shutdown from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) desperately seeking attention.

You can read the massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill to search for what is hidden in it.

Here are a few highlights of what is (and is not) in the spending bill compiled from several sources including the Washington Post, Politico, and


Defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to rise $80 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware.

Domestic spending generally favored by Democrats is set to rise by $63 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

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Senator McCain rips Putin’s puppet for congratulatory call

Donald Trump routinely attacks U.S. intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement agencies, because they are investigating his ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin. But Trump has not once ever said anything negative about his pal Putin — even as Russia is engaged in cyber warfare against the U.S., Russian mercenaries have attacked U.S. troops in Syria, and Russian agents are using illegal chemical weapons to kill Putin critics in Britain.

One thing no American president does is to congratulate the murderous dictator of a criminal kleptocracy who barred political opposition and rigged his election to secure another term.

Especially after this man-child president was specifically instructed not to do so by the s0-called adults in the room. Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway.

President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.

Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

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Martha McSally goes full racist demagogue

Will the Arizona media that helped to create this mythical moderate Republican and get her elected now finally turn on her?

Martha McSally has gone full racist demagogue. The Hill reports, Martha McSally: ‘We might need to build a wall between California and Arizona’:

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) proposed building a border wall between California and Arizona to protect the state.

“As we look in Arizona, we often look into the dangers of the southern border,” McSally said during a round-table discussion about “sanctuary cities” Tuesday at the White House.

“But if these dangerous policies continue out of California, we might need to build a wall between California and Arizona as well to keep these dangerous criminals out of our state,” she said, smiling.

She added that California can’t just “provide sanctuary for these criminals and think that it’s only impacting California dangerously.”

Earlier this month, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against California over the state’s immigration laws.

The Trump administration has been highly critical of California’s sanctuary cities and administration officials have said they will crack down on policies that limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal authorities.

No doubt her GOP Senate primary opponents Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward approve of her demagogic stance. They are interchangeable and none of them are fit for office.

SCOTUS rejects GOP appeal of PA congressional map, more redistricting cases to follow

The legal strategy of challenging GOP gerrymandering under state constitutional provisions rather than federal law has proven successful in Pennsylvania. Abstention doctrine applies, i.e., the federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear appeals from state Supreme Court decisions interpreting state constitution provisions.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal from GOP legislative leaders in the state of Pennsylvania challenging the Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania imposing new congressional districts after having struck down GOP gerrymandered districts as unconstitutional under the state constitution. Supreme Court refuses to stop new congressional maps in Pennsylvania:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania to block a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state.

The practical impact is the 2018 elections are likely to be held under a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored an apparent victory last week in a special election in a strongly Republican congressional district. The 2011 map that has been used this decade has resulted in Republicans consistently winning 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

Monday’s action was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics. The commonwealth’s highest court earlier this year ruled that a map drawn by Republican leaders in 2011 “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the free-and-equal-elections clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court deliberated nearly two weeks before turning down the request to stop the map from being used in this fall’s elections. Generally the justices stay out of the way when a state’s highest court is interpreting its own state constitution.

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Arizona loses on denying drivers licenses to DACA recipients

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the last-ditch plea by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to uphold a 2012 executive order by then-Gov. Jan Brewer to deny licenses to DACA recipients, an order current Gov. Doug Ducey has left in place. The justices gave no reason for their ruling. U.S. Supreme Court allows ‘Dreamers’ to drive:

Arizona’s “dreamers” will keep their licenses to drive – at least as long as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains in existence.

Monday’s ruling ends years of efforts by the state to claim that the decision by the Obama administration to allow those in the program to remain in this country and work does not mean they are “authorized” to be here.
That verbiage is significant.

It was shortly after the action by Obama that Brewer directed the state Department of Transportation to deny licenses to DACA recipients. She cited a 1996 Arizona law that says state licenses are available only to those whose presence in this country is “authorized by federal law.”

Brewer argued that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has no legal authority to permit DACA recipients to remain and work. And what that meant, Brewer said, is they were not “authorized” to be here.

That argument failed to persuade federal appellate judges who said Arizona cannot decide for itself who is legally entitled to be in the country. In fact, Judge Harry Pregerson wrote that the state policy “appears intended to express animus toward DACA recipients.”

With today’s high court action, that ruling is now final.

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The social media leg of the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation comes into focus (Updated)

Cambridge Analytica is a company created by Robert Mercer, a billionaire patron of right-wing outlets like Breitbart News. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, is a board member. Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, is a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica, and the former editor of Breitbart News. Trump confidant Gen. Michael Flynn also had “a brief advisory role” with Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained:

Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content.

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In June 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.

We know from the reporting of Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim at the New York Times that Jared Kushner, who was charged with overseeing Trump’s digital operations, is the reason Cambridge Analytica joined the Trump campaign.

Kushner hired a man named Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital expert who had worked previously for team Trump. According to Confessore and Hakim, Cambridge Analytica convinced Parscale (who has since agreed to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee) to “try out the firm.” The decision was reinforced by Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica.

It’s not clear to what extent Cambridge Analytica helped (Parscale denied that Cambridge was of any use in a recent 60 Minutes interview), but we do know that Trump’s digital operation was shockingly effective. Samuel Woolley, who heads the Computational Propaganda project at Oxford’s Internet Institute, found that a disproportionate amount of pro-Trump messaging was spread via automated bots and anti-Hillary propaganda. Trump’s bots, they reported at the time of the election, outnumbered Clinton’s five to one.

Pro-Trump programmers “carefully adjusted the timing of content production during the debates, strategically colonized pro-Clinton hashtags, and then disabled activities after Election Day.”

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