Category Archives: Constitution

Raising the federal debt ceiling: the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time

The recurring obligation to raise the federal debt ceiling was scheduled to coincide with the end of the current fiscal year on September 30 to give GOP hostage takers some leverage with passing next year’s budget.

It does not appear remotely possible that a budget will be ready by the end of this fiscal year, so once again Congress will wind up approving another short-term continuing resolution (CR) when it returns from its August recess.

GOP leaders also may have lost any leverage they hoped to gain from holding the federal debt ceiling hostage for their budget. Congress may have to act before the August recess.  The Washington Post reports, Trump administration warns tax receipts are coming in slowly, government could run out of cash sooner than expected:

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday said that tax receipts were coming in “slower than expected” and that the federal government could run out of cash sooner than it had thought.

Mulvaney’s comments, which came during a House Budget Committee hearing, resurrected an issue that Congress has mostly ignored in recent months but that will soon force some tough political decisions.

A few hours later, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin echoed these concerns, telling another House committee, “I urge you raise the debt limit before you leave for the summer.”

“We can all discuss how we cut spending and how we deal with the budget going forward, but it is absolutely critical that where we’ve spent money, that we keep the credit of the United States as the most critical issue,” Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee. “It is the reserve currency of the world.”

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4th Circuit Court of Appeals will not reinstate Trump Muslim travel ban

In a continuing series of defeats before the courts for President Trump’s ill-considered Muslim travel ban, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused to reinstate President Trump’s revised Muslim travel ban, saying it discriminated on the basis of religion. Federal appeals court largely maintains freeze of Trump’s travel ban:

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit means the Trump administration still cannot enforce its travel order that the government says is urgently needed for national security.

In its 10 to 3 en banc decision, the Richmond-based court said the president’s broad immigration power to deny entry into the U.S. is not absolute.

“It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation,” according to the majority opinion written by Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory, and joined in part by nine other judges.

The 4th Circuit declined to lift an order from a Maryland federal judge, who ruled against the travel ban in March and sided with opponents who said the ban violates the Constitution by intentionally discriminating against Muslims. The ruling leaves the injunction in place and means citizens from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya can continue entering the United States.

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GOP sabotage of ‘Obamacare’: delay for 90 days during the plan filing period

I previously gave you a backgrounder on the House GOP lawsuit House v. Price (née House v. Burwell) for which the next status report to the Court is due today.

Politico reports that instead of filing the status report, the White House seeks 90-day delay in Obamacare subsidy suit:

The Trump administration and House of Representatives Monday asked a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, undermining the future of the health care marketplaces as insurers look for certainty from the government before committing to offer coverage next year.

“The parties continue to discuss measures that would obviate the need for judicial determination of this appeal, including potential legislative action,” the House and White House wrote to the court.

If the request is approved, the parties would have to file another update in 90 days.

“We continue to work with the Trump administration on a solution,” said AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan.

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SCOTUS rejects two North Carolina districts for racial gerrymandering

The Supreme Court today ruled on the long-awaited gerrymandering case from North Carolina, Cooper v. Harris. The ruling is Here (.pdf).

Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports, Justices Reject 2 Gerrymandered North Carolina Districts, Citing Racial Bias:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers had violated the Constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing them.

The court rejected arguments from state lawmakers that their purpose in drawing the maps was not racial discrimination but partisan advantage.

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In their decision this week, the justices were unanimous in rejecting District 1, in the northeastern part of the state. After the 2010 census, lawmakers increased the district’s black voting-age population to 52.7 percent from 48.6 percent.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said black voters, in coalitions with others, had been able to elect their preferred candidates even before the redistricting. Adding additional black voters to the district, she wrote, amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

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The GOP sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ may come to a climax next week

There are a two events scheduled to occur next week on the “Obamacare” front that could affect the status of both “Obamacare” and the awful American Health Care Act passed in a rush by the Tea-Publican House a couple of weeks ago.

I previously gave you a backgrounder on the House GOP lawsuit House v. Price (née House v. Burwell) for which the next status report to the Court is due on Monday, May 22.  The Trump administration could opt to sabotage “Obamacare” by not funding the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and blowing up health insurance markets across the country.

The second scheduled event is the release of the nonpartisan Congresssional Budget Office (CBO) score for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 24. The CBO score for the Zombie Trumpcare bill is widely expected to be far worse than for the Trumpcare 2.0 bill.

And there is another complication that that “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin” and Ayn Rand fanboy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, did not seriously consider when he forced a House vote on the AHCA without the benefit of the CBO score.

NBC News reports, Uh-Oh: The House May Need to Vote on Health Care (Again!):

Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed on Friday that that the House may need to vote on the American Health Care Act a second time before the Senate can take up the bill, even as he stressed it was unlikely.

Republicans are using the budget “reconciliation” process to pass their health care bill, which allows them to push legislation through the Senate with a simple majority. But that depends on the bill meeting certain requirements — and one of them is that it reduces the deficit by at least $2 billion over the next decade.

The trouble is that Republicans voted on their House bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office, the federal agency that evaluates legislation, to finish its projections, which will be released on Wednesday.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday and NBC News confirmed that House leaders have not formally sent their bill to the Senate on the chance that it fails to meet the deficit requirements.

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Witness Intimidation, Obstruction of Justice, and Impeachment

I am still on vacation visiting relatives during what has been a busy news week.

The most important developments from last week were the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s insistence of personal loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, as if he is a mafia Godfather insisting on the code of omertà; Trump’s interview with Lester Holt of NBC in which he essentially made a public admission of obstruction of justice; and Trump’s threatening Tweet to fired FBI director James Comey about “tapes” of their alleged conversations.

Trump cannot control his own destructive impulses from acting out on intimidation of witnesses and obstruction of justice — Count One of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon.

Here is a good summary from New York Magazine. Trump Asked Comey for Loyalty a Day After He Was Warned About Flynn:

Unsatisfied with his press office’s handling of the fallout from the firing of FBI Director James Comey, on Thursday night President Trump took matters into his own hands — and made things much, much worse.

Though their story kept shifting, for days White House officials stuck to their claim that Comey was fired because the president and top Justice Department officials felt he was doing a bad job, not because of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties.

Then in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump proclaimed that he had actually decided to fire Comey regardless of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended — and the Russia probe was on his mind.

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said [self], ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’” the president said.

Trump speaking about himself in the third person is your first clue that this Dude is bonkers.

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