Tag Archives: U.S. Senate

Money changes everything: GOP Senate approves unqualified Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary

For the first time in American history, a vice president had to vote in the Senate to break a tie on a Cabinet nominee, and Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Donald Trump’s education secretary. With historic tiebreaker from Pence, DeVos confirmed as education secretary:

The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Pence casting a historic tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked over her fitness for the job.

The entire Democratic caucus of 48 senators voted against DeVos, as did two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who said they did not think that DeVos was qualified for the job. The remaining 50 Republicans voted for her, setting up a 50-50 tie that could be broken only with Pence’s vote.

It marked the first time that a vice president’s tiebreaker was needed to confirm a Cabinet secretary, according to Daniel Holt, an assistant historian in the Senate Historical Office. And it was the first time a vice president cast any tiebreaker in the Senate since Richard B. Cheney did so nine years ago.

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(Update) SCOTUS fight is not about qualifications, it is about an illegitimate nomination process

Following up on the previous post, SCOTUS fight is not about qualifications, it is about an illegitimate nomination process, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post today adds, It’s time to make Republicans pay for their supreme hypocrisy:

You want bipartisanship on Supreme Court nominations? Let’s have a consensus moment around Sen. Ted Cruz’s idea that having only eight Supreme Court justices is just fine.

“There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” the Texas Republican said last year when GOP senators were refusing even to give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee.

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If that argument was good in 2016, why isn’t it valid in 2017? After all, some Republicans were willing to keep the seat vacant indefinitely if Hillary Clinton won the presidential election. “I would much rather have eight Supreme Court justices than a justice who is liberal,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in October:

At a debate on October 10th, Senator John McCain, of Arizona, said flatly, “I would much rather have eight Supreme Court Justices than a [ninth] Justice who is liberal.” A week later, in a radio interview, he made that a “promise,” telling listeners that “we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were President, would put up.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) went further: “If Hillary Clinton becomes president, I am going to do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.”

Yes, Republicans do have a principle on nominations: When the Supreme Court’s philosophical majority might flip, only Republican presidents should be allowed to appoint justices.

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SCOTUS fight is not about qualifications, it is about an illegitimate nomination process

In an embarrassing display of his reality TV show showmanship, President Trump announced his nomination of Appellate Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in prime time last night.

Trump invited Judge Neil Gorsuch from Denver and Judge Thomas Hardiman from Pittsburgh to Washington, but only one would receive his rose. Trump in Peak Reality-TV Form for Supreme Court Reveal; Trump brings reality TV instincts to White House; Jimmy Kimmel gawks at Trump’s reality TV Supreme Court nomination, does him one better:

“That’s right, he freaking Ryan Seacrest-ed his choice for the Supreme Court,” Kimmel said. “This is like a two-on-one date on The Bachelor.”

“Was that a surprise?” Trump asked. “Was it?” “Well, yeah, you know who it was a surprise for?” Kimmel said. “The guy who drove all the way out from Pittsburgh to not get picked as Supreme Court judge.”

Regardless of what you may think of Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Thomas Hardiman, they were entitled to be treated with more dignity and respect than the has-been celebrities on Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice.

The New York Times editorializes today, Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat:

It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain.

President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia.

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In normal times, Judge Gorsuch — a widely respected and, at 49, relatively young judge with a reliably conservative voting record — would be an obvious choice for a Republican president.

These are not normal times.

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Senate begins work to repeal ‘ObamaCare’ and to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget reconciliation process

I warned you about this months ago.  The authoritarian Tea-Publcians intend to use the budget reconciliation process to complete the budget that the last Congress failed to pass as the vehicle for repealing the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamamCare” and to give their wealthy benefactors a massive tax cut. They have also now added defunding Planned Parenthood to the reconciliation bill.

The reason for this is that under the budget reconciliation process, it only requires a simple majority vote and there is no filibuster in the Senate. Eddie Munster’s Monstrous Plan for America (snippet):

POLITICO Tiger Beat on The Potomac, reports Ryan plans to steamroll Democrats with budget tool:

If Donald Trump is elected president and Republicans hold onto Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan is bluntly promising to ram a partisan agenda through Capitol Hill next year, with Obamacare repeal and trillion-dollar tax cuts likely at the top of the list. And Democrats would be utterly defenseless to stop them.

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EddieMunsterRyan peeled back the curtain on his strategy at a news conference last week after a reporter suggested he would struggle to implement his ambitious agenda next year. After all, it was noted, Republicans are certain to lack the 60 votes needed in the Senate to break Democratic filibusters on legislation. So Ryan gave a minitutorial on congressional rules and the bazooka in his pocket for the assembled reporters.

“This is our plan for 2017,” Ryan said, waving a copy of his “Better Way” policy agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation.” He explained that key pieces are “fiscal in nature,” meaning they can be moved quickly through a budget maneuver that requires a simple majority in the Senate and House. “This is our game plan for 2017,” Ryan said again to the seemingly unconvinced press.

The New York Times has an explainer piece on The Parliamentary Tactic That Could Obliterate Obamacare.

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End the unprecedented Tea-Publican blockade of the Supreme Court

Senator John McCain was the first GOP senator to threaten to create a constitutional crisis by imposing a “blockade” of Hilary Clinton judicial nominees. McCain Vows Supreme Court Blockade Will Continue Through Clinton’s Presidency. He has now been joined by “wacko bird” Senator Ted “Calgary” Cruz of Texas, and Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina.

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The GOP has descended into authoritarian totalitarianism. Republican talk of holding a Supreme Court seat vacant for four years is without precedent:

One issue weighing heavily on Republican minds these days is the Supreme Court seat vacated in February with the passing of Antonin Scalia. In an unprecedented step earlier this year, Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings for Obama nominee Merrick Garland, arguing instead that American voters should have a say in the process by voting in a new president and letting that person nominate the next justice.

Given the likelihood (albeit a slightly diminishing one) of a Hillary Clinton victory next week, Senate Republicans are starting to shift the goalposts by suggesting they might opt to leave Scalia’s seat open indefinitely if Clinton takes the White House.

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Donald Trump is at war with democracy itself

trumpintimidationDonald Trump’s call for his supporters to be vigilante poll observers on election day — remember, RNC warns its members not to engage in poll watching or any other so-called ‘ballot security’ measures — is all about depressing Democratic voter turnout among “those people” with the prospect of voter intimidation.

Already, “Many of the schools across America that house polling booths will not be open on Election Day for the first time after parents raised fears over violence.” Election Day Safety Fears See Schools Cancel Classes or Move Polling Places.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted this month finds that Half of likely U.S. voters say they are concerned about violence on Election Day:

Half of likely voters say they are at least somewhat concerned about violence either on Election Day or after.

One in five likely voters say they are very concerned, about the same number who said they were not terribly confident that the United States would “have a peaceful transfer of power after the election.”

And then there were the Trump supporters, i.e., potential vigilante poll observers:

[T]wo out of three Trump supporters said they thought the election’s results would be manipulated rather than be accurate. Trump supporters were also more likely to say that if he lost, it would be due to corruption and therefore the outcome would not be legitimate.

Exactly what Donald Trump has been programming his supporters to believe for months.

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