House Democrats are getting the job done while ‘The Grim Reaper’ denies the People’s Agenda


In the chaos theory of governance of the Trump administration, so much craziness happens every day that it is easy to overlook important events in the din of noise. Which is really the whole point of chaos theory. Trump wants to overwhelm the senses with the vast volume of his craziness every day so that no one thing he does can hold the attention of the public or the media for long in what used to be a normal news cycle, and the public eventually becomes numb to the sheer volume of his craziness and stops paying attention. This has led to the warning not to normalize Trump’s chaotic behavior (which the media has to a large degree).

Because the media focuses on Trump’s every insane tweet, playing his game by allowing him to set the daily media narrative, the media fails to report other news that is more relevant to American’s lives.

Case in point, Steve Benen reports on how House Democrats are passing their progressive People’s Agenda, while “The Enemy of The People,” “The Grim Reaper” Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard with his “total obstruction” policy. If you want to claim that government is totally dysfunctional, blame the GOP:

For months, Donald Trump has tried to convince the public that the new Democratic majority in the House is choosing not to govern. The president recently tweeting, “[T]he Dems are getting nothing done in Congress. They are frozen stiff.” It came on the heels of a series of related missives, one of which insisted, “Democrats … don’t want to do anything.”

If Trump wanted to complain that House Dems are pursuing ideas he opposes, that would at least make sense. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her conference are advancing all kinds of progressive priorities, and it stands to reason that the Republican White House would oppose practically everything Democrats like.

But to pretend the House majority isn’t legislating at all is to ignore reality altogether.

It was just five days ago that the House passed an ambitious defense-spending bill, which came the same day the chamber passed the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Shortly before Congress’ 4th-of-July break, the House also passed a bipartisan border bill, which was followed a day later by Democrats passing an election-security package.

As regular readers know, those measures followed a series of related votes – House Dems have already passed more than half of their top 10 priorities for this Congress – on bills related to everything from Dreamers to lowering prescription-drug costs to expanding the Violence Against Women Act.

UPDATE: The House on Thursday votes overwhelmingly to repeal Obamacare “Cadillac” tax long opposed by unions. “The 419-6 vote is a signal of bipartisan unity against a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The 40% tax on high-cost plans is meant to help subsidize other plans under the Affordable Care Act, but it’s become unpopular even among many Democrats. “

On Thursday, the “Fight for $15” minimum wage bill passed the House. Dems challenge Republicans with major minimum-wage hike:

It’s against this backdrop that House Dems keep passing popular and progressive bills including a big one yesterday afternoon.

The House on Thursday passed a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 – delivering on one of Democrats’ central policy objectives and a priority for many 2020 presidential candidates. […]

The bill – called the Raise the Wage Act – was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and passed 231-199. It calls for a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25, to be phased in over several years.

This was not an altogether easy lift for House Democratic leaders. More than a few Democratic red-state moderates were concerned about the potential effects of such a significant increase – they seemed to be operating under the assumption that the bill might actually become law – and so the legislation went through a few iterations.

Among other things, the latest bill calls for the new wage to be phased in over six years, as opposed to the original five-year plan. There’s also a provision that would halt the increase if the Congressional Budget Office found evidence that the increase was creating adverse economic effects.

Those changes satisfied the less-progressive Dems, and as the dust cleared, the bill passed with relative ease. Technically, proponents can even claim that it cleared the chamber with bipartisan support: three Republicans voted for it.

The measure now shifts to the GOP-led Senate, where theoretically, it could pass. Most Americans support the Democratic proposal, and the nation is clearly due for an increase: it’s been a decade since the last increase to the minimum wage at the federal level, which is the longest drought since the policy was first created.

But there’s a reason – two, actually – proponents are not optimistic.

The first and most obvious is the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who opposes raising the minimum wage, has effectively halted the chamber’s legislative work. The Senate has spent 2019 as “a legislative graveyard.”

The second reason is that the bill, even if it were to clear the Republican Senate, would face Donald Trump’s veto. Indeed, it was just last fall when Larry Kudlow, the director of Donald Trump’s National Economic Council – the top voice on economic policy in the White House – rejected the very idea of having a minimum wage at the federal level at all.

“My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea. A terrible idea,” Kudlow said shortly before the 2018 midterms. He added that he considers the policy “silly.”

So long as Republicans control levers of power, those waiting for an increase to the minimum wage will have to simply keep waiting.

Well, here’s a campaign rally chant that everyone can get behind: “Kick them out!” Kick them out! Kick them out!” Kicking these anti-democratic obstructionist Republicans out of office is the only way this country can finally address a myriad of problems that Republicans are preventing any action on. They remain the Party of No.

From Benen’s earlier post:

If the president were sincerely interested in finding a congressional chamber that’s “getting nothing done,” he should probably direct his attention to the Republican-led Senate – which has become a “legislative graveyard” this year.

That said, Trump’s jabs are especially relevant because they relate to Democratic leaders’ fears. Pelosi & Co. have passed a flurry of bills, not because they expect them to become law – Republicans control each of the other levers of federal power – but because they’re eager to demonstrate to the public what the party prioritizes and could get done with greater authority.

Dems don’t want to be seen as a party principally focused on attacking the White House – it’s one of the reasons presidential impeachment isn’t yet on the table – which is why they invest so much time and effort into their legislative agenda.

It is a framework of policy goals that the Democratic Party will offer the American people in 2020, one that can readily be passed in the first year of a Democratic president’s term with a Democratic House and Senate.

The U.S. Supreme Court may make these policy goals all the more imperative depending upon what happens in the court’s 2019-2020 term.


  1. If we had better media you’d see GOP Senators and the White House getting a proper smackdown every time they say the Dems in Congress are not getting anything done.

    Congress writes and votes on 180+ bills that all go to the Senate to die. The Dems are making sure that they a record to run on in 2020.

    But interview after interview, I see GOP Senators and Trump spokes-ghouls get away with lying to the voters.

    This week we’ve seen the media getting a little better, starting to call Trump a liar and a racist, instead of saying he misspoke about something or said something racially charged.

    I hope we see more of this. Trump and the GOP are racist liars.

    Blue Wave 2020.

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