The ‘Grim Reaper’ blockades the ‘people’s agenda’ in the House

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One of Donald Trump’s favorite lies is to claim that House Democrats “are getting nothing done in Congress.”

What he really means to say is that House Democrats are not being servile, like lickspittle Republicans, and bowing down before “Dear Leader” to give him everything he wants without all that troublesome democracy stuff getting in the way.

(I would hasten to point out that when the Party of Trump did have complete control of government from 2017-2019, literally their only legislative achievement (sic) was the GOP tax cut bill at the end of 2017, which is overwhelmingly despised by a majority of Americans. There was also a a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill in 2018, but the average American does not know nor care about it.)

Nancy Pelosi’s House has, in fact, been delivering on the “people’s agenda” for which voters elected Democrats to Congress in the 2018 mid-term election by the largest majority since the post-Watergate election of 1974.

But  one would hardly know this from a complicit news media that focuses on every Trump rage tweet and thus allows him to manipulate the media narrative rather than, oh I don’t know, collectively decide to say “you know what, fuck Trump’s Twitter rants” and focusing instead on reporting actual news. (Don’t hold your breath). ‘It doesn’t break through’: Democrats worry about grip on House as Trump overshadows agenda:

The narrative has been fueled by Trump, who has used his Twitter feed and interviews to lambaste Democrats as the “Do Nothing Party,” when in fact they have spent the first five months of their House majority ticking through agenda items they highlighted in the midterm campaign, addressing matters including health-care prices, political corruption and background checks for gun buyers.

But voters aren’t paying much attention, party leaders are finding, leading them to redouble their messaging efforts — including by placing a target on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has blocked consideration of the Democratic bills.

“Obviously we want to get the word out about the good bills that the House is able to get passed,” said Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), a DCCC vice chairman. “But it seems like there is a preoccupation with what’s happening as it relates to the White House, and so everything else sort of gets drowned out.”

Thank you, complicit news media. You are completely failing your primary function, to inform the public.

There are reporters who are actually doing their job, but it’s not what one sees on the TV where most Americans get their news.

Ella Nilsen at Vox.com recently reported, Democrats in Congress are getting things done. Trump and Republicans are just ignoring them.

President Donald Trump is angry at House Democrats for “getting nothing done in Congress.” He may want to quarrel with his own party instead.

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Trump is objectively wrong; House Democrats haven’t been squandering time. In addition to their investigations, they’ve been passing legislation at a rapid clip. In all, the House has taken up 51 bills, resolutions, and suspensions since January — 49 of which they’ve passed. This includes a slate of bills to attempt to end the longest government shutdown in history, the result of a protracted fight between Trump and Congress over border wall funding.

Ironically, over the past two weeks, the House has passed bills to address most of the issues Trump mentioned in his tweet. They recently passed a bill to lower prescription drug prices, and another one to protect preexisting conditions. The House also passed nine bills on veterans issues this week alone, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted at her weekly press conference. On Thursday, Democrats tried to present Trump their infrastructure plan before he walked out of their meeting.

So if the House is passing all these bills, why does it seem like Congress isn’t getting anything done?

A trick question we all know the answer to: “Think of me as the Grim Reaper”: McConnell vows to thwart Democratic proposals:

“If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate,” the Kentucky Republican told a small crowd during an event in his home state Monday. “They won’t even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper: the guy who is going to make sure that socialism doesn’t land on the president’s desk.”

The vast majority of House Democrats’ agenda has hit a dead end in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dubbed himself the “grim reaper” of Democratic legislation. Pelosi has blasted the Senate leader for embracing this role, saying he’s working for special interests in Washington, rather than the people of the United States.

The Senate is the graveyard where bills that pass in the Congress, that have bipartisan support in the country, go to die,” Pelosi said at a recent press conference (see image above).

* * *

Since Democrats took control of the House, the few things they’ve been able to agree with Senate Republicans on include a bill to reopen the federal government after three weeks, a resolution to end US involvement in the war in Yemen (vetoed by Trump), and the recent disaster aid agreement.

Still, there’s little policymaking in the Senate, where McConnell has mostly been focused on confirming nominations to the judiciary — court packing — and Trump’s Cabinet nominees (who continue to go down in flames for lack of vetting and lack of qualifications.)

It’s so rare the Senate votes on a bill that Roll Call reporter Niels Lesniewski tweeted an alert when members took up the TRACED Act, a bipartisan bill to tack on heavy penalties for robocalls.

A few hours later, the House and Senate struck a long-awaited deal on disaster aid to help areas of the United States devastated by flooding and deadly storms. But besides that and passing another budget deal, there’s little hope that both sides of the aisle will agree on something between now and the 2020 election.

There’s a clear political strategy to McConnell not working with Pelosi on her “people’s agenda.” He’s staring down 2020, where Senate Republicans are defending more seats than Democrats. Plus he has his own seat in Kentucky to worry about (though McConnell losing that is unlikely). No matter what, there’s little incentive for McConnell to hand Democrats any legislative wins.

That has lent itself to a sense of legislative paralysis on Capitol Hill.

“The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has always favored partisan Machiavellian politics over putting the best interests of the country and the needs of the American people first.  For his multiple sins, Dante is going to have to create a new ring of the inferno in his Divine Comedy in which Mitch McConnell will suffer hellfire for all eternity for destroying American democracy.

Much of the media focus these days is on Democrats’ investigations, rather than their legislation, because that’s where the action is. Trump’s attempts to thwart these investigations have turned into what Pelosi and some of her committee chairs have dubbed a constitutional crisis. But even though Washington is consumed with investigations news, it doesn’t mean policy work isn’t happening. It just means it isn’t getting talked about as much.

Here’s a list of bills the House has passed since January

House Democrats have passed a wide range of bills since they came to power in January, ranging from a sweeping anti-corruption and pro-democracy reform known as HR 1, to bills to save net neutrality, establish background checks for guns, and put the United States back in the Paris Climate Accord.

They have also put a large emphasis on health care, a defining issue of the 2018 election after Trump and Senate Republicans attempted to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have focused on bills to lower prescription drug costs, protect preexisting conditions, and condemning the Trump administration’s legal battle to strike down the ACA in the courts.

Much of this agenda is sitting in the Senate. The few things House Democrats and Senate Republicans have agreed on: disaster relief aid, reopening the government after the shutdown, the resolution to end US involvement in the Yemen war, a bill to protect public lands, and a resolution disapproving of Trump’s use of emergency powers.

But on major policy issues — like health care and infrastructure, or even bipartisan ones like net neutrality or the Equal Pay Act — Democrats’ bills are continuing to languish in the Senate. Here’s a partial list of bills and resolutions the House has passed so far.

Health care

    1. HR 259 — Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019
    2. House Resolution 271 — Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Health Care
    3. HR 986 — Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019
    4. HR 987 — Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act
    5. HR 1520, the Purple Book Continuity Act (bill aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs)
    6. HR 1503, the Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019 (bill aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs)

Civil rights

    1. HR 1 — For the People Act of 2019
    2. HR 5 — Equality Act
    3. HR 7 — Paycheck Fairness Act
    4. HR 124 — Expressing opposition to banning service in the Armed Forces by openly transgender individuals
    5. HR 6 — American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

Gun control

    1. HR 8 — Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
    2. HR 1112 — Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019

Environment

    1. HR 9 — Climate Action Now Act
    2. HR 1331 — Local Water Protection Act
    3. S 47 — National Resources Management Act
    4. HR 2578 — National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019

Military/foreign affairs

    1. HR 840 — Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act
    2. HJ Res. 37 — Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress
    3. SJ Res. 7 — To direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress [vetoed by Trump]
    4. HR 31 — Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019
    5. HJ Res. 30 — Disapproving the President’s proposal to take an action relating to the application of certain sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation

Mueller report

    1. H.Con.Res. 24 — Expressing the sense of Congress that the report of Special Counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress.

Other legislation

    1. HR 1585 — Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019
    2. HR 1500 — Consumers First Act
    3. HR 1994 — SECURE Act
    4. HR 1644 — Save the Internet Act of 2019
    5. HR 2157 — Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019
    6. HR 269 — Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019
    7. HR 251 — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act
    8. S 24 — Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019
    9. HR 430 — TANF Extension Act of 2019
    10. Concurring in the Senate Amendments to HR 251 — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard Program Extension Act
    11. HR 790 — Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019
    12. HJ Res. 46 — Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019
    13. H Res. 183 — Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States, as amended
    14. H Res. 194 — Rule Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1644 and H.R. 2021
    15. HR 2480 — Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
    16. HR 375 — To amend the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes (also known as the “Carcieri Fix”)

Votes to end Trump’s government shutdown

    1. HR 21 — Making appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes
    2. HJ Res. 1 — Making further continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes
    3. HR 265 — Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019
    4. HR 267 — Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019
    5. HR 266 — Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019
    6. HR 268 — Disaster Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019 (Disaster Supplemental and short-term continuing resolution through Feb. 8)
    7. HR 264 — Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act
    8. HJ Res. 28 — Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 (Short-term continuing resolution through Feb. 28)
    9. HR 648 — Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Six conferenced bills minibus)
    10. HJ Res. 31 — Making further continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2019 (Short-term homeland continuing resolution through Feb. 28)
    11. Conference Report to Accompany HJ Res 31 – Making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes

Democrats in the House will continue to do their jobs while Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans engage in an anti-democratic blockade of all legislation pursuant to their authoritarian “total obstruction” policy. The American people need to reject this anti-democratic authoritarianism in 2020 by kicking all Republicans out of office.