Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Exhausted By Epic Inaction, Congress Takes a Vacation

August 8, 2017

Exhausted By Epic Inaction, Congress Takes a Vacation
The U.S. Congress is on vacation until after Labor Day, but given its lack of accomplishments, it could have been in recess for the preceding year. Of course, Congress typically spends three days a week in DC even when it’s in session, spending the other four back home collecting campaign funds for the next election, a practice euphemistically called “meeting with constituents.”

But summer recess isn’t all stump speeches and visits to examine vital NATO defenses on the Riviera. Congress will still be hard at work tweeting about the highlights of rubber chicken luncheons at the Rotary Club. We hope our legislators don’t over-exert their Twitter fingers this month. They’ll have just a few days in September to decide on the nation budget, the debt limit, and tax reform, and to keep the White House from crashing the health care system or stumbling into trade war or a military crisis.

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Which Health Care Bill Will the Senate Vote On, Anyway?

July 24, 2017

Which Health Care Bill Will the Senate Vote On, Anyway?
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for a Senate vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), but it’s not clear just which GOP bill will be considered. Will it be:

One thing is clear: whether it’s Door #1, #2, or #3, the deal will cut taxes for the rich and increase premiums for anyone who still has health insurance.

More:

“Everyone is confused about the health care vote — including Republican senators,” Tara Golshan, Vox

“The Republicans Have Three Health Care Bills And No Clear Paths Forward,” Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight

“Senate GOP: Knowing Health Care Plan Is ‘Luxury We Don’t Have,’  Joe Williams and Lauren Clason, Roll Call

“Ahead of key vote, details of GOP health bill still unknown,” Hope Yen, Associated Press

“Senate Republicans don’t know what’s in their health bill or what it would do. They’re voting anyway.” Dylan Scott, Vox

“Trump makes veiled threat to GOP on Obamacare,” Rebecca Morin, Politico

Related:

“Parts of Senate GOP Health Care Bill Break Rules, Parliamentarian Says,” Mary Ellen McIntire, Roll Call

“Mixed signals from Trump White House on health care strategy,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Ken Thomas, Associated Press

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McConnell: GOP Wants a Health Care Time Bomb

July 18, 2017

McConnell: GOP Wants a Health Care Time Bomb
The GOP’s murderous senate health bill flatlined on Monday, but there’s a Republican Plan B. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will introduce a measure that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) in two years.

That’s it. No alternative plan to replace it.

Your health insurance will self-destruct at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2019.

More:

“McConnell’s ‘nuclear option’ after health care failure,” Mike Allen Jonathan Swan, Axios

“Republican senator announces no vote on ObamaCare repeal: ‘I did not come to Washington to hurt people,'” The Week

“Dem senator: ObamaCare repeal without replacement would be ‘humanitarian disaster,’” Aida Chavez, The Hill

“McConnell Obamacare repeal plan already taking fire from Republicans,” Daniella Diaz and Ted Barrett, CNN

“’Repeal and delay’: McConnell’s new, risky health care plan, explained,” Sarah Kliff, Vox

UPDATE:

“GOP’s repeal-only plan quickly collapses in Senate,” Jessie Hellmann and Jordain Carney, The Hill

Related:

“House GOP Budget Plan Cuts Medicare and Social Security,” Priscilla Alvarez, The Atlantic

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Jeff Sessions Stonewalls the Senate

June 15, 2017

Jeff Sessions Stonewalls the Senate

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III appeared in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and defended his sacred honor by testifying to nothing. He did not exactly invoke executive privilege; he invoked the president’s right to invoke executive privilege at some unspecified later date. Mr. Sessions did this on the authority of the “historic policies of the Department of Justice” for which he could not cite written records, saying unnamed Justice Department career employees had told him there were such traditions. To be fair, during his long career Mr. Sessions has consistently championed historic policies, notably segregation.

For some reason, Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee were not keen on having a sworn witness in a congressional proceeding who refused to testify on unnamed grounds.

More:

“Sessions to Wyden in testy exchange: ‘I am not stonewalling,’” Devlin Barrett, Washington Post

“Sen. Kamala Harris leaves Sessions ‘nervous’ in interrogation over his refusal to disclose conversations with Trump,” Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times

“Dem Senator to Sessions: You’re ‘Impeding the Investigation,’” Daily Beast

“Explaining Executive Privilege and Sessions’s Refusal to Answer Questions,” Charlie Savage, New York Times

“Did Sessions and Trump conspire to obstruct justice?” Clark D. Cunningham, The Conversation

“Sessions could earn a ticket to the grand jury,” Mike Allen, Axios

 

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H.R. 2884: The COVFEFE Act

June 14, 2017

H.R.2884: The COVFEFE Act
Congressman Mike Quigley (D, IL-05) has introduced the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement or “COVFEFE” Act, H.R.2884. It would amend the Presidential Records Act ( Sec. 2201, Title 44 USC) to include social media, ensuring preservation of presidential tweets. It has been referred to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The bill’s short title was provided by Donald Trump in a well-known tweet, since deleted.  Since Mr. Trump’s is the first Twitter Presidency, that deletion illustrates the need for such legislation, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer has already observed that the president’s tweets are official White House statements.

More:

“Remember covfefe? It might become a law about presidential records.” Carly Sitrin, Vox

“COVFEFE Act would make social media a presidential record,” Joe Uchill, The Hill

“The Covfefe Act Has A Silly Name — But It Addresses A Real Quandary,” Laurel Wamsley, NPR

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The Senate’s Secret Medicine

June 13, 2017

Last month the House of Representatives sent a critically-ill healthcare bill to the Senate emergency room, where the men of the Senate GOP Group Medical Practice are still performing secret surgery on it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is cautiously optimistic about the bill’s condition. If you want to know details about the senate version of the American Health Care Act, you’ll have to wait until it comes up for a vote on Senate floor.

Wait. Won’t senators be able to examine the proposed legislation and offer amendments during hearings?

We don’t need no stinkin’ hearings, says Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R – UT), That way the bill can pass the Senate with a simple majority, not the usual two-thirds vote.

In the video above, Senator Claire McCaskill (D- MO) responds to the GOP’s diagnosis with a second opinion.

More:

“The Senate’s three tools on health care: Sabotage, speed and secrecy,” Andy Slavitt, Washington Post

Update:

“Conservatives near revolt on Senate health care negotiations,” Burgess Everett, Politico

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Montana Wrestles With the First Amendment

May 25, 2017

Montana Wrestles With the First Amendment
In Montana on Wednesday, a reporter attacked Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte with dangerous questions about the deadly House healthcare bill, so the candidate responded by body-slamming the journalist to the ground and punching him. Knowing Montana, that should get the GOP hopeful a victory in today’s special election as well as a Gallatin County misdemeanor conviction.

After all, Montana voters already elected a dangerously impulsive rich guy who hates the media and press freedom to the White House, so adding another one to Congress should be a snap.

More:

“Fox News crew ‘watched in disbelief’ as Montana’s Greg Gianforte ‘slammed’ and ‘began punching’ reporter,” Fred Barbash, Washington Post

“Three Montana newspapers rescind Gianforte endorsements after alleged body-slamming incident,” Louis Nelson, Politico
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House Health Care Bill Leaves 23 Million Americans Uninsured

May 24, 2017

House Health Care Bill Leaves 23 Million Americans Uninsured
The “American Health Care Act” was passed by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could determine how much it would cost and who would be covered. The CBO has finished the analysis, and the AHCA score is, basically GOP +1, Americans less than zero. 14 million Americans would be without health insurance next year, 23 million within a decade. In states that seek waivers from providing essential health coverage mandates, a feature of the bill, insurance would be priced out of reach for many people with preexisting conditions. There would be a new tier of plans at lower cost that don’t actually cover major medical risks, so the CBO doesn’t count the projected buyers as insured.

The cynical, life-threatening measure might reduce the federal budget by $119 billion over a decade, less than the $150 billion in savings projected by Paul Ryan, who wants to use any health care savings to give the wealthy a tax break. For the GOP, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by tax cuts for the rich.

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GOP Congress Passes Health Care Plan, Now Must Read It

May 4, 2017

GOP Congress Passes Health Care Plan, Now Must Read It
Before leaving DC for yet another recess, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and replace it with something they haven’t read, something the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t scored. That means no one in Congress knows how much this so-called “American Health Care Act” will cost taxpayers, how much insurance will cost, and who won’t be covered. In other words, the GOP just bought a pig in a poke.

More:

American Medical Association condemns House healthcare bill passage,” Max Greenwood, The Hill

“House GOP Just Voted to Slash Medicaid — Which Pays for 60 Percent of People in Nursing Homes,” Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

“House Sends Health Care Hot Potato to Senate,” Lindsey McPherson and Erin Mershon, Roll Call

“Analysis: 5 issues that could derail the GOP health care bill in the Senate,” Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News via PBS Newshour

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Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

March 30, 2017

Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

The Internet was already a surveillance state, but now Congress has removed your last vestige of Web privacy by passing a bill to allow your Internet service provider (ISP) — AT&T, Comcast, Verizon,  Spectrum (Time Warner Cable) — to gather your browsing history data and sell it. You won’t be able to opt out. Under the last administration, the FCC had ruled that ISPs are public utilities like electricity and telephone companies, and subscribers are entitled to privacy protections. After all, your phone company can’t eavesdrop on your conversations, and even the government needs a warrant to find out who you called.

But Republicans in both houses passed legislation that allows Comcast and the like to sell your browsing history, and the current president says he’ll sign it. ISPs will be able to sell data about your shopping, video streaming, medical needs, political views, and personal life.

There may be new business opportunities here. Maybe ISPs will blackmail you into preserving your privacy by paying more for a premium private service tier.

More:

“The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them,” T.C. Sottek, The Verge

“House Dems launch pro-broadband privacy petition,” Ali Breland, The Hill

“Protesters raise more than $200,000 to buy Congress’s browsing histories,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“The Conservative Case Against Trashing Online Privacy Rules,” Klint Finley, Wired

“Dems urge Trump to veto bill blocking online privacy rule,” Associated Press

Update:

“Lawmakers Who Championed Repeal of Web Browsing Privacy Protections Raked in Telecom Campaign Cash,” Lee Fang, The Intercept

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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