Tag Archive: Senate

2018 brings calls for Democrats to focus on winning Congressional elections

U.S. Senate under Republican control

2018 has begun, and it is an election year. While so-called “off-year” (Congressional, state and local, but not presidential) elections often garner disappointingly low voter turnout on the Democratic side, calls have already emerged for Democrats to focus, and work hard, on winning back one or the other houses of Congress, or both. For example, yesterday, progressive website Crooks and Liars published a piece entitled: Take Back The House In 2018, But Don’t Forget The Senate! At the same time, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean tweeted:

Both of these suggestions, focusing primarily on the House or the Senate, have merit.

Suggestion for Democrats: gloves off, no cooperation with Republicans

Soft and fuzzy Democrats

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have waged at least a nine-year war against the Democrats. The first eight years included obstruction of President Barack Obama at every turn, as the GOP plotted on Obama’s inauguration night. This Republican obstruction culminated in the unprecedented move of refusing to hold a confirmation hearing and vote on President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, even though the Republicans had 10 months to do so. Now that a Republican is in the White House, Donald Trump, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their partisan cohorts suddenly want the Democrats to bend in order to pass so-called “bipartisan” legislation that is written by Republicans, typically with no opportunity for Democratic input. The Democrats should not bend over and take this treatment. Instead, Democrats should fight, filibuster, and otherwise refuse to cooperate with Republicans every chance they get.

Alabama Senate victory shows Democrats they must work harder

Roy Moore rides off into the sunset

Last Tuesday, Democratic candidate Doug Jones won a stunning upset over Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate special election. Jones’ win was remarkable given that this Senate seat went over 97 percent for Republican incumbent Jeff Sessions (who early this year left to become U.S. Attorney General in the Donald Trump administration) the last time it was contested in 2014. The Democrats did not even field a challenger to Sessions that time. There were several keys to Jones’ victory, each of which shows that the Democrats can beat the Republicans at the voting booth, if they work extra hard on several fronts:

Democrats attack “GOP tax scam”

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi with another recent messaging effort

It is very rare for the Democratic Party to come up with a phrase, and have members hammer it home in unison. Thus, it’s noteworthy that leading Democrats are doing just that regarding the Republican U.S. Senate and U.S. House tax bills released over the past week. The Democrats are using the phrase “GOP Tax Scam” to attack these plans. Here is a sampling of those Democratic attacks on Twitter:

Republican Senators sending mixed messages

Sen. John McCain at a recent hearing.

It was big news on Tuesday when Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona took to the Senate floor to announce that he would not run for re-election, and to attack Donald Trump and fellow Republicans for enabling the Trump administration’s “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” and a “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms.” Just hours later, however, Flake joined all but two of his Republican colleagues to strike down a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have allowed class action lawsuits against financial institutions for predatory and deceptive business practices. This juxtaposition between words and deeds among Republican Senators is sending a mixed message to Americans.

Republicans find out they have nowhere to hide

GOP Health Plan

On Monday night and Tuesday, the latest Republican Senate scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act but not replace it for two years, went down in flames. Republican Senators including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito came out against moving the plan forward in the Senate, effectively killing this version for now.

Republicans are learning a powerful lesson: the obstructionism that worked for them when they did not control all three branches of government does not work when they do.

James Comey’s description of Trump akin to a Mafia Don

James Comey’s attitude before Congress today

Today, former FBI Director James Comey gave his anxiously-awaited testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since Donald Trump fired him in May. Comey’s testimony, including his written statement that was released yesterday, was stunning in several respects, from the circumstances of his firing, to the Mafia-like treatment Comey says  Trump gave him regarding the ongoing investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor (and Trump presidential campaign official) Michael Flynn over Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. Even people who were hyping Comey’s upcoming testimony in advance were perhaps surprised at some of what Comey said about Trump, including that Trump is lying about several Trump/Russia matters.

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia waging cyber war against United States

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing designed to lay out Russia‘s intentions and techniques (“active measures)” to influence the U.S. 2016 elections, and to propose actions and solutions to address them going forward. According to Independent Senator Angus King, from what he heard during the hearing, “we’re engaged in a new form of aggression, if not war,” from Russia. King’s statement echoed former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said a few days earlier that, “in some quarters,” Russia’s interference in the U.S. election “could be considered an act of war.” Witnesses at the hearing agreed that Russia is engaged in cyber “warfare” against the U.S. This is a crucial first step in investigating whether Donald Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

The Republican Party, lost in the wilderness

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Elections are about math, and, with about 27 days to go before the 2016 elections, the math is not looking good for Republicans. Donald Trump is not only losing the presidential election, he may be taking down the GOP with him, including its majority in the U.S. Senate, and even jeopardizing the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Trump is now engaged in a bloody battle with leading Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican in America, as well as GOP stalwarts such as John McCain. Panic is setting in among some Republican office holders and donors alike, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are exploiting this GOP Civil War. Where did things go so wrong?