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Attachment-1-1132

Source: The Ripon Society- Gregory Koger

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Before I get into the Republican hypocrisy about the Senate filibuster which is as loud as Metallica heavy metal concert unclose with no earplugs and as obvious as the Grand Canyon is big, I just want to get to the constitutional arguments about the Senate filibuster.

Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution grants all Federal legislative powers with Congress. Under the U.S. Constitution Congress writes their own rules. So the Senate decided to have a filibuster and cloture rule. The House decide to have an almost completely majoritarian framework in how they run their business. Which is both the right of the Senate and House of Representatives to write and enforce their rules the way they decide to. Whatever rules they make for themselves are constitutional. Its the laws that Congress passes together that are subjected to judicial rules by the Federal judiciary.

Now the more fun side of this debate. Where were GOP calls for eliminating the Senate filibuster and calling it unconstitutional the first two years of the Obama Administration when Democrats controlled Congress and even had 3/5 majorities in both the House and Senate? But under then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a few Senate Democrats as well, were still able to block some bills proposed and passed by House Democrats. Like extending Unemployment Insurance and additional stimulus bills to the economy. Senate Republicans were able to do this because they stayed inline and prevented Democrats from getting 3/5 majority vote in the Senate.

Or where was the GOP call to eliminate the filibuster from 2011-15 when there were two divided Congress’s because House Republicans won back the House in 2010 and held onto majority in 2012. With Senate Democrats keeping the Senate in 2010 and 2012? Senate Republicans with 47 and then later 45 members, were able to block a whole list of Obama Administration executive and later judicial appointments simply by preventing Senate Democrats from obtaining 60 votes. Which is why then Senate Leader Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster in 2013 on executive and judicial nominees.

There are very good reasons why Congress is more unpopular than traveling salesman, lawyers, trial lawyers and make conmen look like good decent moral people. One of those reasons is hypocrisy.

Members of Congress will say they believe in fiscal responsibility and even fiscal conservatism. Until they become fiscally responsible at least in the sense that they’re now in power and in control of the nation’s fiscal policy. They run against deficit spending when they’re in the opposition, especially when they’re in both the opposition and minority, which is where Republicans were in 2010 and 2011. And then whey come back into power which is where Republicans are now, deficits no longer seem to matter to them. Especially if they have political priorities and objectives and things they need to accomplish in order to get reelected in 2018.

Why try to pay for tax relief and tax reform and ask people to pay for those things with few government services, when you can just finance those things on the national credit card and get way with it, if they’re successful in passing it this year? Being in the political opposition is easy in the sense that you can complain all you want and not really pay any price for it. But governing is difficult because it means making decisions and risking offending groups that you may need to win reelection. Which is where the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans find themselves now.

Republican complaints about the Senate filibuster today and Congress failing to move on anything because legislation getting blocked in the Senate, well their a couple of problems with that.

One, the House isn’t passing much if any legislation right now either. At least legislation that even Senate Republicans want to deal with. So maybe the GOP should look at their colleagues in the House when it comes to gridlock or their own Senate Leadership. But the second reason is more obvious and is nothing more than hypocrisy on a month long sugar high. The GOP was in favor of the filibuster when they were in the opposition, especially the opposition and minority, because they could use it to obstruct the Obama Administration and Congressional Republicans. Now they’re against it because they’re divided and can’t seem to find enough votes to even pass legislation with a simple majority, let alone a super majority. Opposition to the filibuster is nothing more than political hypocrisy at this point and a big example of why Americans hate politics and hate Congress.

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Now This World: U.S. Senator Rand Paul

Now This World: Trace Dominguez- U.S. Senator Rand Paul: What Is a Filibuster?

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Rand PaulSource: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

First of all, the Patriot Act is going to expire at midnight in less than two hours from the time this piece is posted, because of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and his Neoconservatives in his caucus. They could’ve spent the last two weeks on either the USA Freedom Act. That was passed by the House with 388 votes. A huge bipartisan majority of Conservative Republicans and Liberal Democrats in the House.

Or, McConnell could’ve brought the version of the Patriot Act that he expires to the Senate floor. Opened it up to amendments from both sides. Including from Senator Rand Paul and Senator Ron Wyden and several other civil liberty minded Senators from both parties. Mike Lee, Pat Leahy, Jon Tester, Ron Johnson, Mark Heinrich and many others. What the Leader did instead, was to bring the Patriot Act up, knowing that he didn’t have sixty votes for it. And when that became reality, he decided to bring up an extension of the Patriot Act. To buy more time for the Senate to finally pass the bill. Translation, so he could lean on his own members to vote for a long-term bill. To keep the Patriot Act in place indefinitely.

McConnell, knows that if he opens up this debate to amendments, several of them will pass with bipartisan support. Civil liberties, is now a bipartisan issue in Congress. As we saw with the passage of the USA Freedom Act in the House and now with Senate Democrats and Republicans refusing to vote on the old Patriot Act. Because it doesn’t have those civil liberty protections when it comes to warrants. Under the Patriot Act, the government doesn’t need warrants to search people they see as suspicious. They don’t even need evidence, or at least share that evidence with a third-party. Senator Paul, Conservative Libertarian Republican and Senate Wyden, Liberal Democrat, both want the government to have to get warrants before they can search suspects. Which is really what the Fourth Amendment is all about. The protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The USA Freedom Act, certainly not perfect, but certainly an improvement over the original Patriot Act. And the Senate, could’ve spent the past two weeks debating the bill and voting on amendments and improving it. So the U.S. Government could protect both our liberty and our security. So the innocent are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. And government could investigate and prosecute real criminals and terrorists. Under the U.S. Constitution for one and the USA Freedom Act. But no! Thats not good enough for Leader Mitch McConnell. Give him a two-week extension of the old Patriot Act, that the House Republican Leadership has already said they won’t pass. Or give him the original Patriot Act without the new civil liberties protections. Which won’t pass the House, or Senate either.

CNN: U.S. Senator Rand Paul- The Right To Be Left Alone is The Most Precious

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Senate Democratic Leader

Senate Democratic Leader


This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Politico: Blog: Dylan Byers: Chuck Todd: Senate Democrats May Overthrow Harry Reid

First of all, I hope that Senate Democrats will overthrow Harry Reid as their leader which will be the Senate Minority Leader in the next Congress and I’ll explain why. If there are two faces that are the faces of Congressional gridlock in this Congress and previous Congress’s going back at least since 2009, it is current Senate Leader Harry Reid and current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Leader Reid because he won’t allow amendments to major legislation in the Senate, especially from Senate Republicans, but even from Senate Democrats. And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell because of all the legislation that Senate Republicans have blocked under his leadership because of the sixty-vote rule.

Senate Republicans won huge on Tuesday. So you could argue that the McConnell tactics have worked and that Mitch should be rewarded for that with the promotion to Leader of the Senate. Senate Democrats lost big Tuesday night and even lost their majority. Not all Leader Reid’s fault, but the fact that so many Senate Democrats who lost were tied to President Obama an unpopular President and the fact they couldn’t offer and vote on amendments in the Senate to separate them from the President, contributed to their losses’ on Tuesday. Whether that is fair or not, the fact is it worked.

But here’s another reason and why Leader Reid should step down as Democratic Leader or be defeated for reelection in the Senate Democratic Caucus. Leader Reid is up for reelection just as Senator in 2016. He is not popular in his own state, running for reelection in a swing state like Nevada. Even though it will be a presidential election with a lot more Democrats voting in 2016 than in 2014, he would be better off concentrating in his own reelection as a seventy-six year old in 2016. And lining up as much resources for himself. Instead of trying both to win reelection as a U.S. Senator and electing as many Democrats as possible in 2016 to win back the majority.

Senate Democrats would be much better off in the next Congress with a new leader who won’t be up for a tough reelection or reelection at all. That will give Senate Democrats a fresh face as they try to take on Senate Republicans and whatever partisan agenda they may try to pass in the Senate. As well as work with Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama where they can and must in order to keep the government running smoothly. And to do things for the economy like infrastructure, energy, immigration and tax reform.

I give you Dick Durbin the current Assistant Majority Leader and Chuck Schumer the Chief Political Strategist for the Senate Democrats as great alternatives. They both know how to legislate, things they prefer to do than obstruct even if that means working with Republicans. And they both know how to debate and use the media and the Senate rules very well to kill bad legislation when a bipartisan compromise can’t be reached. They were both great at these things during the Bush Administration when Congressional Republicans and President Bush tried to pass bad legislation. And would be very effective as the top two Democratic leaders in the next Congress.
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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

What will happen in the next Congress a united Republican Congress as far as Republicans controlling both the House of Representatives and Senate, will be based on what Speaker John Boehner and Leader Mitch McConnell actually want to get done and get passed out of Congress and signed into law. And what they want to try to pass by themselves with mostly if not all Republican votes in both the House and Senate and try to force Senate Democrats who will be brand new to the minority, to try to block, or force President Obama to veto partisan legislation.

President Obama is smart to invite Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell down to the White House this week to try to see where they may be able to work together in the next Congress. But the fact is Republicans are in charge of Congress and Congressional Democrats and the President will be on the defensive at least in the early going of the next Congress. And Democrats will react to Republicans based on what Republicans want to and try to do. The next Congress will be as effective and popular as Republicans are effective at running it.

Incoming Senate Leader Mitch McConnell & House Speaker John Boehner

Incoming Senate Leader Mitch McConnell & House Speaker John Boehner

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Washington Gridlock

Washington Gridlock


This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Crooks and Liars: Opinion: Heather Digby: Sunday’s Theme of The Week: Both Sides!

You want to know why a lot of Americans and if I had to guess hate politics and politicians and why our voter turnout is so low at least compared with the rest of the developed world, it is because yes both sides and I’m a Democrat, but both sides spend so much time and what I percentage of that I don’t know, no one does, but they spend so much time blaming the other side and raising money to defeat the other side. And very little time perhaps especially with a divided Congress and divided government, which I believe won’t change much after tomorrow, governing and presenting a positive message for the country.

That is what you saw if you bothered to watch the Sunday morning news programs yesterday. Commentators representing how the country feels about American politicians and politics. Which changes nothing because the partisans on both sides who have enough power to at least keep gridlock going will take that as “look the mainstream media blaming both sides equally again. Just means we need to hit the other side harder so we don’t look as bad”. The whole negative argument of “you may hate us, but you’ll hate the other side more if they come to power”.

Look I’m both a Liberal and a Democrat and proud of both labels. I’m not saying either side is equally at fault otherwise I wouldn’t be a Democrat and probably a Liberal Independent instead. Just saying that neither side is innocent here and that both party’s negatives are so high right now, that they feel they can’t win on just being positive or being very positive, that they have to make the other side look worst. So they don’t lose more political power especially coming after a big loss.
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U.S. Congress
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

National Journal: Opinion: Norm Ornstein: What If Independents Keep Senate Majority In Flux?

What if, what if, what if, what question is more fun to ask and even ask yourself than what if? But the reason why it is such a fun question to ask, is because it gives people who chance to imagine and throw out countless hypotheticals and imagine all sorts of interesting things. But to speak about Norm Ornstein’s what if, he may be on to something right now because of how partisan and divided America is politically right now. With an unpopular President, but an unpopular Republican opposition that Americans aren’t crazy about having complete control of Congress, both the House and Senate.

This is where the centrists, or as I prefer the more independently minded Senators and Senate candidates come into play. Because let’s say we do have a 50-50 Senate in the next Congress with Democrats still in control of the Senate because of Vice President Joe Biden, or a 51-49 Senate in the next Congress that goes either way, without either party having enough of a partisan advantage to run the chamber by themselves, that is where the Independents come into play. Especially if they don’t caucus with either party, or are not in lockstep with the political or governing agenda that their leadership wants to push.

In a divided Senate like that, that is where the Independents have the power, Assuming the Leader and Minority Leader are actually interested in governing and passing legislation in that Congress. And not simply looking for the next partisan advantage that will give them a clear majority in the next Congress. When the leadership’s in both parties aren’t interested in governing and simply looking for partisan advantage, as we’ve seen a lot in the Congress from both parties in both chambers, Independents do not mean a hell of a lot.

Whoever the next Senate Leader and Minority Leader is, they will still set the tone as far as what that Senate can pass in the next Congress. And if you are like me, you are looking for new leadership at the top in both parties without Harry Reid Mitch McConnell leading their respective caucus’. And hopefully new blood will come in and decide to work with the other party. Because whoever holds the next Senate majority, it will be paper-thin, perhaps 52-48 at best for one side. And if they decide to govern, the Independents will come into power and a lot legislation could get passed.
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Allison Lundergan-Grimes

Allison Lundergan-Grimes


Crooks & Liars: Report: Alison Lundergan-Grimes Unleashes Epic Smackdown Right To Mitch McConnell’s Face

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

This is a prefect example of why as a Democrat I’m not worried about Democrats losing the Senate this year. Because the most unpopular member of Congress that is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection in a state where Democrats are not only still competitive, but in power controlling the governor’s mansion and the State Senate. Allison Lundgren Grimes who will be Mitch McConnell’s opponent in November also just happens to be Secretary of State for Kentucky and a popular Secretary of Kentucky. Who is thirty-five, an outsider with a lot of energy to combat Leader No. The Do Nothing Senator, just a couple of nicknames that Mitch has picked up, Leader Obstruction would be another one.

Kentucky is a red-state at the presidential level, but in Congress it is a purple state. They have at least one U.S. Representative and will have a competitive U.S. Senate election this year. Kentucky is more like Ohio or perhaps Michigan or Indiana politically. Not Mississippi or South Carolina which means Democrats don’t have to sound like they are with the Christian Right on social issues and the Tea Party on economic issues to get elected. Which means Lundgren Grimes can run as a center-left New Democrat and still win the election there because of how blue-collar that state is.

Mitch McConnell on the other hand has been more of a national Republican really since he became the Assistant Majority Leader back in 2003 when Republicans won back the Senate. And then became Senate Minority Leader in 2007 when Republicans lost Congress House and Senate. And he is tied to the national Republican Party and the base of the party that is so unpopular right now. And tied to a very unpopular Congress as Senate Minority Leader. And is just right for the picking to be defeated and sent back to Kentucky for retirement or becoming a Washington lobbyist.

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