Browsing the archives for the Congress category.


Who’s Really Responsible for the Toddler Invasion

-->
American History, Congress, Immigration, Obama Administration

Two articles to read together today — one is from the New York Times editorial board

The revised legislation sought to appease the hard-liners, who were insisting on swiftly expelling migrant children but also intent on killing the Obama administration’s program to halt the deportations of young immigrants known as Dreamers. Tea Party members believe, delusionally, that the program, called DACA, has some connection to the recent surge of child migrants, who would never qualify for it. On Friday night, the House passed a bill that dragged immigration reform so far to the right that it would never become law. …

…The Senate’s attempt to address the border crisis, meanwhile, is also dead — filibustered by Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who engineered the House revolt, was exultant. Nothing will happen there until September, if then.

Meanwhile, the border crisis is still a crisis and people are suffering. The Border Patrol and refugee programs will run short of money for aiding and processing traumatized children. Immigration courts will still be overloaded, due process will continue to be shortchanged or denied. Because House Republicans killed a comprehensive reform bill that passed the Senate more than a year ago, the larger immigration system, choked by obsolete laws, backlogs and bureaucratic breakdowns, still awaits repairs.

Again, it’s important to understand that the Right’s carping about “Dreamers” is a red herring straw man on steroids. The law they claim is responsible for the border crisis does not apply to people crossing the border after June 2012.  Meanwhile, the Right refuses to address the law that does apply, signed by President G.W. Bush, that says these children cannot be deported without a hearing. But Republicans in Congress refuse to provide money to help speed up the hearings; they want to ignore the law and just deport the children. And then they call President Obama a lawless tyrant.

The NY Times editorial is as good a capsule version of where we are with immigration as I’ve found.  Meanwhile, A.W. Gaffney explains who really is responsible for the instability in Central America that is driving so many to take refuge here.

But why is the region so underdeveloped, why is poverty so entrenched, and why has the colonial legacy of inequality proven so resistant to social and political change? Though the situation is admittedly complex, the dismal state of affairs in Central America is in no small part the result of the failure of social democratic and left-of-center governments to maintain power and enact socioeconomic change; this failure, in turn, is sadly (in part) the consequence of the ironic “success” of U.S. foreign policy.

A pattern of U.S. interference with the democratic processes in these Central American countries goes back at least to the 1930s and has continued nearly to the present day. In other words, the U.S. persistently has seen to it that popularly and democratically elected left-leaning leaders were replaced — violently, if necessary –by right-wing despots. And this has a whole lot to do with why these countries are dysfunctional now.

Looking at Congress today, one might argue the U.S. finally is doing to itself what it did to Guatemala — make it an ungovernable mess.  We don’t learn.

Share
5 Comments

How Not to Win Friends

-->
Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Following up the last post — this is where the House is going today —

House Republicans pushed legislation on Friday that would clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

After more than a year of inaction on the contentious issue of immigration, House GOP leaders were optimistic about securing tea party and other conservative support for two bills that Republicans can highlight when they return home to voters during Congress’ five-week summer break.

Votes were expected late Friday.

A revised, $694 million border security bill would provide $35 million for the National Guard and clarify a provision on quickly returning unaccompanied minors from Central America to their home countries.

The President had requested $3.7 billion, remember.

To appeal to hard-core immigration foes, Republicans also toughened a companion bill targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama implemented in 2012 and Republicans blame for the flood of immigrants now.

The bill states that the president cannot renew or expand the program, effectively paving the way for deportation for the children brought here illegally.

Again, the DACA only applies to people who entered the country before June 15, 2012. The more pertinent law is one called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2008. The law provides that any child entering the country, except for Canadian and Mexican nationals, must be given a full immigration hearing to be sure they aren’t human trafficking victims. That’s the law Congress expects the President to ignore and just deport children without a hearing.

Even if the House passes the bill on Friday, Obama’s request for more money to deal with the border crisis will go unanswered. The Senate blocked its version of a border security bill, and there are no plans to work out any compromise before Congress returns in September.

Emerging from a closed-door GOP meeting, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., rejected the notion that it was a pointless exercise since the Senate won’t act.

“It’ll be the template for what needs to be done and also it might slow the president down,” Mica told reporters.

In other words they lack the political will to do anything, but they can manage to throw up roadblocks to stop anyone else from doing anything.

Also, some less extremist House Republicans are frustrated that senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz are meeting with bagger members of the House and influencing their votes.

Democrats relished the Republican divide, with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., derisively referring to “Speaker Cruz.

See also Morning Plum: Obama warns GOP — I’m acting alone on immigration.

Share
10 Comments

Icky Issa

-->
Congress, Obama Administration

House Democrats issued a strongly worded motion condemning Rep. Darrell Issa for his thuggish behavior. If you haven’t heard about it already, Dana Milbank provides detailed account of what happened yesterday at the House Oversight and Government Reform panel at which Issa made goons seem genteel.

Joan Walsh provides some information I did not know:

Issa had once again called former IRS supervisor Lois Lerner to testify before the committee, knowing she was going to again use her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But what Issa didn’t reveal is that Lerner’s attorney had offered last month to share her answers to the committee’s questions via what’s called a “proffer.” That’s when the subject of an investigation reveals the rough outlines of what they know, which can also help determine whether they deserve immunity from prosecution (in order to get them to share more). But Issa rejected the proffer and staged a show trial designed to have Lerner take the Fifth again, in front of television cameras and a packed hearing room.

The Republicans ought to be embarrassed, but of course, they aren’t.

Share
8 Comments

The Extortionists

-->
Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The House Republicans still think they will win and the Senate and White House will cave on delaying the ACA for a year.

House Republicans may appear to observers to be pushing the government toward a shutdown, but that’s not even remotely how they see it.

The GOP rank-and-file still believe that the Senate might accept and the White House might sign a one-year delay of Obamacare in exchange for two months of sequester-level spending to briefly stave off a government shutdown.

“How dare you?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said when reporters asked how the House would respond when the Senate rejected its offer. He grew angrier as he continued to question how one could assume the bill was dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I have never foreseen a government shutdown and I continue not to see a government shutdown,” said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), who was a senior Hill staffer before being elected to Congress in 2010. “The Senate has plenty of time to deal with this. This is good, common middle ground that is in this package. I think we’re gonna get a big bipartisan vote in the House. I think we’re gonna get a big vote in the Senate too.”

A right-wing news outlet reports that House Rules committee attendees actually laughed when someone said the President would veto their bill. They seem supremely confident that either they will win, or if they don’t win nothing bad will happen, or if it does happen people will blame President Obama.

What galls me is that the baggers and the media still talk about the impasse as a “negotiation.” A negotiation happens when two sides agree to give up something they want to get something else they want more. The Republicans are not offering to give up anything they want. If they had offered to raise taxes on the rich or increase the budget for entitlement programs, that would be a negotiation. But they’re saying, in effect, buy our plan or we’ll shoot the dog. That’s not negotiation; that’s extortion.

As I understand it, there are enough votes in the House to pass a clean cr if Boehner would put it up for a vote. But the baggers apparently have Boehner’s boy parts in an industrial compactor.

A government shutdown would be bad, but not nearly as catastrophic as a failure to raise the debt ceiling, which is going to have to be done within the next couple of weeks. Ezra Klein argues that it’s a good thing the baggers are throwing their temper tantrum over the cr, and when they lose it will make it less likely they’ll pull the same stunt over the debt ceiling. I think that’s wishful thinking, though.

Bill Keller has an interesting thought:

The Republicans are finally having their ’60s. Half a century after the American left experienced its days of rage, its repudiation of the political establishment, conservatives are having their own political catharsis. Ted Cruz is their spotlight-seeking Abbie Hoffman. (The Texas senator’s faux filibuster last week reminded me of Hoffman’s vow to “levitate” the Pentagon using psychic energy.) The Tea Party is their manifesto-brandishing Students for a Democratic Society. Threatening to blow up America’s credit rating is their version of civil disobedience. And Obamacare is their Vietnam.

To those of us who lived through the actual ’60s, the conservative sequel may seem more like an adolescent tantrum than a revolution. For obvious starters, their mobilizing cause is not putting an end to an indecent war that cost three million lives, but defunding a law that promises to save lives by expanding access to insurance. Printing up unofficial “Obamacare Cards” and urging people to burn them is a silly parody of the protest that raged 50 years ago. But bear with me.

There are significant differences, of course. For example, the 1960s New Left stayed out of party politics and never became a force within the Democratic Party. But I think the differences are in keeping with the temperaments and psyches of righties and lefties. Lefties want equality and justice; righties want power.

See also Paul Krugman, “Rebels Without a Clue.”

Share
15 Comments

House GOP: Terrorists or Traitors?

-->
Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Yeah, the title is a tad inflammatory, but I’m with James Fallows on this:

This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.** Outsiders to this struggle — the president and his administration, Democratic legislators as a group, voters or “opinion leaders” outside the generally safe districts that elected the new House majority — have essentially no leverage over the outcome. I can’t recall any situation like this in my own experience, and the only even-approximate historic parallel (with obvious differences) is the inability of Northern/free-state opinion to affect the debate within the slave-state South from the 1840s onward. Nor is there a conceivable “compromise” the Democrats could offer that would placate the other side.

Here is the footnote, btw:

** The debt-ceiling vote, of course, is not about future spending decisions. It is about whether to cover expenditures the Congress has already authorized. There is no sane reason for subjecting this to a repeated vote. And there is no precedent for serious threats not to honor federal debt — as opposed to symbolic anti-Administration protest votes, which both parties have cast over the years. Nor for demanding the reversal of major legislation as a condition for routine government operations.

First, I agree with Fallows and David Kurtz that this crisis is not a standoff between President Obama and the Republican Party. It’s between extremists in the GOP versus the “not enough Thorazine on the planet to deal with these whackjobs” wing of the GOP. And Abraham Lincoln couldn’t reason or negotiate with the whackjobs of his day, either.

Second, the time for polite and tempered rhetoric on anyone’s part is over. Steve Benen called out Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer for saying “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” No, Republicans are not al Qaeda. But it’s becoming a difference in degree, not in kind.

I don’t expect anyone in Congress to strap a real bomb to his chest. They and their followers are not so much motivated by a cause, or a faith, but by a fundamental belief that they are the real Chosen People, the real Americans, dammit, and they deserve to rule. Self-sacrifice isn’t their thing, I don’t believe. But if the current fiasco ends in their humiliation, expect the more-unglued among them to step up with “second-amendment solutions.” They’re more than flirted with the idea already —

Steve Benen again,

In 2010, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he could “empathize” with a madman who flew an airplane into a building on American soil. In 2009, shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said if congressional Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to influence policy debates, the GOP would have to emulate the “insurgency” tactics of “the Taliban.” Sessions added, “[W]e need to understand that insurgency may be required,” and that if Democrats resist, Republicans “will then become an insurgency.” The Taliban, Sessions went on to say, offers the GOP a tactical “model.”

If a White House aide compares Republicans to suicide bombers, it’s outrageous, but if a Texas Republican congressman compares his own party to the Taliban, it’s fine?

Yes, because freedom.

But if you’re familiar with antebellum history, you must recognize the strong parallels between the old southern fire-eaters and today’s wingnuts. So the traitor label works, too. And it serves no purpose for people in the national spotlight to be expected to mince words and extend the usual courtesies to them.

Greg Sargent:

Do Dems have to give Republicans something in exchange for not allowing economic havoc to break out, and if so, why isn’t that threatening extensive harm to the country, and to all of us, in order to get your way? Or are Republicans of course going to raise the debt limit in the end, because of course they know it’s the right thing to do, and if so, why do Dems have to give them anything in exchange for it? …

… This gets to the core truth about this debate: As long as it’s an open question whether Republicans are prepared to allow default, the claim that Republicans are threatening to do extensive harm to the country in order to extort concessions from Dems that a radical faction of their party is demanding is 100 percent right.

So the suicide bomber metaphor is off. It would be more correct to compare them to hostage takers holding a gun to America’s head while they demand tax cuts for the rich and building the Keystone pipeline.

Share
24 Comments

Like We Didn’t See This Coming

-->
Congress

Harry Reid says Senate Republicans have enough votes to filibuster the Chuck Hagel nomination. Way to go Harry.

Share
13 Comments

The Secret Buddhist Plot to Take Over America Continues

-->
Congress, elections

A big shout-out to Mazie Hirono, the new senator-elect (and a Democrat) from Hawaii. Although I don’t know if she practices now, she was raised Jodo Shinshu, and has said she takes a lot of her values from Buddhism.

Share
21 Comments

Darrell Issa and the House Witch-hunt Committee

-->
Congress, Middle East, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Rep. Darrell Issa dealt another blow to American security yesterday by compromising the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government. Josh Rogin reports at Foreign Affairs that Issa, as Chair of the House Oversight Committee, released a “document dump” of State Department communications without consideration of the people named in the “dump.”

Issa posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee’s website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration’s statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. …

… But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.

Way to go, genius.

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.

Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project. …

… One cable names a local militia commander dishing dirt on the inner workings of the Libyan Interior Ministry. Another cable names a militia commander who claims to control a senior official of the Libyan armed forces. Other cables contain details of conversations between third-party governments, such as the British and the Danes, and their private interactions with the U.S., the U.N., and the Libyan governments over security issues.

Issa is turning into a one-man threat to national security. He’s so focused on trying to find dirt on the Obama Administration regarding national security that he is totally oblivious to, you know, actual national security issues. But you know GOP priorities — they’ll destroy Obama if they have to burn down the whole United States to do it.

A spokesman for the House Witch-hunt Committee said that the Obama Administration hadn’t protected sensitive documents within the Benghazi consulate when it was attacked, so nyah nyah nyah, they leaked first. The State Department says that Issa didn’t consult with them about releasing the documents and apparently gave no consideration to the consequences of the release.

Share
24 Comments

Warren Up by 9 in Massachusetts!

-->
Congress, elections

Read, and rejoice.

Share
14 Comments

Senate Dems Grow a Pair

-->
Congress, Taxes

I need to interrupt our gleeful snarking about Mitt Romney and his money and point to something significant that has happened in the Senate:

Until last week Senate Democrats seemed to lack a majority of votes to extend the middle class tax cuts alone. That allowed Republicans to portray the battle as between President Obama and Congress. But that changed when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) challenged Republicans to permit separate up-or-down votes on middle-income and high-end tax cuts, signaling he’s rounded up the votes to win. Republicans denied the offer.

Democrats hardened their position this week as party’s fourth-ranking Sen. Patty Murray (WA) vowed that Democrats won’t permit the lower rates for the rich to continue beyond their Dec. 31 expiration date, even if Republicans repeat their 2010 strategy and block tax cuts for the middle class if the wealthy don’t also get a full break.

Democrats scoffed at the Republican attacks Tuesday and pressed their advantage.

In other words, they are calling Mitch McConnell’s bluff. They will allow ALL Bush tax cuts to expire rather than extend the tax cuts for the wealthy.

Senate Republicans are frantically claiming the Dems are playing Russian Roulette with the economy, or saying they are holding the economy hostage. Of course, Dems say the same thing about Republicans.

Polling on what the public thinks is all over the map, btw. A recent McClatchy-Marist poll says that 52 percent of Americans want all tax cuts extended, while a recent Pew poll said they favor ending tax cuts for the wealthy by 2 to 1. I suspect the way the question is framed makes a big difference.

Share
3 Comments
« Older Posts


    About this blog



    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me


















    Support This Site







    eXTReMe Tracker













      Technorati Profile