Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Public CAN Defeat Republican Overreach— And Slapped Them Down With A Mighty Hand Today


Republican radicals, puffed up with a perception of absolute power, decided to stick a thumb in the eye of the public and pass an amendment by right-wing extremist Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, strongly rumored to be a worried pedophile) gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics. In a Republican caucus meeting Goodlatte’s outrageous amendment passed 119-74, despite warnings from Paul Ryan that it would backfire in their faces and make them look… well, like exactly how they are, the most most corrupt gang of crooks on the planet. DWT was one of dozens of blogs and news sources that rang the alarm bell Monday night.

Goodlatte had hoped to sneak the rules change through when no one was looking. The GOP passed it internally in the dead of night. But the public backlash was enormous. Even Trump, who was initially enthusiastic about destroying the ethics office, according to his spokesman, felt compelled to tweet this afternoon that the timing was bad. With 74 Republicans opposed, Goodlatte would have needed the Blue Dogs and New Dems to vote with the GOP majority. Pelosi went to work denying them Democratic support and the GOP, realizing they just didn’t have to votes from the the Republican wing of the Democratic Party— let alone the public support— pulled the amendment. His own internal GOP support started crumbling as Zephyr Teachout’s public whip count showed tremendous reluctance from Republicans who had voted for the amendment in their secret caucus to admit publicly they backed it. Most Republicans said their either opposed their own amendment they had supported the night before or said they were unsure or refused too answer. The only congress members still on board when McCarthy finally had the amendment killed were hard core extremists Pete Olson (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chris Collins (R-NY), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Martha Roby (R-AL), Harold Rogers (R-KY), Mia Love (R-UT) and, of course, Goodlatte himself. They were joined by a few with extreme vulnerabilities when it comes to corruption, like Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) but not even the most corrupt Democrats who wanted to see the amendment passed were willing to commit to voting for it, not even serial bribe takers like New Dems honchos, Jim Himes (CT) and Joe Crowley (NY).

Republicans say they were undone by the media exposing their plans to the public. Congressional switchboards were flooded with calls which were running 99-1 in opposition. One crooked extremist, Dave Brat (R-VA), a crony of Goodlatte’s, admitted why he changed his vote. "Part of it is the headlines were we were backing off on ethics. So that’s not a good headline when it comes to messaging.”

Lisa Gilbert, director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, issued a statement celebrating that “Public outrage over House Republican’s appalling, secretive midnight actions to embolden corruption and congressional profiteering in the coming congress has forced the House GOP to reverse course. The OCE has proven invaluable to congress and the public by opening up the ethics process. Not only should it stay as is, it should be given more statutory authority and subpoena power. The Office of Congressional Ethics was created to bring accountability to a broken House ethics system. Before the creation of the office, the House Ethics Committee was a black box of inaction. The office has brought transparency and action to a moribund process and received nothing but praise from those watching the congressional ethics system. It’s great that public pressure forced this reversal, but the readiness of the House Caucus to pursue this action is a profoundly troubling signal of what we should expect in the years to come.”

Ted Lieu (D-CA), who has been fighting for stronger ethics rules and more transparency issued a statement after public pressure forced the Republicans to back down.
While House Republicans have backed down from their disgraceful plan to gut the independent House Ethics Committee, all Americans should steel themselves for this kind of failed leadership from Speaker Ryan and company in 2017.

Swift and righteous public outcry may have forced House Republicans to back down on their mission to govern with almost no ethics oversight, but Speaker Ryan is still hell bent on repealing the ACA (thereby throwing 20 million plus Americans into health care crisis), gutting Wall Street regulations and shredding the Social Security / Medicare guarantee for our nation’s seniors.

Today, Democrats and the American people joined together to thwart the House GOP’s first disgraceful scheme in the first few hours of 2017.  Going forward, my fellow Democrats and I will fight House Republican special-interest-inspired attempts to move America backward.  My fellow Democrats and I will match failing Republican leadership with innovative ideas to grow our economy, expand health security and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for every American family.

And Jerry Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee— Goodlatte’s counterpart, slammed the GOP on the House floor:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H. Res. 5, the Republican rules package. As Republicans prepare to control all levers of government, their first course of action was to shield Members of Congress from independent ethics oversight, and to block free speech on the House floor. This is an assault on democracy, and a dangerous way to begin a new Congress.

Fortunately, after a groundswell of opposition, they have withdrawn their outrageous proposal to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, which would have removed its independence and severely limited its power.  Our democracy rests on the consent of the governed. It can only truly function if the American people make their voices heard and hold their elected representatives responsible when they act in a manner that is contrary to their beliefs. It is a testament to the grassroots in this country that the Republicans were forced to reverse course. I hope the American people will continue to demand open and honest government as we face the many challenges ahead.

Unfortunately, this resolution still includes an equally troubling provision – a gag rule that imposes steep fines on any Member who records proceedings on the House floor, and prohibits certain conduct deemed to be “disorderly and disruptive.” This is obviously in response to last year's Democratic sit-in protesting the Republican refusal to allow debate on legislation to protect Americans from the epidemic of gun violence. After the Republican Leadership shut off C-SPAN cameras, resourceful Democratic Members used social media to broadcast the protest so that the public could hear its elected representatives demand that the House, at long last, consider reasonable gun safety legislation.

The lesson Republicans drew from this protest, however, was not that Americans should be protected from the scourge of gun violence.  It was that Members who stand up and say "Enough is enough" should be punished for taking extraordinary measures to make sure their voices are heard. That is an outrage!

This is the People’s House. It is supposed to foster free speech and free expression, as protected by the First Amendment and the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. This provision would have a chilling effect on speech, and would punish Members who ensure that the public has access to floor proceedings.

The initial draft of this resolution would have done all this without any due process whatsoever. Although it has now been amended to include some limited right of appeal to the Ethics Committee, this provision is still constitutionally dubious, at best.

I find it ironic that, in the same week that we read the Constitution on the House floor, we are taking up a resolution that is so at odds with some of the Constitution’s most cherished principles. As we prepare to inaugurate a President who will be violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause from the day he is sworn in, I would hope that this House would be more faithful to our founding values.

I urge a no vote on this resolution.

The public and the media are going to have to remain vigilant and united during the age of Trump, especially while the Republicans maintain control of both Houses of Congress— something we should work diligently to correct in 2018. Looking at Republican statements now, it appears almost no one voted for Goodlatte's amendment instead of 119 of them. What cowardly, deceitful sneaks they are!

Labels: , , , ,


At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

I have read that Trump was against it but this is not accurate. He simply tweeted that there was other business to look at first, e.g., Obamacare, etc., and, therefore, no implication that he actually disagreed with it So some of the press made him look far better in this regard than he deserves. So let's not give him the slightest credit for any ethical stance, please.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely this tweet from Trump does not imply one bit that he disagrees with the proposed anti-ethics bill. Is he implying that the Independent Watchdog is unfair or that weakening it is unfair? I suspect the former!

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday.

“Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Headlines in today's Washington Post:

Post Politics

Democrats, seeking credit for House ethics reversal, watch it go to Trump

Another example of bullshit misleading headlines. He deserves NONE of the credit, of course. None of Trump's tweets indicates he is actually against the Republicans' absurd plan to gut the independent ethics office, just the timing of it.


Post a Comment

<< Home