Posts tagged with "House Speaker Paul ryan"

Senate axes Trump policy that allowed political nonprofits to hide names of donors

December 14, 2018

In a rare rebuff to the White House, the U.S. Senate passed legislation on December 12 to reverse a Trump administration policy that limits donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits, Politico reported.

In a 50-49 vote, the Senate approved a Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to repeal a controversial new rule—Returns by Exempt Organizations and Returns by Certain Non-Exempt Organizationswhich they said allowed “dark money groups to hide the identities of their donors.”

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)—who is not known for facing off with her Republican colleagues in final votes—joined every Democrat in support of the measure, which required only a simple majority to pass under the Congressional Review Act.

“These dark money forces are a threat to our democracy and they must be reined in,”Tester commented, adding, “Today’s action sheds more light on the wealthy few who are trying to buy our elections and drown out the voices of regular folks. We must wrestle our country back and continue to bring transparency and accountability back to political campaigns.”

Tester had been optimistic earlier this week about the resolution’s prospects.“I think it’s gonna be close but I think we’ve got the votes,” he said on December 11, according to Politico.

“Today the Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to throw out Trump’s dark money rule and bring transparency back to our elections,” Wyden saidThis is a huge first step in America’s fight against anonymous political insiders looking to tighten their grip on Washington. I urge [House Speaker] Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to act swiftly on this issue of great importance and lead the House in reversing course on the Trump administration’s reckless decision.”

Predictably enough, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was opposed to the vote, remarking that the resolution was an “attempt by some of our Democratic colleagues to undo a pro-privacy reform. … In a climate that is increasingly hostile to certain kinds of political expression and open debate, the last thing Washington needs to do is to chill the exercise of free speech and add to the sense of intimidation.”

The measure is unlikely to be taken up by the GOP-controlled House—and it was opposed by conservative groups, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Politico reported.

“We are committed to enhancing government transparency, protecting the privacy of American citizens, and the freedom of association enshrined in the Constitution,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s chief government affairs officer said in a statement “S.J. Res. 64 fails on all of these fronts.”

Research contact: @marianne_levine

Paul Ryan: “No question that Russia interfered”

July 18, 2018

Despite his continued assertions that there is “no evidence of collusion with Russia” and his support of California Representative Devin Nunes’ “undercover investigation” of the Russia probe, House Speaker Paul Ryan has issued a statement slamming President Donald Trump’s refusal to admit that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, Vox reports.

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community, but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

Ryan’s comments came in response to the press conference that marked the end of a two-hour private meeting in Helsinki, Finland, between President Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

At that meeting with the media, President Trump flatly answered a question from the Associated Press on the Kremlin’s role in the 2016 presidential election, “I have asked President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

The POTUS noted that U.S. intelligence leaders—including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats—“came to me … and said they think it’s Russia.”

While he said he had “great confidence” in U.S. intelligence, President Trump implied that he trusted Putin more. “…I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Ryan’s rebuke to those comments came as a surprise. Throughout a week that included an ornery meeting with NATO and an interview with The Sun that criticized Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, the House Speaker had repeatedly said that the president should not be bashed while he was overseas.

But it seems Trump’s shocking performance in Helsinki was beyond the pale—even for Ryan, Vox reported.

Research contact: karoun.demirjian@washpost.com

Trump whacks Germany’s Merkel and U.S. Democrats, while defending his own immigration stance

June 19, 2018

Fully 56% of the 1,000 U.S. adults polled by Ipsos on behalf of The Daily Beast this week say that it is not “appropriate” to separate children from their parents at the border—and yet President Donald Trump continues to blame his administration’s zero-tolerance policy incorrectly on the Democrats and to assert that Germany’s more open immigration program has led to a rise in crime.

On June 18, the POTUS tweeted, “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up.”

Several minutes later, Trump added, “Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture! We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”

However, according to a report by USA Today, in May, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior actually rebutted the claims that Trump currently is making—noting that the total number of crimes committed in the country in 2017 had fallen 5.1% from the previous year.

Case closed? Far from it: Just weeks later, Interior Minister Horst Seehoffer has turned on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, threatening her leadership.

Although he refuted the crime statistics, Seehoffer has created a so-called “migration masterplan” in the interim, according to the UK news outlet, The Daily Mail. Under his proposal, the German border police would be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union.

Merkel rejects the idea, believing that it would be perceived by the rest of her allies in the European Union as a “Germany First” decision—and that it would further burden such front-line Mediterranean countries as Italy and Greece.

On the other side of the pond, U.S. immigration rights advocates—most of them, Democrats—support Merkel and are fighting Trump’s hard-line “America First” stance.

With more than 2,000 children already torn from their parents’ arms, a contingent of Democratic legislators insisted on inspecting a facility in McAllen, Texas, where the youngsters were being held this week.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), who was part of that group, released a tweet on June 17: “Just left Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen—aka ‘the dog kennel.’ Witnessed loads of kids massed together in large pens of chain-linked fence …. @realDonald Trump, change you shameful policy today! #FamiliesBelongTogether

And even a few Republicans are pushing back. Representative Susan Collins (R-Maine) commented during an appearance on CBS-TV’s Face the Nation on Sunday that, “What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that, if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you. That’s traumatizing to the children, who are innocent victims and it is contrary to our values in this country.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, also on Sunday, in which she said, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And It breaks my heart.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan—who rarely says a word against the administration’s policies—admitted, “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” when asked by a pool of reporters, but blamed the situation on “a court ruling,” according to Time magazine.

Will the Trump administration budge? Not if you listen to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has shown little pity for the plight of the children. He spoke in support of the zero-tolerance policy earlier this month: “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”

Research contact: gideon.resnick@thedailybeast

Trump administration to dismantle Affordable Care Act after midterms

June 11, 2018

One of the great advantages of Obamacare was that it enabled Americans with “pre-existing medical conditions”—from diabetes, to heart failure to cancer—to get coverage from insurance providers. Now, Politico reports, the Trump administration “is urging a federal court to dismantle” this provision—but to wait until after the midterm elections this year.

What’s more, the administration would like to see the very basis of the Affordable Care Act—the mandate for every U.S. citizen to get coverage—taken out of the bill as soon as December.

Both moves come in response to a lawsuit from conservative states seeking to entirely invalidate the act. Indeed, On June 7, the Justice Department told a judge in Texas who will rule on the case that Congress’ decision to repeal the penalty for failing to buy health insurance renders unconstitutional other Obamacare language banning insurers from charging people more or denying them coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

According to the Politico story, the Texas-led lawsuit— filed last February—claims that the recent elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty means that the whole healthcare law should now be ruled invalid. The mandate penalty was wiped out, effective as of 2019, as part of the GOP tax law passed late last year.

The administration’s evening filing says it agrees with states bringing the suit that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, as are two of the law’s major insurance provisions meant to protect people with expensive medical conditions. With the filing, the Trump administration is asking the courts to wipe out protections that many congressional Republicans were wary of eliminating in their failed efforts to repeal Obamacare.

And they are right to worry: Findings of a Monmouth University poll, released in March, show that 51% of Americans  would prefer to keep the Affordable Care Act and work to improve it, with another 7% saying that they want to keep the ACA entirely intact. Just four out of ten U.S. voters wants to see the act repealed, either with a replacement put in place (31%) or without one (8%).

The poll established that a majority support Obamacare, regardless of whether they get their coverage through an employer (57%), through a privately purchased plan (55%) or through publicly funded coverage (63%).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, acknowledged that the executive branch typically defends existing federal law, but he said this was a “rare case where the proper course” is to forgo defense of the individual mandate.

The administration’s decision means that a group of 15 Democratic states led by California will be largely responsible for defending  Obamacare against its latest legal threat, Politico said.

Research contact: pdmurray@monmouth.edu