Posts tagged with "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell"

N.Y. Governor Cuomo excoriates Congress for politicizing federal funding to hard-hit states

May 29, 2020

After a visit to the White House to discuss New York State-based infrastructure projects that could provide a “bailout with a legacy”—among them, plans for extending the 2nd Avenue Subway in the Big Apple and constructing two new tunnels across the Hudson River to carry Amtrak trains that service the northeast—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sat down for a briefing at the National Press Club on May 27, delivering a fiery defense of federal funding to states that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

He excoriated Congressional Republicans for politicizing aid to the states by giving preference to red states over blue. And in doing so, Cuomo specifically directed his message at critics such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida), The Washington Post reported.

 “Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey,” Cuomo said to lawmakers in Congress, adding, “Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the COVID virus through no fault of their own.”

This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country,” said the governor, according to a transcript posted by Yahoo. “We have people saying, ‘Well, we don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue-state bailout.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , Republican of Kentucky, said Cuomo, is interested in “Stopping blue state bailouts.”

Senator Rick Scott of Florida (R) has said, according to Cuomo, “We’re supposed to bail them out? That’s not right.”

“This is really an ugly, ugly sentiment,” maintained the New York Governor. “It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States. Those words meant something.”

Cuomo said he isn’t asking the federal government to do his state’s job.

“I understand that states are responsible for the reopening … but, at the same time, the federal government has a role to play and it has to play a part. There cannot be a national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded. That is a fact.”

Washington is now debating a new recovery bill, he said.

“Previous bills have helped large business, small businesses, all kinds of businesses. Hotels. Airlines. That’s great,” maintained Cuomo. But state and local governments fund schools and hospitals, police, fire.

“The COVID states — the states that bore the brunt — they’re one-third of the GDP,” noted the governor. “How can you tell one-third of the country to go to heck and think that you’re going to see an economic rebound?”

“Also, state economies, that’s what the national economy is made of,” he said. “There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town.”

Scott fired back in a statement, declaring that Congress will not “use a health crisis and taxpayer money to bail out poorly-run states like Governor Cuomo’s New York.”

McConnell’s office pointed to remarks the Senate majority leader made Tuesday, when he said that “there may be some additional assistance” for states in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation “if it’s directly related to COVID-19.”

Cuomo also pushed back on the notion that the coronavirus came to the United States from China, an argument that Trump and GOP lawmakers have increasingly made as the pandemic has swept across the country.

“It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe, and we bore the brunt of it. And now you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake?” he asked.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Pelosi gives Trump an ‘F’ on coronavirus: ‘Delay, denial, death’

April 23, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pummeled President Donald Trump on April 22 for what she called his lack of preparation and poor handling of COVID-19 testing nationwide, NBC News reported.

Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC’s  Morning Joe that “if you do not test, you cannot possibly know the size of the challenge,” which she said is why testing is the key to reopening the U.S. economy.

“For our seniors in nursing homes and the rest, as you say, there’s a big toll being taken there. But if we can test and contact and isolate people, we’re on a very much better path,” Pelosi said, adding, “There’s a Boy Scout saying, ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance.’ Well, that is exactly where the president gets an F.”

In a statement that will, no doubt, go viral, Pelosi outlined what she considered to be the bald truth: “He was not properly prepared, not with the truth, with the facts, or the admission of what was happening in our country — delay, whatever, delay, denial, death,” she declared. “And instead we’d like to see him insist on the truth and we must insist on the truth with him.”

The speaker said she wished that Trump wouldn’t be an “agent of distraction” and suggested that his latest decision to suspend immigration into the U.S. is merely a “distraction from his failure on testing.”

Scientists have debunked what some White House officials have said about needing only a certain level of testing, Pelosi said.

“We’re never going to get there at the snail pace that they are putting forth,” she said. “But you have seen scientists outside, academics and the rest setting a standard three times higher than what the White House is talking about. So we have put the resources there. We’re prepared to do more in terms of the testing in the next legislation.”

Trump said at Tuesday’s White House briefing that the U.S. “has tested more people than anybody anywhere in the world by far. By very far.” NBC News has repeatedly fact-checked this statement. While the U.S. has run the highest number of raw tests, it has not conducted the most per capita.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump threatens to adjourn Congress in order to unilaterally confirm his nominees

April 17, 2020

“I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be,” President Donald Trump told Fox News in November 2017. And he continues to think that his choices are the only ones of value.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the president threatened on April 15 to adjourn both chambers of Congress so he can appoint his nominees for key positions without confirmation by the Senate.

Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reports, during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, Trump called on lawmakers to formally adjourn the House and Senate so he can make recess appointments for positions he said were important to the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate, which confirms a president’s nominees, has been conducting what are called pro forma sessions while lawmakers are back in their states, sheltering in place.

No legislative business is conducted during these brief meetings, which sometimes last only a few minutes, but they technically prevent the president from making recess appointments.

If lawmakers don’t agree to adjourn and end the pro forma sessions, “I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” President Trump avowed. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It’s a scam, what they do.”

Among the appointments Trump said he wanted to make, the Journal reported, was his nominee to head the agency that oversees Voice of America, conservative filmmaker Michael Pack, who has been blocked by Democrats. The White House has accused the government-backed news organization of spreading foreign propaganda—a charge VOA strongly denies.

In addition to the VOA nominee, Trump pointed to his nominee to be the director of national intelligence, as well as nominees for positions on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, and in the Treasury Department and the Agriculture Department.

The Constitution gives the president the power to adjourn Congress only in the rare circumstances of a disagreement between the two chambers over when to adjourn. No president has ever exercised the authority to adjourn it.

President Barack Obama challenged the Senate’s practice of holding pro forma sessions to try to block his constitutional power to make recess appointments. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against  Obama’s end run around the Senate in 2014.

Trump said he was reluctant to make recess appointments but would do so if Congress doesn’t act on his nominees.

For Mr. Trump’s strategy to work he would need the cooperation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Kentucky), who would have to force a disagreement with the House over when to adjourn. Trump and McConnell discussed the idea in a phone call earlier Wednesday, the Journal reports.

The president acknowledged that the effort would likely result in a legal challenge. “We’ll see who wins,” he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Stretching a point: Photo of Mitch McConnell social distancing goes viral

April 14, 2020

Reporters stayed within shouting distance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—but remained the recommended six feet away or more from him and each other—as he left the Senate chamber on April 9, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The result was a photo seen around the world, and tweeted about endlessly, The Huffington Post reports.

A tweet from Doris Morgan Rueda said, “Spector of Mitch McConnell finally caught on camera, ghost hunting task force

Walter Shaub (perhaps the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, although we have not confirmed it) commented, “… at 1:40 PM at the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, ten people witnessed a free floating, full torso, vaporous apparition. It blew books off shelves from twenty feet away and scared the socks off some poor librarian!”

Rachel Dzanashville said, “I’d like to commission this as a baroque painting.”

Ian Millhister contributed, “DEAR GOD! Who is that idiot in the mask who broke the circle? Now The Mitch will escape and exact tenfold revenge on his captors

And, among many others, Melissa Murray captioned the photo, “Spector of Mitch McConnell finally caught on camera, ghost hunting task force reports.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Stimulus bill prohibits Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs

March 26, 2020

The $2 trillion stimulus bill that the White House and Senate leaders were expected to sign off on this Wednesday prohibits either Congressional lawmakers or President Donald Trump’s family business from benefiting from loans or investments through its corporate liquidity program, The Hill reports.

“We wrote a provision, not just the president, but any major figure in government, Cabinet, Senate, congressmen — if they have majority, they have majority control, they can’t get grants or loans and that makes sense,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a CNN interview. “Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law.”

Trump acknowledged on March 21 that the coronavirus pandemic is hurting his family business, The Hill said. Since the start of the U.S. outbreak, dozens of state and local governments have ordered nonessential businesses—such as hotels and resorts —to close.

“I wouldn’t say you’re thriving when you decide to close down your hotels and your businesses,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about reports that Trump Organization properties are being adversely affected by COVID-19.

“But is it hurting me? Yeah, it’s hurting me, and it’s hurting Hilton, and it’s hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world,” he added.

At a Saturday morning White House press briefing, Trump was asked if he would accept stimulus money from the stimulus package meant to counter some of the damage the pandemic has done to the economy.

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have. I have hotels. Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected, so it’s one of those things.”

However, before the 2016 election, Trump had promised that his children, Don Jr. and Eric, would run the Trump Organization and that he would keep his distance from the company. However, that has not happened.

The provision to ban lawmakers from benefiting from Treasury Department programs in the stimulus bill was among 19 items highlighted by Schumer in his letter to colleagues describing the contents of the bill.

“Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has secured a provision in the agreement that will prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs,” his office said in an email to reporters. “The children, spouses and in-laws of the aforementioned principals are also included in this prohibition.”

Research contact: @thehill

Democrats block Senate coronavirus bill, calling it a bailout for corporations and Trump’s family

March 24, 2020

Who will benefit from the bills that the U.S. Congress is churning out to deal with COVID-19? Will it be everyday Americans and the healthcare heroes who are struggling to stem the pandemic; or big business—including what Senator Elizabeth Warren has characterized as a “slush fund for Donald Trump and his family”—and Wall Street?

According to a report by The Huffington Post, Democrats are raising serious concerns about the Senate’s massive emergency legislation aimed at propping up the economy and giving relief to workers hit hard by the growing coronavirus pandemic—saying it’s tilted too far in favor of Wall Street and big corporations.

The bill—said to offer at least $1 trillion to prop up an economy paralyzed by the virus—would represent the largest government response thus far to the crisis.

On Wednesday, March 18, lawmakers passed and President Donald Trump signed into law Democratic legislation that makes coronavirus testing free, expands unemployment insurance benefits and provides paid leave to some displaced workers.

Now, the HuffPost says, Democrats have leverage over the final shape of the bill because it will require 60 votes for passage and Republicans number 53 in the 100-seat Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) attempted to advance the bill on Sunday evening, emphasizing the need to move quickly to help those who have been laid off during the crisis. He said both sides had ample time to reach a deal on outstanding issues before a final vote on Monday.

But Democrats unanimously blocked the measure over its provisions allowing the Trump administration to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to major industries like hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and oil and gas.

“We’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” a visibly frustrated McConnell said in a floor speech—followed by a press release—after the vote, accusing Democrats of partisan obstruction that threatened the economy.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), meanwhile, said his party opposed moving forward with the bill “because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and health care workers who need our help.”

Schumer said he was hopeful changes could be made in ongoing discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin but added that “we are not yet at that point.”

The high-stakes negotiations, which have been taking place all weekend, gained even more urgency on Sunday after Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He is the first member of the Senate to contract the virus. Four other Republican senators, some of whom were in close proximity to Paul on Capitol Hill earlier this week, also were self-isolating and did not vote Sunday.

“Wall Street’s going to do just fine. They’ve always rebounded real well … let’s take care of the people we’re asking to take care of us if we need them,” Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, said in a floor speech.

Democrats are also unhappy with the portion of the bill aimed at helping distressed industries with at least $450 billion in loans. The massive fund would be controlled by the Treasury Department and could include bailouts to hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and the oil and gas industry. It includes virtually no restrictions on how the money would be distributed, allowing properties owned directly by President Donald Trump to receive a bailout, for example, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations.

Another provision in the bill Democrats oppose would allow Mnuchin to delay publicly releasing the names of businesses that receive a bailout, as well as the amounts of those loans, for six months.

“We’re not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts.) told reporters. “We’re here to help workers, we’re here to help hospitals. And right now what the Republicans proposed does neither of those.” 

Research contact: @HuffPost

Murkowski folds under pressure, quashing testimony at Senate impeachment inquiry

February 3, 2020

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been brought to heel by Senate Republicans. She now has agreed to vote against a motion that would have enabled the impeachment managers to subpoena both new witnesses and documents blocked by the White House. And in doing so, she has given the GOP the 51 votes that party leaders need to shut the trial down, The Hill reports.

Murkowski said she had worked to produce a fair process modeled after the Clinton impeachment trial, but blamed the House for rushing “flawed” impeachment articles.

“I worked for a fair, honest and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more,” she said. “The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”

Murkowski also said the trial had not been fair and that Congress had failed as an institution.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” she commented in an official statement on her website. 

She added, “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.

“We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”

Murkowski had been the last undecided Republican senator, giving Democrats hope of a 50-50 tie on the crucial procedural question of subpoenaing witnesses (such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton.), The Hill noted.

Murkowski made it clear to colleagues that she wanted to hear from Bolton but also expressed concern about letting the trial turn into an extended partisan procedural battle, with the prospect of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) forcing vulnerable GOP incumbents to take a slew of tough votes.

Research contact: @TheHill

Carl Bernstein calls out Mitch McConnell with scathing new nickname—now trending on Twitter

January 22, 2020

Move over “Moscow Mitch” and “Grim Reaper.” There’s a new nickname inside the Beltway for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–conferred by none other than Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein—and it has sent social media users into overdrive, according to The Huffington Post.

The famed reporter called McConnell “Midnight Mitch” during a panel discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° on Monday, January 20, based on the tightly compressed schedule that the Majority Leader had set for the imminent Senate impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal.

Indeed, the HuffPost reports, McConnell has been so obsessed with keeping the facts of the scandal under wraps that he has insisted on just two days of 12-hour testimony on both sides—starting at 1 p.m. each afternoon, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is available to preside.

That would run the trial into the early hours of the morning on four consecutive days. Hence, the moniker, “Midnight Mitch.”

Said Bernstein “[This is],,,the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, in which Republicans became great heroes and patriots. Now, we’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That’s what this is about. It’s about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public.

Bernstein noted how in the impeachments of former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton there had been “no problem about knowing the truth of the facts.”

But in the impeachment trial of Trump, he said, “we still have a factual problem here because the president and those who work for him and Mitch McConnell have impeded the facts from the beginning.”

Harvard Law School professor and legal scholar Laurence Tribe agreed with Bernstein, chiming in on Twitter, “These aren’t rules for a real trial at all, much less a fair one. They’re rules for a rigged outcome, with #MidnightMitch making sure that as much of the so-called trial as possible takes place in the dark of night.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Republicans abandon outright dismissal of impeachment charges

January 15, 2020

Despite President Donald Trump’s best efforts to attain an immediate dismissal of both articles of impeachment, the stage has been set in the U.S. Capitol for a tribunal—and the leading players for the House and the Senate will be chosen this week.

Indeed, according to a report by The New York Times , rank-and-file senators and party leaders made clear on Monday, January 13, that even if they wanted to pursue dismissal of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the votes simply were not there to succeed—at least not at the outset of the trial.

Senate Republicans indicated that they would not seek to summarily dismiss the impeachment charges against President Trump, proceeding instead to a trial with arguments and the possibility of calling witnesses that could begin as soon as Wednesday, the Times said.

Dismissal was always a long shot given Republicans’ narrow control of the Senate, but it was the subject of renewed discussion after Trump said on Sunday that he liked the idea put forward by some conservatives as a way to deny the House’s case the legitimacy of a trial.

 “Our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a top Republican leader, told the Times. “They think both sides need to be heard. They believe the president needs to be heard for the first time in a fair setting.”

In the House on Monday, Democrats leaving meetings with Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the chamber was most likely to vote on Wednesday to name lawmakers to prosecute the case and to send its two impeachment charges to the Senate.

Behind the scenes, aides in the House and Senate were carefully choreographing the next steps, and some Democrats in the House cautioned that a vote could still slip to Thursday, as the Senate seeks to deal with a pending War Powers Resolution and President Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

In any case, a trial would not be expected to start in earnest, with opening oral arguments, until next week.

As the trial has approached, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has seemed increasingly keen to keep it as tightly controlled and speedy as possible. According to the Times, “He is wary of what could happen if Democrats succeed in picking off moderate Republican senators to form a majority able to call witnesses and prolong the proceeding.”

But he also wants to ensure that those same moderate senators—several of whom are up this fall for re-election in swing states—can credibly claim to voters that they took their constitutional duties seriously.

However, on Twitter, the president warned that holding a full trial “gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Pelosi puts impeachment trial on hold until McConnell reveals his plans

December 23, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken steps to prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from riding roughshod over the Democrats’ requests for a fair impeachment trial—complete with witnesses close to the president, Politico reports.

She refused to commit last Wednesday—the day on which impeachment passed the House—to deliver the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, citing concerns about an rigged, partisan process that would protect President Donald Trump from being embarrassed; let alone, ousted from office.

Indeed, according to Politico, senior Democratic aides said the House was “very unlikely” to take the steps necessary to send the articles to the Senate until at least early January, a delay of at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

Pelosi told reporters at a news conference that, until she was informed by McConnell of the plans for the trial, the House would not name impeachment managers and the articles would not be handed over.  “That would’ve been our intention, but we’ll see what happens over there.”

Although the House adopted two articles of impeachment– charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of congressional investigations— it must pass a second resolution formally naming impeachment managers to present the case in the Senate. That second vehicle triggers the official transmission of articles to the Senate.

By delaying passage of that resolution, Pelosi and top Democrats retain control of the articles and hope to put pressure on McConnell to adopt trial procedures they consider to be bipartisan, Politico said.

McConnell has boasted that he has closely coordinated the planning of the trial with the White House and has repeatedly predicted Trump would be acquitted. He’s also suggested Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to call new witnesses as they attempt to present their case.

“I’m not an impartial juror,” he said flatly. “This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.”

In response to those words, several members of Congress have said that McConnell should recuse himself from the impeachment process–advice he is unlikely to follow.

The White House lashed out at the move. “House Democrats have run a fatally flawed process with fake facts, and now they want to deny the President his day in court with another procedural maneuver that proves anew they have no case,” said Eric Ueland, Trump’s top congressional liaison to Congress.

Research contact: @politico