Outside the Beltway, the right is livid with new Speaker Paul Ryan’s trillion-dollar spending deal with Democrats.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter says Ryan, just seven weeks on the job, is ripe for a primary challenge. “Paul Ryan Betrays America,” blared a headline on the conservative site Breibart.com. And Twitter is littered with references to the Wisconsin Republican’s new “Muslim beard.”
Did anyone think that Paul Ryan had a chance of herding the Republican cats in the House? If so, I’d say you should go back to huffing exhaust fumes.
But in a nod to the critics, Ryan has also emphasized that he “inherited” the flawed omnibus from his predecessor, ousted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and that the cake was “already baked” by the time he was handed the reins in late October.
Those arguments have done little to sway some of Ryan’s critics, particularly on conservative talk radio.
Laura Ingraham denounced the spending package as an “omni-bust” and said Ryan should be “regarded as a declared enemy of the Base.” Mark Levin said Ryan is “already a disaster” and criticized the funding package for increasing the number of visas for foreign workers.
Criticism has also come from Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who declared that the GOP sold the country “down the river.”
There is no chance in hell that the Republicans in the House are going to be able to work together and accomplish anything remotely resembling sane government. The remnants of the Tea Bagger……. err, I mean Tea Party brigade are as yet uncowed, and still of sufficient numbers to stonewall any attempts at serious compromise; especially when egged on by the hard right conservative pundits. That Ryan didn’t dismantle the bi-partisan coalition allowing for the passage of the budget at least shows he wants to be productive. But he doesn’t have the numbers, any more than John Boehner did, to be strictly partisan in running the House of Representatives.
In the end it all comes down to whether the hard-line conservatives want to have total, uncompromising power, or whether they want to be leaders. They can’t have it both ways.
Many in the American scientific community criticized the bill, which passed 217 votes to 205 and sets funding guidelines for the National Science Foundation for fiscal year 2016 beginning October 1.
The America Competes Reauthorization Act still has to be reconciled with a Senate version, and the White House has threatened a veto if the measure passes as is.
Democrats fumed that the bill automatically slashes social, behavioral and economic sciences by 55 percent compared to 2015, while geosciences including climate research shrinks eight percent to $1.2 billion.
Research budgets for green energy programs would be hit too.
Conversely, Republican prioritize funding for biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences.
“Counter to the doomsday predictions of climate alarmists, increasing observations suggest a much reduced and practically harmless climate response to increased amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” he remarked. “Also missing from the climate alarmists’ doomsday scenarios and well-scripted talking points are the benefits from increased carbon that has led to a greening of the planet and contributed to increased agricultural productivity.”
Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, wondered why people didn’t understand that carbon pollution was good for the Earth.
“People do not realize that you cannot grow things without CO2,” he said. “CO2 is a fertilizer. It is something you cannot do without. No one ever talks about the benefits that people are inducing that as a fertilizer on a daily basis.”
Reid, who represents Nevada, told the newspaper that his decision to retire from the Senate was not due to a recent accident or his party’s loss of control of the chamber in the November congressional elections.
“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” Reid, 75, told the Times.
But the real reason Reid is retiring may have nothing to do with any of these excuses and everything to do with his concerns that a possible Republican Presidential victory in 2016 would lead to the appointment of a Republican Attorney General in January 2017.
A Republican Attorney General would be almost certain to initiate a criminal investigation into Reid’s abuse of his political power in a brazen intervention in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) issuance of EB-5 visas to investors in a Las Vegas casino and hotel that was represented by his son, Rory Reid, as was highlighted in a report released by the Inspector General of DHS last week.
“I think Harry Reid’s getting out of town ahead of the posse,” former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova tells Breitbart News.
Houston Chronicle, By Theodore Schleifer, March 21
Senator will be first declared GOP candidate
Washington — Sen. Ted Cruz plans to announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States, accelerating his already rapid three-year rise from a tea party insurgent in Texas into a divisive political force in Washington.
Cruz will launch a presidential bid outright rather than form an exploratory committee, said senior advisers with direct knowledge of his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made yet. They say he is done exploring and is now ready to become the first Republican presidential candidate.
The senator is scheduled to speak Monday at a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, where he is expected to declare his campaign for the presidency. Continue reading →
Washington — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has begun an aggressive campaign to block President Obama’s climate change agenda in statehouses and courtrooms across the country, arenas far beyond Mr. McConnell’s official reach and authority.
The campaign of Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is aimed at stopping a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring states to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Once enacted, the rules could shutter hundreds of coal-fired plants in what Mr. Obama has promoted as a transformation of the nation’s energy economy away from fossil fuels and toward sources like wind and solar power. Mr. McConnell, whose home state is one of the nation’s largest coal producers, has vowed to fight the rules.
Since Mr. McConnell is limited in how he can use his role in the Senate to block regulations, he has taken the unusual step of reaching out to governors with a legal blueprint for them to follow to stop the rules in their states. Mr. McConnell’s Senate staff, led by his longtime senior energy adviser, Neil Chatterjee, is coordinating with lawyers and lobbying firms to try to ensure that the state plans are tangled up in legal delays.
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.
But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade. Continue reading →
Normally I prefer to wait a day or two before posting about any news item. More than likely there is more information to follow, and time allows for a more judicious interpretation of events. Not today. Not with something I read this afternoon. Here is the text of a letter sent today from the U.S. Senate to Ayatollah Khamenei and other senior leaders of Iran. The letter was signed by 47 Republican Senators.
Two bills are up for a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, both of which could significantly impact the way the Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to use science to come up with regulations. The Secret Science Reform Act and the Science Advisory Board Reform Act both require the EPA to consider only publicly available, easily reproducible data when making policy recommendations. Scientific organizations and environmental groups, as well as a number of Democrats, disapprove of the bills, arguing that they favor industry over real science.
Over 50 scientific organizations spoke out in opposition to the Secret Science bill, noting that large-scale public health studies would be ineligible for consideration because large sample sizes could not be easily reproduced. Continue reading →
Ashton B. Carter Is Confirmed as Defense Chief, Replacing Chuck Hagel
New York Times, By Emmarie Huetteman, February 12
Washington — The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ashton B. Carter [wikipedia] to be the next defense secretary, installing a new Pentagon chief as the United States increases military action against the Islamic State.
Mr. Carter, a former deputy defense secretary who is President Obama’s choice to replace Chuck Hagel, was approved by a vote of 93 to 5, a striking scene of accord as tensions mount over the wait to confirm Loretta E. Lynch as the next attorney general. Five Republicans opposed Mr. Carter’s confirmation.
But as one confirmation moved forward, another stalled. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee decided on Thursday to delay a committee vote to confirm Ms. Lynch, the president’s nominee to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Though several Republicans praised Ms. Lynch as her confirmation hearings ended last month, the hearings featured a heavy dose of harsh criticism of Mr. Holder’s Justice Department.
Washington – The Obama administration has informed lawmakers that the president will seek a formal authorization to fight the Islamic State that would prohibit the use of “enduring offensive ground forces” and limit engagement to three years. The approach offers what the White House hopes is a middle way on Capitol Hill for those on the right and left who remain deeply skeptical of its plans to thwart extremist groups.
The request, which could come in writing as early as Wednesday morning, would open what is expected to be a monthslong debate over presidential war powers and the wisdom of committing to another unpredictable mission in the Middle East while the nation is still struggling with the consequences of two prolonged wars.
Congress has not voted to give a president formal authority for a military operation since 2002 when it backed George W. Bush in his campaign to strike Iraq after his administration promoted evidence, since discredited, that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed unconventional weapons.
A statement released by aides to Biden, who is usually in his seat whenever a foreign leader addresses the legislature by dint of his position as president of the Senate, indicated that the vice president will be traveling abroad during the speech.
“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early, but the planning process has been underway for a while,” an official in the vice president’s office told The Jerusalem Post, suggesting planning for the trip began before Netanyahu’s visit was announced.
“We will announce additional information as soon as we are able,” the official said.
The revolving door between government and private industry is quite scary.
Alternet, By Lee Fang, December 16
After lobbyist-run SuperPACs and big money efforts dominated the last election, legislators are now appointing lobbyists to literally manage the day-to-day affairs of Congress. For the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees government intelligence operations and agencies, the changing of the guard means a lobbyist for Academi, the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater, is now in charge.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the incoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee when the House reconvenes in January, announced that Jeff Shockey will be the new Staff Director of the committee. As a paid representative of Academi, Shockey and his firm have earned $80,000 this year peddling influence on behalf of Academi.
In previous years, the House Intelligence Committee has investigated Blackwater over secret contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. As Staff Director, the highest position on a committee for a staff member, Shockey will oversee the agencies that do business with his former employer.
Shockey also represents a number of other companies with business before defense agencies: General Dynamics, Koch Industries, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance, Innovative Defense Technologies and Boeing.