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Congress Tag

We've been covering the on-going DACA saga here at LI; President Trump tossed Obama's unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) back to Congress, initially giving them six months to get a bill to his desk that would enshrine some version of DACA into law. The president later announced that he would grant Congress an extension if they weren't able to get their act together within the original time frame.  Trump, in other words, will gladly sign a DACA bill should one make its way to his desk.

Minnesota Democrat Senator Al Franken. Michigan Democrat Representative John Conyers. Who is next? It could be anyone! A Washington Post report from a few weeks ago showed that the "Office of Compliance has paid more than $17 million for 264 settlements and awards to federal employees for violations of various employment rules" since 1997. This includes sexual harassment. Congress returns to work after the Thanksgiving holiday to immense pressure not only to reveal the causes and people involved in these settlements, but to make the process more transparent.

The House passed a 2018 budget resolution last week along with the Senate Budget Committee, two crucial steps to start tax reform. It's an opportunity for President Donald Trump and the Republican lawmakers to hold a promise after they couldn't repeal Obamacare. The GOP has the majority, but just like with Obamacare, there are divisions within the party that could prevent tax reform from happening.

A few GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have announced they are open to legislation that will ban bump stocks, a device allegedly used by Stephen Paddock in the Las Vegas massacre. This device "is a sliding stock that when pressed against a shooter’s shoulder allows a semi-automatic gun to shift backward and forward with the recoil of each shot fired." Authorities found bump stocks in Paddock's room, but we do not know for sure if he used them during the massacre.

In a puzzling move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month that the Department of Justice would be ramping up asset forfeiture. Mary wrote at the time:
Civil forfeiture remains a controversial issue in America since it’s “a process by which the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.” The procedures are civil, which means defendants do not receive the same protections given to criminal defendants. It’s one of the few issues that garners bipartisan support.
That bipartisan support is now even more evident as Congress moves to defund asset forfeiture.

As Congress is scheduled to return from recess next week, President Donald Trump traveled to Missouri on Wednesday to encourage Congress to tackle tax reform and actually get the job done...unlike the ordeal with Obamacare. From Yahoo! News:
“I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me,” Trump said, pointing into a crowd that included much of the state’s GOP Congressional delegation. “Do you understand?” “I think Congress is going to make a comeback,” the president added. “I hope so.”

The Congressional Baseball game is a 108-year-old tradition and one of the best annual showings of bipartisanship. This year, a day after Rep. Steve Scalise was shot and severely injured during baseball practice, a public display of unity and civility was desperately needed. And that's exactly what happened.

Before the game began, both Republican and Democrat teams held a moment of silence and prayer at second base, where Rep. Scalise was supposed to play

Puerto Ricans went to the polls today to vote on possible statehood with America. The majority of people voted yes, but only 23% of the people voted, which could call into question the validity "of the nonbinding referendum." From The Wall Street Journal:
According to early results on a government website, statehood drew 97% of support with more than 90% of votes counted Sunday afternoon, but a turnout of about 23% reflected the success of a boycott effort led by opponents.

In May, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling before members take their summer recess in order for America to pay its debts. The ability to borrow money expired on March 16. Now Mnuchin has said that he and the department have started to formulate plans to fund the government until September if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling. From The Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump's accusation that the Obama administration "wiretapped" his phones and/or Trump Tower, continues to reverberate. The accusations have refocused the argument over Trump's alleged Russia ties, which amount at this point only to innuendo, into a discussion of Obama surveillance practices. As discussed in my prior post, which is getting a lot of attention, the focus on the term "wiretap" and whether Obama "ordered" surveillance under FISA, may be a distraction, Some curious language in both Trump’s “wiretap” accusation and Obama’s defense. The media, however, is being dragged into another direction, one focusing on Obama administration surveillance practices. This morning Donald Trump, through Sean Spicer, called for a congressional investigation of Obama administration election surveillance.

At the Republican National Convention last year, Ivanka Trump stated:  "As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce, and he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all." Apparently following up on this promise, Ivanka met with members of Congress last week in order to sell them on her unfunded $500 billion child care tax credit.

One of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's promises on the campaign trail was to "drain the swamp," and a part of that, he announced during his "Gettysburg Address," would be his push for a Constitutional amendment requiring term limits for members of Congress. In October, I wrote about this promise:
Trump on draining the swamp: "[O]n the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:
  • FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;"

The Obama administration's agencies are in a frenzy of activity as they push new regulations before Obama leaves office in January. Republicans, however, are warning against such activity, saying that they will overturn them via the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Politico reports:
Federal agencies are rushing out a final volley of executive actions in the last two months of Barack Obama’s presidency, despite warnings from Republicans in Congress and the reality that Donald Trump will have the power to erase much of their handiwork after Jan. 20. Regulations on commodities speculation, air pollution from the oil industry, doctors’ Medicare drug payments and high-skilled immigrant workers are among the rules moving through the pipeline as Obama’s administration grasps at one last chance to cement his legacy. So are regulations tightening states’ oversight of online colleges and protecting funding for Planned Parenthood.

When Barack Obama took office in 2008, one of the most difficult things for conservatives was the fact that he soon had a compliant and Democrat-controlled Congress to do his bidding. With the defection of Arlen Specter in April of 2009 and the seating of Al Franken as a result of the disputed Minnesota senatorial race, the Republicans lacked even the 41 votes necessary to stop the Democrats in the Senate, although they finally gained exactly that number with the surprise election of Scott Brown of Massachusetts. However, after that point, the Republicans in Congress were able to stop some of the Obama agenda after gaining the ability to muster at least 41 votes in the Senate, and after they gained the House in 2010. That's why the Democrats in the Senate triggered the nuclear option for judicial appointments in November of 2013, when they still controlled both the presidency and the Senate but the Republicans had gained enough senators to block judicial confirmation under the old (non-nuclear) rules. But under the new nuclear option rules (see this for a full explanation of how it works), a simple majority of Democrats could successfully force a vote to confirm Obama's judicial appointments, rather than needing to gain 60 votes to close down debate.

On October 14, 2016, Obama issued a "presidential policy directive" in which he laid out a multi-pronged approach "to promote engagement with the Cuban government and people, and make our opening to Cuba irreversible."  In this directive, Obama directs the Director of National Security to share intelligence with Cuba and to cooperate with Cuban intelligence. Members of Congress are concerned that U. S. intelligence will be shared by Cuba with Iran, particularly in light of Iran's recent assertion that it will "open a new chapter in relations with Cuba." The Washington Free Beacon reports:
Obama administration efforts to bolster the sharing of critical intelligence data with Cuba is likely to benefit Iran, which has been quietly bolstering its foothold in the country with the communist government’s approval, according to conversations with members of Congress and other sources familiar with the matter.
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