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Dick Durbin Tag

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has begun his confirmation hearing for attorney general. We have a live stream in this post. This is expected to be one of the most tense confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet. The Democrats will ask Sessions about his record on civil rights and female rights. However, the GOP holds the majority in the Senate so more than likely he will receive confirmation.

As Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R[?]-SC) rush to make Obama's Dreamer executive order (EO) law, cat fights are erupting on Twitter regarding immigration and Trump's intentions in this regard. In 2010, the DREAM Act failed in the Senate, so Obama picked up his pen and his phone and, by EO, made it happen.  Now, Republicans are working again with Democrats to revive the failed bill . . . they hope before Obama leaves office, though this is highly unlikely. The Hill reports:
Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations if President-elect Donald Trump repeals President Obama’s executive orders on illegal immigration.

This story is a perfect example of why everyone hates Congress. The senate tried to pass a bill funding research and prevention of the Zika Virus. Democrats blocked it and fully intend to blame the GOP for any spread of the virus. Politico reports:
Democrats block Zika funding bill, blame GOP Congress is poised for an epic failure in its efforts to combat Zika before lawmakers leave Washington for a seven-week vacation — and it could come back to bite Republicans at the ballot box if there’s an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States this summer.

If one Supreme Court Justice gets her way, there will be a religious test for the next SCOTUS well as the standard abortion litmus test! Not happy with the proposed nominee offered by President Obama, Sonia Sotomayor offered her faith-based suggestions:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the Supreme Court needs more diversity, amid the politically charged debate about filling a vacancy on the high court. "I … think there is a disadvantage from having (five) Catholics, three Jews, everyone from an Ivy League school," Sotomayor, the court's first Latina justice, said Friday at Brooklyn Law School. However, she did not mention by name Judge Merrick Garland, a white male with a Harvard Law School degree whom President Obama recently nominated to fill the vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative voice on the court. Scalia died unexpectedly in January.

Nasty, anti-Semitic accusations of dual loyalty, or worse, lack of loyalty to the U.S. are being thrown by progressives at Chuck Schumer for coming out against the Iran nuclear deal. We will have more on that in a separate post. Schumer is likely to lose his position as Senate Minority Leader when Harry Reid retires because of his Iran nuclear deal position: In the absence of Schumer's support, Obama's go to guy keep enough Dems in line to avoid a veto override in the Senate is Dick Durbin, as HuffPo reports, Dick Durbin Becomes Lead Whip For Peace On Iran:

When Walter Scott was was shot earlier this year during what should have been a routine traffic stop, the country launched itself into a justified discussion over how local governments should work to ensure the safety of citizens during encounters with police---without crossing the line into invasive surveillance. The Walter Scott case hit South Carolina Senator Tim Scott hard, and those raw emotions spilled over on the night of the Charleston shootings. He may be touted as the GOP's "only black senator," but for Scott, his efforts to reform the criminal justice system have less to do with race, and more to do with a renewed effort by members of both parties to rebuild trust in inner city communities. Today, Scott is slated to introduce a bill that will authorize up to $100 million per year in grant money to pay for body cameras for local police departments. The bill's hefty price tag comes with controversial offsetting provisions, but fortunately for Scott, members of both parties are already on board with various efforts to reform the criminal justice system. More from Politico:
The costs of the five-year bill — named the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act of 2015 — would be offset by limiting administrative leave for federal employees to 20 days per year. But that offset is bound to cause some concerns from Democrats who have argued that federal workers have been unfairly targeted by Congress for years.

Yesterday, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin took to the floor of the senate and accused the Republican caucus of institutional racism over the postponement of a vote confirming Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general. John McCain was not having it. Today, Senator McCain used his time on the floor to slice into Durbin---and to remind everyone that Democrats have a history of blocking Republican nominees (even the non-white ones!) Watch:

Rosa Parks. Loretta Lynch. To Senate Democrat Dick Durbin, they're one in the same. Durbin took to the floor of the Senate today to lash out against Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the delayed confirmation vote for Attorney General candidate Loretta Lynch. Republicans are blocking the vote until two more Democrats sign on to passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act; Democrats were scared off the bill earlier this month by accusations from liberal special interests that it expands "anti-choice" regulations under the Hyde Amendment. So, Democrats balked, Republicans dug in their heels, and now Durbin is on the floor of the Senate invoking the shades of segregation. Vintage him: Watch:
Fact is, there is no substantive reason to stop this nomination. But the Republican majority leader announced over the weekend that he was going to hold this nomination...until the bill....passes, whenever that may be. And so, Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be Attorney General, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar. That is unfair. It's unjust. It's beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness. She seeks to lead the Department of Justice, and the United States senate should be just in its treatment of her nomination. To think that we would jeopardize her opportunity to serve this nation, and to make history, is fundamentally unfair.

Yesterday, Senate Republicans attempted a procedural fast-track on the bipartisan Keystone XL jobs and infrastructure bill. The goal, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was to immediately begin processing amendments to the controversial bill with the end goal of getting it to the President as soon as possible. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to proceed with consideration of the bill, noting that amendments would be accepted from both sides of the aisle. The problem? Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) objected. Instead of being able to move forward immediately, Leader McConnell was forced to file cloture on the motion to proceed with the bill; this means that unless Senator Whitehouse drops his objection, the next vote on the bill will have to wait until 5:30 on Monday. What a petty start to the 114th Congress. In prepared remarks from earlier this week, Harry Reid insisted that, “[t]he mistakes of the past, the gratuitous obstruction and wanton filibustering will not be a hallmark of the Democratic minority in the 114th Congress.” (Apparently, we're meant to have forgotten the hundreds of bills and amendments that suffered and died in the hands of then-Majority Leader Reid.)

Last time the Keystone XL Pipeline showed up on our radar, it was when embattled former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-efeated) attempted to use her support of the authorization bill to boost her spiraling poll numbers. That vote died at the hands of a single Democrat vote held hostage by former Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Landrieu lost the election, and Republicans left Washington ready to bide their time and pass Keystone with their incoming thin-but-comfortable majority. This time around, though, Republicans aren't just working to move a bill that by all accounts should pass the Senate without a second thought. On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on legislation approving the pipeline; the bill is expected to move out of committee without much trouble, but this time around, Senate leadership is aiming not only for 60 votes, but for enough support to override a future Presidential veto. The first few weeks of the new Congress won't focus exclusively on energy, but instead on a series of issues Republicans are confident they can move through Congress and send to the President's desk. From Politico:
The goal, quite simply, is to begin passing bills that will clear both the House and the Senate and end up on President Barack Obama’s desk. Almost all of the bills Republicans will put on the floor passed the House last Congress, when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. The agenda was described by leadership aides who were not authorized to discuss the plan on the record.

UPDATED 7:34 pm EST This really says it all. UPDATED 7:15 pm EST That wasn't a long-shot vote. That was an exercise in punishment. The Senate has voted, and a productive and bipartisan measure has failed. Reid gave Landrieu a chance to vote "yea" on an energy bill, and Durbin made moves to insulate Democrats should anyone try to hold a member of his caucus accountable for an "anti-environment" vote. Reid's "strategy" on Keystone XL was designed to fail, and everyone---including Mary Landrieu---knew it. This may be the end of Landrieu's tenure in the Senate, but it's not the end of the road for Keystone. “Tonight, Senate Democrats once again stood in the way of a shovel-ready jobs project that would help thousands of Americans find work — a remarkable stance after an election in which the American people sent a clear message to Congress to approve serious policies like the Keystone XL Pipeline and get the Senate working again," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a statement following the vote. "Unfortunately, many Senate Democrats failed to hear that message. But once the 114th Congress convenes, the Senate will act again on this important legislation, and I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the New Year.” Anyone who watched the C-SPAN feed during the vote noticed something interesting---the rest of her caucus avoided Landrieu like she was surrounded by a forcefield. Many pundits have enjoyed the "Reid is giving her a chance to redeem her candidacy" narrative, but let's not pretend this was anything more than Democrats going through the motions and then pulling the rug out from under yet another lost cause.

According to a recent Gallup poll, voters will be sending a message to President Obama---and it may not bode well for Democrats. Out of the just over 1000 registered voters surveyed, 32% of respondents said that their vote in the midterms would serve as a message of opposition to Obama; in contrast, 20% of those surveyed said that their vote would serve as a message of support. Gallup's writeup of the poll explains why this is significant in terms of Republicans' chances in November:
Gallup first asked this question in 1998, the year Republicans were moving toward impeaching President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with a White House intern. That year, when Clinton's approval rating was 63%, more voters said their choice of candidate in the fall election would be made to show support rather than opposition to Clinton. Democrats had a strong showing in that fall's elections, gaining seats in the House of Representatives, bucking the historical pattern by which the president's party loses seats in Congress in midterm elections. In the next midterm election, voters by an even larger margin said their vote would be made to support rather than oppose President George W. Bush, who had a 66% approval rating at the time of the elections. These attitudes were consistent with the eventual outcome, as Republicans increased their majority in the House and gained majority control of the Senate.
Gallup Registered Voters Message 2014 Election October That's the shot; now here's the chaser: out of registered voters polled, 58% Republicans said that their vote would act as a message of opposition to Obama, while only 38% of Democrats polled said their vote would act as a message of support.

Yesterday was another heated day on the floor of the Senate, as Republicans took to the podium to lambaste SJR 19, Democrats' latest effort to control the content and flow of political speech in America. As we discussed Monday, SJR 19 proposes a Constitutional amendment that would give Congress the right to set limits on how much money can be raised for and spent in federal political campaigns, and would drastically limit the First Amendment rights to both free speech and free association. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), have spent the past two days defending the resolution as our last chance to preserve the integrity of the vote---and proposing some dangerous policy in the process. Tuesday brought both junior and senior Senators to the floor in opposition to the proposed amendment, putting Democrats on defense and causing waves on social media. One of the main concerns raised in Tuesday's floor speeches was the potential for government control over political speech to spiral, and cut off the flow of information entirely. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) got creative with his presentation, targeting Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and others who embrace parody and humor as part of their political commentary:

Congress is back in Washington, and Senate Democrats have wasted no time in bringing forward their proposal for a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the right to set limits on how much money can be raised for and spent in federal political campaigns. Senate Joint Resolution 19 is sponsored by Tom Udall (D-NM) and has gained the vocal support of powerful Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, Patrick Leahy, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and Majority Leader Harry Reid. Its three sections would drastically affect both freedom of speech and freedom of association in America:
Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections. Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections. Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.
In his first floor speech following the August recess, Majority Leader Reid made it clear that he's willing to once again prevent Republicans from having a voice in the Senate---ironic considering he's advocating the muzzling of voters via Congressional fiat:

This morning Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois held a US Senate hearing nominally on the subject of Stand Your Ground laws. Here I'll just share an overview of the testimony, along with my own general observations. (More detailed posts will likely follow.) [caption id="attachment_69289" align="alignnone" width="450"]US Senate hearing: "Stand Your Ground:  Civil rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force" US Senate hearing: "Stand Your Ground: Civil rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force"[/caption] My first general observation is that the anti-SYG folks were, as experience would suggest, big on emotion and small on actual facts, law, or data. One of the anti-SYG witnesses, Professor Sullivan from Harvard Law School, did raise some actual data--but when these were utterly destroyed by the later testimony of Dr. John Lott and Elliot Shapiro of CATA, Professor Sullivan was swift to discount the use of data (which he himself had introduced into the testimony) and instead focus on the "real people" behind the data. In sharp contrast, the testimony of the pro-SYG speakers was focused and direct. Second, the anti-SYG folks persistently conflated the legal concept of Stand Your Ground with utterly discrete legal concepts, such as presumptions of reasonableness and civil/criminal immunity.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has removed the controversial Facebook post that sparked a firestorm last week after he accused a then unnamed Republican of having said ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’ to the President during a shutdown negotiation meeting.  That...

Dick Durbin's Facebook comment that a senior House Republican told Obama "I cannot even stand to look at you" was exposed as a lie. The lie did not originate with Durbin, he merely passed on what Harry Reid told the Senate Democratic caucus based on information provided to Reid by The White House. That White House lie, now admitted but chalked up to a "miscommunication," inspired Chris Matthews and guests David Corn and Cynthia Tucker, to lash out at Republicans for demonizing the President:

Hardball -  A Pattern Of Disrespect Screen Shot

A main focus was the disrespect shown by Republicans by repeatedly calling Obama a liar, which the panel agreed was because of hatred of Obama for the "other" and not one of us, and in the case of Tucker, coming right out and calling it racist: