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The Story: It appears at this writing that the control of the US Senate will remain in Republican hands when the new members are inaugurated...
The Story: Ever since Senator Susan Collins (R- ME) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice to the US Supreme Court, it has been...
A bipartisan pair of lawmakers want to stop government leaders from manipulating the security clearance process for political purposes. Sens. By codifying those steps, the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act aims to make the system “more fair and transparent,” Collins said in a statement. The bill would forbid government leaders from making decisions based on the person’s exercise of constitutional rights like free speech or other factors like race, gender and nationality. Leaders would also be barred from revoking or approving clearances as an act of “retaliation for political activities or beliefs.” Under the legislation, government employees would have the right to appeal security clearance decisions, and agencies would need to make the results of any appeals public. The bill comes as a thinly veiled rebuke of the Trump administration’s handling of security clearances. The New York Times last month reported the president personally intervened to grant his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner a top-secret clearance against the recommendations of the intelligence community. In August, Trump also revoked the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who’s been an outspoken critic of the current administration. “Americans should be able to have confidence that the security clearance process is being used only to protect our nation’s greatest secrets,” Warner said in a statement. Today agencies are crushed under a backlog of some 551,000 pending background checks, roughly double what security professionals consider to be a baseline “steady state” of 220,000 to 250,000 investigations in process at any given time.
With Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joining three other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — in announcing he would support the measure, Democrats now have the 51 votes they need to secure passage and to force Mr. Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency. And while a veto is highly unlikely to be overturned, the congressional majority that forces it will stand as a powerful rejection of the tactics Mr. Trump has used to fulfill his top campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border — and will apparently be the first time since passage of the National Emergencies Act of 1976 that Congress has voted to overturn an emergency declaration. “I truly don’t see this as sending a message at all one way or the other about border security but rather about executive overreach.” Ross K. Baker, a political scientist and expert on Congress at Rutgers University, said passage of the resolution would amount to a “serious rebuke” of the president. Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, has urged the president to reconsider using military construction money to fund the wall. Democrats fumed at what they viewed as President George W. Bush’s expansive use of his executive powers; Republicans routinely accused President Barack Obama of exceeding his authority on issues like combating climate change and protecting certain classes of undocumented immigrants. But Mr. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to fulfill a campaign promise to build the wall — issued after Congress denied him the money for it — strikes many lawmakers as a direct incursion on a power granted exclusively to Congress in the Constitution: the power of the purse. “Without question, the president’s order for more wall money contradicts the will of Congress and will, in all likelihood, be struck down by the Supreme Court,” Mr. Paul wrote. “In fact, I think the president’s own picks to the Supreme Court may rebuke him on this.” Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration — the first time a president has invoked powers under the National Emergencies Act after Congress denied funds — is a particularly thorny issue for Mr. McConnell. Like many of his conservative colleagues, he warned the president against setting a precedent that future Democratic presidents could seize as a means for carrying out stringent gun control policies or climate change controls. But it was Mr. McConnell, in a speech on the Senate floor, who announced Mr. Trump’s intent to declare a national emergency — and his support for the president’s decision.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, on Wednesday in Washington. Tom Brenner for The New York Times WASHINGTON — For weeks, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has remained conspicuously on the sidelines, insisting that it was up to President Trump and Democrats to negotiate an end to the partial shutdown of the federal government. But with the shutdown soon to enter its third week, and Mr. Trump dug in on his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, Mr. McConnell for the first time is facing pressure from members of his own party to step in to resolve the stalemate that has left 800,000 federal workers either furloughed or working without pay. Much as Democrats did in 2018, Republicans will face a difficult map in 2020, with a handful of incumbent senators facing re-election in swing states or states won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. But on Thursday, as a new era of divided government opened in Washington, perhaps the most vulnerable Republican, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, broke ranks to become the first member of his party to call for an end to the shutdown — with or without Mr. Trump’s wall funding. “I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open,” Mr. Gardner, whose state has a heavy federal presence, told The Hill newspaper. “The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today.” A second vulnerable Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the chamber’s most moderate members, said Thursday that she would support separating homeland security funding from the other bipartisan appropriations bills already approved in committee to reopen much of the government — as Democrats have proposed. Let’s not get off on the wrong foot, with House Democrats using their new platform to produce political statements rather than serious solutions.” After two years of trying to advance Mr. Trump’s agenda, Mr. McConnell now sees his primary job as standing in the way of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who vowed in her inaugural speech on Thursday to “reach across the aisle in this chamber,” but who is also poised to pass legislation on a bevy of liberal priorities, including gun restrictions and protections for young undocumented immigrants. “For Trump and McConnell, there’s a lot of good politics for that — particularly for McConnell in Kentucky.” Democrats are trying to drive a wedge between Republican leaders and their vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2020, especially Mr. Gardner, Ms. Collins, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant after Senator John McCain’s death. “He’s seen this situation many times before and knows where the leverage points are,” Mr. Holmes said.
Sen. Susan Collins reacts to a Texas judge's decision striking down Obamacare. The Maine Republican also spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper about Michael Cohen's latest comments about President Trump and the 2020 presidential election. #CNN #News
Each video, accompanied by dramatic background music, features snippets of speeches and violent acts by leftists in America. The ads expose the danger incivility is creating in politics. These acts of violence are included in the trend of vandalizing political offices around the country. Incivility is not solely dominated by leftists. A campaign rally in Montana last week featured President Donald Trump praising Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte for body slamming a journalist in May 2017. As Maxine Waters calls for push back against members of the Trump Cabinet, she forgets the violent attacks that Republicans such as Rand Paul and Steve Scalise have suffered in the past. Scalise was one of many targets of a gunman who opened fire at a GOP practice for the congressional baseball game. After leftist activists tweeted to “Never let Collins have a moment of peace in public again,” they owe an apology to Sen. Susan Collins’ husband, who was sent an envelope of what was suspected to be ricin. The letter was later found to be nonhazardous, but one of the many threats Collins and her staff have faced. In August, the Dubuque office of Rep. Rod Blum was vandalized with a gallon of white paint being thrown at the building.
That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/ or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.” In response, the Majority Leader took to the Senate floor to rail against Clinton’s remarks, and the “mob tactics” of others on the left. But fortunately, the American people know that the fact-free politics of hate, fear and intimidation are not how we actually govern in our democratic republic.” McConnell isn’t the only Republican calling for a return to civility in politics in the wake of the blistering fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. This week, Senator Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican who voted against Kavanaugh, came to the defense of fellow GOP moderate Susan Collins, saying on the Senate floor that the harassment over her “yes” vote must end. It’s okay to just find the good.” Despite McConnell’s broad attack on the left, some Democrats still sound closer to Murkowski than Clinton. The word “divisive” appears elsewhere, in report after report about the Kavanaugh confirmation and its aftermath; the same term is frequently applied to Donald Trump. Euphemisms, whether the term is “incivility” or “racially tinged,” have a veiling effect. As Michelle Obama herself acknowledged in a subsequent comment to Hoda Kotb, the process of change implies some discomfort. Trump is not the first president to break up some migrant families; Obama did the same. But Trump and his party are the first to implement a broad policy that separated migrant children from their parents, sometimes permanently. That’s the real problem.
We all know that there are rules in politics and some of them are really disgusting. It is up to the leadership to put their obligation to do the right thing above their own political needs. As we just saw in the tumultuous fight over the seating of Brett Kavanaugh on the United States Supreme Court, political courage is in short supply. She would at heart rather remain Senator than do what’s right. These are the folks who truly believe that the only way to have a country that lives in harmony is to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and frankly, benevolently. Many of these people are what we might call “haves.” As you read this column you have an opportunity to place yourself. Do you believe that someone with a little kid at home whose life could be saved with proper health care deserves health care as a right? In order to get what they want in this political system, the Republican haves do everything they can do to rig our politics. They make sure that efforts that would encourage people to vote are discouraged. Then there is the question of debates.
The big two lessons of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation are that U.S. politics right now is party politics – and that the Republican Party has fully absorbed the style and principles of Newt Gingrich, the Tea Party, and other influences that tell it to never compromise and always exploit all short-term advantages as much as possible. Parties are (among other things) networks of individual partisans, and that means that within specialized areas – such as the top lawyers and the politicians who work with them – strong personal relationships develop. That helps a lot when things go wrong. That explains why Democrats, including several up for election in Republican states, almost unanimously opposed Kavanaugh (and the only exception, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, was widely thought to be an available “no” vote if needed). On the Republican side, meanwhile, things are the same as with the Democrats, except more formalized with the role of the Federalist Society as the arbiter and protector of Republican orthodoxy in judicial selections. George W. Bush and Donald Trump have nominated people from the most conservative edge of the conservative mainstream. That’s why his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court was bitterly opposed by Democrats when George W. Bush was president. Faced with a Republican majority in the Senate in 2016, Obama sought to compromise – nominating an older moderate liberal, Merrick Garland. We’ll know more after the 2018 and 2020 elections.