Before the Houston flood, September was looking ugly for Republicans. The R’s have no choice but to raise the debt ceiling, and fund the government. It looked like an absolute mess, with Trump insisting on his wall money, Democrats unwilling to lift a finger to help, and the Republican House and Senate leadership unable to unite their caucuses. Then came Harvey.
For some months now I have been predicting that the Republicans are capable of passing one (1) major bill this year: the Monster Reconciliation Bill of 2017. With the flood, it just got a lot easier. Politically, Congress has no choice but to pass a massive relief bill for the hurricane victims. This will be extremely difficult for any Congressman to oppose, so it’s included in the Monster, along with raising the debt ceiling, continuing spending at current levels for a few months, and whatever else they can throw in there.
This is how Congressional leadership likes to legislate — take it or leave it. This bill will not be the work of any legislative committee. The general membership has no formal input. It will be written behind closed doors, and be a thousand pages long. No one will have a chance to read it before voting begins.
Power is concentrated tightly at the top. Lobbyists and contributors understand this, which is why the Speaker and Majority Leader are such prolific fundraisers. If you’ve got juice with them, you don’t need it with anyone else.
McConnell, Ryan and their inner circle will decide what goes in the Monster, and what stays out, all with an eye to the magic numbers of 51 and 218. We might get a little dollop of health care reform, or infrastructure. It’s possible you get to add a little tax reform to boot. I’m almost certain there will be a special goodie for Kentucky. McConnell is not popular in his home state, and bringing home the bacon is critical for him. Most of his colleagues understand, and sympathize, so Mitch always gets his bite of pork.
It’s a hell of a way to run a government, but it’s the best Congress can do. All grist for the Article V mill.
Here’s the Alaska angle. Next year they”ll do all this again, with the Monster Reconciliation Bill of 2018. And opening up ANWR will be in it. Zinke and Trump are setting the whole thing up. It’s the only way, and it can be done with 51 votes. Someone really needs to try to explain all this to Lisa Murkowski.
I’ll be stopping by Vegas on my way to Phoenix to see an old law school buddy. He’s a criminal defense lawyer, and has been appointed to represent one of the Bundy defendants in federal court in Las Vegas. One set of defendants has just been scheduled for their third trial.. The first two ended with hung juries. This was the way I expected these cases to play out.
The judge is in the tank for the government, so the defense lawyers have been prevented from putting on a defense. So, at final argument, they all stood mute. None of them offered a word of argument, as a protest against the entire railroaded trial. And at least one juror got the message.
This isn’t a criminal trial. It’s a conspiracy by the government against private citizens. All it takes is one juror who understands what’s actually going down, and the government can’t get a conviction.
Recently, in Oregon, a federal jury flat out acquitted one of the Bundy boys and some others. Thank God for the right to a jury. I always say Article V is the last line of defense, and that’s true, politically. But for a citizen, up against the government, the jury is your best friend.
Clive Bundy and his gang are the most politically incorrect people in this country, bar none. Otherwise, they would be martyrs.