Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington for 10/21/19

The House and Senate will both return Monday and stay in session through Thursday.

LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House came back to work last Tuesday, and passed two bills under Suspension of the Rules.

On Wednesday, the House passed the Rule governing consideration of H.R. 1815, the SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act, and H.R. 3624, the Outsourcing Accountability Act. Then the House passed another bill under Suspension.

Then the House considered H.J.Res. 77, a resolution “opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.” In other words, this was a resolution smacking President Trump for his decision to remove U.S. armed forces from northeast Syria. The resolution passed by a vote of 354-60, with 225 Democrats and 129 Republicans voting in favor, and zero Democrats and 60 Republicans voting against.

The odd thing about this vote, of course, is that for years, liberals have been screaming about the commitment of U.S. armed forces to Syria. Congress never authorized them to be there in the first place. But because it was President Trump who ordered them removed, it must have been a bad thing to do, and, consequently, you get 225 Democrat votes to smack the President. One Congressman, frustrated by the hypocrisy, circulated a meme that simply said, “Wait, so the House can muster 350+ votes to oppose Trump withdrawing from Syria but it can’t find 218+ to authorize war in Syria?” He’s got a point.

On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 1815, the SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act, by a vote of 229-186.

On Friday, the House took up and passed H.R. 3624, the Outsourcing Accountability Act, by a vote of 226-184.

And then they were done.

THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House will return on Monday, with first votes set for 6:30 PM. At that time, the House is scheduled to consider four bills under Suspension of the Rules. Also on Monday evening, Republicans in the House will try to force a floor vote on H.Res. 604, a resolution introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona that censures and condemns Democrat Adam Schiff of California. The measure has been cosponsored by the vast majority of Republicans in the House. Democrats will likely offer a motion to table the Biggs Resolution, and that motion to table will then become the up-or-down vote on censuring Schiff – a vote to table the Biggs Resolution is a vote to defend Schiff.

On Tuesday, and for the remainder of the week, the House is scheduled to take up another eight bills on the Suspension Calendar.

In addition, the House will is scheduled to consider H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, and H.R. 4617, the SHIELD Act.

In addition, the House was set to consider a resolution “opposing President Trump’s decision to hold the 2020 G-7 Summit at his Trump National Doral golf resort, and rejecting his practice of accepting foreign government Emoluments without obtaining Congress’ affirmative consent, and for other purposes,” but, given the Saturday evening reports that the president has changed his mind about hosting the G-7 Summit at Doral next year, I don’t anticipate that resolution will actually get a floor vote.

LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate came back on Tuesday and voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Barbara McConnell Barrett to be Secretary of the Air Force. Then, over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nominations of, and then voted to confirm, the following people to the following positions:

  • Barbara McConnell Barrett to be Secretary of the Air Force
  • Frank William Volk to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia
  • Charles R. Eskridge, III to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas
  • John Novak to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Rachel P. Kovner to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York

On Thursday, the Senate considered the Joint Resolution, S.J.Res. 53, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Repeal of the Clean Power Plan; Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Existing Electric Utility Generating Units; Revisions to Emission Guidelines Implementing Regulations.” This was Chuck Schumer’s attempt to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the EPA rulemaking that enacted the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule and to reinstate President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.” The Schumer effort failed, by a vote of 41-53.

Then the Senate turned to its attempt to override the President’s veto of the resolution ending the state of emergency on the southwest border. The veto override attempt failed by a vote of 53-36.

And then they were done.

THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate will return Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM. That will be a vote to invoke cloture on Treaties Calendar #5, which is the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession of the Republic of North Macedonia. In other words, the Senate is going to vote to confirm the Republic of North Macedonia as a new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, AKA NATO.

Based on the Majority Leader’s cloture filings, I’d say the Senate schedule for the rest of the week is going to look like this:

  • Andrew Bremberg to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, with the rank of Ambassador
  • Motion to proceed to Calendar #141, H.R. 3055, Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act of 2020.
  • Motion to proceed to Calendar #140, H.R. 2740, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2020.

CLINTON EMAILS:

The New York Times reported on Friday that “a yearslong State Department investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server found that while the use of the system for official business increased the risk of compromising classified information, there was no systematic or deliberate mishandling of classified information. The inquiry, started more than three years ago, found that 38 current or former State Department officials were ‘culpable’ of violating security procedures in a review of about 33,000 individual emails sent to or from the server that Mrs. Clinton turned over to investigators.”

The investigation was conducted by the Department of State’s Office of Information Security, and you can find a copy of the nine-page unclassified report in the Suggested Reading.

IMPEACHMENT:

Where to begin on the impeachment front? House Democrats continued to push their interview strategy, conducting private interrogatories with selected witnesses, and then leaking selected bits and pieces of testimony.

The strategy backfired somewhat when George Kent, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, testified Tuesday that back in 2015, he had been so concerned about Hunter Biden’s joining the Burisma Holdings board of directors that he went to see someone in the office of the Vice President, who essentially told him there was nothing to see there, and he should just move along.

Later on Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi declared that Democrats would maintain their no-floor-vote-to-authorize-impeachment-proceedings stance. Despite the obvious problem – to wit, that the Constitution declares that it is the HOUSE, not the Speaker, that has the “sole power of impeachment” – Pelosi does not want to hold a floor vote.

On Thursday, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went to the White House press briefing room to announce that the Trump Administration had decided to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at President Trump’s Doral golf resort in Miami. While at the podium, he took questions on the ongoing investigation into U.S. relations with Ukraine, and he spoke inartfully. I’m going to take a moment and read you a long excerpt from that briefing, because what he has said has been taken out of context.

So, after explaining why the choice was made to host the G-7 Summit at Trump National Doral, Mulvaney then spent several minutes answering questions about the choice. And then he turned to other subjects, and opened the briefing up to other topics. And he got the following question, and he gave the following answer:

Q    Can you clarify — and I’ve been trying to get an answer to this: Was the President serious when he said that he would also like to see China investigate the Bidens?  And you were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine.  Can you explain to us now definitively why?  Why was funding withheld?

  1. MULVANEY:  Sure.  I’ll — let’s deal with the second one first, which is — look, it should come as no surprise to anybody — the last time I was up here — I haven’t done this since I was Chief of Staff, right?  The last time I was up here, some of you folks remember, it was for the budget briefings, right?

And one of the questions y’all always asked me about the budget is, “What are you all doing to the foreign aid budget?”  Because we absolutely gutted it, right?  President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid.  Never has been; still isn’t.  Doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent.  And that is exactly what drove this decision.

I’ve been in the office a couple times with him, talking about this.  And he said, “Look, Mick, this is a corrupt place.”  Everybody knows it’s a corrupt place.  By the way, put this in context: This is on the heels of what happened in Puerto Rico, when we took a lot of heat for not wanting to give a bunch of aid to Puerto Rico because we thought that place was corrupt.  And, by the way, it turns out we were right.  All right?  So put that as your context.

He’s like, “Look, this is a corrupt place.  I don’t want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets.  Plus, I’m not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either.”

So we actually looked at that, during that time, before — when we cut the money off, before the money actually flowed, because the money flowed by the end of the fiscal year — we actually did an analysis of what other countries were doing in terms of supporting Ukraine.  And what we found out was that — and I can’t remember if it’s zero or near zero dollars from any European countries for lethal aid.  And you’ve heard the President say this: that we give them tanks and other countries give them pillows.  That’s absolutely right, that the — as vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine, they are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid.  And they weren’t helping Ukraine, and then still to this day are not.  And the President did not like that.  I know it’s a long answer to your question, but I’m still going.

So that was — those were the driving factors.  Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server?  Absolutely.  No question about that.  But that’s it.  And that’s why we held up the money.

Now, there was a report —

Q    So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?

  1. MULVANEY:  The look back to what happened in 2016 —

Q    The investigation into Democrats.

  1. MULVANEY: — certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation.  And that is absolutely appropriate.

Q    And withholding the funding?

  1. MULVANEY:  Yeah.  Which ultimately, then, flowed.  By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn’t — that if we didn’t pay out the money, it would be illegal, okay?  It would be unlawful.  That is one of those things that has the little shred of truth in it, that makes it look a lot worse than it really is.

We were concerned, over at OMB, about an impoundment.  And I know I just put half of you folks to bed, but there’s — the Budget Control Act — Budget Control Impoundment Act of 1974 says that if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it.  Okay?  At least that’s how it’s interpreted by some folks.  And we knew that that money either had to go out the door by the end of September or we had to have a really, really good reason not to do it.  And that was the legality of the issue.

Q    But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo.  It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.

  1. MULVANEY:  We do that all the time with foreign policy.  We were holding money at the same time for — what was it?  The Northern Triangle countries.  We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they would change their policies on immigration.

By the way — and this speaks to an important —

Q    (Inaudible.)

  1. MULVANEY:  I’m sorry?  This speaks to an important point, because I heard this yesterday and I can never remember the gentleman who testified.  Was it McKinney, the guy — was that his name?  I don’t know him.  He testified yesterday.  And if you go — and if you believe the news reports — okay?  Because we’ve not seen any transcripts of this.  The only transcript I’ve seen was Sondland’s testimony this morning.

If you read the news reports and you believe them — what did McKinney say yesterday?  Well, McKinney said yesterday that he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy.  That was one of the reasons he was so upset about this.  And I have news for everybody: Get over it.  There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.

Now, let’s go back for a moment to the critical part of Mulvaney’s answer. He said:

So we actually looked at that, during that time, before — when we cut the money off, before the money actually flowed, because the money flowed by the end of the fiscal year — we actually did an analysis of what other countries were doing in terms of supporting Ukraine.  And what we found out was that — and I can’t remember if it’s zero or near zero dollars from any European countries for lethal aid.  And you’ve heard the President say this: that we give them tanks and other countries give them pillows.  That’s absolutely right, that the — as vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine, they are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid.  And they weren’t helping Ukraine, and then still to this day are not.  And the President did not like that.  I know it’s a long answer to your question, but I’m still going.

So that was — those were the driving factors.  Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server?  Absolutely.  No question about that.  But that’s it.  And that’s why we held up the money.

A couple of things here. First, nowhere in his answer did he use the words “quid pro quo.” Those words were put into his mouth by the White House press corps.

Second, regardless of what he did or did not say, THERE WAS NO QUID PRO QUO. As Kim Strassel pointed out in her column two weeks ago, which I cited in last week’s Washington Report, it’s impossible to have a quid pro quo if the partner on the receiving end of the money does not know that the money is being held up in exchange for agreement to perform some task. And the hold was released and the funds were transferred before anyone in the Ukrainian government knew that they money had ever been held up in the first place.

Third, and this goes back to the defense of Mulvaney, as I read that transcript, when he said, “Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money,” he was referring NOT to the most recent thing he had said – that is, what he called “the corruption related to the DNC server” – but to the longer part of the answer, when he was discussing Ukrainian corruption in general. THAT is what, in HIS mind, he was confirming as the reason for holding up the money.

Nevertheless, the media pounced. And within 12 hours, Mulvaney had issued a “clarification” of his remarks. But that didn’t matter. The mainstream media had him in his own words, seeming to confirm the quid pro quo that the Trump Administration had been denying for the last three weeks. Democrats and the media, predictably, went nuts. So did many Republicans.

Late Saturday evening, President Trump announced via tweet that he was rescinding the decision to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at Trump National Doral.

SPENDING:

As mentioned earlier, the Senate failed on Thursday in its attempt to declare an end to the state of emergency on the southwest border. That’s another way of saying the Senate failed to block President Trump from redirecting appropriated funds to pay for construction of a border wall, and that’s important for what it tells us about the likelihood of Congress coming to some kind of agreement with President Trump over funding for the border wall.

The President has made it known he is not interested in signing other domestic spending bills until everyone agrees on funding for a border wall. Right now, we’re operating under a Continuing Resolution that funds the government until November 21, the last day Congress will be in session before the Thanksgiving recess. I’m betting that won’t be the last CR Congress passes before funding levels for FY 2020 are set – I’m betting it’ll just be the first, and Congress is more likely to pass a second short-term CR extending government funding until the Christmas recess to give themselves time to work out a deal on border funding.

STAFFING:

What I reported to you two weeks ago about personnel changes at the Department of Energy has now been confirmed – Secretary Rick Perry will be resigning, and President Trump will be nominating Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette to replace him.

SYRIA:

Following last week’s decision to withdraw U.S. armed forces from Syria and the resulting Turkish incursion into northeast Syria against the Kurds, President Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara to try to negotiate a cease-fire agreement with Turkish President Erdogan. On Thursday, they announced a five-day ceasefire had been agreed to, giving Kurdish forces 120 hours to remove themselves from a 5,000-square mile area of Syria along its border with Turkey.

SUGGESTED READING:

JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:

RealClearPolitics: Jenny Beth Martin: Adam Schiff Should Be Censured For His Media Statements

WT: Jenny Beth Martin: Joe Biden’s Conflict Of Interest

NYP: More Democratic Debates, Please and Other Commentary

CLINTON EMAILS:

NYT: State Dept. Inquiry into Clinton Emails Finds No Deliberate Mishandling of Classified Information

Dept of State: DS Report on Security Incidents Related to Potentially Classified Emails sent to Former Secretary of State Clinton’s Private Email Server

IMPEACHMENT:

Politico: Trump’s Impeachment Barricade Crumbles

Politico: Gordon Sondland Says Giuliani Pushed Ukraine Probes At Trump’s Direction

WaPo: ‘Get Over It’ Mulvaney’s Twin Admissions Put Trump At The Center Of Emoluments And Ukraine Controversies

NYT: How A Fringe Theory About Ukraine Took Root In The White House

NYT: Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid As Quid Pro Quo

Hill: Mulvaney Admission Deals Blow To White House Impeachment Defense

Hill: Schiff: Mulvaney Comments On Ukraine Aid Have Made Things Much Worse

Hill: Mulvaney Walks Back Comments Tying Ukraine Aid To 2016 Probe

Politico: Mulvaney Acknowledges Ukraine Aid Was Withheld To Boost Political Probe

NRO: Mulvaney Confirms Trump Withheld Aid To Pressure Ukraine To Investigate 2016 Election Interference

WE: Schiff Pressed Volker To Say Ukraine Felt Pressure From Trump

Politico: The Lawyer At The Center Of The Ukraine Vortex

Politico: Ex-Pompeo Adviser Tells Congress He Resigned Over Trump’s Attacks On Yovanovitch

WaPo: McConnell Tells Senate Republicans To Br Ready For Impeachment Trial Of Trump

WSJ: Rick Perry Called Rudy Giuliani At Trump’s Direction On Ukraine Concerns

Politico: Pelosi Holds Off On Vote To Authorize Trump Impeachment Inquiry

FOX: Ken Starr Calls Out House Democrats for Exercising ‘Raw Power’ Against Trump: ‘Every American Should Be Concerned’

WaPo: Top State Department Official Expected To Face Questions About Ukraine And Giuliani

WSJ: Bolton, Mulvaney On Opposite Sides Of Pivotal Ukraine Debate

NYT: White House Is Said To Open Internal Review Of Ukraine Call

Hill: Pelosi: No House Vote On Impeachment Inquiry

Politico: Impeachment Takeaways: Damning Testimony and a Surprise Confession

WT: Trump Set To Sue CNN for Bias, Seeks ‘Maximum’ Damages

White House Press Briefing with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney

Hill: Mulvaney Seeks to Correct Quid Pro Quo Remarks in Withering Interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace

FOX: Levin: Nancy Pelosi and Her Politburo Have Gone Rogue and Are Trying To Run Roughshod over President Trump

STAFFING:

Hill: Trump Confirms Rick Perry To Step Down As Energy Secretary

Politico: Trump To Nominate Dan Brouillette as Energy Secretary

Politico: Trump Wants A Warrior To Elevate His Immigration Fight In An Election Year

SYRIA:

WT: Chuck Schumer’s Bid To Rebuke Trump Over Syria Fails In Senate

WSJ: Turkey Agrees To Pause Military Operations In Northern Syria

Politico: Top Democrats Walk Out Of Syria Meeting After Trump Insults Pelosi

Politico: House Condemns Trump’s Syria Pull Out

NYT: Inside The Derailed White House Meeting

Politico: ‘Melt-Down’ Trump-Pelosi Feud Intensifies After Dems Walkout

CNN: Trump Tweeted A Photo Attacking Nancy Pelosi. She Made It Her Twitter Cover Photo

BBC: Turkey’s Erdogan ‘Threw Trump’s Syria Letter In The Bin’

NRO: Trump’s Syria Pullback Is Obama-Like Blunder

Fox News: Turkey Holding 50 US Nuclear Bombs ‘Hostage’ At Air Base, Report Says

WaPo: Mitch McConnell: Withdrawing from Syria Is a Grave Mistake

THE BIDENS:

Politico: Hunter Biden Offers Combative Defense Of His Foreign Dealings In New TV Interview

ABC News: Exclusive: Hiding In Plain Sight Hunter Biden Defends

WaPo: Diplomat Tells Investigators He Raised Alarms in 2015 About Hunter Bidens Ukraine Work But Was Rebuffed

Politico: ‘They’ve Got No Room For Error’ Biden Cash Crunch Raises Alarms

MISCELLANEOUS:

Politico: Shrugging Off Allegations Of Self-Dealing, Trump Picks His Doral Resort For G-7 Summit

WT: 21st Century Robber Barons?  Push To Break Big Tech Divides Conservatives

Roll Call: House Passes Trio Of Measures Supporting Hong Kong Protesters

Hill: Elijah Cummings, Democratic Chairman & Powerful Trump Critic, Dies At 68

Politico: Shrugging Off Allegations of Self-Dealing, Trump Picks His Doral Resort for G-7 Summit

Politico: After Backlash, Trump Says His Doral Resort Won’t Host G-7 Summit


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