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Congress: The Senate & The House


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U.S. Senate moves to avoid a partial government shutdown, but time running short

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate took a broadly bipartisan vote Tuesday to advance a short-term spending bill, but both chambers of Congress must approve the legislation before a Friday funding deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/16/u-s-senate-moves-to-avoid-a-partial-government-shutdown-but-time-running-short/?

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🏛️ The House's suspended majority

House Republican leaders are coming to terms with a cold, uncomfortable reality this January: They'll need Democratic votes to pass any real legislation in 2024, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

Why it matters: Call it governing under suspension. Legislation can pass the House, but only with Democratic support.

Driving the news: GOP leaders have telegraphed to rank-and-file lawmakers that any consequential piece of legislation this year — like funding the government or a potential tax bill — will be brought to the floor under the suspension of the rules, according to aides and lawmakers.

How it works: The procedural move essentially bypasses the House Rules Committee, preventing conservatives from strangling legislation before it reaches the floor.

  • It then requires a two-thirds majority to pass, or roughly 290 votes, according to Punchbowl News.
  • In practice, it makes the House look suspiciously like the Senate, where legislation typically needs 60 votes to stand any chance of becoming law.

The big picture: Congress is considering three consequential pieces of legislation this winter: A Ukraine funding and border bill, a tax proposal that trades business breaks for a child tax credit, and legislation to keep the government open (which will likely be two separate bills).

  • The first two are somewhat optional. The third one is more pressing, if lawmakers want to avoid a painful government shutdown.
  • Congressional leaders met with President Biden at the White House Wednesday to air their differences on the emerging Ukraine-border package, which could receive a Senate vote as soon as next week.

Keep reading

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🏛️ Dems weigh Johnson's fate

As House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) stares down growing threats of removal from his rebellious right flank, Democrats are debating whether they would save him or give him the McCarthy treatment.

  • Why it matters: It would likely only take a handful of Democratic defections to rescue Johnson if one of the hardliners in his conference triggered a vote on ousting him, Axios' Andrew Solender writes.

💭 One House Democrat said that if Johnson "lives up to his deal" with Senate Democrats on spending, "I think you have a lot of Democrats protecting him who don't want to reward bad behavior from right-wing extremists."

  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said Johnson "hasn't been speaker long enough for us to have the same sort of misgivings" they had with McCarthy. "I don't know that you would see the same kind of wholesale buy-in to a motion to vacate by the Democrats," she added.

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ps:Wow!! Once again the maga house is at it again!! What a useless part of the once proud republican party!!

phkrause

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Border mess could get messier
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers take an immigrant child from her mother after they crossed the border from Mexico last month. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Stalled funding deals in Congress are threatening to make an already chaotic situation along the U.S.-Mexico border even worse.

  • Both Republicans and Democrats want to see more arrests and deportations. But border security agencies are already strapped for cash even without ramping up their enforcement activities, sources tell Axios' Stef Kight.

What's happening: If the standoff continues, "we're going to have to make tough business decisions on what we're going to cease and significantly slow down," a DHS official told Axios.

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement is hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole: It's detaining more people than its budget anticipated, and spending more on deportation flights.

The bottom line: Without a significant influx of funds soon, at least one of those priorities will have to give. That could worsen an already chronically backlogged immigration system.

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Hakeem Jeffries Bucks AIPAC, Endorses Squad Member Summer Lee

Bucking pro-Israel lobby groups, the top three members of House Democratic leadership endorsed Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa., on Wednesday. Like other progressive members of the Squad, pro-Israel groups are seeking to oust Lee in 2024.

https://theintercept.com/2024/01/17/hakeem-jeffries-aipac-summer-lee/?

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Congress votes to hold off government shutdown until March

Congress on Thursday passed legislation keeping the federal government funded past Jan. 19 and avoiding a shutdown at least until March.

https://www.axios.com/2024/01/18/congress-government-shutdown-cr-march?

Congress votes to avert a shutdown and keep the government funded into early March

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress sent President Joe Biden a short-term spending bill on Thursday that would avert a looming partial government shutdown and fund federal agencies into March.

https://apnews.com/article/budget-spending-congress-extend-shutdown-fa6958e60fd2c08880b21e091f108215?

phkrause

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🔥 GOP hardliners plot revenge on Johnson
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The House Freedom Caucus may begin to routinely hijack Republican messaging bills as an act of retaliation against House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Axios' Andrew Solender and Juliegrace Brufke report.

Why it matters: It would mark a significant escalation in hardliners' rebellion against Johnson after he pursued bipartisan deals to pass critical government funding bills.

Driving the news: The House and Senate voted on an overwhelming, bipartisan basis today to pass legislation keeping the government funded until March.

  • The measure was brought up under a process known as suspension of the rules, which allows GOP leadership to bypass the party-line "rule" votes that hardliners are planning to tank in retaliation.
  • Freedom Caucus members have hijacked rule votes — essentially grounding legislative business to a halt — under Johnson and his predecessor as speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to protest bipartisan deals.

What they're saying: "If they don't want or need our votes for the material legislation that impacts the country or the large spending packages ... you shouldn't presume that you have our votes for the messaging bills that will go nowhere in the Senate," said Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.).

Keep reading

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🏛️ Speaker Johnson getting McCarthy-ied

Speaker Mike Johnson is getting a daily dose of the modern hell of running House Republicans.

  • Why it matters: His own leadership team — plus eight chairs — voted against his plan to keep the government funded and running. Oh, that was the easy part of his battle for a bigger deal to fund the border, Ukraine and the government for a much longer period.

What's happening: Johnson, a newbie to leadership, is getting pummeled by the same forces — and often the same lawmakers — who toppled Kevin McCarthy before him.

  • They want to tank a deal linking funding Ukraine with new, tougher immigration measures unless it includes a more fulsome lockdown of the southern border.

Go deeper: House Republican hardliners plot revenge on Mike Johnson, by Axios' Andrew Solender and Juliegrace Brufke.

ps:How stupid are these people!!

phkrause

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Congress speeds through short-term government funding bill before Friday shutdown deadline

WASHINGTON — Congress will have until early March to finish work it was supposed to complete last fall — and will avert a partial government shutdown — under a bill both chambers approved with broad bipartisan support Thursday.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/18/congress-speeds-through-short-term-government-funding-bill-before-friday-shutdown-deadline/?

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No deal on Ukraine, Israel aid after White House meeting with top congressional leaders

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s White House gathering with lawmakers to find a compromise on foreign aid and immigration was “productive,” U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday, but a deal has still not been reached.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/18/no-deal-on-ukraine-israel-aid-after-white-house-meeting-with-top-congressional-leaders/?

U.S. House Republicans move ahead with drive to impeach Mayorkas over immigration policy

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republicans Thursday held a second hearing on the impeachment of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, even as Mayorkas worked to reach a deal on changes in immigration law with a group of senators.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/18/u-s-house-republicans-move-ahead-with-drive-to-impeach-mayorkas-over-immigration-policy/?

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Patients struck by long COVID plead with U.S. Senate panel for more research funding

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators pledged Thursday to press for more funding to research long COVID-19 during a hearing that highlighted patients suffering from the diagnosis as well as experts studying its impacts.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/19/patients-struck-by-long-covid-plead-with-u-s-senate-panel-for-more-research-funding/?

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Health risks from nuclear contamination in St. Louis denounced at congressional hearing

The United States should not expand nuclear energy use, at least until the federal government can make up for the harms caused by previous nuclear projects, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/19/health-risks-from-nuclear-contamination-in-st-louis-denounced-at-congressional-hearing/?

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🏛️ McConnell folds

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell bowed to Donald Trump on border legislation yesterday, acknowledging his nemesis as a dominant party force.

  • McConnell, in a closed-door meeting with GOP senators, said there isn't time or political will to pass a bipartisan immigration bill this year, Punchbowl reports.

"Politics on this have changed," McConnell said of the border crisis, alluding to Trump's campaign focus.

  • Referring to Trump as "the nominee," Trump's longtime critic added: "We don't want to do anything to undermine him."

 

ps:That didn't take long!!

phkrause

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💰 Trump vows to blacklist Haley donors
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Via X

 

Former President Trump said on Truth Social last night that anyone who donates to the campaign of his only remaining 2024 Republican rival, Nikki Haley, "will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp."

  • "When I ran for Office and won, I noticed that the losing Candidate's 'Donors' would immediately come to me, and want to 'help out,'" Trump wrote.
  • "Anybody that makes a 'Contribution' to [Haley], from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp."

The other side: "Well in that case…donate here. Let's Go!" Haley tweeted.

ps:Wow what a piece of work!!

phkrause

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U.S. Senate panel examines quality, costs of assisted living centers

WASHINGTON — Bipartisan U.S. senators are sounding the alarm on cost, workforce shortages and dangerous incidents at assisted living facilities across the country as the needs of aging Americans are forecast to sharply increase.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/26/u-s-senate-panel-examines-quality-costs-of-assisted-living-centers/?

Major changes in federal flood insurance program urged by U.S. Senate panel

WASHINGTON — Congress has spent more than six years avoiding its responsibility to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, using a series of stopgap bills to extend the life of the program that has issued nearly 5 million policies.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/25/major-changes-in-federal-flood-insurance-program-urged-by-u-s-senate-panel/?

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In milestones, Black women from South Carolina and Indiana confirmed as federal judges

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed the nominations of two federal judges in South Carolina and Indiana, bringing the total number of Black women tapped by President Joe Biden and cleared by senators as federal judges to 35.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/25/in-milestones-black-women-from-south-carolina-and-indiana-confirmed-as-federal-judges/?

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U.S. Senate Republicans insist they won’t bow to Trump demands to quit immigration talks

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. Senate negotiators said Thursday that final details on an immigration policy deal remain under debate in the U.S. Senate, despite outside pressure from GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to sink any agreement as he makes immigration his central campaign message.

https://floridaphoenix.com/2024/01/26/u-s-senate-republicans-insist-they-wont-bow-to-trump-demands-to-quit-immigration-talks/?

ps:Right!! Especially since most of them have already claimed they will vote against the bill since there cult leader has asked them to!!!!!!!!!

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💰 Quiet rebellion threatens GOP tax chair

The House GOP's top tax writer doesn't just face blowback over the surprise deal he unveiled this month:

  • Now the background chatter suggests Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) could lose his gavel, Axios' Juliegrace Brufke reports.

Why it matters: Senior Republican sources said Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) — who narrowly lost a heated three-way race for the position in 2023 — has been urged to challenge the House Ways and Means chairman for the top job.

  • Removing a sitting chairman before the end of their three-term limit would be unusual.
  • The last sitting chair to be demoted before their time was in 2005.

Zoom in: Multiple GOP lawmakers fumed about how negotiations on the bipartisan tax deal were handled.

  • GOP critics said key members weren't consulted on negotiations. Some members learned of the deal on social media, a senior committee source told Axios.
  • "I don't know who the f*** he's dealing with," one lawmaker told Axios. "How does Jason Smith announce the deal before the speaker knows about it?"
  • "Jason negotiated with the Senate and the Dems. For some reason Republicans weren't included in his negotiation," the lawmaker said.

Behind the scenes: Axios spoke with members who had a range of issues with the deal. Top complaints included:

  • The lack of a change to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap.
  • Others cited the Wall Street Journal editorial board's criticisms of the language on bolstering the child tax credit.

Between the lines: With former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and top lieutenants no longer influencing committee assignments, some members said the dynamics could be more favorable for a potential challenger.

  • 'I'm sure Vern is hearing this [complaints about the panel] and most would tell you that they don't believe that Jason would have ever been Ways and Means chair if not for McCarthy," the source said.

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📝 Mayorkas faces articles of impeachment

House Republicans unveiled articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this morning, blaming him for the surge in illegal border crossings and fentanyl trafficking, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

Why it matters: Republicans are barreling toward impeachment over the logistical and humanitarian crisis at the border even as they balk at passing new, stringent policies that Biden has promised to use to "shut down the border."

  • The House Homeland Security Committee will consider the impeachment articles Tuesday morning, and Speaker Johnson has promised a floor vote "as soon as possible" after that.
  • Democrats and legal experts have criticized the effort, saying Republicans have failed to show that Mayorkas has committed any high crimes and misdemeanors — the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Keep reading

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🏛️ Immigration reform is dead
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Migrants walk along razor wire yesterday after crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S. in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol via Getty Images

Republican and Democratic senators are scrambling to pass and enact very significant restrictions on migrants flooding the U.S.-Mexico border. They seem to be missing one obvious flaw: It's dead before it arrives.

  • Why it matters: Yes, the Senate can pass it. Yes, President Biden would sign it. But, no, it won't happen.

💡 The reality: Former President Trump is the Republican Party, and he has vowed to proudly and loudly kill it. And House Republicans — mainly new Speaker Mike Johnson — are his executioners.

What's happening: Republican and Democratic senators are taking to the airwaves, scrambling to pass the all-but-dead measure, which would be one of the harshest immigration bills of the century, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

  • But the speaker called the deal "dead on arrival" on Friday, then doubled down over the weekend, claiming it wouldn't do enough to stop illegal border crossings.
  • He has said he talks frequently with Trump about the border.

A sign of Trump's influence: Oklahoma's GOP this weekend censured Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) for being a lead negotiator in the border talks.

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🐘 Scoop: New GOP rebellion
Illustration of the U.S. Capitol Dome with radial lines coming out of it
 

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

 

House Republicans are eating their own again — this time over taxes:

  • One of the most powerful members, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith of Missouri, is in danger of losing his gavel next year, Axios' Juliegrace Brufke reports.

Why it matters: The new uprising — following the loss of one speaker, and immediate internal danger for his replacement — shows the House GOP is getting no better at governing. The party has little to show for its majority, with chances rising that Democrats will win the chamber back in November.

What's happening: Senior Republican members are accusing Smith of freezing them out of a tax deal he negotiated with Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

  • The bipartisan deal would bolster the child tax credit for poorer families, along with giving business tax cuts for research and development.

Some House members criticized the deal for not providing upper-middle-class tax relief, and said it would provide undocumented immigrants a tax break.

  • The Wall Street Journal's editorial board savaged "Mr. Smith's Lousy Tax Deal": "House GOP tax writers have struck a deal to give Democrats a huge policy victory in order to please big business."

🕶️ What we're watching: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who narrowly lost the gavel to Smith last year, may launch a rematch. Buchanan could have better odds with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy gone.

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House GOP takes party-line vote toward Mayorkas impeachment as border becomes 2024 campaign issue

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans voted along party lines early Wednesday to move toward impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for a “willful and systematic” refusal to enforce immigration laws as border security becomes a top 2024 election issue.

https://apnews.com/article/mayorkas-homeland-security-impeachment-congress-f369f4b6270e59cb7b7003bc9d7ce448?

Mayorkas' fate hangs in the balance

The second-ever impeachment of a Cabinet secretary — and the first since 1876 — is likely to hinge on the votes of a few still-undecided House Republican holdouts, Axios' Andrew Solender and Stef Kight report.

Why it matters: Two storylines have largely dominated the House GOP's time in the majority: its remarkable unity on the border crisis, and its chaotic divisions on just about everything else.

  • Republicans hope that impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will energize their base and paint a portrait of incompetence and dereliction at the border ahead of the election.
  • But given the GOP's razor-thin majority — and the questionable standards some experts believe have underpinned the impeachment process — the gamble has the potential to backfire spectacularly.

State of play: The House Homeland Security Committee spent all day debating two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas ahead of a vote expected late tonight.

  • The articles charge Mayorkas with "willfully and systemically" refusing to comply with immigration laws and breaching public trust by knowingly making false statements to Congress.
  • Mayorkas responded today with a scorching six-page memo touting his agency's sharp increase in migrant deportations since May, efforts to combat criminal trafficking networks and his lifelong respect for law enforcement.
  • Democrats have locked arms against what many have called a "sham" or "bullsh*t" impeachment, meaning tonight's vote out of committee will likely be along party lines.

What to watch: Where things get interesting is on the House floor, where the Republican conference will have almost no margin for error in a vote expected to be held next week.

  • "I'm keeping an open mind on it. I want to see what the product of the committee is," Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told Axios, saying Republicans "haven't found any" evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors yet.
  • Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) said he's "not leaning in either direction," while Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) declined to tell Axios how he plans on voting.
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told Punchbowl News he remains a "lean no" on impeaching Mayorkas.

Between the lines: Complicating the House effort is the reality that Senate Republicans are on the verge of reaching a bipartisan agreement on what would be one of the harshest immigration bills of the century.

  • President Biden is eager and ready to sign the deal — but Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has declared it "dead on arrival" in the House, saying it doesn't go far enough.
  • Asked today whether he opposes the deal because former President Trump wants to campaign on the border crisis, Johnson called the notion "absurd" — before acknowledging he's spoken to Trump about the issue "at length."

The bottom line: One way or another, Mayorkas' impeachment will not culminate in his removal as DHS secretary, given his inevitable acquittal in the Senate.

phkrause

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🔎 "Squad" under scrutiny

News that Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is under criminal investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds marks the latest in a string of controversies this week involving members of the progressive "Squad":

  • Bush, who denied wrongdoing and pledged full cooperation, confirmed she's being investigated by the Justice Department, FEC and House Ethics Committee for hiring her husband for campaign security services.
  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) today disavowed 9/11 conspiracy theories that he promoted on his personal blog more than a decade ago, after the writings were unearthed by The Daily Beast.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is facing intense backlash from Republicans for a speech she delivered to Somali American constituents in Minnesota stressing that she will fight for Somalia's territorial interests. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went so far as to say they should act to "denaturalize and deport" her. Omar has dismissed the translation that set off the furor as "not only slanted but completely off."

Why it matters: As some of the polarizing members of the Democratic caucus, the Squad faces well-funded primary challenges on a perennial basis. Controversies like these only add to the scrutiny.

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🇺🇦 Tweet du jour
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Above: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff wishes House Speaker Mike Johnson a happy 52nd birthday, as the fate of new Ukraine aid — which Republicans have tied to border security — remains in serious jeopardy.

The intrigue: Johnson told Baltic officials visiting Congress today that the national security package pairing border reforms with funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan could be split up as a result of the impasse, Semafor reports.

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