U.S. Senate

Sen. Graham introduces bill to sanction China if it refuses to cooperate on coronavirus investigation

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Tuesday introduced legislation that would allow President Trump to impose a wide range of sanctions on the Chinese government if it refuses to cooperate with an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. “I’m convinced that without Chinese Communist Party deception the virus would not be here in the United States,” Graham said in a statement. “China refuses to allow the international community to go into the Wuhan lab to investigate. They refuse to allow investigators to study how this outbreak started. I’m convinced China will never cooperate with a serious investigation unless they are made to do so. This hard-hitting piece of legislation will sanction China until they cooperate with investigators. “ The COVID-19 Accountability Act would require Trump to certify to Congress that China had: cooperated with an international coronavirus investigation, led by either the U.S., an ally or a U.N. body; closed all relevant wet markets, and released Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters arrested during the crisis. If not, then Trump would be authorized by Congress to impose a range of sanctions — including asset freezes, travel bans and measures barring U.S. institutions from making loans to Chinese businesses. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Rick Scott, R-Fla., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Todd Young, R-Ind., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. “China must be more forthcoming as investigations begin and we endeavor to learn lessons from this disaster,” Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation will demonstrate to the communist regime in Beijing that the world needs answers on how this pandemic started and spread misery across the globe.” It comes as part of a growing appetite in Congress to investigate and possibly punish the Chinese for their actions in the initial outbreak of the crisis. House Republicans last week launched a “China Task Force” to coordinate a strategy against the geopolitical threat from Beijing — eyed as a clearinghouse to coordinate responses to the threat from China. Meanwhile, the U.S. is investigating how the virus initially spread — and particularly whether it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, or the result of transmission at a nearby wet market. Fox News reported in April that there is increasing confidence from U.S. officials about the role of the laboratory, where it is believed that naturally occurring strain was being studied as part of an effort to show Chinese superiority in identifying and combating viruses. Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell later announced that the U.S. is investigating that possibility. Meanwhile, a 15-page document from the intelligence agencies of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand was obtained by Australia’s Saturday Telegraph newspaper and reportedly found that China’s secrecy amounted to an “assault on international transparency.” The dossier highlighted the initial denial by the Chinese government that the virus could be transmitted between humans, the silencing of doctors, destruction of evidence, and a refusal to provide samples to scientists working on a vaccine. Click here for more:

Senate Democrats Block GOP Proposal for Extra $250 Billion in Small Business Aid

Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican effort to unanimously pass legislation to add $250 billion to the government’s small business loan program aimed at helping companies devastated by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to forward the bill by unanimous consent, but Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) opposed the move, pumping the brakes on President Donald Trump’s plan to bolster the “paycheck protection” program. In a Senate floor speech, McConnell affirmed that the proposal would not impact the “policy language” of the $2 trillion bi-partisan coronavirus relief package passed late last month. “We need more funding and we need it fast,” McConnell urged. “Do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more.” Several other top Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), expressed support for the plan this week. “America’s small businesses are working hard to support their employees and the communities they live in. To help them do that, Congress has passed the most ambitious relief package in history for small businesses with the Paycheck Protection Program,” said McCarthy. “The demand for that program has been overwhelming and in just one week, the federal government has provided tens of billions of dollars in relief.” “I support the Secretary’s request and following the Senate’s approval, the House should move swiftly to do the same and provide confidence to small businesses across the country that their government will be there for them,” he added. Leading up to McConnell’s request, Democrats suggested that they would shoot down the measure. Democrats want add-ons and protections to make sure businesses in disadvantaged communities are able to participate. McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outlined their positions in relatively muted rhetoric Wednesday — tacit acknowledgment of the urgency of the measure. McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin say the business program, which involves direct subsidies to companies to keep employees on payroll and pay their rent, is on track to quickly deplete its first $350 billion infusion as businesses rush to apply for the aid.

Remember this..  The Democrats in the Senate held up this emergency funding for small businesses because they wanted to tag additional things onto it.  It was a “clean bill,” which means it was just about small business emergency funding; nothing else.  Under normal circumstances, the Dems would go for this.  But, given the current crisis we’re in, they don’t want to miss the chance to add all sorts of other unrelated liberal agenda nonsense.  So, until they get their political “porn” (as Sen. John Kennedy calls it) added to the bill, they’re gonna hold it up.  Small businesses employ more than 40% of the American workforce and are in dire need of financial help right now.  Again, remember this…especially if you own, or work for, a small business.

Former Sen. Tom Coburn dies after years-long cancer battle

Former Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a fiscal conservative and a fierce opponent of wasteful spending in the federal government, has died after a years-long fight with prostate cancer. Coburn, who retired from the Senate in 2015 amid complications with cancer, died late Friday. His death was first reported by The Oklahoman. He was 72. “Because of his strong faith, he rested in the hope found in John chapter 11 verse 25 where Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even though they die.’ Today he lives in heaven,” his family said in a statement to the outlet. He served in the House from 1995 to 2001 and in the Senate from 2005 to 2015. Coburn brought his experience as a doctor to the Hill, and was known for his fiscal conservatism and his strong stance against government waste as trillion-dollar deficits became a regular occurrence in Washington D.C.. He picked up the nickname “Dr. No” and released a “Waste Book” every year that outlined some of the more egregious examples of government waste. “We’re running trillion-dollar deficits. The way you get rid of trillion-dollar deficits — a billion at a time,” Coburn told Fox News in 2012. Vice President Mike Pence hailed Coburn as “a great conservative voice in the United States Congress and American physician whose legacy will live on.” Sen, James Lankford, R-Okla., who succeeded Coburn in the Senate in 2015 paid tribute to Coburn as a “tremendous leader” and a “great friend.” “He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle,” he said in a statement. “Dr. Coburn will be remembered by many around the country for his work in Congress, but in Oklahoma, he will be remembered as a physician, a Sunday School teacher, and a mentor,” he said. He delivered over 4,000 babies and cared for thousands of moms in Muskogee. His greatest joy was his wife Carolyn and his daughters Callie, Katie, and Sarah and their families. Cindy and I pray for the Coburn family as they walk through this incredibly hard journey. They have lost a husband, father, and grandfather; we have lost a friend and a leader.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Coburn “was truly ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington.'” “Very glad his suffering is over and he is now with the Lord,” Graham said. “Tom was a great senator, a terrific husband and father, and a dear friend.”

Was very sorry to hear of former Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) passing.  For those of us who are nauseated by the grotesque wasteful spending by Congress on ridiculous nonsense that we, the taxpayers, are forced to pay for..  Tom was a nothing short of a hero.  He was an unwavering warrior fighting that crap,  His successor, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) at least for a while took up the mantle of writing the annual “Wastebook” that Tom put out every year cataloging all of the horrendous, and unconstitutional, expenditures in Congress, again, that you and I were stuck with the bill for.   Of course, given the current paradigm, that probably is on the back burner.  But, once we get back to some sense of normalcy, we hope Sen. Lankford, or someone else in the Senate or House, will take up that mission.  Our prayers go out to Carolyn and his daughters and the rest of the Coburn family during this tough time.  Thanks for all you did, for all of us, Tom.  R.I.P.

Senate Unanimously Passes Historic Coronavirus Relief Package

The Senate passed a substantial emergency relief bill on Wednesday night that would provide aid to small businesses, hospitals, and Americans suffering from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The Senate passed H.R. 748, the CARES Act, with 96 votes in favor of the bill and no senators opposed to the legislation. The legislation featured unanimous support from Republicans and Democrats. The legislation required 60 votes to pass through the Senate. The Senate coronavirus package costs roughly $2 trillion and is approximately 880-pages long. The Senate shot down an amendment to the bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), which would reverse the bill’s generous unemployment benefits. Sens. Sasse, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Rick Scott (R-FL) contended that the legislation would incentivize Americans not to work. The amendment required 60 votes to pass through the chamber. Sasse’s amendment was shot down with 48 votes in favor and 48 against the measure. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rebuffed the Republican senators’ concerns over the bill, contending this will help those who involuntarily lost their jobs. “I don’t think it will create incentives. Most Americans, what they want, they want to keep their jobs,” Mnuchin said. “We need to get this money into the American economy and American workers, that’s the importance of this,” he added. The Senate Cares Act would provide most Americans $1,200 per individual, $500 for most children, and establish a several hundred billion dollar lending aid program for businesses, cities and states, as well as aid for small businesses. The bill also omits many Democrat requests such as mandatory early voting, ballot harvesting, requirements that federal agencies analyze their use of “minority banks,” and provisions to curb airline emissions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor before the vote that the chamber “will stay nimble” to combat the coronavirus. He added that there would be no more votes in the Senate until April 20.

Think about this..  The vote was 96-0 in the Senate!  What a credit to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) leadership.  Great job Mitch!!  Now, the bill is back to the House where Nancy Pelosi, who can’t spell the word leadership and doesn’t give a damn about American workers, will dilly dally and drag this thing out, while Americans are suffering.  Hopefully, she’ll can get off her pompous ass tonight, or tomorrow latest, and get this thing passed in her chamber, and get it to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

Sen. Chuck Schumer Hit with Ethics Complaints for Threat to SCOTUS Justices

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) faces multiple ethics complaints for threatening Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the steps of the high court. Schumer declared at a Center for Reproductive Rights rally last Wednesday that the two conservative judges will “pay the price” if they vote against pro-choice advocates in a case regarding a Louisiana abortion law. “Over the last three years, women’s reproductive rights have come under attack in a way we haven’t seen in modern history. From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas, Republican legislatures are waging a war on women, all women, and they’re taking away fundamental rights,” he warned. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Following blowback from Republicans, the New York Democrat offered a non-apology, saying he “shouldn’t have used the words I did” while claiming conservatives were “manufacturing outrage” over the statement. On Friday, the National Legal Policy Center filed complaints against Schumer with both the Senate Ethics Committee and New York bar. “It strains credulity to believe that, regardless of his Brooklyn pedigree, Sen. Schumer, who is a Harvard-educated lawyer, Senator minority leader, and vocal opponent of both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, did not intend to choose the exact words he spoke as he turned and pointed to the Supreme Court behind him to further emphasize his point,” the NLPC’s complaint reads. “In short, his non-apology is a lame excuse for inexcusable conduct.” The Landmark Legal Foundation, which is chaired by conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, also submitted a complaint to the upper chamber’s ethics panel Thursday. “The Senate must immediately reprimand, if not censure, Sen. Schumer for his outrageous and dangerous attack on Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh,” said the complaint, alleging that the lawmaker’s comments could amount to “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.” In a separate complaint, attorney Joseph Gioconda wrote to New York’s Grievance Committee for the Second Judicial District: “At a minimum, Attorney/Senator Schumer’s statements appear to be improper conduct that reflects upon his character and fitness to practice law in New York.” Schumer’s remarks prompted a rare rebuke by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who called the New York Democrats’ threat both “inappropriate” and “dangerous.” “Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter,” he said. President Donald Trump also took aim at Schumer, calling for him to face “severe” punishment. “This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer. If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW!” the president tweeted. “There can be few things worse in a civilized, law abiding nation, than a United States Senator openly, and for all to see and hear, threatening the Supreme Court or its Justices. This is what Chuck Schumer just did. He must pay a severe price for this!” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a motion last Thursday to censure Schumer, with the support of 14 other Republican senators. “Senator Schumer has acknowledged that threatening statements can increase the dangers of violence against government officials when he stated on June 15, 2017, following the attempted murder of several elected Members of Congress, ‘We would all be wise to reflect on the importance of civility in our [N]ation’s politics’ and that ‘the level of nastiness, vitriol, and hate that has seeped into our politics must be excised,’ the resolution reads.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is FINALLY being called to the carpet for his outrageous, and  WAY over-the-top threatening remarks he made on the steps of the Supreme Court while they were literally in session.  Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is absolutely right in calling for him to be censured by the Senate, and we support his efforts and call on more Senate Republicans to sign on to his motion.  That’s the very least that happen from the Senate’s side.  And, hopefully these complaints to the NY state Bar and elsewhere will bear fruit.   Most in D.C. have grown accustomed to Chuck’s obnoxious grandstanding, and accept him for what he is; a duplicitous, hypocritical, self-serving, arrogant, obnoxious, extremely liberal, elitist blowhard who loves to talk down to the rest of us peasants over his reading glasses.   But, this time he crossed a line, and needs to be held to account.  As was mentioned in the article, he is a Harvard-educated attorney, and has been in politics for a VERY long time.  What he said on those steps he was reading…and he knew EXACTLY what he was saying.  So, the Senate, and the NY State Bar shouldn’t accept his bs and spin as he tries to dance around it.  He needs to be formally held to account and made and example of.  If you agree, the email BOTH of your U.S. Senators, and tell them you want Chuck to be censured.

Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general

The Senate confirmed William P. Barr as the new attorney general Thursday, giving President Trump a new top cop and special counsel Robert Mueller a new overseer. Analysts said they expect Mr. Barr to be a steadying presence — and doubted there will be much of a shift in course from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Both Sessions and Barr are very tough on crime, law enforcement-minded people on issues like drug offenses and immigration, so there is not much light or space between them,” said Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law professor who was an assistant attorney general under Mr. Barr during his first term as attorney general, for President George H.W. Bush. Mr. Barr was approved on a 54-45 vote, with only a few Democrats voting in favor, and just one Republican opposed. He was sworn in at the White House on Thursday afternoon, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administering the oath of office. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Mr. Barr’s confirmation “a major victory for justice and the rule of law in America.” During his previous stint as attorney general Mr. Barr took a strict stance on illegal immigration, and pushed for mandatory minimum sentences, just as Mr. Sessions did. That could prove to be an early test for Mr. Barr, after Mr. Trump late last year signed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that trimmed back those sentencing rules. Both Mr. Barr and Mr. Sessions had opposed it, though when asked about the legislation during his confirmation hearing, Mr. Barr promised to “faithfully enforce that law.”

Congrats to AG Barr!

Senate Rebukes Harris and Hirono on Knights of Columbus

On Wednesday the Senate approved a resolution that rebuked two Democratic senators for questioning judicial nominees about their membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. The resolution, introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), affirmed “the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States.” The Senate proceeded to affirm the resolution without objection. Last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned a judicial nominee about his membership in the Knights of Columbus and whether it would affect his ability to fairly judge cases. Brian Buescher was nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Hirono sent written questions claiming “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.” She also asked if Buescher would quit the group if confirmed “to avoid any appearance of bias.” Harris described the Knights as “an all-male society” in her questions, and also asked if Buescher knew the Knights “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he became a member. Sasse’s resolution also referenced the anti-Catholic bigotry Democratic president John F. Kennedy faced during his presidency, and cited the Knights of Columbus’s “proud tradition of standing against the forces of prejudice and oppression such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany.” The resolution asked the Senate to express its sense “that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates Clause 3 of Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States which establishes that senators ‘shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution[; but] no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.'” Sasse urged his fellow senators to rebuke the anti-Catholic attacks against Buescher. “If a senator has a problem with this resolution, you’re probably in the wrong line of work because this is what America is. This is a super basic point, no religious test. If someone has a problem with this resolution, what other parts of the Constitution are you against: freedom of the press, women’s right to vote, freedom of speech? This isn’t hard. No religious test for serving on the federal bench. We should, in this body, rebuke these anti-Catholic attacks,” Sasse said. After the resolution was affirmed, the Nebraska senator said he would report back to Buescher “that he can ignore those questions that he received about whether or not he would resign his membership in the Knights of Columbus.”

Dem. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) are nauseating, self-righteous, religious bigots.  Kudos to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb) for calling them out like this publicly on the floor of the Senate and getting this resolution passed.  Excellent!!   🙂

Lindsey Graham elected Senate Judiciary Committee chairman

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was elected Wednesday to serve as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. The role was previously held by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who announced in November that he would be stepping down. Grassley became the Senate Finance Committee Chairman on Wednesday, according to a news release. “I’m honored to be selected as chairman of the Judiciary Committee,” Graham said in a separate news release. “I will do my best to continue down the path charted by Senator Grassley of having a fair and vibrant committee process.” He said that “the confirmation of conservative judges will be one of my top priorities as chairman.” Graham said he looked forward to collaborating with fellow lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “to make this new Congress successful.” Feinstein is the ranking member on the committee. Earlier Wednesday, Graham revealed that under his leadership, the committee plans to probe allegations of government surveillance abuse amid ongoing concerns over FBI and Justice Department efforts to surveil Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 race.

 

Arizona Governor Expected to Appoint Jon Kyl as McCain’s Replacement

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to name former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl to fill Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat for the remainder of McCain’s term. McCain passed away from brain cancer last month after about a year-long battle. Gov. Ducey, in a tough re-election fight this year himself, pledged to wait until McCain was laid to rest before naming a successor. News broke Tuesday that Ducey will hold a 10:00 a.m. press conference in Phoenix, which is 1:00 p.m. Eastern: “Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s. It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona,” posted McCain’s widow, Cindy, leading up to Ducey’s announcement: The tweet gave apparent confirmation to rumors that Kyl will receive the appointment to fill the remainder of McCain’s current term in the U.S. Senate. The seat will be up for a vote next in 2020.

Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) is a wise/prudent choice to serve out the reminder of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) term.

Chuck Schumer votes against Trump judicial nominee…because he’s white

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer faced a stern rebuke from congressional colleagues for citing skin color in voting against a white federal judge nominee earlier this week. Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Wednesday that the nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum, a white lawyer who is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Greenville, S.C., “speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary.” He complained that many of Trump’s nominees have been white males. He also complained that Republicans previously held up two black judges nominated under the Obama administration for the position— which The Post and Courier notes has long been vacant. “It is long past time that the judiciary starts looking a lot more like the America it represents,” Schumer said. “Having a diversity of views and experience on the federal bench is necessary for the equal administration of justice.” The senator said that with Quattlebaum’s nomination, the Trump administration was “taking a giant step backwards” in terms of diversity. Quattlebaum was ultimately confirmed to the district judgeship on Thursday, 69-29. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, slammed Schumer for his statements. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday it was actually Schumer’s vote against Quattlebaum that was “a massive step backward.” While Schumer “is not a racist,” Graham tweeted, “this was an absolutely shameful reason to vote against a very qualified nominee like Marvin Quattlebaum.” He added, “Voting against a highly qualified nominee because of the color of his skin does nothing to bring our country and nation together.” Sen. Tim Scott, also a Republican serving South Carolina and the GOP’s sole black senator, tweeted, “Perhaps Senate Democrats should be more worried about the lack of diversity on their own staffs than attacking an extremely well-qualified judicial nominee from the great state of South Carolina.” Schumer asserted that the only reason Quattlebaum was nominated for the unoccupied position was because the state’s Republican senators didn’t return their “blue slips” — a blue form used by senators to voice approval or disapproval for a home state nominee — for Obama nominees Alison Lee and Don Beatty in 2013. Democrats have said that Republicans used blue slips to block about 18 of Obama’s nominations, arguing the denial of a hearing for a nominee without two blue slips was fine with Republicans then. Democrats said the policy shouldn’t change just because the person who sits in the White House is different. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., countered on Twitter that Lee’s nomination “was withdrawn because of a significant bond issue” and Beatty eventually was appointed as the Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court.

And who, exactly is the real racist here?  Exactly…  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is notorious for shamelessly playing the race card.  Looks like it may have backfired just a little this time..  Regardless, another very qualified Trump nominee has been confirmed, despite the outrageous, hypocritical, and offensive political posturing by Chuck Schumer.  Congrats to this new judge!