Senate Republicans Plan ‘Stunning Rebuke’ of Trump

Senate Republicans are not happy with Donald Trump, and today plan to take action that has been described as a “stunning rebuke” of the president.

For weeks now, GOP senators have told Trump not to declare a national emergency to build a border wall. Mitch McConnell and other Republican Senate leaders have completely rejected his national ­security policy in Syria and Afghanistan.

Senate Republicans were heavily bruised in the lengthy fight over the Trump’s government shutdown, the longest in history. And now they are sending out clear signals of their unhappiness with the administration on foreign policy. At the same time, Trump is threatening to cause another shutdown next month, and is heavily criticizing the heads of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Frustrated Republicans read more

Trump Has Made a Massive Mistake in Splitting the GOP

When Donald Trump created divisions within America he was elected president. But now he is creating divisions within his own party, which may lead to his downfall.

On Saturday he gave a speech outlining his plan to get a border wall and to re-open the U.S. government. But his plan was immediately rejected by Democrats, so it was a complete failure as a compromise, and it got him no more political support among either Democrats or independents.

Among Republicans and his anti-immigrant base of supporters, however, Trump’s proposal was a complete disaster.

Somehow, the self-described political genius in the Oval Office managed to make everybody unhappy, but especially Republicans. And in so doing, he has highlighted a major fissure within the GOP on the issue of immigration. He has opened a deep wound which will be very difficult to heal.

Trump’s compromise plan was to give 1 million immigrants (700,000 “Dreamers” under the DACA program and 300,000 resident refugees facing expiration of their “temporary protected status”) three years of protection from deportation in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for the wall.

“Mainstream” Republicans such as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, praised his leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to get a Senate vote on his proposal next week.

But the anti-immigrant conservative wing of the party were incensed that Trump dared to offer “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

Ann Coulter tweeted:

Trump proposes amnesty.  We voted for Trump and got Jeb!”

And she wasn’t the only hardline Republican calling Trump’s plan “amnesty.”

James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation issued a statement saying:

“Amnesty encourages further illegal immigration, incentivizes the tragedy of human trafficking, and undermines our citizens’ confidence in the rule of law.”

“Amnesty should not be part of any border security deal, especially given that many who today oppose a wall have publicly supported and even voted for physical barriers in the recent past.”

So the president has a huge political problem now. He managed to divide Republicans at a crucial time, while also solidifying a united Democratic Party that opposes him.

He has no chance of breaking Democratic opposition to his border wall. And congressional Democrats were quick to reject his plan.

The political question is whether Trump‘s latest proposal will shift the blame to Democrats for the longest government shutdown in history. Polls have consistently shown that most Americans blame him — he once said he would be “proud” to allow a lapse in funding for federal agencies in order to force Democrats to capitulate on the wall money — and that only about a third of them see Democrats as the culprits.

This is not likely to change after yesterday’s speech. So the shutdown is slowly but surely turning into a political disaster for Trump. And

members of his own party are starting to panic. read more

Senate Democrats Block Their First Bill in New Strategy to End Shutdown

On Tuesday evening Democrats in the U.S. Senate succeeded in voting down a Middle East policy bill that had been put forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The move was a way for the Democrats to protest President Trump’s government shutdown. If the impasse over funding the government continues they may vote again to block McConnell‘s agenda in the near future.

The Senate’s rejection of the bill on a 56-44 vote may be the first of many attempts by Democrats to stop Senate business and disrupt McConnell’s efforts at passing legislation.

The Middle East policy bill was blocked even though Democratic senators will probably support the policy of sanctioning Syria contained in the bill. Democratic leaders have discussed behind closed doors how they plan to deal with votes on the floor as the shutdown continues. They want to send a message to Republicans while at the same time avoid being seen as obstructionist which may hurt them politically.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer wants to keep the focus of his colleagues on the government shutdown, however. He also wants to publicize and increase awareness of the role of McConnell in refusing to bring the House Democrats’ government funding bills up for a vote in the Senate.

McConnell has taken the position that he will bring up in the Senate only funding bills that the president says in advance that he’s willing to sign. The funding bills passed by the House do not provide the money Trump has requested for a border wall, and he has said he would refuse to sign them.

Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii explained the rationale that he and other Democrats have for voting against advancing the Middle East  bill:

“It is preposterous that we are going to treat this week like some kind of mellow catch-up week where we do miscellaneous items that haven’t been able to get floor time. The first thing we should do is reopen the government. I’m voting “no” tonight to make that point.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said:

“We think the first order of business should be opening the government. McConnell’s position that he’s going to wait for a message from the president? I hope his caucus reminds him one of the branches of government has its own responsibility.”

Just four Democrats voted “yes” on the Middle East bill after an effort to defeat it was led by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Last weekend Van Hollen began a movement for Senate Democrats to

block all other business in the upper chamber until the government shutdown was ended. read more

How Jeff Flake Is Controlling the Kavanaugh Confirmation Process

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is now in charge of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he knows it.

Flake knows that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell need his vote in favor of Kavanaugh. He knows that if he votes “no” then Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are likely to vote “no” also and Kavanaugh’s nomination will never be approved.

Flake first started throwing his weight around last week when he demanded an FBI investigation and a one-week delay in a Senate vote on Kavanaugh. He got that when he was backed up in his request by both Collins and Murkowski.

Then, when NBC News reported that Donald Trump and Don McGahn were improperly restricting the scope of the FBI probe he got involved again. Due to Flake’s insistence, the White House made a big deal of announcing yesterday that the FBI was not to be limited in its investigation. The only restriction, according to Trump, is that he wanted it all done within one week.

And then yesterday, in an interview with John Heilemann from MSNBC, Flake once again asserted his power, implying that one week might not be long enough to get at the truth.

On Sunday night Flake was on the CBS show “60 Minutes” doing an interview along with his friend Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Flake, along with Coons, made very clear that if Kavanaugh were found by the FBI to have lied under oath, it would be a disqualifier and

his nomination would be “over.” read more

GOP Senators Waiting For Collins To Decide on Kavanaugh

We’ve always known that GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine would be important to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. But we didn’t know exactly how important until yesterday.

According to The Hill, Collins is the one person who will make or break Kavanaugh’s opportunity to become a Supreme Court justice. It turns out that many senators of both parties are waiting to see what Collins decides to do on the Kavanaugh nomination before they announce their own decisions.

As Fox News reported yesterday, eight GOP senators have not announced where they stand on Kavanaugh, and four of them are definitely undecided: Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

All Republican senators will be forced to make their decisions known if Mitch McConnell holds a floor vote on Kavanaugh.

And according to The Hill, “Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has asked centrist members of his caucus to keep their powder dry on Kavanaugh until they know where all Republicans stand.”

Kavanaugh will have no chance to be confirmed if Collins says she believes Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982. However, if Collins rejects Ford’s accusations and announces support for Kavanaugh, Democrats will have no chance to stop the nomination.

Yesterday Collins added a new wrinkle to this week’s drama when she said that she wanted the second Kavanaugh accuser

to also testify before the Judiciary Committee. read more