McConnell Blocks Senate Bill That Would Reopen Government

“Missing in Action” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) misused his power once again on Thursday when he blocked legislation that would have reopened most of the federal government agencies that have been closed by Trump’s shutdown.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) attempted to get McConnell’s consent to consider a House-passed bill that would reopen all closed agencies except the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS, which has authority over and responsibility for border security, is at the center of the shutdown fight. Trump wants Congress to approve $5.7 billion for the DHS to begin constructing a security wall along the U.S.- Mexican border.

Kaine’s efforts were not successful for a very simple reason: McConnell did not approve of them.

The powerful Republican Senate leader did not offer any explanation from the Senate floor as to why he killed Kaine’s motion. He has, however, been saying for several weeks that he will not bring up in the Senate any House-passed government funding bill unless it’s approved in advance by President Trump. Which means the House would have to approve Trump’s $5.7 billion request, which they won’t — and probably can’t — do.

On Tuesday McConnell made the following statement after blocking a House-approved bill that would fund parts of the government that have been closed due to Trump’s shutdown:

“The solution to this is a negotiation between the one person in the country who can sign something into law, the president of the United States, and our Democratic colleagues.”

McConnell also refused to approve a piece of legislation to fund DHS through February 8 which the House has passed.

This is the third time that

McConnell has blocked House-passed government funding bills read more

Senators and Legal Experts Condemn Illegal Syrian Air Strikes

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)  and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have strongly criticized Donald Trump’s authorization of military strikes in Syria.

“President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and – absent a broader strategy – it’s reckless,” Kaine said yesterday. 

Kaine has always said that presidents must obtain prior congressional approval for military action.

“Last week, President Trump was adamant that the U.S. was leaving Syria imminently,” Kaine said. ”This week, he is opening a new military front. Assad must face consequences for his war crimes, but presidents cannot initiate military action when there isn’t an imminent threat to American lives.”

Congress, he added, should not give Trump a blank check to wage war.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is also condemning Friday’s military strikes on Syria as “illegal and unauthorized.”

“It is Congress, not the president, which has the constitutional responsibility for making war,” Sanders said Friday night.

“After 17 years of war in Afghanistan and 15 years of war in Iraq, the Middle East needs a political strategy to bring peace, not more American military intervention,” Sanders said.

In the U.S. Congress Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said Saturday morning that Trump must seek authority for military action from Congress “immediately.”

“The missile strikes occurred in a context where the United States has no clear policy in Syria or the region and at a time when there is real potential for escalation into a conflict with Russia and Iran,” the Congressman said.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May published her legal case for military domaction, saying the air strikes on Syria were legally justified on humanitarian grounds.  U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn however described the action as “legally questionable”.

President Trump has asserted that the United States was prepared to continue the attacks until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons.  Saturday morning he tweeted to praise the military but in doing so echoed the fateful words of President George W. Bush 15 years ago:

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” he wrote. “Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

Despite his boasting,

the president’s legal authority to attack Bashar Assad is conspicuously missing in action read more