After the Republicans were forced— not by a Trumpanzee tweet, but by mighty roar from the media and, more important, from the public— to remove an amendment by accused pedophile Robert Goodlatte attempting to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Republican Rules package, the package of rules sponsored by the most ethics-free member of Congress, car thief Darrell Issa, came to the floor late Wednesday. H.R. 21 was supported by every single Republican and passed 238-184. Isaa was only able to round up one Democratic co-sponsor, far right Blue Dog Collin Peterson (MN).
First the Democrats offered a motion to recommit. As Judiciary Committee ranking member, Jerry Nadler explained what was wrong with Issa’s and Goodlatte’s rules package even after the anti-ethics provision was forced out of it. Democrats are furious over the Republican’s unprecedented attempts to limit freedom of speech on the floor of the House:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H. Res. 5, the Republican rules package. As Republicans prepare to control all levers of government, their first course of action was to shield Members of Congress from independent ethics oversight, and to block free speech on the House floor. This is an assault on democracy, and a dangerous way to begin a new Congress.
Fortunately, after a groundswell of opposition, they have withdrawn their outrageous proposal to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, which would have removed its independence and severely limited its power. Our democracy rests on the consent of the governed. It can only truly function if the American people make their voices heard and hold their elected representatives responsible when they act in a manner that is contrary to their beliefs. It is a testament to the grassroots in this country that the Republicans were forced to reverse course. I hope the American people will continue to demand open and honest government as we face the many challenges ahead.
Unfortunately, this resolution still includes an equally troubling provision – a gag rule that imposes steep fines on any Member who records proceedings on the House floor, and prohibits certain conduct deemed to be “disorderly and disruptive.” This is obviously in response to last year's Democratic sit-in protesting the Republican refusal to allow debate on legislation to protect Americans from the epidemic of gun violence. After the Republican Leadership shut off C-SPAN cameras, resourceful Democratic Members used social media to broadcast the protest so that the public could hear its elected representatives demand that the House, at long last, consider reasonable gun safety legislation.
The lesson Republicans drew from this protest, however, was not that Americans should be protected from the scourge of gun violence. It was that Members who stand up and say “Enough is enough” should be punished for taking extraordinary measures to make sure their voices are heard. That is an outrage!
This is the People’s House. It is supposed to foster free speech and free expression, as protected by the First Amendment and the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. This provision would have a chilling effect on speech, and would punish Members who ensure that the public has access to floor proceedings.
The initial draft of this resolution would have done all this without any due process whatsoever. Although it has now been amended to include some limited right of appeal to the Ethics Committee, this provision is still constitutionally dubious, at best.
I find it ironic that, in the same week that we read the Constitution on the House floor, we are taking up a resolution that is so at odds with some of the Constitution’s most cherished principles. As we prepare to inaugurate a President who will be violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause from the day he is sworn in, I would hope that this House would be more faithful to our founding values.
I urge a no vote on this resolution.
Three libertarian-leaning Republicans, sticklers for the Constitution, backed Nadler: Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). But when it came to the final votes on the rules package, even they recrossed the aisle and voted with the GOP. So did 4 of the worst Democrats left in the House. Now that Blue Dog garbage dumps Brad Ashford (NE) and Gwen Graham (FL) were forced out of Congress, there’s a battle between Blue Dogs about who will have the worst voting record. And so far the winner is, quite predictably, Arizona psychopath Kyrsten Sinema, the most likely Democrat to flip parties. Sinema was the only “Democrat” to vote against the Motion to Recommit. And she was one of the 4 Blue Dogs to vote for the final Republican package. No surprises in who the betrayers are, although one is a relatively new name:
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
• Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Gottheimer was just elected from northern New Jersey. He ran against one of Congress’ most repulsive Republicans, Scott Garrett, and on November 9 Bergen County residents woke up to some good news and some bad news. The good news was that Garrett was on the losing end of a 156,863 (50.5%) to 146,643 (47.2%) result. It was the Bergen County voters who had finally grown tired of Garrett's extremism and who had turned him out. In 2012 he won Bergen County with 100,874 votes. This time, with far more people voting, only 93,430 in Bergen County went for Garrett. 121,875 voted for Gottheimer. And that's the bad news, of course: Gottheimer won. It looks like this will turn out to be the most expensive House race in New Jersey history. Outside spending was through the roof. Ryan's House Leadership PAC and the NRCC refused to spend a nickel on the widely disliked Garrett. Only another of crooked hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer's PACs, the American Principles Fund, kicked in any substantial money for Garrett– $309,025. Meanwhile, smelling blood in the water, the DCCC and its allies, excited to get another slimeball Blue Dog into Congress, spent a gargantuan $6.4 million attacking Garrett and bolstering Gottheimer. It worked. I wonder if they'll think it was worth it when Gottheimer becomes a regular supporter of Paul Ryan's agenda. No comment today from Pelosi about what that $6.4 bought the Democrats in light of Gottheimer’s first little test. Gottheimer, of course, joined both the Blue Dog and the New Dems caucuses, as expected– the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. I’m willing to bet that in her dotage Pelosi still puts Gottheimer on the committee he wants: House Financial Services.
Gottheimer outraised Garrett $4,752,116 to $2,414,302, and Wall Street, which has backed Garrett’s whole career, shifted towards Gottheimer this time— $501,871 for him, “just” $354,005 for Garrett. The Finance Sector, clearly, was his top financier, as you can see from this chart of where his campaign cash came from:
Of all candidates running for the House this cycle— incumbents and challengers— only 2 corrupt bankster-owned Democrats took over a million dollars in bribes from the Finance Sector, Kyrsten Sinema ($1,056,190) and Joe Crowley ($1,049,573). In all, only 5 Democrats got more than Gottheimer. I guess the banksters have some expectations— and reason to believe their $884,619 investment will pay off. If Wednesday’s vote was any indication, they made a good bet. Now let’s see Pelosi make sure Gottheimer gets on a committee where he can serve their interests and further undercut Democratic Party values and principles.
The Republicans’ Midnight Rules Relief Act also gives Congress the power to overturn all of Obama’s final year’s regulations by allowing lawmakers to bundle them all together and overturn them all at once. Gottheimer, who isn’t publicly talking about becoming a Republican yet, read a statement that sounds like it could have been written by Scott Garrett:
“For too long, unnecessary and out-of-date regulations have been able to pile up on the books, burdening businesses large and small, and passing hidden costs along to families. I also think it's critical that Congress is always a check on regulation, regardless of who is in the White House. I will support efforts to cut unnecessary and out-of-date regulations and help New Jersey's businesses and families grow and prosper.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis