House of Representatives

GOP Ignores Protests At Its Peril

Rich Lowry: “It’s beginning to look like August 2009 in reverse. In that summer of the Tea Party, conservative activists packed the town-hall meetings of Democratic congressmen and peppered them with hostile questions. It was an early sign of the abiding opposition that Obamacare would encounter, and the prelude to Democratic defeats in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Now, progressive activists are tearing a page from that playbook.”

“The scenes are highly reminiscent of 2009, with Republican officeholders struggling to control unruly forums and leaving their town-hall meetings early or not holding them in the first place.”

“The partisan temptation in this circumstance is always to dismiss the passion of the other side, which is what Democrats did to their detriment in 2009 and Republicans are doing now.”

GOP Lawmaker Defends Trump Before Rowdy Crowd

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) “fended off a crowd of protesters at a town hall Tuesday, trying to assure a rowdy audience that he doesn’t fall in line with President Trump on every issue,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Carter: “I am not here to tell you Donald Trump is perfect. I am not here to tell you I agree with everything he has done. Those of you who have studied the Bible know that God has used imperfect people to do great things before.”

Congress Goes Home to Face Angry Constituents

“As Republican lawmakers prepare to leave Washington for a weeklong congressional recess, liberal groups and Democratic Party organizers are hoping to make their homecoming as noisy and uncomfortable as possible,” the New York Times reports.

“But national organizers concede they are playing catch-up to a ‘dam-bursting level’ of grass-roots activism that has bubbled up from street protests and the small groups that have swelled into crowds outside local congressional offices.”

House Committee Probes Russian Payment to Flynn

“In an unusual bipartisan letter, House Oversight and Government Reform committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking minority member Rep. Elijah Cummings have asked a Washington-based speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, to turn over information on how much Flynn was paid for his appearance at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT — the Russian-government funded news organization — where he sat at the same table for dinner as President Vladimir Putin,” Yahoo News reports.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports the Pentagon says it “has not discovered any evidence former national security adviser Michael Flynn received authorization to accept money for a paid Russian state TV event in 2015.”

Chaffetz Seeks Charges Against Clinton Aide

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the AP reports.

Chaffetz  sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions “asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.”

GOP’s Grand Visions for Congress Fade Away

“Congressional Republicans, who craved unified control of the government to secure their aggressive conservative agenda, have instead found themselves on a legislative elliptical trainer, gliding toward nowhere,” the New York Times reports.

“At this point in Barack Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled Washington, Congress had passed a stimulus bill totaling nearly $1 trillion to address the financial crisis, approved a measure preventing pay discrimination, expanded a children’s health insurance program, and begun laying the groundwork for major health care and financial regulation bills. President George W. Bush came into office with a congressional blueprint for his signature education act, No Child Left Behind.”

“The inactivity stems from a lack of clear policy guidance — and, just as often, contradictory messages — from the Trump administration, which does not appear to have spent the campaign and transition periods forming a legislative wish list.”

Suddenly a Dimmed Zeal for Investigations

“The Republicans’ ardor for investigations and oversight, on display throughout the Obama administration, has cooled off considerably with Donald Trump in the White House,” the AP reports.

“Each day seems to bring a new headache or near-crisis from Trump, the latest being the departure of his national security adviser under questionable circumstances involving Russia. Yet if there is a line too far, at which point Republicans will feel duty-bound to call for an independent investigation of their president or his administration, Trump hasn’t crossed it yet.”

Chaffetz Says Protesters Were Paid

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R_UT) said the raucous reception he received at a town hall meeting this week was “bullying and an attempt at intimidation” from a crowd opposed to President Trump’s election, the Deseret News reports.

Said Chaffetz: “You could see it online a couple days before, a concerted effort in part to just cause chaos. Democrats are in disbelief that they have nothing but flailing and screaming to deal with this.”

He also claimed it was “more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate” than a reflection of the feelings of his constituents.

Capitol Hill Flooded with Phone Calls

“There’s been an unprecedented number of calls flooding the Senate switchboard — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office says it estimates around 1.5 million calls per day — in response to just about anything President Donald Trump has done since he took office, from his refugee ban to his pick for education secretary Betsy DeVos,” BuzzFeed reports.

“But on the receiving end of those phone calls are senators complaining that their actual constituents can’t get through.”

Here’s a cool site to help people place calls to lawmakers: 5 Calls.

Democrats Plot Protest for Trump’s Speech to Congress

“House Democrats are rallying behind a plan to make President Trump’s first speech to Congress as uncomfortable as possible by inviting guests they say will suffer under new White House policies,” The Hill reports.

“The strategy means Trump will likely face a crowd including ethnic minorities, LGBT people, undocumented immigrants, the disabled and others when he addresses a joint session on Feb. 28.”

A Warning Sign for the Separation of Powers

Rick Klein: “So most members of Congress had no idea the travel ban was coming, but a handful of congressional staffers helped the Trump administration write it? And they signed non-disclosure agreements so they wouldn’t even be able to tell their bosses (members of Congress, and, ultimately, US taxpayers) about the side work? And everyone is OK with this?”

“The disclosure that staffers on Rep. Robert Goodlatte’s House Judiciary Committee worked alongside Trump aides on this order should be rocking Capitol Hill. It suggests that the administration was trying to work as quickly as it could and as quietly as feasible – a potentially troubling template for the future. If members of Congress aren’t troubled by this, they’re missing a big warning sign for the separation of powers.”