Senate

Woman Says Franken Inappropriately Touched Her

“A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair.”

“It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.”

Next Wave of Sexual Harassment Charges Anticipated

Jonathan Swan: “Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he’s gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members.”

Clinton Says the Difference Is In the Apology

“Hillary Clinton slammed President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore over their alleged sexual misconduct, criticizing them for not ‘accepting responsibility’ and ‘apologizing’ for their reported transgressions as Sen. Al Franken did,” Politico reports.

“Clinton said that Franken, who was accused this week of groping a female broadcaster in 2006, acted responsibly by owning up to his actions and publicly apologizing for them — a far cry from the response given by Trump and Moore.”

Republicans Quietly Blow Up ‘Blue Slips’

Politico: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is burning the blue slip for some judicial nominees. The Iowa Republican announced Thursday that he is going ahead with a confirmation hearing for a nominee to the powerful appellate courts despite the objections of a Democrat who had been blocking the nomination for months. The move will likely escalate the judicial wars in the Senate.”

“The blue slip process is a century-old Senate tradition that says the Judiciary Committee doesn’t hold a confirmation hearing for potential judges without approval from permission from the candidate’s home-state senators… Previous committee chairs have rigidly adhered to the blue-slip rule for district court nominees, whose courts span just a single state.  But they have been more flexible for the more influential and powerful circuit courts.  Democrats pointed out that Grassley, as chairman during the final two years of Obama’s presidency, declined to hold hearings for nine of Obama’s judicial picks because of the blue slip policy.”

A Brutal Month Ahead on Capitol Hill

Playbook: “December is going to be really, really, really brutal. Spending caps deal. Government funding. Potential legislation to deal with the expiration of DACA. Action to prop up the health care law. And now, we hear that  the debt ceiling could be part of the mix in the final month of the year, as well. Treasury says Congress has until January to lift the debt limit, but some say if Congress is going to slap together a big package, the debt limit might as well be included. No one really wants to raise the debt limit in an election year, anyway. But the negotiations have to be going really well for the debt limit to be included. It’s not a must-pass at the end of the year, and it could just as easily slip to 2018. In other words, Republicans tell us they won’t let the debt limit be a bargaining chip for Democrats who are trying to get a DACA deal.”

“We also hear Congress will pass a short-term government funding bill in time for the Dec. 8 deadline, kicking the deadline toward the end of the month in time for a large spending deal. Oh yeah – the White House has made it clear they want tax reform done in December as well. Whoever wins the Alabama Senate race will join the chamber toward the end of December, too. This could easily be the most consequential legislative month in years.”

McConnell Calls for Ethics Investigation Into Franken

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Roll Call reports.

Said McConnell: “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Franken Accused of Groping and Unwanted Kissing

Leeann Tweeden writes that she was kissed and groped by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on a USO Tour in 2006.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

Franken responds: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

How Republicans Are Gaming Budget Rules

Jonathan Chait: “The genius of the Republican plan, if they pull it off, is that they are using hostage-taking in a novel fashion. They are using a 50-vote bill to pass the things Republicans care about, and setting up other, 60-vote bills to fix them. The partisan bill adds up on paper because it doesn’t include the cost of the bailout, which they can assume will be bipartisan.”

“Democrats can complain about this abuse of the rules, but the more productive course is to think of ways of imitating it. For instance: Suppose Democrats win control of Congress and the presidency, but cannot clear a filibuster (and also lack the votes to eliminate it). For instance: What if they decide to pay for an expanded Medicaid or Medicare buy-in plan by imposing a really gigantic tax hike on the rich — higher than even Democrats would like to see? Like a 90 percent top tax rate? Then they can invite Republicans to join them in a follow-up bill to cut that rate back down to a reasonable level.”

“If the rule is that majority-only bills have to add up, but bipartisan bills can increase the deficit all they want, then you can offload the costs of your bills by creating incentives for the other party to join in. In the short run, Republicans may have figured out a way around budget rules. In the long run, Democrats can do the same thing.”

Quote of the Day

“As a member of the Republican Party and an elected Republican, there’s no circumstance under which having a Democrat would be better… That said, anybody who violates the moral code of ethics and decency should not be serving in the United States Senate.”

— Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), quoted by the Marietta Daily Journal, on Roy Moore’s (R) troubled candidacy in Alabama.

Every Vote Would Be the Deciding Vote

James Hohmann: “A victory by Democratic candidate Doug Jones would narrow the GOP’s margin of control in the Senate from 52-48 to 51-49. This would make every single Republican ‘the deciding vote’ on every bill, which anyone who has ever had an attack ad run against them in a race for Congress will tell you is not a great spot to be in. (Just ask the Democratic senators who voted for Obamacare…)”

“Mike Pence has already cast five tiebreaking votes in 2017. That’s more than any other vice president during their first year of office in U.S. history.”

Earlier for members: Republicans Lose Either Way In Alabama

Sexual Harassment Rampant on Capitol Hill

CNN: “Be extra careful of the male lawmakers who sleep in their offices — they can be trouble. Avoid finding yourself alone with a congressman or senator in elevators, late-night meetings or events where alcohol is flowing. And think twice before speaking out about sexual harassment from a boss — it could cost you your career.”

“These are a few of the unwritten rules that some female lawmakers, staff and interns say they follow on Capitol Hill, where they say harassment and coercion is pervasive on both sides of the rotunda.”