Senate

Paul Attacker Sentenced to 30 Days In Prison

Rene Boucher was sentenced to 30 days in federal prison for assaulting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), WKYT reports.

“Rene Boucher pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of assaulting a member of Congress. Boucher says the attack was triggered by Paul stacking yard debris near his property line. Paul suffered broken ribs in the November attack.”

Orrin Hatch, Then and Now

“I wouldn’t want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I’d want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school.”

— Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune in 1977.

“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.”

— Hatch, quoted by the Washington Post, in a speech yesterday honoring Pride Month.

GOP Senators Clash Behind Closed Doors

GOP infighting reached a new level, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) berating Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for pushing his amendment that would allow Congress to block President Trump’s tariffs, Politico reports.

At one point Graham said, “You don’t care about the Republican Party because you’re leaving.”

“Senators later tried to play down the conflict, but Republicans are clearly frustrated with each other,” with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) commenting: “Basically what everybody told me is: Be glad you weren’t there.”

The Events that Set Off Rand Paul’s Neighbor

Roll Call has new details of what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did to provoke his neighbor to attack him last year.

“In September 2017 the junior GOP senator from Kentucky stacked a 10-foot-wide mound of branches near the line separating his property… Boucher found the pile of tree limbs and other flotsam ‘unsightly’… In October, Boucher had the branches loaded into portable dumpsters and carried off. But then, other piles appeared — two of them.”

“Boucher poured gasoline on the woodpiles and incinerated them, giving himself second-degree burns in the process.”

“The next day, the senator blew leaves into Boucher’s yard with his lawnmower. He made another branch pile in the same spot as the previous ones. Boucher had had enough.”

Romney Plans to Be Major Player in the Senate

“Mitt Romney is mapping out plans to become a major player in the Senate — positioning himself to be the spokesman of a listless Republican Party establishment that’s been steamrolled by President Trump,” Politico reports.

“The failed presidential candidate turned Utah Senate hopeful has made it clear to senior party officials that he intends to make a splash with his all-but-certain arrival on Capitol Hill next year… He’s conveyed a desire to be a loud voice on fiscal issues, railing against the ballooning federal deficit and how Congress approves last-minute spending bills. He’s expressed an interest in joining the foreign affairs committee, saying he wants to speak out on the importance of the country’s role abroad and the threat posed by Russia.”

“And his top aides have broached the prospect that Romney could tap into the expansive national fundraising network that he established during his 2012 presidential bid to bankroll GOP candidates.”

Quote of the Day

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) told NPR that she wants federal judges who are fair, qualified, and “care about individual and civil rights.”

And then, without missing a beat, she added: “If that’s considered liberal, as opposed to what I call justice and fairness, as I am wont to say, fuck them!”

Democrats Will Turn August Into Health Care Month

Playbook: “Senate Democrats, forced by Republicans to stay in Washington during the August recess, are planning to try to turn the session into a referendum on Republicans’ handling of health-care policy.”

Said a senior Senate Democratic aide: “August will be health care month. Every time they say ‘nominations,’ we’ll say ‘lower premiums.’ When they say ‘appropriations process,’ we’ll say ‘bring down drug prices.’ Health care has been President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ biggest failure, and it’s the issue that’s top of mind for voters. We’re going to be relentless in pushing to prevent the Republican rate hikes that are set to land just before Election Day.”

McConnell Cancels Most of August Recess

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “told lawmakers that the Senate will recess for one week instead of four to work on nominations and legislation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The additional workweeks in August mean that endangered Democratic senators on the ballot this year will face a dilemma: Attend to Senate business during time they could otherwise use to campaign back home or remain in their states and face criticism that they are shirking their responsibilities in government.”

Durbin Would Commute Blagojevich’s Sentence

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that he would support a move by President Trump to commute the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), the Washington Post reports.

Said Durbin: “I think that the sentence imposed on Rod Blagojevich was definitely way too long. Fourteen years, it didn’t make sense.”

Durbin said he would not comment on Blagojevich’s culpability but said he believes the length of his sentence was “outrageous.”

Arizona Governor Meets with McCain

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) quietly met with Sen. John McCain (R) and his wife, Cindy, at the couple’s home outside Sedona, Arizona, The Hill reports.

“The meeting, which was not on the governor’s official schedule, comes amid speculation over whom the Republican governor would appoint to fill the Senate seat should the ailing 81-year-old senior lawmaker and Vietnam War hero unexpectedly leave office. Under state law, Wednesday marks the final day that a vacancy for McCain’s seat could trigger a special election before 2020. After Wednesday, Ducey will have the power to appoint someone to the Senate seat if it did become open.”

Arizona Republic: “In recent days, various media outlets have published reports about whom Ducey might appoint, speculating that the senator’s wife, Cindy, is among those under consideration.”

McConnell Set to Pass Dole as Longest Serving GOP Leader

Politico: “On June 12, McConnell will surpass the 11-plus-year run of former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas to become the longest-serving Republican Senate leader ever.”

“It’s a remarkable feat given the turmoil in the Republican Party since Trump’s takeover: The House GOP will soon be on its third party leader in little more than three years, while the lower rungs of Senate leadership are about to experience significant turnover. McConnell is on his third president as Republican leader.”

Senate Panel Divided on Evidence of Collusion

“The Senate Intelligence Committee remains deeply divided over whether there is evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia after a year-long investigation, the latest sign that Congress is unlikely to find consensus over a key question surrounding the 2016 elections,” CNN reports.

“Republicans on the panel maintain they’ve seen no evidence of collusion, while Democrats say it’s clear that the Russians had found willing partners in the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 race.”

McConnell Says He Still Supports Mueller Investigation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told NPR that he continues to support the Mueller Russia investigation — and that nothing in Thursday’s hotly anticipated secret briefing on the Russia probe to congressional leaders changed his mind.

Said McConnell: “The two investigations going on that I think will give us the answers to the questions that you raise — the [inspector general] investigation in the Justice Department and the Mueller investigation. I support both of them, and I don’t really have anything to add to this subject based upon the Gang of Eight briefing that we had today, which was classified.”