The Senate voted along party lines Saturday afternoon to advance a sweeping bill to reform the tax code, tackle climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs, taking a big step closer to giving President Biden a major victory before the November midterm elections.
The Senate voted 51 to 50 to proceed to the 755-page bill, after Vice President Kamala Harris arrived at the Capitol to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The vote puts the bill on a trajectory to pass the Senate sometime Sunday, barring an unexpected setback, such as the sudden absence of a Democratic senator.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed the bill’s impending passage as a major achievement.
“The time has come for the Senate to begin debate on this historic piece of legislation. The Inflation Reduction Act is a groundbreaking bill for the American people, for families struggling to pay the bills, for seniors struggling to pay for medication, for kids struggling with asthma,” Schumer said on the floor moments before the vote.
By Julia Shapero
July 11, 2022
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called on the Senate on Monday to say whether Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath about their views on Roe v. Wade.
The big picture: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh both said during their Senate confirmation hearings that they viewed Roe v. Wade as settled precedent. The justices' statements have since come under increased scrutiny after they joined the majority opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade last month.
Driving the news: Ocasio-Cortez, along with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), asked the Senate to issue a finding on whether Kavanaugh and Gorsuch lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Multiple Supreme Court Justices misled the American people during their confirmation hearings about their views on Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood," they said in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "At least two of them, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, directly lied to Senators."
"We respect the right of individual Justices to have their own views on various constitutional issues," they added. "But we cannot have a system where Justices lie about their views in order to get confirmed. That makes a mockery of the confirmation power, and of the separation of powers."
Background: Ocasio-Cortez has expressed her concerns about Gorsuch and Kavanaugh multiple times since the Roe ruling.
The congresswoman told "Meet the Press" in late June that impeachment should be "very seriously considered" if the justices lied during their confirmation hearings.
She also sarcastically tweeted "[t]he least they could do is let him eat cake" on Friday after Kavanaugh was forced out of a restaurant by abortion rights protesters.
The world’s most embarrassing body. March 23, 2022
Robert B. Hubbell
[Audio version here]
There are many urgent issues on the Supreme Court’s docket. Whether a children’s book should address racism is not one of them. Other matters not on the Supreme Court’s docket include:
“Critical race theory”
The curriculum at a private children’s day school in Georgetown
The number of police officers needed in the U.S.
On a scale of 1-to-10, how “faithful” Judge Jackson is in her religious practices
“Should we catch more murderers?”
Incredibly, each of the above topics was the subject of insulting and puerile questioning of Judge Jackson in her confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (I have omitted the most disgusting line of questions about child pornography, posed by white nationalist Josh Hawley in lurid detail.) The questions were embarrassing not only to the Republicans who asked the questions but also to the Senate as an institution. It is within the power of the Senate leadership to prevent (or punish) such abuses of its constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on presidential appointments to the Supreme Court. The Senate is a broken institution. When will it heal itself?
The questioning by Republicans suggests that they lack a basic understanding of the role of the courts and Congress. Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton all criticized Judge Jackson for following the sentencing requirements mandated by statute and implemented by an independent commission created by Congress. If Republicans don’t like sentences imposed by federal judges, it is up to Congress to change the guidelines, not judges—a point Judge Jackson repeatedly made with admirable restraint.
Judge Jackson handled the questions with poise, patience, and candor. The only criticism of Judge Jackson’s “performance” was that she is not a “political animal” who arrived armed with pithy but meaningless soundbites like “I only call balls and strikes.” Dahlia Lithwick called that lack of political instinct Judge Jackson’s greatest strength and her greatest weakness. If Judge Jackson's greatest weakness is the inability to engage in political gamesmanship, we need more judges like her, not fewer.
Comments by Putin spokesperson on use of nuclear weapons.
Some of you might have seen and become anxious over comments by Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, that Russia could not rule out the use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced “an existential threat.” The statement came in response to questioning by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during a live interview. See CNN, Dmitry Peskov, Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an ‘existential threat’. While Russia’s repeated references to the use of nuclear weapons are alarming, I want to put the comments by Peskov into context. In short, Peskov merely repeated Russia’s current policy on the use of nuclear weapons, and his statement did not represent a “new” threat or an “escalation” of nuclear tensions.
Two years ago, Putin published a “nuclear use” doctrine that said Russia reserved the right to use nuclear deterrence if Russia faced an existential threat. See The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, Read the fine print: Russia’s nuclear weapon use policy. Here is Russia’s policy:
The Russian Federation retains the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies . . . and also in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is put under threat.
So, Peskov’s comments do not represent an escalation of nuclear tensions, but they highlight the fine line that the Biden administration is attempting to observe in supporting Ukraine.
Putin’s war on the Ukrainian people.
Reports continue to suggest that the Russian ground forces in Ukraine are losing military capability. Ukraine claims that invading Russian troops have only three days of food and fuel remaining. A U.S. spokesperson said that some Russian troops are suffering from frostbite because they do not have winter gear for prolonged exposure to cold. Per Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukrainian troops repelled seven Russian assaults and shot down five Russian aircraft on Tuesday. All of which may explain why Belarus may be preparing to invade Ukraine.
Still, the war of attrition against civilians is prompting President Zelensky to plead for direct negotiations with Putin to end the war. See Axios, Zelensky floats possible Putin compromises. Per Axios, Zelensky is willing to provide a neutrality guarantee, concede the independent status of the Donbas region, and recognize the annexation of Crimea. In exchange, Zelensky wants a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and security guarantees.
Russia continues its siege of Mariupol, shelling the city from warships and cutting off the population from electricity, food, and water. Putin is committing war crimes against the Ukrainian people, but it is time to acknowledge that the crimes are being committed by Russian soldiers who are targeting civilians and non-military targets. The International Criminal Court should clarify that it is investigating everyone committing war crimes. Russia’s troops must understand that “I was just following orders” is not a defense to killing civilians, even during a war.
The Biden administration will expand sanctions to include 300 members of Russia’s State Duma as Biden heads to Europe to meet with NATO allies on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army continues to fight valiantly, the Ukrainian people continue to demonstrate bravery, and President Zelensky continues to distinguish himself as a wartime leader. If Ukraine defeats Russia (or even fights to a stalemate), it will have rendered a great service to the entire world.
Second conviction of January 6th insurrectionist.
The US Attorney in D.C. obtained the second conviction of a January 6th insurrectionist. See Business Insider, Guilty: Cowboys for Trump’ founder Couy Griffin convicted in the second January 6 trial. After a trial presided over by a federal judge (rather than a jury), the defendant was convicted of two charges related to illegal entry of the Capitol but cleared of the charge of interfering with an official proceeding. The conviction disposes of certain technical defenses that may be raised by future defendants—making future guilty pleas more likely.
Belarus grants asylum to January 6th Insurrectionist.
A January 6th insurrectionist indicted on fourteen criminal counts fled to Belarus several months ago. On Tuesday, Belarus granted the defendant asylum. See Talking Points Memo, Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Granted Asylum In Belarus, According To State Media. The defendant, Evan Neumann, was charged with assaulting police officers and engaging in violence with a deadly weapon.
Although the grant of asylum is maddening, it is a bad development for the apologists who seek to portray the insurrectionists as “misunderstood patriots.” Misunderstood patriots don’t flee to hostile states to seek asylum. Belarus is actively assisting Putin in his war on the Ukrainian people. Being granted asylum by Belarus is a mark of shame that will tarnish the faux patriotism of other insurrectionists.
Second GOP governor vetoes bill banning transgender youth athletes.
The GOP Governor of Utah vetoed a bill that would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports. See Utah governor cites suicide rates for transgender youth in vetoing sports ban bill: ‘I want them to live’. Governor Spencer Cox wrote a letter to the state legislature explaining his veto, which was based (in part) on the fact that there are only four transgender youth in Utah among 75,000 school athletes. The letter deserves to be read in full (in the article linked above), but pertinent passages include the following:
Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. . . . I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live. And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly.
Governor Cox deserves credit for speaking the truth to his Republican colleagues in the Utah legislature. Let’s hope they listen.
This is interesting: Mitt Romney won’t endorse Mike Lee.
Senator Mitt Romney is not endorsing his fellow Republican Senator Mike Lee for re-election. Lee is being primaried by Evan McMullin, who is running as an “anti-Trump” Republican. Indeed, per an op-ed by an angry Republican in the Washington Post,
McMullin has not said which party he will caucus with if elected. Given that he has been endorsed by the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County and other Democratic leaders, it’s an open question whether he will back the GOP.
Conservative commentator Henry Olsen writes in WaPo that if McMullin wins, Romney, McMullin, Murkowski, Collins, and Manchin might form a “center coalition” to “determine control of the Senate.” This state of affairs upsets Mr. Olsen greatly, who argues that Romney must put party above country and support a Senator who has been a steadfast supporter of the twice-impeached, failed coup-plotter Donald Trump. See Opinion | Mitt Romney’s refusal to endorse Mike Lee is a betrayal of his party.
Mr. Olsen has it backward. Country comes first; party should come second. Mr. Olsen’s hyper-partisan approach highlights why the Senate is so embarrassing. And, why, exactly, is the Post publishing op-eds that are nothing more than position papers by the Republican National Committee?
Yesterday I made two errors. I said that Richard Burr was the retiring Senator from Missouri. In fact, Roy Blunt is the retiring Senator from Missouri; Richard Burr is retiring from his Senate seat in North Carolina. My apologies to the people of both states, each of whom took offense.
I also wrote that Senator Eastland represented Missouri, when he represented Mississippi. Only readers from Missouri took offense over that mistake.
The story about Mitt Romney not endorsing his fellow Senator from Utah demonstrates that Trumpism may have reached its high-water mark. But the retrenchment will be at the margins only; in many states, Republican primaries consist of candidates seeking to claim the mantle of Trump. In some states, candidates are trying to run “to the right” of Trump. That process will inevitably lead to some Republican losses that would not have otherwise occurred—all because Donald Trump can’t stand the thought of going down in history as a loser.
As always, we cannot rely on Republican dysfunction for Democrats to prevail. But we should be clear-eyed about the challenges faced by both parties. In the latter part of 2021, Democrats started to believe the one-sided doom-and-gloom that became the overriding media narrative. Parts of that one-sided narrative persist despite the collective failure of “experts” to predict the outcome of the redistricting process.
I am not saying Democrats don’t have problems. They do. Lots. But political commentary is not reality. Reality is what happens when people like you make calls, send letters, donate money, knock on doors, register voters, and show up. Let’s not confuse commentary and reality. We can affect the outcome, but only if we refuse to be dissuaded by political commentators speculating about the future. So, ignore the noise, and keep plugging away!
Talk to you tomorrow!