Archive of Articles for November, 2022

Passing The Torch In The House

[ Posted Wednesday, November 30th, 2022 – 16:56 UTC ]

There was a historic passing of the torch today, as Hakeem Jeffries was unanimously voted leader of the House Democrats in the next Congress. He will become the first Black leader of a political party in either chamber of Congress, which is an enormous milestone to achieve. Meanwhile, over on the Republican side, Kevin McCarthy is still scrambling to get enough votes from his caucus to achieve his goal of becoming the next speaker. This should all be seen as a harbinger of things to come, for both political parties. So let's take a look at where both of them are and what we might expect to see in the 118th Congress.

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Working On The Railroad

[ Posted Tuesday, November 29th, 2022 – 16:40 UTC ]

A lot of people work on America's railroads. Some of them are ready to go on strike. This could, as early as this weekend, cause major disruptions in the supply chains of just about everything. And we all remember last year's holiday shopping season, when supply chain problems were so acute. So President Joe Biden and Congress are about to step into the fray and derail the possibility of a strike (so to speak). They could do so in a variety of ways, but whatever happens is likely to happen quite quickly (given the deadlines involved).

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Make Manchin Wait

[ Posted Monday, November 28th, 2022 – 16:26 UTC ]

Congress returns to Washington this week, with an extremely limited amount of time left to get anything done before the year-end holidays. As I wrote last week, the lame-duck Congress has many very important things to get done, some of which may be incredibly time-consuming in the Senate (such as having to proactively raise the debt ceiling using budget reconciliation rules, which will permit the bill to pass with only Democratic votes). However, at least the time pressures in the Senate will not include filling as many federal judgeships as possible, since Democrats will still be in control after January 3rd. What would have been critical if the political power was about to shift in the chamber can now wait until next year -- and it might even be easier and faster then, if Senator Raphael Warnock wins re-election in next Tuesday's Georgia runoff election. If Democrats have 51 senators in the new Congress, they won't have to have any power-sharing arrangements with Republicans, which will speed up the committee process in a big way. But even with the judicial confirmations off the table for now, there's still quite a lot for the Senate to do, to attempt to (as one article memorably put it) "crazyproof" as much as possible before the Republicans take over the House of Representatives. But one thing that should not be undertaken in the lame-duck Senate is moving Senator Joe Manchin's pet "permitting reform" bill forward.

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Reasons To Be Thankful

[ Posted Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022 – 16:35 UTC ]

I should begin with a program note: this will be the last column for this week. See you back here next Monday! I am taking the vacation off because really, who wants to read about politics over Thanksgiving weekend anyway?

It's been a slow political week in the news (other than all the bad news on the legal front for Donald Trump), so instead of chasing stories today I thought I would just make a little list of things I am personally thankful for and leave it at that.

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Hoping This Duck Won't Turn Into A Turkey

[ Posted Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022 – 15:40 UTC ]

That is a rather convoluted headline, but I had to work the word "turkey" in there somehow, so I apologize. But the thought is real -- the lame-duck session of Congress has a lot to get done in a very short period of time, and if it doesn't succeed on multiple fronts it will set the stage for future chaos. The time to act is now, because the consequences of not acting would be severe.

There are two critical things the lame-duck Congress must achieve, as well as a number of other issues it would be nice to see some progress on. The Senate actually started with one of these, by advancing the Respect For Marriage Act past a filibuster attempt with an impressive 62-37 vote. They still have to hold a final vote on it, and then send it over to the House but it is looking like this will be the first thing accomplished in the lame-duck session. It should rightly be seen as a rebuke of the Supreme Court's radical overreach, so it is important.

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Trump Gets A Special Counsel

[ Posted Monday, November 21st, 2022 – 17:02 UTC ]

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced at the end of last week the appointment of a special counsel to lead the various Department of Justice investigations against Donald Trump. Since then, the Monday-morning-quarterbacking has been fierce and all over the map as to whether this was a proper and necessary step, and (if so) whether the timing of it had been right or not. Meanwhile Trump (of course) denounced the whole thing as persecution by (as he put it) a "super-radical-left special counsel." Trump, of course, provided no evidence whatsoever to back up such a claim. All par for the course with Trump, who believes that anyone who doesn't see him as pure as the driven snow simply must (almost by definition, to him) be some sort of super-radical-lefty.

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Friday Talking Points -- Trump Slumps

[ Posted Friday, November 18th, 2022 – 17:26 UTC ]

It was another rather momentous week in politics, as the Republicans chalked up enough midterm wins to retake control of the House of Representatives but fell short in the Senate, where Democrats picked up one seat (which is enough to assure them control) with one race still waiting for a runoff election in early December. The GOP will have a razor-thin House majority, which is quite likely to produce nothing but chaos for the next two years. After the results were known, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she (and her whole team) would step away from leadership roles and allow a generational shift to happen in the Democratic House caucus. And Donald Trump formally announced his third bid for the presidency, which didn't exactly go over as well as he might have hoped. Plus there will be the first White House wedding in years, and Joe Biden will become the first octogenarian to occupy the Oval Office when he turns 80 years old on Sunday. All in all, a big week.

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Thank You, Nancy Pelosi

[ Posted Thursday, November 17th, 2022 – 17:19 UTC ]

Nancy Pelosi will always be considered a historic speaker of the House of Representatives for many reasons -- the most facile of which to see is that she was the first woman to be speaker in all of American history. She was closer to the presidency than any woman had gotten before (this was true up until Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president). Historic things happened during her leadership, and she was always at the center of them. She acquired political power and wielded it well, which is really no surprise since she literally learned politics "at her daddy's knee," as a little girl. She has done Baltimore proud, to put that another way, as well as the D'Alesandro family (a Maryland political dynasty).

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A Big Win For Equality

[ Posted Wednesday, November 16th, 2022 – 16:26 UTC ]

Today, the United States Senate voted 62-37 to codify marriage equality into federal law, and to overturn the Defense Of Marriage Act from the 1990s which did the opposite. DOMA has already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, but as we've all seen, rights guaranteed by one Supreme Court can be chucked out the window by subsequent Supreme Courts. So today's vote on the Respect For Marriage Act was important, and not merely symbolic.

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Republicans In Disarray

[ Posted Tuesday, November 15th, 2022 – 16:44 UTC ]

Unfortunately, that phrase doesn't have the alliteration of "Democrats in disarray," but it was tough to figure out what "R" word could work (other than "Republicans Are Revolting," which always just kind of seems self-evident to me, but I digress...), so I just went with the non-alliterative substitution. "Democrats In Disarray," of course, has become a running joke, because that is the mainstream political media's go-to headline whenever they're feeling especially lazy. It's also a joke precisely because of where we find ourselves right now -- when the Republicans are engaging in internecine warfare, the media often shrugs and doesn't pay any of it nearly the attention they do to Democratic intraparty tiffs.

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