Congressional priorities update (DE members)

Responses at end

SECURE AMERICA’S FUTURE ECONOMY, advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996

January 16, 2020

Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons & Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

We recently shared SAFE’s concerns about several matters that were pending in Congress. Secure America’s Future Economy – Outreach – Letters –
12/2/19 (a response from Sen. Coons’ office is posted at the end).

1. In our view, the House impeachment inquiry was “being pursued for reasons of political payback vs. principle.” Secure America’s Future Economy – Blog – 11/18/19 & 11/25/19.

Update: The House passed articles of impeachment on Dec. 18, based on dubious charges and an obviously incomplete evidentiary record, but waited until Jan. 15 to deliver said articles to the Senate (which is expected to begin the trial on Jan. 21). Pelosi impeachment offenses, Wall Street Journal, 1/15/20.

“. . . having failed to make an adequate case to remove Mr. Trump, Democrats are trying to drag out impeachment to further tarnish his reputation and mousetrap Senate Republicans running for re-election. [Speaker Pelosi] demands what she calls a ‘fair trial’ after preventing a fair impeachment probe in the House. This is an abuse of the impeachment power.”

2. Meanwhile, Congress had been neglecting its legislative responsibilities. Indeed, the 116th Congress had yet to pass and send to the president for signature ANY legislation of substance including the appropriation bills for FY 2020 that should have been enacted by October 1 under the congressional budget rules.

Why not try to make up for lost time in December? To this end, we suggested that Congress should (a) come to a sensible agreement re border barrier funding ($1.4 billion was obviously inadequate); (b) speed the USMCA on its way to approval; and (c) block attempts to lard the FY 2020 appropriation bills with unwise/ irresponsible provisions that couldn’t readily be passed on a standalone basis. .

Update: The House passed the USMCA on Dec. 18 after months of delay and the Senate passed it on Jan. 16, in both cases by overwhelming margins. Otherwise, all the surprises in December were losses instead of wins.

The UMW bailout set a precedent for bailing out nearly 1,400 other multiemployer pension plans not to mention many underfunded state and local pension plans (total potential price tag of some $6 trillion).

No understanding was reached on border barrier funding, so the administration will continue to re-designate defense construction funds for this purpose (and legal challenges will continue in the courts). Given the relatively modest amounts involved ($7.2 billion was just re-designated for FY 2020), that’s a sloppy way to run a government!

There were also other dubious actions, such as renewing the lapsed Export-Import Bank charter (which numerous conservative groups, including SAFE, had opposed) and stealthily perpetuating a raft of special interest tax breaks. Deficits already projected at some $1 trillion will be increased as a result of these and other "riders," all without any real discussion about what is happening. Secure America’s Future Economy – Blog –
1/13/20.

3. Longer term, Congress is committing institutional suicide by failing to exercise its exclusive legislative powers (Constitution, Article I, Section 1) and forcing the executive branch to fill the resulting vacuum by aggressively interpreting its administrative powers. And this problem isn’t new, it began developing years ago. Secure America’s Future Economy – Blog - 12/2/19 (part 4).

In view of the gravity of this situation, we wanted to bring it your attention again. We would welcome your support in getting Congress back on track. Please advise if you have any questions or we can help further.

SAFE

Note: For context of this letter, see the contemporaneous blog entry: SAFE outreach to decision-makers, 1/20/20.

**********FEEDBACK**********

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, 1/21/20 - Thank you for contacting me about the impeachment of President Donald Trump. I truly appreciate your input on this vitally important matter.

After careful consideration and review of the articles of impeachment, I came to the decision to vote to impeach the President of the United States This is a solemn moment in our history, and I recognize the full weight of this decision.

As you may know, after twelve weeks of Congressional Committee hearings and deliberation, on December 10, 2019, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler introduced H.Res.755, a resolution to impeach President Trump. This resolution consists of two articles: Article I, Abuse of Power, and Article II, Obstruction of Congress. On December 18, 2019, Article I passed the House of Representatives, with my support, by a vote of 230 to 197 and Article II passed the House of Representatives, with my support, by a vote of 229 to 198. I believe these are the most important votes I have taken as a member of this chamber, and as such, I owe my constituents a full accounting of why I have reached this conclusion.

The evidence put before the House of Representatives is clear, the President solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 election. The President, acting personally and through his agents within and outside of the U.S. government, conditioned official acts of office on the promise of investigations into a domestic political rival. These official acts included a visit to the White House along with the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally approved military assistance, a detriment of an ally, and to the benefit of Russia, one of our chief geopolitical adversaries.

The President, when taking his oath of office, is entrusted with powers granted to him by the American people. The power is given with the understanding and promise that it will be exercised in the national interest rather than any personal or political interest. When the President conditioned official acts utilizing the power of his office in exchange for an action that would benefit his personal political interest, rather than the national interest, he abused that power. The President's intent and motives were made clear, not only from the testimony of witnesses during the inquiry, but from the
President's own words during his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

As to the article of Obstruction of Congress, the evidentiary record is also clear. The President and his aides refused to produce records in the possession of the White House, directed Executive Branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas, and told current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the committees of jurisdiction. We also saw the President's real-time attempt to intimidate current and prospective witnesses from testifying during the proceedings.

We talk often about the ideals of American government, of our democracy and system of checks and balances, and of our co-equal branches. Nations around the world look to that system and strive toward those ideals. Our children learn about our battles for freedom and the creation of our great governing document, the Constitution.

I voted for both articles of impeachment because I believe this is about so much more than one man, one Presidency, or one election cycle. It is about putting into practice the ideals that we so often esteem. It is about proving to those nations around the world, to our children, and to ourselves that we are indeed the nation we proclaim to be. It is about making clear that we are a nation of laws and even the President of the United States must be held accountable.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important matter. I hope that you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you, as your input helps me to better represent you in Congress If you would like to stay up to date on my work in Delaware and Washington, you can visit wwwbit.ly/LBREmail to sign up for my newsletter, "Lisa's List."

======================


Sen. Chris Coons, 1/28/20
- Thank you for contacting me about impeachment. I appreciate your taking the time to write to me about this important issue.

I am extremely troubled by the allegations that President Trump misused the powers of his office by withholding vitally needed military and development assistance to Ukraine to compel the Ukrainian president to investigate one of President Trump’s political rivals in our upcoming 2020 election.

I believe that the House of Representatives properly exercised its constitutional responsibility to investigate these allegations, which is what an impeachment inquiry was designed to do. Congress was able to hear directly from some of the appropriate witnesses, including career diplomats, decorated veterans, and President Trump’s own appointees during two weeks of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The question now is how the rest of Congress will respond. No one in the United States government should invite foreign interference into our electoral process, and it would be unacceptable for President Trump to try to compel the leadership of Ukraine to investigate a political opponent.

Now that the impeachment trial has begun, I believe that the Senate must perform its constitutional function by conducting a full and fair trial. It will be the duty of every senator to carry out their constitutional obligation as a juror impartially with nothing but the evidence informing their decisions. Members of the Senate will have to live up to the responsibilities that the Framers entrusted to us. It is my hope that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in the Senate will carefully consider what role they want to play at this moment in our country’s history. I hope the Senate will put fidelity to the country and the Constitution over loyalty to the President, consider the facts fully, and treat this inquiry with the seriousness it deserves.


Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate and I truly value hearing from Delawareans on issues of concern. My website, www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.




© 2020 Secure America’s Future Economy • All rights reserved • www.S-A-F-E.org