Tag Archives: U.S. Senate

For THIS we waited 21 hours?

Cruz Vote Enough said?

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Oh, Good, now we have Senator Squatter?

Heller 2What’s with Nevada Republican office-holders that they can’t seem to vacate their physical premises?  Back in November 2006 there was the spectacle of former Treasurer Brian Krolicki refusing to leave his “old” office and move into the one assigned to the Lt. Governor, and now we find Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) clinging mightily to his office space in D.C?

Talking Points Memo reports:

“Aides for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have been unruly and uncooperative with staffers for other senators in an attempt to protect the coveted Capitol Hill office space currently claimed by the Nevada Republican, according to a report published online Sunday in Roll Call.”

Then there’s the Joke about offering a Georgia Senator $10,000 to relinquish his claim for a chance at the the inherited space (from former Senator John Ensign)? Apparently, the Heller Folk are now saying they were “just joshing.” [TPM]

Roll Call reports:

“Heller’s office said they have been flexible in showing the rest of the suite, but that because of the senator’s schedule, his personal office has been difficult to show. One other office confirmed having difficulty in seeing the Heller space and bizarre behavior by his staffers. But a spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who recently toured the office space, said there were “no problems whatsoever” and that it was a positive experience.”

OK, “the Senator’s schedule” is so full he can’t show the office to prospective office lottery participants?   During the month of January the Senate was in session on January 3 and 4, and didn’t resume until January 21st.  The Senate was conducting floor business from January 21st to January 24th.  They kicked back in on January 28th and continued until January 31st.

The Senate calendar was “busy” on February 4th, 7th, 11th, and thereafter until February 15th.  Break time again until February 25th through the 28th.  The calendar showed some business from March 4th through the 7th, taking up bills etc. again on March 11th. [GPO]

A couple of questions might be raised about this flap.  First, what’s so devastatingly important (other than fund raising) that the Junior Senator from the Sage Brush can’t find time to show colleagues the “real estate” on which he is squatting?  Secondly, can’t the real estate show be delegated to staff members?

Otherwise a person would be left with the indelible impression that not only is it difficult to vote out GOP/TeaParty office holders in Nevada, but it is exceedingly rigorous to get them to vacate their coveted space?

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The Campaign for the Middle Class Isn’t Over

The candidates are no longer running ads, the campaigns have been shut down, BUT the campaign for the American Middle Class continues.  The next phase comes as the Congress debates how to reduce the national debt — brought to us by two wars fought “off the books,” ill considered tax rate reductions, and a nasty recession.  If the American Middle Class is to avoid the detonation of the Austerity Bomb (aka the Fiscal Cliff) then we need to:

(1) Let our Senators and Representatives know that without an increase in the tax rates for millionaires and billionaires the ARITHMETIC necessary to reduce the national debt doesn’t add up.

(2) Remind our Senators and Representatives that federal discretionary spending has already been cut by $840 billion to $916 billion over the next ten years [QS] in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

(3) Let our Senators and Representatives know that we understand merely closing a few loopholes in the tax code isn’t nearly enough to make a serious dent in the national debt.  If they are serious about debt reduction then “increasing revenues” can’t be a code phrase for “tinkering with deductions and loopholes.”

If millionaires and billionaires don’t want a national debt passed along to their children and grandchildren — it just might behoove them to help pay off some of it.



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Filed under Congress, Federal budget, income tax, national debt, Politics, Senate

Heller, GOP sustain filibuster of Cyber Security Bill

OK, thus much for the spirit of bipartisanship and negotiation — according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) the Senate of the United States of America has been working on a cyber-security bill, the rationale for which ought to be reasonably clear to anyone who’s ever Googled anything.   Or, put in nicer, fancier terms:

“National security experts say there is no issue facing this nation more pressing than the threat of a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure.  Terrorists bent on harming the United States could all too easily devastate our power grid, our banking system or our nuclear plants.  A bipartisan group of Senators has worked for three years to craft this legislation. Yet Republicans filibustered this worthy measure in July.”  (Reid 11/14/12)

Surely this should have been something about which at least a modicum of agreement might have been secured?  The Senate Majority thought so:

“It’s imperative that Democrats and Republicans work together to address what national security experts have called “the most serious challenge to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age sixty years ago.”I found it encouraging when a number of my Republican colleagues – Senators McCain of Arizona, Chambliss of Georgia, Hutchison of Texas, Kyl of Arizona, Coats of Indiana and Blunt of Missouri – recently wrote President Obama advocating legislative action on cyber security.   They wrote: “An issue as far-reaching and complicated as cyber security requires… formal consideration and approval by Congress… Only the legislative process can create the durable and collaborative public-private partnership we need to enhance cyber security.”  (Reid 11/14/12)

What did the Senate Republicans do with the Cyber-security bill? They filibustered it.   And, what did they do when the Majority Leader submitted a cloture motion to stop the filibuster?  They rejected the cloture motion on a 51-47 vote.   “They” would include newly elected Nevada Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). Who, evidently, doesn’t see the need for a “durable and collaborative public-private partnership” to “enhance cyber security.”

The running total for filibusters is now 110 filibusters, 68 cloture motions filed, and 37 successful votes to invoke cloture and stop a filibuster.

Three years of work on a piece of legislation, and work on a matter which should engage the attention of Senators (some of whom surely do  online banking), and the effort comes to a screeching halt before the GOP obstructionism in the Senate.  Memo to Senator McConnell (R-KY): The President isn’t going to be a one term office holder.

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Filibusters and Busting Fillies

Politics being cyclical, J. Patrick Coolican makes some interesting observations about Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) opinions on filibuster reform in the Las Vegas Sun.  Raw data on the use of the filibuster in the Senate since God Was In Short Pants can be found here in the Senate Virtual Reference section.    As Ezra Klein points out, strict constructionists may want to temper their current approval of Senatorial Filibustering — the framers weren’t all that pleased with the idea when it was first considered:

“In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”

In Federal 58, James Madison wasn’t much kinder to the concept. “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority.” [WaPo]

Klein has a much fancier chart accompanying his remarks, a chart illustrating the use of the filibuster since it became the cudgel of choice beginning around 1990 looks like this:


Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV3) is pleased all over himself for voting in favor of the Violence Against Women Act — except the following comments don’t exactly fit the bill for which he voted.

“This bill provides increased resources for criminal investigations, strengthens penalties against abusers to better protect victims, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and funds programs that protect victims from the physical and mental scars of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and rape.” [Heck]

Heck voted in favor of H.R. 4970 — the House version of the bill — which doesn’t protect women in LGBT relationships.  Law enforcement officers called out on domestic assaults don’t ask who’s in the house, they perform their duties, and then may steer the victims to services available to assist them.  Services are not always available to victims in alternative relationships.  Secondly, the House version DOES NOT PROTECT NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN from non-tribal abusers who can take advantage of jurisdictional issues in order to avoid prosecution in state courts, and/or advantage of the lack of resources in federal courts for prosecuting the miscreants.

“Native women aren’t safer as a result of the passage of  H.R. 4970. In fact, the tribal provisions included in this bill create additional hurdles for Indian women seeking protection from violence on tribal lands, and that is unacceptable” – Juana Majel-Dixon, 1st Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and co-chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.”  [4VAWA] (emphasis added)

Finally, Heck has actually reduced law enforcement resources required to fight sex trafficking crimes against women.  Women lured to this country by “marriage” offers and then battered by abusive husbands are trapped in a bind — seek prosecution of their abusers and lose permission for residency (meaning they can be deported before they have a chance to testify) or endure the abuse to maintain legal residency.  Law enforcement officials want to offer women in these relationships special immigration status so that they can remain here to help substantiate charges of abuse.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the vocal lobbyists against the Senate version of the bill is associated with SAVE and Encounters International. The bottom line:

“It’s shocking to me that the people who are advocating for these anti-immigrant provisions are the people who have a monetary interest in not holding batterers accountable and not holding marriage broker agencies accountable,” she told HuffPost. “These are the ones reaching out to House Republicans, and Republicans are supporting the policies they’re pushing.” [RWW]*

So, Representative Heck can assert that he “supports” the Violence Against Women Act, BUT without protecting members of the LGBT community, Native American women, and battered mail-order brides.

Nevada Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is also pleased with himself:

“As the father of two daughters, this legislation is very important to me,” said Amodei. “It increases resources for investigations, prosecutions, and victim services, while strengthening penalties and promoting educational awareness to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. And because good intentions aren’t good enough, this version of the bill would help ensure taxpayer resources go to help victims rather than Washington bureaucrats.”  [Amodei]

However, “this legislation” he is speaking of is also H.R. 4970. Well now, NO, H.R. 4970 doesn’t actually “increase resources” at least not for the victims mentioned above.  Nor does his last comment about “good intentions” make any sense other than as a toss-in line bashing federal efforts to administer VAWA efforts.  In fact, Amodei’s “good intentions” obviously don’t apply to the three categories of victims (LGBT, Native American, and Battered Mail Order Brides).

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) hasn’t yet offered an explanation for her vote in favor of H.R. 4970 in roll call 258, unless it is that she is hoping conference committee actions will retain the crucial elements of S. 1925 assisting members of the LGBT community, Native American women, and battered mail order brides.

* This entire post is highly recommended reading.  For additional information about S. 1925 and H.R. 4970  go to the 4VAWA website for fact sheets and analytical information.

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Filed under Amodei, Berkley, Filibusters, Heck, Native Americans, Nevada politics, Politics, Reid, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights