Mitch McConnell on Government Reform
Republican Sr Senator (KY)
McCONNELL: You know, one of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of the mule occurred back in 1995 when the Republican House shut down the government. Shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy. I don't think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy. A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn't. So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.
Q: Well, how badly do you think the country was hurt by all of this?
McCONNELL: It certainly didn't do the country any good to have both a government shutdown and a pending fiscal crisis right on top of it. I think it was important to do the right thing for the country [by ending the shutdown]. And we did it.
"The 2010 midterm election was a 'change' election, and the change that people want, above all, is right here in Washington. If the voters express themselves clearly and unequivocally on an issue, it's not enough to persist in doing the opposite on the grounds that 'that's the way we've always done it.'
"I have said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won't be guilty of the same thing. Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don't apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of waste and the out-of-control spending. That's why today I am announcing that I will support a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress."
Our sustainable debt is the real wake up. It should prompt us to stop spending money we don't have on things we don't need. We can start by clearing away duplicative programs instead of creating new ones.
When the GAO report was initially released, both sides of the aisle viewed it was an unbiased & authoritative call to action. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the report represented the "virtual incompetence" in the federal government and said it underscored the need to cut spending
And then a funny thing happened. Sen. McConnell went on TV and admitted that he'd been wrong. That regardless of what he thought, the American people had sent a clear message that they didn't want earmarks. McConnell explained that he didn't want to be a hypocrite, and after criticizing the Democrats for ignoring the will of the people, he was equally wrong to do so himself.
So he stopped. We won. Perhaps the 100s of 1000s of phone calls from Tea Partiers around the country had something to do with the senator's epiphany. (Perhaps not; he still spent 75% of his "concession" speech on earmarks saying how wonderful he thought they were and citing all of the lovely things he'd been able to do with them over his years in the Senate.
In this session's incarnation, the McCain-Feingold bill would limit soft-money contributions to parties, crack down on PAC contributions to candidates, and encourage overall campaign spending limits. McConnell was not opposed to all reform. He backed better disclosure of campaign contributions, a ban on foreign contribution, limits on the ability of labor unions to use mandatory dues for political purposes, and raising individual contribution limits. But he believed McCain-Feingold was an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech that would also hurt the political parties.
In his introduction to "Securing Democracy: Why We Have an Electoral College," McConnell argued that despite its "complexities and inefficiencies," the Electoral College is "the linchpin of American political prosperity [that] has formed our political parties, moderated our more extreme elements, and forged the presidential campaigns that have given direction to our ship of state." To the surprise of many conservatives, however, there was no real groundswell of support for any such reform, and McConnell doubts that states with relatively small populations would ever let it happen anyway.
With that comment, the inversion of the campaign-finance debate was nearly complete. Back when McCain's raison d'etre for seeking the presidency was to drive the "corrupting influence" of money out of politics, the "Beltway" slur was the term of derision for OPPONENTS of McCain's decade-long quest to pass new campaign finance rules.
"It has no impact whatsoever on the average American. It's an inside-the-Beltway issue," antireform leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said in April 2001, in a typical comment. "The interest groups that are lobbying here--which they have a right to do under the First Amendment--will simply spend their money trying to influence elections in a different way than they do now." McConnell's predictions came true, and six years later McCain was reduced to disparaging the place he'd lived for two-thirds of his life.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. DOLE. I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. FEINSTEIN. If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote for this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election]. I urge a "no" vote.
For example, I am a big fan of McDonald's. What about the kids working behind the counter? Would they be considered registered lobbyists because McDonald's has lobbyists? Would I not be able to go to lunch with my longtime friend who owns 12 McDonald's?
Congressional summary:: Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act: Requires the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards and definitions in effect on January 1, 2010, for determining whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status as an organization operated exclusively for social welfare to apply to such determinations after enactment of this Act. Prohibits any regulation, or other ruling, not limited to a particular taxpayer relating to such standards and definitions.
Proponent's argument in favor (Heritage Action, Feb. 26, 2014): H.R. 3865 comes in the wake of an attack on the Tea Party and other conservative organizations. The current IRS regulation is so broad and ill-defined that the IRS applies a "facts and circumstances" test to determine what constitutes "political activity" by an organization. This test can vary greatly depending on the subjective views of the particular IRS bureaucrat applying the test. IRS employees took advantage of this vague and subjective standard to unfairly delay granting tax-exempt status to Tea Party organizations and subject them to unreasonable scrutiny.
Text of sample IRS letter to Tea Party organizations:We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for exemption. Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or officer whose name is listed on your application.
Organizational Self-Description: U.S. Term Limits, the nation's oldest and largest term limits advocacy group, announced that 14 new signers of its congressional term limits amendment pledge have been elected to the 114th Congress. The group includes five new senators, eight new House members and one House incumbent who signed the pledge for the first time this cycle. The pledge calls for members to co-sponsor and vote for a constitutional amendment limiting House members to three terms (six years) and Senators to two terms (12 years). The USTL President said, "The American people are fed up with career politicians in Washington and strongly embracing term limits as a remedy. Gallup polling shows that 75% of Americans support term limits."
Opposing legal argument: [ACLU, Nov. 7, 2014]: In U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (May 22, 1995), the Court ended the movement to enact term limits for Congress on a state-by-state basis. The Court held that the qualifications for Congress established in the Constitution itself could not be amended by the states without a constitutional amendment, and that the notion of congressional term limits violates the "fundamental principle of our representative democracy 'that the people should chose whom they please to govern them.'"
Opposing political argument: [Cato Institute Briefing Paper No. 14, Feb. 18, 1992]: Several considerations may explain political scientists' open hostility to term limitation:
A bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to establish standards for the distribution of voter registration application forms and to require organizations to register with the State prior to the distribution of such forms.
Establishes criminal penalties for: (1) individuals not meeting such standards; and (2) anyone who employs such an individual knowingly, or who should reasonably be expected to know the individual is ineligible.
A bill to require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws.
Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.
Constitutional Authority for This Act: This Act proposes to establish new procedures by which legislation shall be considered by Congress and is enacted pursuant to the power granted Congress under article I, section 5, clause 2, of the United States Constitution establishing that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.
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C. Wesley Morgan
Senate races 2019-20:
AK: Sullivan(R,incumbent) vs.Gross(I)
AL: Jones(D,incumbent) vs.Sessions(R) vs.Moore(R) vs.Mooney(R) vs.Rogers(D) vs.Tuberville(R) vs.Byrne(R) vs.Merrill(R)
AR: Cotton(R,incumbent) vs.
AZ: McSally(R,incumbent) vs.Kelly(D)
CO: Gardner(R,incumbent) vs.Hickenlooper(D) vs.
DE: Coons(D,incumbent) vs. (no opponent yet)
GA-2: Isakson(R,resigned) vs.Lieberman(D) vs.Collins(R) vs.Carter(D)
GA-6: Perdue(R,incumbent) vs.Tomlinson(D) vs.Ossoff(D) vs.Terry(D)
IA: Ernst(R,incumbent) vs.Graham(D) vs.Mauro(D) vs.Greenfield(D)
ID: Risch(R,incumbent) vs.Harris(D)
IL: Durbin(D,incumbent) vs.Curran(R) vs.
KS: Roberts(R,retiring) vs.LaTurner(R) vs.Wagle(R) vs.Kobach(R) vs.Bollier(D) vs.Lindstrom(R) vs.Grissom(D) vs.Marshall(R)
KY: McConnell(R,incumbent) vs.McGrath(D) vs.Morgan(R) vs.Cox(D)
LA: Cassidy(R,incumbent) vs.Pierce(D)
MA: Markey(D,incumbent) vs.Liss-Riordan(D) vs.Ayyadurai(R) vs.Kennedy(D) vs.Waters(R)
ME: Collins(R,incumbent) vs.Sweet(D) vs.Gideon(D) vs.
MI: Peters(D,incumbent) vs.James(R)
MN: Smith(D,incumbent) vs.Carlson(D) vs.Lewis(R)
MS: Hyde-Smith(R,incumbent) vs.Espy(D) vs.Bohren(D)
MT: Daines(R,incumbent) vs.Collins(D) vs.Cooney(D)
NC: Tillis(R,incumbent) vs.E.Smith(D) vs.S.Smith(R) vs.Cunningham(D) vs.Tucker(R) vs.Mansfield(D)
NE: Sasse(R,incumbent) vs.Janicek(R)
NH: Shaheen(D,incumbent) vs.Martin(D) vs.Bolduc(R) vs.O'Brien(f)
NJ: Booker(D,incumbent) vs.Singh(R) vs.Meissner(R)
NM: Udall(D,retiring) vs.Clarkson(R) vs.
OK: Inhofe(R,incumbent) vs.Workman(D)
OR: Merkley(D,incumbent) vs.Romero(R)
RI: Reed(D,incumbent) vs. (no opponent yet)
SC: Graham(R,incumbent) vs.Tinubu(D) vs.Harrison(D)
SD: Rounds(R,incumbent) vs.Borglum(R) vs.Ahlers(D)
TN: Alexander(R,incumbent) vs.Sethi(R) vs.Mackler(D) vs.Hagerty(R)
TX: Cornyn(R,incumbent) vs.Hegar(D) vs.Hernandez(D) vs.Bell(D) vs.Ramirez(D) vs.West(D)
VA: Warner(D,incumbent) vs.Taylor(R) vs.Gade(R)
WV: Capito(R,incumbent) vs.Swearengin(D)
WY: Enzi(R,incumbent) vs.Ludwig(D) vs.Lummis(R)
Senate Votes (analysis)
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