Cup of Joe – November 16, 2023

House Republicans failed to pass a rule to consider the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, 198 to 223.

Jake Sherman: “When thinking about next year and the prospects for a spending bill, keep in mind that House Republicans cannot pass party-line rules on GOP spending bills.”

“Effectively there’s not a majority right now.”— Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), quoted by Semafor, on the House GOP’s inability to agree on a spending bill.

“We’re trying to give the speaker a little grace, but today’s a mistake, right out of the gate.”— Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), quoted by the New York Times, on passing a short term funding bill with no spending cuts.

“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did. Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me, one meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done.”— Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), on the House floor.

Politico: “Many House conservatives are fuming that Johnson — the most ideologically conservative speaker in decades — refused to take a hard line in his first attempt negotiating with Democrats and instead leaned on them for help. In the end, more Democrats voted for the measure than Republicans, in nearly identical numbers to the September stopgap measure that triggered McCarthy’s firing. Some tore into his strategy in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, arguing that his plan, which would allow funding levels set under Nancy Pelosi to persist for months, is tantamount to surrender.”

“They’re not looking to oust Johnson over it. But some conservatives are privately entertaining other ways to retaliate.”

“One tactic under discussion is the same one they used against McCarthy after he struck a debt deal they hated: holding the House floor hostage by tanking procedural votes.”

Punchbowl News: “If you listen to Speaker Mike Johnson, his bill to avert a government shutdown — which passed the House with mostly Democratic votes Tuesday evening — will finally give the GOP majority the leverage it needs to cut spending and force major policy changes.”

“But Johnson has a big problem — there’s no evidence at this point that the two-step CR will do anything of the sort.”

“When the initial Jan. 19 funding deadline comes along — just 21 legislative days away under the current House calendar — Johnson will likely be in largely the same position he’s in now.”

Playbook: “This morning we’re going to look ahead and deliver some bad news when it comes to shutdown showdowns: They’re far from over. In fact, this week’s funding fight was only a warm-up for what’s coming in early 2024.”

“Speaker Mike Johnson says he won’t pass any more short-term spending bills to avert government shutdowns after this one,” Punchbowl News reports. Said Johnson: “I’m done with short-term CRs.”

“This is quite the declaration from the Louisiana Republican and one that’s going to be interesting to watch him try to keep over the next few months. Remember, if the CR passes today, Congress will have to deal with not one but two funding deadlines during early 2024.”

“But it’s not clear that bifurcating the government funding debate will actually set House Republicans up for a win. They still have to negotiate 12 spending bills with Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House.”

“Senate leaders are working to finalize an agreement to pass the House’s stopgap government funding bill as soon as today, a move that would send Speaker Mike Johnson’s two-step continuing resolution to President Joe Biden’s desk well ahead of the Friday shutdown deadline,” Punchbowl News reports.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) appears to be safe in his job for now — despite doing exactly the same thing former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did to lose his job last month. The House has apparently avoided a government shutdown by passing a two-part continuing resolution that got more Democratic than Republican votes. The Senate is expected to concur and President Biden is expected to sign it. The bill prevents a government shutdown but merely pushes the problem to early next year.

And Johnson likely made his problem even more complicated with a George H.W. Bush moment promising no more short-term funding bills. That’s because there is no consensus in the Republican majority for any spending bill. And that’s not to mention that anything passed by the House needs to ultimately find agreement with the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed by President Biden.

After ousting McCarthy and spending three embarrassing weeks fumbling for a replacement, House Republicans are right back where they were to begin with: incapable of governing and beholden to a far-right fringe. In another world, it’s possible to imagine how the turmoil of last month would have had a cathartic effect and forced an internal reckoning within the party.

But Republicans are in the same predicament as before. There’s clearly a much broader majority for continuing to fund government. There might even be a consensus for some policy changes sought by Republicans if they were willing to work on a bipartisan basis with Democrats. But working across the aisle is the ultimate heresy in today’s Republican party — and would almost certainly cost Johnson his job.

Just a day after passing a bill to avert a government shutdown, nearly two dozen mostly conservative Republicans joined with Democrats to vote against a rule to allow a funding bill covering the departments of Commerce and Justice to come up for debate on the House floor.

The move effectively kills the spending bill. It’s also another massive setback to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

As Politico noted: “The bill faced obvious challenges over its funding levels for the Department of Justice and the FBI. Conservatives are eager to overhaul those agencies, which have been some of the House GOP’s biggest targets as they accuse parts of the federal government of blatant politicization.

But Republicans voting against even letting it come up for debate comes a day after Johnson leaned on Democrats to help pass a short-term funding bill — a move that angered his right flank and sparked talk of retribution.”

This is now a full-blown rebellion by conservatives to gum up the operations of the House. It’s exactly what conservatives did to retaliate after then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) cut a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) even suggested to CNN that Johnson has two strikes against him — and that the third will lead to his ouster.

“It’s never easy to get work done around here. It’s a lot harder when you have people who I think are prone to emotionally immature decisions.”— Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), quoted by Axios.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) suggested to CNN that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was lying about not elbowing Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN). Said Buck: “Kevin McCarthy and lying are like peanut butter and jelly.”

He added: “He doesn’t hold any leadership position now. He is a rank-and-file Congressman like me, and it’s got to be upsetting to him. And so he took it out, in the way he took it out, and now he denies it.”

Joe Perticone: “There is well-documented evidence that McCarthy engages in this kind of behavior. He reportedly shoulder-checked former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and nearly fought Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) in the bathroom during a recent address to Congress by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced he is filing an ethics complaint against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy following the California Republican’s altercation with Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), Axios reports.

Said Gaetz: “This Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have seen since the pre-Civil War era.”

Gaetz wrote that “while Rep. Burchett is within his rights to decline to press charges against Rep. McCarthy, your Committee does have a duty to investigate breaches of the binding Code of Official Conduct.”

Axios: “While Republicans disagree about whether to pursue a national abortion ban that would face long odds in Congress, a GOP president may be able to unilaterally curb access to medication abortion across the country using an obscure 19th-century law.”

“At issue is the meaning of the 1873 Comstock Act, which banned the mailing of ‘obscene’ material like pornography, as well as abortion drugs and contraception. While the law has been cut down over the years, the abortion provision remained but was ignored while Roe v. Wade was in place.”

A Michigan judge on Tuesday shut down an effort to use the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” to remove Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot, CNN reports.

“The Atlanta-area prosecutor leading the criminal racketeering case against former president Donald Trump and 14 allies alleging they broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss said Tuesday she anticipated the trial to conclude by early 2025, with proceedings likely underway during the final stretch of the 2024 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The news comes as Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is beginning to consider scheduling issues in the sprawling Georgia case — a decision in which he will likely have to take into account Trump’s other scheduled legal proceedings in other cases, including the separate federal election interference case led by special counsel Jack Smith.”

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a bill that would make it a new state crime for entering Texas illegally and gives law enforcement the power to arrest and order migrants to leave the United States,” CNN reports.

“Democratic House members said the bill oversteps on the federal government’s powers and echoes Arizona’s immigration status provision which opponents dubbed the ‘show me your papers’ law. The law was mostly rejected by the US Supreme Court in 2012 when it upheld that the federal government sets immigration policy and laws.”

New York Times: “Hundreds of migrants have ended up needing extensive treatment in U.S. hospitals after trying to scale barriers along the southern border.”

The indictment of Donald Trump in the Jan. 6 case in DC was so sweeping and broad that sometimes its specific impact can be missed. For example, because it didn’t allege that Trump incited the attack on the Capitol, it was interpreted as demurring to First Amendment concerns, which is both true but perhaps misses the point.

In recent days, Smith has gone out of his way to suggest that the indictment should not be read as narrow, constrained, or limited. In the first example a few days ago, in a filing that offered a preview of the evidence Smith intends to present at trial, prosecutors revealed that they would be making the case that the rioters themselves said Trump summoned them and directed them to the Capitol and that they were following his direction.

Yesterday, Smith was even more direct: “Although the indictment does not charge the defendant with incitement to insurrection … it squarely alleges that he is responsible for the events of January 6, 2021.” That plain statement, made in a filing to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering the gag order imposed in the case, sets up a trial where Jan. 6 is front and center, not something Smith is dodging.

“Donald Trump’s renewed attacks on the family of special counsel Jack Smith and his repeated invective against likely witnesses in his Washington, D.C. criminal case warrant the urgent restoration of a gag order against him, prosecutors argued Tuesday.” Politico reports.

“Smith’s team urged a federal appeals court in Washington to reinstate the gag order — which a three-judge panel suspended earlier this month — amid Trump’s appeal of the restrictions imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.”

“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is not giving up on deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda and suggested he would be willing to change British laws to make it happen, as he tried to stave off a furious backlash on the right of his Conservative Party after the Supreme Court ruled his plan was illegal,” Bloomberg reports.

“Sunak is facing a moment of maximum political danger. The court’s decision to block the cornerstone of his pledge to ‘stop the boats’ — one of five he’s asked voters to judge him by ahead of a general election expected next year — plays directly into the febrile Tory mood since he fired Suella Braverman on Monday. The former home secretary, a darling among party populists, had raised the stakes ahead of the Rwanda ruling by unleashed a stream of invective against Sunak and warning he had no ‘credible Plan B’ if the government lost.”

“Wednesday marks Rupert Murdoch’s last day as chairman of News Corp., the publishing company that formed his initial entry into the U.S. market nearly 50 years ago. His son Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of Fox Corp., will assume the role of chairman in his place,” the Hollywood Reporter reports.

“But he told shareholders of the company that he does not intend to ride off into the sunset.”

Said Murdoch: “I hope to continue an active role in the company.”

“Donald Trump’s social network, Truth Social, is facing ‘substantial doubt’ about its future after burning through tens of millions of dollars in operating costs, a new filing shows,” the Washington Post reports.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must go now”, and called for the government to be overthrown in a vote of no confidence and to form a government headed by another person from the Likud, Haaretz reports.

A new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll finds 38% of U.S. adults say Israel’s military response to Hamas has been “too much.” That marks a rise of 12 percentage points since October.

Roughly 100 House members attended a screening of footage of the Hamas attacks on Israel last month, leaving many of them crying or “stunned into shock and disbelief,” Jewish Insider reports.

“Senate Democrats took a critical step towards ending Tommy Tuberville’s eight-month-long blockade on military nominations,” Politico reports.

“The Rules Committee on Tuesday advanced a resolution that would allow military nominations to be confirmed en masse — an effort that would spoil Tuberville’s hold on military promotions, which he’s vowed to continue until the Pentagon reverses an abortion policy. There are more than 400 military officer nominations in the backlog, meaning individual votes on those promotions would take hundreds of hours.”

Wall Street Journal: Tuberville’s one-man stand strains Senate patience.

“Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) earned payments totaling six figures advising two financial firms run by close associates of a Russian oligarch, two of several side jobs he refused to reveal to the public until he ran for president, with its more rigorous disclosure requirement,” the Miami Herald reports.

“President Joe Biden, beset by conflicts around the world, is seeking to steady his fraught relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping so the White House can instead focus its energy on Israel, Ukraine and the upcoming reelection campaign,“ Politico reports.

“The two will hold their high-stakes meeting Wednesday — their first face-to-face meeting in a year, and likely their last before the U.S. presidential election — amid a growing threat of military conflict between the world’s two largest economies and a deepening mistrust that has pushed relations to their lowest point in a half century.”

Hopefully, they’ll also talk about pandas.

“Chinese state media is highlighting the history of U.S.-China people-to-people ties and Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s own positive experiences in the U.S. ahead of his meeting with President Biden this week,” Axios reports.

“It’s the first time since Biden became president that Chinese state media has launched a sweeping pro-U.S. messaging campaign. The propaganda push, aimed at charming both domestic and U.S. audiences, signals Beijing may be serious about getting the U.S.-China relationship on more stable footing.”

Wall Street Journal: “Meta made the change last year, but it hasn’t gained wide attention. The company decided to allow political advertisers to say past elections were ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen’ but prevented them from questioning the legitimacy of ongoing and coming elections.”

“Wholesale prices in October posted their biggest decline in 3½ years, providing another indication that the worst of the inflation surge may have passed,” CNBC reports.

“Hunter Biden requested Wednesday to subpoena former President Donald Trump and three senior officials who served in his administration’s Justice Department, seeking evidence that Biden’s criminal prosecution is politically motivated,” The Hill reports.

“Biden, who faces three federal gun charges, is demanding Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr turn over communications and documents concerning the president’s son or his criminal investigation.”

President Biden attacked Donald Trump for using the word “vermin” to refer to his political enemies, saying it echoed the language of Nazi Germany, Reuters reports.

Said Biden: “In just the last few days, Trump has said if he returns to office he’s gonna go after all those who oppose him and wipe out what he called the ‘vermin…in America’… it echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany in the 30s. It isn’t even the first time.”

He added: “Trump also recently talked about quote, ‘the blood of America is being poisoned’… Again, echoes the same phrases used in Nazi Germany.”

Donald Trump’s legal team on Wednesday requested a mistrial in his New York fraud case, claiming that the trial judge and his principal law clerk’s purported bias against Trump has “tainted” the case, The Hill reports.

“House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Michael Cohen, after Donald Trump’s former fixer told a New York court that he had lied about his handling of the former president’s business dealings in sworn testimony to Congress,” NBC News reports.

“Former President Donald Trump is dropping the appeal of his effort to move his so-called hush money trial from New York state court to federal court,” CNN reports.

“The trial is slated to begin in New York City in March.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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