Tag Archives: Vote

House Freedom Caucus Opposes Paul Ryan’s Terms for House Speaker

The House Freedom Caucus ensured that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would have the support to secure the position of Speaker of the House next week following a vote on Wednesday night.

However, while Ryan did receive two-thirds of the vote, he did not receive the 80 percent required for an endorsement, and the group stated that it would not accept all of his terms for Speaker.

After the meeting, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) said“We are not meeting all his demands, but if he wants to be speaker, he has the votes as of tonight.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) shared a similar sentiment, regarding the group’s support for Paul. “We are sending the message to the conference and Paul Ryan that he has our support, but that we will continue to ask for the changes that we are asking for,” he said.

Following the vote, Ryan posted a statement on this Twitter, thanking the House Freedom Caucus for its support:

[pull_quote_center]I’m grateful for the support of a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus. I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the week, but I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team.[/pull_quote_center]

Paul’s run for Speaker of the House comes after Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he was stepping down, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the assumed replacement, dropped out of the race.

TIME noted that Ryan has given five main conditions to run for Speaker of the House, including that the Speaker should be a visionary who communicates the party agenda; the speaker will only concede to rules changes if the entire conference agrees; there will be no motions to vacate the chair; he must have free time to spend with his family; and everyone in the conference must vote for him.

Ryan’s condition for “family time” has drawn criticism due to the fact that during his time as a Representative, Ryan has opposed nearly every federal policy on paid family leave.

‘Fast Track Authority’ Bill Advances Through Senate

As Memorial Day weekend draws near, U.S. politicians are negotiating a number of important issues that will affect all Americans. The first of these is the extension of section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which has been used to justify mass surveillance programs by the National Security Agency. Senator Rand Paul helped put that issue front and center with his 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday evening.

The other pressing matter that is being considered is the reauthorization of trade promotion authority (TPA), or “fast track” authority. On Thursday, supporters of fast track gained the support of enough senators to advance the bill to the next stage. In a procedural vote, 62 senators voted in favor of the bill (49 Republicans, 13 Democrats), with 38 voting against (31 Democrats, 5 Republicans, 2 Independents). USA Today reported that, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to finish work on the bill before the Senate adjourns for the Memorial Day recess. The House is expected to take up TPA in June.” The final Senate vote could happen on Friday afternoon.

Under the Fast Track Authority, Congress can either approve or reject trade deals presented by the president. They would not have the power to make amendments. This is supposed to keep important trade deals from being weighed down by amendments, but critics say the true intention is to give the president more power and Congress less.

The approval for FTA by the Senate is related to the push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is one of the largest trade agreements in history, involving the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The nations have been negotiating the deal since 2005, with global resistance growing since 2012. Supporters of the bill say it would mean more jobs and a stronger America. Critics say the bill will give corporations loopholes to escape accountability and empower international bodies, overriding national sovereignty of the signing nations.

In late April, Reuters reported that 300 business groups from across the U.S. sent a letter to Congress, calling upon lawmakers to pass the fast track bill. The business groups said:  “To realize the potential of these agreements for U.S. jobs, economic growth and competitiveness, Congress must pass Trade Promotion Authority.”

President Obama told the Washington Post the vote was “a big step forward this morning on a trade agenda that is consistent with strong labor standards, strong environmental standards, and access to markets that too often are closed even as these other countries are selling goods in the United States. It’s an agenda that is good for U.S. businesses, but most importantly, it is good for American workers.”

But is that really true?

Last month Truth In Media asked if the TPP was either the greatest trade deal in history or a corporate coup:

“The critics of the TPP come from a wide spectrum of activists, doctors and religious leaders. The most-cited issue with the trade deal is the granting of authority to international tribunals which will have the power to override court rulings within the individual nation states.

As the trade agreement nears completion both the Anglican and Catholic churches of New Zealand are demanding the government be more transparent about the negotiations.Radio NZ reports that bishops from the churches are concerned with the lack of openness and that corporate interests are influencing the agreement while the people are being excluded. The churches also called on the New Zealand government to make the draft text of the agreement public.

In early February,  doctors and health professional representing seven countries released a letter warning that the TPP will lead to higher medical costs for all nations. The letter, published in The Lancet medical journal, states that, “Rising medicine costs would disproportionately affect already vulnerable populations.” The doctors called on the governments involved in the trade deal to publicly release the full text of the agreement. They also demanded an independent analysis of the impacts on health and human rights for each nation involved in the deal.

Also in February, an analysis by The Washington Post revealed the US government’s numbers on expected job increases from TPP are not factually correct. The Fact Checker examined several quotes from government officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Both Kerry and Vilsack claimed the international trade agreement would create 650,000 new jobs. However, these numbers do not take into account income gains and changing wages. According to the government own sources imports and exports would increase by the same amount resulting in a net number of zero new jobs.”


British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine as a State

On Monday, Members of Britain’s Parliament voted, 274 to 12, to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. After passing the non-binding motion, lawmakers from Britain’s lower house released a statement saying:

This House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

According to The Guardian, the vote took place following “intensive lobbying” from supporters on both sides. The case in favor of recognition lobbied that Britain “should follow 135 of the UN’s 193 member states and recognize Palestinian statehood,” while the case against argued that recognizing Palestine as a state would show “prejudice,” and would affect “the outcome of future negotiations between the two parties.”

At the debate, the leader of the group, Labor Friends of Palestine, Grahame Morris, spoke in favor of the ruling. He said that this “small but symbolically important step” of recognition was a “historic opportunity” for Britain.

Morris claimed that making Britain’s recognition of Palestine “dependent on Israel’s agreement,” would give Israel a “veto over Palestinian self-determination.

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, told the New York Times that Britain’s resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood made “conflict resolution much more difficult,” due to the fact that it sent the Palestinians the message that “they can achieve things” outside of negotiations.

The chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Ottaway, said that although he normally “stood by Israel through thick and thin,” he now realized, after looking back over the past 20 years that Israel “has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight,” said Ottaway. “But such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”

Rand Paul visits Ferguson, urges people to vote

After another shooting a few days ago of a second black citizen by police officers, Sen. Rand Paul went to Ferguson, Mo. Friday, to meet with black leaders in the area, including leaders of the local NAACP chapter.  

While in Ferguson, Paul took part in a 45-minute “listening session,” which has been described as a more informal question and answer session.  Paul was joined by local pastors, business owners, and representatives from other social change groups, such as the Urban League, at this session.  

“I came to Ferguson today to listen to leaders in the community and to learn more about how we can fix the problems of criminal injustice together,” said Paul, according to the Daily Caller.

During the session, one person asked Paul if he thought a more diverse policing force would help with the issue of racial tensions between police and black communities across the country.  Paul responded by saying if people wanted to see change, they should vote appropriately at the ballot boxes.

“My opinion is they have a great deal of power and if they wanted an African-American police chief they’d get it in one election if they just go vote for the mayor and register people,” Paul said, according to Politico.  “Violence gets nowhere and it actually sends us backwards… If that energy, and some anger, if that were channeled into registering voters and getting people out to vote, then you can have constructive changes.”

After Michael Brown was shot over the summer in Ferguson, about 3,200 people in Ferguson, which is about a seventh of the population, have registered to vote in the upcoming elections.  

Liberal registration booths were setup near where Brown was shot in Ferguson, and this has made some Republicans upset, saying this has only fanned “political flames.”

Paul on the other hand, has said he is not concerned about party lines and simply wants to get more people to vote. 

DESPERATE: Cochran literally begs Democrats to vote for him over Tea Party’s McDaniel in runoff

MISSISSIPPI, June 21, 2014– Only a few short weeks ago, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R- Miss.) was forced into a runoff by Tea Party endorsed Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel (R). Three days from now, Mississippi voters will again return to the polls in order to choose their next U.S. Senator. Feeling the heat, the Cochran campaign has resorted to begging Democrats to “crossover” in order to save Cochran’s seat.

“Thad Cochran and his team should be ashamed of themselves. They have abandoned conservatives by having letters sent out like this all over the state,” said McDaniel while referencing the letters.

P Cochran-McDaniel
Jerome Wyatt, Jones County Mississippi District 5 Supervisor, works with Cochran campaign in order to convince Democrats to crossover and vote against McDaniel in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff.

By rallying Democrats, the Cochran campaign hopes to pull them to the voter booths and have them pull the trigger for Cochran in order to keep a more conservative candidate out of office.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter.

ELECTION DAY: Desperate for a win, Lindsey Graham begging Democrats to vote for him?

SOUTH CAROLINA, June 10, 2014– As they head to the polls, thick, humid air fills the lungs of Palmetto State GOP primary voters today. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham (R) will be able to avoid a run-off. According to State Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), Graham’s most serious challenger, Graham has been quietly courting Democrats to vote for him in today’s primary.

Senator Lee Bright asked BenSwann.com, “If his advertisements say he is a conservative, then why does he know he can call on liberals when he could be in trouble?”

Last night, a press release sent out by the Spartanburg lawmaker claims Graham has been courting Democrats while no one is looking.

It reads, in part:

Team Graham is running a quiet campaign to woo Democrats. Publicly, Graham’s Campaign is saturating South Carolina TV stations touting his supposed “conservative credentials” – yet he is simultaneously using web ads and social media to target Democrats to remind them they can vote for him in the Republican primary.

One of Graham’s ads (pictured below) quietly reminds voters that they can cast their vote for him even if they are not Republicans.

Lindsey Graham pushes Democrats to vote for him through quiet ad campaign.
Lindsey Graham pushes Democrats to vote for him through quiet ad campaign.

Many predicted Graham would try such a tactic, and they tried to stop him in court. However, through illegal maneuvers, the state executive committee had the lawsuit dropped.

All running to the right of him, Graham has drawn multiple challengers. Businesswoman Nancy Mace, businessman Richard Cash, veteran and lawyer Bill Connor and State Senator Lee Bright have drawn the most serious attention. However, their efforts may not be enough to unseat one of Washington’s most powerful senators.

The latest poll performed by Clemson University shows Graham at 49%. Meanwhile, Bright, Cash, Connor and Mace garner a collective 15%, of which Bright takes 9%. According to the same poll, in 2013, only 31% of Republicans planned to re-elect Graham. As of the beginning of this month, that number jumped to 46%.

If Graham is not successful in capturing 50% of the vote today, he will be forced into a runoff with the contender who captures the second highest percentage. As of now, that challenger seems to be Bright.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter.

Lindsey Graham Lies To Voters About His Vote To Defund Obamacare

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the press following his private meeting with United States U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya in Washington

The heat has been turned on for Lindsey Graham, and he is feeling it. The embattled republican senator from South Carolina is relying on misleading semantics to deceive voters  into reelecting him over his two serious challengers, state senator Lee Bright (R) and businesswoman Nancy Mace.

The Senate voted last week on whether or not to defund Obamacare. The vote for cloture was the last chance republicans had to stop Obamacare in the Senate. All eyes were on the cloture vote. If cloture was achieved republicans would be outnumbered on the final vote to defund Obamacare and Senate democrats would easily end all hope for those wanting Obamacare to end.

Only 19 senators (all republicans) voted no on cloture. Senator Scott, South Carolina’s replacement for Jim DeMint, joined the fight against cloture and voted no. Graham voted in favor of cloture. In total, 79 votes for cloture allowed debate to end and the final vote to take place. All knew that if the final vote was allowed to happen then Obamacare would not be defunded. However, that didn’t stop every republican in the Senate from voting against Obamacare funding on the final vote. This way they could return to their constituents, as Lindsey Graham did, and tell voters that they voted to defund Obamacare.

Lindsey Graham writes to supporters to tell them he voted to defund Obamacare
Lindsey Graham writes to supporters to tell them he voted to defund Obamacare

In the letter above we see a US Senator deceiving voters. Graham was not alone. Republican senators around the country played the same card in emails and social media updates telling their constituents they voted to stop Obamacare, but there was nothing more they could do. This was certainly not the case. By voting for cloture, the majority of republicans allowed for the funding of Obamacare.

Congress Too Cowardly To Vote On Syria?

The issue is pretty simple.  The Congress of the United States has to determine whether or not to support U.S. strikes on Syria.  It is called a declaration of war and it is the job of Congress to either approve or deny military action.

Today, the National Review Online is reporting that Congressional aides are saying that the House may not even vote on action in Syria if House leadership believes the vote will fail.

“Two new whip counts of House members by ABC News and the liberal Firedoglake web site show a majority of House members firmly or leaning against intervention. The Washington Post’s more conservative count stands at 204 “no” votes, only 13 short of the majority needed to kill the president’s request. “

Really? That is the position of the House leadership?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R) Ohio has come out in support of military action in Syria and Democratic leadership like Rep. Nancy Pelosi have thrown their support behind strikes against Syria as well.  But much of Congress is not convinced and neither are the American people.  Polls indicate that as many as 91% of Americans do not want the U.S. to go to war with Syria, despite claims by Secretary of State John Kerry that intervention is not only needed but morally the right thing to do.

Of course, the fallout of voting for strikes on Syria are anything but simple.  Lawmakers are telling us that these would be limited military strikes.  That U.S. forces would not be in harms way and most lawmakers are claiming there would not be “boots on the ground”.

The problem with that scenario however is that Congress merely assumes that strikes on Syria would consist of firing cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea.  Of course, the assumption being sold to the American people is that Syria won’t be in a position to retaliate against the United States.

The issue we face today is different than any war the United States has faced in several generations.  Consider for a moment that unlike when the U.S. helped in the overthrow of Gaddafi or went into Afghanistan or Iraq, we did not have other nations around the world directly opposing our action.  Some nations indicated they weren’t happy about it but none threatened the U.S. over that action.

That is not the case with Syria.  The Syrians have promised to retaliate against U.S. and Israeli interests and they are not alone.  In addition, Iran is making clear it will strike U.S. interests as well.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting

“The U.S. military has also readied Marines and other assets to aid evacuation of diplomatic compounds if needed, and the State Department began making preparations last week for potential retaliation against U.S. embassies and other interests in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Much of this positioning is in response to increased rhetoric from Irans Supreme Military Leader  Ayatollah Khamenei is threatening coordinated terror attacks against the U.S. if the country launches strikes against Syria.  The International Business Times UK is reporting that Khamenei says:

“In the case of Syria, the chemical attack is a pretext. The Americans try to play with words and pretend that they’ve become involved in this case for humanitarian aims.  The Americans are making mistakes in Syria and they have felt the impact and will certainly suffer loss”

Russia too is making noise about not standing by while the U.S. launches these strikes.  Russian President Valdimir Putin says that Russia will aid Syria and there is speculation that any Syrian assets destroyed by the U.S. will be replaced by Russia. All in all, this means the U.S. will not be able to strike Syria without being drawn into a larger war.

This may be the biggest reason that informed Americans are standing up and saying “NO” to war with Syria.  The idea that the U.S. can conduct a “drive-by” attack on Syria is just not true.

The voice of the people in the United States is supposed to be represented by members of Congress.  The House of Representatives is after all “the people’s house”.  By not allowing Congress to vote on Syria simply because House leadership fears the outcome of that vote is not only cowardly but another example of how our “representative” form of government represents only special interests.

Rep. Gowdy Says He Won’t Vote for the Patriot Act

Thousands of privacy violations made by the NSA is making Congress reconsider the Patriot Act. South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy recently said that he wouldn’t vote for its reauthorization.

According to the Washington Post, the NSA has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and top secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to UK’s The Guardian newspaper.

Recently, Congressman Trey Gowdy appeared on the Fox News Channel. FoxNews.com reporter Dana Perino asked the congressman about his constituents’ concerns:  “You voted for the legislation that was put forward that would have adjusted the NSA funding and — to try to do something about what is perceived by some as privacy violations. Since you’ve been home on the August break, are you hearing about this from people? Like, what — is this on top of mind for them, that they want this issue addressed?”

Gowdy responds, “Yes, ma’am. And I’m hearing about it, because I’m a former prosecutor who usually balances the scale towards public safety. I voted for the Patriot Act reauthorization. I heard about that when I came back home. In fact, I helped some of the leaders in Congress convince colleagues a year ago to vote for the reauthorization. But I’m not going to do it anymore. And Dana, I’m not going to do it anymore because the author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, says it’s being used a way that he never envisioned.”

According to Gowdy, his voters are connecting with him and sharing their concerns: “I had a town hall last night, and if I had to tell you the dominant theme, is people are scared and they are distrustful. And that is across party lines. It’s across ideological lines. They just don’t trust government, and we’re not going to make it if we don’t get that fixed.”

Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing his issues with the interpretation of the Patriot Act. He writes, “As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses. The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Congress is thinking twice about its recent Patriot Act reauthorization. Earlier this year, Congress passed a four-year extension of expiring Patriot Act provisions, which won’t expire until June 1, 2015.

South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan turned to social media with his outrage over the lack of protect of citizens’ privacy.

He wrote on Facebook: “A few weeks ago, I joined with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to end the NSA’s current domestic spying program and protect the 4th Amendment. Our effort failed by a vote of 205-217; however, none of the information in this news report was made available to Congress at the time. How can Congress conduct proper oversight if we aren’t given all the facts? This should concern everyone across the political spectrum and I’m hopeful that armed with new facts that we’ll have the votes needed for our initiative to pass. I’m also hopeful that we’ll have seen some bipartisan outrage for being denied important oversight information.”

Duncan is one of the supporters of the LIBERT-E-Act, which stands for the “Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act.”

The purpose of this legislation is to shine a light on the secret processes of the federal government to spy on its citizens and it will also raise the standard by which any federal agency can engage in surveillance activities to prevent the mass collection of private information.