News Roundup Special: How the Last Government Shutdown Was Defeated

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On December 11, 2018, Donald Trump (center right) met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (right) in the Oval Office to try to head off a government shutdown. Mike Pence (center left) was present, by he added nothing to the discussion. This image was taken via screenshot (video).

Will there be another government shutdown? Likely not, given how the latest shutdown just ended last month.

Congress had avoided a government shutdown for 10 months after the last one in early 2018, but after Democrats took over the House following the midterm elections, Trump ramped up his threats to shut down the government if he didn’t get money for his border wall. He made good on those threats in late December 2018 and dragged things out for 35 days, which was the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Tonight, Donald Trump will give his second State of the Union speech. This was nearly cancelled because to the shutdown. What will Trump talk about? My guess is he will mention the wall, but in doing so he will remind people of his greatest defeat as president.

On that note, I want to make this post as a reminder of what happened over the five weeks of the shutdown. I would also like to talk about the effects of it, who really ended it, and how we can avoid more shutdowns in the future.

Table of Contents

  • What Unfolded During This Shutdown? (Timeline)
  • Who Deserves the Credit for Ending the Shutdown?
  • How Can We Avoid Shutdowns in the Future?
  • Are You Watching the State of the Union Address?
Continue reading “News Roundup Special: How the Last Government Shutdown Was Defeated”

We Have Until the End of the Year to Save Net Neutrality


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To be honest, net neutrality won’t necessarily end until we stop fighting, but getting the Congressional Review Act Discharge Petition signed in the U.S. House of Representatives is our latest battle. And it is a battle worth fighting.

As I discussed in May, the Senate started its own discharge petition. That was process was started by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and it eventually passed the chamber one week after it was formally introduced. In the end, Senate Democrats received the help of three Republicans: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the now-disgraced Susan Collins, and John Kennedy (Louisiana) in a surprising move.

The passage of the petition was crucial because Congress had a 60-work-day window to act after Ajit Pai rolled out his plan to end net neutrality, which took effect on June 11. Since the process in the Senate was started in May, Democrats in the Senate got a head start. However, the House needed to pass its own petition by the end of the year and that process was always going to be harder.

In the Senate, Democrats needed only 30 signatures to force a vote on the CRA petition. They also needed to vote together and get 2 extra votes to pass the legislation. In the House, 218 signatures were required to even get a vote, so Democrats needed far more help from Republicans in that chamber.

Currently, there are only 197 seats held by Democrats in the House. In order to get a vote on CRA legislation, Democrats need to band together, but receive the help of 21 Republicans. If those weren’t difficult enough, there is now another complication: at least 17 Democrats have failed to sign the petition thus far.

Who Are Those Democrats?

As reported by Motherboard, there were 18 Democrats who failed to sign the petition at the beginning of this month. Two of those Democrats, Joseph Morelle (from New York’s 25th Congressional District) and Mary Kay Scanlon (from Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District) won special elections this year and Scanlon was recently sworn in. However, only Morelle indicated that he would sign the petition and the other Democrats, including Scanlon, had received generous donations from the telecom industry.

Below is a list of Democrats who have failed to sign the petition thus far (minus Morelle). The screenshot was taken from Motherboard’s article:

Democrats, Congress, net neutrality, Congressional Review Act, discharge petition

Since then, Morelle made good on his promise. Also, Rep. Wilson signed on. Thus, here is a revised list:

Democrats, Congress, net neutrality, Congressional Review Act, discharge petition

What Can We Do to Save Net Neutrality?

We need to contact the lawmakers who aren’t already on board, and that will include some Republicans. I really hate talking on the phone, but that’s one thing I can do.

How Much Time Do We Have?

We don’t have a lot of time, but we were recently given a reprieve by Trump himself because he started pushing hard for the stupid border wall — yet again. (Today, he held a meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the oval office to discuss the wall and threatened to shut down the government if there wasn’t $5 billion for that wall in the next spending bill.) We had until December 10 for the House to sign the petition and get a vote, but because of the upcoming budget fight, the legislative session in Congress has been extended. We might have until the 21st to get that vote, but that is much better than we had.

Can We Do This?

Now, even if the CRA legislation is passed by the House, it still has to be signed by Trump. That seems like a longshot, to say the least, but if we play it right, we might be able to put enough pressure on Trump to sign it. (It would depend on the Republicans who vote in favor of the legislation, too, but public opinion is well in favor of net neutrality.)

Even if Trump vetoes the legislation, we will make a powerful statement by getting both house of Congress on board before the new Democratic majority in the House. And it will mean that we will need to remove Republicans from the Senate in order to restore net neutrality. We will see in the coming weeks and months if this is a hill Republicans want to die on. Ultimately, Democrats need to make net neutrality one of their signature platform items because the more people know what net neutrality is and how important it is, the more they like it.

Election Day Is Here. Who Won?

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It’s Election Day and the makeup of Congress is going to garner the most attention, namely for what the Democrats can do should they take either the House or the Senate. However, we need to also look at other races around the country, because states have a constitutional role to play, as well.

Today is Election Day (and yes, I voted), so I started this post to keep track of the most important results. For now, I will keep track of the gubernatorial and congressional races. Eventually, I will use this post look at the balance of power across the country and in each state after the elections are done. That includes some notes about state legislatures.

The following slate of candidates will be listed according to their state and the seats they are competing for. I will include all the candidates who won their respective partisan primaries and those who were nominated at state party conventions, written in, or otherwise met other criteria to qualify for their general election races. Once all votes are tabulated, I will indicate the winners.

A few states, like Georgia, may also hold runoffs. So, I will likely have to update this post to include any extra information related to runoffs.

Additionally, I will use specific characters and formatting to indicate how the races were developed. Here’s the key:

  • A candidate with an asterisk (*) by their name is an incumbent.
  • A person whose name is underlined ran unopposed in their respective partisan primary.
  • F stands for Fusion Candidate. (Due to New York’s Byzantine voting rules, less-known parties can endorse any candidates they want, even if those candidates are already on the ballot for a major party.)
  • A write-in candidate who made the final ballot will have a “W” by their name. In the off-chance that someone who wasn’t on the ballot wins election by write-in, the “W” will be underlined.
  • A person with an “R” next to their name advanced to the runoff in the primary election.
  • Candidates who advance to the general election runoff with have “GR” next to their name.

Continue reading “Election Day Is Here. Who Won?”

News Roundup Special: Have You Been Watching This Government Shutdown?

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Original image: by Andrew Van Huss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, the U.S. Congress reached an impasse on a spending bill and that lead to a government shutdown. While the House of Representatives was able to pass its spending bill with a 230-197 votes after concessions were made to the House Freedom Caucus, the Democrats in the Senate let it be known that the Republicans didn’t have enough votes.

In the Senate, the Republicans dealt with dissent in their own ranks. By Friday January 19, 2018, the nine Senate Democrats who voted for the spending bill in December joined the 30 Democrats and a handful of Republicans who opposed this spending bill. Among the Republicans joining the Democrats was Jeff Flake (Arizona), who said that he was withholding his vote because of the broken promise to protect DREAMers.

Ultimately, the Senate missed the midnight deadline, so the government was shut down. The shutdown was brief because of a vote on Monday which extended the funding for the government — for three weeks.

Continue reading “News Roundup Special: Have You Been Watching This Government Shutdown?”

John McCain Is Ailing, but He Can Be Fairly Criticized

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Sen. John McCain addresses the audience at the 129th National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 25, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

This past week, many Americans heard or read some said news about Arizona Sen. John McCain. The six-term senator, a war veteran and former POW, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He had to be hospitalized because doctors found a brain tumor.

McCain had the tumor removed completely, but he had the same form of cancer that killed Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and Bo Biden (former Vice President Joe Biden’s son). The prognosis is not good for Sen. McCain, who is 80 years old.

After this news came out, there were people on the left and the far right who went after McCain and said he deserved this illness. I would never wish that on anyone.

On the other hand, it is fair to criticize McCain’s Senate votes, past and present.

In particular, McCain made a key vote in order to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (A.K.A. the ACA or “Obamacare”). I want to share my thoughts on this development. Let this serve as a prelude to a deeper discussion of health care in the United States.

Continue reading “John McCain Is Ailing, but He Can Be Fairly Criticized”

An Overview of Republican Bills in 2017

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Much attention has been paid to Trump’s antics and the latest attempt to take health care away from over 20 million Americans, but there a many harmful Republican bills currently being considered. A few have already by signed into law and many more are still in committee.

Now, I can’t go over them all in this post (or can I?) but I would at least like to highlight a bunch of that I have already read about. Let this be a simple guide to the horrible laws we might live under.

Continue reading “An Overview of Republican Bills in 2017”

Democrats Face Their Angry Constituents

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse reads a list provided by his constituents outside a middle school in Providence, Rhode Island. (Image taken from a screencap.)

Since January, angry constituents have met with their lawmakers at town halls and other meetings. In addition, some lawmakers have faced pressure via phone calls and social media. Many of these communications were contentious and most had the same theme: health care. Other topics ranged from Trump’s cabinet picks to money in politics.

Two days ago, I shared some information from Republican town halls. Now, it’s the Democrats’ turn.

Continue reading “Democrats Face Their Angry Constituents”

Republicans Face Their Angry Constituents

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The health care debate leads the day. Original photo (which was cropped) by Ted Eytan via Flickr. (Some Rights Reserved.)

Since January, large groups of activists have confronted lawmakers at town halls and outside their offices. Many are concerned that Republicans will repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Democrats are facing a backlash for voting for Trump’s awful cabinet picks (but they at least all voted against Betsy DeVos, who is absolutely horrible as Education Secretary) and they were being lobbied to filibuster (obstruct) Neil Gorsuch (but we all know how that turned out).

By February, the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation, was climbing in popularity. Despite the polls, Republicans were taken advantage of Trump’s (limited) presence in the White House and rushing to repeal the health care law.

Notable Democrats have faced their crowds, but some Republicans are running scared. Some have cancelled town halls. Others have cut theirs short and used the police to escort them from the scary protesters.

Continue reading “Republicans Face Their Angry Constituents”

Russia in the Crosshairs: Are We Sure We Want to Do This?

Mike Pence, Russia, Russian Probe
Are you sure you want to make this man president? That’s what will happen if Trump is impeached. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Last week, I discussed why there is an ongoing investigations that Russia. I went over the proof that supports the investigation while remaining as objective as possible. In this post, I will explain why I never believed these claims. And I would like to send a message to Democrats, as a concerned citizen.

Continue reading “Russia in the Crosshairs: Are We Sure We Want to Do This?”

News Roundup (Week of Mar. 12-18, 2017)

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Hello, readers! Are you ready for another News Roundup?

Continue reading “News Roundup (Week of Mar. 12-18, 2017)”