House of Representatives

Among growing dissent, Boehner braces for re-election

Speaker Boehner

House leadership elections will be held later today, amid growing concern among conservatives for John Boehner’s leadership as Speaker. The hard truth for conservatives is that it looks like Boehner will eke out a victory over any would-be conservative challenger. In the 114th Congress (this one), the Republican caucus has swelled by more than a dozen Members, making victory from the right close to impossible.

In the 113th Congress, Boehner faced uncertainty when his safe Republican margin was almost totally diminished by a handful of defectors — conservatives like Raul Labrador, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash. The blog FiveThirtyEight revealed the Republican defection in 2013 was the largest act of defiance against an incoming Speaker since at least 1991, where records became available.

With the Republican caucus even larger, it would take 29 votes to stop John Boehner from becoming Speaker — and then the defectors would have to find a viable alternative. Names being floated now are Ted Yoho or Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Among UL readers, South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy has considerable support, but he has not indicated that he would break with party leadership.

ALERT! Massie won’t vote for Boehner for Speaker

Massie wont' vote Boehner for Speaker

“For years I watched Washington from afar and suspected that something was broken.”

This is a sentiment we hear often from individuals who run for Congress. They see a broken system, and then run on a platform that promises to change the business-as-usual politics within the halls of Congress. More often than not, these same members fall in-line with with the leadership of their party and forget their real reasons for running.

Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie likens this change in behavior as Members being attacked by zombies. Once they’re bitten with the “big government, go-along-to-get-along” bug, they’re lost forever.

Thankfully, not all members have chosen to blindly follow the leadership of their party. Some Members have decided to put party aside and vote based on their convictions. Massie is one such Congressman.

In a recent press release sent out today, Congressman Massie indicated that he would not be voting to re-elect John Boehner as Speaker of the House in the coming weeks.

This came just days after Massie tweeted a picture, likely a veiled jab at the Speaker:

House Republicans plan to sue Barack Obama over illegal executive actions

The House of Representatives is getting pretty tired of President Barack Obama going around the Constitution to enact laws through executive and regulatory fiat as well as ignoring laws passed by Congress. Roll Call reports that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is preparing a lawsuit against the White House over executive overreach:

The lawsuit could set up a significant test of constitutional checks and balances, with the legislative branch suing the executive branch for ignoring its mandates, and the judiciary branch deciding the outcome.

Boehner told the House Republican Conference during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has been consulting with legal scholars and plans to unveil his next steps this week or next, according to sources in the room.
[…]
Boehner’s legal theory is based on work by Washington, D.C., attorney David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler LLP and Elizabeth Price Foley, a professor of law at Florida International University College of Law.

Rivkin said in an interview that in addition to proving institutional injury, the House would have to prove that as an institution, it has authorized the lawsuit. A vote by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group would do so.

The suit would also have to prove that no other private plaintiff has standing to challenge the particular suspension of executive action and that there are no other opportunities for meaningful political remedies by Congress, for instance by repeal of the underlying law.

The potential remedies the legislative branch has to deal with executive overreach are limited, and not all of them are politically viable.

Gohmert blasts National Journal for “libelous,” “sleazy” coverage of Liberty Karaoke

A large group of DC-area liberty activists gathered last Tuesday at O’Sullivan Irish Pub for what they call “Liberty Karaoke,” or #LibertyKaraoke, if you’re on Twitter. This weekly event was a little different on this particular night because the group was throwing a fundraiser for Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), one of the growing number of libertarian-leaning Republicans in Congress.

The event was a resounding success. The 80 to 90 liberty activists, most of whom are in their 20s, raised $9,000 for Massie’s campaign coffers, surpassing the $6,630 they raised for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) in December.

“I think Massie’s reelection is important because we need leaders that are willing to stand up in the name of liberty,” Leah Courtney, a DC-area liberty activist, told United Liberty. ”Young people are drawn to liberty-minded Republicans because they are the ones with spines, and will speak up for their constituents. There’s no hidden agenda, just Congressmen doing their jobs.”

“We’re a generation that has grown up in a rocky economy. We’re the ones that have excessive student loan debt, and we have had to walk into a world where jobs are not necessarily the easiest to find,” she said. “We need a REAL change. Massie and Amash are what we’re looking for in candidates, and this is just the beginning.”

“Fiscally conservative” Blue Dog Democrats fail to protect taxpayers

Blue Dog Democrats

Much ink has been spilled in the last few years over the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House of Representatives. Just this week, the Washington Post ran a story noting that this group of purportedly centrist Democrats will has seen its numbers fall from 50 members four years ago.

“[T]he Blue Dog Coalition is a shell of its former self, shrunken to just 15 members because of political defeat, retirements after redrawn districts left them in enemy territory and just plain exhaustion from the constant battle to stay in office,” wrote Paul Kane at the Washington Post. “Several are not running for reelection in November, and a few others are top targets of Republicans.”

There actually 19 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, though three members aren’t running for reelection in 2014. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), whose districts were targeted by Republicans, decided to retire. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor in Maine. Other members of the Blue Dog Coalition face tough bids for reelection, which could further dwindle its numbers at the beginning of the next Congress.

Blue Dog Democrats claim to “represent the center of the House of Representatives” and purport to be “dedicated to the financial stability and national security of the United States.” In news stories, reporters will frequently refer to Blue Dogs as “fiscally conservative” or “deficit hawks.”

Government Shuts Down, Nobody Notices

As has become an increasingly frequent occurrence of late, it seems Obama, the supposed political genius, has once again misplayed his hand. Emboldened by the knowledge that he has an army of uninformed voters supporting him, and a compliant and sycophantic media spinning and deflecting any bad news that might harm him, Obama had little worry that he would win the Battle of the Continuing Resolution. After all, time after time, Republicans have been terrified of standing firm on principle, fearing voter backlash as Obama, the Democrats, and the media successfully painted them as racist, obstructionist, greedy, and heartless.

Until an odd thing happened; despite leadership’s attempts to give in to Obama’s every demand, rank and file House Republicans, and even a few in the Senate, defied their leadership and welcomed a battle over Obama’s latest red line; namely, the budget. Now, as happened with his Syrian red line, Obama has an unexpected fight on his hands, and rather than the thoughtful, deliberative actions of a man who stands on the moral high ground, Obama has revealed himself as a petty, vindictive tyrant, desperate to maintain the illusion that Big Government is essential to our lives.

However, like with the sequester, it seems that the only people who’ve noticed that the government is shut down is the political class, the media, and the 800,000 or so “non-essential” federal employees that are now sitting at home (including 1,265 White House staffers!).

Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay

Let’s get one thing straight: Any compromise on the CR that fails to block the ObamaCare exchange subsidies is unacceptable.

On Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership issued a joint statement indicating their intent to vote on two amendments to the Senate CR that was denuded of its key provisions to defund ObamaCare:

“The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.”

Early Sunday, the House Republicans followed through on the plan. The key amendment is the first one referred to above, which delays most of ObamaCare’s core 2014 provisions, including the exchange subsidies and individual mandate, for one year.

The amendment is the product of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).  You can read the full text of the Blackburn Amendment on cspan.com, and you can view her floor speech offering the amendment on YouTube.

Obama goes to skeptical Congress for Syria intervention

Barack Obama

In what was a welcome development, President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would make the case to a skeptical Congress to authorize military intervention in Syria, following an example set late last week by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” said President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.

“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action,” he continued, referencing the failed vote that took place on Thursday in Parliament.

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective,” he added. “We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.”

House members seek congressional authorization for Syria intervention

UPDATE: Rigell’s office now reports that 140 House members have signed the letter. An update copy of it can be found below. The story has been updated to reflect the current number of signatories.

Scores of members of the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for any military action that his administration plans to take in Syria.

The White House has said that President Obama will consult leaders in Congress about the planned air strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, which is the administration’s response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. But that’s not enough for House members who note that a president is legally required to seek authorization from Congress before using force overseas.

“We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,” wrote Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who has circulated the letter to his colleagues in the House, gathering 140 signatories from members of both parties.

Rigell noted that the Founders gave the executive branch the power to take action during emergencies, but he pointed out that Syria doesn’t represent a direct threat to the security of the United States.

White House, Intelligence Committee Oppose Amash’s Amendment

In a very unsurprising turn of events, the White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that the White House is urging Congress to reject the amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would keep the National Security Agency from collecting data on anybody who is not a suspect or under investigation.

According to the WH press secretary, the amendment to HR 2397 is an attempt by Amash to “hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.” He asked Congress to reject the measure and “move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”

While Amash’s amendment is meant to only defund programs asking FISA court orders related to persons who are not under investigation, the White House seems to be using all tools available to discourage congressmen to break up the bipartisan support Rep. Amash has received.

Liberty-minded Republicans and liberal Democrats have expressed their intent to support the amendment that has been co-sponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), John Conyers (D-MI), and Jared Polis (D-CO). According to Justin Amash’s spokesperson Will Adams the team believes it has all the votes necessary. “We’re very optimistic that we have the votes to get it across the finish line.” He continues “support began with the American people and has filtered through to members of Congress.”


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