Mike Lee

Karl Rove continues his war on fiscal conservatives

Earlier this year, Karl Rove created some controversy when American Crossroads, his super PAC, announced plans to launch a new organization — the Conservative Victory Project — to help so-called “electable conservatives” get elected in Republican primary races.

The move was clearly aimed a the Tea Party and other grassroots conservatives, which have played a significant role in primary races across the country as they backed fiscal conservatives over establishment-leaning incumbents and candidates. To put it differently, if Rove had his way, candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee would have never been elected.

Well, Karl Rove has done it again.

During a discussion about libertarian Republicans, Rove told fellow panelists that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is the “most liberal Republican” in Congress.

“There’s this tension between the kind of libertarianism we’re seeing here today — in the last six, eight, nine months — and a healthy future for the party. The question is gonna be — I welcome the libertarian influence in the party,” Rove told the panel, which included Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. “I grew up in the west…every western Republican has a healthy does of libertarian in them. But the question is whether it’s gonna be the prudential, to use one of my favorite terms, a prudent leadership of the libertarian movement.”

Supreme Court to take up Obama’s questionable recess appointments

The Supreme Court will weigh into whether President Barack Obama stepped outside of his constitutional constaints early last year when he made “recess appointments” to fill three vacanies on the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB).

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog reported yesterday that the High Court will take up National Labor Relations Board v. Canning when it returns for its next term, after the summer recess.

“The specific issue is the scope of the Constitution’s grant of presidential power to put an official temporarily into office without Senate approval – a power that arises when the Senate is not on hand to review that appointment,”noted Denniston. “Answering that could require the Court to define when the Senate, in a legal sense, goes into recess.”

“The issue goes as far back as recess appointments by George Washington, but it also is as new as the latest partisan jousting between President Obama and Senate Republicans over his appointment power,” he added. “The gridlock over Obama nominees has threatened to make one government agency – the NLRB – unable to function.”

The Constitution, in Artlcle II, Section 2, provides the president with the power to submit nominations for “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” These nominations are reviewed by the Senate, though its “advice and consent” role, and must be approved by 2/3 of that chamber.

Sen. Mike Lee: “Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare”

Why John Roberts was Wrong about Healthcare

One year ago this week, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the legal challenge to Obamacare, which is perhaps the most important, most controversial decision in years.

In a new e-book, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explains what how Chief Justice John Roberts, the author of the majority opinion of the Court, got the case wrong and what motivations he had in ensuring the Obama Administration’s desired outcome.

Lee has a firm grasp of the constitutional law. His father, Rex Lee, served as Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration. In an March interview with United Liberty, Lee said that the “Constitution was a regular talking point in my home.”

“I think I was 30 before I realized not every family talks about the Presentment Clause of Article I, Section 7 around the dinner table,” he added.

Before becoming the junior Senator from Utah in 2011, Lee served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito before moving onto private practice and later serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in Salt Lake City.

The e-book, Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare: A Conservative Critique of The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling (Threshold Editions, 78 pages, $3.79), Lee offers an thoughtful, intuitive exposition of the opinion written by the Chief Justice. He also explains how Roberts and the Court rewrote Obamacare in order to save it.

Senators introduce legislation to block arms, funding for Syrian rebels

President Barack Obama’s plan to send taxpayer funding and arms to Syrian rebels engaged in a civil war against Bashar Assad’s regime is getting some bipartisan legislation pushback.

Last week, the White House announced that it would the send money and arms to the rebels the rebels based on allegation that Assad had used chemical weapons against them. But there have been concerns expressed by both conservatives and progressives because one of the rebel groups, the al-Nusra Front, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States government due to its ties to al-Qaeda.

CNN reported last week that the al-Nusra Front is the “now the best-equipped arm of the terror group in existence today” and cited concern from analysts that the United States is “underestimating the Sunni-backed al Qaeda movement in the country.”

Some members of Congress believe that furthering the United States involvement in the Syrian civil war is long overdue. But a bipartisan group of Senators — Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tom Udall (D-NM) — are seeking to prevent Syrian rebels from received access to any arms or taxpayer funding from the United States.

In a joint statement released yesterday, the Senators explained that their legislation doesn’t prohibit humanitarian aid, but it would block the White House from giving any military aid, direct or indirect, and military/paramilitary operations from being conducted inside the country.

Joe Biden Knocks Ted Cruz, Rand Paul During Fundraiser for Democratic Candidate

During a fundraiser for Ed Markey, a Democratic running for the vacant Senate in Massachusetts, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Senate Republicans for the sway over legislation that Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) hold in their caucus:

At a high-dollar fundraiser [Tuesday] night in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden warned his fellow Democrats about the Republicans.

“It’s a pretty simple proposition: The United States of America, and the state of Massachusetts, does not need another Republican in the Senate,” Biden told the assembled donors, according to the press pool report. “I’m being straight about this. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance, at least since I’ve been alive, distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm.”In particular, Biden shared his distrust of two young Republican senators, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention. But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky — or the old senator from Kentucky,” said Biden.

“Think about this. … Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”

Mike Lee, Justin Amash Introduce Legislation to Repeal Export-Import Bank

Export-Import Bank

There are countless examples of cronyist policies passed by Congress. Some would point to bailouts for Wall Street and automakers, while others would remind us of the loans and subsidies for green energy companies. While these are all good examples of cronyism and corporate welfare that are frequently mentioned by critics, the Export-Import Bank is frequently overlooked.

Authorized by Congress in 1945 to promote goods and services produced in the United States to be sold across the world, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) has become a source for bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in the market place and politically-connected businesses to take advantage of taxpayers.

Back in December, Pete Sepp, Executive Vice Chairman of the National Taxpayers Union, noted the Ex-Im Bank has a history of subsidizing failed firms — with a $10 million loan to Solyndra serving as an example — as well as giving money to profitable businesses, including Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar, and Dell.

“In order to keep its portfolio from sagging and putting taxpayers on the hook for future Solyndras, the bank must often invest in large, established firms that are already highly profitable. Over the years this has included firms such as General Electric, Caterpillar, and Dell,” wrote Sepp. “Another example is aerospace giant Boeing. In 2012, nearly 83 percent of the loan guarantees issued by the Ex-Im Bank benefitted Boeing, meaning of the $14.7 billion in loan guarantees, $12.2 billion helped bolster the company’s sales.”

Lee, Cruz Challenge Old Guard Republicans on the Debt Ceiling

John McCain

While Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has become a tool for his Democratic colleagues to move the budget into conference committee, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) continue to express there concerns that these negotiations will be used for a stealth debt ceiling increase.

The issue at hand is that that a conference report could be passed by a majority of the chamber, bypassing a filibuster, as per Senate rules. Sneaking through a debt limit hike, as part of a budget agreement that only requires a majority, is objectionable to these members. And they’re right.

During a speech from the floor on Thursday, Lee explained why he and several other fiscal conservatives in the Senate want assurances from leaders that a debt ceiling hike won’t be part of the conference report on the budget.

“For sixty-one days, several of my colleagues and I have objected to the majority’s request for unanimous consent to circumvent regular order to go to conference with the House on the budget,” said Lee. “They want permission to skip a few steps in the process, and jump straight to the closed-door back-room meetings.”

“There, senior negotiators of the House and Senate will be free to wait until a convenient, artificial deadline and ram through their compromise – un-amended, un-debated and mostly un-read,” he continued. “And with the country backed up against another economic ‘cliff’ crisis, we are concerned they will exploit that opportunity to sneak a debt-limit increase into the budget.”

“We think that’s inappropriate,” he added.

Ted Cruz: “I don’t Trust the Republicans or the Democrats”

There has been some squabbling in the Senate over the appointment of members to a conference committee with the House try to iron out the differences between the chambers over their separate version of the FY 2014 budget. Conservative members of the Senate — led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) — have objected to the appointment of conferees over concern that a budget agreement would be used for a backdoor national debt increase.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) once again attacked these fiscal conservatives. “What we’re saying here on this side of the aisle is we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol who are in the majority,” said McCain, according to Bloomberg.

Cruz responded to McCain yesterday on the floor of the Senate, noting that the fiscal mess in which the United States finds itself is the creation of both parties.

“Madam President, [McCain] urged the body to trust the Republicans,” said Cruz. “Let me be clear — I don’t trust the Republicans. And I don’t trust the Democrats. And I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don’t trust the Republicans and the Democrats, because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us in this mess.”

“You know, my wife and I have two little girls at home, they’re 5 and 2. When Caroline was born, our national debt was $10 trillion,” he noted. “Today, it’s nearly $17 trillion. In her short five years of life, the national debt has grown by over 60%. Madame President, what we are doing to our kids and grandkids, I think, is immoral.”

Watch the full video of Cruz’s response to McCain below:

DOJ Claims It Can Read Your E-mail without a Warrant

During the debate in the House of Representatives over cyber-security, the White House issued veto threat over CISPA due to Internet privacy concerns. Despite that strong stance on a controversial piece of legislation, there have been a number of news stories recently showing various government agencies willingness to ignore constitutional protections to gain access to e-mail and other forms of electronic communication and files.

In fact, it’s the official policy of President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that agents do not need a warrant when they want to gain access to e-mail and Facebook accounts:

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.

Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.

Real Leadership Comes from Tea Party Senators

Forget what you think you know about the Republican leadership in the United States Senate. Sure, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the Minority Leader of the Senate Republican Conference, but the real leadership lies with at least three members.

Writing at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney notes that Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, each of whom were elected with Tea Party support, are setting the tone for the caucus on pressing legislative matters:

There are two power centers in the Senate Republican Conference. One is the official leadership under Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The second is the Tea Party Troika of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.

It’s not that there are two Republican parties. Nor is there a chasm running along ideological lines. The new dynamic is this: The official leadership has even less power than Senate leadership typically has, and the Tea Party Troika, mastering what’s called the “inside-outside game,” has more power to swing their colleagues than backbenchers normally have.

Carney cites the gun control issue as an example of the clout these three carry. Paul, Cruz, and Lee were able to turn a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressing their opposition to new gun control measures into something that gained the support of a majorty of the Republican caucus. The new gun control measures, which Cruz said were all but a done deal at one point, were eventually defeated.

Carney also notes that outside groups have been a key to their success in stopping bad legislation or raising awareness to their causes:

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