Senate

Ted Cruz is Popular in Texas

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz (R-TX) has ruffled some feathers since joining the Senate in January. Shortly, after President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals, Cruz dismantled arguments for the Assault Weapons Ban, calling it a “singularly ineffective piece of legislation” and slamming its proponents for misleading Americans.

He was one of three members to vote against John Kerry’s confirmation to serve as Secretary of State and he lead the charge against Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, though he did cross a line in his questioning.

Cruz, who won the GOP nomination for Senate with heavy grassroots support against an establishment candidate, is seeing the benefits of his cavalier attitude back in the Lone Star State, according to a new poll:

Texas’s Junior Sen. Ted Cruz has been making some waves since joining the U.S. Senate, and it’s earning him solid poll numbers back home, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey has found.

Club for Growth releases 2012 scorecard

United States Capitol

The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.

The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.

“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”

So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.

Best of the Best in the House of Representatives

It’s been 1,400 days since the Senate passed a budget

See Video

Just a friendly reminder that the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, hasn’t passed in 1,400 days. The last time they took it upon themselves to perform the government’s most basic function was April 29, 2009.

Senate leaders reach deal on the filibuster

Harry Reid

After months of whining about the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came up with an agreement on the filibuster that will stall attempts by Senate Democrats to go nuclear:

The Reid-McConnell package would create a new path for eliminating filibusters on motions to proceed to new business. Under current rules, a senator can hold up a motion to even begin debating legislation.

The majority leader would be able to bar a filibuster on a motion to proceed if he allows each side to vote on two amendments, according to a Senate aide familiar with the package. Non-germane amendments would be subject to a 60-vote threshold, under this scenario.

This change would be adopted as a standing order that would sunset after two years, creating a trial period. Sixty senators must vote for it.

Alternatively, the deal would allow for expedited consideration of motions to proceed in cases where the majority and minority leaders agree to bring up a measure and eight senators from each party — including the leaders – sign a petition to end debate. Such fast-track consideration of motions to proceed would be set up by permanent rules change requiring 67 votes.

The tentative deal would expedite the process for sending legislation to conference negotiations with the House. But lawmakers would still be allowed to filibuster any effort to send legislation to a Senate-House negotiation.

Appellate court says Obama’s NLRB appointments are unconstitutional

NLRB

Early last year, President Barack Obama made recess appointments to add three new members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Constitution allows a president to make such appointments when the Congress is not in session. And therein lies the problem with the moves made by President Obama — the Senate, which is constitutionally required to confirm appointments, was still in session.

The appointments were challenged in court by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans, who argued that President Obama had acted unconstitutionally. Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with McConnell, ruling that President Obama had indeed abused his authority:

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session - and not in recess - at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions made over the past year.

The court said the president could only fill vacancies with the recess appointment procedure if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress.

Saxby Chambliss will not seek re-election

Taxby

We got some good news out of Georgia this morning. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who suggested last year that he would break his no-tax pledge to Peach State voters, will not seek a third-term in office, according to Jim Galloway at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss will announce this morning that he’s dropping plans to run for a third term in 2014, a decision certain to set off an avalanche of Republican candidates who will seek to replace him.

Word out of Washington is that Chambliss broke the news to his senior staff this morning.

Politico says that the reason Chambliss decided not to run for re-election is because he has “grown increasingly frustrated with the pervasive gridlock in the Senate — particularly its inability to reach a grand bargain to slash deficits.” Chambliss isn’t running again because he was facing a primary challenge because conservatives in Georgia are frustrated with his big government record.

Chambliss has been part of the problem in Washington. Chambliss voted for every bloated budget pushed during the Bush Administration. He voted to expand Medicare, an already bankrupt entitlement. What was his answer to the deficits he helped create? To raise taxes by $1 trillion. The suggestion that Chambliss is some sort of fiscal conservative is nothing short of absurd.

Wait, Didn’t the Fiscal Cliff Deal Originate in the Senate?

Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

If you thought the policy side of the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” is bad, did you notice that there’s a constitutional problem too? I’m sure there’s more than one, actually, but this one was easy to spot without even digging into the gory details.

Recall that the fiscal cliff bill was first passed by the Senate in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, and then seconded by a vote of the House some 20 hours later. And yet, Article I, Section 7, Clause 1—known as the Origination Clause—states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

No, Congress isn’t going to repeal the 22nd Amendment

Jose Serrano

While laying in bed on Sunday evening trying to recover from the world’s worst cold, I got an e-mail from a family member with a link to a story with the headline — “Abolish Presidential Term Limits Bill Introduced.” The family member remarked, “Well, here you go!  If this is true, the first move has been made toward Obama’s third term.”

This story has been out on Facebook and Twitter over the last couple of days and, frankly, the reaction is a bit absurd. H.J.Res. 15, introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), would indeed repeal the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1951.

The 22nd Amendment states:

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Harry Reid delays going “nuclear” on filibuster

Harry Reid

Despite frequent threats to go nuclear on the filibuster and minority rights, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will temporarily hold off on making changes to the long-held rule when the new Congress comes into session today:

He has a chance to go “nuclear” Thursday, but instead Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to punt a decision on the filibuster until later this month.

With a new Congress being sworn in Thursday, Reid had threatened to invoke what critics call the “nuclear option”: Changing filibuster rules by 51 votes on the first day of a new session, circumventing the usual requirement in which at least 67 senators are needed to change Senate rules.

Instead, he’ll employ a circuitous procedure to technically keep the Senate in its first legislative day by sending the chamber into recess — rather than adjourning. That move would keep the Senate in session, preserving his option of pushing forward with the so-called nuclear option at a later date.

That will buy Reid time for further negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to see if they can reach a bipartisan agreement, aides said Wednesday. It could delay the fight until the week of Jan. 22.

Reid and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to some rule changes, including eliminating “secret holds” after the 2010 mid-term election. McConnell also agreed to scale back use of the filibuster, although the rules surrounding the tactic were left untouched.

Sen. Rand Paul on NDAA and indefinite detention

Rand Paul

As noted this morning, a conference committee is expected to remove language passed via the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, protecting Americans against indefinite detention by military without trail.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who voted for the amendment and has been pushing for great protection of civil liberties, just released the following statement. As you can see, Paul does not hide who he blames for the removal of the language protecting the due process rights of Americans:

The decision by the McCain led conference committee to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional.

The Feinstein-Lee amendment that passed with a 67-29 vote last month was designed to guarantee citizens the right to due process and a jury trial. These are basic and core American legal privileges enshrined in our Bill of Rights and that have been observed since our nation’s founding. Removing these indefinite detention protections now means that NDAA is in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

I voted against NDAA in 2011 because it did not contain the proper constitutional protections. When my senate colleagues voted to include those protections in the 2012 NDAA through the Feinstein-Lee Amendment last month, I supported this act.

But removing those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year’s NDAA. When government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.


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