Pelosi Regains Title Speaker of the House

The 116th Congress is now in session under the leadership of newly elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This marks the second time she has assumed this title in her political career which brings to mind two historic facts that everyone should celebrate. The first of which being that she was the first woman in to ever hold the title when she was first elected January 4, 2007 which she held until January 3, 2001 when Paul Ryan took over as Speaker. The second being that she is one of only seven individuals to have regained the Speakership on non-consecutive terms. Something that has not happened in over 60 years.

It also comes at one of the most pivotal times for Speaker Pelosi with the looming face off with President Trump over funding for border security and specifically the funding of his border wall. Both Speaker Pelosi and President Trump have made their stances crystal clear.

As recently as yesterday morning on the Today Show, Nancy Pelosi stated again “We can go through the back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall.“.

When asked how long he is willing to keep the government shut down over funding for the wall, President Trump during his first cabinet meeting of 2019 responded, “As long as it takes.”. He then went on to say, “I mean look, I’m prepared. I think the people of this country think I am right. Again, I could have had a lot easier presidency by doing nothing, but I’m here, I want to do it right.”

Speaker Pelosi and the newly elected House Democrats plan to vote on two bills this evening. The first of which funds the majority of the government through the 2019 fiscal year. The other funds Homeland Security through February giving them time to further debate the issue of border security and funding for a wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already stated that any bills that are proposed by the House that do not include funding for the border wall would be blocked and considered a “nonstarter“.

It seems we are in for a very interesting and entertaining two years given the current state of affairs and shift in power in the House. As newly appointed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy handed the gavel to Speaker Pelosi and she prepared to take her oath of office, she paused asking that they allow a few moments so that her grandchildren and any children in attendance could come up to the front and stand with her as she takes her oath. It was a beautiful and moving sentiment that I know many on the floor appreciated and that those children in attendance will never forget.

I pray for the sake of our country that it is not the first and only bipartisan act we see from Speaker Pelosi during her Speakership. After all, she and those in Congress work for the American People. Regardless of what side of the isle we are from many of us are not happy with the current state of affairs in Washington D.C. We have a long list of issues we need resolved. Too many of us are in need of the kind of assistance that only Congress can legislate.

Advertisements

New Year, New Congress

It’s New Years Eve 2018 and the government is in its tenth day of a partial shutdown over border security funding.

President Trump is requesting $5 billion in order to build sections of the wall, or fencing depending on who you ask, increased technology and border patrol agents. The Democrats are perfectly willing to give up $1.3 billion for fencing and other border security provisions, but no funding for a wall. Should the president hold true to his word the absence of that noun would render any spending bill to be proposed by Congress this week to be denied upon receipt. The question is if the president is willing to take the risk of denying the Democrats proposal. With that answer comes the answer to how much he is willing to give up in order to fund the government and have it reopen as well.

But why now? Why has it taken two years for the president and Republicans in Congress to finally take a stand on border security and wall funding? After all, building the wall was a staple of the president’s campaign and was a key issue that contributed to him winning the election. The reason is simple – the Republicans and the president have run out of time.

In just two short days the 116th Congress will convene for the first time on January 3rd, 2019 thus propelling President Trump’s administration into a two year “lame duck” session until 2020.  Democratic leaders have already announced a proposal that they are pushing to vote on this coming Thursday to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year save Homeland Security. They will only be funded through February 8th which will include the aforementioned $1.3 billion for fencing but no funding for a wall. The goal of this proposal is to see just how far President Trump is willing to go in his fight for funding a wall.

The irony here is that the Democrats are now opposing what they have already voted for several times in the past. There are multiple videos and news stories from 2006 where Democrats supported the same type of border security measures being discussed today. In fact 23 other Democrats along with then Senator Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006. In re-reading the Secure Fence Act of 2006 it seems to echo exactly what President Trump and the Republicans are seeking today. More fencing along the Southern border (I.e. a wall or barrier), more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, lighting, advanced technology like cameras, satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border. You can hear Kellyanne Conway state exactly that during a recent CNN interview.

Historically speaking funding border security is not a partisan issue. It never has been. $60 million was allocated according to the DHS in 2009 in the form of grants to fund Operation Stonegarden for border States. That same year there was in excess of $106 million more set aside for Southwest border security measures, again per the DHS website. Time and again both Democrats and Republicans have voted for funding for border security. To take a broader approach if you consider an estimate of $4.4 trillion Fiscal Year 2019 federal budget the $5 billion President Trump is asking for border security is a fraction of 1% of the overall budget. It’s essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things.

So why are the Democrats opposed now?  In a word – politics.  They simply cannot stomach giving the president a win when it comes to one of his key campaign promises.  Even if they claim victory in that whatever is built it is not called a wall in any bill or budget package they vote in favor of.  At the end of the day, they can say President Trump didn’t get his wall and that, it seems, is more important than anything else – even securing our country.

Semantics are the name of the game in Washington D.C. to the detriment and frustration of the American people. With a Democrat controlled House coming into session it can be expect that we will see much more of the same over the next two years. That is if they don’t spend all their time with investigations and repeated attempts to impeach the president. Either way there seems to be little hope for any political wins on the agenda of President Trump in the near future. That is certain.

Signature2_RWB_BOLD_22 FEB 2018