U.S. Government & governance 2019

Written by  //  February 15, 2019  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  No comments

U.S. Government & governance 2018
U.S. Government & governance 2017 – 18
The firings and fury: The biggest Trump resignations and firings so far
How the shutdown might end, according to game theory
Brookings: Tracking turnover in the Trump administration
On Bullshit and the Oath of Office: The “LOL Nothing Matters” Presidency (November 2016)

8-15 February
David Leonhardt morning round-up
President Trump’s emergency declaration for a border wall is based on an obvious falsehood: There is no emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. And because he was goaded into the declaration by Sean Hannity, the episode makes a mockery of the federal government.
But in the relative scheme of Trump’s misbehavior, the emergency declaration doesn’t rank very high. It’s not corruption or obstruction of justice. It’s not an attempt to undermine America’s alliance with Western Europe. And it doesn’t even matter much for immigration policy.
A presidential declaration of emergency in order to construct a wall would be stupid,” Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic wrote. “It would be wasteful. It would test the limits of the president’s authority under the law in question. But it would not, in itself, be a step toward authoritarianism.” (Here’s the longer version of her case.)
This will be challenged in courts immediately, and it will be pretty easy to throw this thing out,” Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, predicted
Trump’s fake emergency is a sign of weakness not strength,” tweeted The New Yorker’s John Cassidy. “He ran on the wall, he had two years of Republican control of Congress, and he still couldn’t get it financed. Weak president.
Trump’s Bizarre, Rambling Announcement of a National Emergency
(The Atlantic) The circus in the Rose Garden threatened to distract from what the president actually did on Friday.
The move is sure to draw legal challenges, and might not take effect exactly as Trump described. But the fact remains that the president has declared a national emergency in order to save face with anti-immigration members of the conservative media and his base, having been roundly defeated in a joust with Congress over funding. In essence, the president has created a new crisis to get himself out of a previous crisis—which he also created.

A president’s national emergencies are in the eye of the beholder
After President Trump declared a national emergency yesterday in order to secure funding to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, Elaine Kamarck explains how this expansion of presidential power will open the door for the next Democratic president to declare a similar national emergency over issues like gun violence, health care, or climate change.
(Brookings) There are obvious constitutional concerns with this, the least of which is the very specific “power of the purse” granted by the Constitution in Article I, Section 9. The president’s action is, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the day it was leaked that the president would declare a national emergency, “an end run around Congress” which will no doubt be litigated in the federal courts.
But should the president’s move somehow pass constitutional muster, it would create a pyrrhic victory for Republicans and set a precedent that the GOP would come to regret. That’s because national emergencies can be, as recent history shows, very much in the eye of the beholder—and a president who expands the power of the office for himself also expands the power of the office for his successors. While President Trump believes this national emergency applies only to the border, his actions may reach far beyond the U.S.-Mexico border and endure longer than his tenure as president.
President Trump thinks the situation at the border is a national emergency even though arrests at the border have dropped precipitously since 2000. How else might a future president interpret policy data to identify an emergency that to others may be a controversial declaration?

Everything You Need to Know About Trump’s National Emergency Plan
(New York) The move is a questionable reach of executive authority, to say the least. Because the situation at the border is not a real emergency, and because Congress chose not to provide significant wall funding, the president is putting himself at the forefront of a self-made Constitutional crisis – again.
“This is a real institutional threat to the separation of powers to use emergency powers to enable the president to bypass Congress to build a wall on his own initiative that our elected representatives have chosen not to fund,” Syracuse law professor William C. Banks told the New York Times.
On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi announced that if the president declares a national emergency, Democrats would “review our options” of legal actions to halt his order.
Hasn’t Trump been threatening to use emergency powers all along?
Trump shocks GOP with emergency declaration
Senate Republicans were stunned to learn Trump is ignoring their warnings against such a move.
(Politico) The surprise announcement Thursday that President Donald Trump will use his emergency powers to try and build his border wall blindsided some Republicans, confused others and sent the Senate GOP into a general state of shock.
The news, delivered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, came after weeks of warnings from his own party not to declare a national emergency at the border.
Trump has decided to challenge Republicans’ resolve anyway — but he may not like the outcome. Aides privately predicted Trump will lose a vote on the Senate floor once the Democratic House passes a resolution of disapproval to block the move.

Lawmakers say they have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to avoid government shutdown
The deal doesn’t give Trump as much money as he wanted for a border wall and drops some Democratic proposals to limit ICE detentions.
(WaPost) Key lawmakers announced a tentative deal late Monday that would avert another government shutdown at the end of the week while denying President Trump much of the money he’s sought to build new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Talks Over Border Security Break Down, Imperiling Effort to Prevent Shutdown
The hang-up was not primarily the amount of funding for a border barrier, but a Democratic effort to force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on detaining migrants with criminal records instead of people who have overstayed their visas by limiting the number of beds it has in detention centers.
The breakdown in negotiations came as Pentagon and administration officials were preparing for two situations: another partial government shutdown or the president, unsatisfied with an agreement produced by the bipartisan panel, fulfilling his threat to declare a national emergency.

Trump Gives Ground on His Wall as Border Deal Comes Into View
Faced with limited options and a looming deadline to prevent another government shutdown, President Trump is moving toward accepting a border security deal that would fall well short of his once firm demand for $5.7 billion in funds for a wall along the southwestern border.

4 February
Trump Chooses David Bernhardt, a Former Oil Lobbyist, to Head the Interior Dept.
(NYT) President Trump on Monday announced he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and current deputy chief of the Interior Department, to succeed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. While Mr. Zinke had been the public face of some of the largest rollbacks of public-land protections in the nation’s history, Mr. Bernhardt was the one quietly pulling the levers to carry them out, opening millions of acres of land and water to oil, gas and coal companies. He is described by allies and opponents alike as having played a crucial role in advancing what Mr. Trump has described as an “energy dominance” agenda for the country.

30 January
Trump administration faces an increasingly adversarial Congress — in both parties
Senior Republicans are warning him away from a national emergency declaration to build a border wall. The top Senate leader is directly rebuking his national ­security policy in Syria and Afghanistan. And Democratic committee chairs are threatening subpoenas for his top officials.
… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced this week an amendment to Middle East policy legislation that rebuked Trump’s decision to pull back troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
While there have been some long-standing disagreements between Senate Republicans and the White House on foreign policy, the amendment — coming from the top Republican senator who has worked hand-in-glove with Trump on many shared priorities — was one of the most forceful protests against the president’s foreign policy.

26 January
Trump White House stonewalls as Puerto Rico aid runs dry
The president’s theories about how the storm-wracked island is using disaster relief money could have dire consequences for its residents.
Additional food aid for the island’s poor will soon be exhausted without supplemental funds opposed by the White House. At the same time, billions in community development appropriations have yet to leave Washington — a year after being approved by Congress to assist in the recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

25 January
After causing so much disruption and damage to the lives of 800,000 workers and all those who rely on their custom. Inconveniencing the public in so many ways … What a disgraceful exercise.

Trump Agrees to Reopen Government for 3 Weeks in Surprise Retreat From Wall

(NYT) President Trump agreed Friday to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations proceeded over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, backing down after a month-long standoff failed to force Democrats to give him billions of dollars for his long-promised wall.
The decision paved the way for Congress to pass spending bills as soon as Friday that Mr. Trump will sign to restore normal operations at a series of federal agencies until Feb. 15 and begin paying again the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work for free for 35 days.
The plan includes none of the money for the wall that he had demanded and was essentially the same approach that Mr. Trump rejected at the end of December, meaning he won nothing concrete during the impasse. But if Republicans and Democrats cannot reach agreement on wall money by the February deadline, he indicated that he was ready to renew the confrontation or declare a national emergency and bypass Congress altogether.
Checkmate: Nancy Breaks Trump and Ends the Shutdown
Pelosi’s masterclass, and plummeting polls, forced the president’s hand—at least for now.
(Vanity Fair) Trump did his best to frame the measure as a victory, saying he was “very proud to announce” a “deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.” But there was no disguising the fact that he had been outplayed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and badly misread the national mood. Earlier in the day, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Trump’s approval rating had fallen to a historic low of 37 percent. According to the survey, a whopping 53 percent of Americans blamed Trump for the shutdown, and 60 percent disapproved of how he was handling negotiations to reopen it. A higher percentage of Americans said they trusted Democrats to handle issues of border security (42 percent) and illegal immigration (47 percent) over the G.O.P.—a significant shift in sentiment over the past several months.

24 January
A ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Shutdown? Democrats Make the Most of an Administration’s Missteps
(NYT) Mr. Trump has stocked his administration with millionaires and the garden-variety wealthy who have not been as careful with their messaging, and Democrats are making the most of it.
The ripest partisan target is Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary … On Thursday, he expressed confusion about why furloughed federal workers were visiting food banks. Another Loan?
Some things you should know about Wilbur Ross New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting
Collapse of Two Plans to End Shutdown Propels Urgent Negotiations
(NYT) A pair of measures to reopen the government — one with President Trump’s border wall, the other without it — failed in the Senate on Thursday, sending lawmakers from both parties into frenzied efforts to forge a compromise that could end the nearly six-week partial shutdown.
But the results undercut the president by revealing that his proposal drew less support in the Republican-controlled Senate than did the Democrats’ plan, which attracted a half-dozen Republicans willing to break with Mr. Trump.
Trump tells federal workers to borrow groceries as second missed pay day looms
“Local people know who they are, when they go for groceries and everything else.”
As federal workers across the country have queued up at food banks, taken out loans, and rationed life-saving medicine to get by without a paycheck, Trump administration officials have continued to insist many federal workers support the shutdown.
Aviation workers issue dire shutdown warning
(Politico) Pilots, air traffic controllers and flight attendants are warning that aviation safety is “deteriorating by the day” as the shutdown drags on, and suggested that there’s no telling when “the entire system will break.”
Leaders of three unions issued a statement late Wednesday evening saying their concern is growing for their employees, airlines and the public.
‘Extraordinarily angry and very upset taxpayers’: IRS faces chaotic tax season amid shutdown.
As it prepares to accept 2018 filings beginning Monday, the administration has recalled tens of thousands of IRS employees, but there are already signs that some will be no-shows because they’re facing the prospect of working without pay. An IRS union says some are taking advantage of rules allowing them to stay home if they face financial hardships.

21-22 January
Senate to vote on shutdown end, Trump wall impasse
(Reuters) – The U.S. Senate shifted slightly closer on Tuesday to resolving a month-long partial government shutdown, but there was no sign of relief anytime soon for 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay.
GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight
(The Hill) Republicans, who have seen poll after poll showing that a majority of respondents blame Trump for the shutdown, are eager to corner Democrats by forcing a vote on the White House proposal to reopen the government and provide Trump with $5.7 billion in wall funding.
The White House and McConnell have also sought to sweeten the pot: Their plan includes priorities backed by Democrats including extension of the Violence Against Women Act and more than $12 billion in disaster relief funding.
Despite stated principles, McConnell readies vote on Trump’s shutdown plan
(MSNBC Rachel Maddow) During his speech on Saturday afternoon, unveiling his latest “plan” to end his government shutdown, Donald Trump declared, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring this bill to a vote this week in the United States Senate.”
…before the legislative head-counts begin in earnest, there’s a question that deserves an answer: whatever happened to Mitch McConnell’s principle of denying a vote on any measure that lacks bipartisan backing?

14-19 January
David Frum: The President’s Hostage Attempt Is Going Miserably Wrong
Once again, Trump tried and failed to strike a deal on Saturday.
President Donald Trump is trapped. He shut the government to impose his will on the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. That plan has miserably failed. Instead, Trump has found himself caught in the trap he supposed he had set for his opponents.
The shutdown was a demand for unconditional surrender. Unfortunately for him, the president lacks the political realism to recognize that he doesn’t have the clout to impose that surrender. He’s the one who will now have to climb down, and very soon, probably within days. The end of a hostage taking is not a surrender. But it will surely feel that way to the hostage taker—and deservedly, too.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stands back as shutdown drags on
(PBS Newshour) The Republican leader has been conspicuously deferential to Trump since the shutdown began. He’s waiting on the president and Democrats to make a deal to end it. The result is an unusually inactive profile for the GOP leader who’s often the behind-the-scenes architect of intricate legislative maneuvers to resolve bitter partisan stalemates.
But the Kentucky Republican, who is up for re-election in 2020 in a state where Trump tends to be more popular than he is, sees no other choice than to stand back  …  McConnell has plenty of solutions at the ready, allies say. But he sees no value in trying to execute a deal that Trump may not ultimately endorse. It’s not only a waste of time, in his view, it potentially exposes Republican senators up for re-election in 2020, including himself, as sideways to Trump’s wishes
Trump and Pelosi: A Game of Spite and Malice
She gets under his skin. He punches back. Game on.
(NYT) On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised eyebrows on both sides of the aisle by effectively disinviting President Trump from delivering his State of the Union address to Congress this month.
In a letter citing concerns about the security implications of the continuing government shutdown, Ms. Pelosi suggested, “sadly,” that it might be best if she and the president could “determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing.”
The communiqué was at once excruciatingly polite and brutally dismissive, driving home how the power dynamic has shifted on Capitol Hill. As congressional Republicans sputtered about how grossly political the speaker was being, Mr. Trump was reminded not only of the limitations of his own power, but also of how his House enablers have been stripped of theirs.
Calling Trump’s bluff: The deal Democrats should offer to end the shutdown
By Morley Winograd, Senior Policy Advisor to Vice-President Gore in the second term of the Clinton administration.
(Brookings) To end the government shutdown, the Democrats should give Trump what he wants—$5 billion for the wall—and insist in return on what the country needs: complete protection of the Mueller investigation and the full public disclosure of its report.
Of course, adding money for the wall will be a hard pill for many Democrats to swallow. Legislative language that makes it clear it is not a literal concrete wall and provides for some continuing review of its effectiveness could help mitigate those concerns. But ultimately, Democrats should pay more attention to the long game that needs to be played here on behalf of the future of our democracy and to the need to end the suffering of hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have become the innocent victims of Trump’s vanity. A wall may well prove to be a $5 billion waste of money, but it is a small price to pay to finally expose the real threat to our country’s security that currently inhabits the Oval Office.
Shutdown bites economy, U.S. Coast Guard, as talks to end impasse stall
(Reuters) Democrats, who took over the House this month, have rejected the border wall but back $1.3 billion in other border security measures this year. They have insisted the government be fully open before negotiations occur. House Democrats have passed a number of bills to end the shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said the chamber will not consider anything Trump would not sign into law.
Compelled to work without pay, federal employees sue Trump, accusing him of violating 13th Amendment
(WaPost) The lawsuit is one of several pursued by federal workers against the Trump administration as the government shutdown enters its 24th day, the longest in history, leaving hundreds of thousands of employees without a paycheck and, in many cases, struggling to pay bills. Employees at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Prisons and Federal Aviation Administration have already filed lawsuits against the administration through their respective unions, among others.
But this case, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, diverges from the others by invoking the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the aftermath of the Civil War.

10-11 January
Andrew Sullivan: Welcome to Act III of the Trump Tragedy
(New York Magazine) When is the moment we can say that Trump has clearly gone over the line in erasing democratic and constitutional restraints on his personal power?
I’d say declaring a national emergency when there isn’t one to fund a project he can’t get through Congress pretty obviously qualifies.
Defenses of Trump’s Emergency Declaration Defy the Plain Language and Clear Intent of the Law
By David French
(National Review) …partisans are tripping over themselves to disregard the law in service of their imperial president. He doesn’t need Congress, they say. The law gives him the authority to declare an emergency and build his wall anyway. But if that’s true, why is the government shut down? Why are we going through this ridiculous charade? Why didn’t he declare an emergency and build the wall months ago? Why didn’t he deal with this crisis the moment he walked into office?
The answer is simple. If you look at the plain language and clear intent of the relevant statutes, they do not permit Trump to defy Congress and build his wall. He knows it. Congress knows it. His own lawyers know it.
I wrote a long piece earlier this week analyzing the relevant statutes and judicial precedent, and I won’t rehash all of that here, but the bottom line is that even under the most generous statute, only during a “national emergency” that “may require” the use of the military may the president allocate funds for “authorized” construction projects that are “essential to the national defense.”
No, Trump Can’t Use an Emergency Declaration To Build a Wall

7 January
Trump Literally Did Not Understand What a Shutdown Would Do
(New York) Two devastating reports in the Washington Post over the weekend detail the horrifying scope of their ignorance. The administration did not realize that 38 million Americans lose their food stamps under a shutdown, nor did it know that thousands of tenants would face eviction without assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Administration officials “recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact,” reports the Post, and was “focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.” First Trump shut down the government, and then the Trump administration started looking into what effect this would have.
Trump’s emergency threat on wall risks dual legal challenge
(Reuters) Legal scholars said it was unclear exactly how such a step would play out, but they agreed that a court test would likely focus on whether an emergency actually exists on the southern border and on the limits of presidential power over taxpayer funds.
Under the Constitution, decisions about spending taxpayer funds and creating new policy are made by Congress.
However, the president can make quick decisions during emergencies under a patchwork of laws in specific situations such as war, natural disasters and epidemics.
A 2007 report by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan research arm of the legislature, said: “Both the judiciary and Congress, as co-equal branches, can restrain the executive regarding emergency powers.”

3 January
Speaker Pelosi heralds ‘new dawn’ at opening of 116th Congress
(PBS Newshour) The 116th Congress gaveled into session Thursday swathed in history, returning Nancy Pelosi to the House speaker’s office and ushering in a diverse class of Democratic freshmen ready to confront President Donald Trump in a new era of divided government.
The new Congress is like none other. There are more women than ever before, and a new generation of Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans and African-Americans in the House is creating what academics call a reflective democracy, more aligned with the population of the United States. The Republican side in the House is still made up mostly of white men, and in the Senate Republicans bolstered their ranks in the majority.
Pelosi, the first female speaker, was broadly pledging to make Congress work for all Americans — addressing kitchen table issues at a time of deep economic churn — even as her party is ready to challenge Trump with investigations and subpoena powers that threaten the White House agenda. It’s the first new Congress to convene amid a partial government shutdown, now in its 13th day over Trump’s demands for money for a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
“This House will be for the people,” Pelosi said, outlining an agenda “to lower health costs and prescription drugs prices, and protect people with pre-existing conditions; to increase paychecks by rebuilding America with green and modern infrastructure — from sea to shining sea.”
Pelosi defied history in returning to the speaker’s office after eight years in the minority, overcoming internal opposition from Democrats demanding a new generation of leaders. She will be the first to regain the gavel since legendary Sam Rayburn of Texas in 1955.

2 January
A defensive Trump calls a Cabinet meeting and uses it to boast, deflect and distract
President Trump, 12 days into a government shutdown and facing new scrutiny from emboldened Democrats, inaugurated the new year Wednesday with a Cabinet meeting. It quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of his presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement.

1 January
Trump invites congressional leaders to White House for wall briefing
(Politico) The meeting would mark the first time Trump has sat down with top congressional leaders of both parties since the shutdown started. There have been virtually no discussions until this point, and the meeting would offer both sides a chance to restart talks.
Democrats are set to take control of the House on Thursday and immediately pass a bill to reopen the government without providing the $5 billion the president has requested for his wall with Mexico. Trump, meanwhile, has vowed to hold out and continue the shutdown standoff until he gets funding for the southern structure.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm