Boehner reminds House members of proper attire after congressman votes in shorts

Published: Friday, August 02, 2013 @ 6:30 PM
Updated: Friday, August 02, 2013 @ 6:30 PM

Toward the conclusion of Wednesday’s session in the House, House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., delivered a somewhat unusual announcement to his colleagues.

“Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor,’’ Boehner said. “This standard applies even when a member is entering the chamber only to vote by electronic device or by card in the well.’’

Watch video of Boehner’s comments here.

“Members are reminded of the unique tradition and dignity of the House that sets it apart from other institutions and workplaces,’’ Boehner said.

Boehner, who never is seen around the House without a suit and tie, did not say what prompted his admonition. But perhaps it had to do with Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. – yes that Mark Sanford who vanished from the South Carolina’s governor’s office to visit his mistress in Argentina – showing up in the speaker’s lobby last week wearing gym shorts, T-shirt and sneakers. Apparently Sanford had just rushed from the House gym to cast a vote.

Flynn invokes Fifth Amendment, decries “public frenzy” over Russia probe

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 4:01 PM

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn invoked his Fifth Amendment rights on Monday, as his lawyers refused to honor a subpoena for documents from a U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the first time that someone with close ties to President Trump has refused to cooperate in the course of this politically charged investigation.

“In these circumstances, General Flynn is entitled to, and does, invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against production of documents,” wrote Flynn’s lawyers in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“He is the target on nearly a daily basis of outrageous allegations, often attributed to anonymous sources in Congress,” the letter stated, decrying an “escalating public frenzy against him.”

Flynn’s lawyers also cited the appointment last week of a special counsel to the probe into Russian influence in 2016 as reason to withhold testimony at this time.

The decision by Flynn did not surprise committee members; last week, panel chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) had told reporters that Flynn was not going to honor their subpoena for documents on meetings and communications with “any Russian official.”

It was not immediately apparent what the Intelligence Committee could do to compel Flynn to either testify, or turn over documents.

One option is holding Flynn in contempt of Congress – but that does not guarantee cooperation of a witness, either.

During the 2016 campaign, Flynn himself had made light of people who had taken the Fifth in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, as well as those who were granted immunity.

“When you’re given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,” Flynn told NBC’s Meet the Press on September 25, 2016.

Democrats not only dug up old quotes of Flynn, but also some from President Trump, where he also raised questions about those same aides with ties to the Clinton email server.

“If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Mr. Trump asked at a rally in Iowa last September.

Flynn has come under scrutiny for several things – his contacts with Russian officials during the Trump transition, not disclosing payments from Russian groups in 2015 as required for former top military officers, and belatedly disclosing that he was working as a paid agent of the Turkish government, even as he was campaigning for Mr. Trump last year.

Trump budget proposal includes 25 percent cut to food stamps: report

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 1:09 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 18:  U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House May 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Trump administration has said it wants to slash foreign aide and Santos will most likely seek a renewal of $450 million dollars from the U.S. that supports the peace accord between the Columbian government at the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump will propose a more than 25 percent cut to food stamp funding in a budget proposal expected Tuesday, according to a report.

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The president will propose $193 billion worth of cuts over the next decade from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program, The Associated Press reported, citing talking points circulated by the White House.

The program currently serves about 42 million people, according to numbers released in February by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cuts would drive millions of people off food stamps through changes in eligibility guidelines and the implementation of additional work requirements, according to The AP.

SNAP’s current work requirement is aimed at cutting benefits to the “most able-bodied adults who don’t have children,” The Washington Post reported.

About 44 million people spread across 21 million households got benefits through SNAP last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Officials said participants got an average of $125 per month, while households got an average of $258. The program cost $70.9 billion in 2016.

Trump’s budget proposal is also expected to include large cuts to Medicaid, federal employee pensions, welfare benefits and farm subsidies.


AP: Flynn to assert Fifth Amendment rights, won’t honor subpoena in Russia probe

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 10:19 AM
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 10:20 AM

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will not honor a subpoena for documents from a U.S. Senate panel investigating election interference by Russia, as the one-time aide to President Donald Trump will instead assert his Fifth Amendment rights, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

That report came several days after the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters that Flynn’s lawyers were not going to honor the committee’s subpoena.

A spokesperson later said last Thursday that Burr had been mistaken – but now that exact story line seems to be developing today.

“Gen. Flynn¹s lawyers said he would not honor the subpoena, and that¹s not a surprise to the committee,” Burr said at the time, “but we¹ll figure out on Gen. Flynn what the next step, if any is.”

Flynn’s lawyers had previously sounded out the idea of getting immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony before the Congress, but that was not accepted by the House and Senate Intelligence panels, which are leading the Congressional probe into Russian actions in 2016.

Flynn has come under scrutiny for several things – his contacts with Russian officials during the Trump transition, not disclosing payments from Russian groups in 2015 as required for former top military officers, and belatedly disclosing that he was working as a paid agent of the Turkish government, even as he was campaigning for Mr. Trump last year.

During the campaign, Flynn himself had raised questions about legal troubles for Hillary Clinton over her private email server, questioning why one Clinton IT aide refused to cooperate with that investigation.

“When you’re given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,” Flynn told NBC’s Meet the Press on September 25, 2016.

With the President on the road, what’s next for the Trump agenda in Congress

Published: Sunday, May 21, 2017 @ 8:03 PM
Updated: Sunday, May 21, 2017 @ 8:03 PM

Even as President Donald Trump is on an extended foreign trip, there will be a lot of domestic news developing this week as his budget for 2018 is released, though action on the Trump spending plan and a number of other major agenda items is still uncertain on Capitol Hill.

Here is where we are on major issues in the Congress, as lawmakers get ready to leave Washington later this week for a ten day break, anchored by Memorial Day:

1. Health care overhaul legislation. In terms of major legislation, this is the brightest spot for the agenda of the Trump White House and GOP leaders. The House passed its version of health care on May 4, and now that political hot potato is in the hands of Senators. There have been frequent meetings involving Republicans, and even some bipartisan negotiations as well, but no indications as yet of an emerging deal. Remember – all other major legislation is waiting on health care in the Congress, because of the unique parliamentary situation involving this bill. The longer it takes for the GOP to forge a deal, the longer everything else stays on hold. Oh, and did I mention the possibility that the House might have to vote on the health care bill again? We’ll save that for later this week.

2. Waiting for the details of tax reform. Republicans held their first hearing on tax reform last week in the House, and will have another hearing this coming week in the Senate. But apart from that, there is no timeline on when lawmakers will come forward with the details of a bill. The White House only issued a one page summary with some bullet points on what the President wants to in terms of tax changes – as that rundown left dozens of issues unaddressed. Tax lobbyists are gearing up to do a lot of work in the months ahead. Speaker Paul Ryan said this past week he still hopes to get tax reform done by the end of the year. It will not be easy.

3. Trump budget coming out on Tuesday. After sending Congress what is known as the “skinny budget,” President Trump’s administration will now fill in the details of his spending plans for 2018, and there will be a lot of headlines about reductions in entitlements like Medicaid. With the Trump White House ready to cut all sorts of discretionary programs as well, these details will spur all sorts of press stories and lawmaker statements about what should not be cut and more. Remember, the Congress doesn’t have to do anything with this budget document, but it is still is a good indicator of what the President would like to see done in terms of spending at the federal level. Whether it goes anywhere in Congress is another issue entirely.

4. Don’t hold your breath on a balanced budget. As I reported earlier this month, the Trump budget details to be released this week are not expected to bring about a balanced budget for ten years – after President Trump has left office. That is a standard GOP plan from Congress. The last time the feds balanced the budget was at the end of President Bill Clinton’s time in office. The budget deficit is estimated to be around $500 billion this year.

5. Congress behind on spending bills – again. Lawmakers have only just started holding some hearings on the 2018 budget – those will accelerate with the release of the Trump budget details this week. But the bottom line is that the Congress has almost no chance of finishing its budget work on time – by September 30 – as there will almost certainly be the need for a temporary stop gap budget later this year, with the threat of a government shutdown thrown in for good measure. I’m old enough to remember the days when Congress had real debates and real votes on the House and Senate floors about spending during the months of June and July. That doesn’t happen much anymore.

6. The Congressional schedule. Congress will work next week, and then take a ten day break from Washington, wrapping around Memorial Day. From there, lawmakers are scheduled to be in session for four weeks in June, and three weeks in July, followed by a five week break until after Labor Day. If you hear a member of Congress tell you that they didn’t have enough time to tackle certain issues, you can lob something at the TV screen, because that’s not true.