How Grassley and Ernst voted on latest proposals to keep guns from "terrorists"

Another day, another exercise in kabuki theater within the halls of Congress. Hoping to limit the fallout from Monday’s rejection of proposals to expand background checks and make guns more difficult to obtain for people on federal watch lists, U.S. Senate leaders held votes on more gun control proposals today. A compromise amendment led by Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine was expected to be the main agenda item.

But as Alexander Bolton reported for The Hill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "cut the legs out from a bipartisan effort to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns."

Continue Reading...

Dave Loebsack joins House sit-in over gun votes; Steve King gets mad

Dozens of U.S. House Democrats staged a protest in the House chamber yesterday, demanding a vote on gun control legislation. Shouting ensued when Speaker Paul Ryan gaveled the House back in for late-night votes after a recess that had lasted most of the day. The "#NoBillNoBreak" sit-in kept going overnight and continues this morning, even though House Republicans voted to adjourn until July 5 shortly after a 3 am vote on a Zika virus funding bill. UPDATE: Democrats ended the protest early Thursday afternoon.

Iowa’s Representative Dave Loebsack joined the sit-in late yesterday morning and stayed for much of the day. He returned to the House floor Wednesday evening, giving a short speech around 10 pm central time. O.Kay Henderson posted the full audio clip at Radio Iowa. My partial transcript is below.

I would prefer for the sit-in to be about legislation such as stronger background checks or an assault weapons ban, rather than the "no fly, no buy" bill that has grabbed the most attention since the Orlando massacre. But it is symbolically important for Democrats to stand up to the National Rifle Association and expose Republican cowardice on this issue. Eric Boehlert observed last night that in 1999, "31 Senate Republicans voted in favor of mandating background checks at gun shows," and in 1994, "42 House Republicans voted for President Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which included a ban on assault weapons." Now hardly any Congressional Republicans will back even the most popular gun control measures. Large majorities of Republicans and many gun owners support universal background checks, including for private gun sales.

Representative Steve King showed up in the House chamber Wednesday evening, around the time Loebsack spoke. Unlike his GOP colleague Louis Gohmert, King didn’t mix it up with Democrats. But a little before 2 am, he vented on Twitter, "I’ve had it with the gun grabbing Democrats and their sit in anti 2nd amendment jihad. I’m going to go home and buy a new gun."

Apparently he is under the impression that Democrats get upset when someone buys a gun. As long as the purchase happens with an appropriate background check, I couldn’t care less if King prefers to spend money on additional firearms. I trust the congressman will store his new weapon appropriately, so his young grandchildren can’t get hold of it and hurt someone.

Continue Reading...

House GOP quashes vote on Steve King's latest wacky idea

The U.S. House Rules Committee decided tonight against allowing a vote on Representative Steve King’s proposal to block the U.S. Treasury Department from using federal funds to redesign any currency. In April, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced plans to redesign the $20 bill, with a picture of Harriet Tubman on the front and an image of President Andrew Jackson on the back.

The innovation didn’t sit well with King. As Zach Carter first reported for the Huffington Post, King offered his amendment to the appropriations bill covering the Treasury Department. Matthew Nussbaum reported this evening for Politico,

“It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday evening, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.”

The conservative gadfly said it is “racist” and “sexist” to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency. “Here’s what’s really happening, this is liberal activism on the part of the president, that’s trying to identify people by categories and he’s divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”

Has anyone seen a better example of white male privilege lately? U.S. paper currency has featured white men on all denominations for generations. Yet it’s "racist" and "sexist" to put an African-American woman on one bill and several white women on another—even though both redesigned bills would retain images of white men on one side.

Sensitivity to racial injustice has never been King’s strong suit, so of course he would call it "unifying" to keep the seventh president’s place on the $20. Never mind Jackson’s legacy of brutal Indian removal policies, not to mention direct involvement in the slave trade and attempts to limit postal delivery of abolitionist materials. In case King forgot, the Republican Party grew out of the anti-slavery movement.

With Donald Trump damaging the GOP brand among non-white Americans, House leaders needed unflattering national news coverage and an eventual floor vote on King’s amendment like a hole in the head. So the Rules Committee determined the proposal to be out of order. King can go back to fighting "bloodthirsty vegan brigades" and other imagined threats to American civilization.

UPDATE: Added below fantastic comments by King’s Democratic challenger, Kim Weaver.

Continue Reading...

How Grassley and Ernst voted and explained their stance on failed gun control measures

In a classic example of the kabuki theater that passes for legislating these days, U.S. senators rejected four gun control measures today. Moved to act by the June 11 massacre at a gay club in Orlando, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut led a talking filibuster for more than fourteen hours last week to force a vote on a Democratic proposal to ban gun sales to people on terrorist watch list. He also introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that would expand background checks for firearms purchases, eliminating the gun show loophole. Similar proposals failed to pass the Senate last December, shortly after the mass shooting in San Bernadino.

With the blessing of the National Rifle Association, Republicans drafted their own amendments this week, ostensibly to accomplish the same goals as the Democratic legislation.

Follow me after the jump for details on the four proposals and today’s votes, as well as comments from Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Joni Ernst, Grassley’s challenger Patty Judge, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Continue Reading...

IA-Sen: Grassley touts perfect "report card" as senator continues to fumble Trump response

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has received substantial unflattering attention this week, thanks to his weak response to Donald Trump’s racist case against a federal judge. While a steady stream of Republicans condemned Trump’s sentiments, Grassley downplayed the significance of the issue on Tuesday, inspiring this Des Moines Register editorial’s brilliant kicker: "when it comes to Donald Trump, there are invertebrates that have shown more spine than Sen. Charles Grassley."

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Grassley likened Trump’s opinion to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s past statements about a "wise Latina." But he felt compelled to walk back that comparison only hours later amid a wave of criticism on national media websites and blogs.

The latest Trump scandal knocked Grassley’s campaign off the message it has been trying to relay to Iowans over the past week. A new television commercial and multiple social media postings depict Grassley as a senator with a perfect "report card" for attendance, participation, and physical fitness. Like the campaign’s first tv ad this year, this spot offers a rebuttal to "Do Your Job" taunts directed at Grassley over the Senate Judiciary Committee’s refusal to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing. It also employs the "Grassley Works" tag line, which has been long been a hallmark of the senator’s case for re-election. I enclose below the video and transcript.

Continue Reading...

IA-Sen: Grassley's debut tv ad stresses bipartisan Judiciary Committee work

A few days after former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge became the first U.S. Senate candidate in Iowa to run television commercials this year, six-term Senator Chuck Grassley’s campaign placed a small buy for ads in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Despite facing no competition for the Republican nomination, Grassley has run tv ads in May during previous re-election races, most recently in 2010.

The senator’s debut spot this year carries over the "Grassley Works" slogan from past campaigns. But whereas the opening pitch from 2010 emphasized the incumbent’s personal qualities and commitment to visiting every Iowa county every year, the new spot appears designed to rebut criticism over Grassley’s refusal to hold hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Continue Reading...
View More...