#Government, #Headlines, #Russia, #TheNewz, #USCongress, news

McConnell denies that he slowed Obama’s 2016 Russia response

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday pushed back at Democratic charges that he single-handedly diluted a bipartisan push in September 2016 for states to safeguard their election systems from Russian disruption.

McConnell addressed the issue two days after Denis McDonough, who served as then-President Barack Obama’s chief of staff at the time, charged that the GOP leader slow-walked bipartisan negotiations on how congressional leaders should weigh in on the threat of Moscow’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 election.

McConnell told reporters that he had no regrets about the volume of the warning that state election officials received about the threat of Russian interference in 2016.

“I’m perfectly comfortable with the steps that were taken back then,” he said.

McDonough offered a far different perspective on Sunday, telling “Meet the Press” that the joint statement congressional leaders issued weeks before the election “took over three weeks” to craft. “It was dramatically watered down,” McDonough said, attributing the effort solely to McConnell.

Former Vice President Joe Biden in January made a similar accusation about McConnell’s role in January, saying that McConnell “wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment that we would say essentially, ‘Russia’s doing this. Stop.’… This was all about the political play.”

Seeming to acknowledge Biden’s remarks, the Kentucky Republican on Tuesday described McDonough’s comments as “the same old thing they’ve been saying for weeks.”

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart pointed to a July op-ed by McDonough that described the Obama administration’s call for a bipartisan statement against election meddling as “ultimately successful.”

Obama’s aides had “asked for a letter about election security — not Russia,” Stewart said by email, adding that McDonough’s op-ed relates his request for “DEMOCRATS not to do a public statement about Russia during this same time period. Give me a break.”

McDonough wrote in the Post that he “asked two Democrats to withhold a public statement on the matter mainly to avoid politicizing the issue,” in part “because we were extremely concerned that the perception of partisan motives would undermine Americans’ confidence in the vote and make state authorities more reluctant to cooperate.”

While Democrats continue to hammer the Trump administration for not doing more to punish Russia for its documented meddling in the 2016 election to benefit Trump’s election, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Senate Armed Services Committee members on Tuesday that new sanctions targeting Russian involvement in cyber-meddling would be “coming soon,” perhaps within days.

Nolan McCaskill contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/06/mitch-mcconnell-russia-obama-2016-election-response-441319

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Republicans blitz Trump to head off tariffs

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Congressional Republicans are frantically lobbying President Donald Trump to reconsider his move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum — even considering legislative action to try to stop him if he refuses.

Speaker Paul Ryan has personally spoken with the president and tried to warn him of the economic dangers of entering a trade war as well as the political backlash that could crush Republicans in the mid-terms elections. Republicans fear that voters could pay the price in the form of higher prices, completely undercutting their central campaign message of an improving economy.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

One of the top authors of the tax package, Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), has also waded in to try to talk Trump down. Brady and trade subcommittee chairman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) have drafted a letter to Trump expressing worry about “the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports,” said Lauren Aronson, a Ways and Means spokeswoman.

“As the two Chairmen have reinforced, the administration and Congress must work together on trade policies that build off the momentum of the President’s tax cuts, which is why any tariffs should be narrow, targeted, and focused on addressing unfairly traded products, without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers,” Aronson said in a statement, adding that Brady is committed to working closely with the administration.

The move comes as the White House prepares to slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum as soon as this week. A Saturday tweet by Trump suggested that he might even go beyond that and impose tariffs on European cars.

Republicans fear a trade war — which Trump last week said would be “good” and “easy to win” — will undermine the economy and diminish the benefits voters see from the tax package passed in December. They worry it could result in them losing the House.

Republicans are still hopeful they can persuade Trump to change course. After all, they’ve had success doing so on immigration and guns in the past few weeks.

But if that doesn’t work, Republican could consider congressional action to rein Trump in — though senior Republican sources would not specify what that would look like. Such a move would be unprecedented — particularly because Congress in recent years has deferred to the executive branch on matters of trade.

Republicans, however, say they can try to take that power back, though some analysts say that could be difficult. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress jurisdiction over trade, even as lawmakers have ceded some of their authority to the president.

Congress could try to pass a veto-proof bill to block the tariffs from going into effect. But getting two-thirds of both the House and the Senate to vote for such a measure could be tough, especially because many Rust Belt Democrats, and even some Republicans, favor taking some action against steel imports.

Another option would be to try include a measure blocking the tariffs in a piece of legislation that Trump feels he must sign, such as a bill to fund the government that Congress needs to pass later this month.

But “I’m not sure that they could succeed in doing that,” said Bill Reinsch, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That puts another issue on the table [in the funding talks]. It jeopardizes all the spending in the bill, it threatens a government shutdown — all the things that happen if you don’t pass an omnibus bill.”

One other possibility would be to threaten to deny Trump a renewal of trade promotion authority, which allows him to negotiate trade deals and submit them to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote without any amendments.

Administration officials have said Trump will notify Congress by the end of this month that he wants the renewal, which would open up a 3-month window for lawmakers to block it by passing a resolution of disapproval.

However, taking that step carries some risk since it would free Trump from following congressional guidelines in negotiating trade deals, including requirements that he consult with Congress as negotiations proceed.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/05/trump-tariffs-republican-response-436382

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Top Republican Paul Ryan splits with Trump over trade tariffs

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  • ‘We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war’
  • Trump: Canada and Mexico must redraft Nafta or face metals tariffs

Republican leader Paul Ryan publicly split with Donald Trump on Monday over the president’s threat to impose tariffs on the US’s trading partners on steel and aluminium.

Related: Trump aides defend tariffs move as Europe and China decry ‘trade war’

Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/05/trump-canada-mexico-steel-aluminium-tariffs-aluminum

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The richest — and poorest — members of Congress are from California

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I’ll admit it. Getting excited about financial disclosures from members of Congress is a little nerdy. Still, it’s pretty cool to be able to read over each and every investment and liability California lawmakers reported on the annual forms.

The Times, using data crunched by the Capitol Hill newspaper…

Source: http://www.latimes.com/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-20180305-story.html

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Gun debate: Here are the proposals that Congress is considering

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Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy Invoke the War Powers Act to End US Involvement in Yemen

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Senator Markey officially introduces legislation to reestablish net neutrality

 Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has introduced legislation to reverse the FCC’s recently published order and reestablish 2015’s net neutrality rules. Although the bill has little chance of reaching the president’s desk, let alone being signed into law, it’s an important step in the long-term battle over how the internet is to be regulated. Read More

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#Headlines, #Politics, #TheNewz, #USCongress, news

California Democrats snub of party icon Dianne Feinstein could be a speed bump, or a signal

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California Democrats overwhelmingly decided not to endorse Sen. Dianne Feinstein this weekend, an embarrassing rebuke of a party icon who has represented California in the Senate for a quarter-century.

Nearly two-thirds of the party’s delegates voted against backing her campaign for a fifth full…

Source: http://www.latimes.com/la-pol-ca-dianne-feinstein-california-democratic-party-endorsement-20180226-story.html