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Congress

House Republicans Have Secret Process For Getting Around Paul Ryan’s Earmark Ban

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WASHINGTON — The House Republican leadership has a secretive way of bypassing floor amendments to get their members’ earmarks into bills, and they secretly let their members know how to do it without drawing any attention to the practice.

Big League Politics has obtained slides from a PowerPoint presentation that Republican leadership on the House Appropriations Committee delivered to GOP members of Congress. These never-before-published slides explain how congressmen can get their own earmarks (i.e. pork barrel spending for their districts) into bills without raising red flags by asking for floor amendments that need to be voted on publicly.

House Speaker Paul Ryan imposed an “earmark moratorium” on the House of Representatives, for the appearance of propriety, so the pork money that congressmen obtain through the process described in the slides is not referred to as “earmark” money. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to these cash handouts as “stealth earmarks,” which insiders say are the same thing.

The wink-wink process is streamlined and efficient. The slideshow, entitled “FY 2017 Appropriations Process: Addressing Your Member’s Legislative Priorities with the Member Submission Database,” is presented below:

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FY 2017 Appropriations Process For Print

Here’s the slide for “The Appropriations Process,” which includes a helpful yellow box called “Member Submission Database Opens” that literally bypasses the first steps of the process and cuts straight to “Subcommittee Markup.”

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Here’s the “Roadmap for Success” for pork-hungry Republicans:

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Things to avoid:

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“Member Submissions Are Critical” says one slide, because the process “Gets us back to regular order…Saves floor time…Helps Committee draft representative bills.”

“The Committee uses the system heavily,” according to the presentation.

The system also “Increases likelihood of inclusion — For FY16 Defense bill, 94% of members who made requests were helped.”

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“Making the System Work for You”:

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Republican House leadership is apparently angry that Democrats use the system more heavily than Republicans, showing a pie graph that noted 7,827 Republican submissions in fiscal year 2016 against 28,001 Democrat submissions.

The slides noted the “GOP Submission Success Rate” by department, which was: 85% for AG, 93% for Interior, 75% for CJS, 88% for LHHS, 74% for Defense, 80% for MiliCon/VA, 91% for Energy/Water, 91% for SFOPS, 75% for FSGG,  67% for THUD, and 92% for Homeland.

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The fiscal year 2017 presentation occurred at the tail end of Republican Hal Rogers’ tenure as House Appropriations chairman, but a well-placed Capitol Hill insider confirms that this process is virtually the same under new Republican chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. The Appropriations Committee did not return a request for comment for this report.

This process still takes place despite the fact that House Speaker Paul Ryan placed an “earmark moratorium” on the entire Congress, famously stating: “Under the watch of both political parties, Congress grew addicted to the practice of pork-barrel spending. Taxpayers were rightfully angered to learn of their hard-earned tax dollars squandered on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska and the Rain Forest Museum in Iowa. More troubling than these egregious examples of waste is the corruptibility of the process. Earmarks aren’t inherently problematic, but when former members of Congress are in jail for selling earmarks, there’s something seriously wrong with the process. In the 111th Congress, House Republicans established a self-imposed ban on the practice of pork-barrel spending through the broken earmark process.  At the start of the 112th Congress, House Republicans expanded the earmark moratorium for the entire House.  This moratorium remains in place for the 114th Congress.”

Ryan did not mention anything about “stealth earmarks” like the kind described in the PowerPoint presentation.

As Chairman Frelinghuysen said in 2010, while defending earmarks, “My duty is to look after my congressional district. It offends more people to the right of me in the Republican Party but I have to be responsible to look after New Jersey..I have never taken more on my committee than any other member of Congress. Whatever I take is pretty much equal to what other subcommittee members take.”

 

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Congress

Oversized: Rosie O’Donnell Makes Potentially Illegal Campaign Donations

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According to a New York Post analysis of campaign filings, Rosie O’Donnell made illegally oversized donations to five federal Democrat candidates.

“Nothing nefarious,” the washed up comedian and Donald Trump critic said. “I was not choosing to over donate.”

But O’Donnell regularly broke the Federal Election Commission’s rules that limit donations to $2,700 per candidate per election campaign. The limit is applies separately to primaries, run-offs, and general elections, with each considered a new race.

“If 2700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money,” she said. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to … I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”

But intent is not an element of the crime, and O’Donnell’s blind faith that politicians would simply return her money if she over-donated is either pathetically naive or a lie to cover for herself.

O’Donnell donated $4,700 to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in his race against Judge Roy Moore. Jones won the race by

She also gave $3,700 to Rep. Conor Lamb, (D-PA), $2,950 to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), $4,200 to Lauren Underwood, a current Illinois congressional candidate, and $3,450 to Omar Vaid, an outsider congressional candidate from Staten Island, NY.

“My anxiety is quelled by donating to those opposing Trump [and] his agenda — especially at night — when most of these were placed,” she said.

Don’t worry plebeians, O’Donnell quells her anxiety by throwing bundles of cash at Democrats and breaking the law. Perhaps someone at the FEC can alert her that there’s medicine for that. And people still wonder why the political left is so out of touch with the average American.

According to campaign finance lawyer Jan Witold Baran, donors are rarely fined for excess contributions and then only if they are hiding the donations from the recipients. She said that campaigns generally are not penalized for isolated contributions over a limit.

Candidates who receive excess donations are allowed simply to roll the excess funds over to their next campaign.

In effect, the law is useless as it is seldom enforced. Leave it to the D.C. swamp.

“I also maxed out to Cynthia Nixon,” O’Donnell told the Post. “And I loathe Jeannine Pirro.”

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Congress

Justin Amash Put Paul Ryan In Power, Now He Claims Boehner Was Better

His vote put the gavel in Paul Ryan’s hand

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While speaking to Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) stated that former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was better than current House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Amash made this statement despite having voted for Paul Ryan’s Speaker-ship twice, both the initial vote, and for his re-election. The only Republican Congressman currently in office who has never voted for Ryan is Congressman Thomas Massie.

As a founder of the Freedom Caucus, Amash was influential in the deal that was cut with the most conservative wing of the GOP. It was widely reported that Amash’s decision to support Ryan is practically the only reason he was able to secure the gavel.

But the entire Freedom Caucus didn’t join in the deal. Amash could have chose not to vote for Ryan, but his vote ensured that Paul Ryan would be Boehner’s predecessor.

Not only did Justin Amash push Ryan to power, but gave Ryan a pass on a disastrous budget deal. Immediately before the vote for Speaker in the fall of 2015, Ryan had been the chief negotiator of the bill.

Amash has been critical of both Boehner and Ryan, getting into public spats with them both, but only voting for Ryan for Speaker.

But according to Amash, despite the fact that Boehner was more confrontational, he felt that it was preferable to being ignored, like he is under Speaker Ryan, stating:

“I would rather have the guy swearing at me and letting me have a vote than not considering me at all…Under [Ryan’s] speakership, we’ve had the fewest open amendments of any speakership. We’ve had zero….Everything has to be pre-approved by the Speaker…. Under Boehner, you could walk up…and offer an amendment as long as it was germane to the bill, you got to vote on it.”

While Amash’s statement may well be true, it is very hypocritical for him to continually vote for Speaker Ryan, likely to attempt to get on his good side, and then attack him for being worse than John Boehner was.

You can’t have it both ways, Justin.

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2018 Midterms

Indiana Senate Candidate Wears MAGA Hat in Campaign Ad

He’s not afraid to MAGA.

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Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, and current Congressmen Todd Rokita went into attack mode on his two primary opponents in a new ad. He pointed out the fact that his main opponent, Rep. Luke Messer, has a history of anti-Trump statements, and how his other opponent, Mike Braun, voted Democrat until 2012.

At the end of the ad, Rokita put on Donald Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat as he pledged to stand with both the President and Vice President to “drain the swamp.”

Rep. Luke Messer has been described as the “longtime nemesis” of Rep. Todd Rokita, and if that’s the case, Rokita has definitely come out on top so far.

While Rep. Messer was opposing President Donald Trump’s agenda, Rep. Rokita was standing with the President, from his Presidential campaign until now. Another ad put out by Rokita shows just a few of the anti-Trump attacks that have been propagated by Messer.

Indiana Republicans are very pro-Trump. These attacks on Messer are likely to make a big impact on his perception to voters.

 

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