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“I Don’t Know Where Donald Trump Is Coming From”: Top Trump Ally Distances Himself From Presidential Candidate

Way back in February, when most congressional Republicans were still hoping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign would collapse, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) became only the second federal lawmaker to throw his support behind the controversial candidate.

“We don’t need a policy wonk as president,” Hunter said at the time. “We need a leader as president…. I don’t think Trump wants my endorsement. And that’s one reason why I like him.”

Yesterday, the California Republican said something a little different.

“I am not a surrogate. I am a congressman. I can’t speak for anybody else but me,” Hunter told The Hill later Thursday, explaining his comments to the reporters.

“Everybody’s asking me to explain all these things that he said,” Hunter added. “Some of these things, I don’t know what Donald Trump is thinking. … I don’t know where Donald Trump is coming from.”

The Hill’s report added that Hunter said he was confronted by “like seven reporters” after leaving the House floor yesterday. “I just said, ‘Time out. I am a congressman. I am done talking [about Trump].’”

Under the circumstances, that’s a curious message. Hunter not only endorsed Trump, the congressman is literally the co-chair of Trump’s U.S. House Leadership Committee, serving as a liaison between the presumptive nominee’s campaign and Capitol Hill.

In fact, The Hill’s report said Hunter took it upon himself to lead Trump’s outreach efforts to Congress and currently “feeds national security information to the Trump campaign.”

The Washington Post recently described Hunter as one of the six members of Congress Trump trusts most.

When this guy is telling reporters he can’t explain what Trump is thinking, doesn’t know where Trump “is coming from,” and is “done talking” about Trump, it’s evidence of a presidential candidate who’s even left his allies stumped.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 17, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Duncan Hunter, Trump Supporters | , , , , | Leave a comment

“This One’s A Doozy!”: House Republicans Manage To Trip Over Confederate Flags

The recent debates over Confederate symbols have been limited almost entirely to states and local communities. Federal policymakers can show some leadership on the issue – and many have – but the decisions about Confederate flags, statues, road names, and license plates aren’t made in Washington, D.C.

This week, however, congressional Republicans found a way to trip over the issue anyway.

The developments started rather innocuously. Late Tuesday, after just a couple of minutes of debate, the U.S. House passed a measure sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) that would “prohibit the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries.” Earlier in the day, the House also instructed the National Park Service to no longer sell Confederate flag in gift stores.

The measures passed by way of voice votes, and the developments didn’t generate much attention. That is, until last night, when Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) announced a dramatic change: a Republican amendment was set to undo what the House had just done.

Facing pressure and brewing media interest, late this morning, House GOP leaders were forced to pull the underlying bill altogether. Politico reported:

House Republican leadership was forced to pull a spending bill from the floor Thursday after an uproar over the Confederate flag threatened to sink the entire measure.

This one’s a doozy, so let’s unpack what happened.

At issue is an Interior Department spending bill, which was already considered controversial because it includes funding for the EPA – and the right does not care for the EPA. But some Southern Republicans complicated matters, telling the leadership they were prepared to help kill the spending measure altogether over the anti-Confederate amendments.

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, for example, said in a statement, “Congress cannot simply rewrite history and strip the Confederate flag from existence. Members of Congress from New York and California cannot wipe away 150 years of Southern history with sleight-of-hand tactics.”

House Democrats, not surprisingly, responded with apoplexy over the GOP majority reversing course, defending Confederate flags, and attempting to scrap two amendments that passed without controversy just two days ago.

Faced with growing turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the spending bill from the floor. Boehner told NBC News’ Luke Russert that the spending bill “is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution.”

The Republican leader added that he does not want to see the issue become a “political football.” If today’s floor fight is any indication, it would appear Boehner’s too late.

South Carolina lawmakers managed to get this right, but the same cannot be said about Congress.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that while Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) was the member who announced the proposed reversal, he was not the one pushing for the change. Calvert said he introduced the amendment at the behest of the House Republican leadership, which was acting under pressure from Southern lawmakers.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 9, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Confederacy, Confederate Flag, House Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“House Republicans Exhausted By Failure”: They Would Prefer To Start Working Even Less

Following up on a segment from last night’s show, it appears the U.S. House of Representatives, just nine months into the current Congress, can’t think of anything to do. The Republican leadership hasn’t scheduled many work days for the remainder of 2013, and they’re now considering a plan to scale back even further.

For the first time in months, House Republicans are facing no immediate cataclysmic deadlines, and GOP leaders are struggling to come up with an agenda to fill the 19 legislative days that are left in 2013.

Need evidence? The House votes Monday evening and will finish its work week Wednesday. After that, the House is out of session until Nov. 12. Internally, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and senior Republicans aren’t discussing coming back early from the scheduled recess, but instead, they are wondering if they’ll cancel some of the remaining days in session.

This Politico item was published yesterday, so there are really only 18 legislative days remaining until New Year’s Eve – it’s great work if you can get it – a total which may be poised to shrink.

The 112th Congress was the least productive since the clerk’s office started keeping track seven decades ago, and this current 113th Congress is on track to do even less. Presumably, the Republican majority could at least try to take up meaningful bills in the hopes of passing something, but at this point, they’re not even inclined to bother. Rather, they’re thinking about showing up to work even less.

What about the House Republican policy agenda? It apparently doesn’t exist. What about the desire to have some legislative accomplishments? It’s been overwhelmed by political lethargy. This crop of lawmakers is giving new meaning to the phrase “do-nothing Congress,” and instead of scurrying to prove themselves capable of governing, they’re content to just accept the label and go home.

As pathetic as this may be, the larger point isn’t just to point and laugh at the House’s ineptitude. Rather, one of the key takeaways of this is that House Republicans keep saying they’d love to tackle immigration reform – if only they had more time.

The problem, of course, is not with a lack of time, but rather what they choose to do with it.

I’m reminded of an item from two weeks ago, when Byron York quoted a Senate Republican staffer commenting on the House GOP. “They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party,” the aide said.

The evidence to bolster that thesis is increasingly apparent. There is such a thing as a governing party. It just so happens that the House Republican conference isn’t one of them. For those in doubt, look no further than the fact that these lawmakers have accomplished practically nothing this year, and are apparently so exhausted by their failures that they’d prefer to start working even less.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 29, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Congress, GOP | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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