House and Senate are back in today until Thanksgiving.
As of now, the Senate will just have a procedural vote on another financial supplementary package for relief for Puerto Rico and California. They'll vote on final passage later this week and then likely proceed to more nominations. Once I get a lineup of who is on deck, I'll send you some info.
McConnell said over the weekend that he's willing to bring a market stabilization bill to the floor for a vote only if he's sure the president will sign it. That was likely a subtle hint to POTUS to make up his mind about this Alexander-Murray deal because the truth of the matter is that the bill will pass the Senate, and it will be good for everyone politically to pass it.
I expect I'll have more intel on this after my staff meeting.
While it's not on the schedule yet, I expect John McCain to get Pentagon officials in front of his committee (Senate Armed Services) this week or next. Many folks on both side of the aisle are calling for a Benghazi-style Congressional investigation.
There will probably be a lot of parallels now between the tax reform effort and the healthcare fight earlier this year. Passing the budget resolution was the easy part. Now instructions go to committees to actually create the legislation.
If it's anything like last time, it'll be done mostly in secret, which Dems will go up in arms about. The Administration's goal is to have this done by Thanksgiving, but that's a pretty lofty goal. As I get more information on this, I will post it. Right now, we're mostly in the dark.
I'm finding that a really good person to follow for Russia updates is University of New Hampshire law professor Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson). I imagine this guy has a timeline map up all over his office walls detailing this investigation because what he tweets is remarkably concise.
This morning, he posted an article saying that while this Administration has largely ignored the sanctions packaged passed by Congress early this year, it has just levied sanctions against a Putin critic. Bill Browder is a human-rights activist and largely responsible for the Magnitsky Act:
Additionally, we're hearing this morning that Tony Podesta's lobbying firm is now under the scope of Robert Mueller's investigation.
I am getting really impatient waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one.
I'll probably have more updates after my staff meeting!
As I predicted, the slew of confirmation votes in the Senate will mainly be for Judicial nominees. Here is a list of nominees that have been voted out of the Judiciary Committee, and could come up for a vote, and why your Senators should vote NO on them:
Eastern District of NC: Thomas Farr
- Farr has a long record of defending laws that weaken voting rights for African Americans, which is an especially important issue in North Carolina. One of the cases that stands out is NC's sweeping voter suppression law, passed in 2013 that he defended in court. The law required voters to present government-issued IDs, shortened early voting, and eliminated same-day voter registration. The 4th Circuit Court ultimately struck down the law in 2016.
- Opposed by many civil rights groups and the Congressional Black Caucus
- Farr also has a record of defending redistricting maps that were rejected on the federal level.
- In 2015, NC civil rights groups sued the states for violating the National Voter Registration Act, he again defended the law. He lost that case too.
- According to Huffpost, "Farr also has ties to the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), whose legacy includes opposing the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and leading a 16-day filibuster against naming a federal holiday after Martin Luther King Jr. Farr was Helms’ campaign attorney in 1984 and 1990. In 1990, Helms sent postcards to 125,000 African American voters falsely stating they could be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to five years if they tried to vote in a precinct in which they had lived for fewer than 30 days." That campaign was sued by the Justice Department for the mailing.
District of South Carolina, Donald Coggins
- Nominated first by President Obama in February of 2016.
- As far as I can see, there's nothing wildly controversial about this guy.
Middle District of Tennessee, William "Chip" Campbell Jr.
- Handles civil litigation in his current firm
- Former Marine
- Seems well-qualified and overall non-controversial.
Western District of Tennessee, Thomas Parker
- Handles civil litigation and criminal matters in his current firm
- Also non-controversial from what I can see.
Court of Appeals, Amy Barrett
- Current Notre Dame law professor
- This nominee was ripped apart by Democrats at her confirmation hearing in September because of her Catholic faith. Sen. Feinstein doubted that Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade because of her religious beliefs.
- Barrett refused to discuss how her religious beliefs have influenced and will shape their legal thinking.
- Wrote a 1998 paper exploring whether a Catholic judge should recuse herself from death-penalty cases if she would be unable to impartially uphold the law because of her religious beliefs. She and her co-author did NOT argue that judges should step away from such morally complicated cases.
- Clerked for Scalia
- Did say that she would follow SCOTUS precedent in any role as a judge.
Western District of Oklahoma, Scott Palk -- POSSIBLE VOTE THIS WEEK
- Also a holdover nominee from the Obama Administration.
- Dean of Students and Assistant General Counsel at the University of Oklahoma College of Law
- Was US Attorney in the Western District of Oklahoma
- Seems largely non-controversial
Northern District of Alabama, Annemarie Axon
- Litigates trust, estate, and business cases
- Serves as President of the YWCA Junior Board, President of Girls on the Run Board of Directors, member of Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation Board, member of the American Cancer Society.
- Unsuccessfully defended the Palestinian Authority from a lawsuit brought by families of Americans who died in Hamas terrorist attacks.
- Voice voted to advance out of committee
Northern District of Georgia
William Ray II
- Former State Senator, as such he opposed a federal hate crimes bill
- Currently serves on Appeals Court
- Approved by voice vote in Committee
- Currently defends white-collar criminals, formerly a Federal prosecutor
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
- Former member of the US Sentencing Commission, also served int he WH Counsel's Office under George W. Bush
- Renominated for the Sentencing Commission by Obama
- Currently Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the DOJ (Trump appointee)
- Former Assistant US Attorney in D.C. (Obama appointment)
- Brought about first US prosecution under the federal female genital mutilation statute
- Got a 27-year sentence for a Russian hacker convicted of defrauding victims
- Former D.C. police officer