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Nothing To See Here
Nothing To See Here
That’s what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell et al want you to think. We saw last week as House Republicans rushed to gut the independence of their own ethics watchdog with a late night vote right after the holidays, which was luckily halted by a flood of constituent calls. And now, Mitch McConnell and the majority in the Senate are trying to rush Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees through the confirmation process, even though none of the nominees have finished all of their paperwork and disclosures. The Office of Government Ethics has “great” concerns about nominees getting hearing without complete ethics reviews.
For context, by this point in 2009, the Obama Administration made sure that every Cabinet nominee had completed their paperwork at least 3 days in advance of their hearings, to give senators enough time for the advice and consent process. But instead of waiting for the paperwork to be filed, Mitch McConnell is trying to shove as many confirmation hearings into one day as possible—even though in 2009, McConnell asked the Senate to wait until the paperwork was complete. He has scheduled confirmation hearings for five Cabinet nominees on Wednesday alone. Also happening on Wednesday: a massive vote-o-rama on the Senate floor that will pull senators away and a *conveniently* timed press conference from president-elect Donald Trump on his own conflicts of interest that’ll likely distract the media from the hearings.
With all of the skeletons in the Cabinet nominees’ closets (i.e. conflicts of interest, histories of racism and sexism, donations to senators voting for their confirmation, etc.), it might make sense for McConnell to rush the confirmation process. But, this strategy shows once again that congressional Republicans and Donald Trump aren’t planning on governing with transparency and instead they are trying to con the very Americans who elected them.
Conflicts of interest, part 8976343. Turns out, Trump’s advisors, aka his “shadow Cabinet” also have a bunch of conflicts of interest. Trump has tapped billionaire Carl Icahn as an adviser on regulations, which is convenient for Icahn since he could profit greatly from deregulations he might recommend, especially cutting energy standards. Trump’s daughter Ivanka continues to serve double duty as an advisor and top figure in Trump businesses, which means Trump isn’t putting his business in a real blind trust at all. And her husband, Jared Kushner, is another advisor with plenty of his own conflicts (hint: China.)
Speaking of conflicts of interest. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to stop them by introducing a bill that would require the president and vice president to divest their financial holdings that could create conflicts of interest. It’s a first step to Drain the Swamp.
Defending DACA. Since the campaign trail, President-elect Trump has had his eyes on undoing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including DACA, and now he might well have a chance to. But if he decides to end DACA, the end result will be a massive loss in the labor force and an estimated $433-billion-dollar reduction in GDP over the next 10 years. Here’s more from CAP’s immigration team on why that’s a bad idea.
#RejectRex. With only two days to go, here are the top 5 things you should keep in mind ahead of Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. Hint: he’s a bad pick if you care at all about our planet or national security.
ACTIONS OF THE DAY
#DayAgainstDenial. Join people in all 50 states to send a message to every U.S. Senator: reject Donald Trump’s reckless climate denying nominees. Find out how to here.
#MoralMonday. Just one day before Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing, civil rights and religious leaders from across the country are participating in the Moral Monday March to the Capitol, to stand up and speak out against the bigotry, systemic racism and white nationalism of Trump’s cabinet nominees.
UNDER THE RADAR
Another one bites the dust. Over the weekend, Kentucky became the 27th state—and final southern state—to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law. The state house has a Republican majority for the first time in almost a century and this was their first order of business. Right-to-work laws create a free rider problem that weakens unions finances and undermines their power. Get the basics on right-to-work laws here. In addition to passing the “right-to-work” law, the state also repealed a prevailing wage law that guarantees government contractors are paid decently and banned public employees from going on strike.
New York’s Chinatown gains its first Asian-American rep. In a district comprised of 40 percent Asian-Americans, residents can now look forward to being represented by a familiar face. Yuh-Line Niou (D), a Taiwanese immigrant, won a seat in the state’s assembly with over three-quarters of the vote. Niou was inspired to pursue a career in advocacy when her mother suffered from a car accident, but was unfairly deemed partially responsible due to language barriers.
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