Today’s Shorts: Republican Disarray, ‘Go Big or Go Home’ & Calling on the Ancestors

It’s been a dizzying month is Congress since I first published this article on Substack. It’s worth knowing how our country got here politically. Libertarian bullies have been wreaking havoc in the Arizona Legislature for years. Now they’re going it on the Congress.

Republican Chaos: Arizonans Have Seen this Movie Before

In an historic move on October 2, 2023, “Freedom” Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for a vote to remove Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker’s chair. On October 3, 2023, by a vote of 216-210 the US House of Representatives made history and removed McCarthy as Speaker. All of the House Democrats and eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy.

On September 30, McCarthy revealed a deal with the Democrats to stop the US government from shutting down that night and set up a 45-day deadline for a budget. They did the right thing.

That bipartisan effort to stop a federal government shutdown, preserve people’s paychecks and protect our country’s financial standing prompted Gaetz and other Republican hardliners to move against McCarthy. (Mind you, all of them — including McCarthy — are election deniers and acolytes of former President Donald Trump. It’s not as if McCarthy is a flaming liberal. They are eating their own.)

As of today, October 20, the US House of Representatives has been without a Speaker for more two weeks. In the background, the 45-day deadline for stopgap funding to keep the US government open is creeping up.

The House should be hard at work on the budget instead of playing political games. The hardliners don’t have the votes. None of the ultra conservative Republicans, who have tried to win the Speaker’s chair, have been able to get a majority of Republicans to vote for them.

Democrats are hanging tough against all of the hardcore conservative Republicans who have stepped up to run for Speaker and who are to the right of McCarthy — Reps. Austin Scott (R-GA)Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Jim Jordan (R-OH). Today, literally moments ago, Jordon lost his third bid for Speaker of the House.

How did we get here?

In order to win the Speaker’s chair back in January 2023, McCarthy suffered through 15 humiliating rounds of votes and made many concessions to the far right wing of his party. He let them chair committees, let them propose and bring their extreme bills to the floor and agreed to a rule change that allowed any member to call for a vote to remove the Speaker. That last concession did him in. It was a rough nine months for McCarthy as Speaker. Rather than deal with Democrats, McCarthy catered to the right and like rabid dogs, they viciously bit the hand that reached out to them.

Apparently, the ‘Gang the Couldn’t Shoot Straight’ didn’t have a game plan beyond dumping McCarthy.

Mainstream Congressional Republicans need the Democrats to govern, but they have not completely accepted that fact.

The problem is that for years, mainstream Republicans — like Senator Mitch McConnell and former Arizona Speaker Rusty Bowers — have been bowing to right wing extremists in order to hold their thin majorities together and to pass their worst ideas on party line votes. At the federal and state levels, the Republican Party chose to cling to power, rather than to govern. McConnell and other old timers like Senator Lindsey Graham initially balked at Trump’s brash authoritarian ways, but eventually supported the extremists in their party in order to hold power. The old school Republicans wanted to continue the status quo, which has allowed them to game the system and pass loads of legislation on a party line vote with little or no debate.

Ironically, one of the newly elected Republicans from Arizona, Rep. Eli Crane, said he voted for the right-wing rule changes, against McCarthy, and for Jordan for Speaker because he wanted to end the status quo in Congress.

Dude, you and your cronies helped the Democrats break your own party’s status quo. (Woo hoo! Continued on Substack here.

To continue reading this article, as well as Dems: Go Big or Go Home. Run in Every Race in 2024! and Ohio Abolitionists Should Haunt Rep. Jim Jordan at Powers for the People on Substack here.

Podcast: National Infrastructure Bank Would Rebuild US, Create Jobs & Restore Global Competitiveness

National Infrastructure Bank

In our history, beginning with President George Washington and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the US has created four National Infrastructure Banks (NIB). Under Presidents Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, National Infrastructure Banks built and upgraded infrastructure across the country from roads, damns and bridges to health clinics, schools and the national parks; provided productive work and good pay for thousands if not millions of Americans; increased production and manufacturing capacity nationwide; and created economic vitality.

Continue reading Podcast: National Infrastructure Bank Would Rebuild US, Create Jobs & Restore Global Competitiveness

Podcast Rep. PPH Capitol Updates: Back Story on the Budget

A View from the Left Side Podcast

The Arizona Legislature surpassed Day 150 this week. You’ll remember that the target length for a session is 100 days. That shipped sailed in mid April.

Season 2 Episode 8 of A View from the Left Side is a compilation of Legislative Updates recorded between April 18, 2022 and May 31, 2022. 

Three of these updates focus on the stalled budget process. The House Republican Caucus is fractured and there is no collaboration between the House and Senate leadership teams. 

There are rumors of another Republican budget but no bills have been dropped, and recent leaded spreadsheet likely doesn’t have the votes to pass. 

Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — despite great need in the state and a $5 billion surplus.

Democrats aren’t likely to support a budget that doesn’t include a significant investment in public education. Prop 208, which the Republicans took down in court, would have provided $900 million in revenue for public education by assessing a fee on excessive income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. 

Continue reading Podcast Rep. PPH Capitol Updates: Back Story on the Budget

House Hears Seven Election Bills … Budget Remains Stalled (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

It is a sad state of affairs when our government’s most important decisions — how to wisely invest $5 billion and how to maintain our water supply into the future — are made behind closed doors by a tiny group of (primarily) white men.

The Libertarian and Corporate wings of the Arizona Republican Caucus in the Legislature have been battling each other over the budget, since the skinny austerity budget failed in April on a bipartisan vote.

While Republicans twist each other’s arms over the budget, water, and tax giveaways, floor action focuses on culture wars, 2020 election conspiracy theories, voter suppression and guns. Since April, the Legislature has had sketchy schedules with a handful of votes and many days of adjournment. (Don’t get me wrong the extra days working from home in Tucson are greatly appreciated.)

In 2021, Republican disarray over the budget dragged out the session until June 30 — the very last day to pass a budget. If the Republicans are going to make backroom deals until they get 100% of their members to agree on the budget, I prefer 2022’s the somewhat random scheduling to 2021’s 28 days of “Pledge and Pray” with no votes. (That was a real waste of time and money!) Although many Legislators (Ds and Rs) stated publicly that they didn’t want a repeat of 2021, that is where we are headed.

Continue reading House Hears Seven Election Bills … Budget Remains Stalled (video)

Divided Republican Party Delays Budget & Drags Session Out (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

For more than a month, the Legislature hasn’t done much except pass a few bills and take random days off. The current glacial pace is the result of multiple feuds within the Republican Caucus of the Arizona Legislature.

The budget appears to be going no where. For weeks, the Republican leadership has been stuck between a rock (pleasing their Libertarian wing) and a hard place (negotiating with the Democrats). The Republican austerity budget died on a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee in late April. (Check out my late April blog post and video on that subject.)

Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — even to save lives. This is unrealistic and cruel when our state has $5 billion in the coffers and chronic poverty. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership wants to continue their tradition of not negotiating with the Democrats on the budget. Our ideas are not extreme; we have common sense spending proposals (like funding public education, basic healthcare, affordable housing, and infrastructure).

Continue reading Divided Republican Party Delays Budget & Drags Session Out (video)

Republicans Propose Austerity Budget. Why? (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

According to Arizona’s financial advisory committee, the state has more than $1.3 billion in ongoing funds and $3.6 billion in one-time funds to work with as we begin the budget process. We have $5 billion.

Why are Republicans proposing an austerity budget in times of plenty? Their pet projects — like the Flat Tax, Koch Brothers Freedom Schools, results-based funding and fake pregnancy clinics — are included in this first pass at the budget.

What’s not in this budget? Funding for K-12 education (since the Republicans killed Prop 208 in the courts), maternal and child health, Housing Trust Fund, help for the homeless, eviction relief, major infrastructure projects, expansion of cash assistance to the poor (TANF), programs to address chronic poverty, etc.

When there is so much need, why aren’t we investing in the future? (This video was recorded on April 19, 2022. Read the April 26 update and see the video below.)

Continue reading Republicans Propose Austerity Budget. Why? (video)