The Progress Report: The Art of the Do-Over

Last week, Trump

This week, he’ll talk about economics. Trump is slated to lay out his economic vision in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club this afternoon. He is expected to call for a moratorium on all new regulations and reviving the Keystone XL pipeline, give more details on his incredibly costly tax plan, and announce a plan to make child care fully deductible. Here are a few things to keep in mind before today’s speech:

TrumpsTaxPlans

What’s Trending

Steves. Trump’s team of 13 economic advisers doesn’t include any women or people of color–but it does include five Steves. His team includes lots of billionaires (and Trump donors) and only one real economist. We found seven other ‘Steves’ who are more qualified than his existing team.

Climate change: Every party has a pooper and at Friday’s opening ceremonies in Rio that pooper was climate change. In a short film narrated by Dame Judi Dench, viewers saw how melting ice sheets will inundate coastal cities, including the coast of Rio de Janeiro, which could see up to 1.5 meters of sea level rise by the end of the century, putting 80,000 people at risk of coastal flooding. And speaking of climate change, it has helped the spread of Zika in the U.S.

Honoring Khan: Charles Cowherd, whose identical twin brother 2nd Lt. Leonard M. Cowherd III is buried three headstones from Capt. Humayan Khan in Arlington National Cemetery, honors Cap. Khan.

ISIS: All signs suggest that ISIS’s days are numbered in Iraq. The group has been pushed out of more than half of the territory it used to control. But are we ready for the day after they’re defeated?


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

Another Exercise in Wasting One’s Time

Quite some time ago now, I sat down at my computer and composed a letter to my Representative in Congress. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2).  I have no clue why I continue to waste my time, as (1) I don’t believe Mr. Amodei ever bothers to read what I write, (2) some staffer who clearly hasn’t read nor understand what I’ve written selects some canned statement that in no way speaks to the concern I’ve taken MY precious time to communicate, and (3) whoever sends the response must believe females are incapable of writing a letter (even though I check  the “MS.” box on his email my office webform) because they almost always get my gender wrong (today’s email just used M. as though I must have no gender whatsoever) ….. but then, I digress …..

As I started to say, I took the time to write to Mr. Amodei asking him to support the new FCC rules designed to protect the net neutrality of ordinary consumers of the internet.  Those rules are designed to ensure that the relatively few big telecom corporations are not allowed to create fast lanes for their favored few, slow lanes for most others and relatively no lanes whatsoever for even others.

NetNeutrality

Video Explanation:
https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000003569336

Since I wrote my letter, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit,  in a 2-to-1 decision from a three-judge panel on June 14,  upheld the F.C.C. rules declaring broadband as a utility.  Clearly, Rep. Mark Amodei’s staff must not have read that New York Times article announcing the ruling, because today, I got this email from his office which clearly indicates HE thinks the FCC rules of regulatory overreach.

NetNeutrality

I’d love to be able to “connect” with my Congressman on Facebook or Twitter, but that’s NOT possible as he’s blocked me from being able to follow him on Twitter and block me from commenting on his Facebook content.  I guess we’ll have to just disagree yet again, just as we disagree regarding the collection of sales taxes on internet sales. Sales taxes support our local community infrastructure. Failure to have a mechanism in place, to ensure they’re collected on all internet sales, means local merchants are left at competitive disadvantage and our community infrastructure suffers when those taxes aren’t collected and remitted. But that was another letter, on a previous day, where we achieved no meeting of the minds, and Rep. Amodei sided with his corporate benefactors, and not his  constituents.

There is, however, hope on the horizon. We have a strong Democratic candidate on the ticket this fall — Chip Evans. He could use our help. I’ve “chipped in” to help Chip become the first Democrat to ever hold the CD2 seat. I certainly hope you’ll do the same so we can bring a progressive candidate to the US House from Nevada’s Congressional District 2.


On April 16, Rep. Amodei voted “AYE” for passage of H.Res 672 dealing with this issue:

Resolved, That at any time after adoption of this resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2666) to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. It shall be in order to consider as an original bill for the purpose of amendment under the five-minute rule the amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the Committee on Energy and Commerce now printed in the bill. The committee amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be considered as read. All points of order against the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute are waived. No amendment to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be in order except those printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution. Each such amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the report, may be offered only by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. All points of order against such amendments are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been adopted. Any Member may demand a separate vote in the House on any amendment adopted in the Committee of the Whole to the bill or to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or without instructions.


On 4/15/2016. Rep. Amodei voted “AYE” for passage of HR 2666.  While this bill has been passed by the U.S. House, it has not yet been set for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Summary of HR 2666:

No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act

(Sec. 2) This bill prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service.

(Sec. 3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the FCC’s authority to: (1) condition receipt of universal service support by a provider of broadband Internet access service on the regulation of the rates charged by such provider for the supported service, or (2) enforce regulations relating to truth-in-billing requirements or paid prioritization.

(Sec. 4) Broadband Internet access service shall not be construed to include data roaming or interconnection for purposes of this Act.

#NRA Class of 2016 with Scholarship Donations

Have you ever wondered why the GOP Senate continually sides with the NRA on all gun-related proposed legislation, and against well over a majority of their constituents, Democrat, Republican and Independents? They’ve been bought, including Nevada’s own Sen. Dean Heller (to the tune of a $122,000 scholarship from the NRA)!

NRA-Class-of-2016

Make America Gray Again


— by  CAP Action War Room

Donald Trump Unveils His Energy PlatformTrump02

This afternoon after he really, officially clinched the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump went to the heart of America’s current oil boom to unveil his energy platform. He gave his speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. While he was sure to fit in his usual anti-immigrant rhetoric and pro-Second Amendment rhetoric, Trump did give us a few insights into what his energy policy could look like.

Unsurprisingly, Trump more or less stuck to the trusty GOP energy handbook: denying climate change, calling to abolish crucial public health standards, and promising to undo progress made in the fight against climate change. Here are just a few of his most noteworthy ideas and their consequences:

Cancel the Paris agreement: Unsurprisingly, Trump reiterated his call to withdraw from the Paris Agreement saying, “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” The Paris agreement is a landmark step in the global fight against climate change that was made possible by U.S. leadership. Global coordination, like the kind orchestrated in the Paris agreement, is necessary for the world’s collective goal of addressing climate change and is good for markets and U.S. companies seeking a clear and consistent path forward. Walking away from the agreement would weaken our position in the global community and threaten American lives and livelihoods.

Abolish the Clean Power Plan: When he referred to the Clean Power Plan in his speech today Trump said, “How stupid is that?” And as part of his big promise to “free up the coal,” he vowed to get rid of all regulations on the coal industry. Not only is the Clean Power Plan key to ensuring the U.S. meets its goal under the Paris agreement, it is also crucial for the public health and economic security of our country. For every $1 invested in the Clean Power Plan, Americans will see $7 in health benefits. And the plan is expected to prevent thousands of premature deaths.

Protect Welfare for Oil Companies: Like the Republican establishment, Trump said “under my plan we’re lowering taxes very substantially, as you know, for businesses…” Oil and gas companies already get nearly $4 billion in tax breaks annually. Meanwhile, a GOP led Congress phased out tax incentives for clean energy. At the same time, Mr. Trump declared that government should not pick winners or losers when it comes to energy. But billions in tax breaks does exactly that.

In addition to these proposals, Trump vowed to stop environmental executive action, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and lift moratoriums on energy production on public lands, all of which would have serious economic and environmental consequences.

BOTTOM LINE: Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree on the science behind human-caused climate change. The Pentagon called it an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” Donald Trump called it a Chinese hoax. In today’s speech, Trump repeated the same old, tired GOP energy policies that would endanger public health and undo meaningful progress in the global fight against climate change.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

Republimen Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bars on Discrimination

DiscriminationRus

On Thursday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D-NY] offered an amendment to the military construction and veterans affairs spending bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in hiring and employment activities. It was very similar to an amendment that was offered last year by Rep. Scott Peters [D-CA] which upheld President Obama’s 2014 executive order banning federal contractors from making hiring decisions that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 60 Republicans voted forRep Peters’ bill which was adopted 241-184 [HR2577, Roll Call 326, 6-9-15]. However, Rep. Maloney’s amendment by a single vote, 212-213 [HR 4974, Roll Call 226, 5-19-16], after seven Republicans switched their votes at the last minute.

Rep. Mark Amodei [NV2] and Rep. Cresant Hardy [NV4] voted against passage of BOTH amendments (last year’s and this year’s). It should, therefore, be noted that BOTH are in favor of allowing discrimination to take place.

Although the identities of the seven vote-switchers were not publicly recorded on the House floor, here’s the names of those Reps who switched there votes and deserve your shaming:

  1. Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA]
  2. Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA]
  3. Rep. David Valadao [R-CA]
  4. Rep. Mimi Walters [R-CA]
  5. Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR]
  6. Rep. David Young [R-IA]
  7. Rep. Bruce Poliquin [R-ME]

“House Republicans are so committed to discriminating against LGBT Americans, that they broke regular order to force their members to reverse their votes and support Republicans’ bigotry,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] said in a statement.

On the other side, Speaker Ryan had this to say: “This is federalism. The states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in this business.” UH … Hello? This had to do with FEDERAL contracts for which States hold NO responsibility for issuance, nor enforcement.

Here are the names of 30 Republicans who voted for the Peters amendment but against the Maloney amendment:

HR4974-30R

The Koch Brothers Are Now Funding The Bundy Land Seizure Agenda

— by Jenny Roland & Matt Lee-Ashley, Guest Contributors at ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: AP Photo / Rick Bowmer

The political network of the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has signaled that it is expanding its financial and organizational support for a coalition of anti-government activists and militants who are working to seize and sell America’s national forests, monuments, and other public lands.

The disclosure, made through emails sent by the American Lands Council and Koch-backed group Federalism in Action to their members, comes as the 40-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is winding to an end.

The occupation came to a head, with the FBI moving in on the four remaining militants at the refuge and arresting scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy at the Portland airport under charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers. Occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy were previously arrested under the same charge on January 26. The Bundys and their group of militants want the federal government to cede national public lands to state and private control.

Though ClimateProgress has previously uncovered and reported on the dark money that the Kochs have provided for political efforts to seize and sell public lands, recent organizational changes reveal that the Koch network is providing direct support to the ringleader of the land grab movement, Utah state representative Ken Ivory, and has forged an alliance with groups and individuals who have militia ties and share extreme anti-government ideologies.

The expanded window into the Koch network’s support for the land transfer movement opened on February 3, 2016, when the American Lands Council (ALC) (a group whose goal is to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over publicly owned national forests and other public lands) announced that Ivory would be stepping down as its president to join a South Carolina-based group called Federalism in Action (FIA).

At ALC, Ivory had risen to be the most prominent and active voice in the land seizure movement, but his tenure as president was plagued by evidence that the group violated state lobbying laws, was tied to the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and used taxpayer money to fund their campaigns to seize public lands.

Though he will continue to serve as an unpaid member of the American Lands Council executive committee, Ivory is joining the FIA’s “Free the Lands” project, a joint initiative between Federalism in Action and The American Lands Council Foundation.

This new “Free the Lands” project sits at the confluence of Koch funding, anti-government ideology, and land seizure activists and militants. The graphic below illustrates this web of funding, resources, and staff.

dylanbundy
Credit: Dylan Petrohilos

Federalism in Action was launched a few years ago by two groups: State Policy Network and State Budget Solutions (SBS). Because FIA is a new organization, its funding sources are not yet public. However, according to IRS filings, State Budget Solutions received money through the Donors Capital Fund, an organization known for cloaking the sources of funding which it distributes, and is sometimes referred to as a Koch “ATM”. The SBS leadership recently joined ALEC and Ken Ivory is listed as one of SBS’s senior policy fellows. The group “works to make its vision … a reality … through the project Federalism In Action.”

Federalism in Action is also a member of the State Policy Network, which is the Koch-fundednetwork of more than 50 right-wing think tanks in states across the country.

Also supporting the Free the Lands Project: the American Lands Council Foundation, the tax-exempt non-profit arm of the American Lands Council. Upon announcing the departure of Ken Ivory from ALC’s presidency, the group named Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder as its CEO. Fielder is Montana’s leading figure in the land seizure movement and has proposed legislation that would require the federal government to cede ownership of all national forests and public lands in Montana to the state. The bill was unpopular and and swiftly vetoed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Fielder’s selection as ALC’s CEO suggests that the group is tightening its ties with the violent anti-government elements of the land seizure movement that is represented by Cliven Bundy and his sons. Fielder’s land seizure efforts and campaign for Montana State Senate, for example, werevocally supported by a Militia of Montana organization that is run by white supremacist John Trochmann. In a recent blog post Fielder also expressed her support for the Bundys and the Oregon militants by referring to them fondly as “cowboys” and “protesters” performing “an act of civil disobedience” and bringing “new light to the widespread problems of a distant federal bureaucracy in control of local land management decisions.”

It remains to be seen whether the Koch network will be able to lift the failing efforts of the Bundys, Ken Ivory, and Jennifer Fielder to seize and sell public lands. If nothing else, expanded Koch backing may help the land seizure movement attract the endorsement of more national politicians who are competing for the Koch brothers’ endorsement and contributions. Last week, for example, Texas Senator Ted Cruz promised to be “vigorously committed to transferring as much federal land as humanly possible back to the states”.

Still, the Bundy brothers and their political allies face long odds in their quest. Proposals to transfer national public lands to state control have been shown to be unconstitutional, costly to states, and deeply unpopular with western voters. And while a wholesale privatization of public lands may benefit the Koch brothers and other oil, gas, and coal interests, new research shows that protecting national public lands has actually resulted in big economic gains for many rural economies.


Jenny Rowland is the Research and Advocacy Associate for the Public Lands Project at Center for American Progress. Follow her on Twitter @jennyhrowland. Matt Lee-Ashley is a Senior Fellow with the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. Follow him on Twitter @MLeeAshley.

This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

House GOP Budget Committee Just Passed Their FY2017 Budget Proposal

628The House GOP-dominated Budget Committee held 9 hour markup, with several lawmakers going hoarse and one losing her voice. Democrats offered up 29 amendments, involving immigration reform, prescription drug prices, and equal pay. Every amendment failed, including one proposed by Rep. Debbie Dingell [D, MI-12] that would have designated $457.5M in emergency funding for Flint and required Michigan to match the federal funds. The budget advanced 20-16, with Democrats voting against and all but one Republican voting for the measure. Here’s their summary:

Balances the Budget

  • Balances the budget within 10 years – without raising taxes – and puts the country on a path to paying off the national debt
  • This budget achieves $7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through a combination of $6.5 trillion in savings coupled with economic growth
  • Savings are higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal and discretionary spending is below 2008 levels
  • Requires consideration of legislation this year to achieve at least $30 billion in automatic spending reductions and reforms over the near term
  • Advances budget process reforms to promote fiscal discipline, and calls for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment this year

Strengthens Our National Defense

  • Provides for greater security at home and strength abroad at funding levels above the president’s budget and with increased resources for training, equipment and compensation
  • Supports the bipartisan prohibition on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and transfer of detainees to American soil
  • Identifies vulnerabilities in our nation’s refugee program and calls for oversight and rigorous screening
  • Calls for an improved and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs that can better deliver services and benefits to our veterans

Empowers Our Citizens & Communities

  • Promotes job creation and a healthier economy by calling for a fairer, simpler tax code, regulatory reform, expanded energy production, and a more efficient, effective and accountable government
  • Repeals all of Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
  • Endorses patient-centered health care solutions that improve access to quality, affordable care (but does absolutely nothing to assure access to insurance nor does it rein in health care costs)
  • Saves, strengthens, and secures Medicare for current and future retirees (read the Q&A carefully as to HOW they intend to do that)
  • Empowers states and local communities with the flexibility to innovate and make improvements to Medicaid, nutrition assistance, education and other programs
  • Strengthens the Disability Insurance program by putting an end to the “double-dipping” loophole that currently allows individuals to receive both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously
  • Puts an end to corporate welfare and dismantles the Department of Commerce [that would mean they intend to help balance the budget by issuing pink slips to 43,000+ employees and ending measuring services like: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Census Bureau (Census), Economic Development Admin (EDA), Economics and Statistics Admin (ESA), International Trade Admin (ITA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Natl Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Natl Technical Information Service (NTIS), Operation Natl Telecom & Information Admin (NTIA), and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Additional Resources

What We Know About The Judges Obama Is Reportedly Vetting For The Supreme Court

After an evening meeting, President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade from the Oval Office to the White House Residence in Washington, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, carrying a binder containing information on possible Supreme Court nominees. Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

— by Ian Millhiser, Think Progress

According to the Washington Post, the White House is considering six candidates for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia: federal appeals court judges Sri Srinivasan, Jane Kelly, Merrick Garland, Paul Watford, and Patricia Millett, along with district judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Judge Sri Srinivasan

Judge Sri Srinivasan
Judge Sri Srinivasan

Judge Sri Srinivasan offers the conventional mix of youth, experience, and credentials that presidents often look for when selecting a Supreme Court nominee. A judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a court that is widely considered the second most powerful in the nation, Srinivasan was confirmed to this job by a 97-0 vote. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, served as the principal deputy to Solicitor General Don Verrilli, and argued more than two dozens cases in the Supreme Court before his own elevation to the bench.

Srinivasan’s record during his just under three years as a judge suggests that his approach to the law is similar to other mainline Democratic appointees. Among other things, Srinivasan authored an opinion reinstating minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers after those protections were cut off by a trial judge’s order. And he was one of three judges on a panel that refused to halt the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, it’s most aggressive effort to fight climate change. (Shortly before Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc halted this effort on their own, over the dissent of all four of the Court’s liberals.)

The case challenging the Clean Power Plan remains ongoing, however, and it is still pending before the panel that includes Judge Srinivasan. Thus, nominating Srinivasan presents some risk for the president because it could lead to a different judge being swapped in to hear this case. Should Srinivasan be confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would also need to recuse from the case because he already ruled on the request to temporarily halt the Plan as a circuit judge. Some of the White House’s liberal allies have also expressed concerns about Srinivasan’s record prior to becoming a judge; his past clients include ExxonMobil and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling.

Judge Jane Kelly

Judge Jane Kelly
Judge Jane Kelly

By the ultra-elite standards of the very top echelons of the legal profession, Judge Jane Kelly does not have the same eye-popping credentials as Srinivasan. After graduating with honors from Harvard Law, Kelly clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, but never for a Supreme Court justice. While Srinivasan made a name for himself in DC as one of the nation’s top Supreme Court litigators, Kelly toiled in relative obscurity in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Dismissing Kelly’s credentials because they do not match up with Srinivasan’s, however, is a bit like labeling Wonder Woman a weakling because she does not pack quite as much of a punch as Superman. Elite law firms currently offer a signing bonus of up to $75,000 for recent law graduates fresh out of a federal circuit clerkship, and that’s in addition to a starting salary in the mid-to-high $100,000s. So Kelly could have enjoyed a very lavish life in a prestigious legal practice.

She turned this life down to become a public defender, a job she held until her appointment to the Eighth Circuit in 2013. She continued to do that job even after she was attacked by an unknown assailant and left for dead while jogging in 2004. “After having that happen to her,” former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) later said about Kelly, “she went right back to work sticking up for the constitutional rights of people accused by the federal government. To me, that was a mark of real character and sort of inner strength and resolve that something like that was not going to make her throw in the towel.”

A Kelly nomination could also embarrass Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has thus far refused to consider anyone that President Obama names to fill Scalia’s seat. Grassley praised her nomination to the Eighth Circuit, quoting a friend of his on the federal bench who praised her “exceptionally keen intellect” and concluded that “she will be a welcomed addition to the Court if confirmed.” If Kelly is the nominee, expect videos like this one, where Grassley urges his colleagues to confirm her, to become a stable of cable news coverage of the nomination:

http://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4580805

Chief Judge Merrick Garland

Chief Judge Merrick Garland
Chief Judge Merrick Garland

Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit is the sort of nominee that Obama and Senate Republicans might agree to elevate to the Supreme Court as a compromise, if compromise is actually possible with the current Senate majority. Garland, who President Clinton appointed to the DC Circuit in 1997, is far and away the oldest candidate among the four the White House is reportedly vetting — he’s 63. In nearly two decades on the bench, Garland has also built a fairly centrist record.

Like the much younger Srinivasan, Garland’s resume is laden with the kind of credentials that make mere mortal attorneys droll with envy — including a clerkship for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and a senior Justice Department job prior to Garland’s elevation to the bench. On most issues, moreover, is is likely that Garland would side with the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc in divided cases.

Nevertheless, there are a few areas where his instincts appear more conservative. In 2003, Garland joined an opinion holding that the federal judiciary lacks the authority, “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation, a military base outside the sovereignty of the United States,” effectively prohibiting Guantanamo Bay detainees from seeking relief in civilian courts. The Supreme Court reversed this decision a little over a year later in Rasul v. Bush. (Though, it is worth noting that legal experts disagree about whether the result Garland supported was compelled by then-existing precedents.)

Garland also appears to have relatively conservative instincts in criminal justice cases. According to a 2010 examination of Garland’s decision by SCOTUSBlog’s Thomas Goldstein, “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.” Goldstein “identified only eight such published rulings,” as well as an additional seven where “he voted to reverse the defendant’s sentence in whole or in part, or to permit the defendant to raise a argument relating to sentencing on remand,” during the 13 years Garland had then spent as a federal judge.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is the only federal trial judge among the six mentioned by the Washington Post. At 45, she is also the youngest, Jackson’s resume includes several years of private practice, service on the United States Sentencing Commission, and work as a public defender. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.Jackson’s current status as a trial judge could prove to be both a blessing and a curse if she is Obama’s nominee. On the one hand, appellate judgeships are considered to be more prestigious than trial judgeships. The Supreme Court is also an appellate court, so a judge with experience at the appellate level is likely to be more used to the kind of work that goes into being a justice. That said, nearly all of the cases heard by the Supreme Court began in trial courts, and they can often turn upon procedural motions, fact-finding and other matters that occurred at the trial level. Currently, the only sitting justice with experience as a trial judge is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, so Jackson would bring an underrepresented perspective to the nation’s highest Court.

According to the Washington Post, the White House is focusing on potential nominees “with scant dis­cern­ible ideology and limited judicial records as part of a strategy to surmount fierce Republican opposition.” Jackson, however, does have some opinions that are likely to fuel Republican opposition if she is nominated. In Rothe Development v. Department of Defense, Jackson rejected a challenge to a program that provides “technological, financial, and practical assistance, as well as support through preferential awards of government contracts” to companies that are designated as “small disadvantaged businesses.” One of the criteria used to determine if a business qualifies for this designation is whether a majority owner of the business belongs to a racial minority group. Though Jackson’s opinion upholding this limited consideration of race in government contracting closely tracks a 2012 decision by another judge of her court, which rejected a “nearly identical” challenge, it is likely that Rothe Development will play a starring role in conservative attack ads should Jackson be the nominee.

Additionally, Jackson denied a request by the website Gawker that tried to “force former Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines to explain why he had work-related emails in a private account.” Although her decision merely concluded that the request was “premature,” and not that it could not succeed at a later date, it is unlikely that conservative attack groups will dwell on that nuance if Jackson is the nominee.

Judge Paul Watford

Judge Paul Watford
Judge Paul Watford

ThinkProgress previously described Judge Paul Watford as a “conventional superqualified nominee.” A former law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Watford joined the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2012, after spending a few years as a federal prosecutor and then becoming a partner in a large law firm.Watford, however, had a somewhat more rocky confirmation process than Srinivasan and Kelly — a fact that may stem from Watford being one of only a handful of judicial nominees President Obama named in his first term who fit the conventional profile for a future Supreme Court justice. Grassley, in particular, objected to a few amicus briefs Watford wrote while still in private practice, including a brief opposing Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, and another one filed on behalf of groups opposed to Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol. Judge Watford was eventually confirmed by a 61-34 vote.

Since becoming a judge, Watford authored three opinions in cases that were later reviewed by the Supreme Court. The justices agreed with Watford about the correct result in all three — including a case where the Supreme Court agreed with Watford’s decision to strike down a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to share guest records with police even if the police do not have a warrant.

Judge Patricia Millett

Judge Patricia Millett
Judge Patricia Millett

Like Srinivasan, Judge Patricia Millett was among the nation’s top Supreme Court advocates prior to her appointment to the DC Circuit — arguing 32 cases during her time as an attorney in the Solicitor General’s office and later in private practice. Prior to becoming a judge, she alsoserved on the board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization in Washington, DC. During her confirmation to the DC Circuit, one of the most active lobbying groups working on her behalf was a network of lawyers who are also military spouses. Millett’s husband served in the Navy, and they met at a church event while he was stationed at the Pentagon and were later married in the same church.Under normal circumstances, a Millett nomination would be a considerable olive branch extended toward Senate Republicans. Among other things, Millett once defended the conservative Roberts Court’s record in business cases during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that the justices “show[ed] a fair amount of balance in the business area” during a previous term. In just over two years on the DC Circuit, she’s authored just over two dozen majority opinions, none of which are particularly ideological

(The president’s opponents may complain about an opinion rejecting a challenge to various aspects of the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, but that lawsuit received little backing from interest groups that have otherwise been eager to support suits against Obamacare that have even a small chance of prevailing. Judge Millett’s opinion in that case was also joined by a conservative George H.W. Bush appointee.)

Millett, however, was also the very first judge confirmed after Senate Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” to allow lower court nominations to be confirmed by a simple majority vote. This maneuver, which effectively shut down Senate Republican efforts to maintain ideological control over the nation’s second most powerful court, remains a sore spot among Senate Republicans. If Millett is the nominee, it is likely that many senators will take their frustrations with this rules change out on the judge.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

House Moves On Bills That Would Allow States To Seize Millions Of Acres Of Public Lands

— by Matt Lee-Ashley, ThinkProgress Guest Contributor

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

Less than two weeks after the arrest of Cliven Bundy and the armed militants who were occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider three bills that would dispose of vast stretches of national forests and other public lands across the country.

The bills, which will be heard in a meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, represent an escalation of the political battle being waged by the Koch brothers’ political network, anti-government extremist groups, and a small group of conservative politicians led by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).

The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.

The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections. A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.

These legislative efforts echo the demands of militant rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ryan and Ammon, that the federal government cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to state, county, and private interests. A federal grand jury in Las Vegas last week indicted the Bundys on conspiracy charges for leading armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in 2014 and in Oregon earlier this year.

Although Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Governor John Kasich (R-OH) are making Bundy-inspired pitches on the presidential campaign trail, their proposals to seize or sell public lands are deeply unpopular among most Westerners. Recent public opinion research from Colorado College found that approximately six in 10 voters in the region — including a majority in Nevada — are opposed to the idea.

There are signs that the Bundys’ political supporters are facing a growing political backlash for their extreme views. In Wyoming, for example, an outcry from hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists in the state recently helped defeat two bills that aimed to facilitate a state take-over of national public lands.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives may vote this week on an amendment by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) that would prohibit convicted Bundy militants from ever carrying weapons through certain nationally-owned lands.

Four Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Western states are also circulating a petition to “Keep Public Lands in Public Hands,” which criticizes efforts to seize and sell public lands. “We cannot allow our public lands to be locked up, sold off, or only accessible to the wealthy few,” the petition reads.

Matt Lee-Ashley is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. You can follow him on Twitter @MLeeAshley.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

On the latest Newsletter from Rep. Mark Amodei

This week, I got the latest version of Rep. Mark Amodei’s News from the Hill newsletter in which he boasts of activity he and other GOP colleagues worked on to pass this week:

“It is unacceptable that after years of problems at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), our veterans are still not receiving the care they need. While the Administration has failed to hold the VA accountable, the House remains committed to fixing the problems at the VA by passing meaningful reforms. With my support this week, the House passed the VA Medical Center Recovery Act (H.R. 3234), the VA Provider Equity Act (H.R. 3016), the Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 2915), the Construction Reform Act (H.R. 3106), and the American Heroes COLA Act (H.R. 677).

These bills will implement necessary reforms to ensure our Nevada veterans receive the prompt and proper care that they deserve. It is important that we fulfill our commitments.”

Hmmm — he’s awfully proud of his actions and how they’ll definitely provide the support our Nevada veterans deserve.  What do you say we start with the bill he calls, the VA Medical Center Recovery Act. Actually HR3234 is fully titled: the “Failed” VA Medical Center Recovery Act. It basically amounts to the equivalent to a VA version of Michigan’s disastrous “emergency manager” act. Don’t believe me? Here, read the summary from Congress.gov:

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I don’t know about you, but that looks like an “emergency manager” act that could most likely put the care of our veterans at risk when they decide it’s more important to “cut costs” than to “care for” those who put their lives at risk for the sake of the rest of us.

The next bill he mentioned was the VA Provider Equity Act (H.R. 3016).  Does Rep. Amodei have some kind of foot fetish, a foot problem or a relative who’s a podiatrist?  The only thing this particular bill does is to include podiatrists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) definition of “physician,” and to increase their pay grade.  He’s been doing everything he can since a member of the NV Assembly and Senate back as far as 2001 to ensure that podiatrists are classified as eligible doctors and paid accordingly.

Bill number 3, the Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 2915), covers only a limited scope of female veterans who might see suicide as a means of resolving the issues they’re facing:

“Covered veteran” means a veteran who: (1) is enrolled in the VA health care system; (2) is seeking mental health treatment; and (3) in the course of serving in the Armed Forces participated in a sensitive (classified) mission or served in a sensitive unit primarily involved in training for the conduct of, or conducting, special activities or classified missions.

So, if you weren’t involved in some special, classified mission, well, this bill certainly won’t cover the mental health help you might need.

Bill number 4, the Construction Reform Act (H.R. 3106), almost reads like preparations are being made for “charter” hospitals run by “non-VA entities.”  That could be my bias working into the reading of that summary, so you might want to read that summary for yourself to see if you get the same vibes.

The last bill he boasted about passing out of the house was the American Heroes COLA Act (H.R. 677).  That title kinda makes it sound like their ensuring our “American Heroes” will be provided with a needed cost of living allowance.  Well, maybe, sometimes I guess.  It basically says:

“Requires that, whenever there is an increase in benefit amounts payable under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall increase by the same percentage the amounts payable as veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled adult children, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.”

So much for any COLA this year.  Since Social Security recipients won’t be receiving a COLA adjustment this year, neither will any veterans or their dependents

Wow.  I guess those really are some meaningful and necessary reforms for our nation’s vets. (snark)

The classic line at the end of his epistle reads: “To receive updates on what I am doing in Washington and in Nevada’s 2nd District follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.  YEAH RIGHT, unless of course, you’re a Democrat who might express a differing view, and then he’ll block you from being able to follow his right wing agenda.

Personally, I’m looking forward to voting for the first ever Democrat to represent us in NV-CD2 on the upcoming November ballot.