By Tyler Durden for Zero Hedge. With the Trump inauguration just over 10 days away, attention has now shifted to what Trump will do the moment he steps foot in the White House, and as The Hill reported this morning, judging by his campaign promises, Donald Trump will be a busy man starting on his first day in the Oval Office: “Trump has pledged to take sweeping, unilateral actions on Jan. 20 to roll back President Obama’s policies and set the course for his administration. Many of Obama’s policies he can reverse with the simple stroke of a pen.” The reality, however, is a bit more nuanced than captured in the report, and has to take into consideration not only what Trump’s intentions are, but how they would integrate with Congress, where simply structural limitations could put hurdles ahead of the Trump agenda.
By Brody Levesque for NCRM – The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately. All Democrats in the House voted against the measure, while only three Republicans joined them in opposing it, USA TODAY reports.
By William J. Barber II for Common Dreams – The positions and policies he has supported do not uplift America’s shared values of love, justice and mercy. On Capitol Hill today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding confirmation hearings to consider the first of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations, Sen. Jefferson B. Sessions of Alabama. 26 years ago, this same committee denied Sessions a recommendation for the federal bench. “Most of Reagan’s judicial appointments have been people with impressive credentials regardless of their ideologies,” the editors of the LA Times wrote. “Sessions is a different story.” The Senate refused to confirm Sessions in 1986 because the testimony they heard suggested that he sided with his namesake, Jefferson Davis, over America’s commitment to equal protection under the law.
By Mary Papenfuss for The Huffington Post – Just when you thought ethics standards couldn’t get much worse on Capitol Hill… It’s emerged that the House GOP quietly changed a rule last week to allow members to keep their records hidden from ethics or criminal investigations. The tweak allows politicians to conceal any information members produce — even suspicious expenditures and budgets — if the Office of Congressional Ethics or the Department of Justice investigates them for criminal activity, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. The change essentially makes a member of Congress the owner and sole controller of any records he or she creates…
By Tristan Ahtone for Yes! Magazine. As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to occupy the Oval Office, much of Indian Country is bracing for the worst. But the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to welcome tribal nations to the table in a unique way: It can seat an Indian delegate. For more than 200 years, the Cherokee Nation has held the right to send a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, much like Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia. That right stems from treaties signed by the United States and the Cherokee Nation—treaties that are currently in effect and backed by the U.S. Constitution. It’s a right that’s also enshrined in the Cherokee Constitution: “In accordance with Article 12 of the Treaty with the Cherokees, dated November 28, 1785 (Treaty of Hopewell), and Article 7 of the Treaty with the Cherokees dated December 29, 1835 (Treaty of New Echota), there shall be created the office of Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council.”
By Indivisible Aganist rump. NOTE: The information below was written by former Congressional staffers who consider themselves to be progressive. It provides insight into how to pressure your member of Congress, which is valuable. One area where we disagree with the information is that we do believe in putting forward a positive agenda for change. While Democrats are huddling to unify themselves against the Republican agenda, the task of the movement is to be independent of the duopoly parties and unify around a movement or People’s Agenda. This means that while we fight harmful policies that come down the road from either duopoly party, we can still build national consensus and push for a popular agenda. -MF Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen
By Staff of Tulsi Gabbard – Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act today. The legislation would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups. The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48), and Thomas Massie (R-KT-04), and supported by the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the U.S. Peace Council.
By Staff of Washington Examiner – Seventy-five years ago today, Congress declared war on Japan. U.S. declarations of war against Germany and Italy followed four days later, and Congress hasn’t declared war since. Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Granada, Kosovo, Bosnia, Yemen, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia — America fought its wars in all these places without an official declaration. Usually Congress passed some sort of authorization, but often, most recently in Libya, even that step was skipped. The executive has steadily seized war powers from the legislative branch, where the Constitution places it.
By Arthur Stamoulis for Medium – If you read the headlines, Donald Trump’s election has killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The headlines have it wrong. Donald Trump didn’t kill the TPP. Assuming we see the fight through to the bitter end, it’s the cross-border, cross-sector, progressive “movement of movements” that will have defeated the TPP. While overshadowed by the horror of Trump’s election, this victory will be one of the biggest wins against concentrated corporate power in our lifetimes, and it holds lessons we should internalize as we steel ourselves for the many challenges we face heading into the Trump years.
By Flush the TPP. We have been fighting the TPP for the past 5 years. The work of activists across the country and in solidarity with activists around the world succeeded in pushing the TPP fight into an election year and making it politically toxic. We were told two years ago that voters didn’t care about trade, yet it was the TPP that played a critical role in the Democrat’s loss in the elections. Voters supported Trump to protest the Democrat’s support for the TPP and failure to address the needs of working people and the poor. Now we are in the battle of the year: President Obama says that he will do all that he can to ratify the TPP before he leaves office. Trump opposes the TPP. Members of Congress who have lost their seats or are retiring are not accountable to voters. We can stop the TPP if we take action now to prevent its ratification in the lame duck session of Congress!
By Edmund Kozak for PoliZette – Paul Ryan said Friday there would be no lame duck attempt to foist the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the American people. “We’re not going to bring this up in [the] lame-duck [session],” Ryan said Friday morning during an appearance on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” “I can say that safely because even if we wanted to … we don’t have the votes,” Ryan added. Ryan stressed that he and the House GOP do not want to resurrect the TPP in its current form.
By Katharine Murphy for The Guardian – The legal counsel to tobacco giant Philip Morris has told a parliamentary committee that people have responded hysterically to a landmark legal case challenging Australia’s plain packaging laws. Philip Morris, in the first investor-state dispute ever brought against Australia, used a 1993 investment agreement between Australia and Hong Kong to challenge the then Labor government’s plain packaging laws.
By Daniel Cooper Bermudez for Nation of Change – Thousands of people are resisting the TPP as it would severely limit the self-determination of peoples around the world in the service of corporate interests. The deal would entrench the enforcement of profit guarantees for investors at the expense of our lives and the well-being of our Earth. The TPP is a ticking time-bomb and the clock is set for its approval by Congress during their “Lame Duck” session after the November elections.
By Patrick Woodall for Food & Water Watch – The White House, the big business lobby and country club Republicans are making a final push to pass the politically toxic Trans-Pacific Partnership — after the election. That’s right, the controversial trade deal is so unpopular, so reviled even by both presidential candidates, that even its biggest fans realize Congress cannot possibly take it up before the election, lest voters exact retribution at the polling booths.
By Mary Wildfire for Charleston Gazette-Mail – Everybody hates the TPP — the Tran Pacific Partnership “free trade” deal. Conservatives hate it because of its assault on sovereignty, the way it hands over the rights to regulate in the U.S. to foreign corporations. Liberals and progressives hate the way it threatens labor rights, health and safety standards, and the environment. Everybody hates the prospect of sending yet more American jobs to whichever country lets the companies pay them the least.