November 14, 2023
This evening, by a vote of 336 to 95, the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the government. Pushed by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), the measure funds the government at current spending levels. Funding for different parts of the government will run out on two separate dates: January 19 and February 2. The measure does not include any funding for military aid to Israel or Ukraine.
Democrats provided most of the votes for the measure, which passed under a special rule that required two thirds of the House to agree to it. The Democrats provided 209 yes votes; the Republicans, 127. Two Democrats and 93 Republicans opposed it.
The Democratic House leadership, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-CA), released a statement saying:
“From the very beginning of the Congress, House Democrats have made clear that we will always put people over politics and try to find common ground with our Republican colleagues wherever possible, while pushing back against Republican extremism whenever necessary.
“That is the framework through which we will evaluate all issues before us this Congress. We have consistently made clear that a government shutdown would hurt the economy, our national security and everyday Americans during a very fragile time and must be avoided. To that end, House Democrats have repeatedly articulated that any continuing resolution must be set at the fiscal year 2023 spending level, be devoid of harmful cuts and free of extreme right-wing policy riders. The continuing resolution before the House today meets [those] criteria and we will support it.”
Just two Democrats opposed the measure. Ninety-three Republicans did.
Passing a continuing resolution at the same spending levels as fiscal year 2023 with the help of Democrats while much of his own party opposes it puts Johnson in the exact same place Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was in when eight extremists voted to oust him from the speakership: relying on Democratic votes to fund the government.
Far-right extremists were angry at Johnson and took an official stand against it. Now they are talking about retaliating against the speaker by holding up any further legislation in procedural votes so it cannot move forward, grinding the House to another halt. Johnson might have been trying to address that anger when he today endorsed former president Donald Trump for president in 2024, a move his predecessor McCarthy refused to make.
But McCarthy supporters looked at Johnson getting a pass for the same deal that cost McCarthy his leadership and cried foul. Republican tempers ran hot on Capitol Hill today as Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN) accused former speaker McCarthy of elbowing him in the kidney as McCarthy passed him in the House basement while Burchett was talking to NPR reporter Claudia Grisales. Clearly taken aback, Grisales tweeted: “Have NEVER seen this on Capitol Hill: While talking to [Burchett] after the GOP conference meeting, former [Speaker McCarthy] walked by with his detail and McCarthy shoved Burchett. Burchett lunged towards me. I thought it was a joke, it was not. And a chase ensued….” Burchett was one of the eight Republican representatives who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership.
In a House hearing of the Oversight Committee on the U.S. General Services Administration, chair James Comer (R-KY) angrily told Representative Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), who was wearing a blue suit, that he looked like a Smurf (a small, blue cartoon character). Comer angrily defended himself from Moskowitz’s observation that Comer had lent the same amount of money to his own brother that President Biden lent to his brother James.
Comer has insisted without any proof that Biden’s loan was illicit; Moskowitz has repeatedly asked Comer to testify about his own loan. "That is bullsh*t," Comer said of Moskowitz’s observation that the American people would like to know more about his own loan. Moskowitz answered: "Your word means nothing, Mr. Chairman.... I think the American people have lots of questions, Mr. Chairman, and perhaps you should sit maybe for a deposition."
That was House Republicans today.
In the Senate, at a hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Republican Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma tried to start a physical fight with one of the witnesses, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union Sean O'Brien. O’Brien had criticized Mullin on Twitter, and Mullin wanted to fight it out. O’Brien indicated he was more than ready. Mullin got up from his chair as if to begin, when Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the committee, yelled at him to sit back down. “You are a United States senator!” he shouted.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration today celebrated the drop of the inflation rate to zero for the month of October, meaning that prices did not rise at all between September and October. That flat month means the yearly inflation rate dropped to 3.2% for the past year. Much of that lower inflation rate reflects lower gasoline prices, which dropped 5% in October.
Under the Democratic administration, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees the maintenance of fair business practices, has been much more aggressive about policing misconduct, and today it announced it filed 784 enforcement actions and claimed $4.95 billion in penalties in the fiscal year that ended in September. This financial recovery was the second highest in the history of the SEC, second only to last year’s amount of $6.4 billion.
The White House yesterday announced a new initiative on women’s health research designed to combat the fact that women’s health has been ill studied, leaving half the nation’s people suffering from poorly understood debilitating conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids, as well as being diagnosed or treated incorrectly for disorders such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Today the White House issued the fifth national climate assessment, which showed a decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions despite the growth of the population and of the economy. The White House statement attributes this decline to efforts to mitigate emissions and the increasingly available low-emissions options. In the last decade, it noted, wind energy costs dropped 70% and solar energy costs dropped 90%. In 2020, 80% of new energy generation capacity came from clean energy. Climate change and related extreme weather events are rapidly intensifying, the administration warned, and will cost the U.S. at least $150 billion a year.
Reflecting that fact, Biden today announced more than $6 billion in investments to strengthen the electric grid, reduce flooding, support conservation, and advance environmental justice, as underserved communities bear the brunt of weather events. The money is coming primarily from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Inflation Reduction Act.