The day after the House Oversight Committee’s blockbuster hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11, 2012, House Foreign Relations Committee chair Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) told Breitbart News that the Oversight Committee would hold more hearings:
The Committee continues its examination of the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks so we can ensure that the bureaucratic failures that left State Department personnel vulnerable are not repeated. The Committee will continue to review the responsibility of senior State Department officials for the failure to provide proper security prior to the Benghazi attacks and needed improvements in embassy security.
Based on testimony in Wednesday’s Benghazi hearing that contradicted the rosy findings of the Obama-appointed Accountability Review Board, Royce has also introduced the Accountability Review Board Reform Act of 2013. He penned a letter to other House members on Thursday encouraging such reforms to the Accountability Review Board process. “Yesterday,” Royce wrote, “the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing that reaffirmed the flaws in the Benghazi ARB’s review. Specifically, the ARB found that the responsibility for the ‘systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies within the State Department stopped at the Assistant Secretary level. As we heard throughout the hearing, this was simply not the case.”
Royce’s proposed legislation would help sever the bond between the ARB and the State Department – currently, the Secretary of State “appoints four out of the ARB’s five members – a clear majority that could influence the outcome of any investigation.” It would change the ARB staffing so that it isn’t as reliant on the State Department. Board members with conflicts of interest would be banned. The Secretary of State would have to hand over a list of staffers to Congress. And the ARB report would have to go to Congress, not merely the Secretary of State.
“These improvements seek to strengthen future ARB investigations to help avoid disasters like Benghazi,” Royce wrote. “Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.”
The South Carolina House approved a bill Wednesday criminalizing the implementation of President Obama’s health care law in the state.
The Republican-controlled House voted 65-39 on the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act.
The act renders “null and void certain unconstitutional laws enacted by the Congress of the United States taking control over the health insurance industry and mandating that individuals purchase health insurance under threat of penalty.”
“This kind of victory occurs when the grassroots across the State come together and coalesce,” Chris Lawton, spokesman for the Greenville Tea Party, told The Greenville Post. “I could not be prouder.”
The bill declares “Obamacare” unconstitutional – despite the Supreme Court ruling last year that the Affordable Health Care Act was constitutional – and that there will be criminal penalties for enforcing the law.
Gov. Nikki Haley earlier this year said that the state will not implement the nation’s health care law.
“Connecticut expanded early under ‘Obamacare’ and just reported a $190 million Medicaid deficit – in spite of subjecting their citizens to a massive tax increase,” Haley said during the State of the State address. “California just raised taxes in part to cover their Medicaid deficit and yet needs $350 million more to pay for ‘Obamacare’ next year. That’s not us. That’s not South Carolina.”
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee refused to expand Medicaid eligibility to more poor adults as part of the state budget.
A 13-10 vote defeated Democrats’ attempt to insert the expansion into the Senate’s budget proposal for 2013-14. The committee is crafting its spending plan this week.
The proposal came a day after Democrats grilled Medicaid director Tony Keck on his reasons for opposing an expansion under the federal health care overhaul. But senators didn’t debate each other Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setlzer said a protracted debate was unnecessary since senators knew their positions.
Haley, along with House Republican, also oppose extending the government health care programs to hundreds of thousands of additional poor adults.
The House budget plan includes money for Keck’s initiatives aimed at improving health.
As the populations of the world’s major cities continue to grow, accommodation will become an increasingly sought-after commodity.
Now designers in China, which itself has more than one billion inhabitants, have have come up with a potential solution.
It’s a mobile home called the Tricycle House that has been created for people who cannot afford their own home. It is equipped with an integrated water tank, bath tub and a stove.
A true mobile home: Chinese architects have designed a house on the back of a tricycle in a bid to address the world’s population boom
Addressing housing crisis: The Tricycle House has been created for people who cannot afford their own home
All the mod cons: The Tricycle Home even comes with its own bath and shower as well as kitchen facilities
The bed transforms into a dining table or a bench to make the interior versatile and suitable for any occasions.
Modular design allows for expansion and interconnection between units.
The until itself is made of translucent plastic which lets in natural light during the day and the glow from street lamps at night.
The house is fitted onto the frame of a tricycle and so can be taken just about anywhere.
Versatile: The bed transforms into a dining table or a bench to make the interior suitable for any occasions
All the mod cons: The home is equipped with a dining table, integrated water tank and bath tub
It has been created by the People’s Industrial Design and People’s Architecture Office based in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
The Tricycle House was made for the 2012 Get It Louder Exhibition in Beijing.
A spokesman explained: ‘Private ownership of land in China does not exist.
‘The Tricycle House suggests a future embrace of the temporary relationship between people and the land they occupy.
‘In a crowded Chinese city single family homes can be affordable and sustainable, parking lots are used at night, and traffic jams are acceptable.
On the move: The until itself is made of translucent plastic which lets in natural light during the day and the glow from street lamps at night
Nomadic: The house is fitted onto the frame of a tricycle and so can be taken just about anywhere
‘As a construction method we experimented with folded plastic. Each piece of the house is cut with a CNC router, scored, folded and welded into shape.
‘The plastic, polypropylene, can be folded without losing its strength.
‘Therefore the house can open up to the outside, expand like an accordion for more space, and connect to other houses.
‘The plastic is translucent allowing the interior to be lit by the sun during the day or street lamps at night.
‘The Tricycle House is man-powered and operates off-the-grid.
‘Facilities in the house include a sink and stove, a bathtub, a water tank, and furniture that can transform from a bed to a dining table and bench to a bench and counter top.
‘The sink, stove, and bathtub can collapse into the front wall of the house.’
Several conservative House Republican members are contemplating a plan to unseat Speaker John Boehner from his position on January 3, Breitbart News has exclusively learned. Staffers have compiled a detailed action plan that, if executed, could make this a reality.
The Republicans, both conservatives and more establishment members alike, are emboldened after the failure of Boehner’s fiscal cliff “Plan B” on Thursday evening. Dissatisfaction with Boehner is growing in the House Republican conference, but until now there hasn’t been a clear path forward.
Those members and staffers requested anonymity from Breitbart News at this time to prevent retaliation from Boehner similar to what happened to those four members who were purged from their powerful committee assignments a few weeks ago. Their expressed concern is that if Boehner knew who they were, his adverse reaction toward them would be much more brutal than losing committee assignments, such as a primary challenge in 2014 by a leadership-sponsored candidate.
The circulated plan is a comprehensive multi-step process.
According to the plan as drafted, the first step is to re-establish the election of the Speaker of the House by secret ballot, rather than by a public roll call vote. That’s because the members who would oppose Boehner, if there ended up not being enough votes to achieve their desired result or if Boehner scared via threat or coaxed via prize some of the opposition into voting for him, would be sitting ducks for retaliation in the near future.
As one hill staffer considering this path told Breitbart News, the members involved in an unsuccessful coup d’etat would be “toast.”
To establish a secret ballot election for Speaker of the House, one Republican member will need to step forward and introduce a resolution on the House floor on the morning of January 3, 2013, before any other business takes place. Those close to this plan are convinced that a member will step forward and introduce this resolution.
On January 3, the House of Representatives will convene for the first order of business for the 113th Congress. Normally, the first order of business is for the House to elect a Speaker.
But if a member introduces that resolution for a secret ballot, the whole House will vote on that first. That vote will need to have a public roll call, meaning the American people, the press, and Boehner will know who voted which way. Even so, those who are considering this path forward to unseat Boehner know that Boehner and other establishment Republicans can’t legitimately oppose the concept of a secret ballot election for a leader of a political body.
Why’s that? In a 2009 op-ed Boehner himself wrote for U.S. News and World Report, the then House Minority Leader bashed unions for their failure to employ secret ballot elections to protect those voting. Boehner’s op-ed was an attack on the Democrats’ Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check” – legislation that would have hurt the sacred concept of elections so badly that, in Boehner’s own words, “it would leave them [workers voting in union elections] open to coercion and intimidation.”
Card check legislation would have made unionization elections public – meaning everybody involved would know whether employees voted in favor of or against unionization. Boehner called such elections “undemocratic” because even “all 535 members of the United States Congress hold their offices thanks to a secret ballot.”
Boehner’s op-ed helped kill the Democratic effort for card check, as he warned that some who have “spoken passionately in favor of secret-ballot elections” have done so “only when it serves their interests.” Those hill staffers who drafted this plan note in their planning documents that a secret ballot against Boehner “is likely the ONLY WAY the Speaker can be ousted,” and find it ironic that the election for House Speaker isn’t done by secret ballot right now.
At the beginning of the Congress, the House will only have one officer: the Clerk of the House. House rule documents compiled by those staffers considering this plan show that the Clerk of the House is required to keep the legislative body’s secrets. The clerk takes an oath to “keep the secrets of the House.”
Since at that point the House would have just passed a resolution requiring who votes for whom as Speaker to be secret, the Clerk – who would keep track of such a vote – would be required by his oath of office to keep the roll call secret.
If a secret ballot election for House Speaker is established, step one of this plan against Boehner is complete.
The second step of the circulated plan would require enough GOP members to band together and vote for somebody other than Boehner as Speaker. Since Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., has resigned his position, there will be 434 voting members on January 3. For someone to win the Speaker election, they’d need to secure 217 votes – or a majority of everyone voting.
Since there are 233 Republicans heading into the next Congress, only 17 Republicans would be needed to unseat Boehner. The House would continue having multiple elections throughout the day on January 3 until it agreed upon a new Speaker.
Republicans need not worry about handing the Speakership over to Nancy Pelosi or some other Democrat in this process, either. “Don’t worry about Speaker Boehner losing GOP votes in a secret ballot,” the House rule document compiled by staffers obtained by Breitbart News read.
It is still not possible for Pelosi to become Speaker even with 100 % of Democrats united behind her and a split GOP vote. The reason is to become Speaker it is not enough to win a plurality. One must win an absolute majority of all votes cast for an individual.
So even if all 201 Democrats vote Pelosi, Boehner gets 1 vote, and the remaining 233 Republicans each vote for a different individual, Pelosi does not win. Pelosi would need 218 to reach a majority of the 435 votes cast for an individual. Since Republicans have a 33 vote advantage in the House, the only way Pelosi wins is if 17 Boehner opponents affirmatively vote Pelosi or abstain rather than simply vote for an alternative candidate. Both these scenarios are easily avoided.
The same argument applies if fewer than 435 Members show up to vote. The magic number would be less than 218 but Pelosi still cannot get there so long as there are more Republicans in the room than Democrats and they don’t abstain or voter [sic] for her.
Those planning to oust Boehner know that there will likely be multiple elections taking place next. They expect to have a series of elections in the House throughout the day on January 3, as they’re pretty sure they won’t get a new Speaker on the first try.
If Boehner loses on that first election try, he’ll be battered. For now, this is a leaderless movement – an “Anybody but Boehner” charge. But after that first secret ballot election wouldn’t have earned him his speakership back, those planning this ouster expect viable alternatives to emerge at that point.
One of those alternatives, they think, will unite the party and take the speakership.
If these conservatives aren’t successful in removing Boehner – but get close – they expect Boehner to cave and give them several concessions. Those concessions would include “that Boehner should move for it himself to decentralize power to the members, re-establishing trust and his legitimacy as the leader of the party.”
They argue Boehner might be able to reach those concessions by allowing committee chairmen to bring resolutions and legislation to the House floor for votes, and by stopping his continual dealing with President Barack Obama outside the regular order of House business through the committee system.
The House voted Thursday to block the Obama administration’s decision to let states waive the current work requirement for welfare recipients.
Members approved the Republican resolution of disapproval in a 250-164 vote, after a bitter debate in which Republicans charged President Obama with trying to change the law without consulting Congress, and Democrats said Republicans were raising the issue to help GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney after his widely criticized remarks about people on welfare. Nineteen Democrats voted for the resolution.
While the measure passed the House, the Obama administration’s change to the implementation of the welfare law will remain in effect until the Senate approves the resolution, which is not expected to happen.
Republicans said the rule, from the Department of Health and Human Services, would gut a central element of the 1996 welfare reform law that created the current system under which federal welfare benefits are delivered through block grants to states. That law requires 50 percent of a state’s welfare recipients to be working, or undertake efforts to prepare for work, such as training or looking for a job, which Republicans say is a critical component.
“The requirement that 50 percent of a State’s welfare caseload work or prepare for work was a central part of the bipartisan 1996 welfare reforms signed into law by President Clinton,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said. “Those reforms were overwhelmingly successful in reducing welfare dependency and poverty while increasing work and earnings.”
Camp also said the change is “unlawful,” as the work requirement is in a part of the law that cannot be waived, and because the change was found to be a rule that was never notified to Congress.
Democrats argued repeatedly that several “fact checkers” in the media have found that GOP claims that the change would gut the welfare reform law are not true. This argument rests on the idea that the waivers could only be granted to states who are looking to put in place a new welfare program that meets the 1996 law’s goal of getting more people to work.
Republicans rejected that by noting the Obama administration made a unilateral decision to create the waiver without any consultation with Congress despite the practical changes made in the implementation of the law. They added that this came after years in which former administrations said they did not believe they had any authority to waive the work requirements.
“I don’t understand why my friends on the other side of the aisle are defensive about this,” said Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). “This is nothing to defend. This is to say the White House made an error in engaging substantively in downgrading work requirements for welfare, and rather than being defensive about it, say, ‘Look, they messed up.’ “
Democrats spent most of the debate arguing that Republicans were dodging more pertinent issues such as the farm bill and the uncertainty over taxes, and called up the resolution in order to score political points as the November election nears.
Several Democrats went further by saying the vote was meant to help Mitt Romney’s election chances, particularly after Romney’s much-maligned comment that 47 percent of voting Americans believe they are entitled to welfare and other benefits.
“Just because the candidate for president made another mistake, we’re going to have to now legislate something to show that we think he makes any sense,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said, describing what he presumed to be the motive of Republicans. “It is wrong and it ain’t going nowhere.”
“This is a paid political broadcast brought to you by the majority side of the Ways and Means Committee,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said work on the welfare resolution was typical of the GOP-led Congress that has left several key issues until after the election.
“The bill before us today exemplifies the do-nothing Republican Congress,” he said. “Once again, Republicans are choosing to focus on a political message over serious issues like jobs, middle-class tax cuts or a farm bill.”
The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting – a discredited operation that has become a sharp point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.
The 255-67 vote marked the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress. Almost every House Republican backed the measure, along with 17 Democrats.
A large number of Democrats – including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – walked off the House floor in protest and refused to participate in the vote.
The criminal contempt charge refers the dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who will decide whether to file charges against Holder. Most legal analysts do not expect Machen – an Obama appointee who ultimately answers to Holder – to take any action.
House members are also expected to pass a civil contempt measure Thursday afternoon. The civil measure would allow the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to file a lawsuit asking the courts to examine the Justice Department’s failure to produce certain subpoenaed documents, as well as the validity of the administration’s recent assertion of executive privilege over the documents in question.
As Weasel Zippers puts it- Heartless Monsters!
(The Hill) — House Republicans don’t want Uncle Sam paying for any more lap dances.
A bill that GOP leaders are bringing to the House floor Wednesday would require states to prevent welfare recipients from accessing or spending their benefits at strip clubs, casinos and liquor stores.
Republicans included the proposal in the payroll tax bill the House passed in December, and they are bringing it back up for a vote separately as part of a package of bills they want included in a final agreement extending the payroll tax cut and other measures through 2012.
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), the chief sponsor of the strip-club loophole bill, said in an interview that the legislation was a response to press reports that recipients of benefits under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program were using state-issued debit cards containing the funds for gambling, alcohol and adult entertainment.
What will MSNBS ever say about this? Anyone want to bet that they will do a story entitled “GOP war on needy families”? Or even better, just call it RAAAACIST!
Chris is celebrating a blow against the Nanny State
The details are murky, but it appears that our incandescent light bulbs are safe for another year. The House and Senate agreed late last night on a $1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill to avert a government shutdown. And it includes a House-Republican-backed provision suspending implementation of the incandescent light bulb ban!
The legislation, which would avert a government shutdown, prevents funding from being used for the implementation of certain Energy Department light bulb standards. The standards would begin phasing in next year.
Hopefully, we will soon have some common sense Republicans in the Senate majority, and a real president, who has actually read the Constitution in the Oval Office, so that Americans are safer from the Nanny Staters.
As an aside, let us all applaud Chris Wysocki for smacking down a light-bulb banning hypocrite on Twitter! Well played sir!
An alert Twitter follower pointed me at a recent op-ed by GOP Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan entitled “Obama’s Regulatory Burden.” In it he excoriates the Obama Administration for regulatory over-reach with regard to electricity markets and generation.
And I said to myself, “Self, isn’t this the same Fred Upton who enacted the incandescent light bulb ban?”
Ah, yes, another politician who cannot stay consistent for anything. But Chris reminds Upton that bloggers are smarter than politicians
The House passed an amendment Thursday that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement the network-neutrality order it approved in December.
The amendment, approved on a 244-181 vote, was offered by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., to legislation that would fund government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011.
Walden and other critics of the FCC’s net-neutrality order argue it will stifle innovation and investment in broadband. The order aims to bar broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content, services, or applications.
“If left unchallenged, this claim of authority would allow the FCC to regulate any matter it discussed in the national broadband plan,” Walden said.
If the defunding effort fails, Republicans are pursuing a second route to try to block the FCC’s open-Internet order. Walden and other Republicans in both the House and the Senate introduced on Wednesday a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would give lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to block the FCC’s net-neutrality rules.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior Energy and Commerce member, argued that by voting for the amendment, “you give control to the Broadband Barons … and then you will see an inevitable decline in innovation, in investment, in the private sector, in the new products, the new technology, the new applications, these new devices, which are basically invented by hundreds and thousands of smaller companies in our country.”
President Obama, who supports the FCC’s net neutrality order, has threatened to veto the spending measure if it cuts government programs too deeply. He was on the West Coast meeting with leaders from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and other technology companies when the vote came in.
The House on Monday voted to reauthorize and extend through Dec. 8 three ways in which Congress expanded the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism powers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Last week, an effort to extend these provisions of the so-called Patriot Act and a related intelligence law failed to pass after falling just short of the two-thirds’ majority needed under a special rule. On Monday, however, the bill was able to pass with only a simple majority – and it did so, 275 to 144.
The provisions allow investigators to get “roving wiretap” court orders allowing them to follow terrorism suspects who switch phone numbers or providers; to get orders allowing them to seize “any tangible things” relevant to a security investigation, like a business’s customer records; and to get national-security wiretap orders against non-citizen suspects who are not connected to any foreign power.
Without new legislation, the provisions would expire on Feb. 28. House Republicans pressed the short-term extension so the Judiciary Committee, which is now under Republican control, could hold hearings on them.
During the debate on Monday, most Republicans argued in favor of the bill, while many Democrats criticized it. Still, the debate did not break down entirely along partisan lines.
Sixty-five Democrats voted for it, including Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who argued that he thought it would be better to go even further and extend the provisions through 2013 – as the Obama administration wants to do.
And 27 Republicans voted against it, including Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, who said the American people had “a legitimate fear of out-of-control prosecutors and out-of-control spy networks.”
Because there is little time left before the provisions expire, it is likely that the Senate will approve the House’s bill – putting off a larger debate over the provisions until later in the year.
Senators have been debating their own proposals, which include reauthorizing the provisions through 2013 but imposing greater safeguards on them, or making the provisions permanent without modifications.
Congress overwhelmingly passed the original Patriot Act in October 2001. Over time, it became a symbol of eroding civil liberties and privacy rights for those who believed that government power had expanded too far. Supporters of the law have often accused its critics of exaggerating its risks and of being willing to endanger the country.