Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
WOW. Let’s jump right in and see what sense we can make out of the last week.
- Repeal and Replace. First of all, see “What Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap” from 07/18/2019. In a stunning series of reverses, the Senate Republicans failed miserably in joining their colleagues in the House in passing something – anything – that could tortuously be called fulfilling their collective campaign promise to ‘repeal and replace” Obamacare. The last ditch effort, the so-called “skinny” repeal bill, rolled out only hours before the vote, was pitched as “We need to Pass something so we can go to conference with the House and actually figure out what we need to do with this broken 1/6th of the US economy that we now own!” No one among the Senate Republicans believed this bill was the answer – it actually would have made the situation worse.. What they needed, and didn’t get, was an ironclad guarantee from the House that they would vote down the Senate “skinny” repeal bill and go to conference. The fear was that the House would pass the Senate bill and send it to President Trump, who was desperate to have something to sign so he could crow about keeping his campaign promise. Nonetheless, it took three courageous Republican senators – Collins of Maine, Murkowski of Alaska and McCain of Arizona – to stand up under the intense pressure and drive the stake through the heart of this monster. Fortunately, each was secure enough in their own political realm – i.e., not concerned about re-election – to vote for what they considered to be in the best interest of their constituents – all of them. I applaud each and every one. Perhaps Congress will now turn to “regular Order” and introduce bills, have hearings, mark-up the final version, send it to the floor for debate and possible amendment, and pass something that works.
- White House Shake-Up. Reince Priebus is out as White House Chief of Staff and retired 4-star Marine General John Kelly is in, moving over from the Department of Homeland Security. The hope is that General Kelly can bring some military discipline and order to the workings of the White House. Whether he is successful depends on one person – President Trump. Will the President back up General Kelly when he tries to tell the new Director of Communications Scaramucci that Scaramucci cannot have direct access to the President without going through Kelly? Scaramucci already said that he reports directly to the President and not the Chief of Staff. What about Bannon, or even Kushner or Ivanka? Can he get the President to follow the proper procedures when the President wants to change a major policy such as that affecting transgender personnel serving in the military instead of blurting it out in a tweet or speech with no coordination or even advance notice? The President is a great admirer of all things military; remember, he went to a military school for high school and was deeply impacted by his experiences and successes there. Can Kelly stop the leaks and impose message discipline upon a Wild West White House? Kelly apparently has significant experience working with Congress on military matters; can that experience translate into infrastructure, or tax reform, or immigration? Only time will tell,. Without the President’s total support and backing, the General is likely to not be much more successful than the former RNC chairman.
- Attorney General. The President continues to undercut and denigrate Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions reminds me of a young child that is out of favor big time with a parent; the child desperately wants back into the parent’s good graces and hangs around the house, just out of sight, wishing and hoping for a sign that all is forgiven. Being Attorney General must be the pinnacle of Sessions’ long political career to the extent that he subordinates his dignity and pride to remain in office until the axe falls, which it will. One of these days, Special Counsel Mueller will take his investigation into areas that Trump cannot abide and that development will be front page headlines in the New York Times/Washington Post, followed closely by the firing of Sessions and then Mueller by Trump.. The alpha dog does not tolerate little yappers at his heels. See R.I. P Attorney-General Jeff Sessions; 07/26/2017
So, in conclusion, we all go about our jobs and days, doing the best we can and hoping against hope for some sign of leadership and attention to our nations growing problems from Washington. The swamp its not being drained; it has become the tar baby.