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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids, Iowa April 11, 2014.

Paul Ryan's 'Better Way' points in a worse direction

06/16/16 09:02AM

This time, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was serious. The Republican leader said it was finally time for the House GOP to have a governing agenda -- more than five years after it took the majority -- and demonstrate the party's commitment to a meaningful, concrete set of principles. Ryan called it a six-part "Better Way" plan.
 
"What you will see with these [six releases] are detailed policy papers," the Wisconsin Republican declared. "We're not talking about principles here. This is substance. It's going to be a clear explanation of the policy changes that are needed in these areas."
 
Was that true? Well, it's a funny story, actually.
House Republicans' ObamaCare replacement plan will not include specific dollar figures on some of its core provisions, and will instead be more of a broad outline, according to lobbyists and aides. [...]
 
Keeping the plan in the form of a broad outline puts off decisions some of the difficult tradeoffs and preempts lines of attack that would be raised with a specific and detailed plan.
Oh, I see. Putting together policy proposals is difficult, so Ryan and House Republicans prefer not to invest the effort.
 
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of Ryan's health care "task force," recently urged the media to "give us a little time, another month or so," before the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act would be ready for its big unveiling.
 
Two months later, if The Hill's reporting is accurate, they're nearly ready to show us "a broad outline" of ideas we already know they support, and which wouldn't make much of a difference in providing health security to the public.
 
In fact, as luck would have it, an interesting anniversary is upon us.
This frame grab from Senate Television shows Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 15, 2016, to demand a vote on gun control measures. (Photo by Senate Television/AP)

Epic Democratic filibuster earns 'commitment' on gun votes

06/16/16 08:02AM

Senate Democrats weren't just talking to hear themselves talk. When Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and a whole lot of his Senate friends launched an epic filibuster yesterday, they wanted to bring attention to proposed gun reforms they consider necessary, but they also sought votes on a couple of Democratic pieces of legislation.
 
As of early this morning, the efforts from Murphy & Co. were apparently a success.
Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.
 
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said that a compromise had been reached. Votes would be held on whether to ban people on the government's terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales, he added.
Wrapping up his difficult rhetorical challenge around 3 a.m. (ET), Murphy told his colleagues, "[I]t is our understanding that the Republican leader and the Democratic leader have spoken and that we have been given a commitment on a path forward to get votes on the floor of the Senate."
 
Senate GOP leaders haven't made a formal announcement, at least not yet, about the relevant details -- when the chamber will hold votes, whether there will be amendments, etc. -- but if Democrats are right and they received a "commitment," it suggests yesterday's filibuster produced its intended result.
 
Of course, holding a vote doesn't guarantee success. Senate Republicans are in the majority, and it's entirely likely that they'll end up rejecting these proposals, despite their broad public popularity. What's more, even if the bills were to somehow pass, the odds of action in the GOP-led House are poor.
 
But Democrats will take progress where they can find it. As yesterday got underway, the reform bills they wanted were unlikely to get a Senate vote this year, and as today gets underway, the opposite is true. If Murphy and the dozens of Democrats who participated in yesterday's filibuster are acting as if they won this round, it's because they did.
Sanders not quitting in Thursday address

Sanders not quitting in Thursday address

06/15/16 10:21PM

Rachel Maddow relays reports that Bernie Sanders will not be ending his campaign in a video address to supporters Thursday, and will instead more likely talk about his demands for the Democratic Party and perhaps what he'll focus on next. watch

Files on Trump part of hacked document set

Hacked DNC files on Trump posted online

06/15/16 10:18PM

Guy Cecil, co-chair and chief strategist of the pro-Clinton Priorties USA SuperPAC, talks with Rachel Maddow about how campaigns compile opposition research against opponents, and the files stolen from the DNC by Russian hackers and published online today. watch

Trump would be oldest to take White House

Trump would be oldest to take White House

06/15/16 09:55PM

Rachel Maddow wishes a happy birthday to Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, noting that at 70, he would be the oldest person to ascend to the office of the presidency, and as recently as a year ago probably didn't expect to find himself in such a position. watch

Russian hackers add intrigue to US election

Russian hackers add intrigue to US election

06/15/16 09:04PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the hacking theft of, among other documents, some opposition research on Donald Trump from the DNC by Russian hackers, which has not been released online and to the media, raising the prospect that Russia is involving itself in the U.S. election. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 6.15.16

06/15/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Quite a sight: "Led by the senators who represent Newtown, Connecticut -- where a gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children, in 2012 -- Democrats took control of the Senate floor Wednesday and vowed to keep talking until lawmakers start doing something about gun violence."
 
* The only responsible choice: "The Federal Reserve did not raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, and the central bank said it expected to raise rates more slowly in coming years, an acknowledgment that economic growth had again disappointed its expectations."
 
* CBS News poll: "According to the survey, Americans give the President net positive ratings on his response to the Orlando attack. More than half disapprove (51 percent) of presidential candidate Donald Trump's response and are split in their opinions in how Hillary Clinton has handled the situation."
 
* Texas: "Amarillo Police say an armed man who allegedly took hostages at a Walmart store was fatally shot by police. No shoppers, employees or hostages were harmed in the incident, police said. Police have not yet released the identity of the suspect or [said] if he was a Walmart employee."
 
* Aaron Persky, "the judge facing intense backlash over his sentencing in the sexual assault trial of a former Stanford swimmer, has been removed from another sex assault case at the request of the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office."
 
* California now has the sixth largest economy in the world: "The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis says that California's economy ... had been the eighth largest economy, and passed France and Brazil with the release of the latest report."
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.

Why Republican despondence over Trump matters

06/15/16 12:47PM

Every time Republican officials believe Donald Trump might finally pivot, shake the Etch a Sketch, and become a credible general-election candidate, the presumptive GOP nominee moves in the opposite direction. The only difference between Primary-Phase Trump and General-Election Trump is the specific target of his ire. The overall message, however, remains the same.
 
MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin reported from Capitol Hill yesterday, where Democratic leaders challenged Republicans to come up with some kind of defense for Trump's reaction to the mass-shooting in Orlando. "Few," Sarlin noted, "took up the call."
Instead, GOP lawmakers in Washington jumped, ducked and crawled through yet another obstacle course laid by Trump as reporters peppered them with questions about the candidate's proposed ban on Muslim travel, his suggestions that President Obama sympathizes with radical Islamists and should resign and his threat of "big consequences" for Muslim communities in America who he says are harboring terrorists. [...]
 
[Some Republicans] looked like they would rather be anywhere else doing anything but taking a question on Trump.... Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., paused a moment after being asked by NBC News whether he had any thoughts on Trump's response to Orlando.
 
"You know ... hmm," he said. Then without another word, he walked onto the Senate floor.
The Tim Scott reaction was striking, but quotes like these were extremely common yesterday. Sarlin's report is filled with quotes from Republican officials in the House and Senate -- some Trump supporters, some not -- nearly all of whom did their best to say as little as possible about the GOP presidential candidate who's left them feeling despondent.
 
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) went so far as to say, "We do not have a nominee until after the convention." I'm not entirely sure what he meant, but they're not the words of an influential Republican insider who's feeling pride in his party's presumptive nominee.
 
The Washington Post published a similar report last night. So did Politico. So did Reuters. So did Bloomberg Politics. GOP officials are neither pleased nor confident, they're struggling to pretend otherwise, and everyone is noticing.
 
The question, of course, is why this matters.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.15.16

06/15/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Hillary Clinton cruised to an easy win in yesterday's DC primary -- literally the last nominating contest of the year -- defeating Bernie Sanders, 79% to 21%. It marked the end of a strong run for Clinton: she won seven of the last nine primaries and caucuses.
 
* On a related note, Sanders and Clinton met last night for a closed-door conversation, which reportedly ran for nearly two hours, at a D.C. hotel. NBC News confirmed that Sanders' wife and campaign manager were in attendance, as were Clinton's campaign chairman and campaign manager.
 
* For only the third time this year, a congressional incumbent lost in a primary yesterday, with Rep. Randy Forbes (R) losing to a state lawmaker in a newly redrawn Virginia district.
 
* Both parties were pleased with the results of Nevada's U.S. Senate primaries, in which Rep. Joe Heck (R) and former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) prevailed. Sharron Angle's bid for higher office will have to wait for another cycle.
 
* Also in Nevada, Democratic congressional hopeful Lucy Flores lost in a primary yesterday, despite support from Bernie Sanders.
 
* North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said a "scheduling issue" prevented him from joining Donald Trump at a rally yesterday, but the governor did appear at a behind-closed-doors fundraiser with Trump a few hours earlier.
A sign identifies the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2010. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)

Republicans moving forward with IRS impeachment gambit

06/15/16 11:20AM

If you're waiting for cooler heads to prevail, and for House Republicans to find some new partisan toy to play with, lower your expectations. Bloomberg Politics reports that GOP lawmakers are moving forward with their latest impeachment gambit today.
A House committee plans to vote Wednesday on whether to censure Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen over Republican claims that he obstructed an investigation into whether his agency targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
 
The action by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee comes before a planned June 22 hearing by the House Judiciary Committee about a resolution to impeach Koskinen. House Republican leaders have not promised floor votes on the proposals, and neither effort is expected to move through the Senate.
These latest steps come on the heels of House Republicans touting a slick IRS conspiracy video, created by GOP officials on the House Oversight Committee, which Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) played for members during his recent testimony in support of impeachment.

Update: The Washington Post reported midday: "A divided House committee voted Wednesday to censure Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen." The vote fell along party lines.

As for whether any of this is a justifiable use of congressional time and energy, it's an awfully tough sell.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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