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Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Charlie Rangel arrive for a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, Feb. 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

House Democrats stage dramatic 'sit-in' on chamber floor

06/22/16 12:51PM

When the Senate took up several gun reforms this week, there was a nagging concern hanging over the debate: even if one of these measures passed, the Republican-led House has made clear that the lower chamber will not consider any new firearm restrictions. It was a moot point -- the Senate measures were defeated -- but the fact that no votes are even possible in the House is deeply discouraging to reformers.
And so, this morning, House Democrats took a provocative step towards demanding change. NBC News reported:
House Democrats led by Civil Rights veteran Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, are in the midst of a sit-in on the chamber floor to try and force a vote on gun control.
"Now is the time for us to find a way to dramatize it, to make it real," Lewis said. "We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action."
Then Lewis and roughly 40 House Democrats sat. They stood briefly to say the Pledge of Allegiance as a couple dozen visitors in the gallery looked on.
There are some pretty dramatic photos available, but Americans hoping to see the dramatic protest on C-SPAN were disappointed. Though House proceedings are normally televised, NBC's report added that this protest was not shown because the House had not formally been gaveled into session.
At around 11:30 a.m. (ET), Lewis delivered remarks, explaining, "We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence.... What has this body done? Mr. Speaker, not one thing." The sit-in began soon after.
Roll Call reported, "At about noon, Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas returned to gavel in the House.... Poe said he found that the House was not in a state of order due to the presence of members in the well who were not recognized. He asked members to leave the well. After that, he declared the House in recess subject to the call of the chair. "
Keep in mind, the Democrats participating in this protest aren't asking the House to pass anything, but rather, they want a debate and a vote on possible reforms.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.22.16

06/22/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In an odd tweet yesterday, Donald Trump declared, "I am 'the king of debt.' That has been great for me as a businessman, but is bad for the country. I made a fortune off of debt, will fix U.S." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but he repeated the claim this morning.
* Also this morning, Trump continued to question Hillary Clinton's religious beliefs.
* Ahead of Trump's anti-Clinton speech this morning, the Democratic candidate delivered a speech of her own yesterday blasting the presumptive Republican nominee's economic record and worldview.
* In Ohio's U.S. Senate race, a new Quinnipiac poll shows incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) tied with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) at 42% each.
* In Florida's U.S. Senate race, most recent polling shows Sen. Marco Rubio (R) roughly tied with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), but Quinnipiac shows the incumbent up by seven, 47% to 40%.
* Perhaps the day's biggest surprise is Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, where Quinnipiac shows incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) with a surprisingly big lead over Katie McGinty (D), 49% to 40%.
* Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recorded a notable video this week for about Trump.
* Reflecting on fights over defense spending next year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week, "The next president, whoever he or she -- most likely she -- is going to be, needs to get these defense cuts set aside."
This file photo taken on April 28, 2016 shows US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

The Republican healthcare plan isn't actually a healthcare plan

06/22/16 11:20AM

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) boasted on Twitter yesterday, "You've asked for it and tomorrow, House Republicans will release our plan to replace Obamacare." Whether or not this actually constitutes a "plan," however, is open to some debate.
After six years of vague talk about a conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans on Tuesday finally laid out the replacement for a repealed health law -- a package of proposals that they said would slow the growth of health spending and relax federal rules for health insurance. [...]
In finally presenting one, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and his Republican team did not provide a cost estimate or legislative language. But they did issue a 20,000-word plan that provides the most extensive description of their health care alternative to date.
Perhaps, but let's not grade on a curve. It was seven years ago this month that House Republican leaders began promising to unveil a GOP health-care-reform plan, and for seven years, the party has done nothing except offer vague soundbites and vote several dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with nothing.
Or put another way, we've seen seven years of posturing on health care policy, but no actual governing.
The New York Times is correct that we now have an "extensive description" of the House Republican vision on the issue, but an "extensive description" does not a plan make. There's still no legislation; there are still no numbers; there's still no substance to score and scrutinize.
The Huffington Post summarized the problem nicely: "Speaker Paul Ryan wants to replace 20 million people's health insurance with 37 pages of talking points."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to the media on June 3, 2016 in Doral, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Rubio breaks his word, decides to seek re-election

06/22/16 10:43AM

As we recently discussed, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) launched his ill-fated presidential campaign, he made a bold and meaningful promise to the public: White House or bust. Rubio wouldn't treat a Senate seat as a consolation prize; he'd either win the 2016 presidential election or he'd be out of public office altogether. It was probably the most honorable moment of his career.
After his national campaign failed miserably, Rubio heard the speculation about him possibly breaking his word, and he dismissed the chatter as an irritating distraction. Just five weeks ago, the senator, annoyed by Beltway scuttlebutt, said on Twitter, "I have only said like 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January."
But the political pressure started soon after. Republican officials, facing the prospect of a Democratic Senate, began urging Rubio to break his word. According to the Washington Post, he's going to do exactly that.
Sen. Marco Rubio will announce Wednesday he will seek re-election to the Senate, reversing a pledge he made a year ago to either assume the presidency or return to private life in Florida, instantly transforming an already competitive race and improving the chances that Republicans can maintain the Senate majority.
Rubio is set to announce the decision sometime Wednesday, according to three people familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it before a formal announcement. One person said Rubio has started privately informing key Republicans he will run.
This reversal will surprise no one; the far-right senator has been telegraphing the move for weeks. It was largely a matter of when, not if, Rubio would go back on his promise to the public.
But that doesn't make the reversal any less ridiculous.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., heads to the House floor for votes on Jan. 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)

Republicans continue to turn to the wrong economist

06/22/16 10:00AM

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) yesterday tweeted a picture of him sitting down with a familiar figure in his leadership office. The far-right Louisianan wrote, "Great to meet with President Reagan's former economic advisor Art Laffer to discuss the benefits of tax reform!"
Soon after, The Hill reported that Laffer publicly defended Donald Trump's trade policies.
"Having spent time with him and virtually all of the other candidates, I would say that he has as firm a grasp of international trade as any candidate," Laffer said a breakfast at The Podesta Group. "He clearly understands foreign investments, foreign locations, foreign businesses."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has the "best chance of doing good trade policy," added Laffer, who was an economic policy adviser to former president Ronald Reagan.... Laffer also said that Trump's tax plan would be "phenomenal" for the U.S.
The problem with both of these stories -- Laffer vouching for Trump and Scalise discussing tax policy with Laffer -- is that they treat the Republican economist as a credible figure. He's not.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally on June 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty)

Trump giving new meaning to 'self-funded' campaigning

06/22/16 09:20AM

Sixteen years ago, Donald Trump joked during an interview, "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." But what if he wasn't kidding?
The Trump campaign's Federal Election Commission filing made all kinds of headlines yesterday, largely because of his anemic fundraising. But as Rachel explained on the show last night, the more alarming revelation was the degree to which the Republican candidate is spending his limited resources on Trump corporate products and services.
What's more, a significant chunk of the money Trump has raised came in the form of loans the candidate made to himself -- money that donors will eventually pay back, putting their money in his pocket. A campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center told the New York Times yesterday Trump could "end up turning a profit if he repaid himself for the campaign loans. He could get all his money back plus the profit margin for what his campaign has paid [Trump's larger enterprise] for goods and services."
There's a reason a new word is starting to enter the political lexicon: the rise of the "scampaign."
Imagine being a Republican donor and learning about Trump's campaign's finances. How likely are you to grab your checkbook to invest in this enterprise? As the Washington Post reported, the anxiety levels within the party are rising.
Trump is "now looking into the abyss," said Ed Rollins, the top strategist for Great America PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC. "He can either start writing checks and selling some buildings and golf courses or get on the phones and talk to donors. Big donors just don't want to give money unless they have the opportunity to talk to the candidate, hear what your positions are. There's just been a failure from start to finish on the fundraising side."
Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the guy running your super PAC uses a phrase like "looking into the abyss," it's not a good sign.
Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.

What Steve King considers 'racist' and 'divisive'

06/22/16 08:40AM

Many Americans celebrated in April when the Treasury Department announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. One notoriously right-wing congressman, however, is so unhappy about the change that he's fighting to block it
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has filed legislation that would block the U.S. Treasury Department from putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
King is perhaps best-known in the nation's capital for his anti-immigration rhetoric and his hostility to undocumented immigrants. But this takes his mean-spirited forays into racial politics in a new direction.
The Huffington Post's report added that King is sponsoring an amendment that would prohibit the Treasury from making any changes to American money and nullify the department's plans to honor Tubman.
Politico reported that the Iowa Republican said it's "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to U.S. currency. "Here's what's really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that's trying to identify people by categories, and he's divided us on the lines of groups," King said, adding, "This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."
The same article went on to note that King defended his amendment as crucial. "President Obama's on his way out the door," he said. "He's going to do everything he can think of to upset this society and this civilization."
The Iowan didn't specify which "civilization" he was referring to.
Every now and then, we're confronted with a story that disgusts but doesn't surprise. For Steve King, of all people, to say it's "racist" to honor a woman best known for leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad is consistent with everything we know about the congressman, but that doesn't make his proposal any less ridiculous.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks at the Capitol in Washington on Dec. 11, 2014. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Bachmann's new gig: Trump adviser on evangelical issues

06/22/16 08:00AM

The religious right movement has struggled for decades to play a leading role in choosing the Republican Party's presidential nominee, but this year, social conservatives declared early on, would finally be their year.
And yet, after doing everything right and carefully following their specific strategy, the GOP ended up going with a thrice-married adulterous casino owner who quite literally can't tell the difference between a communion plate and a collection plate.
Will the right-wing theological movement and the secular nativist forge a constructive partnership? As The Atlantic noted, the two sides are working on it.
No matter how much American politics have changed during this election cycle, one eternal truth remains: Republicans need evangelical voters. Even Donald Trump, the man of botched Bible verses and many wives, is making moves to win over conservative Christians. On Tuesday, he met with more than 1,000 mostly evangelical leaders, along with some Catholics, in a closed-to-the-press meeting in New York City.
Big names -- from former presidential candidate Ben Carson to the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to the pollster George Barna -- apparently spoke at the event, while Trump took pre-selected questions in a discussion moderated by the former presidential candidate and preacher Mike Huckabee. But while Trump has a number of vocal evangelical cheerleaders, and leaders gave him a hearing on Tuesday, many conservative Christians are still wary of the presumptive Republican nominee.
Soon after, the Trump campaign announced the creation of a new "executive board convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America." The name at the top of the list: Michele Bachmann.
Yes, that Michele Bachmann. The failed former presidential candidate and former congresswoman has a new gig, advising her party's presumptive nominee on evangelical issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Citations for the June 21, 2016 TRMS

06/22/16 01:01AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Kendal Unruh, RNC Rules Committee member and co-founder of "Free the Delegates 2016"
  • Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post

Tonight's links:

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New bipartisan gun bill might actually pass

New bipartisan gun bill might actually have a chance of passing

06/21/16 09:50PM

Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about a new gun regulation bill with bipartisan backing that addresses the terrorist watchlist and notifications to the FBI, and may actually have a chance of passing. watch

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

06/21/16 09:07PM

Rachel Maddow makes the case that Donald Trump's presidential campaign is essentially a moneymaking racket and a giant book tour, which explains why he is not assembling a real campaign staff or raising real campaign money. watch


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