Senator Orrin Hatch took credit for inserting an 11th hour provision into the GOP tax cut bill, benefitting investors in limited liability real estate holdings (LLCs).
He, Trump, Jared Kushner, Speaker Ryan, other GOP House members and most Republican senators stand to reap a huge windfall from the provision.
According to former congressional Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff Edward Kleinbard, the provision “rewards owners of capital intensive businesses, like wealthy real estate investors.”
Hatch’s financial disclosures show his wife owns a real estate LLC worth around $500,000. She’ll benefit greatly from the new provision.
Real estate firms donated generously to Hatch’s 2012 reelection campaign. His provision amounts to payback, benefitting his wife as well as his corporate contributors.
It’s an unacceptable giveaway, one of many provisions in the bill benefitting corporate predators and high-net-worth households at the expense of social justice paying the price – ordinary Americans harmed greatly.
Bob Corker voted against the Senate bill, then indicated support for the reconciled version with the House.
According to tax experts, the Hatch provision could net him over a million dollars – exempt from taxation.
The International Business Times named 14 senators benefitting from the Hatch provision – including Hatch, Corker, Steve Daines, Lamar Alexander, Rob Portman, James Risch, Jim Inhofe, John Kennedy, Johnny Isakson, John Barrasso, Luther Strange, Rand Paul and John Hoeven.
Their combined value of their holdings is estimated between $34.3 – $105.8 million – their combined annual income between $2.4 – $14.1 million.
Corker has the most to gain by far, his LLC investments way exceeding other senators, clearly why he changed his “no” vote (over concerns about hugely increasing the national deficit and debt) to “yes” for personal enrichment.
Owning or directing hundreds of LLCs or limited partnerships, Trump stands to be the GOP’s main beneficiary.
Last September, he lied saying “(m)y plan is for the working people, and my plan is for jobs.”
Asked if he’d benefit personally, he lied again saying “(n)o, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”
Separately, he claimed the plan is “great (for) American workers,” adding “I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me, believe me.”
It’s a bonanza for him, his family, wealthy House and Senate members, other high-net-worth households, and corporate predators most of all.
Clever lawyers and accountants will be able to eliminate most of their tax burden – Trump benefitting the same way, at the expense of ordinary Americans paying the price.
WASHINGTON ― Republican senators on Sunday continued to distance themselves from alleged sexual predator Roy Moore, while President Donald Trump reiterated his implicit support of the Alabama GOP Senate candidate in a pair of tweets that morning.
The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!
“I want to be on the side of right when history writes this story,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said on ABC’s “This Week,” as he repeated his call for Moore to end his candidacy in the Dec. 12 special election.
The allegations that the 70-year-old Moore preyed upon teenage girls while in his 30s “are still very strong and credible, and the denial has been weak,” Scott said.
“It would be best if [Moore] stepped aside,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But Trump continues to stand by Moore and has not ruled out campaigning for him. He all but endorsed him last week, arguing that it would be better to have Moore in the Senate than “a liberal person,” referring to Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
On Sunday, the president again tweeted that “Liberal Jones would be BAD!” and called him a Democratic “puppet who is WEAK on Crime.”
Jones is a longtime prosecutor who in 2002 prosecuted two of the KKK members responsible for the 1963 bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four girls.
Moore has denied the sexual misconduct allegations — now from nearly 10 women. Known nationally for his strident opposition to gay marriage, he has said he the accusation stems from a conspiracy to keep him out of the Senate.
Despite their condemnation of Moore, Republican lawmakers on Sunday were reluctant to denounce Trump’s efforts to rally support for Moore.
“The president will have to make his own decisions on where he thinks he is and why he’s there,” Scott said, when asked if Trump is “on the side of wrong.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Trump’s implicit support an attempt “to throw a lifeline to Roy Moore,” but said the decision was “up to the president.”
However, he warned that a Moore victory could have long term negative consequences for Republicans.
“If you think winning with Roy Moore is going to be easy for the Republican Party, you’re mistaken,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“The president obviously can speak for himself, and I think he sees the specter of a Democrat holding that seat and what that might mean for his agenda,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Thune advised Trump to “help everybody out by doing what he can to try and get Roy Moore to step aside,” but acknowledged that Alabama voters “don’t care a lot what Washington, D.C., thinks.”
In the aftermath of President Trump’s recent speech on the opioid epidemic in America, a number of Republican senators have issued a call for the discovery of new opioid “alternatives,” demanding that Big Pharma step up to procure them. But such alternatives already exist in the form of natural plants like cannabis sativa (marijuana) and mitragyna speciosa (kratom) – the Grand Old Party just doesn’t like these natural options because they’re stuck in an ancient mindset of Reefer Madness paranoia.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, is one prominent example of this. Just days ago, he demanded that the United States government intervene to “push the drug companies to come up with non-addictive alternatives” to deadly opioid medications like fentanyl that have fueled the addiction epidemic, which in many causes leads to serious injury and death. In Sen. Portman’s mind, you see, only the drug industry can come up with answers to the problem of pain and illness, and nature should be completely ignored at all costs.
But Sen. Portman has shown time and time again that his outdated views will always take precedent to the truth. Concerning cannabis legalization in Ohio, Sen. Portman dug his heels into the sand and fought tooth and nail to maintain the prohibition status quo in the Buckeye State, which has yet to even fully implement its crippled medical marijuana program – which Sen. Portman opposed from the start and continues to oppose, despite the fact that at least 90 percent of the people of his state support it.
Wait, aren’t Republicans supposed to represent the party of smaller government?
Rather than educate himself on the facts, Sen. Portman would rather stick to his guns, as misguided as they are. He also seems to want the government involved as much as possible in not only continuing to throw people in prison over a plant, but also in interfering with the free market as it pertains to coming up with solutions to the opioid epidemic – an epidemic that, ironically, largely stems from the prohibitionist position that politicians like Sen. Portman are obsessed with keeping in place.
He and several other members of Congress are eager to pass all sorts of new legislation granting the government even more power to control public access to pharmaceutical drugs rather than remove the existing government policies that are fueling the overdose epidemic – prohibition being high on the list. Conservatives should be asking themselves this question: Why are supposedly small-government Republicans like Sen. Portman calling for more government control as opposed to less?
Sen. Portman and many other members of Congress are likewise ignorant about kratom, a natural plant extract that many people use in lieu of opioid pharmaceuticals to naturally manage pain without harmful side effects. Sen. Portman has been tagged by the Botanical Education Alliance as a member of Congress who desperately needs an education on the safety and effectiveness of kratom, likely because he failed to oppose the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) proposed ban that would have added kratom to the dreaded Schedule I listing of substances “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
The Republican budget, declared Sen. Sanders after its passage, “is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill.”
Along strict party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night voted to pass a sweeping budget measure—one criticized as both “despicable” and “horrific” for providing massive giveaways to corporations and the super-rich while eviscerating funding for social programs, healthcare, education, and affordable housing.
“Another dark deed done: GOP passes obscene budget to slash Medicare/Medicaid & explode the deficit – all in the name of tax cuts for the 1%.”
—Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)The measure passed by 51-49 vote, with only one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joining every Democrat and the chamber’s two Independents who voted against it. Its approval now paves that way for massive tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations envisioned by President Donald Trump and the GOP in both the House and the Senate.
“51 Republican Senators just voted to cut Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $500 billion so that millionaires and corporations can get a tax cut. It’s immoral and despicable,” said TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for Americans for Tax Fairness, in a statement immediately following the vote.
51 GOP Sens. voted to slash Medicaid by $1T, Medicare by $500B, & other working family priorities just so the 1% can get BIG tax cuts. SHAME pic.twitter.com/diqckrg9JT
Though the budget resolution itself is nonbinding, MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler notes how the Senate passage on Thursday represents the “starting gun for what might be the most consequential legislative fight of the Trump era: the looting of the U.S. treasury to reward billionaire GOP donors and mega-corporations, at the expense of the rest of us.” And with the Senate resolution now in place, a reconciliation process can begin with Republicans in the House, meaning the GOP can “shoot for a tax bill without a single Democratic vote.”
In the wake of its passage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who earlier this week called the proposal “Robin Hood in reverse” for taking from the poor to give to the rich— said the “Republicans’ budget is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill.”
Republicans’ budget is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill.
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Thursday formally introduced their proposal to shore up the Affordable Care Act’s private insurance markets. And in a show of the proposal’s bipartisan strength, they announced the bill now has 24 sponsors, with precisely 12 from each party.
It will take that kind of support to push the proposal through Congress, given many Republicans’ feelings about anything related to “Obamacare,” not to mention the contradictory statements President Donald Trump has made lately. But both Alexander and Murray are acting like their proposal could still become law at some point and there is good reason to think they are right.
The bill, which emerged from hearings and negotiations that Alexander and Murray convened over the course of the past few weeks, would restore several billion dollars’ worth of subsidies to insurers that Trump cut off last week. In addition, it would appropriate about $100 million in funding for enrollment and outreach ― again, effectively replacing money that Trump took away.
At the same time, the bill would allow insurers to sell catastrophic policies, with extremely high out-of-pocket expenses in exchange for lower premiums, to consumers of all ages ― rather than only to consumers who are younger than 30, as the law currently allows. The bill would also make it easier for states to tweak some of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations.
None of the changes the bill contemplates are particularly dramatic. It’s really a series of small wins and concessions for each side, in the hopes of keeping coverage more affordable and available at least for the next few years ― at a time when, for reasons that reflect both the Affordable Care Act’s design and recent management of it, consumers in many states are facing higher prices and dwindling choices.
It’s precisely the kind of bill both Alexander and Murray had said they wanted to write. In successive remarks from the Senate floor, the two senators ― one the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairman, the other the committee’s ranking Democratic member ― praised each other for diligence and an open mind.
“It sends a powerful message that when members of Congress decide to get past the talking points and take just a few steps out of partisan corner, there’s really a lot we can agree on ― and a lot we can get done,” Murray said.
But it’s been years since such bipartisanship was typical, particularly on the polarizing issue of health care. Many Republicans refuse to even consider supporting legislation that might bolster ― or be seen to bolster ― a law they have spent seven-plus years vowing to rip out, root and branch.
And then there is Trump, who has sent so many wildly inconsistent signals it’s difficult to keep track of them. In just the past few days, he seemed to change his mind on multiple occasions ― at various points praising the Alexander-Murray plan publicly, only to announce, in some cases hours later, that he could never back a bill that includes a “bailout” of insurance companies.
In his floor remarks, Alexander addressed the bailout argument directly. He pointed out that the payments Trump cut off, known as cost-sharing reductions or CSRs, merely reimburse insurers for special low-deductible policies that they must, by law, offer to poor and some middle-class consumers. Alexander went on to say that the bill includes a whole section on making sure a restoration of the CSRs ends up benefiting consumers, not insurers.
“The president says there should be no bailout of insurance companies,” Alexander said. “I agree 100 percent.”
Alexander also told his fellow Republicans that endorsing his bill was not tantamount to giving up on repeal. As proof, he noted that among the GOP co-sponsors are Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who have pledged to keep working on the repeal package they tried but failed to get through the Senate in September.
Besides, Alexander said, holding out for full repeal hasn’t worked so well for Republicans so far.
“Someone said that this bill is not enough,” Alexander said. “Well, it’s more than we’ve gotten for eight years and it’s the first step.”
Both Alexander and Murray spoke about the bill as if it could offer immediate relief on premiums. In reality, insurers and state regulators have already settled on rates for next year and in most cases they have done so in ways that will shieldthe majority of consumers from the immediate effects of Trump’s cutoff.
That’s largely because other forms of financial assistance will automatically be increased to compensate for cuts in the insurer subsidies. One ironic result is that the federal government will end up spending more money, not less, unless and until the federal government restores the insurer subsidies ― a point Alexander noted in his appeal to fellow Republicans.
But if Alexander-Murray becomes law and the subsidies start flowing again, the proposal envisions insurers paying back any extra money they receive, through rebates to consumers or the federal government or both.
In addition, passing the bill could have a profound effect on the mentality of insurers, who will begin planning for 2019 sometime in the next few months. If the carriers know the federal government has restored the payments and is investing in outreach ― and, more important, if they see Congress acting to bolster insurance markets where they are weak ― they are more likely to continue offering policies.
That still makes it a hard sell, particularly among conservative Republicans. On Wednesday, the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released an official statement saying nothing in the Alexander-Murray proposal alters Ryan’s “view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare.” Some Republicans are already talking about modifying the proposal in ways that could make it toxic for Democrats.
But particularly if Republicans worry they will take the blame for rising premiums this year ― a very real possibility, given that polls show most Americans now hold Republicans responsible for management of the health care system ― GOP leaders could pass the Alexander-Murray proposal, or something like it, by attaching it to larger, must-pass legislation. The spending bill that Congress will have to approve in December, in order to keep the government running, is the obvious candidate for this.
That makes the bill’s show of support important ― particularly because it represents not just both parties but also different factions within the parties. Among the co-sponsors are mainstream conservatives such as Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), as well as relative moderates like Susan Collins (R-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The co-sponsors from the Democratic caucus include members representing a similarly wide ideological spectrum ― with relatively liberal senators, like Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), along with relative moderates such as Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Alexander and Murray are also drawing support from beyond Capitol Hill. A bipartisan group of 10 governors, including three Republicans and one Republican-turned-independent, on Wednesday issued a letter supporting the proposal. Also on board are a wide array of health care organizations ― all of whom, like most of those governors, had strongly opposed repeal legislation when it came up earlier this year.
Perhaps the most interesting comments of the day actually came from one of those Republican co-sponsors: Murkowski, who spoke immediately after Alexander and Murray and praised the pair for their cooperation. “It’s not only good from a policy perspective,” she said, “it’s good from the perspective of the health of our institution.”
Back in July, Murkowski was one of three Republicans to vote against repeal legislation the Senate was considering, thereby preventing its passage. One of her big objections was the process that led to the vote ― a rush to craft a bill without formal hearings or deliberation, or any serious attempt to win bipartisan support.
On Thursday, Murkowski didn’t say explicitly that she viewed the Alexander-Murray proposal as a better way to legislate. But the point was clear enough.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was just getting going, summoning his down-home artillery from the Senate floor — the faith-flecked tales, the weathered statesman’s gaze, the theatrical pauses deployed not so long ago before caucus-inclined Iowans.
“I rise today in support of heroes,” Mr. Cruz said sternly, “in support of unity and in support of love and compassion.”
These are not the three nouns most often associated with Mr. Cruz’s congressional life, which has included, among other stands, a vote against a relief measure for storm victims in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.
But the forecast has changed. This week, it was time for Mr. Cruz, once perhaps the Capitol’s least compromising conservative, to push a massive federal aid package for his own state.
As he prepares for a re-election race next year, Mr. Cruz is facing perhaps his most meaningful challenge yet: helping to see that millions of constituents — in his hometown, Houston, and beyond — get the help they need in the costly years ahead. He is advocating billions in aid after a Senate career often focused on cutting spending and building a national following as an avatar of unbending dogma.
And it was here where another fellow Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joked that any homicide committed against Mr. Cruz would go unpunished, so long as the other 99 senators filled the jury pool.
Through less than five years in the body — before a presidential run that few thought would last so long and after a humbling defeat that has spawned a kinder, gentler “Cruz 2.0,” as his staff frames it — Mr. Cruz has undergone a handful of evolutions.
But Mr. Cruz’s turn as a unifier has been complicated, as ever, by a yearslong pursuit of conservative purity. After Hurricane Sandy lashed New York and New Jersey in 2012, Mr. Cruz joined more than 20 of his Texas colleagues, including Senator John Cornyn, in opposing a more than $50 billion relief package, arguing that the bill was loaded with projects unrelated to the region’s recovery.
Fact checkers have generally sided against Mr. Cruz’s suggestion that a large majority of the Sandy relief bill was directed at non-storm efforts. And lawmakers in the Northeast, most notably Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a fellow Republican, have taken particular delight in accusing Mr. Cruz of hypocrisy.
Mr. Cruz seems certain that the storm fallout will not test the bounds of his conservative orthodoxy, recalling in the interview that constituents had made a point of requesting federal assistance unencumbered by Washington pork…..
Senator Chris Coons, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, talks with Joy-Ann Reid about new legislation he has drafted with Senator Thom Tillis to make sure that Trump is not able to get rid of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his legal dream team.
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. See More
A group of senators introduced a bill on July 25, 2017 in the hopes of banning Chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide implicated in the poisonings of farm workers. Introduced by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, the bill challenges President Trump’s efforts to loosen environmental regulations. 
Chlorpyrifos Ban and Recent History
In April 2017, the EPA said it would not ban chlorpyrifos, despite the agency’s own chemical safety experts, who had recommended under the Obama administration that the pesticide be permanently banned from agricultural use nationwide, due to the dangers it poses to farm workers and young children.
According to Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician who is dean for global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, the toxicity of chlorpyrifos was proven “to damage the brains of children, especially those of fetuses in the womb” in 3 long-term, independently-funded studies “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Toxic residues of chlorpyrifos are regularly found on fruits and vegetables, including under the peels of oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as in the flesh of melons under the rind. Simply washing a piece of fruit before eating it is not enough to remove the pesticide. 
The EPA’s own scientists concluded that the amount of chlorpyrifos ingested by young children could exceed safety levels by 140 times.
The agency’s failure to ban chlorpyrifos could be construed as criminal, considering it is illegal under federal law to apply pesticides to food crops if the EPA can’t prove that they can be used safely.
Under the bill, the EPA would be required to conduct a broad review of the uses of chlorpyrifos to determine which groups are most vulnerable to the toxin. Should that review conclude that people are being exposed to harmful levels of the pesticide, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would be forced to take “appropriate regulatory action” within 3 months by either suspending or revoking chlorpyrifos’ registration, or lowering the amount that can be legally applied. 
“Congress must act because Administrator Pruitt has shown that he won’t.”
Senators Ben Cardin of Maryland, Kamala Harris of California, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Ed Markey of Massachusetts are co-sponsoring the piece of legislation. 
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.
FBI nominee Christopher Wray said that he does not view the federal investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign as a “witch hunt.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., fired off a line of questions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and the 2016 emails from Donald Trump Jr. to set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer in hopes of gaining damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Graham asked Wray if the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was a “witch hunt.”
Wray hedged at first, saying he could not speak to the allegations of Russian ties, but Graham cut him off and asked again for Wray’s comment on the investigation.
“I’m asking you — as the future FBI director — do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt?” Graham said.
“I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” Wray said.
President Trump has railed against the investigation several times in the past few months, most recently calling it the “greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
Graham, who had opened his questioning by asking Wray if he was familiar with Trump Jr.’s “email problems,” pressed the FBI nominee to comment on the messages.
Wray said he was not familiar with their contents, but the senator read through the email exchange for Wray.
“Should Donald Trump Jr. have taken that meeting?” Graham asked.
Wray demurred, claiming he didn’t know enough about the emails to comment.
But Graham fired back again, posing a hypothetical and asking whether he should call the FBI if the Russian government called him and promised damaging knowledge on a political opponent.
The FBI nominee hedged, saying, “I think it would be wise to let the FBI—,” but Graham cut him off.
“You’re going to be director of the FBI, pal,” Graham said. “So here’s what I want you to tell every politician. If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent — tell us all to call the FBI.”
“Any threat to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any nonstate actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know,” Wray said.
“That’s a great answer,” Graham said, appearing satisfied.