To hear the mainstream media report it, one would think that Congress has ceased any and all work to focus solely on impeaching President Donald Trump, but as is often the case these days, most journalists are not telling the whole story. As it turns out, Congress was rather busy last week with a number of significant votes on a variety of issues, most of which were at cross-purposes to Trump’s agenda, though some were in support of his policy priorities.
House working on more than just impeachment
The Albany Herald in Georgia provided a detailed rundown of all of the congressional votes that took place over the past week, obviously with an eye toward how Georgia’s delegation voted on those various bills.
It appears that there were six major pieces of legislation that received votes in the House, only half of which were passed with strong bipartisan support, and at least three of which could be viewed as direct repudiations of the president.
A Democrat-sponsored bill known as the Homeland Security Improvement Act was also passed and essentially ties the hands of Border Patrol agents by barring them from separating children from adults apprehended at the border, except under “special circumstances.” The bill also prohibits DHS from implementing new reforms to the asylum process that would limit the number of migrants eligible to make a claim for protected status.
Sticking with the southern border, Democrats also passed a bill that would force Customs and Border Protection agents to conduct full medical screenings and establish digital health records within 12 hours for any migrant apprehended after crossing the border illegally, something that would undoubtedly costs billions of taxpayer dollars and redirect scarce personnel and resources away from the actual border where they are needed.
Another Democrat-sponsored bill that actually drew some Republican support was a measure that would allow banks to offer financial services to legitimate marijuana-related businesses, even as marijauna remains illegal at the federal level.
Finally, in a near-unanimous vote, the House passed a largely symbolic resolution demanding the White House turn over to relevant committees the whistleblower complaint alleging wrongdoing by Trump in a phone call with the Ukrainian president — a complaint that has already been released to the public along with a transcript of the call.
Action in the Senate
In the Senate, there appeared to be 10 major votes last week, half of which were confirmation votes on nominees to various positions within the bureaucracy.
Of the several resolutions passed, one was in support of paid family leave, another would block the use of telecommunications equipment from Chinese company Huawei, while another would keep the federal government open and funded through November 21.
In two separate but related resolutions, the Senate voted to end President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border –a move which Trump will undoubtedly veto — and prohibit the president from diverting unused military construction funds toward construction of the border wall.
The related resolution that also passed would allow for Congress to reappropriate or “backfill” and replenish those diverted funds with new military construction money in the next National Defense Authorization Act.
While the media has been focused almost exclusively on talk of impeachment, Congress was actually getting a few things done — for better or worse — under cover of the impeachment distraction. Whether any of those measures that were passed in one chamber or the other will move forward and ultimately be sent to the president remains to be seen at this time.