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Trump Asks Congress To Build Wall

One of Trump’s goals during his tenure as president of United States is construct a wall along border of the country and Mexico. He intends to fund this project using appropriations. News has it that the new president already gave a go signal to his congressional Republican leaders to make this happen this coming April.

As people would recall, Trump previously announced that he wants Mexico to pay for establishing such wall along the border, thus suggesting for that another country should reimburse the US for implementing its own project.

In January 6, Trump tweeted that using appropriations was a matter of implementing the project immediately and that the money will be paid by Mexico in the future.

According to Rep. Chris Collins, though American taxpayers would should the construction of Trump’s wall, the president would surely take actions to negotiate with Mexico and reimburse the money. He adds that Trump would have leverage as Mexico’s economy greatly depends on US consumers. Thus, negotiating with Mexico should not be that difficult.

Trump’s team believe they have the power to build such wall, but apparently, they lack the funds to proceed with the project. A senior House GOP source said that transition officials voiced out their willingness to fund the wall through a bill.

Meanwhile, Indiana Republican Rep. Luke Messer claims that funding the authorization should being with achieving Trump’s campaign pledge. Messer realizes that a large sum of money will be spent but he emphasizes that it is just a matter of priorities. In fact, he uses as example the border security bill previously proposed by Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul. The bill was estimated to cost $10 billion.

On other hand, Democrats will have hard time opposing government projects, such as building of the wall.

As for Mexico, its leaders are firm on their stand in not paying for the wall.

When Mexico foregoes paying for the wall, GOP can mean expanding the spending bill to billions of dollars before it is passed on April 28. However, such scenario would cause an uproar in Senate Democrats and can lead to government shutdown.

However, Republicans claim that Democrats should support funding the walls since they voted for the 2006 bill in the persons of Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana refused to make any comments whether the Congress is willing to pay for the wall. However, he emphasizes that the Congress is willing to cooperate with the president’s team in order to realize building of the wall.

According to Trump, the wall would cost around $8 billion. However, some analysts think that such price may reach up to $10 billion. Trump presented proposals regarding how he can make Mexico pay for the border wall, but some of the included measures are quite controversial, the money that will be collected is will not be enough to cover all expenses.

Trump’s website posted some of measures that the president intends to use to reimburse the expenditure for building the wall. These measures include remittance seizure, increasing fees on temporary visas to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, border crossing cards, NAFTA worker visas, and at ports of entry to US; potential tariffs and cutting of foreign aids.

However, when results of these measures are combined, Trump will only be collecting less than $1 billion, and this amount is significantly lower than the estimated cost of the wall. Meanwhile, should the president decide to impose remittance seizure, he would possibly face major legal hindrances and backlash from both domestic and international communities.

Every year, US foreign aid to Mexico amounts to less than $200 million. Thus, if such money should be diverted to funding of the wall, it will still be insufficient. Meanwhile, it is hard to estimate the revenue from tariffs without considering taxes.

One of the measures include increasing fees for visas, including border crossing cards. However, visas and border crossing cards cost $150–$250, when taking all into account the fees that would be collected from these, the amount would only be half a billion dollars.

Thus, it turns out that remittance seizure has the most potential in gaining funding source for the wall. Based on data of bank of Mexico, $24.8 billion in remittance payment was made to the country in 2015. Around 97% of these remittances in the first quarter of 2015 originated from the US. As a matter of fact, most of Mexico’s remittance payment revenue derives from the US. Thus, if all remittance will be seized, US would have enough money to build the wall.

Trump also intends to use the Patriot Act to require Mexicans to provide legal identification before the can engage in money transfer transactions, but this action can elicit a number of legal battles against Trump.

Courts may think that it is improper and illegal for Trump to use the Patriot Act against Mexicans because it was designed to target Radical Islamic terrorists. Moreover, Mexicans may be forced to resort to illegal ways of smuggling money to Mexico.

House Tries
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House Tries To Gut Oversight

Jan. 3, 2017 Scarborough blasts GOP decision to gut ethics office

In the new Congress, House Republicans already made their moves against independent watchdogs. This greatly impacts and results in dismantling major reforms adapted after Jack Abramoff scandal. Such move was led by lawmakers who were investigated in the past few years.

Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy already voiced out their concerns, but House Republicans pushed through in adopting the proposal made by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. The proposal places the Office of Congressional Ethics under jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee.

The office has complete authority to investigate and recommend necessary actions to House Ethics Committee as deemed necessary.

However, at present, the lawmakers will serve as eyes watching over the office. The office will also have limited scope in their work as the proposal prohibits them from considering anonymous tips against lawmakers. In return, the office will be incapacitated in disclosing certain results of their investigations.

As Trump occupies the presidential position, oversight is completely lenient regarding lawmakers’ potential conflict of interest, expenditure of campaign funds, and other related ethical matters.

Though Republicans that they agree with actions on “draining the swamp,” the only that they focused on so far is banishing the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. As mentioned by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, it turns are that ethics are the first victims of the new Republican Congress.

The actions against OCE was led by some house members who thought that they have been falsely accused of unethical behavior. These members pushed forward the proposal and eventually earned favorable vote of 119 to 74.

Rep. Blake Farenthold was previously accused of sexual harassment by a former staffer. Though OCE recommended probing of the issue, Farenthold obviously kept some grudge.

On the other hand, Rep. Peter Roskam was under investigation by OCE because of supposedly accepting impermissible gift during he and wife’s travel to Taiwan in October 2011. Though the trip was approved, the OCE believed that the Taiwanese government sponsored the trip. Moreover, Roskan’s daughter was reported to be in Taiwan during the trip, and OCE claimed that Roskam tried to include a visit to her daughter as part of their trip, which cost $24,000. Roskam denied the accusation, and the case was dropped not long after.

Office of Congressional Ethics was established in March 2008 by Democrats after the Abramoff scandal. The scandal involved a well-connected GOP lobbyist who pleaded on contriving plans to bribe public officials. Abramoff and other people who participated utilized campaign funds and called out favor to influence some house members, including former Rep. Bob Ney, who was sentenced to 30 months of prison.

OCE was supposed to be an outside agency that can hold a more robust oversight of members. However, in Goodlatte proposal, OCE will be designated as “Office of Congressional Complaint Review.” The office will now then be supervised by Committee on Ethics.

Essentially, the provision aims to shut down accusations against lawmakers. Goodlatte defends his proposal, claiming that it is focused on protecting rights of individuals who are under investigation. He also claims that his provision does not serve as hindrance to the great work done by the OCE.

However, watchdog groups are claiming otherwise. According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, such proposal destabilizes independence of OCE and poses danger to Congress members.

Moreover, if authority of OCE is weakened, the House will revert to the time when ethic violations are prevalent.

Trump
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Will Republicans Support Trump Infrastructure Costs

In the past decade, the Congress and the White House spent considerable amount of money on transportation. However, in recent campaign elections, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump promised to allocated more budget in reconstructing infrastructure in the whole country.

Clearly, both Clinton and Trump support the idea of repairing the US’s roads, bridges, airports, rail systems, and ports. However, issues arise regarding source of money that will be spent on such repairs, and whether the federal government can handle such expenses.

These issues then should challenge the candidates to ensure fulfilling their promises and presenting concrete plans regarding infrastructure.

Rep. Daniel Webster is a member of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He supports the candidates’ plan for transportation but he doubts whether the attention given to industry will last for long no matter who won the elections.

According to him, when presidents present goals that they want to achieve in their first 100 days in position, only one or two get accomplished, and he does not think that the new president will focus on transportation.

Proposals made by recent US candidates would remind people of Obama’s actions for infrastructure in 2009. As one can remember, the now former president allocated a large portion of his economic stimulus package to transportation.

On the other hand, Clinton’s proposal includes $275 billion for infrastructure. This amount will be spent in a matter of five years, and the money would supposedly come from business tax reforms. A portion of the fund will be allocated to national infrastructure bank, a loan and loan guarantee program for ensuring that private funds will not have a hand in transportation projects all over US.

Meanwhile, Trump plans on spending twice the budget proposed by Clinton.

Based on their proposals, the candidates believe in importance of investing in new and improved roads and bridges. They think that focusing on transportation industry will also create more jobs, which will benefit the economy.

In 2009, Obama succeeded in pushing through Congress his $840 billion stimulus plan. A total of $105 billion of the money ended up in infrastructure. However, the new administration may have a bit of tough time achieving similar goals. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S. C., another member of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is in full support of such programs but he firmly believes that spending such amount of money should be done accordingly. Moreover, as noted by Sanford, it seems that no one is asking how such money will be spent and who will be responsible for taking care of such expenses.

Aside from issues concerning expenditure, demands for major infrastructure may not be a great problem as new administration will be start their duty in improved economic environment along with currently recovering construction industry.

As mentioned by Robert Puentes, presiden and CEO of Eno Center for Transportation, people in Washington agreed in 2009 that work should be provided to people, and investing in transportation is one mean of making such thing possible. However, at present, he claims that the country is under an entirely different economic climate.

Certainly, there will be critics who will not approve right away any plans regarding infrastructure. Even Obama’s infrastructure stimulus plan was not free of criticism. Detractors criticized the plan for centering on projects that should have been implemented right away and gave people jobs but took a while before breaking grounds.

Thus, these so-called shovel ready projects were truthfully well not formulated given the amount of time eaten by planning and review processes. As a result, these projects were considered unsuitable for creating jobs. As Michael Sargent of Heritage Foundation adds, heavy infrastructure and construction would necessitate skilled labor. However, most of unemployed workers lack such skills.

After the stimulus plan, Obama faced difficulty in gaining support from conservatives for his major infrastructure plans. As a matter of fact, lawmakers repeatedly ignored Obama’s “Grow America Act.”

Meanwhile, in the past, Congress paid attention on implementing short-term extensions of Highway Trust Fund. The fund was expected to cover most infrastructure projects but it failed in a number of cases.

Highway Trust Fund is fueled by federal gasoline tax, which remained at 18.4 cents/gallon since 1993. However, the revenue is quite lower at present because a number of Americans now drive less.

In December, the Congress attempted to extend the Highway Trust Fund by passing a five-year $305 billion bill. However, this bill fails to discuss the issues on funding shortfalls and focuses on short-term financing provisions to make for infrastructure spending.

Though Republicans, which hold majority of House of Representatives, are not that interested in infrastructure, presidential candidates already stirred waters, and more eyes are now turning to federal government’s role in transportation spending.

Meanwhile, with absence of federal actions, some states decided to take matter in their own hands and started seeking for means of funding their infrastructure projects.

Some states, including Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, and Maryland, raised their gasoline taxes. Apparently, states were left with no choice but to look for sources of funds. In relation to this, when people see where funding originates, they become more willing to contribute to paying infrastructure needs.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee plans on proposing Transportation Empowerment Act, which will provide states with authority to handle their infrastructure needs. Some conservatives support these types of legislations and even claim that federally-led transportation projects are not generally needed at the moment.

People like Puentes recognize the need for maintaining infrastructure of the country but the they think that federal government need not be constantly involved with it. On the other hand, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania claims that federally funded spending and building processes should be more efficient.

Paul Ryan’s
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Speaker of the House

The above button for the current speaker of the house Paul Ryan’s 2016 campaign button.

The Speaker of the House works as the presiding officer of the United States of Representatives. The position was established by the virtue of Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution in 1789.

Next to the vice-president, the Speaker falls second in the United States presidential line of succession. In the United States, the Speaker is primarily concerned with the majority party’s legislative goals and agenda. He more specifically assigns tasks to various members of the House from the majority party. During debate, he does not take sides and seldom votes when it comes to certain political matters. In addition, the Speaker of the House is also assigned with administrative and procedural responsibilities and representing their Congressional districts.

HOW THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE CAME TO BE

The first person given the task of being the Speaker was Frederick Muhlenberg. However, the position started to have pertinent influence on politics during the tenure of Henry Clay. Clay became popular for being highly involved in debates and using his influence to achieve things that were in his favor. After Clay’s service ended, the prowess possessed by the Speaker weakened for quite some time.

In the 19th century, the Speaker started to gain political power again. This could be exemplified by the period when the Speaker also served as the Chairman of the Committee on Rules, which eventually became one of the most influential committees of the House. In addition, some Speakers eventually became prominent figures in their political parties just like, Samuel J. Randall, John Griffin Carlisle, James G. Blaine, and Joseph Gurney Cannon.

The person who greatly played a role in increasing the power held by the Speaker was Thomas Beckett Reed. He usually opposed the bills proposed by the minorities and used the “disappearing quorum” to thwart them.

The pinnacle of the Speaker of the House was reached during the service of Joseph Gurney Cannon. During his term, he posed certain control over judicial matters. This extraordinary political powers made a number of Republicans and Democrats work against him and strip him of his power.

Another powerful Speaker was Sam Rayburn who held the position the longest. Some of his works included passing a number of bills and implementation of some domestic and foreign assistance programs. In 1975, the Speaker was given the power to appoint members of the Rules Committee.

ROLE OF THE SPEAKER

Aside from serving a partisan role in government, the Speaker also contributes in passing the legislation’s presented by House’s majority parties. Sometimes, the role played by the Speaker seems to be more important than that of the President especially during the instances that the people holding those positions belong to the same political parties.

OTHER CHIEF FUNCTIONS OF THE SPEAKER

The Speaker poses certain influence on some matters that concern the House and the government. For example, he can assign another member of the House to be his replacement during his absence or just let them experience the power exercised by one who works as the Speaker. The Speaker also makes sure that each member of the House are in their best behavior during House meetings.

GOP Leaders
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GOP Leaders Scared Of Trump

Mitch McConnell told the senate candidates that are running to be reelected that even if Trump wins the GOP nomination that they can still run ads.

Senators that took part in the private lunches that were with the majority leader should be warned that Donald Trump is likely to lose and they should prepare for Hillary Clinton to win.

McConnell won’t give trump any slack and he’s been telling the senators this:

  • He told them that they could run negative ads on Mr. trump to assure that he won’t become president and to put a space between him and the other candidates running for re election. He also told them to vote for Hillary just in case.
  • He reminded that he won easily in 1996 against Bill Clinton and that they can dump Trump very fast

A lot of GOP leaders are against trump and are scared of him running.

They say that Trumps nomination can destroy many other peoples chances of winning in November.

Charles G. and David H. Koch, two billionaires, stated at their private meeting that Trumps record was insane and some donors were wasting money. People are scared trump cannot be stopped. Ted Cruz also suggests he has relations towards the mafia.