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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and others on the socialist left applauded minor changes in the rules package the House of Representatives adopted on Sunday for the new Congress. They say it paved the way for enacting the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, and other items on the socialist agenda. But the “concessions” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., granted amount to meaningless window dressing.

The Left’s Strategy

In the weeks leading up to Sunday’s opening session of the 117th Congress, the socialist left rallied around a movement to “Force the Vote.” This movement, which included a website, #ForceTheVote hashtag, virtual town hall, and other measures, intended to push the House of Representatives to vote on single-payer health insurance in the coming Congress.

The #ForceTheVote movement attempted to pressure socialists like Ocasio-Cortez to withhold their votes for Pelosi’s re-election as speaker unless Pelosi gave a public pledge to bring single-payer to the House floor. The strategy arose in large part because House Democrats lost seats in November, giving them a narrower majority this Congress and giving each Democratic member of Congress more leverage.

Because House rules require the speaker to obtain a majority of votes of the entire House—435 members, assuming no vacancies—only a handful of defections would have jeopardized Pelosi’s re-election as speaker.

What the Left Got

After release of the proposed rules package for the upcoming Congress on Friday, socialists pointed to the language below as “allow[ing single payer], a Green New Deal, or other big-ticket agenda items to be exempted from PAYGO,” the House’s “pay-as-you-go” rule that requires fiscal offsets for spending increases or tax reductions:

(v) EXEMPTIONS.—The chair of the Committee on the Budget may adjust an estimate under clause 4 of rule XXIX to—

(1) exempt the budgetary effects of measures to prevent, prepare for, or respond to economic or public health consequences resulting from the COVID–19 pandemic; and

(2) exempt the budgetary effects of measures to prevent, prepare for, or respond to economic, environmental, or public health consequences resulting from climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez called these changes “a big deal—and not only on health care. They are structural changes in the House that level the playing field for a full SUITE of flagship legislation.”

Why the Changes Don’t Matter

While Ocasio-Cortez played up the impact of the rules changes, in reality they amount to very little, on either substance or process. They won’t have the impact socialists claim—in fact, they won’t have much impact, period. Here’s why.

Doesn’t Change PAYGO: While the left keeps claiming that the changes constitute “two key exemptions from the ‘pay-as-you-go’ rule,” they have no impact on that rule. As noted above, the rules package amends Clause 4 of House Rule XXIX. But the PAYGO rule lies—unaltered—at Clause 10 of Rule XXI.

The Rules Committee’s summary of the rules package says nothing about this change (or any other change) amending, repealing, or otherwise exempting PAYGO, because the rules package does no such thing. The change merely adds some feel-good language to the very last section of the Rules of the House

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in an attempt to appease far-leftists.

The House Can Waive PAYGO Whenever It Wants: The majority (i.e., Democratic) staff on the House Budget Committee make this plain in a Q&A document on PAYGO: “The House PAYGO rule can be waived in several ways,” including by unanimous consent or under procedures to suspend the rules.

The House Rules Committee also regularly reports rules that waive PAYGO. For instance, the rule that brought marijuana legalization legislation to the House floor last month included the following language: “All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived.”

While the Congressional Budget Office said the marijuana bill would reduce the deficit by bringing in new revenue, that language in the rule still waived PAYGO for the legislation. In other words, the House’s PAYGO rule isn’t the real obstacle to considering single-payer in the House—Pelosi is.

The House Can Remove Pelosi Whenever It Wants: I recently noted that Pelosi’s changes to House rules in January 2019 make a direct challenge to her authority as speaker—the motion to vacate—more difficult. But a determined majority of 218 representatives could take control of House floor proceedings any time they like. They could just vote down everything—every bill, every rule, every matter of business to come before the House—until such time as the speaker resigned his or her post, or they obtained whatever other concessions they sought.

Be Honest with Constituents

If Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t want to go down such a confrontational road, so be it. Perhaps she doesn’t have allies willing to withhold their votes against Pelosi, giving her little leverage on her own. Perhaps she can’t come up with a better procedural strategy to force a vote on single-payer.

But Ocasio-Cortez shouldn’t try to spin some throw-away language in a rules package as a meaningful victory—on either policy or process—when it is nothing of the sort. Like that of Donald Trump, Ocasio-Cortez’s rise came from the authenticity that her supporters perceive between themselves and her. Rationalizing what amounts to a sizable retreat as a major victory will in time only lead to disappointment and disillusionment among her followers.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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