On Saturday, a few hours after a murderous white nationalist plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters against the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Congressman Goodlatte issued a forceful statement:
These remarks are welcome, but if Goodlatte really means what he says, his words need to be translated into positive action.
One thing he can do immediately is join the sadly small minority of his Republican colleagues in their criticism of President Trump for his shameful efforts to equate the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville with those who turned out to protest against them. And he can call for Trump to fire the alt-right enabler Steve Bannon from his administration.
If Goodlatte is serious about opposing racism, he might want to use his position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters against discrimination– something he has adamantly refused to do.
And he might also schedule Judiciary Committee hearings on the threat of domestic terrorism such as occurred on Saturday and on the rise of white supremacy. (Since 2001, far-right extremists have committed the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the US.) Despite calls for such hearings by Democratic committee members, he shows no sign of doing so.
“It’s important that Congress represent the people of the United States, especially when the executive [branch] refuses to deal with … or actively empowers racist or neo-Nazi groups,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.
Nadler says Democrats’ request for a greater focus on domestic extremism have been rebuffed for months. Committee Democrats say they’ve reached out to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) for action but so far have yet to reach agreement.
“The committee doesn’t have a hearing planned at this time,” said a Judiciary Committee aide.
Your move, Congressman.
After several hours of silence, a decent statement from Congressman Goodlatte on the awful events of today in Charlottesville, which at least recognizes who was responsible for the death and injuries among the anti-racist protesters:
I am deeply saddened and revolted by the hate and violence taking place in Charlottesville, and am praying for the victim killed and others injured. The racist and anti-Semitic views embraced by white supremacists have no place in our nation and do not reflect core American values of equality and religious freedom. We are all created in the image of God, and I strongly condemn such detestable views against fellow human beings.
Now if only Goodlatte could bring himself to demand that President Trump do more than make a mealy-mouthed condemnation of hatred and violence on “many sides.” (When violent Islamic extremists do this sort of thing, he’s usually a lot more specific.)
Other Congressional Republicans can do it.
Why does Goodlatte continue his oh-so-gentle treatment of a president even he must realize is unfit to lead our country?
In June Goodlatte Watch reported that Congressman Goodlatte’s 2018 reelection campaign had taken in $144,425 in donations during the first three months of this year.
Now the figures for April through June have been reported by the Federal Election Commission: an additional $233, 836 for Goodlatte’s campaign– almost all from corporate, banking and wealthy donors.
All but $5,400 of that amount is designated for the Republican primary– assuming Goodlatte has a GOP challenger.
According to the Town Hall Project, members of Congress have scheduled 130 face-to-face open meetings with their constituents between today and September 24.
Of those, 16 Republicans have scheduled 71 meetings and 29 Democrats have scheduled 57 meetings.
Most remarkably, one Republican congressman, Will Hurd, plans to hold 19 open meetings throughout his district (Texas 23) during that period. That includes scheduled meetings at the Horizon City Dairy Queen, Sul Ross State University in Alpine, and Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ in Del Rio. Anyone who lives in Hurd’s district can simply show up, face the congressman directly, ask questions and express concerns.
During that period, Congressman Goodlatte– who last held a scheduled and open in-person meeting with constituents in 2013– will hold zero such meetings in Virginia’s Sixth District.
What is Goodlatte afraid of that these other 45 members of Congress do not fear?
Last week, with Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s support, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday hijacked a Democratic bill calling for information from the Justice Department relating to the firing of former FBI director James Comey. They deleted the language from the Democrats’ bill and replaced it with language requesting information on matters related to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
Goodlatte left the committee hearing as Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee delivered a blistering attack on the Republicans’ maneuver.
Now it’s being reported that an aide to Republican committee member Matt Gaetz of Florida used a far-right conspiracy website to write the Republican version of the bill.
Devin Murphy, a Republican staffer for Gaetz, actively solicited input and advice from r/The_Donald, a Reddit forum known for harboring discussions and sentiment of overt racism, white supremacism, Islamophobia, and neo-Nazism.
On Thursday night, three Twitter users exposed Murphy for soliciting help writing the legislation from users on the notorious conspiracy theory forum. Murphy posted frequently on the subreddit under the pseudonym of Devinm666, at one point posting an image of his official government identification as proof of his identity.
WIRED reported Friday night that the Twitter users — @regress_ceej, @TrashWeightlift, and @espressoself — discovered the identity of the Gaetz staffer after they suspected Murphy’s frequent activity and insider knowledge of the legislative process.
Since the outing of Murphy, his account has since been deleted. Shortly before midnight Friday, Murphy began deleting all of his past comments.
A review of the proposed legislation sponsored by Gaetz shows that the suggestions and solicited comments by Murphy from r/The_Donald are echoed in much of the proposed amendment.
Murphy also shared Islamaphobic views on the conspiracy subreddit, referring to President Barack Obama as “Barry o’Islama.” In subsequent posts, he refers to the president as a “Kenyan Muslim,” and refugees in Germany as “raping savages.”
r/The_Donald has also provided a breeding ground for a number of unfounded conspiracies. Most recently, it helped promote the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory, which eventually found its way to Sean Hannity. Before that, r/The_Donald also acted as an incubator for the Pizzagate subreddit, which ultimately led to a man firing a rifle inside of a crowded restaurant. [Murphy] apparently sought to give that same community a platform in Congress.
Goodlatte surely would be shocked and disturbed to learn of this. Wouldn’t he? He’ll take appropriate action. Won’t he?
After all 48 Democratic and independent senators and three brave Republican senators voted Friday morning to bury a misbegotten effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Congressman Goodlatte expressed his unhappiness on Facebook.
“For years, the majority of my constituents have told me that Obamacare does not work for them”?
Goodlatte represents more than 730,000 constituents living in the Sixth Congressional District. Is he claiming that more than 365,000 of them have told him that “Obamacare does not work for them”? If not, how exactly does he know that?
A truly revealing measure of constituent attitudes would be a tally of the number of Sixth District residents who have contacted Goodlatte (via phone, email and letter) to oppose repealing the ACA versus those who have contacted him to support repeal. Despite requests from Goodlatte Watch and others, Goodlatte has never released those numbers. Why not? If opinion in the district is so overwhelmingly against the ACA, wouldn’t the tally reveal that?
And Goodlatte continues to insist that the ACA is failing, even though it has enabled more than 30,000 of his constituents to purchase health insurance. More than anything else, however, the ACA is endangered by Congress members like Goodlatte, who with their efforts to destroy the ACA have created great uncertainty among insurance providers and the public.
Goodlatte pledges: “I will keep working towards a solution to increase access to care and deliver affordable health insurance options.”
In fact every health care bill Goodlatte has supported would deprive tens of millions of Americans of health insurance and cause premiums for many people to skyrocket. What has changed?
Congressman Goodlatte voted Wednesday with a minority of Republicans in two unsuccessful attempts to cut funding and staff for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The first amendment, offered by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.), would have slashed CBO’s funding by 50.4 percent. That figure, Perry said, was to match the discrepancy between CBO’s predictions for how many people would gain health insurance under ObamaCare, and the number that actually did.
“Who among us works half the time, gets it doubly wrong and gets a paycheck? The CBO,” Perry said.
Defenders of the CBO have noted that the predictions were made before the Supreme Court struck down parts of the law requiring states to accept Medicaid expansion and that few alternative predictions are consistently more accurate.
“Some Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration are engaged in a steadily escalating campaign to tear down the Congressional Budget Office and anyone else who does not tell them what they want to hear. This amendment is a direct assault, eliminating half of CBO’s budget,” said House Budget Committee Ranking Member John Yarmuth.
Members of the Trump administration have regularly derided and denounced the CBO, which has projected that its healthcare laws would lead to millions more uninsured, and disputed claims that its budget plan would balance.
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 314 to 107.
The second amendment, offered by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), used a newly-revived rule that allows Congress to specifically target certain federal roles for elimination, called the Holman rule. The amendment sought to eliminate 89 CBO employees who work on the scoring.
“Too often, predictions made by CBO turn out to be off the mark,” Griffith said.
That amendment was defeated by a vote of 309 to 106.
The Republican chair and the Democratic ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a joint letter to their colleagues urging opposition to the amendments.
On a bipartisan basis, we agree that CBO plays a vital role in the legislative process. We rely on CBO’s analysts to provide fair, impartial, and fact-based analysis. Without that analysis, Congress could not do its work or stay within the very budget constraints we set up for ourselves in law.
The only possible conclusion is that Goodlatte and other Republicans are lashing out at the CBO for consistently finding that their plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act would deprive tens of millions of Americans of health insurance.
In other words: the CBO isn’t coming up with the results we want. Therefore it is wrong and deserves to be punished.
What a way to make policy.