Goodlatte celebrates death of net neutrality

It comes as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal the 2015 rule requiring internet service providers to give equal and open access to all internet content for all users.

Federal regulators voted Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for websites they favor — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark Obama-era regulations overseeing broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the telecom and cable industries was a prominent example of the policy shifts taking place in Washington under President Trump and a major setback for consumer groups, tech companies and Democrats who had lobbied heavily against the decision.

The 3-2 vote, which was along party lines, enabled the FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, to follow through on his promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which required Internet providers to treat all websites, large and small, equally. The agency also rejected some of its own authority over the broadband industry in a bid to stymie future FCC officials who might seek to reverse the Republican-led ruling.

Nor is it surprising that Congressman Goodlatte tweeted his support for the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality.

Or that Goodlatte has received more than $236,000 in campaign contributions from the ISP giants AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

In a previous post at Goodlatte Watch I debunked Goodlatte’s claims that ending net neutrality would benefit consumers and that antitrust enforcement alone would provide sufficient protection.

Did anyone dare to hope that by announcing his retirement from Congress at the end of next year, Goodlatte would feel free to do what is right for his constituents rather than his big-money donors?

Sorry.

Slash yes, constituents no

I don’t mind that Congressman Goodlatte takes the time to meet with rich and famous  rock musicians like Slash and Steven Tyler to talk about copyright protection.

But it would be nice if he was as willing to hold a face-to-face town hall meeting with his not-so-rich and not-so-famous constituents here in the Sixth District (which he hasn’t done since 2013) to answer questions about things like taxes, health care, deregulation, Donald Trump, etc., etc.

Goodlatte sides with Trump against FBI and Mueller

Last August Congressman Goodlatte welcomed the Senate’s confirmation of Christopher Wray, President Trump’s choice to replace the fired James Comey as director of the FBI.

“He has a long and distinguished legal career, including serving as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division under President George W. Bush and Assistant U.S. Attorney in Georgia. Mr. Wray’s public and private sector service make him extremely well suited to lead the FBI…”

But with President Trump trying to undermine the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign and administration, Goodlatte took a sharply different tone when Wray appeared Thursday as a witness before the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee.

Republicans, led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, questioned whether bias in favor of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or against the president has crept into the high ranks of the FBI or Mueller’s probe. Republicans questioned whether bias affected a now-closed probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

“It does appear to me that, at the very least, the FBI’s reputation as an impartial, non-political agency has been called into question recently,” Goodlatte said.

Goodlatte cited Trump’s December 3 tweet that the FBI’s reputation is “in tatters” and he echoed Trump’s assertion of political bias against the president among investigators. 

Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified following a recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team allegedly sent anti-Trump texts last summer. Mueller removed the agent, Peter Strzok, after learning of the allegations.

Wray said the FBI is working with the Justice Department to review text messages allegedly sent between Strzok and other agents to determine if there is anything in them that’s improper.

There is no evidence that Strzok’s political views, or the views of any other investigators,  influenced their work.

Goodlatte refuses to call hearings on anything related to potential wrongdoing by Trump, his campaign or his administration, while placing a higher priority on yet another investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

He thus continues his role as the president’s loyal defender. For how long? If Trump tries to cut off the investigation by firing Mueller, will Goodlatte will finally find the courage to stand up to him?

This is what “country over party” looks like

I’m prepared to stand corrected, but as far as I can tell, Congressman Goodlatte has not once in his 25 years in Congress taken a principled position that overrode partisan considerations.

This is in stark contrast to his mentor, the late Republican Congressman Caldwell Butler, who in 1974 bravely supported the impeachment of President Nixon while most of his fellow Republicans were backing Nixon.

Mr. Butler dealt with hate mail and bomb threats, but his stiffest opposition came from his mother, who wrote him that his future “will go down the drain if you do not stand with your party at this critical time.”

“Dear Mother,” he wrote. “You are probably right. However, I feel that my loyalty to the Republican Party does not relieve me of the obligation which I have.”

Although Goodlatte won’t be standing for reelection in 2018, I don’t expect him to break with the habits of the past quarter-century.  But I hope he gets a chance to see this. It’s a Twitter post by Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Flake is also retiring at the end of his term next year. Like Goodlatte, he voted for the misbegotten Republican tax plan. But unlike Goodlatte, he understands that keeping the accused sexual predator Roy Moore out of Congress is more important than whatever temporary legislative advantage the Republicans would get by Moore’s election– even if it means supporting his Democratic opponent.

Goodlatte-backed bill would put Americans out of work, exploit guest workers

Congressman Goodlatte is an enthusiastic sponsor of the Agricultural Guestworker Act (HR 4092), which he wrote and which he and other Republicans narrowly approved in the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Goodlatte, the act would create a “reliable, efficient, and fair program and provide American farmers access to a legal, stable supply of workers for seasonal as well as year-round work.”

But as Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, writes:

The AGA is a direct threat to America’s hard-working families, the incomes they depend on, and the food we all eat. This is not hyperbole. If the AGA becomes law, it will allow 450,000 foreign visa holders to work in agricultural and meat processing jobs that are currently held by hard-working American men and women. The impact of this bill, particularly upon the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the meat and poultry industry, would be devastating.

…..

Like any high skilled and vital profession, current salaries reflect the quality and importance of this workforce, with wages as high as $23 per hour. By allowing untrained workers or guest workers to hold these important jobs for as little as $10.88 per hour, the AGA will effectively drive down wages and destroy hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the process.

Make no mistake, this bill creates a guest worker system that will turn middle-class jobs vital to food safety into jobs that are temporary, untrained, and unskilled. Even worse, it would exploit these guest workers by placing them at grave risk by taking jobs that require them to use sharp knives in a fast-paced environment with little to no training.

At a time when we need to strengthen American jobs and make our food safer, the AGA would also allow guest workers to stay for up to three years. That isn’t a guest-worker, that’s a long-term employee and further shows how this bill is designed to both exploit foreign workers and replace American workers at the same time.

There’s no denying that our immigration system is broken. We need structural reforms to our employment-based visa system that will protect foreign workers and immigrants. We also need immigration laws that protect American workers. But the AGA will only make a failing system even more flawed.

And the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a migrant workers’ rights group, reports:

This despicable legislation would commodify workers, serving business interests while failing to provide fair labor protections for the people on whom they depend. The AG Act would exacerbate the flaws in the existing H-2A agricultural program, a legacy of the notorious Bracero Program that is rife with abuses including wage theft and economic coercion. The AG Act would further weaken oversight of worker protections by transferring responsibility for the program from the Department of Labor to the Departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security. Under the H-2C visa program, workers would have an increased risk for forced labor, exploitation and other abuses; and migrant workers’ ability to defend themselves would be restricted.

Goodlatte has long favored the interests of large corporate agriculture over those of small farmers and farm workers. He has received more than $2 million in campaign contributions from agribusiness. So his sponsorship of the AGA should be no surprise. But that’s no excuse for this terrible anti-worker legislation.

“More than enough evidence”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee, said Friday that the guilty plea by President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn indicates there is “more than enough evidence to form the basis of a congressional investigation into the President’s obstruction of justice.”

Nadler urged Goodlatte to “finally begin our oversight work without delay.”

“This development adds further weight to our suspicion of President Trump’s corrupt motives when he approached former FBI Director [James] Comey about the Flynn investigation and asked that he ‘let it go,’ ” he said.

Nadler’s comments come after Flynn pleaded guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

In June Trump said he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about his conversations with Comey.

By allowing Trump to answer questions before the Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte would be acting according to the president’s stated wish. Of course those of us more skeptical than Goodlatte about Trump would also like to hear his answers to those questions.

What’s stopping you, Congressman?