Goodlatte votes to kill worker protection and stream protection rules

Congressman Goodlatte was among the 233 Republicans and three Democrats (to 186 Democrats and one Republican) in the House of Representatives to vote against a rule that would forbid federal contractors with a history of workplace violations from receiving new contracts.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, signed by President Obama in August, would require would-be contractors to disclose violations of laws on workplace safety, workplace discrimination, labor organizing rights, or minimum wage and overtime.

The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to pass the measure as well, since Democrats can’t filibuster a resolution of disapproval. If that happens, the Labor Department will be forbidden from moving forward with Obama’s executive order…

Republicans used the same method this week to kill what’s known as the stream protection rule. That rule restricted coal companies from dumping mine refuse into waterways and required them to restore streams they’d damaged.

Goodlatte voted to overturn that rule too.

House Democrats keep pressure on Goodlatte over staffers’ help for Trump

Politico reports:

House Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday pressed Chairman Bob Goodlatte for more information about his staff’s secret role helping craft President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting refugees and immigration.

The panel’s ranking member, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), in a letter to Goodlatte, asked whether the Virginia Republican approved his staff signing nondisclosure agreements with Trump officials and allowed the aides to work on the travel ban on committee time, and whether Goodlatte reviewed any of their work on the executive order.


Conyers’ letter came just a couple hours after nine House Democrats pressed Speaker Paul Ryan in a separate letter Thursday to say whether the unusual situation broke chamber rules.

Goodlatte apparently never responded to a letter from Conyers and other Judiciary Committee Democrats in November asking him to schedule hearings on the potential conflicts between then President-elect Trump’s business interests and his position as President of the United States. So there’s no reason to expect the congressman will reply to Conyers’s latest letter either.

Watchdog group files complaint against Goodlatte’s committee staffers

The Campaign for Accountability has called on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether staffers on the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee broke any federal laws or House rules by helping President-elect Trump draft his executive order on immigration. 

According to a CfA press release:

CfA Acting Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “Employees of the United States House of Representatives are duty-bound to serve Members of Congress and the Americans who elected them.  It appears that these House staffers surreptitiously worked on issues for the President-elect, and perhaps later the White House, without even telling the members for whom they worked.  The OCE should open an investigation immediately and determine whether these staffers broke any federal laws or House rules.”

On January 30, 2017, Politico reported that several House Judiciary Committee professional staff members had helped the Trump transition team draft an executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.  The paper also reported that the staffers signed nondisclosure agreements with the transition team, and that they did not inform the Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) or House Leadership about their work on the controversial measure.

Federal law and House rules require House staffers to work on House business and to “give a full day’s labor for a full day’s pay.”  Moreover, House rules specifically state that lawyers are prohibited from consulting and advising clients beyond the House of Representatives to avoid conflicts of interest.  Given that many staffers of the House Judiciary Committee are lawyers, the staffers that worked on this order may have run afoul of several laws and House rules.

You can read the CfA’s complaint here.

Congressman Goodlatte has said he “proudly allowed” his committee staff to assist Trump. However he has dodged questions about whether the staffers signed non-disclosure agreements with Trump, as has been reported.

Goodlatte dodges press queries on committee staffers’ work for Trump

It’s not just the constituents contacting Congressman Goodlatte’s office who are being stonewalled about this. Politico reports:

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) refused repeatedly Wednesday to say why his staffers worked in secret on President Donald Trump’s order curbing immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.

And he ignored multiple questions about a POLITICO report indicating those staffers signed confidentiality agreements preventing them from sharing their work with lawmakers, a decision roiling Congress as members grapple with the messy rollout of the executive order.

“I’ve got to get back to the Hill,” the Judiciary Committee chairman said as he ignored multiple questions after an appearance before the Federalist Society at the National Press Club. “We’ve got a vote.”

As Goodlatte waited in an elevator bank declining questions on the subject, aides told reporters to contact his press office instead. Aides in that office, however, have refused to answer follow-up questions about the arrangement.

Goodlatte’s silence on the matter follows a POLITICO report that revealed Goodlatte staffers worked quietly on Trump’s order without informing House leadership. Sources said the staffers, who aided the Trump transition, signed nondisclosure agreements.

Committee staffers went behind Goodlatte’s back on immigration order (updated)

Politico reports:

Top aides to Donald Trump quietly worked with senior staffers on the House Judiciary Committee to draft the executive order curbing immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but the Republican committee chairman and party leadership were not informed, according to multiple sources involved in the process.

The work of the aides began during the transition period after the election and before Trump was sworn in.

It’s not clear why the committee aides did not alert the committee chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), or Republican leaders about their work.

Kathryn Rexrode, the House Judiciary Committee’s communications director, declined comment about the aides’ work. A Judiciary Committee aide said Goodlatte was not “consulted by the administration on the executive order.”

Their work on the executive order meant the small group of staffers — conservative immigration hard-liners who, sources say, are close with attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — were among the only people on Capitol Hill who knew of the looming controversial policy.

So staff members of the committee that Goodlatte chairs worked with Trump’s people on the notorious executive order without getting Goodlatte’s approval or even bothering to inform him?

Will Goodlatte be duly outraged by this insubordination? Will heads roll?

Surprise us for once, congressman.

Update: Apparently Goodlatte has no problem with what his committee staff did, or that they signed non-disclosure agreements barring them from discussing their activities with Goodlatte or Republican leadership. 

Further update: Goodlatte has issued a statement saying he “proudly allowed” his committee staff to assist Trump. Still lots of questions about this.

Goodlatte calls for repeal of Medicaid expansion

Politico reports:

Congressional Republicans during a private meeting Thursday morning agonized over how best to repeal and replace Obamacare, a discussion that highlighted the vast divisions among the GOP rank-in-file, according to an audio recording of the session received by POLITICO.

House and Senate lawmakers during the Republican retreat in Philadelphia debated how best to create an affordable health care alternative that won’t swell the debt but that also protects the more than 20 million people who have benefited from Obama’s health care law.

One of the most pointed debates centered on what to do about the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. During a question and answer session, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) encouraged the room to repeal the entire expansion because the nation cannot afford it.

“Getting ahold of the Medicaid expansion and repealing that is absolutely critical if we’re going to have control of the growth of entitlement spending,” he said.

Goodlatte warned that some states that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion were going to want to keep that pot of money, but “other states like mine that have not expanded … they want to be proven that they were right originally.”

“We can’t afford this when we have $20 trillion in national debt,” said Goodlatte, whose office did not return request for comment.

Several Republicans disagreed with him. A senator who spoke after Goodlatte, but could not be identified on the tape, said, “We want to take care of the needy in our communities.”

Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly have persistently refused to approve expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Healthcare for All Virginians website:

As a result of this inaction, hundreds of thousands of low-income adults fall into a coverage gap. With income below the poverty line, they are too poor to qualify for subsidized insurance from the federal Marketplace, but they make too much money to qualify for Virginia’s current Medicaid program.

If Virginia lawmakers close this coverage gap, nearly 400,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth could get access to quality, affordable health insurance.

These are not the lazy welfare cheats that Republicans love to rail against. These are working people who are going without health insurance because Republicans in the General Assembly, with Goodlatte’s full approval, are standing in the way.

So it’s not enough for Goodlatte that hundreds of thousands of Virginians are being denied health insurance. He wants to deprive 15 million residents of the 32 states that have adopted Medicaid expansion of the insurance they currently have.

Goodlatte backs Trump on entry ban

While some Republicans in Congress responded with integrity, Congressman Goodlatte issued a statement endorsing President Trump’s disgraceful blanket order banning all citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations (including this guy) from entering the United States for at least 90 days:

“The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe. Today, President Trump has begun to fulfill this responsibility by taking a number of critical steps within his authority to strengthen national security and the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. As ISIS terrorists have vowed to use the immigration system to inflict harm, it’s imperative that we know who is coming and going from our country. National security officials have repeatedly warned that we dramatically lack the resources and information to fully vet refugees from countries of concern, like Syria.

“Unlike his predecessor, I am pleased that President Trump is using the tools granted to him by Congress and the power granted by the Constitution to help keep America safe and ensure we know who is entering the United States. It’s sensible to hit pause on admitting foreign nationals and refugees from countries where adequate screening cannot occur, and it’s long past time for the completion of the Entry-Exit system in order to crack down on those who overstay their visas. I look forward to continue working with President Trump to ensure the safety and security of our great nation.”

In response Tyler Dickovick of Lexington posted the following comment on Goodlatte’s website:

Citizens of our district should demand an updated statement from Rep. Goodlatte. Among those affected by this order are (1) people who were already en route and had been vetted extensively, (2) many people from these countries who have risked their lives to work with and assist American military personnel over the years, and (3) permanent residents of the US (green card holders) who are visiting their home countries. I will be calling the office tomorrow to register my disgust with this order, and I urge others to do the same. We must make sure that our esteemed chair of the House Judiciary committee reflects on the inevitable constitutional challenge to this order.

Indeed. If you want to join Tyler in letting Goodlatte know what you think, the number is (202) 225-5431.

Goodlatte backs Trump on border wall

During the same CNN interview in which he refused to criticize President Trump on his bizarre voter fraud claims, Congressman Goodlatte backed the president’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

As a “deficit hawk” who regularly introduces a “balanced budget amendment” in Congress, Goodlatte should be wary of spending up to $25 billion on such a project at a time when more Mexicans are leaving the US than entering.

Or does Goodlatte buy Trump’s ridiculous promise that Mexico somehow will be made to pay for the wall?

Perhaps Goodlatte should have a chat with a fellow Republican congressman.

“Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Each section of the border faces unique geographical, cultural, and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the agents on the ground with the resources they need.”

Goodlatte won’t challenge Trump on voter fraud

In an interview on CNN this morning, Congressman Goodlatte refused to call out President Trump for his absurd claim that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the November election because millions of Americans in Virginia and other states voted illegally.

Not exactly a profile in courage. Consider the contrast with Goodlatte’s fellow Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham:

“I wasn’t there, but if the President of the United States is claiming that 3.5 million people voted illegally, that shakes confidence in our democracy — he needs to disclose why he believes that,” Graham told CNN on Tuesday.


“I would urge the President to knock this off; this is the greatest democracy on Earth, we’re the leader of the free world, and people are going to start doubting you as a person if you keep making accusations against our electoral system without justification,” Graham said. “This is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it.”

Certainly Goodlatte is as capable as Graham of understanding the falsity of Trump’s claims. What prevents him from speaking as honestly about Trump?

When will he finally put principle above party?