Goodlatte waffles on Trump budget

While Senator Tim Kaine spoke out against President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal and noted the pain it would inflict on hundreds of thousands of Virginians, Congressman Goodlatte refused to criticize the plan and dodged questions about it.

The Staunton News Leader reported:

President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal spells trouble for many “critical programs” vital to Virginia’s families, children, seniors and businesses, according to U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

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The president promises a balanced budget in 10 years while also cutting taxes, and so getting there means cuts to many other programs under his proposal… Slashing the budgets of those “critical programs” would take a toll on the Valley, Kaine said, highlighting the suite of cuts he projects would hurt Virginians most.

In the fight against opioid addiction, community mental health services would lose $116 million in block grant funding and other state mental health grants would be reduced by $136 million, Kaine notes. The budget would also cut substance abuse treatment grants for states by $73 million and public awareness programs by $74 million, he said.

 

Kaine also pinpointed the cuts to Medicaid, student loan programs, the Social Security Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped feed 826,000 Virginia residents in 2016, as areas where Virginians could be hurt.

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“Trump’s budget would cause disproportionate pain in the rural communities he promised to help — including those in southern and southwest Virginia and the Valley,” Kaine said.

 

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, noted Trump’s budget proposal “is just that — a proposal” and that Congress ultimately has the responsibility to set the nation’s final budget and appropriate funds.

Goodlatte said he “appreciates” the “steps” Trump is taking “to address the out of control spending that has plagued Washington for far too long,” but did not directly answer a question over whether he supports the proposed budget.

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Goodlatte praised the president’s initial budget released in March, while saying then that he was still “reviewing” the proposal’s “impacts on the Sixth District specifically.” He did not answer a question Wednesday over how he sees the latest Trump budget proposal potentially impacting the Valley.

Among the deep cuts which Trump wants (and which Goodlatte can’t bring himself to oppose) are reductions in the SNAP (food stamps) program, Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). 

In Goodlatte’s Sixth District, more than 31,000 households depend on SNAP, the majority of them with children under 18. More than three-quarters of these households have someone who worked over the past 12 months.

Six percent of adults in Goodlatte’s district are covered by Medicaid and 31 percent of children are covered by Medicaid/CHIP. 

Will Goodlatte fight to protect the most vulnerable among his constituents from the worst effects of Trump’s budget? So far the signs aren’t promising.

Here’s what Goodlatte is “proud to support”

Along with 216 of his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives, Congressman Goodlatte voted on May 4 to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act.

Not only that; he was “proud to support” the AHCA without waiting for an analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office.

That analysis was released Wednesday, and now we know what Goodlatte is proud to support.

According to the CBO, the AHCA would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured within a decade.

2300-cbo-compare-uninsured

It would substantially increase premiums for older Americans.

2300-cbo-compare-premiums

And it would reduce the deficit even less than an earlier version of the legislation.

The good news, if you’re extremely rich, is that the AHCA would provide you with a big cut in your taxes.

Goodlatte’s constituents may want to ask the congressman exactly what the source of his pride is.

Update: According to Sarah Kliff at Vox, the CBO report is “a complete rebuke of Republicans’ claim that the bill they voted for will protect Americans with preexisting conditions.” She cites an “especially devastating” paragraph from the report:

People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs.

Goodlatte’s full statement

It turns out a statement on Congressman Goodlatte Facebook page which I linked to Wednesday— approving the appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in trying to influence the 2016 election– was incomplete.

I just came across a statement on Goodlatte’s website which adds the following paragraph:

I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this important step that the previous Administration repeatedly declined to do in other matters, ensuring an independent and thorough investigation is conducted to unearth all the facts. This decision will help instill much needed public confidence in the investigation.

So Goodlatte applauds the “Trump Administration” for something that Trump is clearly unhappy about and considers part of a “witch hunt”, while taking the opportunity to aim a shot at his preferred target: the Obama administration. Unfortunately for the congressman, Obama is no longer President of the United States.

Goodlatte is finally heard from

After his long silence on the gathering storm, Congressman Goodlatte expressed his approval of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in trying to influence the 2016 election.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte should be taking the lead in holding hearings and seeking the truth about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, as well as possible conflicts of interests between Trump’s businesses and his position as President, Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information to Russian diplomats, and the President’s reported effort to convince then-FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Instead Goodlatte seems to be keeping as low a profile as possible, expressing no doubts about Trump’s dubious behavior while members of his committee call on him to act.

Democrats again demand action by Goodlatte

All Democratic members of the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee chaired by Jason Chaffetz have written a detailed letter to Goodlatte and Chaffetz calling for an immediate investigation into the actions of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and top White House aides.

(See the full letter here.)

We are writing to request that the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee launch an immediate joint investigation into whether President Donald Trump and his top officials are engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to obstruct the criminal, counter-intelligence, and oversight investigations currently being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and Congress into members of his presidential campaign and their contacts with Russian officials.

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On several occasions—through at least four letters to Chairman Goodlatte, and in debate on three separate resolutions of inquiry debated in the Judiciary Committee—we have called for the Majority to take action “to ensure the integrity and independence of both the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation”.

We are concerned that the continued failure of House Republicans to take action in the face of this onslaught of allegations will cause significant damage to the faith that the American people have in the credibility and integrity of our Committees and the House of Representatives.  We have a solemn obligation under the Constitution to act as a check on the Executive Branch and to hold President Trump accountable.  It is time to do our job.

As of Wednesday evening, still not a word from Goodlatte about this.

Goodlatte’s silence is deafening

Congressman Goodlatte was leading a Congressional delegation on a visit to the Balkans last week, and so may have not been up to speed on the fast-breaking developments back here in the US.

But since his return, Goodlatte has maintained a firm (and perhaps telling) silence about the news that President Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, and the report that Trump urged then-FBI director James Comey to halt an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the government’s law enforcement functions, Goodlatte should be taking a special interest in these matters. And maybe he is. But you wouldn’t know it from his website, his Facebook page, or his Twitter account— none of which even mentioned them as of Wednesday morning.

Chad Pergram, Congressional correspondent for Fox News, made an effort to get a reaction from Goodlatte. Here are the results:

Unfortunately Goodlatte seems unwilling to comment “on the cuff” and off the street too.

Congressman Goodlatte: President Trump’s disclosure of highly sensitive secret information to a hostile power like Russia is immensely worse than anything Hillary Clinton did on her private email server while secretary of state. And yet you were pleased to comment and demand answers endlessly about her alleged wrongdoing.

Why so quiet now?

“cc: Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman”

Congressman Goodlatte is currently leading a Congressional delegation on a tour of the Balkans, and may be somewhat out of the loop. But John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, made sure he got a copy of a letter that Conyers and Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sent Friday to White House counsel Donald McGahn.

President Trump took to Twitter earlier today to threaten former FBI Director James Comey, stating that he “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Under Section 1512 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, it is a crime to intimidate or threaten any potential witness with the intent to influence, delay, or prevent their official testimony.

The President’s actions this morning—as well as his admission yesterday on national television that he fired Director Comey because he was investigating Trump campaign officials and their connections to the Russian government—raise the specter of possible intimidation and obstruction of justice.  The President’s actions also risk undermining the ongoing criminal and counter-intelligence investigations and the independence of federal law enforcement agencies.

We believe Congress should immediately seek the testimony of Director Comey to better understand the circumstances surrounding these events, although no House Committee Chairman has yet agreed to any such hearings.

Under normal circumstances, we would not consider credible any claims that the White House may have taped conversations of meetings with the President.  However, because of the many false statements made by White House officials this week, we are compelled to ask whether any such recordings do in fact exist.  If so, we request copies of all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter.

We also request all documents, memoranda, analyses, emails, and other communications relating to the President’s decision to dismiss Director Comey—a decision which the President declared yesterday he planned to make “regardless of [the Deputy Attorney General’s] recommendation”—and all discussions with Director Comey.

It would be nice to believe that Goodlatte is as eager to get to the bottom of the strange events and contradictory explanations surrounding the Comey firing as he was to prosecute Hillary Clinton for perjury. We’ll have to wait and see.