Pelosi’s January 6 Committee Subpoenas Four Trump Aides

The Democrat-led January 6 select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas to four former aides to President Donald Trump Thursday.

Those receiving subpoenas for documents and testimony include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, former communications official Dan Scavino, and former Defense Department official Kash Patel.

What prompted these actions?

The four committed the crime of “working in or (having) communications with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection.”

In a statement announcing the subpoenas, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) claimed they were simply going after the facts.

“The select committee is investigating the facts, circumstances and causes of the Jan. 6 attack, and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend to the House and its relevant committees corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules or regulations,” Thompson wrote.

RELATED: Republicans Turn The Tables On Pelosi Committee – Tell Companies To Preserve Democrat Phone Records

Subpoenas For Trump Staff

Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) warned that any of the Trump allies who do not comply with the subpoenas will be guilty of “criminal contempt.”

“We may have additional tools now that we didn’t before, including a Justice Department that may be willing to pursue criminal contempt when people deliberately flout compulsory process,” he said.

Legal analyst Elliott Williams suggested the speed with which the January 6 committee is moving is a sign that they are very serious.

“Quick subpoenas like this are a sign they’re not messing around,” he tweeted.

The politics of the moment, however, cannot be ignored: Democrats are facing the possibility of a bloodbath in the 2022 midterm elections with polls already trending toward Republicans, an unpopular Democrat president, and a White House making matters worse on a daily basis.

“If Democrats lose control of the House, the select committee would likely be in peril,” Axios writes.

RELATED: Trump Blasts January 6 Committee After They Demand Documents Related To His Mental Health

Trump Vows To Fight

In a statement issued Thursday evening, the former President vowed to fight any subpoenas coming out of the January 6 “unselect committee.”

“We will fight the subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our country, while we wait to find out whether or not subpoenas will be sent out to Antifa and BLM for the death and destruction they have caused,” Trump wrote.

The committee, led by Thompson and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), in August advised telecommunication companies to preserve the phone records of certain individuals, including lawmakers and possibly members of President Trump’s family.

The request also demanded federal agencies turn over “all documents and communications relating to the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Additionally, the select committee requested a release of “all documents and communications related to the mental stability of Donald Trump or his fitness for office.”

Republican lawmakers turned the tables in a letter to various telecommunication and social media companies saying that if those companies provide Democrats with the phone records of Republicans, they need to provide Republicans with the phone records of Democrats.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) criticized the select committee, saying their latest actions show their efforts are “more about politics than anything else.”

“There’s only two questions that this committee should actually be looked upon: Why was the Capitol left so ill-prepared, and how can we make sure this never happens again?” McCarthy said.

“But that’s not what they’re focused on.”

 

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As the Congressional Black Caucus celebrates its 50th year, we need to have their backs

During a time of open white supremacist hate-riotism, spurred on and enflamed by white elected Republican officials and their voters, it is easy to get discouraged and forget how far we’ve come when it comes to the racial dynamics of electoral politics of this nation. Historically speaking, even though Black people have been here in the “New” World since the late 1400s, and on the soil that would later become the United States as early as the 1500s, we haven’t been officeholders very long. 

The Congressional Black Caucus celebrated its 50th year in existence on June 30; we must renew our commitment to more African American representation, and not just in Congress; let’s also support increased representation in state houses and in local elections. I find myself feeling that sometimes we take Black officeholders for granted, even when I’ve seen such major changes in just my lifetime. I worry that the progress we’ve made could be easily stripped away if we don’t remain vigilant.

The Los Angeles Sentinel, a weekly Black-owned newspaper, reported on the pivotal anniversary last week.

Joyce Marie Beatty serves as the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 3rd congressional district. Since 2013, she has been in that position and more recently, she became the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2021.

The congresswoman opened the floor with reflection of what the Black community has overcome due to the focus and dedication led by movements and diplomacy fighting for human equality and justice. The Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus also emphasized the continual work that needs to be done.

Beatty mentioned that June 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the CBC, stating, “For 50 years, the Congressional Black Caucus has fought for and on behalf of Black people and the communities we serve. Just as freedom fighters took to the dark roads in the dead of the night to call for an end to racism, for the right to vote—we continue to stand committed to the work ahead of us.”

Rep. Beatty herself shared the story.

50 years & going strong. ✊🏿 #OurPowerOurMessage https://t.co/PG2hC5OhoL

— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) July 13, 2021

Think about it: The first Congress of the United States met on March 4, 1789, and it took over 80 years for Hiram Rhodes Revels to become the first Black senator in 1870, and for Joseph Hayne Rainey to become the first Black congressman, during the brief period of Reconstruction. They were followed by 19 other Black men—all from the South.  

There were no Black men in Congress after 1901, until the election of Oscar Stanton De Priest from Illinois, as the first non-Southern Black House representative. He took office on March 4, 1929. Across the Capitol, there was an 80-year gap with zero Black senators, until Massachusetts’ Edward Brooke took office in 1967. It wasn’t until  January 3, 1969, that the first Black woman, Shirley Chisholm, was sworn into a House seat. Not long thereafter, in 1971, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was formed, with the motto, coined by Rep. William (Bill) Clay of Missouri, “Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies ... just permanent interests.”

I have had an interest in some of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus for some time, notably Ron Dellums, who was a founder of the Progressive Caucus, and whose election as a Democratic socialist was engineered with the help of the Black Panther Party; Congressman John Conyers did a jazz radio show on my radio station in Washington, D.C.;  and Shirley Chisholm, who is one of my shero inspirations. But it wasn’t until I started doing twice-weekly roundups of CBC member’ activities for Black Kos that I realized that far too often, not much mainstream media attention is paid to these Black folks we have managed to get elected.

Two years ago, I covered some CBC history, noting that the Caucus was expanding in both “size and clout.”

The history, courtesy of the CBC’s own House.gov page:

During the late 1960s, Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.) created the Democracy Select Committee (DSC) in an effort to bring black members of Congress together. Diggs noticed that he and other African-American members of Congress often felt isolated because there were very few of them in Congress and wanted to create a forum where they could discuss common political challenges and interests.“The sooner we get organized for group action, the more effective we can become,” Diggs said. The DSC was an informal group that held irregular meetings and had no independent staff or budget but that changed a few years later. As a result of court-ordered redistricting, one of several victories of the Civil Rights Movement, the number of African-American members of Congress rose from nine to 13, the largest ever at the time, and members of the DSC decided at the beginning of the 92nd Congress (1971-1973) that a more formal group was needed. “The thrust of our elections was that many black people around America who had formerly been unrepresented, now felt that the nine black members of the House owed them the obligation of also affording them representation in the House,” Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) said. “In addition to representing our individual districts, we had to assume the onerous burden of acting as congressman-at-large for unrepresented people around America.”

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was established in 1971 by 13 founding members.

In 1977, 15 of the Congressional Black Caucus members posed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, from left to right: (front row) Barbara Jordan of Texas, Robert Nix, Sr., of Pennsylvania, Ralph Metcalfe of Illinois, Cardiss Collins of Illinois, Parren Mitchell of Maryland, Gus Hawkins of California, Shirley Chisholm of New York; (middle row) John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan, Charles Rangel of New York, Harold Ford, Sr., of Tennessee, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke of California, Walter Fauntroy of the District of Columbia; (back row) Ronald Dellums of California, Louis Stokes of Ohio, and Charles C. Diggs, Jr., of Michigan.

The House.gov page also explores the CBC’s early struggles.

Shortly after the CBC was established, its battle with President Nixon began. After President Nixon refused to meet with the group, the CBC decided to boycott the 1971 State of the Union Address, which made national headlines. “We now refuse to be part of your audience,” Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sr. (D-Mo.) wrote to President Nixon on behalf of the caucus, explaining that President Nixon’s refusal to meet with the caucus was evidence that the Administration wasn’t interested in helping the African American community.   The CBC’s decision to fight its battle with President Nixon publicly worked in the caucus’ favor and became a strategy the CBC would return to again and again. President Nixon eventually agreed to a March 1971 meeting with the caucus. During the meeting, the CBC presented President Nixon with 61 recommendations to eradicate racism, provide quality housing for African-American families, and promote the full engagement of African-Americans in government. “Our people are no longer asking for equality as a rhetorical promise,” Diggs said. “They are demanding from the national Administration, and from elected officials without regard to party affiliation, the only kind of equality that ultimately has any real meaning—equality of results.” Press coverage of the meeting and the events leading up to it introduced the CBC to the nation. A few years later, in 1973, the CBC would be among the first members of Congress to call for President Nixon’s impeachment.  

CBS This Morning posted this historical overview of the CBC for Black History Month 2021. 

What I’d like to stress today is that with voting rights under siege in multiple states, and the teaching of Black American history being excoriated from the right, we need to have the backs of Black folks, and their staff members we’ve put out front on the firing lines, who have to live and work with death threats.

We also need to be aware of what bills they are proposing, sponsoring, and cosponsoring—as well as the challenges they face in their home districts. Mainstream media attention gravitates toward clickbait and controversy. We need to counter that by stepping up our support.

How many CBC members do you follow on social media? How many have you donated to, who are not in your district or state? Here’s a link to the current members: How many do you know something about?

It’s beyond time to step up and have these members’ backs!

How’s this for a rallying cry? If we lose the midterms, Trump will run again and (could) steal 2024

I never thought a fascist takeover of the galaxy could ever be less entertaining than the one depicted in The Phantom Menace, but here we are. One major American political party remains tethered to reality, whereas the other is a barmy cult of personality that worships at the clay feet of the worst human being I’ve ever laid eyes on outside of the port-a-potty queue at the annual Chilton, Wisconsin, Beer Festival—which is a long story, but trust me. And the line to pee in the creek is even worse. I only wish I were kidding.

Being the guileless backwoods naif that I am, I figured Donald Trump would be forced to slink away after the sound beating he received in November from the guy he kept calling a senile loser. After all, when George W. Bush left the country in a smoldering heap after his eight years of misrule, Republicans scrambled away from him like Quint trying to escape the shark on the deck of the Orca at the end of Jaws

But Trump is different. For one thing, he doesn’t have the common decency to concede an election he lost—by a lot. For another, he’s somehow mesmerized a majority of Republicans into believing he’s their bumblefuck messiah, despite having surrendered the White House and his congressional majority during his truncated tenure—and despite having incited a deadly insurrection based on corrosive lies about the integrity of our elections.

So here we are. I fully expected Republicans to dip a diffident toe or two back into consensus reality after the big dopey Dr. Zaius cosplayer was 86’d from the White House, but it looks like they’re all-in on febrile fantasy. 

The Maricopa County audit, the conspicuous (and appalling) lack of enthusiasm among Republicans for a Jan. 6 commission, the rebuke of ultraconservative but anti-Big Lie Republican Liz Cheney, polls showing that a majority of Republicans still think the election was stolen from Trump—it’s all more than a little scary. I was already freaking out about 2024 and the possibility that Donald Trump would run again instead of vanishing forever under a pile of fast food detritus after removing a load-bearing McRib box.

Then MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan welcomed Yale professor Timothy Snyder and Emory University professor Carol Anderson, both historians and experts on democracy, onto his UpFront show. He asked them a chilling hypothetical: What happens if Republicans hold Congress in 2024 and a Democrat wins the White House?

Buckle in. This gets weird.

"If the Republican candidate is running on the Big Lie, if that's their issue in 2024...the Republican candidate who loses the election will indeed be appointed by Congress to be President of the United States," Prof @TimothyDSnyder tells me tonight. Wow.pic.twitter.com/Vaj4QL5Brx

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 25, 2021

Transcript!

HASAN: “Tim and Carol, I’m going to ask you both the exact same question I asked Norm Ornstein and Ruth Ben-Ghiat on the show last week. If the Republicans are in control of the House and Senate come 2024 and a Democrat wins the presidential election narrowly, do you believe a Republican Party in Congress will certify that Democratic candidate’s win in Congress? Yes or no? Tim.”

SNYDER: “I think if the Republican candidate is running on the Big Lie, if that’s their issue in ‘24 the way that it seems to be in ‘22, then the answer to your question is the Republican candidate who loses the election will indeed be appointed by Congress to be president of the United States.”

HASAN: “Wow. Carol?”

ANDERSON: “Given that we have Republicans now who refuse to back the Jan. 6 commission, which was about the overthrow of an election … a fair election, given that we have the refusal of the Republicans to go in on impeachment, and given that they’re doing all of this work to undermine democracy with voter suppression and taking over control of electoral certification, I see this as a dress rehearsal for 2024 where they will not certify.”

HASAN: “Wow. So that’s Norm, Ruth, Tim, Carol. Four experts on this show all have answered this question in a very, very depressing way, but it’s important that we have this discussion.”

Jaw ===> floor

These experts aren’t in the mold of modern-day Republican “experts.” Ornstein, a contributor to The Atlantic and The Washington Post, helped draft parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history at New York University who “writes frequently for CNN and other media outlets on threats to democracy around the world.”

None of them, as far as I know, makes a living selling mediocre pillows to donkey-brained dipshits. So that’s scary shit, indeed. But it could also be an opportunity. Why? Because Donald Trump is a coward.

Let me explain. 

In a recent Politico story on Republicans’ attitude toward a potential Trump 2024 run, Trump flunky and perduring magic toadstool hallucination Lindsey Graham said this: 

“It’s more likely than not that he does” run, Graham said. “How we do in 2022 will have a big effect on his viability. If we do well in 2022, it helps his cause. I want him to keep the option open.”

So there it is, from Hermey himself. Graham doesn’t explain why Trump’s viability as a candidate would be improved if Republicans take back Congress in 2022 and then build their momentum enough to hold onto it in 2024, but I will: It would make stealing the election a piece of cake. 

Trump is a loser. Full stop. He lost in 2020 and, if our elections are conducted in 2024 the way they always have been (i.e., with Congress’ certification of the results being taken as a mere formality), Trump would almost certainly flame out, assuming President Joe Biden isn’t handed some major crisis that he fails to get under control.

After all, Trump lost by 7 million votes last time, and that’s before he tried to shiv democracy with his stabby little Chucky doll hands. The guy’s poll numbers were underwater for all but a few days of his White House tenure. On the day he left office, his aggregate disapproval rating, according to FiveThirtyEight, was a whopping 57.9%. Sure, the guy would likely skate through the primary process and would almost certainly be the GOP nominee if he ran, but he’d likely be dead in the water in the general election. Who (beyond his death cult) would want him back?

Most of the country has moved on and never wants to lay eyes on this sodden heap of off-brand urinal cake ever again. But Republicans—who, let’s not forget, make up less than 30% of the population—can’t get enough of the guy. Fifty-three percent of these deludenoids still think Trump is the rightful president, FFS. 

And so there’s our opportunity. Participation in midterm elections is typically far less than that of presidential elections. Voter turnout was strong in 2018—particularly in the suburbs—as many Democrats, independents, and disaffected Republicans came out to rebuke Trump and his agenda. Trump was on the ballot in 2020, and 81 million people came out to toss his ass, swamping the MAGAs’ own enthusiastic turnout.

Without a doubt, Trump can be a motivating factor, whether he’s on the ballot or not.

So here’s our motivation—and our rallying cry—for 2022.

If we lose Congress in the midterm elections, Trump will almost certainly run again, seeing his opportunity to cheat and manipulate his way to victory regardless of the actual results. If we keep Congress, Trump may finally slink away, knowing that he’d have little to no chance of pulling off another upset.

Incumbency is a huge advantage in a presidential election, and Trump won’t have that this time. His only advantage would be the likelihood—dare I say the guarantee?—of Republican treachery. But that can’t happen if there aren’t enough treacherous GOPsters in Congress to pull off an election theft.

So if you want Trump to run again—to be a major part of your waking life again—by all means, skip the midterm elections. If you don’t, show the fuck up, and make sure your friends and neighbors do, too.

That’s a rallying cry for 2022 if I’ve ever heard one. If we win in 2022, which we must, Trump will likely bugger off—finally and forever. Because he knows he can’t win, and he’s nothing if not a coward. If we lose, well, that could be the end of democracy as we know it.

Let’s win. In the face of insurmountable odds, let’s make sure we win.  

The alternative is simply too awful to consider.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Republican leadership unanimously opposes probe of Jan. 6 insurrection

After House Democrats negotiated approximately forever with Republican lawmakers to come up with some version of an independent commission to investigate an insurrection attempt that caused the evacuation of the House and Senate, eventually settling on a version that gives Republicans most of what they demanded, Republican leadership ever so briefly suggested that while they were still opposed to the creation of the committee, they wouldn't tell their membership to vote against it.

That lasted less than a day, of course. By Tuesday evening Republican leadership had sent out messages asking their members to do just that, and while Minority Whip Steve Scalise asserted they were only recommending a no vote, not whipping members against it, his office soon made moves to do that, too. It seems that the compromises giving Republicans equal membership on the committee and shared subpoena power in addition to a hard deadline requiring the commission to finish their report before next January would not accomplish much: On the day of the vote, Republican House and Senate leadership are united in rejecting an independent investigation into the causes of a violent coup attempt aiming to nullify the November elections and install a leader by fiat.

Sen. Mitch McConnell wasted little time in rejecting the commission as well: After similar mumblings purporting to be undecided on the matter, by this morning the Senate Republican leader had—surprise!—also decided that even this commission makeup was too "unbalanced" towards Democrats to be supported.

The swiftness with which both House and Senate leadership reversed their initial Tuesday positions could have something to do with Donald Trump, the insurrection's leader, angrily denouncing the "unfairness" of the proposed investigation later in the day. While McConnell was willing to pin the blame for the insurrection directly on Trump even while crafting blowhard excuses for why the Senate should not impeach Trump over the violence, he has been as consistent as the seditionists themselves in rejecting calls for a commission tasked with reporting on the details.

The reason House and Senate Republicans continue to demand that Congress launch no independent investigation of an act of insurrection that nearly succeeded in capturing or assassinating Trump's declared enemies remains the same as always: A majority of those Republican lawmakers themselves promoted the false propaganda Trump and his team used to attack the integrity of the election, claiming it was "stolen" and therefore must be nullified. Their own actions caused deaths. It was their words that convinced—and continue to convince—the most radicalized members of their base that overturning an American election based on provable hoaxes was both patriotic and necessary.

The commission will find that blame for the violence rests squarely on Donald Trump and his top allies. Trump promoted the Jan. 6 "march" to the Capitol; the intent of the march was to stop Congress from carrying out the final electoral certification that would declare Trump the loser; the goal of the marchers who broke into the Capitol after his speech, scheduled so as to coincide exactly with the congressional count, stated in no uncertain terms that their goal was to end the count, force Congress into rejecting the election's outcome, and reinstate Trump as unconstitutional national leader.

Republican lawmakers were themselves both witnesses to those events and, in many cases, accessories. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is in particular danger if the commission is allowed to summon him to give testimony, as his conversation with Trump on that day—a conversation in which Trump expressed support for the rioters and rejected McCarthy's own pleas for intervention—is significant evidence of Trump's true intent as the violence was unfolding. Numerous Republican lawmakers and Trump appointees have similar testimony on Trump's actions and intent; all of it, put together into an official record of the event, will make clear that the Republican Party allied itself with seditionists that day, and that continued propaganda intended to discredit the outcome of the November election continues to threaten our nation's safety in the aftermath.

To a patriotic party, a full accounting of an attempted violent coup against American democracy would be a necessity. It would result in a far deeper investigation than any other terrorist act, such as the one in Benghazi. But to a party that has slipped into Dear Leaderism, an obsessive distribution of party-backed hoaxes and propaganda claims, condemnations of widespread voting, a near-total rejection of the notion that nonmovement governance is legitimate, and new insistence that crimes in service to Republican goals—Trump himself, Flynn, Manafort, Bannon, Arpaio—are both legitimate and to be celebrated, an accounting for the coup would predictably end in a devastating indictment of their party's corruption.

Not only are party leaders demanding their members withhold their support for such investigations, those leaders will work to sabotage and discredit the probe at every possible opportunity. They will demonize those appointed to the committee as traitors; they will spread new hoaxes claiming testimony against party members is a conspiracy against them.

The commission cannot come to any conclusion other than Trump himself gathered the marchers, painted rebellion as patriotic, and turned them loose to stop the transfer of power. For a Republican Party still stuck to the bottom of his shoe, that is something the public cannot be allowed to hear.

Donald Trump Jr. Rips Liz Cheney For Palling Around With Biden Before His Big ‘Socialist’ Speech

On Thursday, Donald Trump, Jr. criticized Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney on Twitter for warmly greeting President Joe Biden with a fist bump after his address to Congress, in which he laid out a “radical socialist vision.”

Trump Jr. joined his father in calling the anti-Trump Cheney a warmonger.

“‘Republican’ warmonger Liz Cheney gives Sleepy Joe a fist bump after he delivered a radical socialist vision for the future of America,” Trump Jr. tweeted.

“So glad she’s in the GOP leadership, I guess they wanted to be more inclusive and put Democrats in there too?!?”

RELATED: Meghan McCain Calls Out ‘The View’ For ‘Liberal Bias’ – ‘There’s A Reason Why Fox Is Killing It In The Ratings’

Cheney Defends Warm Greeting To Biden

Hours later, Cheney responded.

“I disagree strongly w/@JoeBiden policies, but when the President reaches out to greet me in the chamber of the US House of Representatives, I will always respond in a civil, respectful & dignified way,” Cheney tweeted.

“We’re different political parties. We’re not sworn enemies. We’re Americans,” she finished.

Cheney Explains Her Differences With Biden Administration

In another tweet, Cheney discussed her disagreement with the Biden administration’s policies.

Cheney wrote, “Biden, Pelosi and Democrats are set on abusing their power and infringing on our freedoms as they try to pass their radical agenda into law.”

RELATED: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Claims Tim Scott Lied In Rebuttal To Biden Address – ‘Reprehensible’

Cheney And Trump Sworn Enemies?

While Cheney says we’re all Americans and not sworn enemies, she has been aggressive in her condemnation of former President Donald Trump.

Cheney has been at odds with the Trump forces within the Republican Party for some time, including working with Democrats to block Trump’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But things really became heated after she voted for the second impeachment of the former president for alleged incitement of insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

After Cheney said earlier this week that she would not rule out a 2024 presidential run, Donald Trump issued a statement denouncing the Republican congresswoman using the same “warmonger” rhetoric his son did in his tweet.

“She’ll either be yet another lobbyist or maybe embarrass her family by running for President, in order to save face,” wrote Trump.

“This warmongering fool wants to stay in the Middle East and Afghanistan for another 19 years, but doesn’t consider the big picture — Russia and China!” Trump said..

 

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Rep. Matt Gaetz is out of friends, drugs, and pimps. Might be time to cut your losses, pal

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has long been a terrible, terrible person, which for the past 10 years has been a near-requirement for Republican officeholders in general. He made a name for himself as a rabid partisan of no particular values other than devoted sucking-up; his main contribution to his nation has been a vocal defending of Donald Trump each and every time Trump was caught in some new crookedness. That's it. He's known for that, for launching retaliatory strikes against Trump's enemies, for near-obsessive attempts to ingratiate himself with Dear Golfing Leader, and oh, would you look at that, living a not-so-secret life as a House Republican ultraperv now under investigation for drug-fueled sex trafficking. What are the odds: A man who fetishizes Donald Trump and is joined at the hip to Jim Jordan turned out to be a child rapist? Wow, go figure.

So we are absolutely allowed to enjoy his downfall, and if the man wants to drag this out in order to tarnish or implicate as many of his fellow House Republican sedition-backers as possible then by all means he should knock himself out with that. Do a backflip on the way down, buddy.

The latest humiliation, just so we are all gloriously up to date, is an expected one. Matt Gaetz evidently sought an urgent meeting with Donald Trump "after it was first revealed he was being investigated," says CNN, but was turned down by Trump's aides. Yes, the man who polished Dear Crooked Leader's boots to a shine in multiple impeachment investigations is being cut loose by the Mar-a-Lago crowd.

Now, just to put the proper emphasis on this: If there is any group in Florida that has their pulse on everything corrupt or worth corrupting, it is the denizens of Dear Golfing Leader's For-Profit Living Room and Covid Dispensarium, home of the all-you-can-eat Crime Buffet. The rapist and tax dodger Trump was carried into office by an assembly of small-time and mid-ranking conservative griftologists able to ingratiate themselves because they spoke the same two-bit language; once in office, he was treated as the Jesus of Petty Extortions. This crowd thinks the brown-nosing Matt Gaetz is cooked. This is the crowd that's cutting him loose.

Yeah, he's toast. Already, there's a robo-poll going around Gaetz's district testing names for who in Republicandom should run to replace him. Nobody's fessing up to paying for it, though.

The New York Times has our latest look at Joel Greenberg, the Florida Republican minor officeholder whose goings-on turned his friend Gaetz into a subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation, and the sheer scope of the man's seemingly compulsive crime-doing is ... yeesh. He may be the perfect Florida Republican, a lifetime screwup who spent just enough money to land himself a smalltime elected position in a state that doesn't give a damn about governing to begin with, a belligerent little hack who campaigned on swamp-draining but after taking office immediately seemed to fill his scorecard with every crime he could think of, both petty-ass and prison-worthy. As with every other crook in Florida, he latched onto the Gaetz and Trump crowd because go figure, it turns out sex crimes are one of the key Republican means of bonding, and now it seems he is a bit of a wreck because after f--king up everything else in his life he has a sudden fear of going to Big Boy Jail.

This is a child who would willingly burn every other conservative in Florida if it got him an extra pudding cup in prison lunchlines. He's going to cling to Gaetz's ankles so tenaciously Matt won't be able to board a plane without declaring him luggage.

Here's where things stand: House Republican Matt Gaetz is being probed for the possible sex trafficking of a 17-year-old. Along the way to answering that one last (?) question, people "familiar" with What Gaetz Was Doing have already confirmed to reporters that Gaetz has been openly bragging to his fellow House Republicans about his "conquests" (complete with videotapes); at least once accompanied Greenberg to Greenberg's fake-ID procurement office; "repeatedly" boasted to others about his antics with Greenberg; made at least one apparent sex trip to the Bahamas involving "female escorts" provided by another ally; appears to have assisted in procuring sex for other Republicans; and there are literally Venmo records of Gaetz paying at least three of the women through Greenberg. There's alleged drug use throughout, of course.

Oh, and he sought a "blanket" Trump pardon after he learned, in the last bits of Trump's time in office, that the feds were on to him. Oh, and his (other?) actions while in Congress were so continually grotesque his own staffers were sending videos to other Republicans.

That's not even all of it. That's just the highlights. And House Republicans knew about quite a bit of this, because Matt liked to "brag," and they did nothing because the party is a fascist cult now premised on letting their members get away with crimes.

Unfortunately for Matt Gaetz, he has failed to learn any of the basic lessons of Washington, D.C. Polishing Dear Leader's boots will get you absolutely nothing in return; there is no quid or quo among sociopaths and narcissists. When doing crimes, only do crimes that your associates can keep covered up. Attempt, if at all possible, not to be so universally hated in the nation that every last one of your Not Jim Jordan associates is putting out the popcorn and sitting themselves down on a couch to watch rigor mortis set in on your career.

If the man had an ounce of common sense he'd resign now, if only to make it not quite so spectacularly rewarding for national journalists to squeeze out new detail after new detail while he squirms. Instead, he's promoting seditionist conspiracies and being publicly dim. In times of trouble, some people retrench. Matt here is retrenching.

But Matt Gaetz has been a garbage human being ever since he first slithered out of the Florida swamps like an invasive python, he deserves every bit of it, everyone around him is a garbage human being for not ditching him long before this, and the sooner the Republican base figures out their party is just a crime-fueled sex cult with an advertising budget the better.

Yet Another Major Republican Senator Announces That He Won’t Be Running For Reelection In 2022

Various Republican senators have announced that they will not be running for reelection in 2022, including Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.

Now, yet another prominent Republican senator has announced that he will not be running for reelection next year.

Roy Blunt Announces He’s Retiring 

Republican Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who is a member of the GOP leadership and is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Rules Committee, released a video on Monday in which he revealed he will not be seeking reelection. He has reportedly been in the Senate since 2010, according to The Daily Caller.

“After 14 general election victories, three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives, and four statewide elections, I won’t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year,” Blunt said in the video.

“In every job Missourians have allowed me to have, I’ve tried to do my best,” he added. “In almost 12,000 votes in the Congress, I’m sure I wasn’t right every time, but you really make that decision based on the information you have at the time.”

Related: Top GOP Senator Claims Trump Impeachment ‘Clearly Is Not Going To Happen’

“The people of Southwest Missouri overwhelmingly elected Senator Blunt seven times to the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Blunt was elected the Majority Whip earlier in his career than any Member of Congress in eight decades, and he was elected to the Senate leadership during his first year in the Senate,” reads the biography on Blunt’s Senate website.

Related: Trump Pledges That He Will Campaign Against Lisa Murkowski In 2022

Republican Senators That Are Retiring

Blunt, 71, has said that he will finish out his current term, according to The Hill. He is the fifth Republican senator to announce that he is retiring at the end of his current term, and Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have yet to say if they will be going for reelection.

Grassley, 87, has previously said that he will come to a decision on this in the fall, while Johnson said last week that leaving office after 2022 is “probably my preference now.” Johnson had previously said that he would only run for two terms, and this is his second one. 

This piece was written by James Samson on March 8, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
Gaetz Questions If ‘Transition To Harris Has Already Begun’ – ‘Joe Biden’s Had More Nap Time Than He’s Had Questions From Reporters’
Trump Pledges That He Will Campaign Against Lisa Murkowski In 2022
GOP Sen. Toomey Says Trump Can’t Be The GOP Nominee In 2024 Because He Cost Republicans Senate And White House

The post Yet Another Major Republican Senator Announces That He Won’t Be Running For Reelection In 2022 appeared first on The Political Insider.

Voting Rights Roundup: The House’s new voting rights bill now curtails gerrymandering right away

Programming Note: The Voting Rights Roundup will be taking a break the week of March 13 but will return the following week.

Leading Off

Congress: On Wednesday, House Democrats voted 220-210 to once again pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” the most important set of voting and election reforms since the historic Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965. It also includes a major modification to provisions that would curtail gerrymandering, ensuring that they'll take effect right away. All Democrats except Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson voted for the bill, while all Republicans voted against it.

H.R. 1 would implement transformative changes to federal elections by (1) removing barriers to expanding access to voting and securing the integrity of the vote; (2) establishing public financing in House elections to level the playing field; and (3) banning congressional gerrymandering by requiring that every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan redistricting criteria.

These reforms, which House Democrats previously passed in 2019, face a challenging path in the Senate given Democrats’ narrow majority and uncertainty over whether they can overcome a GOP filibuster, but their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attack by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress. Senate Democrats have announced that they plan to hold hearings on the bill on March 24, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has committed to holding an eventual floor vote.

Using Congress’ power to regulate Senate and House elections under the Elections Clause and enforce anti-discrimination laws under the 14th Amendment, the bill would:

  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting;
  • Establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria such as a partisan fairness provision that courts can enforce starting immediately no matter what institution draws the maps;
  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they'll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters' registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they're incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

Importantly, the bill that won approval on the full floor on Wednesday contained critical amendments strengthening its anti-gerrymandering provisions. While the original version would not have required states to use independent commissions and nonpartisan redistricting criteria until 2030, the revised bill would implement them right away. And even if states don't have enough time to set up new commissions ahead of the 2022 elections, they would still be banned from drawing maps that unduly favor a party, which a court could then enforce.​

Campaign Action

​Ending Republicans’ ability to gerrymander is of the utmost importance after Republicans won the power to redistrict two-to-three times as many congressional districts as Democrats after the 2020 elections. If congressional Democrats don’t act, Republican dominance in redistricting may practically guarantee that Republicans retake the House in 2022 even if Democrats once again win more votes, an outcome that could lead to congressional Republicans more seriously trying to overturn a Democratic victory in the 2024 Electoral College vote than they did in January, when two-thirds of the House caucus voted to overturn Biden's election.

If this bill becomes law, Republicans would lose that unfettered power to rig the House playing field to their advantage. Instead, reform proponents would gain the ability to challenge unfair maps in court over illegal partisan discrimination, and the bill would eventually require states to create independent redistricting commissions that would take the process out of the hands of self-interested legislators entirely.

Protecting the right to vote is just as paramount when Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to adopt new voting restrictions by furthering the lies Donald Trump told about the election that led directly to January's insurrection at the Capitol. With Republican legislatures likely to pass many of these bills into law—and the Supreme Court's conservative partisans poised to further undermine existing protections for voting rights—congressional action is an absolute must to protect the ability of voters to cast their ballots.

The most important remaining hurdle, however, is the legislative filibuster: The fate of these reforms will depend on Senate Democrats either abolishing or curtailing it. Progressive activists have relaunched a movement to eliminate the filibuster entirely, while some experts have suggested that Democrats could carve out an exception for voting rights legislation. Either way, Democrats will need to address the filibuster in some fashion, since Senate Republicans have made it clear they will not provide the support necessary to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass H.R. 1 into law.

Redistricting

Minnesota: A group of Minnesota citizens, including a veteran redistricting expert and a former state supreme court justice, filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent Minnesota's current congressional and legislative districts from being used next year if state lawmakers are unable to pass new districts by Feb. 15. That outcome is likely given that Democrats hold the state House and governorship while Republicans hold the state Senate. Similarly divided governments have led the courts to intervene to draw new maps in each of the last five decades.

New Mexico: A committee in New Mexico's Democratic-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would establish a bipartisan advisory redistricting commission to handle redistricting for Congress, the state legislature, the state Public Regulation Commission, and the state Public Education Commission. Democratic state House Speaker Brian Egolf endorsed the proposal after previously opposing a competing reform measure that passed unanimously in state House committee in early February.

The Senate bill would create a commission with seven members, with four chosen by the leadership of both parties in each of the state's two legislative chambers, two unaffiliated members selected by the state Ethics Commission, and a final seventh member named by the Ethics Commission who would be a retired appellate judge and would serve as commission chair. No more than three commissioners could be members of the same party, and anyone who is or has served as an officeholder, candidate, or lobbyist (or whose close family members have) in the two years prior to redistricting could not participate.

Commissioners would devise three proposals for each type of office and hold public hearings to discuss them. Districts would have to be drawn according to the following criteria: equal population; legislative districts cannot split precincts; adherence to the federal Voting Rights Act and its protections of voters of color; compactness; preservation of communities of interest and local government jurisdictions; and preservation of the cores of existing districts. The criteria apparently do not prohibit mapmakers from considering partisanship or incumbency.

Once commissioners have come up with three different proposals for each office and held public hearings, they would submit the maps to the legislature for approval by lawmakers. The bill doesn't mention any prohibition on lawmakers amending the proposed districts, meaning this reform measure could nevertheless result in legislators adopting gerrymandered districts.

South Dakota: Last month, the League of Women Voters and other good-government organizations announced a plan to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would establish an independent redistricting commission. Supporters would need to file just under 34,000 signatures, roughly 10% of the total vote for governor in the most recent election, by this November in order to get onto the ballot.

Since South Dakota only has a single statewide congressional district, the proposal would only affect legislative redistricting. The measure would create a nine-member commission chosen by the state Board of Elections with no more than three members belonging to the same party, though the proposal is vague on the specifics of the selection process.

Mapmakers would have to adhere to several criteria, which prioritize compactness, followed by preserving communities of interest and keeping counties and cities undivided to the extent practicable. Commissioners would be barred from considering partisanship or incumbency. While Republican lawmakers would still have the opportunity to draw new districts for the 2022 elections even if the amendment passes, the commission would sweep into action immediately, crafting new maps in 2023 for the 2024 elections and then in years ending in "1" every 10 years afterward.

Voting Access Expansions

Congress: House members are set to introduce a bill with bipartisan support that would make Puerto Rico a state following a referendum last November in which voters backed statehood by a 52-48 margin. The bill's 48 sponsors in the House are mostly Democrats but also include around a dozen Republicans, several of whom are from Florida, which is home to a large Puerto Rican population. However, even if the House passes the bill, it will face a challenging path to overcoming a likely filibuster by Senate Republicans, as only Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are reportedly supporting the bill on the GOP side.

Delaware: Democratic state Rep. Bryan Shupe has announced he plans to introduce a bill later this month that would end Delaware's unusual system that requires voters to register twice: once for state and federal elections and separately for local races. This system regularly leads to situations where voters who are registered in state elections try to vote in their local elections only to find out on Election Day that they can't vote. Democrats hold both legislative chambers and the governor's office in Delaware.

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill to set up a standardized process for requiring local election officials to contact voters and give them a chance to fix any errors with their absentee ballots such as a voter signature supposedly not matching the one on file.

Maryland: Maryland's Democratic-run state House has passed a bill to create a semi-permanent list that will automatically mail absentee ballots in all future elections to voters who opt in. A handful of other states have similar systems, though this proposal differs in that voters who don't vote in two consecutive election cycles would be removed from the list and have to reapply.

Meanwhile, state House Democrats passed a bill with some bipartisan support to strengthen voting access on college campuses, military bases, retirement homes, and other "large residential communities." Sites like these would be able to request an in-person voting location, and colleges would be required to establish voter registration efforts on campus and give students an excused absence to vote if needed. The bill would also let military service members register online using their identification smart cards issued by the Defense Department.

New Mexico: New Mexico's Democratic-run state House has unanimously passed a bill that aims to protect Native American voting access in a variety of ways. Among other provisions, the bill requires that every reservation or other Native community have an in-person polling place, which fills an important gap since many Native communities lack reliable postal service for mail voting and also have a large proportion of residents who lack a driver's license or access to other transportation options.

New York: Following its recent passage in the state Senate, a bill has been approved in committee by Assembly Democrats that would automatically restore voting rights to everyone who is not currently incarcerated, which would permanently end the disenfranchisement of parolees. Currently, many parolees are only able to vote because Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order two years ago to restore the rights of people on parole who were convicted of certain crimes, meaning their right to vote could be rescinded by a future governor unless this bill passes.

New Jersey: New Jersey's Democratic-run Assembly has passed a bill with bipartisan support to create an in-person early voting period after their counterparts in the state Senate passed similar legislation last week. The Assembly's bill would adopt 10 days of early voting for general elections starting in November, five days for presidential primaries, and three days for all other primaries and any municipal elections taking place in May. The measure would require each of New Jersey's 21 counties to establish between five and 10 early voting locations.

Utah: Utah's GOP-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill creating a system where voters can track the status of their mail ballots via email or text message. Utah is one of a handful of states that mails ballots to all active registered voters by default.

Virginia: Both chambers of Virginia's Democratic-run legislature have passed a constitutional amendment that would abolish felony disenfranchisement for everyone who is not currently incarcerated. Currently, state law imposes a lifetime ban on voting by anyone convicted of a felony, but that system has been curtailed because Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and his Democratic predecessor issued executive orders to automatically restore voting rights upon completion of any prison, parole, or probation sentences. Those orders, however, could be rescinded by any future Republican governor.

To become law, legislators would have to pass this same amendment again after the 2021 elections before it would have to win approval in a November 2022 voter referendum. A separate amendment that would have abolished felony disenfranchisement entirely, including for people currently in prison, failed to advance before a key deadline.

Voter Suppression

Supreme Court: On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case over two Arizona voting restrictions that could deal a crippling blow to what remains of the Voting Rights Act after the high court's conservatives gutted a key part of the law in 2013. Observers widely agreed that the court's conservative majority was leaning toward upholding the Republican-backed voting restrictions, but it was unclear from oral arguments just how gravely the court could undermine the standards used to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

This case involves two Arizona laws that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found had both the effect and intent of discriminating against Black, Latino, and Native American voters. If both findings are overturned, it may become impossible to challenge similar laws in the future.

Last year, the 9th Circuit blocked both measures: one that bars counting votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, and another that limits who can turn in another person's absentee mail ballot on a voter's behalf.

Arizona had largely transitioned to mail voting even before the pandemic, but the 9th Circuit observed that only 18% of Native American voters receive mail service, and many living on remote reservations lack reliable transportation options. That led some voters to ask others in their community to turn their completed ballots in, which Republicans have sought to deride as "ballot harvesting" in an attempt to delegitimize the practice. The invalidated law had limited who could handle another person's mail ballot to just close relatives, caregivers, or postal service workers.

The 9th Circuit's ruling also invalidated a separate provision prohibiting out-of-precinct voting, in which a voter shows up and casts a ballot at the wrong polling place but in the right county on Election Day. Under the invalidated law, voters in such circumstances could only cast a provisional ballot, which were automatically rejected if it was later confirmed that the voter had indeed showed up at the wrong polling place.

This decision relied on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that have a discriminatory effect against racial minorities regardless of whether there was an intent to discriminate. The finding of a discriminatory effect is critical because it's often much more difficult if not impossible to prove that lawmakers acted with illicit intent, whereas statistical analysis can more readily prove that a law has a disparate negative impact on protected racial groups.

Consequently, it's this so-called "effects test" that is the key remaining plank of the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court's notorious 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Some legal observers remained optimistic that the worst may not come to pass, since Arizona Republicans' oral arguments did not touch on the constitutionality of the VRA's effects test. However, others have noted that even if the effects test isn't formally struck down, the Supreme Court could make it so difficult to comply with the requirements to prove discrimination that the VRA would nevertheless become meaningless.

In one revealing exchange, conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Republican attorney Michael Carvin why the state GOP was even party to this case. Carvin responded with an admission that the 9th Circuit decision striking down the two voting restrictions "puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats" because "every extra vote they get ... hurts us."

Arizona: Republicans in the Arizona Senate have passed a bill that could purge roughly 200,000 voters from the state's "permanent" mail voting list, which is supposed to automatically mail a ballot in all future elections to participating voters and has proven very popular since its implementation. The bill would remove anyone who doesn't vote in two consecutive election cycles, even if they still remain eligible to vote. Republicans only hold a two-seat majority in both the state House and Senate, so they would need every member on board to overcome Democratic opposition.

In the state House, meanwhile, Republicans have passed a bill that would require people and groups who register more than 25 voters in a given year to themselves register with the state, mandating that they put unique identifying numbers on every registration form they submit. Voter advocacy groups have condemned this bill and warn that it could lead to registration forms being rejected.

Alabama: Alabama House Republicans have passed a bill that would ban local election officials from establishing curbside voting or setting up voting machines outside of polling places, which would make it harder for people with disabilities and limited mobility to cast their ballots.

Arkansas: Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill into law that makes Arkansas' voter ID law much stricter, making it one of the first of many Republican-backed voting restrictions under consideration nationwide to become law following the 2020 elections. The bill removes the option for voters who lack an ID to vote by signing a sworn statement under penalty of perjury, instead mandating an ID in order to have one's vote counted.

Georgia: On Monday, state House Republicans passed a far-reaching bill to enact several new voting restrictions that would:

  • Require that voters provide the number on their driver's license, state ID, or a photocopy of their ID when requesting an absentee ballot and a photocopy of their ID when returning an absentee ballot;
  • Limit weekend early voting;
  • Restrict absentee ballot drop boxes to only the inside of early voting locations or county election offices, making them unavailable outside of regular business hours;
  • Set a minimum of one drop box per 200,000 registered voters (other states such as California require one drop box per 15,000 voters);
  • Shorten the runoff period in federal elections from nine weeks to four weeks, with the apparent intent of giving campaigns less time to mobilize voters (instant runoffs would be used for overseas civilian and military voters to avoid running afoul of federal law mandating that their ballots be sent out 45 days before an election);
  • Ban state officials from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot request forms to all voters after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did so in the 2020 primary;
  • Disqualify ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, which currently may be counted as provisional ballots;
  • Limit mobile early voting buses to only emergency situations;
  • Bar counties from receiving private funding to help administer elections; and
  • Block officials from distributing food and drinks to voters waiting in line to vote.

Meanwhile, in the state Senate, Republicans passed a bill in committee to end no-excuse absentee voting for voters under age 65, who typically lean more Democratic than older voters. Late last month, Republicans in the full Senate also passed a bill that would give the state the power to take over local election boards that supposedly fail to meet certain standards, which Democrats condemned as a way to let Republicans usurp control over election boards in Democratic-leaning counties.

Montana: State House Republicans have passed a bill over Democratic objections that would bar anyone who isn't a family or household member, caregiver, or an "acquaintance" who is a registered voter in the same county from turning in another person's ballot, thereby preventing voter advocacy groups or political campaigns from organizing ballot collection efforts.

A previous Republican-backed law imposing similar restrictions was blocked in court last year for discriminating against Native American voters, who often live on remote rural reservations where mail service and transportation access are limited. This latest bill may therefore also face difficulty surviving a likely lawsuit.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill along party lines to add a voter ID requirement for requesting and casting absentee ballots, sending it to the state House, which is also controlled by the GOP. New Hampshire is one of several states where Republicans are considering extending voter ID requirements to absentee ballots after Democrats disproportionately voted by mail in the 2020 elections.

Wyoming: State House Republicans have passed a bill establishing a voter ID requirement, sending it to the state Senate, where Republicans are also likely to pass it.

Ballot Measures

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill that would make it all but impossible for progressive initiatives to get on the ballot by requiring proponents to submit voter signatures equivalent to 6% of registered voters in each of the state's 35 legislative districts instead of 18, the current requirement.

The bill, which would take effect immediately, would disproportionately impact progressives because left-leaning voters are heavily concentrated in a handful of denser urban districts. Liberal organizers would therefore have to canvas in rural districts where receptive voters are few and far between. Conservatives, by contrast, would have an easier time canvassing for signatures in cities because, even if right-leaning voters represent a relatively small proportion of voters, they live in closer proximity to one another.

Republicans in Idaho have advanced similar restrictions on initiatives in recent years as a reaction to successful efforts by progressives to expand Medicaid and increase public education funding at the ballot box during the last decade. Fearing a lawsuit, GOP Gov. Brad Little vetoed a similar bill in 2019 but the Senate passed this most recent bill with a veto-proof majority.

South Dakota: South Dakota's Republican-run legislature voted this week to put a constitutional amendment on the June 2022 primary ballot that would institute a 60% supermajority requirement for ballot initiatives that raise taxes or spend more than $10 million in public funds within a five-year period. The amendment would not, however, require a supermajority to cut taxes or spending. Democratic legislators blasted Republicans for trying to manipulate the election to their advantage by placing the amendment on the primary ballot instead of sending it before voters in the general election, noting that turnout in the 2020 primary was just one-third as high as it was last November.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to enact restrictions on ballot initiatives in recent years after voters approved an initiative in 2016 that would have placed strict limits on lobbying, created an independent ethics commission, and implemented a public campaign finance system that would have given each voter a voucher to donate to their preferred candidates.

In 2017, Republicans resorted to declaring an actual state of emergency to enable the legislature to immediately repeal the voter-approved ethics law and make it immune to a veto referendum, meaning supporters of the reform needed double the signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to restore the measure. Although they did just that in 2018, then-Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley gave the new amendment a ballot summary that said it would "likely be challenged on constitutional grounds," and voters rejected the second ethics commission amendment 55-45.

Electoral System Reform

Burlington, VT: Voters in Vermont's largest city of Burlington voted by 64-36 margin to approve a ballot measure that will adopt instant-runoff voting in City Council elections starting next year. This vote comes just over a decade after Burlington voters narrowly repealed instant-runoff voting for mayoral elections after it had been used to elect the mayor in 2006 and 2009. Before it can take effect, though, it must be approved by the Democratic-run legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Senate Elections

Kentucky: Republican state senators have passed a bill that would require the governor to fill any future U.S. Senate vacancies with an appointee from the same party as the departing senator.

Currently, Kentucky's governor is Democrat Andy Beshear while both of its senators are Republicans, meaning this bill would prevent Beshear from replacing either McConnell or fellow Sen. Rand Paul with a Democrat if either were to leave office. Republicans easily hold enough seats to override a potential veto by Beshear. The bill would allow the party committee of the departing lawmaker to send a list of three names to the governor, who would be required to pick a replacement from that list.

Ever since Beshear's narrow 2019 win, Kentucky Republicans have advanced a series of moves to strip him of his executive power, and this proposal is part of the same partisan effort to constrain Beshear's authority. However, despite the GOP's self-interested motives, the proposed system is already used in many states for legislative vacancies and a handful of states for Senate vacancies and better ensures the will of voters is respected.

Democrats in Congress must pass new election reforms to save democracy from an ever more radical GOP

Republicans around the country are plotting a new wave of voter suppression laws in reaction to their 2020 losses, but many of their proposals can be defanged if congressional Democrats take decisive action. Just last month, Democrats introduced sweeping bills that would enact the most transformative changes to our democracy since the 1965 Voting Rights Act and provide a critical bulwark against GOP efforts to suppress votes. These reforms include:

These reforms are urgently needed. Last year saw Republicans almost win full control of the federal government despite receiving millions fewer votes than Democrats at all levels—from the Electoral College down to the Senate and House. Donald Trump then followed up on this near miss by trying to overturn the results in court and in Congress, and through inciting mob violence once it was clear he had lost.

The case of the House is instructive. Thanks to widespread GOP gerrymandering, Republicans very nearly retook the lower chamber last year and might very well have done so had Democrats not brought successful lawsuits over the last decade that resulted in new maps in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But it might only be a temporary reprieve: Thanks to a strong performance at the legislative level, Republicans are poised to dominate redistricting across the country just as the Supreme Court's GOP hardliners threaten to turbocharge gerrymandering.

The Senate presents a different sort of problem. As our newly published data illustrates, Democratic senators have collectively won more votes and represented more Americans than Republicans continuously since 2000 but have only run the chamber half the time since. Had Senate Republicans won just over 1,000 votes more in New Hampshire in 2016, GOP minority rule would have continued in 2020 despite Democratic senators representing tens of millions more constituents. Of course, there’s also the Electoral College: A shift of just 40,000 votes in three key swing states could have seen Trump again win the presidency last year in spite of a second popular vote loss.

Republican minority rule isn't just a threat to our elected offices. It's already a reality on the U.S. Supreme Court, where five conservative justices have been confirmed by senates where the Republican majority had won fewer votes and represented fewer people than the Democratic minority. Three of those justices were also appointed by a president who lost the popular vote.

And that’s before we even get to January’s unparalleled attacks on democracy by Republican extremists. These included the far-right insurrection that saw a violent mob ransack the Capitol, leave several dead in their wake, nearly cost elected officials their lives, and led to Trump's impeachment for the second time after he and his allies in Congress incited the violence by telling lies about voter fraud and stolen elections.

Despite that violent coup attempt, two-thirds of House Republicans and several prominent GOP senators voted just hours later that day to overturn the Electoral College results in the hopes of stealing the election for Trump. Our democracy has been increasingly under siege by the far right for years, but these attempts to overthrow it both through mob violence and congressional action mark the lowest ebb in American civic health since the Civil War.

We can reverse this decline, however, by adopting the reforms currently before Congress. But to pass them would require unanimous support among Senate Democrats and a newfound willingness to curtail the filibuster in the face of certain Republican obstruction. If Democrats don't take advantage of their fleeting chance to pass transformational reforms to our democratic institutions and protect voting rights, our democracy may not survive much longer.

A failure to act could see Republicans regain a gerrymandered majority in the House in 2022 and another majority in the Senate next year despite once again failing to win more votes or represent more Americans than Democrats. A Republican-run Congress could even try to overturn democracy outright in 2024 by rejecting the outcome of the Electoral College, just as Trump and his many allies sought to do last month.

Democracy reform must be at the top of the agenda this year, because the future of our political system—and every other policy effort—depends upon it.