Lame Duck Demagogue Donald Gets His Comeuppance-- House Overrides his Defense Veto But GOP Congressman Steve Scalise Joins the “Soft on Defense” 87 Trump Robots December 29, 2020
Since Joe Biden’s “y uu ge” 306-232 Electoral College and over 7 million popular vote wins over Trump (cnn.com/election/2020), Demagogue Donald has gone bonkers plus. All he cares about is a hopeless attempt to overturn the election results and his “me, me, me, me, me” ego. Never mind that numerous lower courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have repeatedly turned down his ridiculous claims of election fraud. Trump remains tethered to his “alternate universe.” In his non-reality world, wacko Donald thinks about just creating additional massive chaos as the days of his White House tenure all too slowly wind down. Witness his pardons for his crooked cronies and for the brutal Blackwater contractors who brutally murdered innocent Iraqis. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has now claimed over 335,000 American lives, continues with more fatalities to come, while Trump could care less about quickly getting out the vaccines to stop this scourge.
And the Trumpian chaos goes on. When GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Rubber Stamp” McConnell grudgingly admitted that Biden had won the 12/14/2020 Electoral College vote, Trump considered him a traitor. After failing to involve himself with the latest COVID stimulus relief negotiations worked out by Congress and his own Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Demagogue Donald abruptly threatened to veto the bill because the stimulus relief checks should have been higher and there was pork in the bill, spending that he himself put into the legislation. After letting the 12/26/2020 deadline pass, he finally signed the bill. However, because of Trump’s dithering, millions of hard-pressed Americans will likely not receive unemployment payments for the final week of the year. Their payments will also be delayed several weeks while state agencies reprogram their computers (CNN Business, Riley, C., 12/28/20). On 12/28/2020, the House passed Trump’s $2,000 stimulus bill (up from the original bill’s $600) by a 275-134 vote. Forty-four members of the House GOP minority were part of that 275, pushing the vote over the 2/3 margin needed to clear the House. This bill next went to McConnell’s GOP Senate. On 12/29/2020, McConnell quickly blocked an effort to pass the $2,000 stimulus increase (cnn.com, Zaslav, Rogers, & Barrett, 12/29/20). McConnell is now employing tactical objections to kill this $2,000 House stimulus bill and blame the failure on Democrats (cnn.com, Mattingly, 12/29/20). Trump, IMHO, just made a ruckus about a $2,000 stimulus to briefly lash out at McConnell. Trump also wanted to put himself in the spotlight as a “populist” caring for the middle class (NOT).
On 12/23/2020, in another fit of pique and irrationality, Trump vetoed the popular bipartisan defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the House 335-78 and the Senate 84-13. This vital NDAA included new benefits for tens of thousands Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% pay raise for service members, and a boost for hazardous duty incentive pay. This bill would take steps to slow or block Trump’s planned drawdown of American troops from Germany and Afghanistan, and make it more difficult for Trump to deploy military personnel to the southern border with Mexico. This bill required all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies, which they had not done in the summer Black Lives Matter demonstrations. A bipartisan measure in this legislation directed the Pentagon to begin the process of renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders (O’Brien, C., 12/28/20, Politico, nytimes.com, Edmondson, C., 12/28/20). Trump’s reasons for the veto? Charlottesville/Rebel loving Donald objected to the provision stripping the names of Confederate leaders from bases. Never mind that those “leaders” tried to tear apart our nation over white supremacy and in the process, over 600,000 Northerners and Southerners were killed. That total was more Americans than died in WWII. Trump additionally demanded this bill include a repeal of a legal shield for social media he has fought with, a major legislative change that both Dems and GOPers have rightly said is irrelevant to military policy (See, nytimes.com, 1/28/20).
On 12/28/2020, the same day the House passed the $2,000 stimulus increase, the lower chamber voted 322-87, by more than the 2/3 constitutional vote required, to override Trump’s military spending veto. If the Senate follows through, it will deliver Trump his first and only veto override of his presidency (Politico, O’ Brien, 12/28/20). Defense bills are normally popular and have become law each year for nearly six decades. Trump finally received his comeuppance from GOPers. “Team Red” had stuck with him on health care, tax cuts, and everything else, including opposing his impeachment. GOPers were absolutely hesitant to go after him and his MAGA base on key legislation. All they often did was criticize him privately or make a few public grumbles. They were “profiles in cowardice.” There was a lot of talk that House GOPers would sustain the veto. In the end, however, 109 House GOPers voted to overturn Donald’s veto. Democrats boosted their support of the NDAA bill with 212 voting to override versus the 195 of them who had initially supported the bill (See Politico, O’ Brien, 12/28/20).
However, 87 GOPers including House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) stuck with the “I’m for Donald soft on defense, let’s sustain his veto (See nytimes.com, Edmonson, 12/28/20).” We should not at all be surprised that Scalise cares more about draft dodger Donald than the servicemembers defending our country. Scalise, a top GOP leader, was also one of the 126 seditious GOP Congressmembers who signed on to TX’s brief to the Supreme Court. That brief asked the Court to hear Trump’s case of election “fraud” and overthrow the 2020 presidential election results (Einenkel, dailykos.com, 12/27/20).
GOP Congressman Steve Scalise (55), re-elected to his 8th-term, first won election to the House in 2008. He represents the 1st Congressional District (CD) of Louisiana. The 1st stretches from suburban St. Tammany Parish (the LA equivalent of a county), north of New Orleans to Houma in Terrebonne Parish. The Pelican State 1st takes in the vast suburb of Metairie in Jefferson Parish as well as part of western New Orleans, the predominantly white part of that city. Most of the 1st’s population lives in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes. About 60% of Jefferson is in the 1st . The economic pillars are the oil industry, retailing, and agriculture. Scalise’s 1st is far from a multi-cultural district. Its 14% black population is the lowest of any LA congressional district. It is a comfortable heavily GOP district with an ultra-“Red” Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+24. In 2016, Trump won 69% of the vote in the 1st, his best district in GOP LA. In 2020, the 1st remained “Trump Country.” Jefferson County went 54.7% for Trump v. 43.6% for Biden, while St. Tammany went 71.1% for Trump v. 26.9% for Biden. Scalise comes from a state in which Trump clobbered Biden 58.5%-39.9% (nbcnews.com/politics, 11/27/20, Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac).
Scalise viewed Ronald Reagan as his idol and registered as a Republican on his 18th birthday. He received a computer science degree from LA State University, settled in Jefferson Parish, and worked as an engineer. He won election to the LA State House in 1995 and served there for 12 years, before winning a State Senate seat in 2007. In the state legislature, NRA member Scalise helped pass a bill that made LA the first state to bar cities from suing gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals (Cohen & Cook 2020). After winning a special election in 2008 to replace GOP 1st CD Cong. Bobby Jindal, Scalise has been handily re-elected to Congress. In 2020, he thrashed his Democratic opponent by a 47-point margin (CQ Early 117th Cong. Guide, Cohen & Cook 2020).
In 2014, six years after winning his special election, Scalise became House Majority Whip, responsible for “whipping” GOPers to vote for “Team Red’s” agenda. He combines staunch conservatism, Cajun charm, and the ability to take advantage of political opportunities. Under the current Democratic House majority, he is the top Southerner in GOP leadership and the second-ranking House GOP leader (Cohen & Cook, 2020). He is one ardent GOPer, who despite his charm, has a sharp edge to his rhetoric. He is a “full-throttled conservative with combative agenda, despite his pleasant face,” as the Times Picayune noted (Tilove, 4/29/09). Scalise railed against Obama’s “radical agenda.” Despite the BP oil spill that damaged LA, he is all for more energy production and offshore drilling. Scalise was furious at Obama’s moratorium on drilling, which he called “reckless.” Scalise opposed the 2011 compromise on raising the debt ceiling whose failure could have caused a national and international economic catastrophe. Scalise opposed the 2013 New Year’s Day fiscal cliff bill favored by then GOP Speaker Boehner and Obama. Failure to pass that deal would have triggered economic freefall, but Scalise was all about partisanship and ideology. Scalise, despite Hurricane Katrina and other storms that hit his state, refused to support relief for Eastern “Blue State” Hurricane Sandy victims unless there were offsetting cuts in spending. He voted to repeal or defund Obamacare 62 times. Scalise pushed a bill to Obama’s desk to eliminate that legislation and end funding for Planned Parenthood. Obama vetoed that bill in early 2016 (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Scalise was a member of former Cong. Michelle Bachmann’s extreme anti-government Tea Party Caucus. Scalise earned chits with the GOP leadership by being the chief recruiter for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2012. Scalise became the communications director of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and later became its president. The RSC is the biggest bloc of conservative members in the House GOP Caucus. His 2012 election put him on the fast track to moving up the House GOP ladder. When VA GOP Cong. and Whip Eric Cantor was defeated in a primary, Scalise took his place in 2014. Scalise’s being a Southerner in the “Southern-fried” GOP party and his friendship with Bakersfield, CA’s Kevin McCarthy, then the GOP Majority Leader, were instrumental in Scalise’s getting the then Majority Whip post (Cohen & Cook 2020).
More than other congressional GOP leaders, Scalise was a consistent supporter of Trump from the start of his 2016 presidential campaign. Since Trump took office, Scalise has voted with Donald 98.8% of the time (projectsfivethirtyeight.com). Scalise was shot and severely wounded at a 6/2017 congressional baseball game by a political fanatic and was near death for a long time. After several surgeries and a long recuperation, he came back to the House in 9/2017 using canes. Following much physical therapy, he learned to walk again. He resumed his whip responsibilities and heavy traveling schedule. However, his near brush with death via guns did not change his view of the NRA. Scalise took over $132, 831 from the NRA and remains opposed to all gun safety proposals (dailykos.com/stories, Einenkel, W., 8/06/19). We, therefore, should not at all be surprised that Scalise backs Donald 10,000% of the time, be it anti-Obamacare, no gun control, tax cuts, and now vetoing a bill helping our nation’s defense and military personnel.
Cong. Scalise is currently the Minority Whip. However, because Democrats were told not to campaign personally in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, because Trump-leaning GOPers came out more than expected, and because Democrats did not strongly counter GOP lies about “socialism” thrown against them, “Team Blue” lost about 10 seats. Speaker Pelosi now has a very narrow majority with which to work. If Democrats decide to stay home in the 2022 midterm, we could easily lose the House and make Steve Scalise a truly influential power. We must not allow Steve “Trump Robot” Scalise and his Trump-obsessed GOP to recapture Congress again.