Tag Archives: cloture rule

What is the HEROES Bill?  How would it impact schools? Why hasn’t the bill passed in the Senate? [A Civics Lesson]

In May the Democratic-majority in the House of Representatives passed the HEROES bill, a $3 trillion (yes, a 3 with twelve zeros), a bill that included funding for schools and local and state governments

See a summary of the HEROES bill here.

See how the bill impacts New York State here and how bill impacts state and local government here.

Why did the bill originate in the House of Representatives?

Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires,

 “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”

The bill was sharply criticized by Republicans and the President and the Republican-controlled majority in the Senate took no action,

 President Trump sought to draw a hard line on the coronavirus relief bill saying it must include a payroll tax cut and liability protections for businesses, as legislators prepared to plunge into negotiation over unemployment benefits and other key provisions in upcoming days.”

 Why is there so much antagonism? So much partisanship? Why can’t Republicans and Democrats simply sit down and iron out there differences?

Our political system is based on factions, is based on a conflict of ideas, and the Constitution established two houses in the Congress, a President and a Judiciary, the three branches of government must come together to set policy, to make laws.

In September of 1787 the 54 members of the Constitutional Convention after five months of contentious debate agreed upon our constitution; a compromise between free and slave-holding states, large and small states and among geographic regions. The constitution contained ratification procedures, nine of the thirteen embryonic states had to approve the constitution.

Madison and Hamilton wrote eight-five essays, today we’d call them opinion pieces, op-eds, and, they were published in newspapers across the soon to be states, we call the essays The Federalist Papers.

Federalist # 10 could have been written last week, last year, a decade ago or a century ago,

A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

 The words of Madison could just as well appear on today’s NY Times op ed page, “… more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good;” our forbearers created a system that was crafted to prevent a tyrant or a tyrannical group from seizing control of our government,

While the House passed the HEROES bill the Senate took no action; the rules of the Senate require a two-thirds vote (60 members to close debate and bring a bill to a vote: cloture.

Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?” And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn. (Rules of the Senate)

The “mutual animosities” are not only between Republicans and Democrats; there are animosities among Republicans and between the President and the Senate Republicans.

Hovering over the entire process is an economy tittering on an economic abyss and an election on November 3rd, the presidency, one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives.

Once again our founding fathers were prescient, Madison wrote, “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property, has anything changed?

The lobbyists representing every conceivable industry, representing teacher unions, transit systems, the post office, the list is endless. The following is a section of a letter calling for aid to schools, who do think wrote it?

K – 12 Schools: A safe-reopening will require numerous operational modifications for schools, including health screening, testing, contact tracing, enhanced cleaning, and physical modifications. Schools did so substantial that teachers are receiving layoff notices even though social distancing guidelines would indicate that more teachers are needed in the school building, not fewer. Not only will this immediately impact reopening plans, but it can also affect learning over the long-term. As we learned from the Great Recession not budget for these expenses. At the same time, local education agencies face significant budget shortfalls as a result of the economic downturn. Some local deficits have been, it took years for education budgets to recover. It was not until the 2015-16 school year that per-pupil education spending returned to the 2008-09 level.

 Teacher unions?  School Boards?

How about the Chamber of Commerce!!  The organization representing businesses across the nation,

Read entire letter here.  Politics makes for strange bedfellows (and visa versa, that’s for another discussion)

The Democrats want to hold the line on their core issues in the bill, the Republicans have to satisfy their own members and the President.

Republicans and Democrats are musing: if a bill isn’t passed what will be fall-out? Who will the voters blame in November?  If we don’t pass a bill could the entire economy crash?

Federalists # 10 avers, The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government; we are watching the “ordinary operations of government,” the wheeling and dealing that used to go in the cloakrooms now is spun out across Twitter; each faction seeking an advantage, seeking to win over or tarnish this senator or house member.

Yale historian Joanne Freeman, in “Field of Blood,” writes,

“Between 1830 and 1860 …there were more than 70 violent incidents between congressmen in the House and Senate chambers or on nearby streets and dueling grounds, most of them long forgotten.” The wrong word could easily lead to a duel. See which words, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8XdN0MYBUI

Maybe we’re a bit more civilized than our predecessors, or, maybe not …

Trump Lite or the Dark Donald: A Reagan Impersonator or a Proto-Fascist?

Will the president-elect govern as Trump lite, a blustering demeanor outside; following a Reagan agenda, or, will candidate Trump, the dark, retributive Donald be the dark, retributive President Trump?

At the Wednesday regularly scheduled Delegate Meeting the expected victory lap became a wake. UFT President Mulgrew scraped the agenda and asked the delegates: what happened in your school today? How should the union respond?

Students were frightened and angry:  Would their parents be deported? What would happen to them? Would high school students be barred from attending college? Read the Mulgrew letter here.

AFT President Weingarten, an undefeatable campaigner for Hillary wrote in a letter to her membership,

Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump promised to fix the rigged economy. He promised to restore America’s middle class, to bring back the country’s manufacturing and industrial base, and to restore dignity and opportunity for Americans—values that we as trade unionists understand intimately…. as Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, we owe President-elect Trump the chance to lead. We will also hold him accountable for the promises he made to restore the sense of greatness and opportunity that too many Americans feel they have lost, while at the same time we will continue the fight for everyone’s liberties.

Rumors abound: Gingrich as Secretary of State, Giuliani as Attorney General, Ben Carson as Secretary of Education. During the campaign Trump did lay out his plans for his first hundred day in the White House; however Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell “… mostly made nice with Trump but also shot down or expressed little enthusiasm in some of his plans.”

What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington

Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:

* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

2/3 of Congress, the requirement for a constitutional amendment are going to vote themselves out of office? – not likely!!!

* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

Hiring freezes at the federal level are commonplace, and fade away in time as the agencies whine they can’t impose the agenda with reduced staffs

* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

Not sure what this means, there is a lengthy process to amend federal regulations; others are solely at the whim of the President.

* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

Okay with me, I’m not sure his senior Republican colleagues will be happy, ending the possibility of lucrative jobs after elected office.

* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;


* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Thought it was illegal, if not, agreed,

Trump goes on to what he calls “restore security and constitutional rule of law.”

Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama

I guess he means cancel every one he doesn’t like, I think there is only one “executive actions, memorandum and orders” in place that a court has ruled unconstitutional, a few are currently being litigated.

* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States

Scalia was the most conservative justice on the court; he will be replaced by another conservative nominee who has to pass senatorial scrutiny. In other words we will return to the court before the death of Scalia.

* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities

There are cities that have refused to cooperate with federal law enforcement in immigration matters; I don’t know if “canceling federal funding” is permissible under current statute.

* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

The “2 million criminal illegal immigrants” range from misdemeanors to serious felonies; some are currently incarcerated, others completed prison/jail, or paid fines, or, have disappeared. Many of these “illegal immigrants” under current law are entitled to legal due process. A hugely complex and expensive initiative, and, the serious felons should be deported.

* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

It currently takes 18 – 24 months to vet immigrants from “terror-prone” parts of the world – we currently do “extreme vetting.”

Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 90 days of my administration.

“Work with Congress” means working with the Democratic Minority Leader in the Senate. The Senate cloture rule requires 60 members to move to close debate; Republicans will have a slim two vote majority, far below the cloture requirement. With the retirement of Harry Reid it appears that Chuck Schumer (NY) will become the Democratic leader (A proud graduate of James Madison High School, Brooklyn). Schumer is a tough negotiator with tentacles across the political and economic spectrum; from Wall Street to Black churches. Trump needs Schumer to pass any legislation, and, Schumer has many years of experience and is highly regarded in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification,

“Grow the economy 4%” without runaway inflation has eluded the best economic minds in the nation. We have returned to the pre-2008 recession levels, unemployment rates are low; however, the demand side is lagging and companies are hoarding cash. No one is opposed to tax simplification as long as it is fair. and, how do you define fair? Many of our so-called tax loopholes benefit specific segments of our population. Should you not make charitable donations deductable? How about excluding real estate taxes? By the way, what is a loophole?  “Massive tax deductions:” How do you sharply curtail federal revenue and expect a balanced budget? The Laffer Curve, the theory that tax cuts for the rich will trickle down has been proved incorrect over and over again.

End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

“Ending Offshoring: is borrowing from the Democratic play book – will the Republicans in Congress ever agree to this? Will a tariff war benefit American workers?  Moving jobs overseas reduces the workforce and lowers prices on goods, and, if we made TV sets in the US we would pay 3x as much for the TV.

American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

Infrastructure was also at the top of the Democratic agenda and has already been shot down by Senate Majority Leader Mc Connell. Oil comapnies are not investing because of regulations, they’re not investing due to low oil prices.

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

The feds only control Title 1 dollars, less than 10% of the funds spent on education; rules governing education are in the domain of the states.  Remember the feds have no control over standards, namely, the common core. Everyone favors expanding vocational education, currently partially funded through the Perkins Act; and. how do you make 2 and 4-college more affordable without the infusion of federal dollars? Drastic cuts in federal education dollars will be opposed by all segments of the population; targeting cities will make the angry angrier and the poor poorer.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds.

Will Health Savings Accounts provide sufficient dollars to protect all Americans, or, only the healthy ones? Will these accounts include all pre-existing conditions? It sounds a little like the “ice floes for the elderly?”

Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

Where do I sign?

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Buy stock in prisons!!  Currently if you’re caught crossing the border you’re immediately sent back unless you claim you are fleeing dangerous situations defined in law – almost all asylum claims are denied. Obama has returned over 400,000 illegal border crossers. We can incarcerate instead, we’ll need a lot more prisons, or, maybe we can use the prisoners to build the wall.

Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force on Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police.

Donald, I hate to tell you this, nationally crime statistics continue to drop. Yes, in a few cities crime has been increasing.

“Four urban areas — Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington — accounted for about a fifth of the increase in homicides in 2015. Those cities, however, make up only about 1 percent of the nation’s population.

The F.B.I. data showed that violent crime rose about 4 percent last year from 2014, and homicides increased 10.8 percent. Yet crime over all fell in 2015 for the 14th consecutive year.

And the total number of homicides last year was fewer than 20 years ago even as the country’s population increased, criminologists said. There were 19,645 homicides in 1996 in a nation of 265 million; in 2015, there were 15,696 in a population of 321 million”

Restoring National Security Act. Rebuild our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice;

Does Trump mean we’re going to aggressively intervene overseas? We’re currently fighting wars at arm’s length using drones and military “advisers,” We have been downsizing “boots on the ground,” training more highly specialized units who primarily train foreign allies; will we see a far more adventuresome military or a more isolationist military? No one opposes the VA treatment proposal – how is it paid for?

Clean up Corruption in Washington.  Enact new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

Sounds like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren … does it include repealing Citizen’s United?


A coalition of pro-Trump organizations met in Washington and called on Trump to “Defund Planned Parenthood, outlaw abortions after 20 weeks and codify the Hyde Amendment;” additionally, nominate a pro-life justice to replace Scalia (who was pro-life). How much influence will the pro-lifers have?

Will Trump convince Condoleezza Rice or the “usual suspects” to return to the administration or stick with the blustery and obnoxious  team that he had during the campaign? Running for office and managing a nation require different skill sets.

Ultimately the economy and the international stage will determine the success or failure of a Trump presidency. The stock market will be the first thermometer. The stock market seeks certainty and quakes at uncertainty. The wisdom of crowds, the nervousness of investors, and the confidence in a Trump presidency will be reflected in stock prices. If investors are nervous and flee the market for bonds and gold, if the market tumbles it drags down the president-elect. On the night of the election and it became evident that Trump would be victorious the market dipped 800 points, recovered the next day and soared to new highs, The market is fickle, Trump’s support of a half trillion dollar infrastructure program buoyed investors; however, that was just one day. If Trump ignores the debt ceiling will markets crash?  A 1933 Germany scenario?

On the international scene Trump will be tested and goaded. If he backs away from NATO, backs away from Asian allies and demands monetary concessions will our former partners comply, or, call his bluff? If Trump calls China a rogue nation and accuses them of currency manipulation how will China react?  Will they dump billions of US notes that they hold?  Become more aggressive with their neighbors?  Are we going to see a president more or less engaged on the international scene? Will he commit American foot soldiers in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria?  Will the Shia fundamentalists who may replace ISIL be better, or worse?  The international stage is fraught with danger and shifting alliances. Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies; Saudi Arabia is a ruled by a few thousand princes in a repressive plutocracy, as well as funding terrorist organizations around the Middle East: do we take sides? Butting heads with China or the EU, or committing to US military involvement in faraway places could satisfy American hawks, cost billions, antagonize the Trump base as well as the majority of our nation, or, the unthinkable, result in a nuclear catastrophe.

A majority of American voters did not support Trump; will he make attempts to win over a rightfully suspicious, angry public? Or, play to his base constituency, or, simply be Donald, the dark, brooding real estate tycoon who has always managed to bully and coerce his way through his next project.

Dangerous times.