Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Tweets by @JGibsonDem
Posts tagged "John Fleming"

Senate Democrats stand ready to pass legislation permanently empowering the President to raise the debt ceiling.

The bill is based on an idea Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) first introduced last year to avoid a debt-ceiling-driven economic disaster, and now the White House wants it incorporated into an end-of-year plan to avoid automatic, across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts this January.

Republicans, who hope to use the debt ceiling once again as leverage to force Democrats to accept deep cuts to domestic social programs, are unsurprisingly opposed to the idea. And they’re using their opposition to mislead the public about what the debt ceiling is, and the implications of vesting the power to raise it within the Executive Branch.

“By demanding the power to raise the debt limit whenever he wants by as much as he wants, [President Obama] showed what he’s really after is assuming unprecedented power to spend taxpayer dollars without any limit,” McConnell argued on the Senate floor.

This sounds awfully sinister. But it’s a knowing misreading of the Constitution, which provides Congress and only Congress the power to spend money.

The debt limit is a nearly century old historical artifact. It’s a statute, not a Constitutional requirement. By contrast, the Constitution explicitly grants Congress, not the Executive Branch, the power to raise and spend money. When Congress orders the Executive Branch to spend more money than it collects in revenue, the Executive must finance the difference by borrowing — with debt.

But the Executive Branch can only spend as much money as Congress tells it to, even if there were no limits on the amount of debt it could issue. The country’s debt, in other words, has nothing to do with the debt limit, but with the tax and spending decisions Congress has made over the past two-plus centuries.

At a Capitol press availability on Wednesday, Reps. Jon Fleming (R-LA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced a non-binding resolution to express the sense of the House that “Congress should retain its authority vested in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to ‘borrow money on the credit of the United States.’”

But the Obama plan wouldn’t give him the power to borrow or spend a single penny more than required by Congress and existing commitments to creditors.

A reporter pressed them on this point — too much deficit spending has required the Congress to raise the debt ceiling fairly regularly, but “that wouldn’t be the president’s fault. It would be the Congress’ fault.”

“That’s exactly right,” Lummis said. “It’s also a check on Congress.”

Conservatives certainly want it to serve that purpose, particularly as a tool to gut social programs they deplore. But that’s not what they’re telling the public, and what they’re telling the public is false.

h/t: Brian Beutler at TPM

New Orleans residents Mohammed and Talat Husain claim they were refused service at Rep. John Fleming’s (R-LA) Subway franchise in Shreveport, Louisiana. According to Husain, an employee of the chain told them to leave because they are Muslim and threw them out after an altercation. Though Husain called the police, a report was never filed. He recounted the experience to TPM:

“She asked me point blank ‘Are you Muslim?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I’m Muslim,’ She said ‘We can’t serve you’ and locked the door from inside when my wife was still inside the store,” Husain said.

The situation quickly escalated and Husain ended up calling 911. So did a Subway employee. At some point before police arrived, however Husain said the employee unlocked the door and let his wife leave but also made it clear they should take their business elsewhere.

An officer with the Shreveport Police Department arrived after that. Both Husain and a department spokesman said the officer initially patted Husain down to check for weapons. But spokesman Cpl. Marcus Hines said the officer eventually determined the situation was much ado about nothing. Department records show the officer didn’t even file a report.

Fleming’s employees deny Husain’s version of events, and claim that security tapes prove that there was no discrimination against the couple.

H/T: Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress Security

No military chaplain is required to perform a marriage ceremony if it violates their beliefs, but they are allowed if they wish to.

Since then, Republicans have proposed numerous measures to ban these ceremonies, arguing that such ceremonies amounts to DOMA-prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages. In September, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) attached a provision to a House defense authorization bill that specifically prohibits marriage ceremonies not allowed by DOMA from being performed on federal property. In January, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) proposed a bill that bans military chaplains from performing all same-sex marriage ceremonies under the guise of affirming their right not to perform such ceremonies.

This week, a military chaplain performed a lesbian commitment (note: not marriage) ceremony on the Fort Polk Army Base in Louisiana, a state which does not recognize same-sex marriage. Three GOP congressmen — AkinHuelskamp, and Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) — couldn’t hold back their scorn for equality, even though no marriage ceremony was held:

HUELSKAMP: Americans should be outraged at what happened at Ft. Polk. Not only is it a clear violation of the State of Louisiana’s law to allow this “ceremony” to go forward, but this happened despite last year’s assurances from the Department of Defense that state law recognizing only traditional marriage would be respected and upheld. They clearly lied.

FLEMING: The liberal social experiment with our military continues. My frustration is compounded by the fact that a social agenda, which has nothing to do with military readiness or our national defense, is being imposed on our men and women in uniform.

AKIN: This appears to be a case where political agenda has trumped the rule of law, which is absolutely unacceptable.

These congressman have confirmed what has long been suspected: the GOP is against not only gay marriage in the military, but the very existence of gay people in the military.

h/t:  Think Progress LGBT