Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, McCabe weighed in on the recently passed $2.3 trillion stimulus package that passed the House and the Senate the other evening and whether or not President Trump would veto it. He also detailed how Nancy Pelosi might lose her position as Speaker of the House referencing how moderate Democrats need to flip only 10 seats.
Leahy: I am in the studio with the original all-star panelists Crom Carmichael. And on our newsmaker line our Washington correspondent for the Star News Network, Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Crom, Michael, good morning, and Merry Christmas to you.
Carmichael: Merry Christmas to you.
Leahy: Well, the Grinch came to Washington on Monday. And the Grinch in the form of Nancy Pelosi put together a 5,593-page spending package that included a little bit of coronavirus relief and a lot of financial goodies for her special interest friends. She gave this bill to the members of the House six hours before they were required to vote on it. It passed both the House and the Senate but the president is saying not so fast. Tell us what’s going on with this Neil.
McCabe: Well only in Washington D.C. can a $900 billion corona relief bill cost $2.3 trillion.
Leahy: (Laughs) That’s a good point. So the president has implied or suggested that he might veto it. Now as I understand it he could actually because of the timing and because of the way they don’t include Sundays in the count. Even though it’s past Monday night I think they’ve got to transmit it to him in a formal way. And the bottom line is he could actually exercise what they call a pocket veto. In other words, if he fails to sign it before noon on January third when they adjourned for a new Congress, then it would be automatically be vetoed. Do I have that right?
McCabe: Right, because what happens is the session of Congress expires. So you’re seeing a flurry of bills with senators and congressmen right now. Well, these bills will never see the light of day because you go back to zero on January 3. And so it’s one of the games it’s playing. You know, I’ve often said that the calendar is more powerful than policy or politics when it comes to Capitol Hill in Washington.
And what we’re seeing now is the function of senators and congressmen who need to go home for Christmas and they will do anything. They will vote for anything to get them out of town. And the reporters on Capitol Hill will start making jokes about the jet fumes from Reagan National Airport sort of seeping into Capitol Hill. In the hallway, people start saying wow, you really can smell the jet fumes of the planes at the airport. You’ll see literally before one of these big votes that around this time, hundreds of cars idling in the parking lot with interns at the steering wheel.
And the senators and congressman will literally run down the stairs in front of the Capitol and jump into the car and some intern will then drive them to the airport. That is what’s going on right now. It doesn’t matter what the bill says. These guys have to go home and Trump is really playing this well. If he has it in him to actually go forward and veto this thing.
Leahy: So here’s what he said last night in a four-minute video he said two things. Number one this $600 a person stimulus check is a pittance. I want you to increase it to $2,000 per person. That’s number one. and number two he said get rid of all the waste and fraud in this bill. Now, it’s a 5,593-page bill. I think 10 pages are for Coronavirus relief and the other 5,083 pages are a waste. And then Nancy Pelosi then tweets out yeah, we’ll do it! We’ll do it! Well, she’s referring to the $2,000 and not about eliminating waste and fraud. What do you say, Neil?
McCabe: That is going to be very interesting because you know, these lobbyists a lot of them are paid on success fees. And so, you know, if a university hires a guy to slip in a few million dollars to study butterflies the lobbies don’t get paid until the law or the appropriation is actually signed. This is a great bill because of Christmas and the jet fumes.
This is a great bill to throw things on top of. But it’s another example of how you know for the last four years everybody gets what they want except for Trump. That the Egyptian Military is getting more money than Trump is getting for his wall is just indicative of how Congress has played this guy. And it’s really been brutal to watch.
Carmichael: Yeah. I understand Jordan is getting money to build a wall.
Leahy: The country of Jordan.
Carmichael: I think Tucker Carlson reported that last night. But this is not new Neil as you pointed out. This is unfortunately how Congress works and it’s exactly how Congress and the Founding Fathers predicted the Congress would work if you didn’t constrain them. And the constraints started to come off in the 1930s with FDR’s agencies and all of those things. And then the passage of the Social Security Act.
But what’s interesting is in the 1950s Eisenhower in Congress thought that in order to spend money on roads in the US you had to do it as a defense appropriation. And every five miles of an interstate there has to be one mile that is straight. And that’s how you can land an airplane on it in the case of an emergency. In order to make it a defense department appropriation the interstate highways all have every five miles, they have at least one mile or substrate interstate.
McCabe: Well, there you go. I mean, I think it’s pretty clear that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats would spend money to build a wall in Berlin before they built it on the Mexican border.
Leahy: A question about this. I’m hearing some rumblings. Some rumblings that Nancy Pelosi in the new Congress which will convene on January the third may not have a lock on being re-elected as Speaker. Are people just blowing smoke or is there a reality to that?
McCabe: It’s very interesting that Congresswoman Fudge from Cleveland, Ohio was put into the cabinet of Housing and Urban Development. She was the Democrat two years ago that said she would challenge Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi has three sorts of factions that back her. She has nearly 50 Congressmen just from California alone. The California delegation is behind her.
She has the Congressional Black Caucus which is completely behind her and has backed her every step of the way. She pushed for impeachment because of pressure directly from the Congressional Black Caucus. And then of course she has you know her chairman who basically owes their position to her. She’s had challenges. This will be her third time going for Speaker in this iteration.
She’s had challenges the first few times and she’s been able to sort of handle it. The fact is that to become Speaker you need 218 votes. It’s not a plurality. So if three people are running and nobody gets 218, you keep going until somebody gets 218. What’s she at now 223, 224? If you flip 10 moderate Democrats then basically the Republicans could hijack the whole chamber.
Certainly, the Republicans could combine with some people. You know, they only need 10 Democrats and they could put in their own Speaker and really take over the whole chamber. That’s the problem when these margins are so close. We’re certainly going to see that in the Senate. We’re going to see it up close and personal when Pelosi is up for Speaker herself.
Carmichael: Neil, let me ask you a quick question. There are two Republicans who barely won their House seats. One in Iowa and one in New York. and the one in New York has still not been certified. The one in Iowa, the Republican one by six votes. The challenger the Democrat who is the incumbent is now challenging that. In 1984 the Democrats refused to seat a Republican in Indiana. Who wants a very very close vote? Do you think there’s any chance that the Democrats will seat the two Democrats who lost?
McCabe: No. It’s too close. They can’t play games with a margin this close. If they have 20 votes or 40 votes they would do it.
Leahy: Interesting point Neil McCabe. Thanks so much for being with us.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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