Lawmakers unveil plan for commission to probe Capitol Attack

Hopeful start to negotiations over infrastructure

Lawmakers in both parties try to push ahead with a January 6 commission. Good faith negotiations break out over infrastructure. And Republicans demand an end to Coronavirus restrictions in the Congress. This is “Regular Order” for May 14, 2021.

COMMISSION.  Top lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee rolled out a bipartisan plan on Friday to create a 10-member panel to investigate the January 6 attack. It may be voted on as soon as next week. The deal was cut between Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY).

  • GOP. It wasn’t clear how much Republican support the plan would have, as GOP leaders have demanded - and Democrats have rejected - the idea that the commission should also look at BLM riots in 2020. Democrats say that has nothing to do with the attack by Trump supporters on January 6.

INFRASTRUCTURE TALKS. Optimism was the word of the day as six GOP Senators met with President Biden Thursday at the White House on infrastructure. "We had a very productive, more than courteous give and take," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who has led talks.

  • WHAT'S NEXT. The original offer from Capito's group was a $568 billion infrastructure package. But the funding details were hazy at best. Now, this group of Republicans will flesh out the specifics of their plan.

  • GOP PLAN. Once Republicans make a full offer, then the White House will counter that with a compromise. "Like you do in a negotiation," Capito said, "it's a give and take."

  • BLUE DOGS. More moderate Democrats also praised the White House effort at compromise, as the Blue Dog Coalition urged President Biden to 'continue these talks as long as Republicans continue to act in good faith in the negotiations.'

  • NEGOTIATIONS. We’ve seen recent efforts fail on infrastructure, both from Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The stumbling block was the funding. Will that happen again? My column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

MASKS OFF. With the CDC updating guidance to tell Americans who have been vaccinated that they can take off their masks, Republicans quickly said the U.S. House should do the same. “Speaker Pelosi, the science says it's time to end your mask mandate,” said Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). "I write to request you immediately remove all restrictions," Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) wrote in a letter to Pelosi.

  • BACK TO NORMAL? House Republicans have made no secret of their distaste for COVID restrictions, and that spilled onto the House floor on Friday. Burchett says it's time to end special proxy voting rules on the House floor, resume regular committee hearings, end any mask requirements, and fully reopen the Capitol to official business and tourists.

  • PELOSI. The Speaker told reporters she was not ready to snap back to normal, hinting that more GOP lawmakers needed to get vaccinated.

STEFANIK. House Republicans on Friday easily elected Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as the new Conference Chair, the third-ranking leadership post. Stefanik defeated Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX). The winner replaces Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was booted for rejecting Donald Trump’s never-ending claims of election fraud.

  • POLITICS.  Some conservative grumbled about Roy’s defeat, accurately pointing out Stefanik’s more moderate voting record. In fact, Stefanik has more a liberal voting record according to the Club for Growth than Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

MTG V AOC. Democrats accused Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of verbally harassing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), aggressively pursuing the New York Democrat after votes on Wednesday, and saying she supports terrorists. "This is beneath the dignity of a person serving in Congress," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who suggested the Ethics Committee should get involved.

  • MRS. GREENE OF GEORGIA. Greene has been trying for weeks to create some public drama with Ocasio-Cortez, repeatedly going after her on social media, and trying to buttonhole the New York Democrat on the House floor to set up a debate. Ocasio-Cortez has basically tried to ignore the Georgia Republican.

  • AOC. The barbs continued into Friday as CNN found a 2019 video of Greene - before she was elected to Congress - harassing Ocasio-Cortez's office, yelling through the mailbox slot on the locked front door. That video link.

  • SWALWELL. A staffer for Greene also got into a hallway dustup with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), after verbally rebuking the California Democrat for wearing a mask. Swalwell hotly objected. If you’re not familiar with Capitol Hill decorum, it is very uncool for a staffer to say anything crosswise to a member of Congress.

TOURIST VISIT. Democrats are still angry with another Republican from Georgia, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), after he claimed many of those who breached the Capitol on January 6 were on a 'normal tourist visit.' "They need to stop the lies, before they get more people killed," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “That’s beyond denial,” Speaker Pelosi said. “It falls into the range of sick.”

  • MPD OFFICER. Democrats also used the specter of National Police Week to demand that House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy meet with D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who was brutally beaten as he helped defend the Capitol on January 6. If you haven't seen his body cam video, watch it.

RED INK. Uncle Sam registered a deficit in April of $225.6 billion, as the deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 is already at $1.9 trillion. While a $225 billion monthly deficit is nothing to cheer about, it is better than April of 2020, when the deficit was $738 billion - because of spending on Coronavirus relief.

  • TARIFFS. The deficit report reminded me of Donald Trump's efforts to slap new tariffs on foreign imports, claiming (wrongly) that China would be paying large amounts of money to Uncle Sam. So far this year, duties paid by U.S. importers (not by China) have brought in $44 billion, up $1 billion from a year ago.

GAETZGATE. A federal court in Florida has scheduled a 'Change of Plea' hearing for Monday in the sex trafficking case of Joel Greenberg. Why is that of note for Congress? Greenberg - a former tax collector in Central Florida - is an associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Reports have tied the two men to a possible sex trafficking investigation. Greenberg’s plea is expected to be filed on Monday.

EARMARK OF THE DAY. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) has requested $1 million to expand a child resource center in Stanton, Iowa. The center has 100 kids - the expansion would allow for 49 additional child care slots. All of Axne’s local funding requests can be found at this link. Links to requests of all House members.

RAP SHEET. For the first time, the feds have arrested an active duty servicemember for participating in the Capitol Attack. Stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, Major Christopher Warnagiris fought with a police officer and forced open a door to let in other rioters.

  • INVESTIGATION. The arrest of a Maryland woman for her role in the Capitol attack shows the breadth of the investigative work being done. Agents staking out a house. License plate readers recording her car on the interstate heading to Washington. A search warrant to Verizon for cell phone data. A search warrant to Google about her mobile phone. Plus all the security video footage.

MUSE OF HISTORY. May 14, 1856. On this date, the U.S. House was debating a bill to grant public lands in Florida to help in the construction of railroads in the state. Rep. Henry Bennett of New York labeled it an effort of 'great national importance.' "It will effect direct land communication between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic," Bennett said, describing a rail line which would stretch from Pensacola to Jacksonville. Another line would go from Amelia Island on the Atlantic to Tampa Bay, with a branch to Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. That was notable because Sen. David Yulee of Florida was the driving force behind development of a railroad line which ultimately ran from - wait for it - Cedar Key to Amelia Island.

LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM:

The House meets at 9 am.

The Senate meets next on Monday.

President Biden is in Washington.  Schedule link.

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