Congressional staffers are the lifelines of members of Congress. So, how do you get under the skin of a senator or a representative? Bring their staff into the debate.
This seems to be the tactic being used in the continuing-resolution debate happening in Washington right now, one utilized by both President Obama on Friday and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during his long speech from Tuesday into Wednesday.
Take Cruz first. When discussing what he said are the negative effects of the Affordable Care Act, he brought his staff into the picture, saying many were concerned about the law’s effects on their personal income and welfare.
Among congressional staff, just like among members, the idea that they would be subject to Obamacare deeply concerns them. It concerns them on the money side and it concerns them on the quality of care and health insurance that they will be able to get on the exchanges.
I have had one staff member already indicate she would retire after many years of service, and the possibility of being put on Obamacare was a real factor in that decision.
President Obama used a similar tactic when talking about a potential government shutdown. If Congress doesn’t pass a continuing resolution in the coming days, their staffers won’t be able to come into work or get paid. And the president wanted to remind lawmakers of just that.
So, any Republican in Congress who is currently watching, I’d encourage you to think about who you’re hurting. There are probably young people in your office right now who came to work for you without much pay because they believe that public service was noble. You’re preparing to send them home without a paycheck.
It’s unclear whether this playbook works, but it’s hard to overstate the value that staffers have to their bosses — advising them on how to vote on legislation, responding to constituents, writing committee and floor speeches, running the office, communicating with other lawmakers’ offices, and of course, crafting legislation.
By invoking the potential suffering of their staff, Cruz and Obama are banking on lawmakers acting to prevent such outcomes. For without staffers, Washington can’t run, and lawmakers know it.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."