Commentary: This Has to Be the End of the Road for Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Senate

Mitch McConnell has to be finished as the caucus leader for the Republicans in the Senate. Now. He has to resign, and if he won’t, then that caucus needs to get together and force him out.

Now. Not next week, not next month, not after this election cycle. Now.

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Senate Republicans to Block Border Deal, Putting Ukraine in Limbo

Crowd of immigrants

Senate Republicans will block a procedural motion this week to start debating a bipartisan border security deal following intense opposition to the legislation from the House GOP and former President Donald Trump. 

The bill includes more than $60 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, and the move leaves funding for the war-torn nation in limbo, according to The Hill. 

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20 Senate Republicans Vow to Block All Non-Budget Legislation

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott is leading a bloc of 19 other Senate Republicans in an effort to stonewall all legislation unrelated to government funding until Congress approves all of its appropriations bills.

The lawmakers warned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of their intentions amid an intense congressional battle over spending that saw House conservatives take the unprecedented step of ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy. At issue are 12 annual spending bills, which Congress must approve by Nov. 17 following the passage of a continuing resolution this weekend to avert a government shutdown.

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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and GOP Colleagues Urge Democrat Committee Chairmen to Investigate Human Trafficking

Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R) led the Senate Republican conference in a letter to Senate Democrat committee chairmen urging them to hold hearings and investigate human trafficking, a press statement from Johnson’s office stated Monday.

The letter, sent to Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Richard Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Committee on the Judiciary; Gary Peters (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, urges increased oversight and investigations into human trafficking.

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Sens. Ron Johnson, Roger Wicker Introduce Senate ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) led 45 of their Republican colleagues in introducing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a measure that would permanently prohibit federal funding for abortion. Johnson and Wicker introduced the legislation Wednesday, a measure that would establish a “permanent prohibition on federal funding for abortion, replacing the current restrictions with a single, government-wide standard,” said a press release from Johnson’s office.

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Sens. Ron Johnson, Rand Paul Lead Demand for Senate Vote on Ending Military COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are leading their Republican colleagues in an effort to demand Senate Republican leaders insist on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would end the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In a letter Wednesday to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (RWY), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), Johnson and Paul joined 11 of their Senate GOP colleagues in voicing their opposition to forging ahead with the NDAA for the Fiscal Year 2023 without a Senate vote on an amendment that would ban discharges from the armed services due to failure to take the COVID shot.

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Top-Ranking Senate Republicans Demand Answers on Royalty Payments to NIH Employees

Five Republican senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are demanding answers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about royalty payments made by third parties to NIH employees.

In a letter Wednesday to NIH Director Lawrence Tabak, the senators noted that “the agency has taken no action to disclose such payments to the public at large.”

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Commentary: No, Senate Republicans, the FBI Does Not Deserve a Raise

The day before FBI Director Christopher Wray explained to a Senate appropriations subcommittee why his department deserves a $527.8 million raise in 2023, his agents were credited with foiling an ISIS-linked plot to assassinate George W. Bush. An Iraqi national was arrested on May 25 and charged with attempting to smuggle four other Iraqis into the United States then “murder” the former president in retaliation for the war in Iraq. (I will address the sketchiness of this story in a separate column.)

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Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson Signs Statement Opposing Potential Iran Nuclear Deal

Ron Johnson

Senator Ron Johnson, joining 48 other Republican Senators, signed a statement to declare opposition to a potential new Iran nuclear deal.

The statement follows multiple reports that the Biden administration is negotiating a revived nuclear deal between the two countries, similar to a move enacted under President Obama.

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Commentary: Defense Department Pulls a Bait and Switch on Vaccines

On August 24, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo to senior Pentagon leadership announcing that he was implementing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all military service members. The day before, the FDA had issued full authorization to Pfizer for their Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine product (the nomenclature of which is meant to be a mashup of the words “COVID”, “mRNA”, and “community”) . At first glance it would seem that the mandatory vaccination policy, while scientifically unsound and strategically foolish, was at least a policy being implemented according to both the letter of the directive and in accordance with the law. But a further examination of the facts and the manner in which this order is being implemented makes clear that the military’s implementation of this order is illegal and highly unethical.

In the memo, Secretary Austin issued a directive and a promise, that “Mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 will only use COVID-19 vaccines that receive full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in accordance with FDA-approved labeling and guidance.” The problem with this is that the Comirnaty vaccine product that was approved by the FDA is not available anywhere in the Military Health System. It is not even in production, according to the military’s TRICARE healthcare providers. If a soldier goes to a military hospital or a private provider to receive an approved Pfizer COVID vaccine, he will be administered the unapproved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is a vaccine that is not approved but has been administered under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). We are told that this is but a brand name difference, that the formulation is the same, and they can be used interchangeably. But as the FDA was approving the Comirnaty product, they were renewing the authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech product. If it’s just a matter of brand name, why issue an approval for one brand name and an EUA renewal for the other? This is because they are not actually the same. 

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