Shutdown preempted, calls for resignation, more Trump troubles
Good morning from Dublin, Ireland…
This is where a delegation of State Legislators—and yours truly—is meeting with their Irish colleagues to further strengthen the strong bonds—and develop new relationships—between New York State and Ireland.
In Washington, D.C., Congress somewhat surprisingly passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the federal government funded for another 45 days. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ultimately relied on Democrats—something he had pledged NOT to do—in order to get the CR through the House by a margin of 335-91, with more Democrats voting in support than Republicans. The Senate advanced the measure 88-9 and President Biden signed the bill late Saturday night . . . just hours ahead of a shutdown. McCarthy did not include any additional military assistance for Ukraine in the hopes of winning over support from his hardline members, but it was not enough. A Ukrainian aid package could still be passed as a standalone bill or it could be attached to a future government spending bill when the CR expires in 45 days (Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado briefly held up the vote in his Chamber until he received assurances that a standalone vote on aid to the Ukraine would happen soon). In a statement, President Biden said, “We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.” The bill does provide $16 billion in disaster relief assistance, a priority for the White House. It also extends the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Tonight, Congress voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans.
This is good news, but I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place.
— President Biden (@POTUS)
Oct 1, 2023
Hardline House GOP members had vowed to oust McCarthy as Speaker if he used Democratic votes to pass a spending bill. Asked about that possibility, the Speaker offered, “You know what, if somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL.) announced on Sunday that he would try, promising to bring a motion to vacate to the floor sometime this week. While Gaetz conceded he likely does not have the votes to replace McCarthy, he said if he continues to serve as Speaker, it will be “at the pleasure of the Democrats.” Buckle up.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away on Friday at the age of 90. Senator Feinstein, the longest-serving female Senator, was a strong advocate for stricter gun measures and was instrumental in investigating allegations of torture during the War on Terror. Feinstein had faced pressure in recent months to retire because of her prolonged absences due to health problems. Three notable Members of the House of Representatives are campaigning for her seat: Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter. Governor Gavin Newsom, who previously said he would appoint a Black woman had also said he wants to stay out of the primary and has now named a placeholder, much to the chagrin of Barbara Lee. Lot more to come here.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a friend, a hero, a leader who changed the Senate and America for the better
Mourning this tremendous loss—we're comforted in knowing how many mountains she moved, lives she impacted, glass ceilings she shattered
America's a better place because of her
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer)
Sep 29, 2023
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez remains on the hot seat after his indictment on federal bribery charges. The list of fellow Senate Democrats calling on him to resign has grown to over half the Caucus, including fellow New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has largely stayed out of it, declining to say whether Menendez should resign, but offering that his colleague is entitled to his day in court. Senator Menendez asked the rest of his colleagues to refrain from judgment until he has had a chance to explain himself in person, which he did at a Caucus luncheon on Thursday. Should Senator Menendez decide to resign, it would temporarily cost Democrats their majority. Senator Feinstein’s passing brings the current makeup to 50-49 and without Menendez, it would become an even 49-49. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy would certainly fill that seat with another Democrat, but any delay could hamper Majority Leader Schumer’s ability to move bills—and confirmations—through the upper chamber. Menendez, at a media availability, declared that he expects to be exonerated and to continue his career in the Senate saying, “I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey's senior senator.” Color us doubtful.
The second GOP Presidential primary debate was held Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Donald Trump remained the center of attention, although he “ducked” the debate. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used his opening to take a shot at the former President saying, “Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be here on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt.” South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley were the most lively candidates on the stage, trading barbs with each other as well as attacking other candidates. At one point, Haley said she felt “dumber” every time she listened to fellow candidate, thirty-something businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, speak. The next debate is scheduled for November 8th in Miami, though several of last week’s candidates are not expected to qualify or may drop out by then. Will there be a new entrant, too? Nevertheless, Trump remains dominant in the polls, leading by an average of over 40 points compared to the next closest candidates, DeSantis and Haley.
In North Carolina, a possible 2024 swing state, the Republican-controlled State Legislature moved forward with a plan to transfer election administration duties away from Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat. The proposal would expand the Election Board from five to eight members, with leadership from the Legislature having control over a majority of the appointments. Cooper has publicly vowed to veto the bill, however Republicans maintain supermajorities in both chambers, allowing them to override a veto from the Governor.
In other election news, a court-appointed Special Master submitted three potential maps outlining Alabama’s Congressional District after two separate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, found that the original maps proposed by the Legislature unconstitutionally diluted the voting power of the State’s Black residents. Alabama appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court a second time, but again, their current map was shot down. While only one of the new maps would create a second, Black-majority district, all three maps would create a second district with a Black-age voting population nearly 10% higher than what was originally proposed. Despite being a solid red state in presidential elections, the new maps should make Democrats competitive in more Congressional Districts.
Speaking of competitive Congressional Districts, freshman Congressman Brandon Williams (R, NY-22) is facing criticism from a top local Republican over comments and alleged lack of communication following the tragic shooting of a security guard at a Proctor High School football game. Williams blamed the problems at the Southern border and fentanyl which Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., a fellow Republican, said had nothing to do with this incident and added that Williams should “do your homework a little bit.” Picente said he has not heard from Williams following the shooting and said Williams is not very familiar with the area more broadly. Rep. Williams is up for reelection in 2024 and Democrats have successfully recruited current State Senator John Mannion to run against him (although he needs to survive a primary challenge from Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood).
New York State Attorney General Tish James secured another major win in her lawsuit against the Trump Organization. State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron agreed with AG James that Trump massively overvalued his properties in New York to deceive banks and insurers into approving favorable loans. In his ruling, Engoron summed up the scheme saying, “In the defendants’ world: rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies. That is a fantasy world, not the real world.” The final penalties and subsequent ramifications to Trump’s businesses will be determined during the trial phase which is set to begin this week.
“In the defendants’ world: rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies. That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”
Governor Kathy Hochul announced her nomination of Dru Rai to be New York’s next Chief Information Officer. Rai, if confirmed, will head the State’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) which is tasked with digitizing government operations and protecting against cyber threats. Governor Hochul said, “New York has always been a national leader in developing cutting-edge IT products and services that improve the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers. Under Dru Rai’s direction, we will continue to innovate and grow to meet both the challenges and opportunities of this new digital age.”
The Governor held a cabinet meeting last week where the migrant crisis remained the center of attention. Hochul reiterated her desire to get migrants on a path to employment, particularly Venezuelans who were granted Temporary Protected Status earlier this month and are now work-eligible. That would not only help the State address the labor shortage, but would put thousands of migrants on the path to self-sufficiency and no longer dependent on State assistance. New York has already committed $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid, according to the Governor, and that number could serve as a baseline for what is needed in the future heading into the upcoming budget process. Regardless of the fiscal challenges, the Governor said, “We're never going to compromise our values – never, ever. We're proud of the Statue of Liberty. We refer to it a lot, but reflect on what that means. Reflect on the fact that likely many of your family members – parents, grandparents, great-grandparents – saw that statue when they steamed into this harbor in search of the same thing that the migrants are looking for today, and that is the dignity of a job.”
“We're never going to compromise our values – never, ever. We're proud of the Statue of Liberty. We refer to it a lot, but reflect on what that means. Reflect on the fact that likely many of your family members – parents, grandparents, great-grandparents – saw that statue when they steamed into this harbor in search of the same thing that the migrants are looking for today, and that is the dignity of a job.”
Finally… growing tensions between the U.S. and China are set to leave the Washington, D.C. Zoo without their beloved Pandas for the first time since the Nixon Administration.
OD&A client, the University at Buffalo welcomed 154 new full-time faculty to campus this semester in what is believed to be the largest cohort of new faculty at UB since joining SUNY in the 1960s. [Read more.]
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New to the NYS Legislature
State Senator Rob Rolison followed in his father’s footsteps when he was elected in November to represent NY’s Mid-Hudson Valley. The late Jay Rolison served in the Senate from 1967 to 1990.
Senator Rolison comes to the Senate with extensive government experience, having served two terms as the Mayor of Poughkeepsie. Prior to becoming mayor, Senator Rolison was a member of the Dutchess County Legislature for 12 years, representing the City and Town of Poughkeepsie.
Senator Rolison attended Marist College, majoring in Criminal Justice and served for 12 years in the Patrol Division of the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department. Crime prevention is his major focus in the Senate.
Senator Rolison is a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie where he raised his son and continues to reside with his wife, Lori.
This Day in History
October 2, 1967