The Senate Republican Majority’s Top Five
by Senator Damon Thayer
Frankfort, Ky. - Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed some rest and relaxation as 2013 came to a close. The holidays are behind us now, and we strive to get back into our daily routines. School is back in session and the work of the year in full swing.
As for me, January 7 convened the 2014 General Assembly, a 60-day legislative session creating the next two year budget for Kentucky. This session will encompass many complex issues requiring legislative action. The budget will be at the forefront, but we also strive to make pathways for economic growth and push fiscal responsibility.
The Senate Republican Majority’s top five priorities are:
A constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to overturn proposed regulations should a legislative committee deem a regulation deficient during the interim. Currently, the Governor can implement a regulation even if it is found deficient.
A bill limiting general fund-supported debt to six percent of general fund revenues.
Legislative Pension Fix:
A bill eliminating the super-sizing of pensions when legislators leave the General Assembly and take a judicial seat or a high-paying executive branch job.
A bill requiring a woman considering abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with the doctor who would perform the abortion.
A bill addressing Kentucky's heroin problem using a three-pronged approach - treatment, education and intervention.
During the first week, all senators attended two days of mandatory ethics training, and sexual harassment prevention training. Education and training help to prevent certain issues from rearing their ugly head, something we plan to avoid in the Senate.
We also celebrated the historic event of having two African-American Senators serving in the Senate for the first time in Kentucky’s history. The signs of progress in our society are worth celebrating and I, for one, was happy to witness the event.
As we are just getting started, we have had but a small preview of what is to come. Governor Beshear gave his State of the Commonwealth address and presented key initiatives such as tax reform, funding for education, some public safety issues and expanded gaming. In light of the many issues, we have to remember we are accountable to the people of Kentucky, and the issues become more complex than boilerplate statements may imply.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on this first week. I appreciate any feedback you may wish to provide. If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your time and input.
Thank you, Senator Damon Thayer District 17
Our Top Story
The Dishonesty of Democrats' Push for an Extension of Unemployment Benefits
by Katie Pavlich
(Jan 6, 2014) As lawmakers get ready to settle back into their seats on Capitol Hill after the Christmas recess, the battle over the extension of unemployment benefits is back on the table.
For months, in an effort to shift focus away from Obamacare, Democrats have argued that the economy is recovering and that jobs are being created.
But if this is the truth, then why is it necessary to continue the extension of unemployment benefits? Here's Harry Reid's push for an unemployment benefit extension on CBS Face the Nation Sunday.
This is a classic example of Democrats wanting to have their cake and eat it too. Democrats cannot honestly argue an unemployment benefit extension is necessary because jobs aren't available for the unemployed while also touting a successful economy and growing jobs.
Is Our System Broken?
by Rick Manning
Many Americans look at what is happening in Washington, D.C. and ask two simple questions, "Is our system broken, and why can't these politicians just get along?"
In fact, these are two of the most frequent questions I get when doing radio interviews across the nation, particularly during the call-in portion.
As tough as it is to believe, the system is not actually broken when the Congress is fighting with itself and with the President, in fact, that is exactly the outcome our founding fathers intended when they built it.
There is supposed to be tension between the House and the Senate, and there is definitely supposed to be fighting between Congress and the Executive Branch.
The House of Representatives was given the constitutional responsibility of being where all spending bills must originate. The Founders wanted the body closest to the people, who faced election every two years, to hold the purse strings of government. The same House was proportionally elected whereby each Member represented approximately the same number of people, with every state guaranteed at least one House Member.
Until 1913, Senators were appointed by their respective state legislatures, two to a state in staggered six-year terms. This insulation from the voters was designed to create the ultimate insiders club, to serve as an offset to the constant political demands in the House.
Recommended Book of the Month
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
by Mark Levin
MARK R. LEVIN HAS MADE THE CASE, IN NUMEROUS NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING BOOKS-MEN IN BLACK, LIBERTY AND TYRANNY, AND AMERITOPIA-THAT THE PRINCIPLES UNDERGIRDING OUR SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM ARE UNRAVELING. IN THE LIBERTY AMENDMENTS, HE TURNS TO THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE CONSTITUTION ITSELF FOR GUIDANCE IN RESTORING THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC.
For a century, the Statists have steadfastly constructed a federal Leviathan, distorting and evading our constitutional system in pursuit of an all-powerful, ubiquitous central government. The result is an ongoing and growing assault on individual liberty, state sovereignty, and the social compact. Levin argues that if we cherish our American heritage, it is time to embrace a constitutional revival.
The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and the delegates to each state's ratification convention foresaw a time when-despite their best efforts to forestall it
Armey: Christie Guilty of 'Debilitating Stupidity'
Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 11:53 AM
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is guilty of "debilitating stupidity" in calling for a special election to replace late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
"This is what really rankles conservatives," Armey told CNN's Jake Tapper. "There's not a Democrat governor alive that wouldn't have seized the opportunity to appoint a Democrat senator.
"All Christie had to do is appoint a Republican. Now I put it down as debilitating stupidity, because the first rule of politics is don't lose the friends you already have for the friends you're never going to get."
Republicans and Democrats alike are slamming Christie for scheduling a special election in October just three weeks before the regularly scheduled general election, in which Christie will stand for re-election.
Many Republicans had hoped that Christie would have chosen to appoint a Republican to the seat and postpone an election until November 2014, and not risk losing the seat to Democrats in a state where they outnumber Republicans by 700,000 registered voters, The New York Times reported
DOJ Seized Phone Records for Fox News Numbers, Reporter's Parents
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Newly uncovered court documents reveal the Justice Department seized records of several Fox News phone lines as part of a leak investigation -- even listing a number that, according to one source, matches the home phone number of a reporter's parents.
The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen's personal emails. In the affidavit seeking that warrant, an FBI agent called Rosen a likely criminal "co-conspirator," citing a wartime law called the Espionage Act.
Rosen was not charged, but his movements and conversations were tracked. A source close to the leak investigation confirmed to Fox News that the government obtained phone records for several numbers that match Fox News numbers out of the Washington bureau.
My Filibuster Was Just The Beginning
by U.S. Senator Rand Paul
Friday, March 8, 2013
If I had planned to speak for 13 hours when I took the Senate floor Wednesday, I would've worn more comfortable shoes. I started my filibuster with the words, "I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak" - and I meant it.
I wanted to sound an alarm bell from coast to coast. I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. As Americans, we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that no person shall be held without due process, and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted, is a founding American principle and a basic right.
My official starting time was 11:47 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
I had a large binder of materials to help me get through my points, but although I sometimes read an op-ed or prepared remarks in between my thoughts, most of my filibuster was off the top of my head and straight from my heart. From 1 to 2 p.m., I barely looked at my notes. I wanted to make sure that I touched every point and fully explained why I was demanding more information from the White House.
Just before 3 p.m., Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) came to the Senate floor to help out. Under Senate rules, I could not yield the floor or my filibuster would end, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could have shut me down. The only way for me to continue and allow Sens. Lee and Cruz to speak was to yield the floor for questions.
Their presence gave me strength and inspiration. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also arrived to help. Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the only Democrat who came to my defense, explained how we have worked together to demand more information from the White House about the rules for drone strikes. At about 4:30 p.m., Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined. I was flagging for a while, but these senators kept me going.
Sen. Reid came to the Senate floor to ask me when I would be done so he could schedule a vote. But I wasn't ready to yield. I felt I had a lot more explaining to do.
At about 6:30 p.m., something extraordinary happened. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who has been recovering from a stroke, came to the floor to give me something. I was not allowed to drink anything but water or eat anything but the candy left in our Senate desks. But he brought me an apple and a thermos full of tea - the same sustenance Jimmy Stewart brought to the Senate floor in the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." That was a moment I will never forget.
Sen. Cruz came to the floor again just before 7:30 p.m. and said, "Given that the Senate rules do not allow for the use of cellular phones on the floor of the Senate, I feel quite confident that the senator from Kentucky is not aware of the Twitter-verse that has been exploding."
I had little idea of what was going on. I was allowed only to talk and listen to questions. As I started to walk around the Senate chamber to loosen up my legs, I was energized by the responses on Twitter. Sen. Cruz really lifted my spirits when he read the tweets.
Then something unexpected happened. House conservatives started appearing in the back of the chamber to show their support. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), who stayed for five hours, offered me his boots when I complained that I had not worn my most comfortable shoes. My good friend Rep. Thomas Massie from Kentucky came over. And then came the conservative cavalry of Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Garland "Andy" Barr (Ky.), Trey Radel (Fla.), Michael Burgess (Tex.), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Raul R. Labrador (Idaho), Keith Rothfus (Pa.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Richard Hudson (N.C.) and David Schweikert (Ariz.).
Over the evening I had the support of Republican Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), John Cornyn (Tex.), John Thune (S.D.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.). And Sens. Cruz, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) used the opportunity to make their first speaking appearances on the Senate floor. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) came at the end to speak, but after midnight, I had said enough.
By the end of the night, I was tired and my voice was cracking. I ended by saying, "The cause here is one that I think is important enough to have gone through this procedure." I talked about the idea of compromise, but said that "you don't get half of the Fifth Amendment." I argued that we need more extended debates. And finally, at 12:40 a.m., I yielded the floor.
On Thursday, the Senate confirmed John Brennanas director of the CIA. But this debate isn't over.
The Senate has the power to restrain the executive branch - and my filibuster was the beginning of the fight to restore a healthy balance of powers. The president still needs to definitively say that the United States will not kill American noncombatants. The Constitution's Fifth Amendment applies to all Americans; there are no exceptions.
The outpouring of support for my filibuster has been overwhelming and heartening. My office has fielded thousands of calls. Millions have followed this debate on TV, Twitter and Facebook. On Thursday, the White House produced another letter explaining its position on drone strikes. But the administration took too long, and parsed too many words and phrases, to instill confidence in its willingness or ability to protect our liberty.
I hope my efforts help spur a national debate about the limits of executive power and the scope of every American's natural right to be free. "Due proces" is not just a phrase that can be ignored at the whim of the president; it is a right that belongs to every citizen in this great nation.
I believe the support I received this past week shows that Americans are looking for someone to really stand up and fight for them. And I'm prepared to do just that.
Why The Debt Ceiling Is The Only Way
by Robert Ramano
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
There are a great many politicians and pundits in Washington, D.C. arguing that the debt ceiling should not be used to extract spending cuts from the Obama Administration. It is on them that the onus falls to show that the conventional budget process,such as it is, in Washington, D.C. can be used to achieve, for example, a balanced budget within ten years.
So, would the traditional appropriations process produce a better or worse outcome spending-wise than using the debt ceiling and/or the continuing resolution to cut spending? In short, if the U.S. Senate were to again start passing budgets for the first time in many years - would it even produce any net reductions in overall spending?
When have spending cuts ever been achieved?
According to data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), since 1976, the only years discretionary spending budgeting authority was reduced were in 2012, 2011, 2010, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, and 1986. Just 24 percent of the time.
At least three of those years (2010-2012) were in years when Congress was budgeting by continuing resolution, not appropriations. Much of the recent decrease was "stimulus" spending expiring. But there were also reductions in budget authority achieved in the March 2011 continuing resolution, and during the sequester that passed in August 2011.
The Case For Gun Rights Is Stronger Than You Think
Perhaps "Gun-free Zones" Would Be Better Named "Defenseless Victim Zones"
William Bennett argues that schools would be safer with at least one
by William J. Bennett,
Wed., December 19, 2012
(CNN) -- On NBC's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, I was asked how we can make our schools safer and prevent another massacre like Sandy Hook from happening again. I suggested that if one person in the school had been armed and trained to handle a firearm, it might have prevented or minimized the massacre.
"And I'm not so sure -- and I'm sure I'll get mail for this -- I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing," I said. "The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. Has to be someone who's trained. Has to be someone who's responsible."
Well, I sure did get mail. Many people agreed with me and sent me examples of their son or daughter's school that had armed security guards, police officers or school employees on the premises. Many others vehemently disagreed with me, and one dissenter even wrote that the blood of the Connecticut victims was ultimately on the hands of pro-gun rights advocates.
To that person I would ask: Suppose the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary who was killed lunging at the gunman was instead holding a firearm and was well trained to use it. Would the result have been different? Or suppose you had been in that school when the killer entered, would you have preferred to be armed?
Andy Barr Gets Seat on House Financial Services Committee
by Jack Brammer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
U.S. Rep.-elect Andy Barr has been assigned to the House Committee on Financial Services.
Barr's staff said Thursday that Barr will join the "top-tier, 'A-level'" committee when the 113th Congress convenes on Jan. 3.
"I am honored and humbled to receive this appointment," Barr, a Lexington attorney, said in a statement. "Serving on the Financial Services Committee will enable me to immediately go to work on solving Kentucky's jobs crisis."
He said over-regulation continues to hurt Kentucky's community banks, making it difficult for them to provide loans.
"We must return to the day when a local banker and a small businessperson could meet face-to-face and arrange a loan based on trust and accountability," he said.
Ballard Cassady, chief executive officer of the Kentucky Bankers Association, praised Barr's understanding of the role banks play in the business community.
"For him to receive such an important assignment as a new congressman speaks volumes as to what Washington thinks of his abilities," Cassady said in a statement.
Barr, a Republican, defeated Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler of Woodford County in the Nov. 6 general election to represent Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District
Deterring the Nuclear Option
by U.S. Senator Rand Paul,
Friday, December 14, 2012
In our dealings with the Soviet Union in the latter half of the 20th century, a theory of how to stop a nuclear war was known as mutually assured destruction. The theory went that the Soviets would not launch a first strike knowing that a counterstrike would inflict similar or worse damage.
Even on a smaller scale, the fallout from a nuclear blast is severe - and it is nearly impossible to tell which way the winds will blow and who will be affected by the fallout.
While obviously hyperbole, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is currently threatening to launch what congressional observers refer to as the nuclear option - that is, breaking the current Senate rules to permanently curtail the rights of the minority party by ending the possibility of extended debate and amendments on vital pieces of legislation.
Much like any nuclear alternative, deterrents are available if one is willing to exercise them, and the possible dangers of unforeseen fallout exist. Today, I caution the majority leader that I will not simply stand by and witness his destruction of the rights of senators, nor his power grab through clear breaking of Senate rules and precedents. I will fight back.
Currently, the Senate requires 67 votes, a two-thirds majority, to shut down debate to change its rules. The Senate should be consistent and not changed at the whim of 51 of its members. Sen. Reid knows this, but is insisting that debate on Senate rules can be shut down with 51, and plans to use this tactic to impose his will on the body.
While I disagree with his underlying assertion, if he is going to break the rules to change the rules with a 51-vote threshold, then I will fight back by offering a series of rules changes that will improve the Senate. But instead of stepping on the rights of most senators, my changes will enhance the rights of all Americans and restore constitutional order in the Senate. Each of these could be passed with a simple majority, but would require a two-thirds vote to waive later. Among my many proposed rule changes are:
-Each year's budget must be balanced.
-A point of order demanding enumerated constitutional authority for any piece of legislation.
-A point of order protecting each one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Any senator could, at any time and as a privileged motion, assert that a bill violated one of the first 10 amendments.
House Republicans Ousted From Key Committees Demand Explanation From Boehner
Saturday, December 8, 2012
WASHINGTON - In a gutsy move, three House Republicans who were removed from plum committee posts are demanding an explanation from House Speaker John Boehner -- escalating the war of words that started earlier this week.
The letter is the latest salvo in the dispute between Boehner and conservative groups and lawmakers who have challenged some of his post-election decisions. Perhaps most controversial was the decision to yank four conservative House members off key committees, a move the lawmakers claimed was retaliation for their voting records.
Three of them fired off the letter to Boehner on Friday, demanding an explanation by Monday.
"We write to request a full and complete written explanation of the rationale for removing us from our current committee assignments, including any 'scorecards' presented to the Steering Committee to justify our removals," they wrote. The letter was signed by Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and David Schweikert, R-Ariz.
Huelskamp was yanked off the budget and agriculture committees; Schweikert was pulled from the financial services panel; and Amash was also booted from the budget committee. A fourth, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., lost his seat on financial services.
The three who wrote the letter lamented that they were never "officially informed" and never got a "formal explanation." But they claimed to have found out a "scorecard" of past votes was presented to make the case for removing them.
"Through this past term, we were not aware that any such scorecard existed, nor that the scores would cause us to be removed from committee assignments," they wrote. "We believe this would be valuable information for the entire Republican Conference to know, so that each Member can make a full and complete decision when casting votes in the future. It would also allow us to communicate to our constituents which votes caused us to be removed."
Sen. Thayer Elected to Senate Floor Leader
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Republican state senators voted during a three-hour closed door meeting Tuesday to promote Sen. Robert Stivers to be Senate president and Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown to replace Stivers as GOP floor leader.
Stivers, of Manchester, must be formally voted in by the full Senate when the legislature convenes in January but won the majority caucus endorsement over independent Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah.
The elections were held by secret ballot vote. Leeper said he was satisfied with how the elections were conducted. Stivers said Leeper will remain as Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee chairman, a job he has held since the 2010 session.
Stivers had told Pure Politics in an interview that he expected the principles of the Senate Republican caucus to remain the same under his leadership as during former Senate President David Williams' tenure that began in 2000. He said the style would likely be different.
Scott County Smiles on GOP in Tuesday's National Races
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Republicans prevailed in Scott County's balloting in the presidential and 6th District congressional race Tuesday, with Mitt Romney and Andy Barr scoring landslide tallies.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney outpolled President Obama 61.6 percent to 36.6 percent in the race for the White House in Scott County
The county's vote tally in the presidential race was 12,679 for Romney and 7,532 for Obama.
In the hotly contested 6th District race in Scott County, challenger Barr drew 11,285 votes, or 55 percent, to Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler's 8,520 votes, or 41.6 percent. An independent candidate, Randolph Vance, drew 652 votes in the county.