With the events of this week, with Mr. Trump’s tweets from today, it is impossible to have our action item of the day be focused on anything other than the Russia investigation…. So we are following up on this issue but with a twist.
We have already taken action with regards to a special prosecutor (appointed by the Attorney General) and an independent committee (an Act of Congress is required to establish this), we have also followed up on these issues – specifically with regards to an independent committee. The “Protecting our Democracy” Act, H.R. 356 would establish a non-governmental national committee; committee members would be appointed in a bi-partisan manner, to investigate the Russia interference, collusion issue. Please see the blog post from 4/7/17 or type H.R. 356 into the search field on the blog for a review of this bill, which currently is in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
As of May 11th, 2017 this Bill had 199 co-sponsors, 197 of them being Democrats and 2 being Republicans – but they are not moderate Republicans or ones you might have suspected of joining this cause. In fact, these Republicans are far more aligned with Duncan Hunter than with any of us – so let’s try and use this common ground to encourage Hunter to get behind this bill.
First things first, here is a little background on the two Republicans who are supporting the “Protecting our Democracy Act”.
Mr. Walter Jones, from North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District was the first, and for a long time only Republican supporter of the Bill: Jones co-sponsored the Bill on February 16th (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/356/cosponsors?r=1&q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22protecting+our+democracy+act%22%5D%2C%22party%22%3A%22Republican%22%7D). In 2013, Jones was one of the House members who voted for the government shutdown and this year he voted against the recent Budget extension (https://ballotpedia.org/Walter_Jones). Per Ballotpedia, “according to the conservative website RedState, Jones was one of 16 U.S. House members in the “Conservative Fight Club,” a designation meant to describe the “gold standard for conservatives in the House,” (Source: see above).
And indeed, Representative Jones espouses staunchly conservative positions. Per his website:
“America was built upon Judeo-Christian values, and these values should be protected… I have been a steadfast supporter of traditional marriage, the unborn, and the free exercise of religion” (http://jones.house.gov/issue/values)
“There is no issue more sacred to me than life. If we as a nation cannot protect unborn babies, I fear for the future of our country… please know that I am doing everything in my power to fight to ensure that Planned Parenthood no longer receives a penny of taxpayer money” (http://jones.house.gov/issue/my-work-pro-life-cause).
“Illegal immigration is a serious issue for both the state of North Carolina and our country as a whole. It is imperative that we secure our borders and not reward those who have broken our laws with amnesty. The anti-illegal immigration group NumbersUSA consistently names me as one of the top supporters of anti-illegal immigration enforcement of all 435 members of Congress” (http://jones.house.gov/issue/illegal-immigration). An additional stance related to immigration is that Rep. Jones is in support of defunding sanctuary cities (https://ballotpedia.org/Walter_Jones).
“The federal government should protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms… I have been a consistent voice on behalf of gun owners and have opposed legislation that seeks to chip away at the constitutional rights of Americans” (http://jones.house.gov/issue/second-amendment).
As noted in some of these public statements, deeply conservative groups support Rep. Jones and Rep. Jones supports them (https://rlc.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=4). One of such groups is the Republican Liberty Caucus, which requires members of its caucus to take “The Liberty Compact”, which reads as follows: “I pledge to the citizens of this State, and to the American people, that as their elected representative I will work to: restore liberty, not restrict it; shrink government, not expand it; reduce taxes, not raise them; abolish programs, not create them; promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives; and observe the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not ignore them” (http://rlc.org/frequently-asked-questions).
The second Republican to support the “Protecting our Democracy” Act, Mr. Justin Amash of Michigan’s third District, is also a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus (https://rlc.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=4). Unlike Rep. Jones, Rep. Amash does not have as many publicly available press releases on his conservative positions – but per Ballotpedia, he often votes against Republican bills because they are not conservative enough (https://ballotpedia.org/Justin_Amash). Unlike Rep. Jones or Hunter, Rep. Amash follows more of a libertarian line and unlike Hunter opposed (and seems to still oppose) Trump as President (note: Rep. Jones supported Rand Paul for President) (Source: see above). Rep. Amash is chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, voted No on the recent Budget and Yes on the Health Care bill (Source: see above).
Reps. Jones and Amash clearly know each other as both are members of the House Liberty Caucus and the Republican Liberty Caucus. In addition they have worked together before and have taken a stance in support of looking into Russia allegations, so it is no surprise that the two of them are supporting this Bill (https://amash.house.gov/press-release/amash-and-jones-request-briefing-intelligence-leaks-and-allegations-regarding). A potential bright spot for us is that Reps. Jones and Hunter most likely also know each other and hopefully the elder Jones can have some sway over our Hunter.
Reps. Jones and Hunter both serve on the House Armed Services Committee and both are members of several military focused caucuses. In addition there are five caucuses to which both belong, namely the Immigration Reform, Pro-Life, Textile, House General Aviation and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucuses (https://hunter.house.gov/about-me/caucuses, https://jones.house.gov/about-me/committees-and-caucuses).
So, let us request that Rep. Hunter speak with Rep. Jones about H.R. 356 before deciding against this Bill and let us contact Rep. Jones and ask that he speak with Rep. Hunter, explaining the rationale as to why a conservative Republican would be wise to support an independent commission.