Quick Takes: Nancy Pelosi Pulls a ‘DACA-Buster’

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Today Congressional leaders unveiled a budget agreement that, if passed, will avert another government shutdown. But unlike in the Senate, Speaker Paul Ryan has made no commitment to hold a vote on DACA in the House. That led Minority Leader Pelosi to make some history today.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi found a loophole in the House rules whereby party leaders — and party leaders only — when recognized can speak for as long as they want. As congressional negotiators finalized a stopgap spending deal that omitted any protections for Dreamers, Pelosi registered her strong but futile opposition. But instead of quietly simmering over this impending legislative defeat, the 77-year old Pelosi then took the floor and has as of this writing held it for more than six hours, reading from the personal testimonies of vulnerable Dreamers forwarded to her by fellow Democratic members. It’s unclear how much longer she will talk…

The question of how long Pelosi will talk has now been answered. She started speaking shortly after 10:00 am (ET) and just stopped at 6:10 pm (ET). Here’s a taste of what she said:

* Pelosi will not vote for the spending agreement unless Ryan commits to a vote on DACA. It is unclear at this point whether the Speaker has the votes without her.

…several Republicans strenuously opposed a plan that would add to the nation’s debt.

“This spending bill is a debt junkie’s dream,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), warning of trillion-dollar-a-year deficits. “I’m not only a no, I’m a hell no.”

According to outlines of the budget deal shared by congressional aides, existing spending limits written into law would be raised by a combined $315 billion through 2019. About $90 billion more would be spent on disaster aid for victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires.

Lawmakers described a deal that would keep the country from hitting the debt limit until after November’s midterm elections, typically a politically difficult vote for Republicans.

* Another one bites the dust.

A senior White House official announced Wednesday he is resigning after allegations by his two ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse.

The official, Rob Porter, served as the staff secretary and often controlled the paper flow to President Trump’s desk, along with his daily schedule. Porter also oversaw the White House’s policy implementation process and worked closely with Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to try to instill discipline in the chaotic West Wing. He spent hours of the day with Trump and frequently traveled with him on Air Force One.

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, said in an interview with DailyMail.com that he was abusive during their marriage. She alleged he punched in her the face during a trip to Florence in the early 2000s and provided photos to the publication showing her with a black eye.

* Apparently Porter’s biggest champion has been John Kelly.

On Tuesday, Kelly strongly defended White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter against disturbing allegations, first published in the Daily Mail, that he abused his ex-wives…Axios reported Kelly wanted Porter to “stay and fight.”…

Sources said Kelly was so quick to defend Porter because the two have grown very close since Trump appointed Kelly chief of staff last summer. Porter, a Rhodes scholar, has helped Kelly instill discipline in the West Wing. Kelly has told people that Porter has a “calming effect” on White House operations. For instance, it’s Porter who screens all the information that gets to Trump’s desk. Porter also helped Kelly conduct a West Wing organizational study that provided Kelly with a cudgel to sideline Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, two former West Wing officials told me. The officials also said Kelly supported Porter even after the F.B.I. delayed granting Porter’s security clearance because they uncovered his alleged history of spousal abuse.

* All of this led to some pretty pointed commentary from Jake Tapper.

* Another fake scandal cooked up by Republicans just went up in smoke.

Just days after the infamous “Nunes Memo” was greeted with widespread ridicule, another GOP talking point took a major hit Tuesday. Democratic lawmakers revealed that a “whistleblower” who congressional Republicans once suggested would reveal damning evidence against Hillary Clinton had actually never even mentioned Clinton to the FBI.

At issue is the 2010 sale of a uranium company with extensive US holdings to a Russian firm. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have charged that as secretary of State, Clinton authorized the deal in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. The allegations are misleading for a number of reasons, but Republicans have nonetheless sought to use them as a counterweight to the Trump-Russia probe.

Democrats now say that senior Justice Department officials told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staffers in a December 15 briefing that the whistleblower had offered no evidence about Clinton. The Justice Department officials also said during the briefing that they considered the whistleblower, who has been identified in media reports as William Campbell, too unreliable to use as a witness due to inconsistencies in his story, according to a letter sent Tuesday by Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Adam Schiff (Calif.)—the top Democrats on the House oversight committee and the House intelligence committee—to the Republican chairmen of those panels.

* Alexander Burns talked to Eric Holder about the strategies his organization, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, will use in the 2018 midterms.

Mr. Holder said in an interview that the group was chiefly determined to deny Republicans so-called trifectas in state governments — places where a single party controls the governorship and an entire legislature, as Republicans do in Ohio and Florida, among other critical battlegrounds.

When it comes to 2020…

* Finally, I think I’ll end today with a song that isn’t new or hip or any more timely than it is every day of the week. It just happens to be one of my all-time favorites.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.