Dem 51
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Censured Schiff

Last week, we wrote about the failed effort by House Republicans to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for saying mean things about Donald Trump's connections to Russia. When 20 Republicans broke ranks to vote with the Democrats, we foolishly concluded that there are at least some Republican members who recognize that it's not good to abuse a serious parliamentary tool just to produce some red meat for the base.

Well, our faces are red. It turns out that the problem was not abuse of motions of censure, per se. It's that the original bill put forward by Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) also required Schiff to pay a penalty of $16 million. Those Republican members were either worried that would not pass legal muster (and that Schiff would get loads of free publicity while fighting it), or that it would set a worrisome precedent.

So, Loony... er, Luna resubmitted the bill with the $16 million penalty stripped out. And yesterday, it passed the House on a party-line vote, excepting that the five Republicans on the ethics committee, along with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) voted "present." Part of the censure process is requiring the member to stand in the well of the House while their misdeeds are recounted by the Speaker. Schiff was more than happy to do it, while Democrats jeered and booed and made it nearly impossible for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to actually read the verbiage he needed to read.

After he had been "shamed," Schiff told reporters that he regarded the censure as a badge of honor, observing that "They wouldn't be going after me if they didn't think I was effective." Hard to argue with that; if House Republicans wanted to make sure that everyone knows which U.S. Senate candidate is the Trump slayer, they couldn't have found a much better way to do it. And that is a question likely of enormous interest to voters in California, where Trump is none too popular (he lost the state by a 2-to-1 margin, both times). We presume that, by the time you read this, the Schiff campaign will have sent out at least three fundraising e-mails making mention of his "disgrace."

Meanwhile, coming off this success, Luna and the other Freedom Caucusers are setting their sights on an even bigger target, and have already introduced at least four different resolutions to impeach Joe Biden. McCarthy is trying to persuade the FCers that this is not the time, since such a move would probably fail in the House (and would definitely fail in the Senate), would put swing-district Republicans in a bad position, and would be a boon to Biden's fundraising. The Speaker has thus far not had much luck reining in the FCers; we'll soon see if he can pull it off this time. (Z)

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