Chaos on House Floor as Paul Ryan Brings House to Order During Democratic Sit-In
Update, 11:27 p.m.: We’re going to wrap up this evening’s live blog coverage of the Democrats sit-in and pick it up in the morning. It’s been a big day on the House floor and for Periscope’s brand recognition—which picked up 535 new downloads Wednesday. The biggest winner, however, was our nation’s loveable video bot C-SPAN and its subtle rebellion after years of getting treated like Skype.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, sat with other lawmakers on the chamber's floor. She'd removed her leg prosthetics and secreted her smartphone inside one of them so the phone wouldn't be taken away.
Update, 10:40 p.m.: The House is now back out of session, the Republicans held a quick pair of votes and gaveled the House back out of session around 10:30 p.m. Democrats are continuing on with their sit-in. The video feeds have again switched from C-SPAN back to Periscope and Facebook Live.
Update, 10:37 p.m.: Democrats singing "We Shall Overcome" (with slightly amended lyrics).
JUST IN: House Democrats sing "We Shall Overcome" on House floor. Tune in to MSNBC for the latest. https://t.co/HOtELgWSfo— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 23, 2016
Update, 10:35 p.m.: Here's a clip of Paul Ryan gaveling the House back into session around 10 p.m. to Democrats shouting in protest.
Update, 10:25 p.m.: Here's a video taken from the House floor during Paul Ryan's speech for some perspective on how unruly the floor is at the moment.
Update, 10:05 p.m.: Speaker Ryan has gaveled the House back to order and gave brief introductory remarks. Democrats are still crowded around the lectern and chanting “No bill, no break.”
Update, 9:51 p.m.: House Republicans are set to reconvene at 10 p.m. to vote on legislation unrelated to the sit-in. The reconvene will do a couple of things. It will likely end the Periscope feeds because phones are not allowed in the House when it is in session. It will, however, bring back the C-SPAN feed for the vote. This appears to be a thought-out move to disrupt the momentum of the Democrats, who have had the floor for hours now uninterrupted. We'll see how the Democrats react during the vote.
Update, 8:50 p.m.: As we mentioned earlier, House Republicans effectively pulled the plug on the C-SPAN feed of the Democrats sit-in because the majority party functionally controls the cameras, which are only operational while the House is in session. The House is technically adjourned at the moment. C-SPAN, however, in a cheeky, slightly mutinous move, has picked up various Periscope live connections being fed by Democratic members and is broadcasting them live.
Update, 8:35 p.m.: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan about the House Democrats sit-in and why he wouldn’t allow a vote. Ryan conceeded nothing. “This is nothing more than a publicity stunt,” Ryan said. “They’re trying to get you to ask me those questions for publicity’s sake. This isn’t trying to come up with a solution to a problem, this is trying to get attention.”
Update, 5:30 p.m.: Dozens of Democrats continued their sit-in on the House floor on Wednesday evening, roughly six hours after they entered the lower chamber to demand House Speaker Paul Ryan allow votes on new guns laws. From the sounds of it, the Rep. John Lewis-led group is planning to stick around at least through the night, and possibly even into the weekend.
The lower chamber recessed at the GOP’s request shortly after the protest began, which means the House has technically not been in session during the vast majority of the sit-in. As a result, the official cameras and floor microphones are off. Democrats, however, are doing their best to fill the communications gap by streaming video on both Periscope and Facebook, some of which C-SPAN—which has no control over the official feed—has broadcast live. You can watch Rep. Scott Peters’ feed here, and Rep. Don Beyer's here.
Floor protests like this one are a rare sight in the Capitol. According to the Washington Post, this is only the second time since the 1970s that a party has staged a sit-in to demand a vote. A number of Senate Democrats have also visited the House floor to show their support today, including Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
The House is currently scheduled to begin its July 4th holiday at the end of the day on Friday. Democrats, though, want to see action before the lawmakers head home and have taken to shouting, “No vote, no break” and “No bill, no break” every few minutes on the floor. They’re also urging Americans who support their cause to call Ryan’s office to make their voices heard.
Democrats are taking turns talking about the need for more gun control. The two proposals that they’ve given the most attention to are: one aimed at banning individuals on the FBI’s terrorism watch list from buying firearms, and a second that would expand background checks. As I’ve explained before, the latter is a worthy goal, but Democrats’ newfound focus on the terror list raises serious civil liberty concerns.
What is the tipping point? How many more mothers? How many more fathers need to shed tears of grief, before we do something? #goodtrouble— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016
Sometimes you have to get in the way. You have to make some noise by speaking up and speaking out against injustice & inaction #goodtrouble— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016
Thank you John Lewis for leading on gun violence where we need it most. https://t.co/vctfqAH5Wt— President Obama (@POTUS) June 22, 2016
Original post, 12 p.m.: Rep. John Lewis and a group of his fellow Democrats took to the House floor late Wednesday morning to stage a sit-in and are vowing to stay for the foreseeable future. Their goal? Pressure Republican leadership to hold votes on gun control legislation, something they have not done in the wake of this month’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
The lower chamber recessed shortly after Lewis and co. arrived on the floor at around 11:30 a.m. Republicans gaveled the lower chamber back into session shortly around noon as scheduled, but quickly recessed again when it became clear the Democrats were refusing to come to order. The House video cameras go dark when the chamber isn't in session, but for now we have this Periscope video from Rep. Scott Peters. As you can see, Democrats are using the term sit-in loosely; many are standing as they take turns delivering remarks about the need for stricter gun laws. Update 3:44 p.m.: You can now watch a live-stream on Facebook from Rep. Mark Takano.
And here’s the official statement from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer’s office:
Rep. John Lewis is leading a sit-in in the Well of the House Floor with dozens of House Democrats to demand that House Republicans allow a vote on legislation to address gun violence. After the worst mass shooting in modern history, it's time for Speaker Ryan to bring a bill to the Floor. House Democrats will continue to demand: no bill, no break.
Senate Democrats pulled a similar stunt last week when Sen. Chris Murphy and several dozen of his colleagues commandeered the upper chamber with a nearly 15-hour filibuster to call for new gun laws. House members don't have the option of standing on the floor until they can't stand any longer—but it appears they believe sitting down is the next best thing.
This post has been updated with additional information as it became available.
NHL Will Become First Major Sports League to Put a Team in Las Vegas
The National Hockey League is heading to Las Vegas with a new franchise that will be up and running for the 2017–18 season. The move makes the NHL the first major sports league to locate a team in the city, which has generally been avoided because of the city’s side hustle as a global gambling center. Opposition to pro sports franchises in Las Vegas appears to be softening among the pro leagues and the NHL approved the move after a unanimous vote by its Board of Governors, positioning the new team in the Pacific Division of the NHL Western Conference.
The franchise will be the NHL’s 31st team and the first expansion club since 2000. The team will play on the Vegas Strip in the newly built T-Mobile Arena, inaugurated in April, which can hold 17,500 people when aligned for hockey.
Here’s more on the move from ESPN:
The move to Las Vegas completes a longtime relationship with the city and the NHL. The NHL's postseason awards show, which will be held on Wednesday evening, has been hosted in Las Vegas since 2009. The Los Angeles Kings have played in several exhibition games in Las Vegas, including a 1991 outdoor game against the New York Rangers in the Caesars Palace parking lot. The approval of Las Vegas as the next NHL city temporarily puts Quebec City's hopes of landing a team on hold.
“Some observers believe Las Vegas will have a hard time supporting a pro team because so many residents are from elsewhere and root for the teams they grew up with,” the New York Times reports. “Many also work in the tourism industry and are busy on game days.”
The Wednesday Slatest Newsletter
Today's biggest stories:
- Civil rights hero John Lewis is leading a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to demand a vote on gun-control legislation.
- Here's why Democrats weren't hypocritical for calling gun control a moral imperative but not supporting Republican-backed gun-control bills.
- Maine Republican Susan Collins, meanwhile, has proposed a compromise gun bill that might (might!) actually succeed.
- Slate convention guru Josh Voorhees answered all the questions you had about the Dump Trump movement but were afraid to ask because you didn't want to say "Dump Trump" out loud.
- Trump's meeting yesterday with Christian conservatives didn't go well.
- But today Trump finally gave a major speech that was somewhat disciplined and not overtly insane. (It was about Hillary Clinton's alleged history of corruption. Here's today's Trump Apocalypse Watch.)
- And our old pal Marco Rubio announced that he's changed his mind and will to run for reelection to the Senate. Do it, Rubes!
Have a good night out there!
Today's Trump Apocalypse Watch: Putting Out the Dumpster Fire
The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.
It has lately become common to refer to Donald Trump's disorganized presidential campaign as a dumpster fire. Today was the day that the fire department/Trump himself showed up to try to put the conflagration out; the giant hose he used to spray down the flaming trash of his recent misadventures was a speech about Hillary Clinton's alleged corruption. And early reviews, I regret to tell you, indicate that the dumpster may now merely be smoldering. Wrote Slate's Michelle Goldberg, who attended the garbage-hosing in person:
Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning speech about Hillary Clinton’s record is probably the most unnervingly effective one he has ever given ... Like all skillful demagoguery, Trump’s speech on Wednesday interwove truth and falsehood into a plausible-seeming picture meant to reinforce listeners’ underlying beliefs.
"For at least one morning," Goldberg concluded, "Trump did his best not to terrify his own party, and it was terrifying to watch him succeed." And thus does our danger level tick back upwards.
Should Democrats Have Compromised and Voted for the Republican Gun-Control Bills?
On Monday, four gun-control bills failed in the Senate. Senate Democrats treated the results of the vote as an unconscionable failure by the chamber's Republican majority to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.
This critique is a logical one when it comes to the failure of the two robust bills backed by Democrats—California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to prevent sales to individuals on terror watch lists and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy's universal-background-check proposal. But there were also two gun-control bills proposed by Republicans brought to a vote: Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's plan to bolster background-check funding and Texas Sen. John Cornyn's plan to create a three-day waiting period for watch-list gun buyers during which the Justice Department would be able to ask a judge to stop the sale. Both of those failed because Democrats wouldn't vote for them.
Now, it's indisputable that the Republican proposals would have done less to restrict gun sales than the Democratic proposals would have done. Republicans also knew ahead of time that Democrats wouldn't vote for the bills; putting them forward was an act of political theater. But if keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is the moral imperative that many Democrats describe it as, don't they have an obligation to pass the Republican bills? Isn't a politically opportunistic half-measure better than nothing at all?
I ran this line of reasoning by a contact at Everytown for Gun Safety, the Michael Bloomberg–backed advocacy group. The organization sent back some documents outlining the substantive reasons to oppose the Grassley and Cornyn bills. Here's the gist:
- Grassley's bill, in addition to ostensibly strengthening the National Criminal Instant Background Check System, would also tweak the laws regarding gun sales to individuals who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions and veterans who have been deemed incompetent to manage their own affairs. Everytown says Grassley's proposal to allow involuntarily committed patients to buy guns as soon as their commitment orders have expired is dangerous. (Some critics believe the existing legal processes by which gun rights are restored to the involuntarily committed are already too weak; Grassley would eliminate those processes.) The group also says there are better existing proposals to deal with the veteran-competency issue.
- Cornyn's bill would require the government to prove within three days that a terror suspect "has committed, conspired to commit, attempted to commit, or will commit an act of terrorism," a standard that amounts to proving in three days that someone has already committed or is imminently ready to commit a crime.
Everytown's position, then, is that the Grassley bill would be actively dangerous and the Cornyn bill wouldn't do anything at all. Given that—and given that the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign took similar stances—the Dem caucus's unwillingness to support the bills does not seem to conflict on a policy level with its position that gun control is a moral imperative.
The next big question, meanwhile, is whether Everytown and other gun-control advocates will get behind Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins' new terror-list compromise bill, which is backed by a bipartisan group and is similar to Dianne Feinstein's proposal but would involve a narrower pool of suspects to whom sales were restricted. Stay tuned.
A Detailed Guide to How the “Dump Trump” Movement Could Actually Dump Trump at the Convention
Why are we here?
Because it’s happening. Again. Yep, the speculation that maybe—just maybe—Donald Trump might not be the Republican nominee after all is back. The latest effort to deny Trump the nomination is being organized by a small group of GOP delegates who went public late last week with a last-gasp plan to rewrite the convention rules in order to free all 2,472 delegates to vote for whomever they please in Cleveland.
I thought Trump already had this sucker locked up. For the love of God, no one else is even running against him anymore. Why are we talking about this again?
There are three main reason the #DumpTrump effort is getting so much attention. The first is that the push is being led by actual delegates this time, not the #NeverTrump conservative punditry that tried and failed to derail Trump during primary season. The second is that political reporters won’t stop dreaming of a contested convention until the balloons come down on the last night in Cleveland. And the third: Trump’s campaign is really not going well. Calling it a dumpster fire at this particular moment in time is an insult to dumpster fires.
Trump’s poll numbers have taken a dive following his racist comments about the Mexican heritage of an Indiana-born judge and his Islamophobic—and self-congratulatory—response to the Orlando, Florida, shooting. His campaign infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. His fundraising is anemic. Far too much of what little money he has raised, meanwhile, has gone either to businesses that he owns, that make hats, or that might not actually exist at all. And in the month and a half since becoming his party’s presumptive nominee, he has shown neither the interest nor the ability to recognize that winning a general election is a far different task than winning a Republican primary.
Add all that up and you get renewed contested convention speculation. It’s not that a Trump-denying turn of events is probable at this point—it most certainly is not—only that it is so-you’re-saying-there’s-a-chance possible.
Wait, but you really are saying there’s a chance?
I suppose I am. It’s a long shot—and even that description is probably overly generous—but if Trump has another couple of weeks like his past couple of weeks, he could conceivably look like a dead candidate walking by the time he gets to Cleveland. The Republican Party would then be faced with the prospect of not just a landslide loss in the presidential election but one that could also trigger a down-ballot disaster, costing the party the Senate and potentially even putting the House in play. For Republican officials, standing behind a candidate you think is racist and dangerous is one thing; standing behind a candidate you think is racist and dangerous and who could cost you your job, quite another.
OK, so how would this even work? What’s the actual plan?
The main strategy being pushed by the new (and still rather loose) coalition of anti-Trump delegates is actually remarkably simple: They want to rewrite—they’d say, simply write—the convention rules so that delegates can vote however they please.
They can do that?
They can do that. Remember: Conventions are party-run affairs, not government-run elections. As I’ve explained before, the convention writes its own rules every year. While delegates are typically bound by tradition—and a general desire to reflect the will of primary voters—in reality they are only limited by their imaginations. If enough delegates want to deny Trump the nomination, they can.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. Crafting the rules is a two-step process. First, the 112-member RNC rules committee meets a few days before the convention to write the rulebook that will be used during the convention. Those rules then need to be approved by a majority of the delegates before the nominating fun begins. Typically, the panel makes a few relatively minor tweaks to whatever rules were used at the previous convention, the entire convention gives the green light, and everyone goes about their regular business. Under the scenario now being discussed, though, the rules panel would move to unbind all the delegates, a majority of delegates would sign off on that change at the start of the convention, and then a majority of delegates would cast their presidential ballots for someone not named Donald J. Trump.
Are there people supporting this rule change on the rules committee?
Yes. While it’s not clear just how many of them there are, one of the most vocal leaders of the movement—Kendal Unruh, a delegate from Colorado—has a seat on the panel, which will give her the chance to at least put forward the proposal and ask for a vote when the rules committee meets.
So what’s the specific rule change the Dump Trump delegates are proposing?
The group wants to insert what it is calling a “conscience clause,” which it describes like so:
If any such delegate notifies the secretary of his or her intent to cast a vote of conscience, whether personal or religious, each such delegate shall be unbound and unconstrained by these rules on any given vote, including the first ballot for the selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, without the risk of challenge, sanction, or retribution by the Republican National Committee. Allowable personal reasons shall include the public disclosure of one or more any grievous acts of personal conduct by a nominee candidate, including but not limited to, criminally actionable acts, acts of moral turpitude or extreme prejudice, and/or notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform as established at the national convention.
So that means …
Any delegate who doesn’t want to vote for Trump won’t have to look too hard to find a reason not to. Moral turpitude? Check. Extreme prejudice? Check. Public statements at odds with the GOP’s platform? Check, check, and check.
Has anyone ever tried this before?
Actually, yes. Ted Kennedy mounted a similar last-ditch effort in 1980 to snatch the Democratic nomination away from then-President Jimmy Carter via a rule change that would have freed pledged delegates to vote any way they wanted on the floor.
Just kidding, I knew that. So what happens if it succeeds this time?
Again, it depends on the still-to-be-written convention rules, but, generally speaking: Delegates would then have the chance to vote for whomever they wanted, be it Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, or someone else entirely. If someone receives a majority of votes on the first ballot, he or she would become the nominee. If not, the delegates keep voting until someone earns a majority and the nomination.
Is there time between rounds for negotiations and convention floor campaigning? Or do the votes just come one after another in rapid fire?
Again, it would depend on what rules the delegates cook up for themselves, but typically decisions like the timing of the votes would be decided by the convention chairman and by the delegates themselves. The most likely scenario is that there would be plenty of downtime between each vote in order to allow candidates, party officials, and delegates to cobble together a big enough coalition to select a nominee.
How many rounds of voting could we be looking at?
As many as it takes to come to a consensus. In 1924, it took Democrats 103—yes, 103!—ballots to finally settle on John W. Davis as a compromise nominee following a protracted fight between front-runners William McAdoo and Al Smith. Unsurprisingly, Davis did not win the general.
So who will be our generation’s John W. Davis?
No one seems to know, which is one reason it’s difficult to take the #DumpTrump effort all that seriously. As the past six months made abundantly clear, it’s far easier to get Republicans excited about the idea of stopping Trump than it is to get them excited about a specific candidate they prefer over Trump.
Yeah, but there are names out there, right? GIVE ME NAMES.
Several of the delegates currently leading the Dump Trump charge are former Cruz supporters, which makes the Texas senator the most obvious alternative. Paul Ryan has already been fitted for his white knight armor on multiple occasions, so the House speaker is presumably also an option. And if this effort picks up steam over the next few weeks, we’ll probably also hear other familiar names pop up, such as Mitt Romney and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, as well as other well-known Republicans who have refrained from endorsing Trump,
Do any of those men actually want the nomination?
These are all wildly ambitious politicians we’re talking about, so it stands to reason they wouldn’t dismiss the idea out of hand. But lending your name to this effort comes with great political risk. Snatching the nomination away from a man who won the most votes, delegates, and states of anyone in the GOP field could prompt an intra-party revolt that dooms the candidate in November, and beyond. If you’re Cruz or Ryan, it might make more sense to keep your head down and live to fight another day, say, Nov. 3, 2020.
Where’s the GOP establishment on this whole thing?
The Republican National Committee has made it clear they are not on board—and that they don’t even believe it’s actually happening anyway. “There is no organized effort, strategy or leader of this so-called movement,” RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday. “It is nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets.”
Other establishment players have been more coy. Most notably, Paul Ryan suggested over the weekend that he wasn’t going to put his foot down to quash the effort, which is all the more notable given he’s likely to chair the convention. “It is not my job to tell delegates what to do, what not to do, or to weigh in on things like that,” he said on Meet the Press. “They write the rules. They make their decisions.” (As Unruh, the Colorado delegate, put it to the Washington Post: “Paul Ryan signed our permission slip.”) More recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sounded a similar note, telling the Associated Press that delegates should “vote the way they see fit.”
OK, when will we know if this is actually going to work?
The rules panel meets the weekend before the convention kicks off, which would mark the first battle in this fight.
If the rule change actually does happen, do we know how many delegates “voting their conscience” will not vote Trump?
Nope. Leaders of the anti-Trump effort claim they have roughly 400 delegates and alternate delegates who have expressed interest in the effort, but that claim is impossible to confirm since some of the delegates are apparently refusing to go public out of fears of political intimidation by state Republican parties and physical intimidation by Trump supporters. Even if that number is correct, though, that’s still only about a third of the number they’d need to block Trump. They still have a long way to go to convince a majority of delegates to ignore a plurality of GOP primary voters.
So this isn’t going to work, is it?
How Did Trump’s Speech to Evangelicals Go on Tuesday? Not Great.
While reporters dug into his paltry Federal Election Commission filing and Hillary attacked him from the stump, Donald Trump spoke to hundreds of Christian conservatives in New York on Tuesday, earning himself a standing ovation for a speech in which he promised to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, end the ban on churches politicking, and somehow force department store employees to say “Merry Christmas.” “You talk about religious liberty and religious freedom, you don’t have any religious freedom if you think about it,” he said with his usual “Me Tarzan, you Jane” approach to policy subtleties.
Also on Tuesday, Trump named an executive board to advise him on evangelical issues as he enters the general election. The roster includes Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, former Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, former Focus on the Family president James Dobson, and about a dozen pastors. Former Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is one of three women on the 26-person board.
Notice all those formers? The board is actually quite a ragtag bunch for a Republican in a general election—“a B-list of second-tier religious right figures along with a handful of peaked-long-ago relics,” as blogger Fred Clark put it. And the irony of these Moral Majority types prostrating themselves before Trump was laid beautifully bare in a photo Falwell proudly tweeted on Tuesday:
As many of Falwell’s followers gleefully pointed out, that’s a photo of Trump on the cover of Playboy in the background.
Still, with a pandering speech and a board stocked with familiar names, it’s easy to imagine this means Trump has the evangelical power-class vote sewn up. But that would be wrong. “This is a horrifying list, only vaguely representative of evangelical Christianity,” according to Warren Cole Smith, an influential evangelical commentator. “Mark Twain once said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning-bug,” he wrote in an email to CBS News on Tuesday. “This list, with a few exceptions, is made up of lightning-bugs. I'm sure the people who are on this list are on it because more leaders more representative of evangelicals refused to serve.”
Trump’s speech also earned scorn. Southern Baptist Convention policy head Russell Moore, arguably Trump’s loudest evangelical critic, did not attend, and he tweeted in disgust at the standing ovation:
Forget the politics. Forget the country. Heretical prosperity gospel hucksters hailed as spiritual leaders. And you stand there and applaud?— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 21, 2016
Despite Trump’s efforts Tuesday, he remains an extremely divisive figure among evangelical leaders. A January poll of Republican pastors found just 5 percent planned to vote for Trump in the primaries, and there’s no evidence that he has won the rest of them over as he moves toward the general election. (In a smaller poll of evangelical insiders in May, half of them said they would never vote for Trump “no matter what.”) Some evangelicals who remain repulsed by his crude persona and ugly rhetoric have proposed abstaining from voting in the presidential election and focusing on down-ballot races. Washington pastor Thabiti Anyabwile has been using his blog, hosted by the conservative Gospel Coalition, to explain why he will be voting for Clinton over Trump. “I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable,” he wrote in May in a post that compared the race to Stalin v. Hitler. “I regard a President Trump the worse of the two evils before us.”
Trump’s speech Tuesday admittedly drew some big names as organizers and attendees, including Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and evangelist Franklin Graham. But tellingly, even those who appeared to enjoy the event remain wary. At a press conference afterward, eight of the organizers, including Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, spoke glowingly of his performance. But when they were asked to raise their hands if they were willing to endorse him, not a single one did.
Rubio Changes Mind, Will Run for Senate Re-Election
I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
On Wednesday, however, Rubio confirmed recent rumors and announced that he will seek re-election to the Senate in the fall. “I think that the point that really drove me to change my mind is that as we enter this kind of new chapter in our history here is, there’s another role the Senate plays that I think can be really important in the years to come,” Rubio told the Miami Herald. “And that’s the power given to it in the Constitution to act as a check and balance on the excess of the president.” In a statement, Rubio framed his run as central to maintaining GOP control of the Senate and thwarting a Clinton presidency—but also distanced himself from Donald Trump and argued Trump could be checked and moderated by Republican senators. “[S]ome of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable,” he wrote. “If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”
Rubio has pledged in contorted fashion to support Trump as the Republican nominee despite also asserting that the real estate heir should not be trusted with control of the United States' nuclear arsenal.
According to the Herald, at least two GOP candidates, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, are likely to drop out of the state's Senate race in the wake of Rubio’s announcement. Rubio was a special guest at a fundraiser for Lopez-Cantera’s campaign just last month and, the Herald reports, was scheduled to appear at another fundraiser for the lieutenant governor on Friday.
If he wins the Republican Senate primary in August, Rubio will likely face either Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy or former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson in November. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday morning shows Rubio beating Murphy and Grayson 47–40 and 48–40 respectively.
Bipartisan No-Fly-List Gun Bill Introduced in Senate
Maine Republican Susan Collins and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced a compromise bill that would authorize the Justice Department to deny gun sales to individuals on two terror watch lists; while the proposal's chances of passage are still unknown, it's the first congressional response to the Orlando attack that has had the backing of figures from both parties. (Four other gun-control bills failed along party lines in the Senate earlier this week.)
The bill—technically an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act—would apply restrictions to individuals on the no-fly and "selectee" lists, a narrower group than would have been covered by a failed amendment proposed by Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The proposal attempts to address concerns about Constitutional-rights issues related to the watch lists by including "a process for Americans and green card holders to appeal a denial in U.S. Court of Appeals and to recover their reasonable attorneys fees if they prevail."
Although the National Rifle Association has criticized Collins' amendment, three Republicans joined her at a press conference announcing the plan and Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey also says he'll support it. Sixteen GOP senators and every Democrat would have to vote for the amendment in order to "invoke cloture" and allow its passage, after which it would be considered by the House of Representatives (whose Republican members tend to be even more hard-line than those in the Senate).
Man Says He Was Orlando Shooter’s Gay Lover, Says Omar Mateen Targeted Latinos as Revenge
A man who claimed to be Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s gay lover came forward, giving an interview while wearing a disguise to Univision on Tuesday. The man, identified only as “Miguel,” says he met Mateen through the gay dating app Grindr and described their two-month relationship as "friends with benefits” where they met 15 to 20 times at an Orlando hotel, the last time in Dec. 2015.
Here’s more from a Univision story about the interview:
“I’ve cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge,” he told Univision Noticias anchor Maria Elena Salinas in an exclusive interview in English and Spanish on Tuesday. He said Mateen was angry and upset after a man he had sex with later revealed he was infected with the HIV virus. The man said he had approached the FBI and been interviewed three times in person by agents. Univision was unable to independently verify his account. The FBI confirmed to Univision that it had met with him…
He described Mateen as “a very sweet guy" who never showed a violent side. He loved to be cuddled. "He was looking for love," he said… He said he believed Mateen's second wife knew he frequented gay bars and that his marriage was a smoke screen to hide that he was "100 percent" gay. “He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin – but he felt rejected. He felt used by them – there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him,” Miguel said. "I believe this crazy horrible thing he did – that was revenge."