Saturday, January 2, 2021

HoliDaze: Orange Meltdown

The Senate on Friday overrode President Donald Trump's veto of a $741 billion defense policy bill, delivering a rare bipartisan rebuke to the commander in chief in his administration's waning days.

Senators voted 81 to 13 to enact the annual National Defense Authorization Act, well above the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the presidential veto. The House voted to override Trump by a wide margin on Monday.

The override is the first of Trump's term, handing the outgoing president a stinging loss in his showdown with Congress. Lawmakers in both parties banded together to defy the White House despite Republicans' wariness of crossing Trump throughout his term — and with many even supporting his efforts to contest the outcome of the election he lost.

"Today’s vote sent a clear message that Congress will not allow President Trump to stand in the way of that support, and I’m relieved the critical bipartisan priorities we fought for will become law," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), said in a statement after the vote.

Republicans could have torpedoed the bill if enough GOP senators had switched their votes to side with Trump. But no one changed their vote from when the bill was originally passed three weeks ago. Seven Republicans, five Democrats and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders opposed the measure after also voting against it last month.

Trump vetoed the defense measure, H.R. 6395 (116), because it didn’t include his demand to repeal legal protections for social media companies. His 11th hour demand to repeal the liability shield, known as Section 230, was largely sidestepped by lawmakers because it isn't a national security issue.

Trump also opposes several other major provisions in the bill, including a measure that would force the renaming of military bases that honor former Confederate leaders over a three-year period, authored by progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The White House also opposed provisions that would limit his push to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Europe.

Trump has also argued the bill is a gift to China, contradicting many Republican lawmakers who contend it is toughest defense legislation Congress has passed regarding Beijing in years. The bill, for instance, sets aside $2.2 billion for a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative to boost the U.S. military presence and deter China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Several big things there: 

First, the Senate GOP is hanging Trump out to dry in his final, pitiful days as a wannabe tyrant. He no longer commands the party...well, at least not 100% like he did even a few weeks ago. 

Second, as I said, the Senate GOP will mostly still be here in a Biden administration. We'll see if that means Mitch is the majority leader...or minority leader.

Third, the Trump loyalists in the House and Senate can still make things tough on those who voted to override on January 6th. It's going to be a day of ugly, ugly spectacle on Wednesday.

Finally, there's a specific reason Trump vetoed this bill, and it had nothing to do with any of the reasons he's stated.

An historic anti-corruption measure ending anonymous companies in the United States became law on Friday, capping a more than decade-long campaign by transparency advocates, after both Chambers of Congress voted to override the president’s veto of the annual defense bill. The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, which led the organizing effort, praised the enactment of the Corporate Transparency Act, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Ian Gary, executive director of the FACT Coalition, issued the following statement:

“After more than a decade-long campaign to end the formation of anonymous shell companies that are abused by the criminal and the corrupt, the United States has enacted historic reforms to protect Americans and our financial system from abuse. We applaud Senate and House lawmakers for passing this critical, bipartisan anti-corruption reform by overwhelming margins. We look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration to ensure the strong and timely implementation of the new law.

For years, experts routinely ranked anonymous shell companies — where the true, ‘beneficial’ owners are unknown — as the biggest weakness in our anti-money laundering safeguards. Virtually every national security expert, law enforcement official, and human rights advocate that looked at the issue called for an end to anonymous companies. It’s the single most important step we could take to better protect our financial system from abuse.

“For more than a decade, the FACT Coalition and our members have worked tirelessly to assemble a powerful alliance of ideologically-diverse constituencies to back an end to anonymous companies. Supporters of transparency eventually included hundreds of national security experts, police and prosecutors, banks and credit unions, CEOs, the real estate sector, large businesses, small business owners, faith groups, anti-human trafficking groups, human rights organizations, global development NGOs, anti-corruption advocates, labor unions, and conservative and liberal think tanks. The campaign was so successful that the State of Delaware and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — both of which had previously opposed reform — ultimately endorsed transparency.

Now, who do you know who would be massively upset by a new law targeting anonymous shell companies to go after international money-laundering operations in the US, and whose company is already under state investigation for possible tax fraud and financial crimes?

Trump basically has to pardon himself now or he's absolutely going to face the feds hungry to go after him with this new law. He may never be charged by the DoJ (and almost certainly won't be) but it'll expose him as the fraud andster he is to the world, and he can't have that.

Either way though, Trump knows he's in dire trouble and has only days remaining...
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