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14

Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 14, 2024 03:58 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the foreign aid bill passed by the Senate, a search for a surrogate, not taking precautions while having covid, and potential changes to MCPS programs.

Yesterday the most active thread was the Travis and Taylor thread that I've already discussed and will therefore skip today. The second was a thread about a two-hour delay in opening Montgomery County Public Schools yesterday. However, that thread was started with only a link — a violation of DCUM guidelines — and was simply 12 pages of posters complaining about the delay. It is no longer relevant and combined with the link-only first post, I decided to delete it rather than discuss it. That left the first thread to be discussed today to one titled, "The Senate passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. This aid package has had a long and complicated history. The Biden Administration originally requested significant aid to Ukraine as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which Congress considered toward the end of last year. Republicans in the House of Representatives opposed the assistance unless it was accompanied by an immigration bill strengthening border security. As a result, the NDAA was eventually passed with only a small assistance package for Ukraine and a bipartisan group of Senators began negotiating an immigration bill that could be part of a larger aid package. This month, Republican Senator James Lankford announced that he had achieved bipartisan agreement on such a bill, but former President Donald Trump immediately announced his opposition to the bill because he would rather have border security be an issue during the presidential campaign. Reflecting Trump's influence, almost all Republicans — even some of those who had helped negotiate the bill — announced opposition to it. Ultimately only 4 Republicans would vote in favor of the legislation which failed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Senators then pulled the foreign assistance package from the combined immigration/foreign assistance bill and voted on it separately. This thread was started after passage of that legislation. However, the bill must now return to the House for passage in that chamber. House Republicans, who had joined Trump's opposition to the bipartisan Senate immigration legislation and rejected immigration reform, are now demanding that immigration reform be part of the bill. This reflects two 180 degree flips in the House Republican position since December. House Republicans face a number of challenges that are preventing them from producing any serious legislation. First, the caucus has a laser-thin majority which will become one seat less after the winner of yesterday's special election to fill the seat of disgraced Republicans Congressman George Santos is sworn in. This, combined with an insistance by Republican hardliners that important legislation be passed with a Republican majority rather than reliance on Democrats, makes a bill of this nature almost impossible to pass. Several Republicans outright reject any further aid to Ukraine and, like Trump, seem to have no concern about Russia taking over Ukraine. So, there just aren't enough Republican votes and passing such a bill with Democratic votes would likely result in the ouster of House Speaker Mike Johnson. Johnson, rather than risk his speakership or see the aid bill defeated by Republicans, prefers to cloud the issue with demands for immigration reform. The result will likely be a stalemate unless the defense industrial complex, with its eye on billions of dollars, can convince Johnson and his Republican colleagues to have a change of heart.

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