D.C. Buzz: Mission not accomplished.
Sen. Chris Murphy wasn’t alive in the 1960s but he’s no stranger to guerrilla theater. There’s the nearly 15-hour Senate filibuster he led just a year ago in search of gun-law votes.
And on Tuesday Murphy was co-star in a joint Democratic production of “Saving Obamacare,’’ a quest to obtain a secret copy of the “repeal-and-replace’’ plan doctored up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican co-conspirators.
The team: Murphy plus fellow Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
The target: HQ of the Congressional Budget Office, located in a nondescript zone of anonymous D.C. federal office buildings.
The mission: Stalk the non-partisan agency charged with parsing out the good, bad and ugly of all federal legislation, and force the gray little people in their cubbyholes to give up a prized copy of the bill.
“I got 3 million constituents who want to know what’s going to happen to their health care,’’ said Murphy on a video that ran live on Facebook. “Folks are really scared in my state. They want to know what’s going on.’’
With a few interruptions, the video follows them from the Capitol to a cab to the CBO building. There the camera leaves them as they wade in to the final drop zone, only to exit moments later empty handed.
The budget office wouldn’t budge.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the bill here but we’ll get it through other ways,’’ Murphy said.
No worries, Chris. The Republicans are releasing a “discussion draft’’ Thursday. But thanks anyway, even if only for the entertainment value.
Rough on the diamond
Murphy also played a starring role of sorts in the annual Congressional baseball game. The contest between Republicans and Democrats had plenty of backstory, with GOP team leader Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana fighting for his life in a D.C. hospital after a deranged shooter fired an AK-47 variant at a practice, hitting Scalise and four others.
The teams raised $1.5 million for charity. Democrats won the game 11-2 but graciously gave the trophy to the Republicans to present to Scalise, who is recovering well enough to be listed as “fair’’ after previously going from “critical’’ to “serious.’’
You would have had to search for any account of the game itself — and how Murphy did at the bat, to say nothing of seven innings behind the plate.
One Murphy press aide sheepishly admitted: “I was a little more interested in conversations with friends and my hot dog and my beer, Ha!’’
But if you’re a baseball fan and you want to know what kind of ballplayer your junior senator is, here’s something of a game summary:
Murphy wore a Hartford Yard Goats shirt. His 43-year-old knees seemed to adapt well to the squat position. But an early throw to second base failed to keep a GOP runner from stealing, with the radio announcer saying “not exactly a perfect throw.’’
A second base-steal didn’t even evoke a throw down from Murphy. And after a momentary loss of the ball behind home plate, Murphy threw down to third hoping to snag the runner. But the ball bounded into left field and the runner scored.
Not too much better at the plate. Of two at bats I saw on the C-SPAN video replay, one was a bounce-back to the mound that the pitcher used to trap a Dem in a rundown. The other was a walk (although a local paper, Roll Call, said he was hit by a pitch).
But in the seventh inning, with the game safely in Dem hands, Republican Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan tried stealing second. Murphy’s throw this time was right on the money, and Bishop was out.
Good show! No need to send the Yankee scouts, but definitely a good ending to a somewhat rough outing. Click on http://bit.ly/2rDXqCC for a video account.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal rolled out his hand-crafted lawsuit on President Trump and the Constitution’s so-called emoluments clause, claiming that only Congress can approve a high government official deriving wealth from foreign governments. And with no disclosure of tax returns or much of anything else to chart where his business empire ends and his presidency begins, the suit argues Congress is being deprived of its constitutionally directed duty.
“We can’t consent to what we don’t know,’’ Blumenthal said, boasting of up to 200 fellow lawmakers as co-litigants.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty was conspicuously absent.
What’s up with that? Especially since Murphy and Reps. Jim Himes and Rosa DeLauro signed on.
“I am very committed to getting to bottom of what’s going on here, so we can have confidence the president of the United States has sole allegiance to the American people,’’ she said in an interview. “Within Congress, I’m working hard to get good legislation passed as well as get the facts out on Russian involvement in our election. My own judgment call on this issue is I want to do my job.’’
Esty pointed out, accurately, that there are two other pending lawsuits also accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause. They also question income earned from Trump’s extensive business dealings that involve foreign governments.
But what about the unique role the emoluments clause prescribed for Congress as the ultimate arbiter of what’s proper and what’s not?
“We have important business to do in Congress, and I’m doing a lot of bipartisan work right now,’’ she said. “The facts need to come out, but we each need to make our own judgment call. I’ll leave it at that.’’