The Senate shouldn’t be sleeping on Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER NEWS)

 

The Senate shouldn’t be sleeping on Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment

The resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with “acting Attorney General” Matthew Whitaker has proven quite controversial since it was announced. Big-name, right-of-center constitutional experts — including, it appears, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by a backdoor route — have opined that it is straight-up unconstitutional.

It is a conclusion that’s hard to disregard on its merits. But the failure of the administration to respect the “advice and consent” clause of the Constitution is not the only reason why the Senate should be pushing back, and hard, on the acting attorney general situation.

There’s a far more straightforward reason: The appointment of Whitaker is a blatant power grab, and no senator worth his salt should be willing to give up his power over the staffing of the administration.

[Read more: Maryland challenges Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG]

That is especially so if the politician in question is named Mitch McConnell.

The Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky regards himself as being “in the personnel business.” What McConnell means by that is that the most important impact he and his colleagues can have in government is getting people they like confirmed to high office, where they can make legally bulletproof decisions that will shape the future of this country for decades to come.

The area where this is most evident, pertinent, and with the longest-term consequence is in the judiciary. But Senate-confirmable administration posts count as well — not only those confirmed or blocked, but also those thwarted or prevented behind the scenes.

Why, then, would McConnell — let alone his other 99 colleagues — allow their power to be grabbed in such an overt and easily stopped manner by any president? Why not demand that if President Trump wants Whitaker, he put him forward as a nominee for attorney general? And if he does not want Whitaker, why not demand he name his preferred successor to Sessions right now, so the Senate can get on with the constitutionally mandated confirmation process?

The reality is, Trump should have had a nominee’s name ready to announce the second news broke of Sessions’ resignation. It’s not like he hasn’t had time to think about it. Rumors that Sessions would exit after the midterm elections have been swirling D.C. for months now. Trump has wanted him gone for much longer than that.

But it is simply unacceptable that the Senate would not be forcing the president to get on with it now. Every day he delays is an erosion of the Senate’s power and reason for existence.

Under former President Barack Obama, we saw a consistent erosion of the notion that administrations need to adhere to constitutional law.

That was actually the problem at issue in the case that George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband, and former Solicitor General Neal Katyal cited in their op-ed last week dubbing the “acting attorney general” situation unconstitutional.

And Thomas, Trump’s “favorite justice,” considered what the Obama administration did with National Labor Relations Board appointments to be not merely unlawful but unconstitutional — and he was right.

Trump can and should do better than Obama did in this regard. But so should McConnell, if he really is in the personnel business. The majority leader should not tolerate this unconstitutional power grab, which overtly and directly hurts him and his caucus.

Liz Mair is president of Mair Strategies and strategist to the Swamp Accountability Project.

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August, officials say

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 illegal immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted.

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks. HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families.

An HHS official added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August.

The HHS official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from illegal immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and is something Democrats have highlighted as a practice that needs to stop.

The Trump administration has defended the policy by saying illegal immigrants need to know that if they try entering the U.S., they will be prosecuted, which could lead to separation from their children. Officials have said U.S. citizens face the same risk when they commit crimes.

But administration officials have also said they support a change to the federal law that requires prosecution and family separation, and have blamed Democrats for current law.

Illegal immigration along the southwestern U.S. border has spiked in the last few months, even though administration officials have said they expect Trump’s zero-tolerance policy to eventually dissuade more from coming. A Justice Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner last week the zero-tolerance policy is not expected to lead to a decline in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to make the trek to the U.S. from primarily Central American countries until early fall.

Under current practice, HHS takes care of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children as well as now those under the age of 18 who must be cared for while the adults they were apprehended with are prosecuted for illegal entry. This spring, Sessions directed federal prosecutors stationed at the border to bring charges against all migrants that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took into custody.

However, family units that arrive at ports of entry and request asylum will not be prosecuted because they have not attempted to enter the country illegally, several DHS officials confirmed to the Washington Examiner. They will also be kept together as they go through the asylum process. These groups are detained in DHS facilities while minors are directed to HHS.

In an attempt to secure housing for the coming flood of children, HHS selected the Tornillo Land Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, last week as the first back-up site to temporarily house around 360 minors.

The Trump administration is also advancing a plan to tentatively house unaccompanied minors in tent cities located on three Texas military bases due to increasing border apprehensions and a shortage of beds for the underage immigrants.

“[Health and Human Services] is running out of space because of the implications of the zero tolerance policy, but also because we continue to see this uptick in numbers,” an official confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week.

HHS officials are looking at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, the official confirmed.

‘Please stop having children you aren’t willing to raise’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Sen. John Kennedy: 

Imagine that you’re the parents of four children under the age of eight. Your home is strewn with stuffed animals and sippy cups. And, if you’re a couple named Colby and Lacey (a real couple from Utah), you keep drug paraphernalia next to the bassinet and smoke heroin in front of your children.For the life of me, I don’t know why anyone who is an addict would decide to become a parent and bring an innocent child into his or her sick drug den. My only conclusion is that some parents figure someone else will raise their children while they do drugs, drink, party, commit crimes, Snapchat, plant fake crops on FarmVille, and do anything but parent. They’d rather have the latest and greatest iPhone than help their children figure out eighth-grade algebra.

Thankfully, that’s not most parents in Louisiana, but it describes too many.

Life is precious. Anyone who’s looked into a newborn’s innocent eyes should realize how incredible it is to be blessed with a new life. That couple named Colby and Lacey allegedly gazed into their newborn’s eyes and then rubbed drugs into the child’s gums to hide the fact that she had been born addicted to heroin. Nurses say some parents do this all the time to hide their infant’s withdrawal symptoms.

Here’s my advice to couples like Colby and Lacey: Stop having children if you don’t plan to raise them.

A lack of good parenting sense isn’t just a problem for Colby and Lacey. Last month, an eight-year-old girl tested positive for cocaine in Baton Rouge, La., after a relative brought her to the hospital because her mother refused to do so. When authorities located the mother, she had cocaine and drug paraphernalia in her possession.

My heart aches for that child. At eight years old, you should be playing games, painting your fingernails purple, getting glitter on everything, and learning how to bake cookies. The last thing you should be doing at that age is testing positive for cocaine.

I don’t know that mother’s story, but I do know that she failed her child.

Too many parents are failing their children these days in Louisiana. Thousands of children are in the state’s foster care system. A woman in West Monroe was just honored for mothering 100 foster children over the years. Think about that: That one woman had to do the parenting for countless parents.

Too many people treat parenting like it’s the 20th item on their to-do list. Their social life, drug habit, and sleep schedule matter more to them than their children do. Talk to teachers and they’ll tell you: Children show up unbathed, unfed, and unprepared at school when they show up at all. Sometimes the system catches them and shuffles them into a foster home. Tragically, sometimes the system fails them like their parents did.

It’s not fair to those children, and it’s certainly not fair to our communities. Those children grow up broken. They don’t glue themselves together and get a scholarship to Louisiana State University. They often drop out of school, do drugs, commit crimes, and hold down minimum-wage jobs. They’re flushed down the toilet before they’re potty trained, and then taxpayers are left to take care of them.

Studies of high-performing schools tend to find a common thread: parental involvement. Those same studies show that the more interest you have in your children’s education, the better they do in school. The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found that a family’s income does not determine how well kids score on tests or how often they show up for school. The determining factor is parental involvement.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example of the benefits of parental involvement. Lincoln easily could have died an illiterate farmer. He grew up on the frontier, where schoolteachers made sporadic appearances and lost his mother at a young age. An uneducated woman named Sarah Bush turned the tide for him. Sarah married Lincoln’s father and encouraged a rather feral Lincoln to nurture his love of reading. She thrust books in front of him. She ensured that he had a comfortable home and treated him like he was her natural child. That’s good parenting, and it helped shape Lincoln into one of this country’s greatest presidents.

But you don’t have to raise a future president. You just have to raise a child who has a little common sense, graduates from high school and stays off the road that leads straight to prison and drug addiction.

We launch public awareness campaigns to encourage people to recycle their soft drink cans, stop smoking and wear seat belts. Maybe we need to launch campaigns to encourage people to raise their children. Most Louisiana parents don’t need that encouragement. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that some do.

Having children is a blessing. Treat your children like the blessings they are or don’t have them at all. Our foster care system and jails already are at capacity. There’s no more room at the inn.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., was elected to the Senate in 2016. You can follow him on Twitter: @SenJohnKennedy

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