Congressman Nadler Reveals Democratic Playbook
By Donathan Salkaln, CRDC Executive Committee Member
This past March 21st, Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the Judicial Committee, gave members and guests of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club an insider's peek at the U.S. House of Representative's congressional playbook. The CRDC general meeting held at the Hudson Guild Elliott Center was treated to a myriad of strategies that the new democratic-majority is planning, including investigations of President Trump, impeachment, lengthening gun background checks, changes to election laws, Dreamers, antitrust legislation that will lower drug prices and raise worker pay checks, and a new plan for Medicare-for-all that might appease both sides of the aisle. CRDC President Judy Richheimer and the evening's CRDC Program Directer Mindy Rosier-Rayburn eloquently turned the microphone over to the Honorable Congressman Nadler.
"It's a very fraught time in American history right now," Congressman Nadler opened. "We haven't seen the kind of challenge to civil rights and civil liberties since the Civil War. We have a president who is constantly attacking the free press, who is constantly attacking the Judiciary, attacking the FBI, and attacking the institutions whose proper performance of their duties we depend on for our democratic form of government. We must fight back."
As soon as May, Nadler plans to begin hearings into questioning President Donald Trump's possible abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and manipulating government for personal enrichment. Nadler will first focus on infractions to the US Constitution's Emoluments Clause which prohibits any government worker from accepting any gifts from foreign states without congressional consent.
"If Saudi Arabia sends a delegation to stay in the Trump Hotel, that's putting cash into the President's pocket. When the Chinese Government gives Ivanka Trump certain copyright benefits, that's putting cash in her pocket, a direct benefit to the President. These are clearly violations of the Emoluments Clause. We'll see where it takes us." Nadler said, viewing the investigation as the equivalent of the Watergate hearings.
Impeachment: "Impeachment is intended as a defense of the Constitution," said Nadler. "It is intended to prevent a President for misusing Presidential power, to aggrandize power to himself, to reduce the power of the other branches, to destroy or threaten liberty. That's the purpose of impeachment." In order to avoid splitting the country, Nadler added. "You shouldn't impeach a President unless you have evidence, of such strong evidence of such terrible deeds, that you believe that, after all is laid out in front of the country, it had to be done. Maybe we'll get there, maybe we won't. We'll hold the hearings and develop the evidence."
New Gun Legislation: Nadler is working to extend the period of background checks from three days to ten and be required even at gun shows. "The fellow who murdered people in a church in Charleston last year got a gun because the background check wasn't completed in three days. On the fifth day the background check came back and said, 'Oh no! Don't give this guy a gun, he's crazy.' He had the gun and murdered people."
Dreamers: Nadler's committee is preparing legislation for DACA immigrants "to protect a million and a half people who grew up in this country, and lay down roots here, from being deported."
Voting Bill: "We reported out and passed on the House floor HR1, which deals with all kinds of voting rights, voting suppression and gerrymandering and public campaign financing on the federal level. It's not going to pass the Senate but it will start the ball rolling."
Emergency Powers: Nadler doesn't agree with the President's declaration of emergency along the country's southwestern border. "What's the real emergency? It's that Congress won't give him the money for the wall!" He exclaimed. "If he can do that, the next Democratic president can say there's a real emergency —thirty thousand people were killed by gun violence last year and the military is here by order to collect all the guns in the country. We have got to amend the emergency statutes so they are not loaded guns lying around for unscrupulous presidents."
Antitrust: "We haven't done a proper antitrust legislation since the late 60's," Nadler pointed out. "Why have wages not gone up? If you have thirty employers bidding for workers that happens. They bid up the wages. If you have two, you don't bid up the wages. We're going to have a robust antitrust agenda."
Drug Prices: Nadler spoke about his antitrust "Pay to Delay" bill that will outlaw drug manufacturer's practice of paying generic drug companies not to produce generics after a drug patent has expired. "When a patent expires, then generic manufacturers jump into it, price it lower, and the price goes down 80 or 90 percent, usually," He said, adding that paying off the generic manufacturers to do nothing, effectively extends their patent indefinitely and they can continue to charge whatever prices they want.
Medicare-For-All Plan: "We should have learned one thing from the political struggle over Obama Care. You can not say to tens of millions of people who have insurance that they like, 'We're going to take your insurance away from you, but don't worry. We're going to give you something better. Trust us.' It doesn't work and is a formula for political disaster." Nadler said. He is proposing a system where Medicare would be an option for all. "Anybody could choose insurance from Insurance Company A, or Insurance Company B, or Medicare. The employer, in buying a group policy, could buy into Company A, Company B, or Medicare. A version of that, where you don't force anybody into Medicare, might be the way to go."
Big thanks to CRDC Executive Committee Member Lisa Nearier for covering the door registration, and CRDC Recording Secretary Linda Longstreet in handling the refreshments!