Yesterday marked the 18th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. The Iraq War, in other words, is now old enough to fight in Iraq — where the US still has a troop presence.

Although the war would not begin until March 2003, the House passed the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq in October 2002. The vote was 296 to 133. 215 Republicans and 81 Democrats voted for it. 126 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 Independent (Sanders) voted against it.

Of those 127 NAY votes from the Democratic caucus, 37 are still there:

Earl…


Earlier today, Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021, which would guarantee health care to everyone as a human right.

They were joined by 111 of their colleagues (109 representatives and two delegates, Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC and Gregorio Sablan of the Northern Marian Islands). With 111 members of the 219-member voting caucus, the bill commands a slim majority, and it’s likely that the vacant seats will be filled by future co-sponsors.

Last session, the bill had the support of 119 members. What accounts for the difference?

Seven first-year members of…


At 12:12 pm on Saturday afternoon, the Senate voted 50 to 49 in support of the $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package. Every Democrat voted in support, and every Republican voted against the widely popular package.

In the just-over-24 hours leading up to passing the bill, the Senate had taken three dozen votes, part of what is called a “vote-a-rama.”

The vote that got the most news was the first one: the vote on Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The amendment failed 42 to 58, with Democratic Caucus members Tom Carper (D-DE)…


Last night, the House voted 220 to 210 in favor of H.R.1, the For the People Act. All Democrats but one (Bennie Thompson of MS-02) voted for it; every Republican voted against it.

The bill is an ambitious and important omnibus for democracy reforms:

*Expanding and protecting voting rights: H.R. 1 fights institutional barriers to voting by implementing key reforms such as automatic and same day voter registration, early and absentee voting, and complete restoration of voting rights for individuals who have completed felony sentences. H.R. 1 also prohibits voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia, and elsewhere…


At 5:23 am Friday morning, after a marathon of amendment voting, the US Senate passed its budget resolution teeing up Biden’s COVID relief package 51–50.

For the prior fifteen hours, the Senate voted on a series of non-binding amendments in what is called a “vote-a-rama.” Senators have the opportunity to put themselves and their colleagues on record on a whole host of issues in a largely meaningless but nonetheless fascinating PR exercise.

Here are all the non-unanimous, non-party-line recorded votes:

*Establishing a fund to provide grants to food service and drinking establishments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (introduced by Roger…


In order to preserve civilian control of the military, current law prevents the appointment any military officer who has been out of active duty for less than seven years. Although the principle of civilian control of the military goes back to the Constitution, this specific requirement traces to the National Security Act of 1947.

In 2017, Trump had to get a waiver from Congress to nominate General Mattis as Secretary of Defense, a rare move that set a bad precedent — a bad precedent that President Biden has already decided to follow in nominating General Lloyd Austin.

Back in 2017…


Last night, the House and Senate left town, with no deal in sight for COVID relief despite the uptick in COVID cases, COVID deaths, evictions, unemployment, and overall economic insecurity.

Among the key sticking points are the Republican ask for a liability shield so that companies that endanger their workers can get off scot-free and the Democratic asks for money for state and local governments (to avoid the mass layoffs and cuts that could create a double-dip recession) and the continuation of more robust unemployment benefits.

In other words, Congressional Democrats want a relief bill to help more people. Republicans…


The following was inspired by hearing Joe Kennedy speak at my ward committee and watching the past few debates. I could write much, much more about the positive case for Markey beyond what I include below, but I wanted to focus on rebutting fundamental misrepresentations and internal contradictions from the Kennedy campaign.

An Opening Pitch

When approaching races, I like to think about (a) what will the candidates fight for/will they be a champion of some issue area, (b) will they be fighting to improve legislation, and (c) do they have deal-breakers (e.g., are there things that would make them oppose legislation).

I…


The FY 2021 NDAA passed overwhelmingly as usual 295 to 125.

The NDAA authorizes $732 billion in discretionary spending for various military and “defense” capacities. One would think that given how Democrats talk about the threat Trump poses, they would try to curtail the size of the warfare state. They, of course, did not.

187 Democrats and 102 Republicans voted for it. 43 Democrats, 81 Republicans, and Justin Amash voted against it.

Here are the 43 Democrats who voted NO:


On Wednesday, while the coronavirus outbreak dominated the news, the House of Representatives demonstrated what good bipartisanship and bad bipartisanship looks like.

First, the good. A War Powers Resolution directing the removal of any troops engaged in unauthorized hostilities with Iran passed 227 to 186. The fact that Congress actually takes votes limiting warmaking powers is a positive change from the laissez-faire enabling role that Congress has played in recent years.

Six Democrats voted against the resolution: Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Kendra Horn (OK-05), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Ben McAdams (UT-04), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), and Max Rose (NY-11).

But six Republicans —…

Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.

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