New Laws, Impeachment, and Airstrike

New Laws

As 2019 drew to a close, President Trump signed two bills that had passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. I have previously highlighted them in this column as legislation that I support and cosponsored and am glad that they are now law.

On December 30, the President signed the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019.

The Debbie Smith Act was first passed in 2004 and provides grants to state and local jurisdictions to analyze DNA samples in unprocessed rape kits. The Government Accountability Office in 2017 found a backlog of 169,000 DNA samples from crime scenes, underscoring the urgency of reauthorizing the law.

President Trump also signed the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act. This law aims to protect your phones from the robocalls that may have annoyed you in recent years.

The President’s desk was the final stop for this legislation, which in the House began in the Energy and Commerce Committee on which I serve. We passed our bill to crack down on robocalls out of committee and then on the House floor in July.

The House and the Senate reconciled their bills into one bipartisan, bicameral agreement, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, and each passed this version in December, sending it to President Trump for his approval.

Under the new law, phone companies will be required to implement authentication and blocking measures at no cost to consumers. The Federal Communications Commission will have improved tools for enforcement against bad actors. It also includes protections for hospitals, which have been targets in the past of robocalls that have tied up their phone lines and prevented their use for legitimate purposes.

This new law will bring relief to Americans who want to use their phones for communication and enjoyment, not as the target of scammers and criminals.

As an advocate for these bills, I am glad they have at last become law. Americans stand to benefit.

Impeachment

House Democrats continue to make a mockery of the impeachment process.

Since they voted to impeach President Trump in December, Speaker Pelosi has refused to actually send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial or to appoint the managers who will serve as prosecutors.

Apparently, she does not recognize that once she brought down the gavel on the impeachment vote, her role in the process was over. After the vote was completed, there could have been time to reconsider the vote through a motion to reconsider. But immediately after the vote on impeachment, the motion to reconsider was laid on the table, killing their opportunity to delay the process through reconsideration.

At that moment, Nancy Pelosi became a mere functionary. Her function is to transmit the impeachment resolution to the Senate.

The Senate is the body with the power to try the articles of impeachment, and the House Speaker has no authority to dictate the trial’s terms.

If Speaker Pelosi continues to choose not to perform her function, I believe she should be compelled by the courts to do so. This can be done through a writ of mandamus, a court order requiring a government official to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

I think a writ of mandamus is called for on this occasion, requiring the Speaker to transmit the articles and appoint managers so the Senate can get on with its role in the process. Speaker Pelosi has continually undermined the case for impeachment through her unfair and undue actions.

Iran

When President Trump ordered an airstrike on Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3, he acted within his lawful authority under the Authorizations of Use of Military Force (AUMFs) of 2001 and 2002, the War Powers Resolution of 1973, and his constitutional powers as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

Soleimani was Iran’s military commander as that country looked to gain dominance over the Middle East, using violence in pursuit of Iranian supremacy. His actions brought him into conflict with American national interests and those of our allies in the Middle East, and so he became a casualty of a conflict he helped incite.

At a broader level, this event again indicates the need to pass a new AUMF to govern our military actions in the Middle East and the necessity to review the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

For questions, concerns, or comments, contact the Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, the Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, the Washington office at 202-225-3861, or via email, at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

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