Tag: mike lee

Paul, Lee Only Senators to Vote Against U.S. Support of NATO

By Kenneth Casey | United States

At around 7:00 EST on Tuesday, the Senate voted on a motion that supports continuing U.S. support and funds to NATO by an overwhelming majority of 97-2, with the only two dissents being libertarian-leaning Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee. With all the buzz and craziness going on about Donald Trump’s recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the vote of the two Senators flew under the radar.

This vote comes about 6 hours after President Trump criticized fellow participating countries in NATO for not paying their expected expenses to the treaty whilst relying on the U.S. for expected funding and defense.

Trump’s rhetoric on NATO goes back to when he was running for president. He was often criticizing our involvement in NATO and was one of the only Republican candidates calling for decreased spending within the treaty.

Rand Paul, who as mentioned prior was one of two Senators to vote against the motion, seemed to agree with President Trump on the issue of America’s involvement in NATO. He tweeted out the following:

Paul’s opposition to the expansion of NATO is unsurprising, as the libertarian senator has long expressed disapproval for our involvement in the treaty. Back in March of 2017, Rand objected to the adding membership of Montenegro to the treaty, which promptly led to Senator John McCain of Arizona accusing Rand of “working for Vladimir Putin”. The Senate ended up confirming support of Montenegro’s addition to NATO, with only two Senators objecting: Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Mike Lee commented on the addition of Montenegro to NATO:

“Of course, treaties and alliances with other countries can be beneficial, but the founders of this country understood their seriousness as well as going to war. That is why both of these powers-the power to make and ratify treaties and the power to declare and execute a war- are shared by the legislative and executive branches, and treaty ratification must be achieved by a supermajority in the Senate.”

-Senator Mike Lee of Utah

Unfortunately for libertarians who want the United States’ involvement in NATO to decrease, for both the purpose of cutting foreign aid and being involved in fewer entanglements overseas, Rand Paul and Mike Lee alone don’t have a ton of power in the Senate. 98 other Senators sharing opposing views which favor U.S. alliances and involvement abroad, so the only way for this to change is by electing more libertarian-leaning Senators.


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Rand Paul’s Critical Supreme Court Nominee Vote

By Kenneth Casey | United States

With President Trump promising to announce his nominee to replace the recently retired Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court on Monday, CBS reported that there are two leading contenders. President Trump has been talking to Senators on Capitol Hill recently. He is trying to assure he will have the votes necessary to confirm whoever he nominates to the court.

Opposition to Potential Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh

One of the leading contenders to be Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is Brett Kavanaugh. He currently serves on the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

One Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has voiced potential concerns over the potential nomination of Kavanaugh. Paul cited concerns over Kavanaugh’s support in “cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress“. Washington Post also notes that Kavanaugh’s writing on Obamacare has bothered some conservatives. This may also be a reason to provoke Paul’s unrest.

A Critical Vote

His vote is so crucial because the Republicans in the Senate only have a 51-49 majority. So, if no Democrats vote in favor of Trump’s nominee, just one Republican could put the nomination in jeopardy. Other Republican votes to keep an eye on for similar reason include Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Both very economically conservative, the two men may share similar concerns about Kavanaugh’s lack of conservatism and establishment ties.

Libertarian-leaning Paul is not the only right-wing figure concerned with Kavanaugh’s establishment ties. Glenn Beck has tweeted several concerns over the potential Supreme Court nominee, including his request to President Bush that he nominate Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court, his opinion on Obamacare and liberals he’s surrounded himself with. Moreover, prominent conservative lawyer James Bopp, most well known for his part in Citizens United V. FEC, urged President Trump to not nominate Kavanaugh.

Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are also potential no votes on a Trump nominee. Both support abortion rights, and the latter has come out and said she will not vote for someone who displays hostility towards Roe V. Wade.

Some Democrat votes to watch include Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, all moderate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. All voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch in April, so they may also support another Trump nominee.


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Liberty-Leaning Mike Lee Should Stay in the Senate

By Kenneth Casey | United States

Recently, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, there’s been a lot of buzz about who President Trump might nominate to replace the Republican-appointed Justice. The White House released a list of potential replacements for the seat that President Trump is deciding from.

On that list is Utah U.S. Senator Mike Lee. Although appointing legislators to judicial seats is often frowned upon, Lee is a rare exception. Before he decided to enter politics and run for office, he served as a Law Clerk to Judge Dee Benson on Utah’s District Court and future Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel Alito. At the time, Alito was serving on the United States Court of Appeals. After that, Lee served as Assistant United States Attorney in Salt Lake City.

Lee has a very sharp legal mind and has shown it off many times in the United States Senate. Most recently, Lee spoke in favor of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have protected Americans from detention without trial or charge. Lee, speaking in favor of the amendment on the Senate floor, said:

“The amendment simply says that if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may not be indefinitely detained on U.S. soil without trial, without charge, without access to a jury or to counsel.”

-Mike Lee

Lee’s position on the issue was that enforcing indefinite detention on any U.S. citizen for any reason violates the 5th amendment. Thus, it is not tolerable in the United States.

Lee possesses a trait that is rare for any elected legislator. He has common knowledge of the Constitution, and realizes protecting it is a legislator’s first and most important duty. Hence, Lee would be an amazing addition to the Supreme Court. He would represent liberty on the bench for a long time.

However, is nominating Mike Lee to the Supreme Court really worth losing his voice in the Senate?

Unfortunately, the answer, at least at this time, the answer is no. Lee has consistently been the second-most liberty-leaning member of the Senate, alongside Rand Paul. His loss would leave Paul as the only liberty-leaning senator.

In the past, Lee has championed criminal justice reform. For example, he introduced a bill in the Senate titled Smart Sentencing Act that would reform the criminal justice system. It addressed prison overcrowding by lowering mandatory minimum sentences. Thus, he effectively wanted to limit the number of nonviolent drug offenders sent to prison.

When it comes to surveillance bills, Lee and Paul have been the only two consistent Republican Senators opposing more spying. In 2011, they were the only two Republicans to oppose extending all three provisions of the PATRIOT Act. When the FISA Authorization Act came to the Senate floor earlier this year, Lee was one of just seven Republicans to vote against it. Also, when John McCain put a bill on the Senate floor to expand the FBI’s surveillance powers, Lee was again one of seven Republicans to vote against it.

Moreover, Lee has consistently supported bills that cut spending and shrink our national debt. When Paul introduced a bill that would reduce discretionary spending by $43 billion, Lee was one of a mere five senators to vote for it. Most recently, two days ago, when the Senate voted on the Agricultural and Nutrition Act, a bill the CBO claimed would increase direct spending by $3.2 billion over the 2019-2023 period, Lee and Paul broke alone from their party to vote against it. According to the site SpendingTracker.org, a site that tracks how much money Congressmen vote to spend, Lee voted to spend the 2nd least amount of money in both the 114th and 115th Congresses, behind only Paul.

In addition, Lee has been a proponent of foreign policy realism in Senate. While many Senators praised President Trump’s decision in 2017 to launch missiles into Syria, Lee joined Paul in saying that it was unconstitutional for a president to engage in an act of war without Congressional approval. Lee also teamed up with Bernie Sanders to end U.S. intervention in Yemen earlier this year.

A liberty-leaning Senator like Mike Lee is very rare in today’s political climate. It would be a huge blow to lose him as a Senator.

Many may argue that Lee vacating his Utah seat in the senate is not a big deal. After all, he serves in the Republican stronghold state of Utah. They are right – Lee’s seat is very safe for Republicans. They would have no trouble voting in a new Republican in a special election for his replacement. However, it is quite unlikely we would see another liberty-leaning Republican in his place.

It is important for Donald Trump to nominate somebody like Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. Yet, it would be best if he did not nominate the man himself, as liberty-leaning senators are too critical to lose.


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