Political Insider: Republican presidential hopefuls plan to descend Monday on Michigan
Michigan is going to be a hot bed of 2016 Republican presidential politics on Monday as three potential contenders plan to visit the state.
Famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson is expected to announce his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president Monday morning in Detroit, where he grew up.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is a declared candidate, is holding an event at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Kent County Republican Party headquarters with U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township.
At noon, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expected to speak at an Ingham County Republican Party luncheon at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in downtown Lansing.
Walker, who has not officially joined the crowded Republican primary field, will head to Novi later in the day to deliver the keynote address at the Oakland County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner.
Manifesto from Courser over Gamrat caucus ban
The emerging tussle between House Speaker Kevin Cotter and a pair of insurgent tea party-orientated Republican representatives got a little more heated this week.
Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, issued a blistering 3,348-word manifesto decrying Cotter's decision to expel his tea party ally, Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell, from the House Republican caucus.
Courser called Cotter's decision to remove Gamrat "a knee jerk unfounded unilateral action" and "the shameless actions of a bully bent on abusing his power to silence in the caucus a voice of liberty."
Courser, a freshman conservative firebrand, suggested in the email to supporters that Gamrat's dismissal was an attempt to distract conservatives while the leadership jammed through their "Welfare Increases Over Road Funding budget."
Cotter previously told The Detroit News that he kicked Gamrat out the Republican caucus meetings for "a series of incidents" in which she divulged confidential discussions. Cotter has not detailed what information Gamrat leaked, citing the House GOP caucus rule to keep its internal deliberations secret.
Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, was not impressed with Courser's email diatribe.
"I didn't pick up the phone after I read the manifesto," Cotter told reporters Tuesday.
'Unintended consequences,' meet House rules
Gamrat's isolation in the House seemed to go from bad to worse Tuesday while the House was preparing for a vote on a $38 billion general government omnibus budget bill.
Gamrat, a freshman member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced 23 amendments that promised $1 billion in across-the-board budget cuts and redirected the money to road repairs.
The proposed cuts would have slashed each state agency 10 percent, then made additional targeted cuts to Medicaid, a dental program for poor children, grants for business development, a migrant labor housing program and other projects.
She introduced the bills without the support of Cotter and Appropriations Committee Chairman Al Pscholka, who usually control which budget amendments will be considered on the floor.
"It became clear to me that we're spending more money on entitlements than transportation. So I'm putting these amendments forward today because I believe it's the responsible thing to do in order to (fund) transportation," Gamrat said on the House floor.
Then Gamrat added: "However, at the same time, I'm withdrawing my amendments today. And I'm withdrawing them because simply and honestly, I ran out of time, haven't had time to do the due diligence of looking at the legalities and unintended consequences that these amendments may have."
But House Republican leadership didn't simply let Gamrat sit down.
Rep. Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican who was presiding as speaker, informed Gamrat that she would have to "withdraw each amendment individually," per House rules.
In several moments of awkwardness on the House floor, Gamrat went through the withdrawal procedure, repeating over and over and over the same nine-word phrase: "Mr. Speaker, I respectfully withdraw my amendment."
Courser later joined Gamrat, two other Republicans and 47 Democrats in voting "no" on the budget bill.
Former lawmaker still backing gay marriage
Former Republican state Rep. Lorence Wenke was among participants in a vigil at the Michigan Capitol in support of gay marriage rights on the evening before Tuesday's historic U.S. Supreme Court arguments.
Wenke, who lives in Richland outside of Kalamazoo, has been hailed nationally as a hero of the rights movement for taking a stand against GOP colleagues who voted in favor of a 2004 legislative resolution calling for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriages.
He and former Republican Rep. Leon Drolet of Clinton Township made floor speeches against the resolution and voted against it. The resolution fell eight votes shy of the two-thirds majority necessary for House passage.
A family values group then circulated petitions leading to eventual passage of the proposed amendment, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman. That constitutional amendment now is part of the U.S. Supreme Court case and will be decided by late June.
"I'm still a gay rights advocate," said Wenke, who switched from Republican to Libertarian for an unsuccessful state Senate run in November. "I can't give it up and I don't want to give it up. It has been an exciting and challenging issue for the whole nation. I hope the Supreme Court finally puts it to rest."
Wenke said he has joined several gay rights demonstrations in recent weeks leading up to the Supreme Court debate. He said he also has booked a hotel room so he can be in Washington, D.C., when the high court renders its decision.
Contributors: Chad Livengood and Gary Heinlein