Backbone for Friday, December 23, 2016

Backbone for Friday, December 23, 2016

By Congressman Lacy Clay (D) Missouri     

“Progressive politics, positive leadership 

for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District


Welcome to this special holiday edition of “Backbone.” 


During hearings this past summer before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, I warned that a foreign power was attempting to influence and perhaps tamper with our presidential election.  That threat became a shocking reality and as this piece by Tim Starks in POLITICO (12.16.16) reported, the FBI, CIA and Director of National Intelligence agree with that assessment.  He writes in part:

“There is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” CIA Director Brennan wrote in the message to his workforce. “The three of us also agree that our organizations, along with others, need to focus on completing the thorough review of this issue that has been directed by President Obama and which is being led by the DNI.(Director of National intelligence).”

This is no longer about who won the election; it’s about getting to the truth about this outrageous assault on our democracy.

To read more, please go to:



I have already signed on to letters with my Democratic colleagues on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee demanding full, independent investigations into both President-elect Trump’s multiple, pending conflicts of interest and the Russian hacking scandal that he is so eager to divert our attention from.

Hard to understand why he is covering up for such a dangerous adversary like Putin, but as this report by Jason Easley in PoliticusUSA (12.21.16) notes, the vast majority of Americans agree that vigorous independent investigations are needed.  He writes in-part:

Trump’s attempts to sway the public away from demanding an investigation in Russian election meddling are failing as a new Suffolk University poll found that Americans want an investigation by a nearly two to one margin.

According to the poll, (62 percent) said that Congress and the new Trump administration should investigate the allegations of Russian interference, while 33 percent disagreed.”

So much for the Republican idea that the Russian election interference can be quietly swept under the rug. Perhaps, the big Republican strategy is to make people forget about the Russian election meddling by taking away health care from 30 million Americans.

For more on this story, please go to:



No President-elect has ever surrounded himself with so many potential conflicts of interest before even taking the Oath of Office.  Mr. Trump is going to be the President, not the Emperor.  And as some of his predecessors learned the hard way…he is not above the law.  As this commentary on this ever-expanding ethical mess by Paul Waldman in theWashington Post (12.21.16) noted:

Though he campaigned as the scourge of the “elite” who would come to Washington and “drain the swamp,” even before he takes office Donald Trump is establishing a new low when it comes to financial entanglements and the exploitation of government for personal financial gain. And he has sent a clear signal to those coming to work for him: Don’t worry about ethics.

Donald Trump’s aides are considering a business arrangement that critics say would allow him or his appointees to sidestep conflict-of-interest laws governing the incoming administration and large investments in private-sector business.

Aides responsible for setting up ethics firewalls have held discussions with officials at the Office of Government Ethics about establishing what’s known as a “discretionary trust,” according to two sources briefed on the talks.

Such an arrangement could allow Trump or his family members to reap some of the legal benefits of a blind trust, but could also give them some insight into how the Trump businesses are faring while also allowing Trump and his family to continue to make money from those investments.

It sounds a lot like what Trump has proposed before — letting his kids run the business for him (yes, the kids who just got caught trying to sell access to themselves and their father) while Trump still reaps the financial benefit, and according to Josh Gerstein in POLITICO the Office of Government Ethics is unlikely to approve it — though as Trump himself has noted, many of the relevant rules don’t apply to the president, so he can do what he wants.

The key point is that there will still be ways for people — governments, private interests — to funnel money to Trump while he’s president, and there will no shortage of actors eager to do so.

For more on this ticking time bomb of ethics violations, please go to:



As I explained in the weekly Congressional Black Caucus Message to America, which aired on the American Urban Radio Network, the question of whether or not I will work with President-elect Trump is entirely up to him. 

As my dad, former Congressman Bill Clay noted in his landmark book, Just Permanent Interests, African Americans in Congress can’t afford to have permanent friends or enemies…we have a duty to fearlessly defend the permanent interests of our constituents, our communities and working families across this country.

So if the President-elect and his Republican Congress want to pass a real infrastructure bill that puts people in my community to work rebuilding crumbling bridges, roads, ports, public transit and other vital facilities…I will be willing to work with him.  But if it’s just another give-away to the favored few, he can forget about it.

Same thing for Social Security and Medicare…

During the campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to protect both of these vital programs.  But Republican congressional leaders have different and very dangerous ideas.

They intend to end Medicare as we know it, and gamble future Social Security benefits on Wall Street to reward their best donors with larger fees and even fatter profits.

The President-elect will have a stark choice to make, and if he is foolish enough to mess with Medicare and Social Security…I will join with seniors and millions of other Americans to stop him.

If pursued, that misguided and destructive attack on the sacred contract between the generations would have enormous negative consequences for Mr. Trump’s administration and his party.

Republicans like to refer to Medicare and Social Security as entitlements.  That’s totally wrong. They are earned benefits and they are worth defending.

To check out my CBC Video Message to America, please go to:



I was delighted to welcome back U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro to St. Louis as he announced the next step in the rebirth of North St. Louis…a coveted $29.5 million Choice Neighborhoods grant that I helped the City of St. Louis, Urban Strategies and community partners pursue over the past two years.  That federal funding will help leverage an additional $50 million in private sector investments to transform the historic Near North Side neighborhood.

As I said at the announcement:

“This $29.5 million dollar federal investment will allow us to plan and build a neighborhood bridge of new, sustainable development…connecting the near North Side with downtown and the new $1.75 billion NGA headquarters that will rise just next door at the corner of Jefferson and Cass avenues.

The near North Side is a special place with an amazing history, incredible development potential and a wealth of human capitol just waiting for a spark to help us leverage private development dollars to not only restore over 600 units of affordable housing at Preservation Square; but to also create exciting new neighborhood energy that will generate jobs,small business opportunities, and support services to help low and moderate income families build brighter futures.

And most importantly…this grant will help reconnect a truly historic neighborhood to the entire community.”

For more on this wonderful news on the continuing rebirth of North St. Louis please go to:

And to check out video of this exciting announcement, please go to:



The St. Louis County Family Court has finally agreed to a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to remedy numerous constitutional violations revealed by DOJ in an August 2015 report.

This agreement is a victory for the constitution and for the juveniles who will encounter the justice system and finally enjoy equal protection under the law…and a chance to make a fresh start.

For more than two years, I have been urging the St. Louis County Family Court to urgently address and correct the horrendous, multiple constitutional violations of the rights of juveniles, many of whom were African American.

I want to thank both the judges of the St. Louis County Family Court and the tireless staff of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for reaching this transformative and long-overdue agreement.  

When fully and faithfully implemented, this consent decree will truly represent a new beginning for juvenile justice in St. Louis County.

For more on this important civil rights victory, please go to:



I’m sure that like me, you are upset and repulsed by the outcome of the November election and the new situation we will be facing in Washington and Jefferson City.  We are truly sailing into uncharted waters and many unforeseen challenges await us.

But even in the face of the exceptionally disappointing outcomes at the presidential and statewide levels, we still have much to be thankful for.

First…let’s remember that in 2016, St. Louis won the $1.75 billion NGA competition…the largest federal investment in the history of the City fo St. Louis.  I led that fight for three years in Washington.  And with the help of Mayor Slay, Governor Nixon, the Missouri state legislature and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen; we prevailed when most thought that victory was impossible.

Second…the DOJ Consent decrees with both Ferguson and the St. Louis County Family Court are powerful examples of what we can achieve in criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement if we stand up and refuse to accept anything less than equal protection under the law.

Third…the passage and signing into law of the 21st Century Cures Act, which I was proud to cosponsor and support, will speed the approval of new life-saving medications; provide $1 billion to fight the epidemic of opioid addiction; and invest $1.8 billion in Vice President Joe Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” project…with millions of that funding to be spent for groundbreaking cancer research at both Washington University School of Medicine and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Fourth…because of you, I was honored to be elected to my 9th term as your Congressman.  I’m truly humbled by the huge landslide victories your support produced in both the August primary and the November general election.  I never forget who hires me to do this job, and it is my honor and privilege to continue to serve as your voice in Washington.



On January 3, 2017 the 115th Congress will be sworn in, and progressive Democrats will have a choice…slink away or stand and fight.

I choose to stand and fight because I know that you have my back, and I will always have yours.  And there is no doubt that now, we will all need to show our Backbone more than ever before.

Your donation not only supports me. It also allows me to help other progressive Democratic voices across this country who want to rebuild Democratic majorities at the national, state and local levels.

If you’ve already stepped up, thank you. 

If you haven’t helped out yet, your donation to my campaign today would be greatly appreciated at this secure link.  Thanks again for all your friendship and support.

Please remember to follow me on Facebook at  

And on Twitter @LacyClayMO1




I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a happy Kwanza and a New Year full of peace, prosperity, health and progress.

We are a strong people, our nation will endure, and we shall move forward together.

May God bless you and your family.





Paid for by Clay Jr. for Congress, Willis Lloyd, Treasurer