Headlines across the nation read a GOP Senator is blocking bipartisan sanctions on China. That Senator is obstructing sanctions at the request of the White House. I hope you’re sitting down for this, that Senator is North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

You’re stunned? Don’t be. It is at least the second time in two years that Cramer has done the bidding of the White House in obstructing Congressional action. Last year, he blocked a resolution to formally recognize and condemn Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian people after the White House asked him to. A very courageous moment for the Senator.

So, here we are again. This time with China. According to Politico, “On June 2, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill to punish China for undermining Hong Kong’s independence. Two weeks later, he turned around and blocked it — at the request of the White House.”

What happened in those two weeks? For one, Kevin Cramer embarrassed Donald Trump. The proxy fight of the NDGOP focused on the state Treasurers race on the June 9th election. Thomas Beadle versus Daniel Johnston was really Doug Burgum versus Kevin Cramer. Burgum wrote checks. Cramer picked up the phone.

Following poorly done photoshop fliers, Cramer called Trump and begged him to endorse Johnston. Trump tweeted out the coveted endorsement at Cramer’s request. It caught everyone by surprise. He lost. Rumors around Republican circles were people in the White House were furious with Cramer for going directly to Trump with this personal favor instead of the proper political channels.

What a weird way to waste whatever favor Cramer had with the President. A request that wasn’t to advance North Dakota. Nope. It was a request to advance his own position in partisan politics.

Cramer had to make amends with the White House somehow. It appears, they called in their favor. This time Cramer was the one to be taking an embarrassing position. Obstruct bipartisan sanctions on China. Making it look even worse, it is a bill he cosponsored.

The obstruction began last week. At the beginning of this week, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton alleged the relationship between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prioritizes “his own re-election worries.” Did Cramer unwittingly assist these efforts with his obstruction last week?

A coincidence? A pattern of yearning to be accepted and respected by the President? Regardless, this is an example of Washington being broken. Bipartisan support for action obstructed by Kevin Cramer.

Tyler Axness
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