WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package now awaiting President Biden‘s signature, marking the first measure to address the pandemic that made its way through Congress entirely along party lines.
House Democrats cleared the legislation by a 220-211 vote on Wednesday, after the Senate passed it in a 50-49 vote on Saturday.
Republicans lined up in opposition against the legislation by arguing it is overly partisan and filled with unnecessary provisions that wouldn’t help defeat the pandemic.
“This should be a targeted relief bill, but instead, this is an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to further promote her socialist agenda,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
By contrast, past pandemic relief measures enacted last year after protracted negotiations between the Democratic-House, GOP Senate and the Trump administration passed with bipartisan support. But now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the presidency, they opted to craft a relief measure without GOP input.
“If you are a member of the swamp, you do pretty well under this bill,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “I believe the American public wants something different. I believe they were proud of the fact we did something here that was bipartisan.”
Polling shows that the legislation is broadly popular with voters, particularly the expanded tax credits and $1,400 stimulus checks.
But the support dropped sharply among Republicans in both surveys, while Democrats and independents largely favored the legislation.
Only one centrist Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), defected from his party during Wednesday’s vote.
Golden said he believed the Senate went too far in some areas to scale back the bill, specifically the unemployment insurance payments and minimum wage increase, while not going far enough in other areas such as the stimulus checks.
“While the Senate made modest changes to the legislation, some of those changes undermined parts of the bill I do support, and others were insufficient to address my concerns with the overall size and scope of the bill,” Golden said.
Republicans sought a variety of amendments to the bill in the House and Senate, including requiring K-12 schools to reopen for in-person classroom instruction in order to access funding and eliminating $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts that’s intended to help arts organizations that have faced layoffs and budget cuts during the pandemic.
Senate Republicans briefly secured the adoption of an amendment with the support of centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to keep the weekly supplemental unemployment insurance payments at $300, rather than increasing them to $400 as under the original House bill.
WASHINGTON (Newsmax)– The House of Representatives canceled its planned Thursday session after the Capitol Police warned on Wednesday of a possible plot by a militia group to breach the building, an threat that echoed the deadly Jan. 6 attack.
The House had been scheduled to debate and vote on a police reform bill on Thursday. But a House Democratic aide said that the police warning, based on intelligence that “an identified militia group” could present a security threat, contributed to the change in plans.
Authorities have said right-wing extremists were part of a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump that stormed the Capitol in January, interrupting the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Thursday marks the date when some right-wing conspiracy theorists have falsely claimed that Trump, defeated by Biden in the Nov. 3 election, will be sworn in for a second term in office.
The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with taking part in the Capitol siege, in which five people, including a police officer were killed. Among those arrested were members of the right-wing groups called the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys. The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are armed militia groups.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” it said in its statement.
It said it is working with local, state and federal agencies “to stop any threats to the Capitol,” adding, “We are taking the intelligence seriously.” It did not disclose the nature of the intelligence.
The police statement noted that the department already has made “significant security upgrades” at the Capitol, home to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
The Senate had been aiming to debate Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19-relief bill on Thursday. There was no immediate response from Senate leadership officials on whether its Thursday session also would be suspended.
On Tuesday, Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett notified members of Congress of a possible security threat spanning Thursday through Saturday. It referred to “potential protests and demonstration activity surrounding what some have described as the ‘true Inauguration Day.'”
For nearly a century, U.S. presidents have been inaugurated on Jan. 20, including Biden, who took the oath of office on the grounds of the Capitol. Previously, March 4 had been the swearing-in date.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified to Congress on Feb. 25 that Trump supporters who launched the Jan. 6 attack have indicated they want to “blow up” the building and kill members of Congress.
Since Jan. 6, National Guard troops have been dispatched to the Capitol grounds and tall fencing has been erected to extend the security perimeter of the Capitol. Blodgett told lawmakers that the Capitol Police department has “enhanced” its security posture for the coming days.
Congress has held a series of hearings on the riot and congressional leaders in the coming days are expected to receive recommendations for new, permanent security measures at the Capitol.
The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 on a charge of inciting an insurrection, focusing on an incendiary speech he made to supporters shortly before the mob converged on the Capitol, though the Senate acquitted him on Feb. 13.
WASHINGTON– Democrats reacted strongly Friday to President Donald Trump’s proposal to ship detained migrants to “sanctuary cities.”
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted Friday. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, visibly shaken by the news, slammed the president Friday afternoon when asked by reporters for comment.
“I don’t know anything about it, but again, it’s just another notion that is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful of the challenges that we face as a county, as a people, to address who we are: a nation of immigrants,” Pelosi said.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was also quick to attack the president’s plan.
“If it’s true, it is very unfortunate and to be condemned,” Hoyer said of the reports. “That you could use ICE — or any other federal agency — to penalize or to visit retribution for political reasons, that’s not the act of a democratic government.”
Trump’s announcement comes just one day after a Washington Post report claimed the president had once before suggested such an effort only to have it shot down by ICE officials as a would-be public relations nightmare.
Trump campaigned heavily on border security during his 2016 presidential campaign, an issue that is certain to carry over to his 2020 bid for reelection.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump claimed yet another victory Tuesday as the House failed to override his efforts to declare a national emergency on the nation’s border.
Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House voted 248-181 in favor of overturning his veto, 38 votes shy of the number needed for the required two-thirds majority.
“Keeping our nation secure should be the president’s very highest priority. With President Trump, there is no question he has and will continue to carry out this priority,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said during floor debate prior to the vote. “He has very clearly laid out the case for a declaration for a national emergency. There is a crisis at the border.”
Border security, a central focus of the president’s 2016 campaign, has been a long fought effort throughout Trump’s two and a half year presidency.
The vote clears the path for the president to shift budget funds. By declaring his now successful national emergency the president intends to allocate $3.6 billion that was originally allotted for military construction projects toward border security. Congress voted this year to limit spending on such border security efforts to less than $1.4 billion.
Despite the president’s victory, Democrats were quick to point out the near miss.
“The President’s lawless emergency declaration clearly violates the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, and Congress will work through the appropriations and defense authorization processes to terminate this dangerous action and restore our constitutional system of balance of powers,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said in a joint statement. “We will continue to review all options to protect our Constitution and our Democracy from the President’s assault.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday said he’s “not worried about it at all” about news that former attorney Michael Cohen will testify before Congress.
Cohen, who was sentenced last month to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating “hush money” payments to two of the president’s former lovers in violation of campaign finance laws, is scheduled to testify next month before a Democratic-led House Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Cohen is expected to face tough questioning by Democrats about the payments he now says he arranged on Trump’s behalf to keep details about the president’s extramarital affair allegations from being revealed during the 2016 presidential election.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” Trump said when asked about Cohen’s planned testimony during a trip Thursday to visit border patrol agents in Texas.
Cohen’s agreement to testify against Trump was central to a plea deal he arranged with prosecutors last year.
In a statement released Thursday by his attorney Lanny Davis, Cohen said:
“In furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers, I have accepted the invitation by Chairman Elijah Cummings to appear publicly on February 7th before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”
Last week the House of Representatives and it’s related committees came under the control of the new Democratic majority, which has vowed to use its powers to investigate Donald Trump and his administration.