STRUCK DOWN: Senate Fails To Pass Democrat Abortion Bill

WASHINGTON (Breitbart)– Senate Democrats on Wednesday failed to pass legislation that would prohibit local, state, and federal governments from preventing abortions.

The Senate attempted to invoke cloture and end debate on S. 4132, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022. The motion failed 49-51, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposed the motion, and it required 60 votes to invoke cloture. The legislation would prohibit government restrictions on access to abortions. Specifically, the legislation states that governments may not limit a healthcare provider’s ability to:

  • Prescribe certain drugs
  • Offer abortion services via telemedicine
  • Immediately provide abortion services when the provider determines a delay risks the patient’s health

The legislation, according to Congress.gov, stipulates:

In addition, governments may not (1) require patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits before receiving abortion services or disclose their reasons for obtaining such services, or (2) prohibit abortion services before fetal viability or after fetal viability when a provider determines the pregnancy risks the patient’s life or health.

The bill also prohibits other governmental measures that are similar to the bill’s specified restrictions or that otherwise single out and impede access to abortion services, unless a government demonstrates that the measure significantly advances the safety of abortion services or health of patients and cannot be achieved through less restrictive means.

The Department of Justice, individuals, or providers may bring a lawsuit to enforce this bill, and states are not immune from suits for violations.

The bill applies to restrictions imposed both prior and subsequent to the bill’s enactment.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)  sponsored the legislation after Politico leaked a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade. The Senate Democrats proposed the legislation to attempt to enshrine many of the pro-abortion protections enabled by the landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a statement after the vote:

Today’s vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act is a continuation of the left’s mission to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and prop up their abortion-on-demand agenda. This bill would force states to legalize late-term abortions, remove informed consent laws, and prevent restrictions on gruesome fetal dismemberment procedures. Today, I stood up to the woke mob and voted to protect women and their unborn children.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who voted against the bill, said that the bill “would disenfranchise every voter in Missouri, overturn our state laws – and give the power to DC Democrats.”


Sean Moran of Breitbart contributed to the contents of this report.

COVID: Trump Wars With Senate GOP Over Trillion Dollar Package

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted “good things” were underway on the next COVID-19 aid package Monday as he met with Republican congressional leaders, but new divisions between the Senate GOP and the White House posed fresh challenges as the crisis worsened and emergency relief was soon expiring.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But the administration criticized more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Trump said as the meeting got underway.

But the president acknowledged the “big flare up” of rising caseloads and deaths in the states. “Unfortunately, this is something that’s very tough,” he said.

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle is rising again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses are shutting down again, many schools will not fully reopen and jobs are disappearing, all while federal aid will soon expire.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

“We have to end this virus,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday on MSNBC.

Pelosi said any attempt by the White House to block money for testing “goes beyond ignorance.”

The political stakes are high for both parties before the November election, and even more so for the nation, which now has registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count of 140,500 than any other country.

McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy huddled with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Mnuchin vowed passage by month’s end, as earlier benefits expire, and said he expected the fresh $1 trillion jolt of business tax breaks and other aid would have a “big impact” on the struggling economy.

Mnuchin said he’s preparing to start talks with Democrats. He and Meadows were headed to the Hill later to brief lawmakers.

“We can’t pass the bill in the Senate without the Democrats and we’re going to talk to them as well,” McConnell agreed.

The package from McConnell had been quietly crafted behind closed doors for weeks and was expected to include $75 billion to help schools reopen, reduced unemployment benefits and a fresh round of direct $1,200 cash payments to Americans, and a sweeping five-year liability shield against coronavirus lawsuits.

But as the administration was panning some $25 billion in proposed new funds for testing and tracing, said one Republican familiar with the discussions. Trump was also reviving his push for a payroll tax break, which was being seriously considered, said another Republican. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks.

Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear,” but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the alarming U.S. caseload and death toll.

“It’s not going to magically disappear,” said a somber McConnell, R-Ky., last week during a visit to a hospital in his home state to thank front-line workers.

McConnell also faces divisions from some in his ranks who oppose more spending, and he is straining to keep the package at $1 trillion.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned Monday his side will block any effort from McConnell that falls short.

“We will stand together again if we must,” Schumer said in a letter to colleagues.

The New York Democrat is reviving his strategy from the last virus aid bill that forced Republicans to the negotiating table after McConnell’s original bill was opposed by Democrats. This time, the House has already approved Pelosi’s sweeping $3 trillion effort, giving Democrats momentum heading into negotiations.

Trump raised alarms on Capitol Hill when he suggested last month at a rally in Oklahoma that he wanted to slow virus testing. Some of Trump’s GOP allies wanted new money to help test and track the virus to contain its spread. Senate Democrats were investigating why the Trump administration had not yet spent some of $25 billion previously allocated.

The payroll tax break Trump wanted also divided his party because it historically has been used used to fund Social Security and Medicare. Cutting it only adds to the nation’s rising debt load at a time when conservatives are wary of any new spending. Some Republicans also see it as an insufficient response to millions of out-of-work Americans.

This would be the fifth virus aid package, after the $2.2 trillion bill passed in March, the largest U.S. intervention of its kind.

While many GOP hoped the virus would ease and economy rebound, it’s become clear more aid is needed as the first round of relief is running out.

A federal $600-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits would expire at the end of the month. So, too, would the federal ban on evictions from millions of rental units.

With 17 straight weeks of unemployment claims topping 1 million — usually about 200,000 — many households are facing a cash crunch and losing employer-backed health insurance.

Despite flickers of an economic upswing as states eased stay-at-home orders in May and June, the jobless rate remained at double digits, higher than it ever was in the last decade’s Great Recession.

Pelosi’s bill, approved in May, includes $75 billion for testing and tracing to try to get a handle on the virus spread, funnels $100 billion to schools to safely reopen and calls for $1 trillion to be sent to cash-strapped states to pay essential workers and prevent layoffs. The measure would give cash stipends to Americans, and bolster rental and mortgage and other safety net protections.

In the two months since Pelosi’s bill passed, the U.S. had 50,000 more deaths and 2 million more infections.

“If we don’t invest the money now, it will be much worse,” Pelosi said.


Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Andrew Taylor contributed to the contents of this report.

HE’S OUT! Trump forces out AG Jeff Sessions in fallout over midterms

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pushed out Wednesday as the country’s chief law enforcement officer after enduring more than a year of blistering and personal attacks from President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation.

Sessions told the president in a one-page letter that he was submitting his resignation “at your request.”

Trump announced in a tweet that he was naming Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a former United States attorney from Iowa, as acting attorney general. Whitaker has criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between the president’s Republican campaign and Russia.

The resignation was the culmination of a toxic relationship that frayed just weeks into the attorney general’s tumultuous tenure, when he stepped aside from the Mueller investigation.

Trump blamed the decision for opening the door to the appointment of Mueller, who took over the Russia investigation and began examining whether Trump’s hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct justice and stymie the probe.

Asked whether Whitaker would assume control over Mueller’s investigation, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores said Whitaker would be “in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.” The Justice Department did not announce a departure for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller more than a year and a half ago and has closely overseen his work since then.

Whitaker once opined about a situation in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller’s probe.

“So I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt,” Whitaker said during an interview with CNN in July 2017.

Asked if that would be to dwindle the special counsel’s resources, Whitaker responded, “Right.”

In an op-ed for CNN, Whitaker wrote: “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.”

The relentless attacks on Sessions came even though the Alabama Republican was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump and despite the fact that his crime-fighting agenda and priorities — particularly his hawkish immigration enforcement policies — largely mirrored the president’s.

But the relationship was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions, acknowledging previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador and citing his work as a campaign aide, recused himself from the Russia investigation.

The decision infuriated Trump, who repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse. The recusal left the investigation in the hands of Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel two months later after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

The rift lingered for the duration of Sessions’ tenure, and the attorney general, despite praising the president’s agenda and hewing to his priorities, never managed to return to Trump’s good graces.

The deteriorating relationship became a soap opera stalemate for the administration. Trump belittled Sessions but, perhaps following the advice of aides, held off on firing him. The attorney general, for his part, proved determined to remain in the position until dismissed. A logjam broke when Republican senators who had publicly backed Sessions began signaling a willingness to consider a new attorney general.

In attacks delivered on Twitter, in person and in interviews, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn’t more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it “disgraceful” that Sessions wasn’t more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russia investigation for possible law enforcement bias — even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into those claims.

The broadsides escalated in recent months, with Trump telling a television interviewer that Sessions “had never had control” of the Justice Department and snidely accusing him on Twitter of not protecting Republican interests by allowing two GOP congressmen to be indicted before the election.

Sessions endured most of the name-calling in silence, though he did issue two public statements defending the department, including one in which he said he would serve “with integrity and honor” for as long as he was in the job.

The recusal from the Russia investigation allowed him to pursue the conservative issues he had long championed as a senator, often in isolation among fellow Republicans.

He found satisfaction in being able to reverse Obama-era policies that he and other conservatives say flouted the will of Congress, including by encouraging prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges they could and by promoting more aggressive enforcement of federal marijuana law. He also announced media leak crackdowns, tougher policies against opioids and his Justice Department defended a since-abandoned administration policy that resulted in parents being separated from their children at the border.

His agenda unsettled liberals who said that Sessions’ focus on tough prosecutions marked a return to failed drug war tactics that unduly hurt minorities and the poor, and that his rollbacks of protections for gay and transgender people amount to discrimination.

Some Democrats also considered Sessions too eager to do Trump’s bidding and overly receptive to his grievances.

Sessions, for instance, directed senior prosecutors to examine potential corruption in a uranium field transaction that some Republicans have said may have implicated Clinton in wrongdoing and benefited donors of the Clinton Foundation. He also fired one of the president’s primary antagonists, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, just before he was to have retired — a move Trump hailed as a “great day for democracy.”

Despite it all, Sessions never found himself back in favor with the president.

Their relationship wasn’t always fractured. Sessions was a close campaign aide, attending national security meetings and introducing him at rallies in a red “Make America Great Again” hat.

But the problems started after he told senators during his confirmation hearing that he had never met with Russians during the campaign. The Justice Department, responding to a Washington Post report, soon acknowledged that Sessions had actually had two encounters during the campaign with the then-Russian ambassador. He recused himself the next day, saying it would be inappropriate to oversee an investigation into a campaign he was part of.

The announcement set off a frenzy inside the White House, with Trump directing his White House counsel to call Sessions beforehand and urge him not to step aside. Sessions rejected the entreaty. Mueller’s team, which has interviewed Sessions, has been investigating the president’s attacks on him and his demands to have a loyalist in charge of the Russia investigation.

Sessions had been protected for much of his tenure by the support of Senate Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who had said he would not schedule a confirmation hearing for another attorney general if Trump fired him.

But that support began to fade, with Grassley suggesting over the summer that he might have time for a hearing after all.

And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Judiciary Committee member who once said there’d be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Sessions, called the relationship “dysfunctional” and said he thought the president had the right after the midterm to select a new attorney general.

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