Posts tagged with "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi"

Buttigieg asks U.S. Congress for ‘generational investment’ in infrastructure

March 29, 2021

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg urged the U.S. Congress on March 25 to make a “generational investment” to improve the nation’s transit and water systems and address climate change and racial inequities, as Democrats began laying the groundwork to pass sweeping infrastructure proposals that could cost $3 trillion to $4 trillion, reports The New York Times.

Buttigieg’s inaugural testimony before a key House panel highlighted not only the enormous stakes of the Biden administration’s impending pair of infrastructure proposals—which could not only help President Joe Biden deliver on a number of campaign promises and reshape the country’s economic and energy future, but also the hurdles ahead.

According to the Times, Republicans at the hearing grilled Buttigieg over how to pay for the plan and signaled that they would not support any legislation that went much beyond the nation’s roads, bridges, and waterways.

Biden’s proposals envision far more than that: One would address physical infrastructure projects and development, including clean energy and other measures to take on climate change; and the other would make investments in child care, education and caregiving.

In the first news conference of his presidency, Biden confirmed on March 25 that rebuilding “infrastructure, both physical and technological,” was his next major task, saying it was necessary “so that we can compete and create significant numbers of really good-paying jobs.” He mentioned repairing roads and bridges, replacing aging pipes that leach lead into water; and helping the United States close an infrastructure-spending gap with China.

Buttigieg told lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that at least $1 trillion was needed in infrastructure improvements to the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems. He painted such an investment as an opportunity to address climate change, racial justice and competition with China.

“I believe that we have at this moment the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure that will help us meet the country’s most pressing challenges today, and create a stronger future for decades to come,” Buttigieg said, adding that the legislation would serve as a sequel to the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief plan approved this month.

He said minorities and low-income Americans bore the brunt of deficient infrastructure. “Across the country, we face a trillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs and improvements, with hundreds of billions of dollars in good projects already in the pipeline,” Buttigieg stated. “We face an imperative to create resilient infrastructure and confront inequities that have devastated communities.”

Buttigieg said the infrastructure overhaul should not be a partisan issue, because transportation affected all Americans. Democrats have professed optimism for a bipartisan package, —particularly after pushing the pandemic relief legislation through both chambers over unanimous Republican opposition—and lawmakers in both parties repeatedly emphasized that infrastructure had traditionally been a source of cooperation.

But early partisan divisions spilled over at the hearing, with Republicans criticizing the size and some of the goals of Biden’s proposals.

Addressing reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats would pursue a bipartisan legislative package but would have to “make a judgment” about how to accomplish more ambitious goals related to addressing climate change and economic inequality that Republicans might not support.

“One of the challenges that we face is we cannot just settle for what we can agree on without recognizing that this has to be a bill for the future,” she said

Reearch contact: @nytimes

House has majority needed to impeach Trump for inciting Capitol riots

January12, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the cusp of majority support in the House to impeach President Donald Trump—part of a two-front effort to punish and remove him from office for inciting the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, Politico reports.

Key members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachmentincitement of insurrection—on Monday, January 11. The resolution already has at least 218 cosponsors and a House majority, according to a congressional aide involved in the process.

Pelosi signaled Sunday night that the House would vote on that article if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him.

“Because the timeframe is so short and the need is so immediate and an emergency, we will also proceed on a parallel path in terms of impeachment,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told reporters Monday. “Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue.”

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” he said, according to Politico.

At a brief House session on Monday morning, the House formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was partly responsible for the failed security arrangements on January 6. And moments later, Representative Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia.) blocked unanimous consideration of a resolution from Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) that would have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from power. The House intends to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

Politico notes that, although some Democrats have voiced worry that impeaching Trump with just days left in his term could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden’s early weeks in office, momentum has only grown as new and disturbing footage of the violence wrought by the rioters has emerged. That footage included the beating of a Capitol Police officer, yanked out of the building by a crowd of Trump supporters. The officer in the video has not been identified, but it surfaced after the news that at least one officer, Brain Sicknick, died of injuries sustained during the onslaught.

Every new indication that the rioters included a more sophisticated contingent of insurrectionists has inflamed the House anew, even as Republicans have continued to express wariness, if not outright opposition, to impeachment.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, Is it the right thing politically to impeach this president? … Will it harm the Democratic Party?” Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) said in a press conference Monday. “In terms of whether it could harm the Democratic party, I could not care less.”

Though some Democrats have also floated the notion of impeaching Trump but delaying transmitting the article to the Senate—a move that would forestall a Senate trial until after Biden’s early term plans and nominees are in place—a top Pelosi ally, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), indicated Monday he favors an immediate trial.

“If we impeach him this week … it should immediately be transmitted to the Senate and we should try the case as soon as possible,” Schiff said on “CBS This Morning.” “Mitch McConnell has demonstrated when it comes to jamming Supreme Court justices through the Congress, he can move with great alacrity when he wants to.”

Research contact: @politico

COVID aid package in limbo after Trump’s surprise demand to boost direct payments

December 24, 2020

Outgoing President Donald Trump’s last-minute demand to increase the size of direct payments to Americans—from $600 to $2,000— threw the status of the U.S. Congress’s coronavirus relief package into limbo Wednesday, just days before many crucial support programs expire, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a video posted on Tuesday night, December 22, on Twitter, the president criticized the legislation and called on lawmakers to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples—up from $600 per adult and per child, the current level in the bill.

His unexpected broadside against the bill unleashed another standoff between the White House and Capitol Hill—where, the Journal said, Senate Republicans had angered Trump by acknowledging Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect.

Trump already had threatened to veto the annual defense policy bill, which passed both chambers of Congress with broad, bipartisan support.

His pushback on the coronavirus relief package surprised lawmakers, many of whom already had departed Washington after Congress overwhelmingly approved the relief bill in a 92-6 vote in the Senate and 359-53 in the House. The 5,593-page year-end package combines the coronavirus relief and a $1.4 trillion spending bill needed to fund the government through next September, the Journal reported.

The final bill approved by Congress carrying the $600 check to no public role. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been the main White House negotiator in talks with congressional leaders—who said the final agreement had the support of President Trump. The president waited nearly a full day after it had passed both chambers of Congress to lodge his complaints.

Democrats, who had pressed for higher direct payments during the negotiations, welcomed the opportunity to seek more aid for households struggling from the economic impacts of the pandemic. They also called on. Trump to sign the sweeping year-end package, which includes extensions of unemployment benefits, among other coronavirus relief measures.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Twitter late Tuesday that she would try this week to pass under unanimous consent legislation approving $2,000 checks. Multiple Democrats had already prepared legislation authorizing the larger checks.

“I’m in. Whaddya say, Mitch?” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York.) said on Twitter late Tuesday, retweeting a comment from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-New York), who said she had a $2,000 check bill ready to go. “The American people deserve it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who had pushed to keep the coronavirus aid package’s cost below $900 billion, has notyet commented on Trump’s new stance.

Research contact  @WSJ

Democrats unveil bill creating panel to gauge president’s ‘capacity’ to lead

October 11, 2020

On Friday, October 9, House Democrats unveiled legislation that would create a panel tasked with gauging President Donald Trump’s mental and physical fitness to perform his job—and potentially, with removing the POTUS from office in a case of decided debility, The Hill reports.

Indeed, Under Amendment 25, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution, the Congress may remove the president under the following circumstances: “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

The commission would be permanent, applying to future administrations, but it’s a clear shot at President Trump, whose reaction to his treatments for the coronavirus has raised questions about his mental acuity.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), whom The Hill characterizes as “a sharp critics of the president,” has fueled those questions in the days since Trump returned to the White House after three nights in the hospital. She has floated the idea that Trump’s drug regimen—which includes a steroid linked to mood swings—might be affecting his decision-making.

“The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now,” the Speaker told Bloomberg News on Thursday.

The Democrats’ legislation invokes the 25th Amendment, which empowers Congress to create “a body” which, working with the vice president, can remove a president deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Sponsored by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), a former professor of constitutional law, the bill would create a 17-member panel charged with judging the president’s fitness —and empowered to remove that figure when deficiencies are determined. In such a case, the vice president would take over.

“This is not about President Trump; he will face the judgment of the voters,” Pelosi told reporters Friday. “But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”

The proposal has no chance of being enacted, with Congress on recess and the Senate and White House currently controlled by Republicans. Indeed, GOP leaders have already dismissed it as a political stunt. 

But the bill marks another effort by Democratic leaders to energize their base ahead of the November 3 elections, while feeding accusations that Trump—already under fire for his fitful response to the coronavirus pandemic—has become increasingly erratic under treatment for his own case of COVID-19.

Research contact: @thehill

No stalking or sneering! Pelosi says there shouldn’t be any presidential debates this year

August 28, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated on August 27 that there should not be any presidential debates this year between Joe Biden and Donald Trump—adding that the president would debase the debate stage with poor behavior.

“I don’t think there should be any debates. I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody should [who] has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

“I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added, according to a report by Politico.

Biden and Trump are set to face off during three debates before Election Day, with the first scheduled to take place on September 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Pelosi acknowledged that Biden, who has expressed enthusiasm about a face-off with the president, didn’t share her view on the debate. But she still told reporters about her personal distaste for Trump’s past debate performances.

Pelosi called Trump’s 2016 debates with then-candidate Hillary Clinton “disgraceful,” emphasizing how he loomed behind her on the stage as she spoke. Clinton later admitted that Trump’s lurking made her “skin crawl.”

“He’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency,” Pelosi said. “He does that every day.”

Research contact: @politico

Pelosi to recall House for USPS vote, as Democrats press for Postmaster General DeJoy to testify

August 18, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on August 16 that she would call members of the House back from their annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to block changes at the U.S. Postal Service, according to a report by The New York Times.

Changes drawing ire and fire from Pelosi include the recent, surreptitious removal of crucial mail sorting equipment nationwide—a move that, voting advocates warn, could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic.

The removal of the sorting equipment was executed under orders from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor appointed in May.

The announcement came after Chief of Staff  Mark Meadows signaled that the White House might be open to providing emergency funding for the USPS to handle a surge in mail-in ballots—if that financing accompanied a package of coronavirus stimulus measures desired by the Administration.

It also came, the Times said, as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service.

The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, without evidence (and while he has publicly requested a mail-in ballot from Florida, himself), and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.

The House was not scheduled to return for votes until September 14, but is now expected to consider a Postal Service bill as soon as Saturday, August 22, according to information received by the Times from a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, is expected to announce the final schedule on Monday.

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week.”

According to the Times, the abrupt return to Washington was announced just hours after Democrats called on top Postal Service officials to testify on Capitol Hill this month about recent policies that they warned pose “a grave threat to the integrity of the election.

“ It also demonstrates the growing alarm over changes the Postal Service is enforcing under its leader, Louis DeJoy … less than three months before a general election. Some of the changes, which Mr. DeJoy describes as cost-cutting measures, include ending overtime pay and the removal or transfer of some sorting machines.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, demanded on Sunday that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, bring senators back to Capitol Hill to take up the House measure that he said in a statement “will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Engel subpoenas State Department for ‘smear documents’ on Biden already given to Senate Republicans

August 3, 2020

Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York)—who is serving out his 16th term in Congress after losing his seat in the June primary to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman—intends to go out fighting, both for his constituents and against the GOP.

Engel, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee , subpoenaed the State Department on Friday, July 31— demanding copies of documents that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo already has provided to Senate Republicans investigating Joe Biden, Politico reported.

According to a press release issued by the committee, the subpoena demands all records purportedly dealing with the Bidens and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings the department has produced to Republican-led Senate committees. Despite delivering Republican Senate chairmen thousands of pages of records, the Department of State has refused Chairman Engel’s request to provide duplicates to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In addition, Chairman Engel’s subpoena seeks internal State Department correspondence about responding to Congress.

“After trying to stonewall virtually every oversight effort by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last two years, Mr. Pompeo is more than happy to help Senate Republicans advance their conspiracy theories about the Bidens,” Engel said in a statement. “I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too.”

Engel also stated that, “Just days after the conclusion of President Trump’s impeachment trial, in which Secretary Pompeo refused to comply with a duly authorized subpoena for documents and attempted to block testimony of key witnesses, the State Department producing documents to Senate Republicans to help advance a political smear of Vice President Biden.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Politico.

Engel has threatened to subpoena for the documents since May, when the probe of Burisma by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) began ramping up. Johnson has denied that his investigation is meant as a political cudgel or is being influenced by foreign interests seeking to hurt Biden, Politico says.

The House impeached President Donald Trump last year for pushing Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden and other Democrats, and withholding security assistance to the country—amid its war with Russia—to exert pressure.

Now, Republicans clearly are trying to change the plot line. Indeed, Trump allies responded by leveling discredited allegations that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, an energy company where his son Hunter served on the board.

Conversely, State Department leaders testified during impeachment proceedings that Biden’s work in Ukraine was done in accordance with department policy, and that efforts to remove the prosecutor were part of an international push to root out corruption.

More recently, top Democrats have cited intelligence suggesting that at least some of the anti-Biden efforts are being fueled by Kremlin-aligned Ukrainians seeking to interfere in the 2020 election.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have demanded an all-Congress FBI briefing about intelligence they say shows a specific foreign plot to influence congressional action, Politico reports..

After attending a general election security briefing, Pelosi on Friday morning, July 31, blasted the administration for “withholding” evidence of foreign interference.

The subpoena, directed to Secretary Pompeo, requires that the records be turned over by August 7.

Research contact: @politico

SCOTUS rejects Trump bid to block New York subpoena seeking his financial and tax records

July 10, 2020

In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court on July 9 rejected President Donald Trump’s bid to block the Manhattan District Attorney from enforcing a subpoena seeking years of his financial and tax records from his accountants—and potentially opening the president up to widespread scrutiny.

The case was one of two before the high court—brought separately by New York County and the U.S. Congress—in which the president challenged subpoenas that weren’t sent to him, but instead to his accountants and bankers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump has been highly protective of his financial records. He is the only major-party presidential candidate in recent elections not to release his tax returns to the public.

Overall, the justices said that the New York prosecutor was entitled to access the president’s personal financial information—but dropkicked the decision on whether several committees of Congress should receive the records to a lower court.

Among the subpoenas under scrutiny:

Deutsche Bank since 1998 has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, the Journal noted.

The Intelligence Committee said it needed the information as part of its probe of foreign influence in the U.S. political process, including whether foreigners have financial leverage over the Trump family and its enterprises. The Financial Services Committee is investigating bank-lending practices, including to Mr. Trump and his businesses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) immediately commended the ruling in the consolidated cases of Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Deutsche Bank., saying, “A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the president’s financial records is not good news for President Trump.The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’s authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress.”

In turn, the Journal said, Trump argued that House committees infringed on his prerogatives as chief executive, and that the U.S. Constitution prohibits state prosecutors from subpoenaing records of a sitting president.

However, SCOTUS already had gone on-record about such prerogatives: In 1974, the Supreme Court required President Nixon to obey a subpoena for tapes and other records related to the Watergate investigation. In 1997, the court likewise ordered President Clinton to comply with a private lawsuit brought against him over sexual harassment allegations.

House investigators and state prosecutors argued that the burdens on Trump were minor compared to those cases, as the subpoenas were directed to third parties and the president need do nothing in response.

Lower courts upheld the subpoenas for the Trump records, but they have been blocked during the Supreme Court appeal.

Research contact: @WSJ

Pelosi gives Trump an ‘F’ on coronavirus: ‘Delay, denial, death’

April 23, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pummeled President Donald Trump on April 22 for what she called his lack of preparation and poor handling of COVID-19 testing nationwide, NBC News reported.

Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC’s  Morning Joe that “if you do not test, you cannot possibly know the size of the challenge,” which she said is why testing is the key to reopening the U.S. economy.

“For our seniors in nursing homes and the rest, as you say, there’s a big toll being taken there. But if we can test and contact and isolate people, we’re on a very much better path,” Pelosi said, adding, “There’s a Boy Scout saying, ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance.’ Well, that is exactly where the president gets an F.”

In a statement that will, no doubt, go viral, Pelosi outlined what she considered to be the bald truth: “He was not properly prepared, not with the truth, with the facts, or the admission of what was happening in our country — delay, whatever, delay, denial, death,” she declared. “And instead we’d like to see him insist on the truth and we must insist on the truth with him.”

The speaker said she wished that Trump wouldn’t be an “agent of distraction” and suggested that his latest decision to suspend immigration into the U.S. is merely a “distraction from his failure on testing.”

Scientists have debunked what some White House officials have said about needing only a certain level of testing, Pelosi said.

“We’re never going to get there at the snail pace that they are putting forth,” she said. “But you have seen scientists outside, academics and the rest setting a standard three times higher than what the White House is talking about. So we have put the resources there. We’re prepared to do more in terms of the testing in the next legislation.”

Trump said at Tuesday’s White House briefing that the U.S. “has tested more people than anybody anywhere in the world by far. By very far.” NBC News has repeatedly fact-checked this statement. While the U.S. has run the highest number of raw tests, it has not conducted the most per capita.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Pelosi announces creation of House Select Committee to oversee coronavirus response

April 3, 2020

On April 2, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced the creation of a House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, charged with overseeing the unprecedented, multitrillion-dollar federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on her website, the Speaker said the committee, which she characterized as “a special bipartisan oversight panel,” would be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and would be dedicated to ensuring “that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle–and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation–are spent wisely and effectively.”

On a media call, Pelosi promised, “The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism. The fact is, we do need transparency and accountability,” The Hill reported.

Lawmakers have passed three relief packages to address fallout from the virus, The Hill said, with President Donald Trump signing a $2 trillion bill last week to send checks to many Americans; set up a $500 billion corporate liquidity fund; and provide $377 billion in aid to small businesses, among other provisions.

The aid package was designed to prop up an economy in free-fall, as markets have nose-dived, businesses have shuttered and millions of people have been asked to remain in their homes across the country.

Adding to the urgency, the news outlet noted, the Labor Department announced Thursday that a record 6.6 million workers applied for unemployment benefits in the last week alone—by far the highest number in the nation’s history.

While Congress included certain parameters in its emergency response designed to target the funding to the businesses and families most immediately affected, the speed with which the package was assembled—combined with the sheer size of the federal outlays—has given rise to plenty of concerns about fraud and misuse.

Pelosi said Thursday that the commission, which will be granted subpoena power, is designed to mitigate any “mischief” as the funds go out the door.

“We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to … working families—struggling to pay rent and put food on the table—who need it most,” Pelosi stated on her website.  The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse.  It will protect against price gouging and profiteering.  It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.”

Separately, The Hill reported, a pair of Democratic committee heads—Representatives Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) and Adam Schiff (California) — are pushing for the creation of an independent panel, modeled on the 9/11 Commission, to investigate the reasons the United States was so unprepared to cope with the coronavirus epidemic.

Pelosi said she supports such an after-action review, but emphasized that Clyburn’s commission has the more immediate task of monitoring the enormous allotments of federal relief to ensure it is going to the intended recipients.

“Is there need for an after-action review? Absolutely. And people are putting their proposals forward,” she said. “But I don’t want to wait for that, because we’re in the action right now.”

It’s unclear, The Hill noted, how many lawmakers will sit on the panel, or whether the idea will be embraced by Republicans, who are already accusing Democrats of launching politically motivated attacks against the president over the administration’s delayed response to the deadly virus.

Research contact: @thehill