Posts tagged with "Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer"

Rights and wrongs: Congress prepares for heated battle over massive voting rights bill

March 30, 2021

Congress is preparing for a heated battle over the way Americans vote, with the two parties set to clash over proposed federal election standards versus Republican-led state restrictions, NBC News reports.

At issue is the fate of the For the People Act, which would that would modify the rules for American elections from start to finish. The bill would expand access to the ballot box by:

  • Creating automatic voter registration across the country and offering same-day registration for federal races;
  • Restoring the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated;
  • Enforcing the time allotted for early voting to at least 15 days in every state nationwide;
  • Providing universal access to mail-in voting;
  • Modernizing America’s voting infrastructure; and
  • Making Election Day a national holiday.

The House measure passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in voting against it. The divisions between the two parties are sharp, NBC notes. President Joe Biden and Democrats say federal intervention is needed to stop Republicans from reviving racist Jim Crow-style restrictions that make it harder for minorities to vote. Republicans say Democrats are executing a power grab to remove necessary protections on the voting process and usurp authority from states.

Where they agree: This is about the future of democracy.

According to the network news outlet, the fight is sure to touch raw nerves in a country that saw its Capitol attacked just months ago by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters—who were egged on by groundless claims that rampant fraud had stolen the election from their candidate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has promised a Senate vote on the House bill after the committee process, along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which empowers the federal government to review discriminatory voting laws.

“This Senate will once again be the forum where civil rights is debated and historic action is taken to secure them for all Americans,” Schumer said in a letter to senators. “Each of these bills will receive full consideration in committee and eventually on the Senate floor.”

The bill, known as H.R.1 and S.1, got a hearing on March 26 in the Senate Rules Committee that featured rare sparring on the panel between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), signaling the commitment on each side to their irreconcilable positions.

McConnell criticized the bill as “a grab-bag of changes” that go beyond voting rights. He highlighted a provision to restructure the Federal Election Commission, calling it a ploy to make it more partisan. He called the campaign finance restrictions an assault on free speech and a gift to “cancel culture.”

“ The S.1 bill is highly unlikely to win the minimum ten Republicans needed to break a filibuster. And Democrats have yet to unify their 50-member caucus to secure a majority.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

GOP plan is ‘just not in the cards,’ Biden says during call with House Democrats

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden has reassured House Democrats that he is committed to his COVID-19 relief package in its current form, and that—despite his “cordial” meeting with Senate Republicans on February 1—“the idea that we’re going to go out and compromise and go from a trillion-nine to six hundred billion is just not in the cards,” The Daily Beast reports exclusively.

Biden’s remarks, made on a call with House Democrats on Wednesday morning—a recording of which was obtained by The Daily Beast—represent the surest indication yet that he plans to push for passage of the American Rescue Planhis $1.9 trillion relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic and the damage it has done to the nation’s economy, through the budget reconciliation process. That process, which allows the Senate to pass budget-related legislation through a simple majority, would circumvent attempts by Republicans to filibuster the relief plan.

“We’ve got to be up to the moment,” Biden said on the call. “That’s what the American people, I think, are expecting of us, and frankly, that’s what they have a right to expect. And that’s why I’ve asked for the package proposed.”

Biden took particular exception to the Republican proposal on direct payments to cash-strapped Americans. Under his plan, direct payments would begin at $1,400 per person, as well as for dependents, gradually phasing out for individuals with a gross income of more than $75,000. Under the Republican plan, those payments would be cut to a $1,000 maximum, phasing out for individuals who made more than $40,000 in taxable income, with a $50,000 cap.

The president said that the GOP proposal would leave out almost the entire middle class, which he called a non-starter.

“Who are we helping is just as important as who’s being left out,” Biden said on the call. “I don’t think we need to be in the business of helping those folks making three hundred grand a year, but a family making 60, 70 grand, maybe 80, who’s barely hanging on, middle-class folks?”

“We want to make sure we get the poor,” Biden continued, “but we can’t leave out the middle class.”

The adjective “targeted” is most often used by the Republicans to describe a plan under which direct payments would be cut from $1,400 to $1,000 per person—phasing out for individuals who made more than $40,000 in taxable income in 2019 with a $50,000 cap, according to The Daily Beast.

Democrats have not yet outlined an income bracket where they’d limit check eligibility, but it’s likely to be more in line with the $75,000 threshold in the CARES Act, and the administration is aiming to expand eligibility to adult dependents. Given their belief that the last round of checks worked well, many Democrats see no problem in getting more money into the economy, especially with the relatively negligible dollar difference between a “targeted” plan and what they may propose.

The president’s private assurances that slashing a more than a trillion dollars from his COVID relief bill, particularly cuts to direct payments to Americans and assistance for schools to reopen their doors, “is just not in the cards” come as Democrats on Capitol Hill have been preparing to pass the relief plan with minimal Republican support.

Democrats—who owe their razor-thin majority in the Senate to victories in the Georgia runoff elections in which $2,000 stimulus checks played a key role—have already put the reconciliation process into motion. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) invoked the memory of the onset of the Great Recession as a moment when Congress was “too timid and constrained” in its response, a line that centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) echoed on Tuesday morning.

“If it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, stressing that while he wants the process to be bipartisan, he won’t stand in the way of passing much-needed relief. “If it’s a little smaller than that and we find a targeted need, then that’s what we’re going to be. I want it to be bipartisan.”

Research contact: @dailybeast

 

As Trump government shutdown persists, 800K workers wonder when they will see paychecks

December 26, 2018

Don’t hold your breath: A partial government shutdown remains in effect after funding expired for roughly 25% of the federal government—affecting 800,000 employees—when the clock struck midnight on December 22. It is anybody’s guess when it will end, but chances are it won’t be soon, according to a report by CNN..

The president’s incoming Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday that “it is very possible that the shutdown will go beyond [December] 28th and into the new Congress.”

A spokesperson for incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN on Sunday, “If Director Mulvaney says the Trump Shutdown will last into the New Year, believe him—because it’s their shutdown.”

Negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over the President’s demands for $5 billion for a border wall have so far not yielded an agreement, making it likely that the shutdown will continue until after Christmas.

Indeed, the Senate adjourned on December 22 with no deal to re-open the government—and the next actual session is not scheduled until December 27. Lawmakers can travel home for Christmas and won’t have to worry about being called back to vote until a deal can be reached, but GOP leaders told senators that if there is no deal by Thursday, they would not have to return for that session, sources have told CNN.

Both House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Schumer have said that the new Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will pass a bill to stop the shutdown if it lasts into the new Congress.

“If President Trump and Republicans choose to continue this Trump Shutdown, the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement after the shutdown started.

According to the CNN report, House Republicans passed a spending bill that included an additional $5 billion for the wall last week, but the legislation is considered dead on arrival in the Senate where Democrats have said they would not support it. Any spending bill needs at least some Democratic votes to pass in the Senate.

Vice President Mike Pence proposed spending $2.5 billion on border security, including the wall, in a stopgap spending bill during meetings on Friday night and Saturday afternoon with Schumer, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Several of the sources said there were policy additions and restrictions included in the proposal to try to bridge the gap. But Democrats said the number and the details tied to it aren’t acceptable.

Following the Saturday meeting, a Schumer spokesman said, “The Vice President came in for a discussion and made an offer. Unfortunately, we’re still very far apart.”

Key parts of the federal government have been impacted by the shutdown, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Interior Department, the State Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite the fact that the Justice Department will be impacted, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office will be able to continue working. The SCO “is funded from a permanent indefinite appropriation and would be unaffected in the event of a shutdown,” a Justice Department spokesperson told CNN previously.

Typically in the event of a shutdown, some federal employees deemed essential continue to work, but their pay is withheld until the shutdown is over, while other federal employees are placed on furlough, meaning they are effectively put on a leave of absence without pay. Congress can move to order that furloughed employees be paid retroactively after a shutdown is over, though that is not guaranteed.

An estimated 800,000 federal employees may be impacted by the partial shutdown, CNN said—either by having to work during it while their pay is withheld until it ends or by being furloughed.

More than 420,000 government workers are expected to work without pay in a partial shutdown, according to a fact sheet released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee. That estimate includes more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers. In addition, more than 380,000 federal employees would be placed on furlough, according to the fact sheet.

Research contact: @ckmarie