Posts tagged with "Statement"

Progressives led by AOC call for Biden to replace Fed Chair Powell

September 1, 2021

Progressive Democrats, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are calling on President Joe Biden to give the Federal Reserve a sweeping makeover by replacing Jerome Powell as chairman, CNN reports.

“We urge President Biden to reimagine a Federal Reserve focused on eliminating climate risk and advancing racial and economic justice,” the lawmakers said in a statement released on Tuesday morning, August 31.

In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, the statement was issued Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Mondaire Jones of New York, and Chuy Garcia of Illinois—all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Powell, a Republican and former investment banker, was nominated to lead the powerful Federal Reserve by former President Donald Trump in 2017, who later sharply criticized his handpicked chairman.

Powell’s term as chair expires in February, and the White House has not said whether he will be reappointed.

According to CNN, under Powell, the Fed wasted little time responding forcefully to the economic fallout from the pandemic in March 2020. Economists have credited the Fed’s historic actions with helping to prevent a full-blown depression and financial crisis in the United States.

The Fed is tasked by Congress to maximize the number of American jobs while keeping inflation low. Although the Democrats in the statement credited the Powell-led Fed with making changes to how it approaches its goal of full employment, they voiced concern over his track record on the climate crisis and regulation.

“Under his leadership, the Federal Reserve has taken very little action to mitigate the risk climate change poses to our financial system,” the lawmakers said in the statement.

However, the Fed did join an international network of global financial regulators focused on climate change in late 2020. In June, Powell warned that the climate crisis poses “profound challenges for the global economy and certainly the financial system.”

The AOC-led statement also criticized the Fed for “weakening” financial regulations enacted after the Great Recession, including capital and liquidity requirements, stress tests and the Volcker Rule. Powell has previously disputed the argument that the Fed has weakened regulations.

The Fed chair is appointed by the president. The term lasts four years. Looking for continuity, former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama reappointed Fed chairs that were appointed by previous presidents, both of whom were Republicans. But Trump did not reappoint Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who was appointed by Obama.

A White House official told CNN on Tuesday that when it comes to appointing Fed officials, Biden “will appoint the candidates who[m] he thinks will be the most effective in implementing monetary policy.”

The Federal Reserve declined to comment.

Research contact: @CNN

Capitol Police open offices in California, Florida to probe threats against members of Congress

July 7, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced on July 6 that the department is in the process of opening regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats to members of Congress, as part of enhanced security efforts in the wake of the Capitol insurrection last January 6, The Hill reports.

Capitol Police said in May that threats against members of Congress have more than doubled—increasing 107%— since last year.

“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.

She added, “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”

“It has been six months since rioters attacked the United States Capitol and our brave police officers and law enforcement partners who fought valiantly to protect elected leaders and the democratic process,”  Pittman said.

“We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” Pittman added.

While more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the FBI is still searching for some 300 subjects, including those involved with placing pipe bombs at each party’s national headquarters.

The department said it has been working to implement recommendations from multiple Juary 6 reviews, including those from the Government Accountability Office, the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General, and a House panel.

The various reviews found that the force was operating with aging equipment, failed to follow up on intelligence or widely distribute information to officers, and sidelined the Architect of the Capitol, one of its board members, from assisting with security planning.

Now, the force is expanding wellness services, with an emphasis on psychological trauma and stress; enhancing member protection; increasing training; and enhancing critical incident response training.

According to The Hill, the department also has purchased new helmets and batons for its forces, as well as shields, which its watchdog previously found were improperly stored and damaged.

What’s more, Pittman announced, the Capitol Police will increase its intelligence sharing with officers. “Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners; as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders.”

Research contact: @thehill

Siena poll: Just 35% of New York voters want Cuomo to resign

March 16, 2021

Most New York State voters are satisfied with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to the sexual harassment allegations made against him—and barely one-third want him to resign, according to findings of a Siena College Research Institute poll released on Monday morning, March 15, Politico reports.

The governor’s overall popularity has taken a hit over the past month, however. Only 43% of New Yorkers now view him favorably, while 45% view him unfavorably.

“Voters appear to be able to compartmentalize how they feel about Cuomo,” Siena spokesperson Steve Greenberg said in a statement. “While their views on him generally—favorability, job performance, re-elect—took a significant hit this month, voters’ views on Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic remain largely positive, except for his handling of nursing home death data.”

Cuomo’s numbers had already been gradually declining from the stratospheric highs they hit last spring. He’s now back around where he was before the pandemic; he polled at 44-50 favorable in a Siena poll in February 2020.

But as the governor fights back rapidly-spreading calls for him to leave office, it’s safe to assume that the numbers which will resonate the most are those finding that most voters aren’t ready for him to go.

A total of 57% of respondents say they’re “satisfied with the way Cuomo has addressed the allegations,” while 32% say they are “not satisfied.,” Politico reports.

And 48% of voters think he can “effectively do his job.” That compares to 34% who say he “cannot.” On the resignation question, 35% of voters think he should leave office, 50% say he should not,and 15% are undecided.

 “Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say Cuomo should resign, however, 61% of Democrats and 46% of Independents, a plurality, say he should not,” Greenberg said.

Research contact: @Politico

Capitol Police say they are stepping up security based on intel on March 4 plot to breach Capitol

March 4, 2021

QAnon followers believe that former President Donald Trump will return to power on Thursday, March 4and U.S. Capitol Police officials said Wednesday that they have “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on [on that date],” ABC News reports.

The intelligence is being taken “seriously,” the officials said in a statement posted on Twitter. But are they ready?

“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers, the statement said, adding, “Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”

The statement issued Wednesday morning follows another Tuesday night in which officials said they had beefed up security, ABC News notes.

“The Department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners,” the federal law enforcement agency said in that statement. “Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce.”

The threats appear to stem from QAnon, the umbrella term for a set of disproven and discredited internet conspiracy theories that allege the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. Followers of the fringe movement believe that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Trump, who has pushed baseless claims of voter fraud along with his allies.

QAnon followers also believed that Trump would not actually leave office on Inauguration Day—but rather would declare martial law, announce mass arrests of Democrats, and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. When that didn’t happen, the date was moved from January 20 to March 4—the original inauguration day for all U.S. presidents prior to 1933.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation first labeled QAnon and its fluid online community of supporters as a “dangerous extremist group” in August 2019. A number of individuals believed to be QAnon followers have been charged for their alleged involvement in the deadly insurrection on January 6, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a confidential assessment to law enforcement agencies, which was obtained by ABC News, saying that the threat of domestic violent extremism in 2020—largely driven by “violent anti-government or anti-authority narratives, periods of prolonged civil unrest and conspiracy theories”—is a trend that will likely continue in 2021 and “could escalate to include targeting of critical infrastructure.”

Research contact: @abcnews

 

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

Look who’s talking! Mueller agrees to testify for TV cameras in July; Trump vents anger

June 27, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump flailed out in all directions—at the Democrats, at former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, at two former FBI officials—on June 26, after he learned that Mueller had agreed to testify in public before Congress next month about his investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported.

Coming nearly three months after the release of what is commonly referred to as the Mueller Report, two back-to-back hearings on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees promise to be among the most closely watched spectacles of Trump’s presidency to date, the Times said.

For those who have not read the lengthy report—including, in all probability, the majority of Congress and the U.S. population—this will represent an opportunity for the lead investigator on the case to recount what his team found, up-close and personal.

Indeed, unlike the print presentation, the live video will zoom in on Mueller’s demeanor, providing a chance for viewers to evaluate the Special Counsel’s verbal emphasis and body language.

The testimony will have the power to change minds and, potentially, to reshape the political landscape around the president’s re-election campaign and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In a statement released on the evening of June 25, Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee noted, “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”

For his part, upon hearing that the former special counsel would respond to the Congressional subpoenas and testify before two committees publicly, President Trump lashed out at Mueller on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators.

The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation and, personally, were not fans of the president. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” the president said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”

According to the Times report, Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report—which revealed that 19,000 text messages had been lost because of technical problems; not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.

“It never ends,” Mr. Trump said about Democratic efforts to investigate his conduct. He repeated, as he has done many times, that Mueller’s report found “no collusion with the Russians, “and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice.

In a press conference at the end of May, Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes, remarking, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Largest federal union hails pro-worker majority in the House

November 8, 2018

Government employees “can once again count on Congress to provide checks and balances on the White House,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox, Sr., on November 7—the day after the U.S. electorate voted in the midterm elections to shift the majority in the House of Representatives to Democratic legislators.

“For the last two years, the administration and its allies in Congress have run roughshod over the federal workers who keep this country running, and have launched a series of unprecedented attacks on our union in the process,” Cox commented in a formal statement.

“Now,” he said, “thanks to tremendous voter turnout and enthusiasm … no longer will the president and his Congressional allies have free rein to politicize the civil service and reduce civil service protections or union rights.

“We expect the 116th Congress to respect workers’ voices in the workplace, respect the collective bargaining process, and respect the important work federal employees do on behalf of the American people. And with narrow-majority Senate returning, there will be opportunities for bipartisan efforts.”

Elected to a third term in August, Cox has invested heavily since he first took national office in 2006 in growing union membership both within AFGE and among the labor movement as a whole. During the past 12 years, the AFGE has boosted its membership by more than 90,000 government employees—now representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas. Workers in virtually all functions of government at every federal agency depend upon AFGE for legal representation, legislative advocacy, technical expertise and informational services.

“We look forward to working with leaders on both sides of the aisle to protect union rights and protect federal pay and retirement.  We will also work with the bipartisan majority that opposes costly and unaccountable outsourcing of federal government work,” Cox said, noting, “Today is a win for America’s workforce, and we look forward to working with members of Congress the next two years on progressive change. This wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of our … members nationwide, and we know … they are celebrating the election of Congressional leaders who will stand by their side and fight for them in Washington.”

Research contact: comments @afge.org