Posts tagged with "The Hill"

Judge strikes down Trump Administration rule denying asylum to most migrants at southern border

July 2, 2020

A federal judge has nullified a Trump Administration rule that, since July 2019, has banned most migrants from receiving asylum at America’s southern border with Mexico, The Hill reports.

The rule in question made all applicants at the southern border ineligible for asylum unless they had previously applied from another country or had been the victims of sex trafficking.

Late on Tuesday night, June 30, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly of the District of Columbia ruled that the Trump Administration had failed to follow the procedural law governing how regulations can be implemented—which requires advance notice and a period for the public to comment on the proposal.

“These procedures are not a mere formality,” Kelly, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said in his opinion.

The ruling—one of several that have disappointed the POTUS in recent weeks—will likely have little immediate impact amid the president’s strict border restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic.

Hardy Vieux, an attorney at Human Rights First, one of the plaintiffs in the case, hailed the decision.

“Judge Kelly’s ruling is proof that the administration cannot do an end-run around the law,” Vieux said in a statement. “In the United States of America, we follow the rule of law, even when it benefits asylum-seekers demonized by this administration. We do not follow the rule of one capricious man, who treats the law as something on which to trample, on his way to a photo op.”

The Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, another plaintiff, added that the decision would remove a barrier for those seeking safety from persecution.

“By striking down this rule, Judge Kelly reaffirmed two fundamental principles,” said Claudia Cubas, the group’s litigation director. “The protection of asylum seekers fleeing for safety is intertwined with our national values and that the United States is a country where the rule of law cannot be tossed aside for political whims.”

Still, the decision could be appealed. A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Research contact: @thehill

Top Democrats say Trump is ‘sitting on nearly $14B’ for COVID-19 testing and tracing

June 23, 2020

After admitting at his Tulsa rally that he had asked staff “to slow down COVID-19 testing” to make it look like America had fewer cases, President Donald Trump on June 22 refused to comment on that revelation—backtracking on his off-the-cuff remark, The Hill reported.

What’s more, on Monday, there was more embarrassing and scandalous news for the Trump Administration—which NBC News noted, “… has been sitting on nearly $14 billion in funding that Congress passed for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, according to Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington.”

The top Democrats said in a June 21 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the Trump administration has “still failed” to distribute more than $8 billion out of $25 billion appropriated by Congress to expand testing and contact tracing. The letter indicated that Congress passed these funds as part of a coronavirus relief bill in April.05:02

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also hasn’t awarded nearly $4 billion for surveillance and contact tracing at the state and local levels and tribal territories, they said, and little of $2 billion set aside for free testing for uninsured people has been disbursed.

“While it has been months since these funds were first appropriated, the Administration has failed to disburse significant amounts of this funding, leaving communities without the resources they need to address the significant challenges presented by the virus,” they wrote.

Schumer and Murray, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that the Trump administration will “put our country at grave risk if it tries to declare an early victory” and leaves resources untouched.

“We call on you to immediately disburse the remainder of the $25 billion in funds to ramp up testing and contact tracing capacity, as well as to make sure providers are aware of and able to easily access the $2 billion that Congress appropriated to provide testing for the uninsured,” they said.

For the $8 billion in unused funds for ramping up testing and contact tracing, the senators said that it’s critical that the administration immediately release the funds and focus the money on contact tracing and collecting data on racial and ethnic disparities in connection to COVID-19.

Late Sunday, Trump again suggested that more testing makes the U.S. look bad compared to other countries, NBC News reported..

“Our Coronavirus testing is so much greater (25 million tests) and so much more advanced, that it makes us look like we have more cases, especially proportionally, than other countries. My message on that is very clear!” he tweeted.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Gallup: 66% of Americans still are ‘worried’ about COVID-19 exposure; 29% are ‘very worried’

June 18, 2020

While about one-third of Americans believe, if you can’t see it, you can’t catch it; the rest of us still are relying on face masks and hand sanitizer. In fact, about two-thirds of Americans continue to say they “are  worried” about being exposed to the coronavirus, as multiple states see a new spike in cases, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday reveals, according to a report by The Hill.

Gallup found that 29% of respondents are “very worried” about exposure to the coronavirus, and 66% are either “somewhat” or “very” worried.

The proportion who are concerned about the coronavirus has risen since Gallup began asking the question in February, The Hill notes. That month, 36% of Americans said they were either somewhat or very worried about exposure—a figure that more than doubled in March; and has plateaued at somewhere between 63% and 67% since then.

Specifically, 37% of black respondents and 50% of Hispanics said they were “very” worried, compared to only 25% of white respondents. A number of studies have indicated that COVID-19 is impacting people of color at disproportionate rates across the country. 

And The Hill says, there are also partisan divides over how concerned Americans are, with 85% of Democrats saying they are at least somewhat worried that they or their family will come into contact with the virus, compared with 47% of Republicans and 66% of Independents.

There have been over 2.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, and nearly 117,000 people have died.

The poll comes as several states across the country are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases, throwing reopening plans into question. California, Texas, Arizona and Florida are among the states reporting the highest daily increases in case counts. In Texas, health authorities on Tuesday registered the state’s highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Trump Administration has sought to blame the rise in cases on the increasing number of tests, but experts say there has also been a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,034 adults from May 28 to June 4.

Research contact: @thehill

Senate panel votes to require Pentagon to assign new names to bases dubbed for Confederates

June 12, 2020

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other assets that are named after Confederate military leaders, a source confirmed to The Hill.

The move comes as Americans have hit the streets for 16 nights straight to protest the murder in Minnesota of George Floyd on May 25—and to assert that Black Lives Matter.

The amendment, offered by committee member Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), was approved by voice vote on Wednesday, June 10, during the committee’s closed-door markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the source familiar with the situation told The Hill.

The amendment would give the Pentagon three years to remove the Confederate names.

The news, which was first reported by Roll Call, comes after President Donald Trump said he would “not even consider” renaming the Army bases, insisting on his Twitter feed:

It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.

Just two days before Trump’s tweets, an Army spokesperson said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were “open” to renaming the 10 bases that are named after Confederate military officers.

Specifically, the bases, which are in Southern states, are Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.

During a briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also said Trump would veto the NDAA if the massive policy bill mandated changing the names of the bases.

The inclusion of the amendment to force the Pentagon to change the base names, coupled with McEnany’s veto threat, potentially puts the White House on a collision course with Congress over what’s generally considered a must-pass bill. Republicans disinclined to confront the president still have opportunities to strip the amendment if they want, such as when the bill hits the Senate floor as soon as next week.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump spin: ‘It’s a great day’ for George Floyd

June 8, 2020

On Friday, June 5, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump proclaimed it a “great day for equality” and a “great day” for George Floyd following a jobs report that showed unemployment falling, except for African Americans, and ten days of unrest sparked by Floyd’s death.

The president delivered lengthy and often rambling remarks in the Rose Garden that were ostensibly meant to highlight a new jobs report that showed unemployment falling after weeks of the country being shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

But Trump veered frequently from topic to topic, at times addressing the nationwide protests spurred by Floyd’s death. Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.

“Equal justice under the law must mean every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed,” Trump said. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.”

“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen,” he continued, referencing Floyd’s death.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

Protests, including large-scale protests near the White House, continue across the nation. Law enforcement has erected fencing around the White House complex in recent days, and the area is expected to remain closed to the public until June 10, The Hill notes.

Trump, who has called for governors to “dominate” the streets to quell protests related to police brutality and systemic racism, took no questions on Friday in the Rose Garden. When reporters shouted as he signed legislation to inquire what his plan is to address the issues protesters are raising, Trump held a finger to his lips to quiet them.

Trump touted a better-than-expected jobs report, which showed unemployment at 13.3% in May after hitting a post-World War II high of 14.7% the previous month. Economists had predicted the jobless rate in May would rise as high as 19% as many states remained at least partially locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But for black workers, the unemployment rate was 16.8%, a slight uptick from the 16.7%  unemployment rate in April and the highest in more than a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The jobless rate for white workers declined to 12.4% last month.

Friday’s Rose Garden event gave Trump an opportunity to focus on the broader jobs report and spin a positive narrative even as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the protests, and ongoing economic woes, The Hill said.

Trump is not expected to attend one of the memorial services for Floyd in the coming days. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden may attend one of the events, an attorney for the Floyd family said this week.

Research contact: @thehill

Poll: Majority of Americans support and sympathize with protesters; disapprove of Trump’s response

June 4, 2020

A new Reuters-Ipsos poll of more than 1,000 Americans has found that the majority sympathize with the protests that have swept across the nation since the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis at the hands of police. Conversely, those same people give low marks to President Donald Trump’s handling of the demonstrations.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were sympathetic to the protests that have erupted across the nation, while 27% said they were not, and 9% said they were unsure, The Hill reports.

More than 55% of  respondents said they disapprove of the president’s response to the protests—including 40%, who said they strongly disapproved. The percentage of participants who approved, about 33%, was lower than the number of those who approved of the job Trump is doing in general.

And, while 67% of Republicans approved of his response, that figure was about 15 points behind their overall approval of him.

A majority of both self-identified Republicans and Democrats said they approved of the protests but felt property damage and looting undermined the cause, with fewer than 25% of respondents believing the looting was justified.

Although the bulk of the demonstrations have taken place in cities, majorities in rural and suburban areas also expressed sympathy for the protests, with a little more than half of the respondents from rural areas sympathizing and 70% of those in suburban areas saying the same, The Hill notes.

Respondents said they approve of the police response more than they approve of Trump’s response, but a plurality still disapproved. Forty-seven percent of respondents disagreed that the police were doing a good job; compared to 43%, who agreed. A majority of Republicans agreed with the police response while a majority of Democrats disagreed.

A parallel Reuters-Ipsos poll found presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading Trump by 10 points among registered voters, the widest margin since Biden essentially clinched the nomination in early April.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump threatens to withhold Michigan, Nevada funding over mail-in voting

May 21, 2020

Unlike President Harry Truman, when President Donald Trump says “The buck stops here,” he means that funding for those whom he dislikes or distrusts really stops at his desk, without going forward to those who need it.

On Wednesday, May 20, the president threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan after its secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson (D), announced that all of the state’s registered voters would receive applications for absentee ballots in the mail this year, The Hill reports.

Trump charged that the step was done “illegally” and threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting the move would encourage voter fraud.

Trump later threatened to suspend federal funding to Nevada, which is holding a mail-in primary election, claiming the state was creating a “great Voter Fraud scenario” and allow people to “cheat in elections.”

“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Trump copied Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows , and the Treasury Department on his tweet about Michigan and also copied Vought and the Treasury Department on the post about Nevada.

Benson responded to Trump’s tweet, correcting him by saying that the state “sent applications, not ballots” and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same.

Trump has frequently voiced his opposition to expanding mail-in voting, the Hill notes—leveling unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud and are “corrupt.”

While voting experts say there are higher levels of voter fraud in mail-in voting than in-person voting, they agree that overall cases of voter fraud are rare, according to the news outlet.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump tweeted last month. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Trump can withhold federal funding from states, but would face legal hurdles in trying to do so, Elie Honig, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor told The Hill.

“First, the federal funds must relate substantively to the state-level policy at issue,” said Honig. “Second, funding restrictions can only apply to new sources of funding. The federal government can’t interrupt or impose new conditions on money that already has been allocated or is already flowing.”

“Also there’s a question whether the president himself can withhold funds without congressional authorization,” Honig continued.

Democrats have supported mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to ensure that ballots can be cast safely in the 2020 elections without risking exposure to the virus.

The $2 trillion bipartisan relief package that Trump signed into law in late March provides $400 million for states to prepare for upcoming primaries and the November general election during the coronavirus outbreak.

Benson said in a statement on Tuesday that sending mail-in applications to Michigan’s 7.7 million registered voters would ensure their safety.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”

Research contact: @thehill 

Obama tweets ‘vote’ after Trump promotes ‘Obamagate’

May 18, 2020

Now that his Attorney General Bill Barr has dropped DOJ charges against Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump has asked Republicans to take on the Obama Administration—promoting a planned political take-down with the term, Obamagate.

The issue, he says is that Obama-era officials “unmasked” the former national security adviser—gaining knowledge of his identity—after his call to reassure then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that sanctions on his nation would be expunged after Trump took the oath of office in January 2016.

Although, intelligence officials routinely “unmask” the identity of those who are in communications with the nation’s foes, President Trump demanded on Twitter that Senate Republicans call on Obama to testify, blasting what he called “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA” and claiming that Obama “knew EVERYTHING.”

Indeed, on Wednesday, May 13, the White House sent lawmakers a declassified list of Obama-era officials whom Trump and his aides claim requested documents that led to Flynn’s identity being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

According to a report by The Hill, former President Barack Obama had a simple message for the public on Thursday after his successor went after him on social media: Vote.

The former president shared similar messages on Facebook and Instagram, calling on supporters to “vote.”

Trump repeatedly lashed out at Obama last Sunday after the former president criticized the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against Flynn. In a call that was subsequently leaked, Obama warned that the move to drop the Flynn case threatened the “rule of law.”

Trump declined to name a specific allegation when pressed by reporters on Monday, May 11, about what crime he was accusing Obama of committing following his tweets over the weekend.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump valet tests positive for coronavirus

May 8, 2020

A second member of the White House staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus—and while the first was a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s team (who tested positive in March), the latest victim of the virus is said to be a member of the U.S. military who serves as a valet for President Donald Trump, The Hill reports.

“We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. “The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health.”

CNN first reported that the individual who tested positive is a member of the U.S. Navy who serves as one of the president’s personal valets. The network reported that the individual started exhibiting symptoms on Wednesday morning, May 6.

According to the cable news network, the valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House and often work closely with the president and the first family. Trump was upset when he was informed Wednesday that the valet had tested positive, a source told CNN, and the President was subsequently tested again by the White House physician.

Trump and Pence have been tested regularly for the virus. The White House also administers rapid tests to individuals who are traveling with Trump or Pence—and conducts temperature checks on visitors and reporters who enter White House

The president has in recent days been adamant about the need to start lifting restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus and to allow businesses to reopen. More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past month as the virus grips the economy.

“I’m not saying anything is perfect,” Trump said in Arizona, where he traveled this week. “And yes, will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”

More than 1.2 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 73,000 people in the country have died from the virus.

Research source: @thehill 

Trump berates Bush for posting a message of unity

May 5, 2020

President Donald Trumpwho just two years ago said that former President George W. Bush was responsible for “the single worst decision ever made” when he invaded Iraq in 2003—is still angry at the 43rd president of the United States for not supporting him during the impeachment trial last December.

That rancor was evident last weekend, when Bush posted a three-minute video on Twitter, asking Americans to come together to defeat the danger posed by COVID-19.

In a the video—which was tweeted from @TheBushCenter at 11:33 a.m. on Saturday, May 2 and entitled @TheCalltoUnite— the former president urged Americans to remember “how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” The Hill reports.

“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God,” Bush said. “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”

However, Trump could not condone a message of unity for Americans when he felt no solidarity with the sender.

Iin an early morning tweet on Sunday, May 3, the president called out Bush for his failure to support him as he faced an impeachment trial earlier this year over his alleged dealings with Ukraine. He cited apparent comments from Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth, who asked why Bush didn’t push for “putting partisanship aside” amid the trial.

“He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history,” Trump said. 

The House impeached Trump last December for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his Democratic political rivals. The president was acquitted by the Senate in February.

While Bush never commented publicly on the allegations and the trial, he and other members of his family have voiced criticism of the president and his policies, The Hill noted.

The former president released the video as confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continued to rise in parts of the U.S. The country has confirmed more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 66,000 deaths from it.

Bush invoked the September. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in his message, noting that the U.S. has faced “times of testing before.” 

“Let’s remember that the suffering we experience as a nation does not fall evenly. In the days to come, it will be especially important to care in practical ways for the elderly, the ill and the unemployed,” he said.

Trump has faced continued scrutiny for his less-than-rapid response to the outbreak, The Hill says. The president in February suggested the virus would suddenly “disappear” and later predicted that everyone who needed a test would have access to one. He’s repeatedly pushed back against concerns from governors about testing and medical equipment shortages.

Research contact: @thehill