Posts tagged with "The Hill"

On Omicron, former WH doctor Ronny Jackson says, ‘Here comes the MEV—the Midterm Election Variant!’

November 30, 2021

A Republican lawmaker who previously served as White House doctor under former presidents Trump and Obama claims Democrats seems to be using the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, to help the GOP cheat in the midterm elections, reports The Hill. 

The World Health Organization (WHO)  classified the new coronavirus strain as a “variant of concern” on Friday, November 26—due to preliminary evidence suggesting it carries an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants. WHO officials said the new variant poses a “very high” risk worldwide, but noted that there is still much to learn about the strain.

Representative Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) spoke out on news of the variant of concern Saturday, November 27—saying the strain would serve as a pretext for absentee voting, which Democrats would use to somehow cheat in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Here comes the MEV—the Midterm Election Variant!” Jackson tweeted.

“They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election—but we’re not going to let them!” he added. 

Jackson was appointed as a White House physician during the George W. Bush administration; and shot to national prominence in 2018, when he gave former President Donald Trump a glowing medical evaluation.

A March report from the Pentagon’s inspector general found that Jackson carried out “inappropriate conduct” during his time as White House doctor. The report said Jackson disparaged, belittled, bullied and humiliated subordinates, creating a toxic work environment. It also found that he used alcohol while on duty.

Jackson has explicitly denied the report’s findings.

Research contact: @thehill

Alabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against

November 18, 20

Representative Gary Palmer (R-Alabama) this week touted a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure law—the  Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684)—that President Joe Biden signed on Monday, November 15, despite the fact that he voted against the legislation, reports The Hill.

Palmer issued a statement on Monday highlighting a provision under which Alabama will receive $369 million over five years for a road project in the state called the Northern Beltline.

“This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state,” Palmer said. “Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama.”

Palmer’s statement drew criticism on Twitter from Democratic lawmakers—among them, Senaator Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Representative Eric Swalwell (California)—who noted that he voted against the infrastructure package.

“You mean the funding you voted against? That funding?” Swalwell tweeted.

Palmer spokesperson Elizabeth Hance said in a statement that the congressman would have voted for standalone legislation he authored that included funding for the Northern Beltline. Hance also said that Palmer noted his support for funding the Alabama project in his statement about his vote against the infrastructure package.

“Had they brought the bill he authored to the floor as a stand-alone piece of legislation, or even a package that was truly paid-for infrastructure, he would have supported the overall bill. They did not,” Hance said. “It should not be surprising that he supports a provision that he authored and that was noted in [Palmer’s] initial [statement] about the infrastructure bill.”

“The bill was full of problems, including items not related to traditional infrastructure,” she added. “The overall bill will increase energy costs, drive up the debt, and pave the way for more wasteful spending.”

In his November 6 statement about the vote on the infrastructure bill, Palmer said that “Democrats have shown they are willing to recklessly push through a bill that costs over a trillion dollars with only about 10% going to roads and bridges.” He added that “at least the bill includes legislation which I introduced with Representative David Trone (D-Maryland) that includes funding for the Birmingham Northern Beltline.”

Only 13 House Republicans voted for the infrastructure law, while nearly every Democratic House member backed the measure

Research contact: @thehill

Carville blames ‘stupid wokeness’ for Democratic losses

November 5, 2021

Democratic political strategist James Carville blamed his party’s recent losses and weak performance in state elections on “stupid wokeness” on Wednesday, November 3, The Hill reports.

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff asked Carville what went wrong for the Democratic Party in the Virginia gubernatorial race—in which Republican Glenn Youngkin beat former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

“What went wrong is just stupid wokeness. Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Wash. I mean, this ‘defund the police’ lunacy, this take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools. I mean that—people see that,” Carville said.

“I’s just really — has a suppressive effect all across the country on Democrats. Some of these people need to go to a ‘woke’ detox center or something,” he added. “They’re expressing a language that people just don’t use, and there’s backlash and a frustration at that.”

Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy narrowly eked out a reelection victory on Wednesday—first declared by the Associated Press—another indication of Democrats’ diminishing strength in state elections.

Carville said that suburbanites in Virginia and New Jersey “pulled away” from such “wokeness.” He pointed out that Youngkin never ran any ads against President Joe Biden and suggested that the Republican candidate had simply allowed Democrats to “pull the pin and watch the grenade go off.”

“We got to change this and not be about changing dictionaries and change laws,” Carville said. “These faculty lounge people that sit around mulling about I don’t know what. … They’re not working.”

Carville has decried “wokeness” in the past, telling Vox’s Sean Illing earlier this year that it was a “problem.”

“Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today—and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party—who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud,” said Carville.

Research contact: @thehill

Kinzinger announces he won’t seek reelection

November 1, 2021

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) announced on Friday, October 29, that he will not seek reelection next year—marking an end to a 12-year House career that was capped off by his increasingly vocal criticism of former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

In a video announcing his retirement at the end of his term in January 2023, Kinzinger recalled his first race in which he unseated a Democratic incumbent in 2010, saying he was fueled by supporters who told him to “be my own man and to never ‘do what they tell you to do,’” a tacit reference to his vociferous criticism of Trump.

“I stand tall and proud knowing that I have done just that,” Kinzinger said. “I also remember during that campaign saying that if I ever thought it was time to move on from Congress, I would. And that time is now.”

Kinzinger was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January over his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection.

Along with Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), Kinzinger has been among the most vocal GOP critics of Trump—earning him enmity from some of his colleagues, The Hill says. Republican rebukes of him rose after he accepted a position on the special House panel investigating the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

Several hours after Kinzinger’s announcement, Trump released a statement reading, “2 down, 8 to go!”

It was an apparent reference to both Kinzinger and Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), who announced last month he wouldn’t seek reelection after also voting in favor of Trump’s impeachment.

In his announcement, Kinzinger railed against the rife partisanship in Washington, D.C.—accusing both parties of seeking to appeal to their most extreme flanks.

“In this day, to prevail or survive, you must belong to a tribe,” he said. “Our political parties only survive by appealing to the most motivated and the most extreme elements within it. And the price tag to power has skyrocketed, and fear and distrust has served as an effective strategy to meet that cost.”

“Dehumanizing each other has become the norm. We’ve taken it from social media to the streets. We’ve allowed leaders to reach power selling the false premise that strength comes from degrading others and dehumanizing those that look, act. or think differently than we do. As a country, we’ve fallen for those lies, and now we face a poisoned country filled with outrage blinding our ability to reach real strength.”

Kinzinger also expressed “awe” at his nine GOP colleagues who took an impeachment vote that is already starting to imperil their reelection bids.

Despite his departure from Congress, Kinzinger said he would continue fighting a “nationwide” fight.

The six-term lawmaker has been rumored to be mulling a challenge to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) next year in a blue state, where some say only an anti-Trump moderate like Kinzinger could stand a chance as a Republican.

In the meantime, Kinzinger is expected to continue work for a political action committee, Country First, that he started earlier this year to fight against Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party.

“I cannot focus on both a reelection to Congress and a broader fight nationwide,” Kinzinger said. “I want to make it clear, this isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning.”

Research contact: @thehill

Erik Prince is offering to fly people out of Kabul for $6,500 each

August 26, 2021

Erik Prince, the founder and former CEO of the private military contractor previously known as Blackwater, is looking to take Afghans for a ride: He reportedly offering to fly people out of Kabul for $6,500 each as the evacuation effort in Afghanistan ramps up ahead of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday, August 31, deadline, The Hill reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, August 25, that, for US$6,500 each, Prince has offered to safely transport people into the Hamid Karzai International Airport and onto a chartered flight—with an extra fee for those who want to be brought to the airport,but are trapped in their homes.

Prince’s offer comes as U.S. citizens and Afghan allies are scrambling to leave the country amid the deteriorating security situation as the Taliban tighten their grip on the country. The Journal reports that NATO and U.S. teams are being dispatched to Taliban-controlled parts of Kabul to escort their people to the airport.

According to The Hill, the United States evacuated roughly 19,000 from Afghanistan between early Tuesday and early Wednesday, according to a White House official—bringing the total number of individuals pulled from the region to approximately 82,300.

Those efforts, however, have been stymied by the Taliban, who have begun to dig in against the removal of Afghans.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday warned Afghan citizens against leaving the country, saying during a press conference, “The Afghans leaving, we are not going to allow that, and we are not even happy about it.”

The Taliban have set up checkpoints on paths leading to the airport in Kabul, where people have reported being beaten, whipped, and intimidated.

Prince, a former Navy SEAL and a top ally to former President Donald Trump, gained widespread attention in 2007 when contractors from Blackwater killed 17 civilians in Iraq.

He also has faced accusations of breaking the arms embargoes on Somalia and Libya; and has denied allegations of setting up a backchannel communications line with the Russian government.

Research contact: @thehill

Fox News runs disclaimer on-air during Trump CPAC speech about 2020 election

July 13, 2021

On Sunday, July 11, Fox News aired a disclaimer adding context to comments made by former President Donald Trump referencing electoral fraud during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), The Hill reports.

“And now, it’s also because I got more votes, 75 million, than anybody in the history of the presidency, and far more than Clinton, far more than Obama, and a record 12 million more than 2016,” Trump said of what he has continued to describe as an effort to “rig” the election against him. “Think of it, in the history usually they go down a little bit second term and they win, but they go down a little bit.”

According to The Hill, as Trump continued to make misleading or false claims about the result of the election, Fox News, which was carrying the former president’s speech live, replaced its chyron with a disclaimer. 

“Voting system companies have denied the various allegations made by President Trump and his counsel regarding the 2020 election,” the disclaimer read.

In April, Fox News Media filed a response to a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit by the voting machine company Smartmatic that was filed against it for spreading Trump’s false claims about the election, saying it should be dismissed.

“The press does not lose its protection if the allegations are disproven; instead the reporting is part of the truthseeking process,” Fox News Media argued in its response to the lawsuit from Smartmatic. “That is why virtually every media outlet in the country covered the President’s election-fraud allegations without fear of being sued if they were disproved in court. Smartmatic’s efforts to erode that bedrock constitutional protection are dangerous and should be rejected.”

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the disclaimer that was displayed during Trump’s speech on Sunday.

Research contact: @thehill

Department of Justice sues Georgia over voting law

June 28, 2021

The Department of Justice is suing the State of Georgia over its controversial new law imposing a number of restrictions on voting, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday, June 25, according to a report by The Hill.

“Today, the Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia,” Garland said. “Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

The Georgia law—passed in March along party lines in the span of just a few hours—imposes restrictions that voting rights groups say will fall most heavily on minorities: It sets new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes and even bars passing out food and water to those waiting in line to vote.

The suit is the first from the Justice Department to challenge an influx of state laws that they say will limit access to the ballot.

In a speech earlier this month, Garland pointed to 14 “new laws that make it harder to vote,” vowing to scrutinize “current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discriminate against Black voters and other voters of color.”

Georgia Republicans argued the law was needed to protect the integrity of elections. Its swift passage into law followed a loss by former President  Donald Trump in the state, followed by claims of election fraud from Trump along with a call from him to Georgia’s secretary of state asking him to “find” the president votes,  The Hill notes.

A review of pending state legislation by the Brennan Center for Justice found a wave of bills with restrictive voting provisions—and warned that the activity is outpacing other years and leaving “the United States … on track to far exceed its most recent period of significant voter suppression,”

Research contact: @thehill

Biden doubles FEMA funding for extreme weather preparations

May 25, 2021

The Biden Administration announced on May 24 that it will direct $1 billion toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s fund for extreme weather preparations—representing a 100 percent increase over existing funding levels, The Hill reports.

The budget increase will go to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which provides support for local, state, and tribal government preparation efforts.

The increase, and the program in general, are part of an effort to “categorically shift the federal focus” from responding to individual disasters on a case-by-case basis to “research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience,” the White House said.

“As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events like increased floods, sea level rise, and intensifying droughts and wildfires, it is our responsibility to better prepare and support communities, families, and businesses before disaster—not just after,” the administration said in a statement. “This includes investing in climate research to improve our understanding of these extreme weather events; [as well as] our decision-making on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. It also means ensuring that communities have the resources they need to build resilience prior to these crises.”

The additional funding comes after a sharp increase in major hurricanes in 2020, with a record high of 30 named storms and a dozen hurricanes or tropical storms that made landfall in the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projecting a heavier-than-average hurricane season in 2021. Between 13 and 20 named storms are likely—with six to 10 becoming full hurricanes and three to five becoming major hurricanes, according to the NOAA. These numbers would constitute the sixth above-average storm season in a row.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement last week.

Research contact: @thehill

Senators introduce bipartisan bill to overhaul U.S. Postal Service

May 21, 2021

On May 19, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill—the Postal Service Reform Act—intended to improve management of the troubled U.S. Postal Service, The Hill reports.

The move to “stabilize” the USPS is being led by Senators Gary Peters (D-Michigan); and  Rob Portman (R-Ohio)m both of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.

A total of nine Republicans signed on as co-sponsors. Adding their support, as well as Portman’s vote, to the Democrat vote of 50 members would secure passage of the legislation and head off a filibuster—making the new legislation the closest thing Congress has done to a postal overhaul in more than a decade, The Capitalist reports.

Specifically, The Washington Post has said, the bill would repeal $5 billion a year in mandatory retiree health care expenses, the Post reports, and require future retirees to enroll in Medicare. The bill would also create a public online performance dashboard that would allow customers to see the Postal Service’s on-time delivery metric by ZIP code.

The change in health care requirements would purportedly save the Postal Service $30 billion over the next ten years.

The bill will likely affect Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposed ten-year plan of increasing postage prices, creating longer delivery windows and reducing post office hours. The Post notes that an important part of DeJoy’s plan hinged on congressional intervention on retiree health care costs.

Some officials have argued that these costs, which must be prepaid per the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, are the main reason why the agency cannot invest in new technology and equipment. However, the Post notes that the Postal Service has not made these payments since 2011 and they do not affect the agency’s liquidity.

Regardless of its financial situation, the agency’s problems may be beyond legislative action experts told the newspaper.”Some things are beyond the realm of legislation to be able to deal with,” Postal Policy Associates consulting firm President Kenneth John told the Post.

“Letter mail volume is going to decline to the extent that prices increase more rather than less,” John, a former senior analyst at the Government Accountability Office, added. “That decline may accelerate somewhat, but it’s fundamentally a result of changing ways of communication and payment, and these are going to continue.”

Research contact: @thehill

Ocasio-Cortez on Taylor Greene: ‘These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time’

May  17, 2021

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) took a swipe at Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) on Thursday, May 13— likening her to the “kinds of people that I threw out of bars” after the GOP newcomer aggressively confronted her outside the House chamber the day before, The Hill reports.

“I used to work as a bartender. These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“For me, this isn’t even about how I feel. It’s that I refuse to allow young women, people of color, people who are standing up for what they believe, to see [these] kind[s] of intimidation attempts by a person who supports white supremacists in our nation’s Capitol,” she continued.

Greene is facing blowback from Democrats off the heels of a Washington Post report that she harassed Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday and shouted at her as the two left the floor.

Greene repeatedly yelled, “Hey, Alexandria,” according to two Washington Post reporters who witnessed the incident. Ocasio-Cortez reportedly did not stop to address Greene, who went on to press the young progressive on her support for Black Lives Matter, which Greene claimed to be a “terrorist” group.

“You don’t care about the American people,” Greene reportedly shouted. “Why do you support terrorists and Antifa?”

After Ocasio-Cortez’s departure, Greene also reportedly called the Democrat a “radical socialist” and a “chicken” who “doesn’t want to debate the Green New Deal.”

The report came after Greene challenged Ocasio-Cortez to a debate over her “Green New Deal” legislation. Not long after, Greene also went up to Ocasio-Cortez in the House chamber and posted a photo of the moment on social media.

Greene defended her actions Thursday and rejected the notion that her behavior was uncivil.

“So she throws out paying customers. Is that how she feels? She throws out paying customers, is what she’s saying?” Greene said in response to a reporter who relayed how Ocasio-Cortez compared her to an aggressive bar patron.

“You know, it would be nice if they would treat us civilly. But ever since January 6, they can’t even treat us with respect. And we were just as much as victims of the riot here, too. We didn’t cause it,” Greene continued. “All these lies that they say on and on and on. You know, they need to be civil. None of them [is]civil to me.

“I was telling her, you need to debate me, you need to defend your policy,” she added. “There is nothing wrong with that.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s office has expressed concerns about security for congressional members and staff after the incident, The Hill notes.

“We hope leadership and the Sergeant at Arms will take real steps to make Congress a safe, civil place for all Members and staff—especially as many offices are discussing reopening. One Member has already been forced to relocate her office due to Congresswoman Greene’s attacks,” a spokesperson for her office, Lauren Hitt, told the Post.

Earlier this year, Representative Cori Bush (D-Missourialso announced that she would be moving her office away from Greene’s after she said the Georgia lawmaker berated her.

“I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety,” Bush tweeted at the time about the move.

Greene countered that Bush instigated the exchange by yelling at her to put on a mask in a House hallway and posted a video of the exchange.

“She is lying to you. She berated me. Maybe Representative Bush didn’t realize I was live on video, but I have the receipts,” Greene said at the time.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Thursday described Greene’s confrontation with Ocasio-Cortez as a “verbal assault,” and warned the situation could be a matter for the House Ethics Committee.

Pelosi called Greene’s behavior “so beyond the pale of anything that is in keeping with bringing honor to the House.”

Research contact: @thehill