The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

As Virus Surges, Republicans Throw ’Temper Tantrum’ On House Floor

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republican lawmakers repeatedly tried to adjourn the House of Representatives on Wednesday, preferring to head home rather than comply with new coronavirus safety measures.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that "masks will be once again be required in the Hall of the House," for all members and staff, except while members are recognized to speak.

The change came due to an order from Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' attending physician, deeming masks necessary to keep members and their employees safe.

It followed new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on Tuesday warning that the delta variant can be caught and transmitted by some fully vaccinated people and urging some face mask use in indoor public places, even among those who have been inoculated.

At 11:26 a.m., Texas Rep. Chip Roy made the first motion to adjourn. He had just completed an angry floor speech in which he argued that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down," because the Democratic majority had reinstituted a mask requirement in response to the spread of the delta variant.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a staunch opponent of COVID-19 safety measures, who reportedly threw a face mask at a House staffer who had urged her to comply with the rule earlier in the day, tweeted, "If the threat of the Biden Border variant is truly so dangerous in the U.S. House of Representatives, we should adjourn."

After 38 minutes of voting, Roy's motion failed — but 197 House Republicans backed his attempt to leave work for the rest of the day and head home.

At 1:31 p.m., Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) proceeded to the floor and made another motion to adjourn. After a 34-minute vote, his motion too was defeated, 174-216.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) described the motions in a tweet as a "mass temper tantrum over Covid guidance."

In total, more than an hour was wasted on the two motions, on a busy day when the House was considering funding bills for several branches of the federal government.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) slammed the stunts, tweeting that the Republicans "want to go home instead of working for the people," and noting that "anyone else trying to leave work in the middle of [the] work day would be fired."

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) mocked his GOP colleagues for throwing a "temper tantrum" just because representatives "were asked to do what the rest of the country has been asked to do: wear a mask."

The attempts to adjourn, rather than comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, are at odd with Republican leaders who accused the Democratic majority over a year ago of dereliction of duty for opting to let some members work from home, rather than coming to the Capitol during a pandemic.

"Across our nation, Americans of all stripes are making sacrifices and doing their part to defeat this virus — and they expect Washington to do the same," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois — the ranking member of the Committee on House Administration — and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the Committee on Rules, wrote in a May 2020 joint statement.

"Unfortunately, far from being 'captains of this ship' as Speaker Pelosi recently proclaimed, the Democrats' proposal calls for the House of Representatives to abandon ship — potentially for the remainder of the session," they claimed at the time.

In just the past 10 days, two House Republicans have announced that they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan said last Monday that he contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated. Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins revealed Sunday that he and his family also have COVID-19, even though they had it previously.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Block Infrastructure Bill That Promises 500K New Manufacturing Jobs

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new analysis shows that bipartisan infrastructure legislation could result in the creation of 100,000 new high-wage equipment-manufacturing jobs by 2025, and nearly half a million new manufacturing jobs overall. But Senate Republicans are still refusing to allow debate on the bill to begin.

According to data released Tuesday by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a trade group, the $579 billion in new infrastructure investment contained in the plan, combined with funding in another bipartisan surface transportation bill pending before Congress, would be a huge boon to manufacturing.

The association represents the interests of construction and agriculture equipment manufacturers.

"The bipartisan infrastructure framework agreed to by the White House and a group of Senators, coupled with a five-year surface transportation reauthorization, is vital for the 2.8 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry, for their families and communities, for the U.S. economy, and for bipartisanship in this country," Kip Eideberg, the association's senior vice president of government and industry relations, said in a press release.

"The data shows that it would also create nearly 500,000 new manufacturing jobs overall, generate over $2 billion in new federal, state, and local tax revenue from the equipment manufacturing industry, and result in an additional $27 billion in overall economic output," he noted.

The report predicts that the jobs created would be "highly-skilled and will have an annual income of over $88,000 that is more than 35% above the national average for all employees."

A bipartisan group of senators agreed in June to a framework for infrastructure investment, focusing on transportation, broadband, and water systems, with 11 Republicans pledging to back the proposal. President Joe Biden endorsed the plan and has been pushing Congress to enact it.

But on July 21, every single Republican in the Senate voted against beginning debate on the framework.

Several of the Republicans who had agreed to the deal but refused to debate it said then that they just needed a few more days to work out the legislative text.

"We're a no today because we're not ready," explained Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. "We're saying we do want to take up this bill as soon as we are, and we think that'll be Monday."

But as of Tuesday morning, the group is still refusing to move ahead to debate the legislation.

One key sticking point has been how to pay for the investments. Though the initial bipartisan agreement included a major crackdown on wealthy tax cheats, Republicans have since abandoned those provisions, caving to what Portman called "pushback" from other GOP senators who refused to give more funds to the understaffed Internal Revenue Service for tax code enforcement.

Recent polling shows strong support for the investment package. A Navigator Research survey released on July 22 found 66 perecent of registered voters support the framework. It had support from 86 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and even a 46 percent plurality of Republicans.

In addition to manufacturing jobs, climate advocates say many of its provisions would help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change while creating numerous clean energy jobs.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Biden Infrastructure Plan Can Slow Climate Change: Expert

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A bipartisan infrastructure deal backed by President Joe Biden could be key in addressing climate change, one climate expert says, even if talks on the bill have been slowed by GOP pushback.

Evan Endres, climate and energy policy manager for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania, told The American Independent Foundation on Monday that his state has a "complicated carbon puzzle that needs to be solved" and that a set of bipartisan infrastructure investments being considered by Congress could be one part of the solution.

Last month, Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a $579 billion framework for those investments in transportation, broadband, and water systems infrastructure. Although negotiations on the exact language of the bill have stalled, discussions are ongoing.

The framework includes funds to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, electrify school and transit buses, upgrade the power grid, and clean up pollution.

Addressing those issues alone would be a boon to Pennsylvania, Endres said. "A lot of positive things are being discussed — concrete climate solutions that would create jobs and opportunity in Pennsylvania," he said.

Electrification of trucks and "heavy duty equipment," for instance, would jumpstart the state's economy directly, he explained.

"Mack Trucks, an American stalwart brand, makes an electric truck right here in Pennsylvania, at the Lehigh Valley Operations in Macungie ... heavy duty electric trucks you might see in a municipal trash fleet," he said. "A lot of the support for heavy duty electrification of equipment speaks directly to a brand that's part of the heart and soul of Pennsylvania."

He also noted that investments in battery and storage capacity could benefit the state. "We're a major exporter of electricity to other states," Endres said. "The more we can improve storage, the more we can export renewable energy."

As of now, the state is not only emitting greenhouse gases at home — it is also sending it out to other states.

"We're fifth in the nation for carbon emissions, we're a major exporter of energy to most states in the mid-Atlantic. We're the second largest net exporter of electricity behind Texas," he said. "Not only are we a large carbon emitter, but we're exporting that carbon-intensive electricity to other states who are also working to solve the carbon problem, the climate problem."

Endres is similarly bullish on provisions to deploy renewable energy generation efforts on the same lands that were once used for coal mining.

"That's something that should excite Pennsylvanians, particularly communities close to those formerly mined lands," he said. "You're bringing a new economic stimulation, development to those same lands through renewable energy, solar energy. That's a great intersection for those areas."

With a bipartisan infrastructure package passed, he added, more jobs will follow. "That tech requires a lot of construction, jobs for pipefitters, electricians, building trades, laborers," he said.

Endres also flagged another area that could lead to a jobs boost: cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells.

The state's fossil fuel legacy, he said, includes "an unfathomable number of abandoned oil and gas wells. It's not uncommon to hear of hunters in the woods in Pennsylvania stumbling on an open well emitting methane as a pollutant — maybe it was drilled 80 or 90 years ago and no one is responsible."

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has documented about 9,000 of those orphaned wells — but estimates the number that need to be capped is in the hundreds of thousands.

"Going through, finding these things, capping them safely," Endres said, is "not only a climate solution but a big job that will require engineers, technicians, people who know how to work safely with open gas wells, people being out in the field to identify, tag them, and assess the priority."

He added, "It's a big problem and a climate liability. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than just carbon emission."

In all, the bipartisan package is a series of "really great first steps" and some "really great second steps," but ones that need to be hurried along soon.

"There's a lot of promising change happening. What we need is the kind of policy and investments that put a little gasoline on that fire of change," he concluded, before adding jokingly, "...Or flip the switch on the solar panels."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

House Freedom Caucus Mounts Doomed Bid To Remove Pelosi

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The far-right wing of the House Republican caucus is demanding the party immediately mount a quixotic bid to remove Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House. They claim the California Democrat is too "authoritarian."

In a letter dated July 23, the House Freedom Caucus asked Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Republican Conference to "bring up a privileged motion by July 31, 2021 to vacate the chair and end Nancy Pelosi's authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House." They ask McCarthy (R-CA) to obtain authorization from the party conference to force a vote on a resolution to remove Pelosi.

Formed in 2015, the Freedom Caucus is a group of hard-line conservative House Republicans. It claims to "support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans." While it does not disclose its roster, dozens of its members have been identified, including its chair, Andy Biggs (AZ), and its vice chair, Jim Jordan (OH).

The letter to McCarthy specifies a handful of grievances against Pelosi, who the group claims is "destroying the House of Representatives and our ability to faithfully represent the people we are here to serve."

First, they charge that she "has championed unconstitutional changes like allowing proxy voting and insulting security metal detectors for Members coming to the floor to vote."

These moves were not unconstitutional. The Constitution expressly grants each chamber the authority to "determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member."

After numerous COVID-19 cases in Congress, the House voted to pass a temporary rule change to allow members to designate a colleague to serve as their proxy if they are "unable to physically attend proceedings in the House chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency."

Republicans initially objected, calling the change a decision by the Democrats to "abandon ship" and filing a federal lawsuit challenging the work-from-home system. A federal judge rejected their case last August, and a three-judge appellate panel unanimously dismissed their appeal on Tuesday — but McCarthy's office said he plans to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

But dozens of House Republicans — including several members of the Freedom Caucus — have taken advantage of the system. Some even used it as an excuse to skip work and attend the CPAC conference in February.

The House also voted to require members to pass through metal detectors after several ignored a prohibition on firearms in the chamber.

The Freedom Caucus' letter also complains of Pelosi's decision not to appoint two GOP members chosen by McCarthy to the select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, as well as the House's February vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from her committee assignments over her racist and bigoted behavior.

"Less easily reversible is the damage done to the institution by the Leadership of one party directing the ability of Members of another party to serve in roles at the direction of their own conference," they wrote, adding that this followed "the intolerable action of unseating another Republican from her committees."

Numerous House members who later joined the Freedom Caucus voted in 2014 to create an earlier select committee to study the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. That committee was appointed at the sole discretion of the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner.

And 200 House Republicans — including most members of the Freedom Caucus — voted this March to remove Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Even if the Freedom Caucus convinces the rest of the House Republicans to force a vote on Pelosi's removal, it is almost certain to fail in the majority-Democratic House.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Voters Overwhelmingly Support Biden Infrastructure Plan As GOP Plots Obstruction

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A day after Senate Republicans blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, a new poll shows about two-thirds of American voters back the framework.

On Thursday, Navigator Research released a survey of 1,000 registered voters, finding 66 percent supported the plan — agreed upon in June by President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators — which would invest $579 billion in transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure. That framework was backed by 86 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and a 46 percent plurality of Republicans.

Although 11 Republican senators agreed on the outlines of a deal in June, every single one of them — and the entire GOP caucus — voted on Wednesday to filibuster a motion to start debate on the bill. Because the motion required a three-fifths supermajority vote, the Democratic majority was stymied in its attempt to even take the plan up for consideration. Attempts to salvage an agreement are ongoing.

So far, Republicans have been unable to reach an agreement on how to pay for the plan. A key funding source in their original framework — expanding Internal Revenue Service enforcement to crack down on rich tax dodgers who underpay what they owe — had to be abandoned due to pushback from GOP senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed agency.

But the Navigator poll showed that this approach is also quite popular.

Asked if they "support or oppose increasing funding for the IRS by $80 billion to crack down on wealthy tax cheats" — an increase that is double the $40 billion in the original bipartisan agreement — 61 percent of respondents said they supported the idea. Just 25 percent were opposed. Democrats backed it 80 percent --8 percent, and independents supported it 55 percent --26 percent. Republicans were almost evenly split, 42 percent for, 44 percent against.

When told that such an investment "could bring in up to $700 billion in tax revenue over the next decade," support increased to 66 percent --21 percent overall — with 85 percent --7 percent among Democrats, and 60 percent -- 20 percent among independents. Even a plurality of Republicans backed the idea, 46 percent -- 36 percent.

Democratic lawmakers and the president are pushing to fund some of the policies that were forced out of the bipartisan infrastructure plan through separate legislation.

Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — passed in March without a single Republican vote — already contained a major 2021 expansion of the child tax credit. Thanks to those provisions, 92 percent of families with children will receive some savings. For millions of families, it also meant monthly payments, beginning on July 15.

Biden proposed an extension in his American Families Plan — much of which is expected to be included in a Democratic "human infrastructure" bill. But with unanimous GOP opposition, it would likely have to be passed through the budget reconciliation process, or by simple majority, without any GOP votes.

The poll found the child tax credit is supported by 56 percent of voters and opposed by 30 percent.

When told that "more than 90 percent of U.S. households with children are eligible" to receive the credit, overall support climbed to 63 percent to 28 percent. That included 82 percent -- 13 percent Democratic support and 61 percent -- 26 percent independent support. Republicans barely opposed it, 44 percent -- 45 percent.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Senators Torpedo Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal They Endorsed

Reprinted with permission from American independent

Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule on Wednesday to block consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure deal — weeks after several of them endorsed the $579 billion package.

Every member of the Democratic Senate majority backed beginning consideration of H.R. 3684, a procedural step needed to debate and pass the bipartisan framework, but because Senate rules require a three-fifths supermajority for this type of legislation, the Republican minority was able to block it.

President Joe Biden proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan in March, asking Congress to improve the nation's transportation, water systems, broadband, clean energy, climate change, and caregiving infrastructure.

On June 16, after lengthy negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators agreedon a deal, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, to invest $579 billion in "core infrastructure" programs only, including transportation, broadband, and water systems.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN) all signed onto a joint statement with 10 members of the Democratic majority, affirming their support for the deal.

"We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation's core infrastructure needs without raising taxes," the statement read. "We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America's critical infrastructure challenges."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) endorsed the plan later that day.

On June 24, Biden signed on to the bipartisan plan and has been urging its passage since.

"We should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on," he said on Monday. "We shook hands on it."

But not long after the agreement, some Republicans began to have second thoughts.

Some objected to acknowledgements by Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress that they would later try to pass some of their other priorities — including the omitted climate change, child care, and caregiving "human infrastructure" provisions — through a separate budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support. Graham complained that this plan amounted to extortion.

They then abandoned one of the key provisions that financed the bipartisan agreement: a crackdown on wealthy tax dodgers who are not currently paying their fair share. Portman said Sunday that they had dropped the provision due to "pushback" from Republican senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed Internal Revenue Service to enforce the tax code.

Again, Graham protested the deal he'd backed, telling Axios on June 30, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to bring up the framework on Wednesday as a way to speed up the bill writing process. "I understand that both sides are working very hard to turn the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will continue to have more time to debate, amend and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to take up this crucial issue," the New York Democrat explained to colleagues on Monday. "But they have been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already, and it's time to begin the debate."

Republicans said they were not ready to move forward.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune — who memorably ran for his seat in 2004 by lambasting the Democratic incumbent for using his position "to slow down, to obstruct, to stop" then-President George W. Bush's agenda — opposed even beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. "I can't say we will have every Republican, but he [Schumer] is not going to get 60," he vowed Monday.

On Wednesday, all of the 11 Republican backers who supported the bipartisan deal previously — along with the rest of the Republican minority — voted against debate on the matter.

Schumer voted "no" as well, for procedural reasons.

"At the end of the vote, I changed my response [from a yes] to a no so that I may move to reconsider this vote at a future time," the majority leader explained, moments after the vote failed, 49 to 51.

Due to Schumer's last-second maneuver, the Senate is still able to reconsider the vote in the future. Alternately, the Democratic majority could simply add the provisions to a budget reconciliation package and pass it with a simple majority, if they can remain united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Right-Wing Poll Shows Democrat Winning Virginia Governor’s Race

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A right-wing group's latest Virginia poll found that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is leading Republican Glenn Youngkin. After the pollster tried to sway voters with a series of fearmongering attacks on McAuliffe, voters still backed the Democrat.

The American Principles Project, a dark-money group led by organizers of the failed anti-marriage equality movement, released a survey on Friday of 600 Virginia voters it deemed likely to participate in this November's election. It found former Gov. McAuliffe leading former investment firm executive Youngkin 46.4 percent -- 41.3 percent.

"Many political observers are already carefully watching Virginia as a bellwether for next year's midterms, and judging from this poll, Republicans should be cautiously excited," the group's president, Terry Schilling, claimed in a press release. "Despite Democrats' recent dominance in the state, Glenn Youngkin looks to be very competitive, thanks to widespread disapproval with the radical left-wing agenda being pushed by President Biden on down."

No Republican has won statewide in Virginia since 2009.

Schilling urged Youngkin and Republicans to put anti-LGBTQ attacks, criticism of the state's public schools, and fearmongering about anti-racism education "front and center" in the campaign.

But the poll's findings undermine much of his argument.

Among those surveyed, Virginians widely approve of President Joe Biden's job performance, 53.9 percent -- 45.2 percent. That number is almost identical to Biden's 54 percent -- 44 percent victory in the state last November.

It also found voters prefer Democratic candidates for the state House of Delegates by a margin of 45.4 percent -- 41.1 percent. Democrats hold a 55-seat majority in that 100-member body.

Though none of the people surveyed said they work for "the Virginia school system," 50.39 percent said they approve of the state's K-12 public schools, while just 35.5 percent disapprove.

When pressed about school reopening during the pandemic, just 44.4 percent said they want schools "fully open without mask mandates for students" for the 2022 school year. The majority (54.9 percent) said either that schools should reopen fully with mask mandates or that schools should keep the option of virtual learning. Youngkin has been pushing for a total return to in-person learning, regardless of COVID-19 safety considerations, since March, well before even most adults in the state were fully vaccinated.

The pollster asked several questions, trying to play up Youngkin's support for public funding for private and parochial schools and his support for a ban on teaching about "Critical Race Theory." But a minority of voters said either issue would make them more likely to support the Republican.

After hearing the group's attacks on McAuliffe, voters were again asked who they'd back. McAuliffe still was ahead 45.8 percent -- 42.9 percent.

In a radio interview on Friday, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam — who is unable to seek reelection under Virginia's one-term-in-a-row limit — called attacks on anti-racism education a "dog whistle" being used "to scare people in an election year."

"Critical race theory," he told WAMU, is "a graduate level academic subject that is not a part of our K through 12 curriculum in Virginia. I'll repeat that. It is not a part of our K through 12 curriculum. And what I'm interested in and what our administration is interested in is teaching an accurate version of our history."

This is not the first time the American Principles Project has tried to inject far-right social issues into political campaigns.

Last year, it spent millions of dollars on ads attacking Democrats over their support for LGBTQ equality.

"Biden and his fellow Democrats have pledged to use the power of the federal government to destroy women's sports and push young children into highly experimental and dangerous sex-change procedures," Schilling claimed in September. "In the coming weeks, we will be making sure voters in Michigan and nationwide know the extreme agenda Joe Biden and Democrats want to impose on the country."

The group devoted half of its $4 million investment in anti-transgender attacks to trying to defeat Biden and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan. Both won anyway.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cruz Compares Vaccination Outreach To Soviet Communism

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) compared President Joe Biden's efforts to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible for all Americans to totalitarian communism on Thursday, becoming the latest congressional Republican to push fear-mongering rhetoric on the subject.

"When the Biden admin calls for 'targeted' 'door-to-door outreach' to get people vaccinated, it comes across as a g-man saying: 'We know you're unvaccinated, let's talk, comrade,'" Cruz tweeted.

"My bill to ban federal vaccine passports prohibits the feds from maintaining a vaccine database," he added.

The term "comrade," used as a greeting, typically refers to a fellow member of the Communist Party, and has long been associated with the Soviet Union.

Contrary to Cruz's assertion, Biden is not launching a Soviet-style attempt to force people to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden explained in a press conference Tuesday that after initially focusing on mass vaccinations, the next step was to make vaccines available to the people who had been resistant to or are still unsure about receiving them, or those unable to get them previously.

"Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus," Biden said. "Look, equity, equality — it remains at the heart of our responsibility of ensuring that communities that are the hardest hit by the virus have the information and the access to get vaccinated."

The strategy is not new. The Department of Health and Human Services' COVID-19 "community corps" have been working since May to send teams in targeted areas to knock on doors to educate people about the shots and sometimes even offer to vaccinate them at home.

Like Cruz, other congressional Republicans have tried to persuade Americans into thinking the vaccination efforts are tyrannical.

On Tuesday, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likened the approach to Nazi "Brownshirts," or paramilitary forces, tweeting, "Biden pushing a vaccine that is NOT FDA approved shows covid is a political tool used to control people. People have a choice, they don't need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can't force people to be part of the human experiment."

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert made a similar comparison. "Biden has deployed his Needle Nazis to Mesa County," she wrote on Thursday. "The people of my district are more than smart enough to make their own decisions about the experimental vaccine and don't need coercion by federal agents. Did I wake up in Communist China?"

Ohio's Rep. Warren Davidson tweeted on Wednesday, "Wait a minute. So the Trump administration can't even ask who is a US citizen -- while doing the census -- but the Biden administration can go door to door to know who isn't vaccinated? This might just be about power to some people…"

"It's NONE of the governments business knowing who has or hasn't been vaccinated," said Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, adding, "In 2021, the nine most terrifying words in the English language: 'I'm from the government, have you been vaccinated yet?'"

The tweet appeared to be a reference to a 1986 news conference during which then-President Ronald Reagan claimed, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, meanwhile, offered a warning, tweeting on Tuesday, "A lot of people have big government antibodies. Don't knock on those doors."

As Cruz and his colleagues discourage efforts to help people get vaccinated, their own constituents are the ones at the greatest risk as the deadly Delta variant spreads across the country.

In recent days, Republican-leaning areas, where far fewer people are immunized, are seeing another spike in coronavirus cases. In Democratic-leaning areas, where vaccination rates are much higher, that appears not to be the case.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday found that 93 percent of Democratic voters say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or plan to be. Just 49 percent of Republicans said the same.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy Decries 'Partisan' Jan. 6 Committee — Which Is Exactly Like Benghazi Panel

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is furiously claiming that a newly authorized select committee to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will be "the least bipartisan committee you can find." But just seven years ago, he voted for a nearly identical investigation into attacks against the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

On Fox News on Thursday night, McCarthy (R-CA) was asked about the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, created last Wednesday by a majority vote in the House of Representatives over his objections.

"Think about the structure. It's not an equal number of Republicans or Democrats," McCarthy complained. "She [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] appointed [Reps.] Adam Schift [sic] and [Jamie] Raskin. This is a impeachment committee. Only Democrats have subpoena power. The speaker has control over anyone who is appointed. She appoints everyone, just with 'consultation' with Republicans."

The process of establishing the committee is indeed set up such that Pelosi determines the membership, with five of the 13 members chosen after consultation with McCarthy; the chair of the committee determines what subpoenas to issue.

But that was modeled closely on the structure of the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, established in 2014 by the then-Republican majority, with the full support of McCarthy, who was GOP whip at the time.

In establishing that panel, too, the House speaker got to appoint 12 members, "five of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader."

For that panel too, the chair had the power "to authorize and issue subpoenas."

Schiff (D-CA) served on the Benghazi committee, as did GOP flamethrowers such as Ohio's Jim Jordan, Donald Trump's future Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and future Fox News host Trey Gowdy.

The Benghazi panel consisted of seven Republicans and five Democrats. Pelosi has already appointed Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney to one of her eight seats, indicating that this panel will likely consist of seven Democrats and six Republicans.

McCarthy's complaint that the committee is not "bipartisan" comes after he and 174 other House Republicans voted on May 19 against a bill that would have created an evenly bipartisan national commission to investigate the attack on Jan. 6, one that would have closely mirrored one contained in a GOP-backed bill as well as the panel created in 2002 to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although majorities in the House and the Senate backed the bill, Republicans in the Senate used a filibuster to block the creation of an independent commission.

A McCarthy spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about what made this an "impeachment committee."

Then-President Trump was impeached for a second time in January by a House vote of 232–197 for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. On Feb. 13, after he had already left office, the Senate acquitted him of the charges, with only 57 senators voting to convict, short of the needed 67.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy Calls Biden ‘Soft On Russia,’ Then Deletes Tweet

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blamed President Joe Biden for recent ransomware attacks originating in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union against businesses and organizations around the world, accusing the Biden administration of being "soft on Russia."

McCarthy's comment, in a tweet that was then deleted but was captured by ProPublica's Politwoops site, comes after years of accepting former President Donald Trump's cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The Biden admin has been soft on Russia since Day 1," McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted. "The President never should have signaled to Putin that hacking against America is acceptable under ANY circumstance." He deleted the tweet 20 minutes later, without explanation.

Following the June 17 summit meeting between Biden and Putin, McCarthy said in a statement, "President Biden should have used today's summit to stand up for our national interests and send a message to the world that the United States will hold Russia accountable for its long list of transgressions. Unfortunately, President Biden gave Vladimir Putin a pass."

By contrast, McCarthy never publicly criticized Trump's support and open admiration for Putin. While the Washington Post reported in 2017 that the GOP leader had told colleagues privately the previous year, "There's two people I think Putin pays: [then-Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump," he later claimed, "It's a bad attempt at a joke; that's all there is to it. No one believes it to be true from any stretch of fact."

In response to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian, McCarthy dismissed the allegations with the repeated phrase "nothing there."

Two other members of his caucus also defended Trump's handling of Putin but are now criticizing Biden's.

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona cheered Trump's 2018 summit with Putin as "a good first step toward normal, diplomatic relations" in a USA Today op-ed.

"Joe Biden talks a tough game on Russia only to sit back as they hurl cyber-attacks at us," he tweeted on Tuesday. "Putin is eating our lunch."

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin excused Trump's public defense of Putin at the 2018 summit, instead scolding journalists for being "extremely unprofessional" by asking Trump if he believed Putin's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. "The intent of it wasn't fact-finding, it was a 'gotcha' question — and not one that should ever have been asked in that setting," Mullin tweeted.

On Wednesday, he tweeted that a ransomware attack against the software company Kaseya was "a direct result of President Biden failing to hold Russia accountable."

This is not the first time pro-Trump lawmakers have tried to frame Biden as weak on Russia.

In May, after Biden approved a request from the German government to waive sanctions against a business building an oil pipeline between Russia and Germany, House Republicans suggested he must be "a Russian asset" or that Putin must "have" something on him.

The recent Republican criticisms come after a growing number of cyberattacks have been launched, seemingly by Russians hackers, against businesses across the globe. A similar attack on an oil and gas pipeline in May slowed fossil fuel deliveries along the East Coast for several days.

In June, Biden expressly told Putin to stop the hacking.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned, "If the Russian government cannot or will not take action against criminal actors residing in Russia, we will take action or reserve the right to take action on our own."

Biden's public criticism of the Russian regime has been a sharp shift from his predecessor's approach.

Trump repeatedly said that getting along with Russia would be a "good" thing.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump openly sought help from Putin with opposition research against Hillary Clinton. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," he said at a July press conference.

Weeks earlier, high-ranking Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., had met with Russia officials who offered dirt on Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

After Russia's efforts to help Trump win came to light, he repeatedly defended Putin, falsely saying that Putin did not meddle on his behalf and dismissing the unanimous findings of his own intelligence agencies.

In a February 2017 Fox News appearance, Trump was asked why he respected a known "killer" like Putin. Trump responded, "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Downplay Delta Variant Dangers — And Discourage Vaccination

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republicans are dismissing concerns that deadly coronavirus variants might bring new spikes as fear-mongering. But they are also discouraging the vaccines that could protect their constituents.

"No one cares about the Delta Variant or any other variant. They are over covid & there is no amount of fear based screaming from the media that will ever force Americans to shut down again," tweeted Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday. "Forced masks and vaccines will cause Dems to lose big. All voters are over covid."

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted charts to suggest that the Delta variant, which fueled major case spikes in India and is rapidly becoming the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States, is not all that scary.

"Don't let the fearmongers win," demanded Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. "New public England study of delta variant shows 44 deaths out of 53,822 (.08%) in unvaccinated group. Hmmm."

Though less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and children under age 12 are not yet able to get any coronavirus inoculation, GOP lawmakers have pushed to lift all safety measures.

"Fully vaccinated Americans should be able to return to normal," wroteTennessee Rep. Diane Harshbarger last Monday, urging an end to mask requirements on airplanes.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz agreed, bragging that he had backed legislation to lift the requirement and complaining that "every Dem" on the Commerce Committee voted against it.

"I joined my colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to end mask mandates for vaccinated Americans on planes and public transportation," wrote Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Friday. "There'='s simply no science backing up this mandate. Wyoming citizens are ready to get back to life as normal."

After Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top epidemiologist, suggested he would wear a mask in areas with low vaccination rates as an extra precaution, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas claimed that his "flip-flop is what causes low vaccination rates — Americans feel like they're being lied to."

"I agree w/ @CDCgov, the vaccine is effective against Delta Variant," he added. "Masks not warranted if you're vaccinated."

But while vaccines have drastically reduced coronavirus cases and severity for those who actually get them, they are not 100 percent effective. In Israel, the health ministry reported Sunday that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine was about 64 percent at preventing infection in June — as the Delta variant became increasingly common there.

Contrary to Greene's suggestion that the nation no longer cares about the COVID-19 pandemic, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday found 73 percent of Americans believe "more people need to get the vaccine to help stop the spread" of the virus. Just 22% believe community spread "is so low that there is no need for more people to get the vaccine."

But many Americans are still refusing to get vaccinated — and the divide appears to mirror political leanings. Of the 20 states that met President Joe Biden's target of having 70 percent of their adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, every one was a state that voted for the Democrat in the 2020 presidential election. The states with the lowest vaccination rates nearly all voted for the Republican.

Making matters worse, some Republican legislators have actively discouraged people from getting vaccinated.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin held a news conference last Monday to warn against the very rare side effects of the coronavirus vaccines by highlighting a handful of people who say they were harmed by them.

"But instead of encouraging more people to get vaccinated so we can be rid of this plague once and for all, Johnson has chosen to use his taxpayer-financed megaphone to draw attention to a vanishingly small number of people who believe they suffered a serious side effect," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board wrote last Wednesday.

They called him the "most irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens since the infamous Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s."

Massie and several of his fellow House Republicans have also opposed efforts to vaccinate all members of the military.

"I've been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated," he tweeted Saturday. "I introduced HR 3860 to prohibit any mandatory requirement that a member of the Armed Forces receive a vaccination against COVID-19."

Service members are not allowed to abandon their jobs — doing so during their contract is a crime punishable by up to five years of confinement.

This is not the first time Republicans have minimized the threat of the virus and attacked those trying to curb its spread. Then-President Donald Trump admitted in February 2020 that he knew the coronavirus was deadly and that he mislead the nation intentionally because he "wanted to always play it down."

While the number of daily cases and deaths has dropped significantly since Trump left office, the pandemic is not over. More than 11,000 Americans tested positive for the virus on Monday; almost 200 died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Oppose More IRS Audits Of Super-Rich Tax Evaders

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A provision in the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill announced on June 24 would provide for investing more money in enforcement of laws targeting top earners who evade payment of taxes. Republican senators are furious.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third-ranking member of the minority party leadership, told Axios on Wednesday that "spending $40 billion to super-size the IRS is very concerning." "Law-abiding Americans deserve better from their government than an army of bureaucrats snooping through their bank statements," he said.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn warned of "a huge potential for abuse": "Bigger government results in more waste, fraud, and abuse."

"Throwing billions more taxpayer dollars at the IRS will only hurt Americans struggling to recover after waves of devastating lockdowns," said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. "Instead of increasing funding for the IRS, we should abolish the damn place."

Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who backed the bipartisan framework, complained, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted on May 17, this year's Tax Day, "Im all for catching tax cheats +closing tax gap BUT Biden plan 2pump more $ into IRS & expand bank reporting is ripe for overreach + imposes more burdens on small biz/family farms."

Earlier in the year, Biden introduced the American Jobs Plan, a $2.25 trillion transportation, climate, water, broadband, child care, and caregiving infrastructure package, and the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion package investment in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care. He proposed funding the plans by raising tax rates on corporations and those earning $400,000 or more and by spending $80 million more to enforce existing tax laws.

Republicans unanimously opposed the plans, drawing what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called a "red line" against any tax increases for wealthy Americans or businesses.

Instead, a group of 10 Republican and Democratic senators agreed on a plan to boost enforcement by half of Biden's initial request to help fund $567 billion in new transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure spending. They proposed that the rest of the funding would come from sources that would include petroleum sales, wireless spectrum auctions, and unused 2020 relief funds.

The White House says $40 billion in spending to improve tax law enforcement would more than pay for itself, bringing in $140 billion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it would bring in $103 billion over a decade. All of this is money already owed to the government under existing tax law.

"There's just a ton of money out there that we're not collecting," former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told the Washington Post on Friday. "Why don't we collect some of that before we raise taxes on the people that are already paying?"

In recent years, the IRS has had to cut back on enforcing the law due to massive budget reductions. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2010 and 2018, the budget for enforcement dropped 24%, the number of enforcement personnel drop 31%, and the audit rate for millionaires dropped 61%.

"The steep decline in audits for high-income individuals stemming from IRS underfunding means that low- and moderate-income households claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are now audited at roughly the same rate as the top 1 percent of filers," Chye-Ching Huang — then the senior director of economic policy with the Center — told the House Ways and Means Committee in February 2020.

An April report by the Center for American Progress noted that while recent official estimates suggest the United States loses about $600 billion a year in unpaid revenue "on April 13, 2021, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress that he believes the United States is losing much more revenue—possibly $1 trillion or more every year."

Seth Hanlon, one of the report's authors, told The American Independent Foundation in May that smarter IRS enforcement would mean more compliance for the richest Americans — but fewer audits for everyone else.

"The whole point is it will let the IRS target audits in a smarter way, so honest people are gonna be less likely to be audited. People earning under $400,000 — as long as they're tax compliant — are gonna be less likely to be audited. The audit rate for those earning under $400,000 won't go up," he said.

Polling show strong popular support for making sure richer Americans pay their fair share. An April Monmouth University poll found 65% support for funding Biden's spending proposals with increased revenue from those making more than $400,000, compared to 33% opposition.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Fighting To Keep Confederate Statuary In Capitol

Reprinted with permission from American independent

A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to remove monuments to prominent racists and Confederate traitors from display in the U.S. Capitol. But a group of 12 House Republicans wants to give a state's congressional delegation the authority to veto the removal of its home state's statues.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) filed a bill on Tuesday to "prohibit the removal of a statue provided by a State for display in National Statuary Hall unless two-thirds of the members of the State's congressional delegation approve the removal."

Republican Reps. Brian Babin (TX), Mo Brooks (AL), Ted Budd (NC), Rick Crawford (AR), Jeff Duncan (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Kevin Hern (OK), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Steve Womack (AR) are original co-sponsors.

Under current rules, each state may select two statues of its own notable historical figures to be displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The 100 statues are displayed in National Statuary Hall and other locations throughout the Capitol building.

Current honorees include Thomas Edison, Dwight Eisenhower, Helen Keller, Ronald Reagan, Will Rogers, Sakakawea (also known as Sacagawea), and George Washington. But they also include several former Confederate leaders and prominent racists, such as white supremacist and former North Carolina Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock, slavery defender and former Vice President John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina, and white supremacist and former Arkansas Sen. James Paul Clarke.

H.R. 3005, which passed in the House by a vote of 285-120, would require those states that currently display statues honoring individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America to remove and replace them. It would also require removal of the statues of Aycock, Calhoun, and Clarke.

Norman and his 11 co-sponsors of H.R. 4234 were among the 120 representatives, all Republicans, who voted against the bill.

Though those voting yes included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and 65 other Republicans, Brooks railed againstH.R. 3005 in a press statement titled "CONGRESSMAN MO BROOKS DEFENDS STATES' RIGHTS, RIPS INTOLERANT SOCIALISTS WHO SEEK TO TAKE DOWN CAPITOL STATUES THEY DON'T LIKE."

"Just as it would be wrong for Alabama and other states to dictate to New York and California who they must honor, it is similarly wrong and repulsive for New York, California, or other states to dictate to Alabama who we must honor," Brooks said. "I reject cancel culture and historical revisionism. ... Alabama, not New Yorkers, Californians, or anyone else, should decide who we wish to honor in Alabama's contribution to the National Statuary Collection. Socialist Democrat states should butt out!"

Brooks, Budd, Crawford, Duncan, Gaetz, Greene, Norman, and Womack each represent states whose statues would have to be removed should the Senate pass the bill and President Joe Biden sign it.

But if Norman's proposal passed, a 34 percent minority of a single state's delegation could block the removal of a statue, subverting majority rule in the House and even within the delegation itself.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Big Majority Supports Biden Spending Plans, Bipartisan Or Not

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More than three-fifths of likely voters want Congress to pass President Joe Biden's spending plans, even if the Democratic majority has to do so without a single Republican vote, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress for Invest in America, which campaigns for public investment in infrastructure, was released Tuesday. It found 62 percent support for passage of Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan through the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass taxation and spending bills by a simple majority vote.

Such a move is backed by 86 percent of Democratic voters, 59 percent of independents, and 36 percent of Republicans.

"Our polling w/ @DataProgress shows voters don't care about process, they care about results," tweeted Invest in America. "The bipartisan deal is a solid first step — but a majority of voters still support passing the rest of the American Jobs and Families Plans through reconciliation."

Congressional Republicans have tried to block a reconciliation package, objecting to the "partisan" process and saying it amounted to "caving" to the "left-wing base."

Biden proposed the American Jobs Plan in March, recommending a $2.25 trillion investment in bridges, roads, water systems, transit, clean energy, broadband, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. In April, he proposed the American Families Plan, which would invest $1.8 trillion in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care.

Not a single Republican in Congress backed either proposal, despite the wide popularity of both with the American public.

Biden and bipartisan group of senators struck a deal on June 24 on $579 billion in new spending on transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure.

Democratic leaders made it clear that in order to pass that agreement, Congress would also have to pass a separate package containing funding for climate and human infrastructure that was removed from the bill during negotiations.

But when Biden suggested that both bills would be necessary, Republicans claimed to be outraged.

"The two top Democrats literally pulled the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators with these unserious demands before they'd even made it to the White House," complained Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "An expression of bipartisanship, and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base."

Biden clarified on June 26 that he was not threatening to veto the bipartisan infrastructure plan, but hoped to see both it and the rest of the funding pass in tandem.

Now McConnell (R-KY) is trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into skipping Biden's other priorities, suggesting that insisting on passing them together with the infrastructure bill amounted to holding the latter "hostage over a separate and partisan process."

"Unless Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi walk-back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism, then President Biden's walk-back of his veto threat would be a hollow gesture," McConnell said Monday.

But McConnell has not even backed the bipartisan infrastructure deal and was not involved in the negotiations. Negotiations he did back, between Biden and a GOP group led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, broke down in early June after the Republicans refused to offer more than a small fraction of the new infrastructure spending the White House requested.

While McConnell and his colleagues have attacked Biden's proposed investments as unneeded socialism, the Data for Progress poll suggests those arguments are not working: 58 percent of those surveyed said the nation should invest more "to spur job creation and boost the economy after the coronavirus pandemic," while just 33 percent said it should wait "over concerns about the economy overheating and inflation."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Blocked Bipartisan Jan. 6 Investigation -- But Now They Demand One

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

One month after congressional Republicans blocked a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection, congressional Republicans are demanding a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

The House in May passed by a vote of 252-175 a bill that would have created a bipartisan commission modeled on the one that investigated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The bill, the result of a compromise between Republican Rep. John Katko of New York and Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, was nearly identical to a January GOP proposal. It would have established an outside panel with an even number of Democratic and Republican appointees.

But just 35 Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for it after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to support it and Donald Trump instructed Republican lawmakers to block the legislation.

Days later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he and his Republican caucus would filibuster the bill. "I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts, or promote healing," he said in a Senate floor speech. "Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that."

On May 28, 44 Senate Republicans stopped the bill from coming up for a vote.

Up against the GOP's intransigence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced legislation on Monday to create a House special committee to investigate the January insurrection.

Her proposal, likely to come up for a vote on Wednesday, would establish the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Pelosi would appoint 13 representatives to the committee, five of them "after consultation with the minority leader."

"When it comes to what happened on January 6, we want to get to the bottom of that; it's disgusting what transpired that day," McCarthy said on June 24. "Unfortunately, the speaker has always played politics with this. Time and again."

"I led the charge to create a January 6th commission that would be external, independent, bipartisan & equitable in membership and subpoena power. The select committee proposed by Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is literally the exact opposite of that," Katko said in a statement on Monday. "It would be a turbo-charged partisan exercise, not an honest fact-finding body that the American people and Capitol Police deserve."

"Unfortunately we suspected this would happen if it didn't survive," said Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Tuesday. "I won't vote for the Pelosi bill."

"I supported the 1/6 commission last month because it gave Republicans an equal seat at the table. Speaker Pelosi's partisan commission put forward last night cuts Republicans out of the process," wrote Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez. "I never have, and I never will, support a partisan and politicized investigation."

"Instead of working with Republicans to actually make a bipartisan commission, @SpeakerPelosi is now creating a select committee to investigate January 6th," tweeted Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan on June 22. "Let me tell you straight, this isn't about getting answers, this is all politics."

"I'm voting no on the bill because it's not going to do what we need," said Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. "I want something the American people can believe, and find credible. And the only way to do that I believe is a 9/11 style commission which I voted for."

"Sadly, as of last week, there remains no prospect for additional votes from Republican Senators to create the National Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Complex," Pelosi said in a Monday press statement.

"It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure such an attack cannot again happen," she wrote. "The Select Committee will investigate and report upon the facts and causes of the attack and report recommendations for preventing any future assault."

A Pelosi aide told the Washington Post on Monday, "The speaker is seriously considering including a Republican among her eight appointments to the Select Committee."

Though McClain is now opposing the legislation that would establish the committee as too partisan, she also voted against the bipartisan independent commission based on the same argument.

"While both Republicans and Democrats will be equally represented on the commission itself, the Democratic chairman gets to approve all hires of staff," she claimed at the time, ignoring language in the bill that explicitly said staff would be selected after bipartisan consultation. "This almost guarantees the commission will be stacked with biased investigators who will have a predetermined conclusion," McClain said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Senate Republicans Whining Over Biden’s ‘Two-Track’ Infrastructure Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Republicans are upset that President Joe Biden plans to enact other spending legislation after striking a deal with them on infrastructure.

The infrastructure deal calls for about $579 billion in new spending on transportation, water systems, power, and broadband infrastructure. It does not include most of the climate change, child care, and caregiving funding — described as "human infrastructure" — that Biden requested in his original $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan.

Democrats plan to enact some of these priorities separately — as well as the health care, paid leave, and educational investments from Biden's American Families Plan— through the budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support.

Biden, who ran on campaign promises to enact such legislation, said Thursday he plans to sign the packages together. While most bills — including the bipartisan infrastructure deal — require a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, a loophole allows passage of some taxation and spending legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented soon after that Biden was "caving completely" to the "left-wing base" by doing both.

"Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it," McConnell (R-KY) complained, referencing Biden's statement that he would not sign one bill without the other. "It was a tale of two press conferences — endorse the agreement in one breath and threaten to veto it in the next."

McConnell was not part of the bipartisan negotiations or the infrastructure deal that was eventually struck. His endorsed GOP negotiating team — led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — was unable to reach an agreement previously after they offered only a fraction of the new spending Biden had requested.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) had similar complaints. "Democrat [sic] leaders, including the president, have undermined their own negotiators and the Republicans who've been negotiating in good faith," he tweeted. "They're holding bipartisanship hostage for partisanship."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) suggested that the deal was really "no deal" because Biden also planned to enact a reconciliation package. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Politico he would oppose the infrastructure plan because Biden's decision to push other legislation separately somehow amounted to extortion.

"The Dems are being told you can't get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I'm not playing that game," he said.

Biden, meanwhile, has been clear throughout the process that the infrastructure package is not his only priority and that this deal did not preclude a reconciliation package.

In initial remarks after meeting with the bipartisan group on Thursday morning, Biden told reporters "there is going to be a two-track system" for the two spending plans.

In an afternoon press conference, he noted that this had always been the plan.

"The bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there was going to have to be the second part of it," he said. "I'm not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts. And all three parts are equally important."

"The question is: How much can we get done? And the bottom line is: When all is said and done, does what you agree to preclude, forever, you getting the things you really want?" he added. "Well, I'm not for that. I'm not going to vote for one of those deals."

As long as Democrats stay united, the GOP will have little power to stop those plans.

Democratic senators from across the political spectrum have indicated that they are on board with passing a major "human infrastructure" bill through the reconciliation process.

"I've come to the knowledge, basically, that budget reconciliation is for reconciling budgets. So it's money matters," West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a staunch holdout on many of Biden's more progressive-leaning policies, told NBC News, while endorsing such a package.

"I think we can, we can make that happen. It's going to be either both or nothing," Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders told reporters, noting that the reconciliation package must address "the needs of working families, climate change and progressive tax reform."

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) concurred. "Ultimately there's two tracks, and both trains have to arrive at the station at the same time," he said, according to NBC News.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.