Posts tagged with "Politico"

Congress clears major aviation policy bill, after months of delays

May 17, 2024

The House voted on Wednesday, May 15, to send the biggest aviation bill in five years to President Joe Biden’s desk, reports Politico.

The bill, H.R. 3935, cleared on a 387-26 vote, would inject $105 billion into the Federal Aviation Administration over five years and guide policy for everything from drones and air taxis, to technology intended to help planes avoid runway collisions.

It will also add five long-haul, round-trip flights a day to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, despite objections from D.C.-area lawmakers.

However, it contains no significant provisions to clamp down on oversight of Boeing, whose quality control problems have spiraled since a door panel blew off mid-air on one of its 737 MAX 9 jets in January.

The House vote followed Senate passage last week—capping off months of deliberations that forced four short-term extensions before Congress came to a deal.

Lawmakers who oversee transportation policy hailed the bill. During a floor speech on Wednesday, the chair of the House Transportation Committee, Representative Sam Graves (R-Missouri), said the bill “is critical to ensuring America remains the global leader in aviation”—calling it “vital to our economy to millions of American jobs, and to the millions of passengers that depend on our national aviation system and airspace system every single day.”

 The legislation would order changes to the way air traffic control facilities are staffed, in an effort to halt decades-long staffing shortages that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those shortages, along with stress and fatigue, have been implicated in some recent near-collisions on runways nationwide.

It also would mandate technology at more airports intended to help pilots, air traffic controllers, and other workers keep better track of ground equipment and other planes on increasingly busy runways and taxiways. Some of the recent rash of near-misses have involved ground equipment that has fouled runways or otherwise been in places pilots were not expecting.

It also would add five round-trip long-haul flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a contentious provision that forced a last-minute scuffle in the Senate. The fight, which has ranged over the last several months, has pitted lawmakers mostly from the West and South against lawmakers from Virginia and Maryland who opposed the flights, along with competing airlines that embraced one side or the other.

That fight over adding flights at Congress’ favorite airport delayed passage in the Senate long enough that Congress enacted a fourth stopgap last week that will run through May 17, giving the House an extra week to act just in case.

Research contact: @politico

Biden hails foreign aid bill’s passage, pledges to get arms shipped within ‘hours’

April 24, 2024

On Wednesday, April 24, President Joe Biden praised the passage of the long-awaited $95 billion aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan—and pledged that the money would quickly move to its intended destinations, reports Politico.

Speaking hours after the conclusion of months of a painstaking congressional standoff, the president was both celebratory and stern. He argued that the bill should have been done sooner and warned about what could have happened had it not been passed at all.

He also said that the fresh aid reaffirmed America’s support of Ukrainehighlighting the threats facing Kyiv. The United States, he added, will begin sending the first shipment of equipment, including air defense munitions, artillery, rocket systems and armored vehicles, in “a few hours.”

Biden also said the bill included “vital” support for Israel, noting that its passage comes less than two weeks after Iran launched an unsuccessful attack on the country. But he added that the bill will also increase humanitarian assistance to the “innocent people of Gaza,” warning that Israel must ensure the support reaches Palestinians without delay.

The remarks were a watershed moment for Biden—one not many in Washington expected just months ago. The national security supplement helps fill out his foreign policy agenda and its passage reaffirms his ability to see difficult legislation through a divided Congress.

“It’s a good day for America. It’s a good day for Europe. It’s a good day for world peace,” Biden said, speaking from the State Dining Room.

“It’s going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer. And it continues America’s leadership in the world,” he continued. “When our allies are stronger—and I want to make this point again and again—when our allies are stronger, we are stronger.”

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the package on Tuesday night after months of partisan disputes and questions about whether the United States would continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s assault. In addition to the foreign aid elements, the legislation also includes a provision requiring that the Chinese-government-tied company that owns the social media app TikTok either sell it or be banned from operating in the United States.

The White House first sent its foreign aid supplemental to the Hill more than six months ago. It spent months trying to secure the aid, ultimately agreeing to tough border policy changes as an incentive to get Republican votes. That compromise faltered after former President Donald Trump urged GOP lawmakers to vote against it. But on Wednesday, Biden pledged to push for it again.

“There’s one thing this bill does not do: border security,” Biden said. “Just this year, I proposed and negotiated and agreed to the strongest border security bill this country has ever, ever, ever seen. It was bipartisan. It should have been included in this bill. And I’m determined to get it done for the American people. And we’ll come back to that another moment, another time.”

The president thanked House Speaker Mike Johnson, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—noting that Congress has been able to come together on “critical issues” over the last three years.

Tuesday’s vote was a victory for Democrats and defense-minded Republicans, although a faction of the party remains enraged with party leadership for moving forward with the bill.

While Ukraine’s leadership praised passage of the bill, the country is still recovering from months of setbacks. Biden again argued on Wednesday that the fight in Ukraine extends well beyond Kyiv. If Russian President Vladimir Putin moves beyond Ukraine, the next attack could be against a NATO ally, he warned.

“We should take a little bit of a step back and realize what a critical moment this was, for the United States and for NATO,” Biden said. “This is an historical moment.”

Research contact: @politico

Judge denies Trump’s latest bid to delay hush-money trial

April 10, 2024

On Tuesday, April 9, a New York appeals court judge denied Donald Trump’s effort to delay next week’s criminal trial while the former president appeals a gag order imposed on him, reports Politico.

Associate Justice Cynthia Kern of the appeals court rejected Trump’s bid to push back the start of the trial, set to begin April 15, on charges he falsified business records in an effort to conceal a hush money payment intended to silence a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election.

Trump had filed the request to delay the trial on Monday, making a last-ditch effort to adjourn the proceedings by arguing against a gag order imposed last month by the judge overseeing the criminal case, Justice Juan Merchan. The gag order bars Trump from attacking “reasonably foreseeable witnesses,” as well as lawyers working on the case, court staff or their families.

Last week, Merchan expanded the order to bar Trump from attacking the family members of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the judge himself, after Trump publicly assailed Merchan’s adult daughter.

Kern’s decision means that Trump’s request will now be heard by a full panel of five appeals court judges, but that almost certainly won’t happen before the planned start of the trial. Kern’s decision set out a schedule that stretches into May for the lawyers to submit court filings for the full panel.

Her decision also comes one day after another appeals court judge rejected a separate attempt by Trump to delay the trial on different grounds—asking for the trial to be postponed until after his request to move the case out of Manhattan is resolved.

Research contact: @politico

Judge slaps expanded gag order on Trump after attacks on his daughter

April 3, 2024

Justice Juan Merchan expanded the existing gag order ahead of this month’s hush money trial in Manhattan to cover family members of the district attorney and the judge himself, reports Politico.

The New York judge has tightened restrictions on what Donald Trump can say in the lead-up to his criminal trial later this month. Trump’s trial, over allegations he broke the law by paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged sexual encounter with her, will start in two weeks.

The move comes after Trump attacked the adult daughter of Justice Merchan, who had issued a gag order last week barring Trump from attacking court staff and prosecutors. It shows Merchan, who is presiding over Trump’s first criminal trial, isn’t shy about clamping down on rhetoric from Trump that he views as incendiary.

In his order, Merchan lambasted Trump’s latest rhetoric: “The average observer, must now, after hearing Defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well,” he wrote. “Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.”

Reached for comment on Monday evening, Steven Cheung, the communications director for Trump’s campaign, called the order “unconstitutional” and said it violates “the civil rights” of his social media followers, who “have a First Amendment right to receive and listen to his speech.”

Over the weekend, Trump dubbed Merchan’s daughter a “Rabid Trump Hater” for her work at a firm that has Democratic clients. He also accused her of using a picture of him in jail as her profile picture on a social media account, but a court official said another person had taken over the account when that picture was added.

Trump’s attacks on Merchan’s daughter are part of a pattern. In two other court cases over the past six months, judges have imposed gag orders barring Trump from going after witnesses and court employees. But Trump has instead attacked the judges and some of their family members—who were exempted from the other gag orders, which judges can deploy to protect the safety of people involved in the case.

Research contact: @politico

Trump can’t post $464M bond in New York civil case, lawyers say

March 20, 2024

Former President Donald Trump told an appellate court in New York City on Monday, March 18, that he can’t obtain a bond for the full amount of the civil fraud judgment against him—more than $450 million, including interest—raising the possibility that the state Attorney General’s Office could begin to seize his assets unless the court agrees to halt the judgment while the former president appeals the verdict, reports Politico.

Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing that “ongoing diligent efforts have proven that a bond in the judgment’s full amount is a ‘practical impossibility,’” adding that those efforts “have included approaching about 30 surety companies through four separate brokers.”

When a defendant appeals a civil judgment, the defendant can prevent collection efforts while the appeal proceeds by either posting the full amount into an escrow fund or securing a third-party bond to guarantee the full amount.

Trump’s deadline for doing so is March 25, unless the appeals court agrees to either stop the judgment or allow him to post a bond for a smaller amount.

Trump previously told the appellate court that he doesn’t have the cash to prevent the enforcement of the judgment.

Late last month, an appeals court judge denied Trump’s request to pause the enforcement of the judgment for widespread business fraud. A full panel of the New York appeals court—known as the First Department of the Appellate Division—now is considering whether to halt the judgment while Trump pursues his appeal.

Trump’s lawyers have offered that Trump could post a $100 million bond—far less than what would typically be needed to stave off enforcement of the judgment. James’s office has opposed that proposal.

In their filing Monday, Trump’s lawyers said the defendants—including Trump, his adult sons, their business associates, and several of Trump’s companies—lacked the cash to secure a bond for the more than $464 million they collectively owe.

“A bond requirement of this enormous magnitude—effectively requiring cash reserves approaching $1 billion—is unprecedented for a private company,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

They told the appellate court that “very few bonding companies will consider a bond of anything approaching that magnitude,” and that the ones that will won’t accept real estate as collateral, instead requiring “cash or cash equivalents (such as marketable securities).”

They added that obtaining funds “through a ‘fire sale’ of real estate holdings would inevitably result in massive, irrecoverable losses—textbook irreparable injury.”

Research contact: @politico

Schumer calls for new government, ‘course corrections’ by Israel

March 15, 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is calling for new elections in Israel—describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as an “obstacle to peace” amid his country’s ongoing war in Gaza, reports Politico.

Schumer—the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history—urged Israel to “do better,” citing the estimated tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties caused by the Netanyahu government’s military offensive aimed at neutralizing the terrorist group Hamas.

He said that Israel “must make some significant course corrections” as the conflict nears the half-year mark.

“The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7,” Schumer said in floor remarks. “The world has changed—radically—since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

Schumer said if the Netanyahu government remains in power the U.S. would need to play “a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course” and that President Joe Biden’s Administration should ensure U.S. assistance to Israel is “aligned with our broader goal of achieving long-term peace and stability in the region.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quick to blast Schumer’s “unprecedented” criticism of Netanyahu.

It is grotesque and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of a democratically elected leader of Israel,” the Kentucky Republican said on the floor after Schumer spoke. “Make no mistake: The Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem. It has an anti-Israel problem.”

He wasn’t alone. Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog criticized Schumer’s remarks in a post on X: “It is unhelpful, all the more so as Israel is at war against the genocidal terror organization Hamas, to comment on the domestic political scene of a democratic ally. It is counterproductive to our common goals.”

Schumer’s remarks amount to a forceful rebuke from a staunch ally of Israel. They follow a tougher tack toward Netanyahu from Biden in recent days, although progressives have demanded even stronger U.S. action against the prime minister.

Schumer, whom opposed the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, identified four obstacles to peace in the region: Hamas, “radical right-wing Israelis in government and society,” Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas—whom he called upon to step aside as well.

“For there to be any hope of peace in the future, Abbas must step down and be replaced by a new generation of Palestinian leaders who will work towards attaining peace with a Jewish state,” Schumer said.

Schumer, who visited the region shortly after the October 7 terrorist attacks, said the United States must forcefully pursue a two-state solution and let that goal drive diplomatic positioning.

“We should not be forced into a position of unequivocally supporting the actions of an Israeli government that includes bigots who reject the idea of a Palestinian state,” Schumer said.

“I’m anguished that the Israeli war campaign has killed so many innocent Palestinians. I know that my fellow Jewish Americans feel the same anguish when they see the images of dead and starving children—and destroyed homes,” Schumer said.

“We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them,” he added.

Research contact: @politico

Democrat Dean Phillips drops out of 2024 presidential race

March 7, 2024

Representative Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) has announced that he is suspending his campaign following a poor showing on Super Tuesday, reports Politico.

His decision puts an end to a campaign that attacked President Joe Biden’s age and electability but failed to draw substantial support from Democratic voters. Phillips said he was endorsing Biden’s reelection.

“Clearly and convincingly Democratic primary voters have opined that I’m not that guy,” he told The Chad Hartman Show on WCCO talk radio in Minneapolis.

Although Phillips didn’t back away from some of his criticisms of the president, he did argue that it was a fundamental necessity to keep him in the White House.

“I invite, I encourage and will do everything humanly possible to ensure Joe Biden’s reelection this November,” he said.

Phillips’ strategy depended on a better-than-expected showing in New Hampshire’s January contest, but he earned just under 20% there, and sputtered in South Carolina and many states after. His decision to challenge Biden in the first place transformed him from a rising star in Congress into a pariah with much of the Democratic Party, which saw his candidacy as an act of sabotage.

Phillips, an heir to a liquor fortune, put $5 million of his own funds into the race. Two super PACs backing Phillips’ candidacy spent a combined $3.9M on independent expenditures, with the bulk of that targeting New Hampshire. But the campaign pulled back spending and resources following his poor showing in South Carolina.

He jumped into the race in October—arguing that while he respected Biden, the president was at serious risk of losing to former President Donald Trump. As the campaign went on, Phillips became more critical of Biden and the Democratic Party. But Phillips gained no traction, even as Biden’s general-election polling against Trump looks increasingly bleak.

Phillips seemed to oscillate throughout the race between appealing to the left and the party’s center. He signed onto a Medicare-for-All bill and criticized Biden for not embracing marijuana legalization. At the same time, he knocked Biden from the right on issues such as border security.

That mixed approach, along with his reputation as a moderate Democrat who was a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, left many progressives distrustful of Phillips.

Phillips briefly flirted with appearing on the third-party “No Labels” ticket. However, his chief strategist later said that would not happen and Phillips, himself, walked it back.

During his campaign, Phillips announced that he would not seek reelection to the House. On Wednesday, he also said he “won’t run for office in Minnesota again.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by billions of dollars, says New York AG

September  1, 2023

Donald Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion per year, New York State officials said in court filings unsealed on Wednesday, August 30,  ahead of his upcoming civil fraud trial, reports Politico.

The new estimates came in filings from the New York State Attorney General’s office, which is suing Trump, some of his adult children and his business empire for falsifying his net worth in an effort to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurance companies.

The trial is set to begin on Monday, October 2.

As part of its motion for partial summary judgment in the case, the attorney general’s office provided an estimated range of how much Trump had fraudulently inflated his net worth—saying he falsely boosted it by between $812 million to $2.2 billion (or 17%-39%) in each year from 2011 to 2021.

A lawyer for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The lawsuit accuses Trump and his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, of creating more than 200 misleading evaluations of the company’s finances, as well as other forms of misrepresentation. For example, the lawsuit alleges that Trump falsely inflated the square footage of his apartment from 11,000 to 30,000, resulting in him declaring the apartment to be worth $327 million. That estimate would make the apartment worth significantly more than any apartment ever sold in New York City, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Letitia James last year, seeks $250 million in damages and a lifetime bar on the Trumps from serving as officers or directors in any New York companies.

Research contact: @politico

GOP, McCarthy on collision course over expunging Trump’s impeachments

July 25, 2023

House Republicans increasingly find themselves on a collision course over efforts to expunge the impeachments of former President Donald Trump—a battle that pits hardline conservatives who are pressing for a vote against moderates who already are warning GOP leaders that they’ll reject it, reports The Hill.

The promised opposition from centrist Republicans all but ensures that the resolutions would fail if they hit the floor. And it puts Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in a no-win situation.

If he doesn’t stage the vote, he risks the ire of Trump and his allies. If he does, the measures would be shot down—validating Trump’s impeachments just as his legal troubles are piling up.

The issue is just the latest in a long string of debates challenging McCarthy’s ability to keep his conference united while Trump—the GOP’s presidential front-runner who’s also facing two criminal indictments—hovers in the background.

The expungement concept is hardly new. A group of House Republicans—including Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (New York)—introduced legislation last month designed to erase Trump’s impeachments from the historical record.

But the debate reached new heights last week, when Politico reported that McCarthy—after suggesting publicly that Trump is not the strongest contender for the GOP presidential nomination—raced to make amends, in part by promising to vote on expungement before the end of September.

McCarthy has denied he ever made such a promise. But the denial only magnified the issue in the public eye—and amplified the conservative calls for the Speaker to bring the measure for a vote. 

“It should definitely come to the floor and be expunged,” said Representative Byron Donalds (R-Florida), a member of the Freedom Caucus and vocal Trump ally.

“I’m hoping to see it get done before August recess,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) a lead sponsor of one of the resolutions, told reporters, later adding that “these are impeachments that should’ve never happened, and so we would like to expunge them.”

The expungement push is anathema to many moderate Republicans—particularly those facing tough reelections in competitive districts, who are treading carefully not to link themselves too closely with Trump.

Some of those lawmakers are already vowing to vote against the measure if it hits the floor—all but guaranteeing its failure given the Republicans’ narrow House majority—and some of them are proactively reaching out to GOP leaders to warn them against staging such a vote.

“I have every expectation I’ll vote against expungement, and I have every expectation that I will work to bring others with me,” said one moderate Republican; who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, noting “I think my views represent a fair number of principled conservatives.”

“We can’t change history. I mean, that impeachment vote happened. And I just don’t think we should be engaged in the kind of cancel culture that tries to whitewash history.”

 Research contact: @thehill

Representative Adam Schiff raises millions for Senate run after censure

July 7, 2023

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) announced on Wednesday, July 5, that his campaign had raised $8.1 million during the second fundraising quarter, leveraging his recent censure by House Republicans, reports NBC News.

Schiff’s campaign sent out more than three dozen fundraising pitches mentioning his censure—which Republicans passed late last month after accusing Schiff of lying about former President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Schiff urged his supporters to help him “fight back against these relentless attacks,” per one recent fundraising email.

Schiff’s second quarter haul, first reported by Politico, includes the money his campaign raised from April through June. His campaign reportedly ended the quarter with $29.5 million on hand—potentially expanding his financial advantage in the race. Campaign fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by July 15, and information released before that point comes from the campaign, itself, instead of official reports.

Schiff’s Democratic opponents running to replace retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein have not yet released their latest fundraising numbers. Representative Katie Porter‘s campaign had nearly $9.5 million on hand as of March 31, while Representative Barbara Lee‘s campaign had nearly $1.2 million in its account. Silicon Valley executive Lexi Reese also announced last week that she is running for the Senate as a Democrat.

Under California’s top two primary system, candidates from all parties compete on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters advance to the November election.

Research contact: @NBCNews