Posts tagged with "The Hill"

Massachusetts state lawmaker requests federal human trafficking probe of DeSantis migrant move

September 20, 2022

A state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard has called for a federal investigation into Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’s relocation of migrants to the island last week, reports The Hill.

Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D)—who has repeatedly attacked DeSantis for chartering two planes to transport the migrants—made the request on Sunday, September 18.

“We are requesting that the Department of Justice open an investigation to hold DeSantis & others accountable for these inhumane acts,” Fernandes wrote on Twitter. “Not only is it morally criminal; there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”

Fernandes said he has spoken with U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins, adding that she was pushing for a Justice Department response.

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

Two flights with nearly 50 migrants landed on Wednesday, September 14 ,in Martha’s Vineyard, an island known for its popularity among the wealthy. The migrants have since been moved to Joint Base Cape Cod.

“They already bused them out, they’re gone,” DeSantis said on Friday. “They said we want everyone, no one’s illegal, and they’re gone within 48 hours.”

The flights raised questions as to how the migrants came to believe boarding the planes were there best option. Local officials have suggested the migrants were misled.

The relocations were the latest iterations of Republican governors busing and flying migrants to Democrat-run, northern areas of the country. The governors argue the relocations provide relief to border communities overwhelmed by President Joe Biden’s immigration policies—hoping to raise awareness for immigration policy changes in Washington, D.C.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that represents more than 30 of the migrants flown to Massachusetts, similarly called for a federal investigation into their relocations.

“While we are working to protect our clients’ rights in immigration proceedings and exploring remedies for civil rights violations, we also strongly believe that criminal laws were broken by the perpetrators of this stunt,” the group wrote in letters to Rollins and Massachusetts’s attorney general.

“We therefore ask that you open a criminal investigation into this matter,” the letters continued.

DeSantis is one of three Republican governors who have relocated migrants in recent months. Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) has bused thousands of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago in recent months, while Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) has sent nearly 2,000 migrants to D.C.

Research contact: @thehill

Judge rules Graham must comply with Georgia grand jury subpoena

August 16, 2022

A federal judge ruled on Monday, August 15, that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) must comply with a special grand jury subpoena from the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney, who is investigating former President Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials into overturning the state’s 2020 election results, reports The Hill.

 U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May denied Graham’s motion not to comply with the subpoena—rejecting his arguments that he has testimonial immunity from state judicial proceedings as a federal legislator.

 In a 22-page decision, May said the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which shields members of Congress from being compelled to testify in court about their legislative work, does not warrant quashing the subpoena as Graham had requested. 

 “In sum, the Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry falling outside the Speech or Debate Clause’s protections,” May, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote.

 “Additionally, sovereign immunity fails to shield Senator Graham from testifying before the Special Purpose Grand Jury. Finally, though Senator Graham argues that he is exempt from testifying as a high-ranking government official, the Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections.”

 A spokesperson for Graham said the senator would appeal, which he had vowed to do before Monday’s decision during a press conference last week.

 “This is ridiculous,” Graham said. “This weaponization of the law needs to stop. So I will use the courts. We will go as far as we need to go and do whatever needs to be done to make sure that people like me can do their jobs without fear of some county prosecutor coming after you.”

 Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) subpoenaed Graham in July, seeking his testimony in the investigation into a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Willis’s office cited phone conversations that the South Carolina senator had with a pair of Georgia officials in the weeks after Election Day.

 Research contact: @thehill

Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, (finally) strike a deal

July 29, 2022

On Thursday, July 28, the word was out: Senate Democrats unveiled a surprise, pulled-from-the-ashes $670 billion spending plan that has the blessing of the mercurial centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) It’s an outline to help lower drug prices, give Americans more subsidized health coverage under Obamacare, and mitigate climate change, The Hill reports.

It would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which sounds similar to proposals Manchin previously rejected.

Scheduled to become law before the Senate escapes for its August break, the proposed reconciliation package needs all 50 Democrats and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as approval by the House. It would be a big win for President Joe Biden—and Republicans have said they are opposed.

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess. He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again,”  Manchin told Politico in an interview about talks with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York). “We just worked through it.”

In a shocking development, Manchin struck a deal with Schumer after more than a year of hemming and hawing in talks over a number of proposals that had been unable to garner his backing.

Headlining the rejuvenated bill are $369 billion in funding for energy and climate programs over the next ten yearswith the goal of reducing emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and an additional $300 billion to reduce the deficit.

According to a summary released by the two senators, the blueprint would raise $739 billion in new revenue through a variety of proposals:

  • $313 billion via a 15% corporate minimum tax;
  • $288 billion from empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • $124 billion from strong IRS enforcement of tax law; and
  • $14 billion from closing the carried interest loophole for money managers.

The Hill reports that the newly announced proposals will be tacked on to a bill that includes items that were expected to dominate as part of an even-slimmer package—a multiyear extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies aimed at preventing premium increases that is extended through the end of Biden’s first term and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drugs.

According to the two Senate Democrats, the bill will be brought to the floor next week before the upper chamber recesses in August.

The breakthrough hands the party a massive and a seemingly improbable victory that very few, if any, had anticipated. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told  The Wall Street Journal  that she only learned of the bill while on the way to the chamber to vote on Wednesday evening.

“Holy shit. Stunned, but in a good way,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) said.

Research contact: @thehill

Sources: White House could declare climate emergency as soon as Wednesday

July 20, 2022

President Joe Biden could declare a climate emergency as soon as Wednesday, July 20, two sources familiar with the plans told The Hill on Tuesday.

One of the sources said that federal agencies are expecting an executive order declaring a climate emergency as soon as tomorrow, but it’s not entirely clear what it will entail.

A second source also said the declaration could come on Wednesday. A third person confirmed that a climate emergency declaration was under consideration by the White House, as first reported by  The Washington Post. 

Asked for comment, a White House official said that many options are under consideration. “The President made clear that if the Senate doesn’t act to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, he will. We are considering all options and no decision has been made,” the person said in an email.

Research contact: @thehill

New Jersey governor weighs in on California’s Newsom attacking DeSantis in Florida: ‘I like it’

July 6, 2022

New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy  is putting his support behind California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s new TV ad, running in Florida; which targets the Sunshine State’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and invites Floridians to move to California, reports The Hill

 In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday, June 5, Murphy said he liked his fellow Democratic governor’s approach when asked by host Brianna Keilar about Newsom’s 30-second ad slamming DeSantis over a wave of new legislation targeting LGBTQ rights, voting rights, critical race theory, and abortion. 

 “I think we need to stand up and be counted and make sure we remind folks around the country, if

Above, New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. (Photo source: Safety and Health )

you value values, come to states like New Jersey and I suspect that’s exactly what Governor Newsom has in mind in terms of California’s values,” Murphy said.

He said the United States is still “the greatest nation on Earth” but that “war has been declared by a right-wing Supreme Court bloc against American women” with the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s constitutional protections for abortion rights.

He also criticized the court for a decision last month that rejected a New York law preventing people from carrying concealed weapons. Murphy said the country had done too little to prevent gun violence in the wake of the latest shooting on the Fourth of July in Highland Park, Illinois. 

“And look at the tragedy that happened yesterday in a Highland Park. So we are a great nation but we are in challenging troubled times right now. And women especially are paying a huge price,” he added.

Murphy also spoke about the two bills he signed into law on Friday, which ensure that out-of-state residents who come to New Jersey can access reproductive services and reproductive healthcare providers. 

Research contact: @thehill

FBI seizes phone of John Eastman, key figure in effort to overturn 2020 election

June 29, 2022

Federal agents seized the cell phone of John Eastman—an attorney who advised former President Donald Trump how to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election—Eastman said in a court filing on Monday, June 27, reports The Huffington Post.

Eastman filed a lawsuit asking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records it had obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. The investigators had a warrant and seized his iPhone, the filing says, and agents were able to access his email accounts.

He said in the filing that the agents “forced” him to unlock the device.

“By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” his attorneys wrote in the filing, obtained by The Hill.

Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence delay or block certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, and his work has become a central focus of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pence refused to go along with the scheme.

Eastman also spoke at the January 6 rally just before the Capitol attack, where Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud had cost him the White House. There is no evidence to support those allegations.

The seizure of Eastman’s phone came the same day federal authorities searched the home of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who encouraged the then-president’s efforts to remain in office, despite his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden.

Clark had served in the Trump administration as assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division—but became close to the White House after the 2020 election. At one point, Trump mulled putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned after refusing to go along with Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

The House select committee focused heavily on Eastman’s efforts to aid Trump during its third hearing this month. The body, citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade

June 27, 2022

On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade—eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure, reports The Hill.

The political bulletin predicts that the 6-3 decision by a majority of conservative justices will “fundamentally reshape” American society by overturning the landmark 1973 precedent—and cautions that “it is certain to ignite a political firestorm and yield a complex patchwork of state laws that will effectively block large swathes of the population from terminating unwanted pregnancies.”

The ruling upholds Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which directly clashed with Roe’s requirement that states permit abortion up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that reaffirmed Roe’s core holding.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

He further noted, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

More than two dozen states, primarily in the South and Midwest, are expected to tighten abortion access as a result of Roe falling—including 13 states with “trigger bans” set to take effect automatically or through minimal effort by state officials.

For conservatives, the toppling of Roe marks the crowning achievement of a carefully orchestrated and well-funded movement that for decades has sought to elevate reliable allies to the Supreme Court and erase federal protections under Roe that conservatives have long considered an infringement of states’ rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined in the majority’s judgment but said he would have preferred a more incremental approach that would not have required overturning Roe and Casey outright.

“If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more,” the Chief Justice wrote in a concurring opinion. “Perhaps we are not always perfect in following that command, and certainly there are cases that warrant an exception. But this is not one of them.”

The blockbuster decision comes after a stunning breach of Supreme Court secrecy last month led to the public release of a draft version of the opinion, offering a glimpse at the coming dismantlement of abortion rights as well as the likely upheaval over a ruling that most Americans said they would oppose.

Research contact: @thehill

New ad shows Kentucky Dem nominee for Senate wearing noose

June 3, 2022

In an ad entitled “Pain of our Past,” Charles Booker, a Kentucky state representative and Democratic nominee in Kentucky’s 2022 Senate race, shines a light on his ancestors’ painful history. Booker, who is challenging GOP Senator Rand Paul in November’s midterm election, can be seen wearing a noose around his neck as he calls for action, reports The Hill.

The ad begins with a voiceover of the Democratic nominee saying, “The pain of our past persists to this day,” and a shot of a noose swinging back and forth as it hangs from a tree.

The noose is, of course, a reference to the age-old hateful practice of lynching.

Booker points to lynching as a “tool of terror” that existed throughout the South in states like Kentucky.

The ad continues, showing a black and white photo of a man hanging from a tree by his neck as a large crowd is gathered around, peering toward the camera.

“It was used to kill hopes for freedom; it was used to kill my ancestors,” he says as he appears on screen with a noose around his neck, wearing a suit fit for the Senate floor.

Booker is the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

He cites his nomination as a “historic victory for our Commonwealth” before bringing up his opponent, Senator Paul, who appears on screen giving a half-hearted smile.

Booker goes on, pointing to Paul as “the very person who compared expanded health care to slavery, the person who said he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act, the person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being Federal law,” all while a noose hanging around his neck as he stands by a tree.

The sounds of a tightening rope can be heard as Booker says, “The choice couldn’t be clearer.”

“In November, we will choose healing,” he says as he lifts the rope from around his neck. “We will choose Kentucky.”

Booker is a lifelong resident of Louisville’s West End, growing up in what has been one of the poorest zip codes in Kentucky, his website states.

It also says he has “been homeless” and has had to ration his insulin because he couldn’t afford the medication he needed as a Type 1 diabetic.

The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2018—becoming the youngest black state legislator in nearly 90 years.

Research contact: @thehill

Kremlin rips Biden Administration decision to send rockets to Ukraine

June 2, 2022

The Russian government has slammed the Biden Administration’s decision to include medium-range rocket systems in the United States’ most recent weapons package to Ukraine, reports The Hill.

Kremlin spokesperson  Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, June 1, that Biden’s decision is “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire,”  The Associated Press was among the first to communicate.

A senior White House official said the United States was comfortable giving Ukraine the rocket systems after being assured that the Ukrainian government would use it only to counter Russian systems, not attack Russian territory. 

Peskov said the Kremlin does not trust Ukraine’s assurances that it would not use the systems to attack Russia, according to AP.

“In order to trust [someone], you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept,” Peskov said. “Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever.”

The U.S. is sending Ukraine  High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and munitions that would enable Ukrainian forces to more precisely strike targets from a greater distance inside Ukraine. The systems can hit targets nearly 50 miles away.

Multiple news outlets had reported that the Biden Administration was planning to send Ukraine a different missile system that could reach targets up to 300 kilometers away, but Biden ruled out providing Ukraine with that system on Monday.

Biden announced the decision on the rockets in an op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday, March 31. He also said the United States is not trying to oust Russian President Vladimir Putin as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said the country’s goal is to ensure a “democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine.”

The package the administration is sending will also include Javelin anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radar, and tactical vehicles. 

The U.S. decision comes as Russia has been tightening its grip on the easternmost areas of Ukraine, specifically in the Donbas region. Russian forces have concentrated on the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as the last remaining Ukrainian strongholds in the Luhansk province.

Research contact: @thehill

Pentagon devises plans to send troops to protect U.S. Embassy in Kyiv

May 25, 2022

Plans to send U.S. forces back into Ukraine to guard the recently reopened American Embassy in Kyiv are “underway at a relatively low level,” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced on May 23, reports The Hill.

The Wall Street Journal first mentioned on Sunday that officials are mulling plans to send special forces to Kyiv to guard the U.S. Embassy. The effort is a delicate one, as it requires balancing the safety of American diplomats while avoiding what Russia could see as an escalation.

“Some of the things that may have been out there in the media, those are planning efforts that are underway at a relatively low level,” Milley told reporters at the Pentagon, seeming to refer to the Journal’s report.

Such plans “have not yet made it to [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] or myself for that matter, for refinement of courses of action and what’s needed,” he noted. 

Milley added that any reintroduction of U.S. forces into Ukraine would require a presidential decision.  

“We’re a ways away from anything like that. We’re still developing courses of action, and none of that has been presented yet to the secretary,” he said.  

The Biden Administration last week reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv after closing it ahead of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The embassy’s security currently comes from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Journal reported.

President Joe Biden has pledged consistently that no U.S. troops will be sent into Ukraine to help forces there, although there are thousands of service members based just outside its borders in countries including Poland and Romania.

Milley said there are now about 102,000 American troops based in Europe—a more than 30% increase since the war began.

“Last fall the United States military had about 78,000 in [U.S. European Command]—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Space Force,” Milley said. “In a few short months, we bolstered that by over 30%.”

Rsearch contact: @thehill