Posts tagged with "The Hill"

House passes $78 billion tax bill in bipartisan vote

February 2, 2024

The House passed a $78 billion tax bill on Wednesday, January 31, which boosts the child tax credit and reinstates business deductions that were rescinded during the Trump Administration—sending the bipartisan, bicameral legislation to the Senate for consideration, reports The Hill.

The chamber cleared the measure, dubbed the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act (H.R. 7024), in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 357-70 vote.

Passage of the legislation—which was crafted by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Missouri) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)—marks a rare show of bipartisanship in this Congress, which has been defined by bitter partisan clashes and labeled as highly unproductive.

“The numbers speak for [themselves], [showing] that when you’re trying to deliver for the American people, people will join together and that’s what we saw today,” Smith told reporters after the vote, walking into an office with cheering staffers.

It is also one of the few instances this session when a nonessential bill—legislation that is not required to keep the government running—has a chance of being enacted. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) on Wednesday said he is supportive of the tax bill and is working with Wyden “to figure out the best way forward.”

But approval was not unanimous: Conservative Republicans, Progressive Democrats, and some Moderate New York Republicans expressed opposition to the bill—racking up some “no” votes. The resistance from the Empire State lawmakers—furious that the legislation did not include an increase in the state and local tax (SALT) deduction—sparked a near-revolt on the House floor on Tuesday, a sign of the anger among the group.

In terms of the actual provisions of the legislation, the bipartisan, bicameral tax bill would beef up the child tax credit by increasing the maximum credit per child from $1,600 to $2,000 through 2025, adjusting for inflation in 2024 and 2025.

Additionally, it calls for raising the ceiling for the low-income housing tax credit by 12.5% through 2025, lowering the threshold for bond-financed buildings to receive the low-income housing tax credit.

The measure also reinstates three business deductions that were nixed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—which was the most significant legislative achievement of the Trump Administration—including allowing businesses to deduct research and development costs every year instead of over a five-year period.

The bill also would create a carve-out for Taiwanese companies to prevent double taxation for businesses that have workers in the United States and Taiwan; and it would give tax relief to victims of wildfires and those affected by the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio—allowing for any disaster relief payments to not count toward their taxable income.

Research contact: @thehill

House panel to kick off Mayorkas impeachment hearings next week

January 4, 2024

House Republicans will initiate a series of impeachment hearings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas next week—holding the first of four hearings before marking up a resolution that would boot him from office, reports The Hill.

On Wednesday, January 10, the House Homeland Security Committee plans to review what it dubs the “havoc in the heartland,” a look at how migration has impacted the Midwest.

e hearing is the culmination of a months-long review of Mayorkas’s leadership at the border, one that committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tennessee) kicked off with a July press conference alleging the secretary had displayed “dereliction of duty” in how he has handled the border.

The announcement of the hearing, first reported by Punchbowl News, also aligns with a House GOP trip to the border on Wednesday—Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-Louisiana) first as leader of his conference.

According to The Hill, impeaching Mayorkas has been a rallying cry for the right flank of the party—with one lawmaker introducing a resolution to remove him from office as soon as the GOP overtook the House.

But the issue has lingered, as Republicans were scattershot over which Biden official to impeach—largely shifting their focus to impeaching President Joe Biden, himself.

A November effort from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) to force a vote on a Mayorkas impeachment revived the issue.

“Our investigation made clear that this crisis finds its foundation in Secretary Mayorkas’ decision-making and refusal to enforce the laws passed by Congress; and that his failure to fulfill his oath of office demands accountability,” Green, the Homeland chair, said in a statement.

“The bipartisan House vote in November to refer articles of impeachment to my Committee only served to highlight the importance of our taking up the impeachment process—which is what we will begin doing next Wednesday.”

Green said in an interview on Fox News last month that articles of impeachment for Mayorkas have already been drafted and would be marked up at the end of the process.

During an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday, Mayorkas said he will cooperate with the inquiry but stressed all the other ways he is remaining focused on his job, including negotiating with the Senate on an immigration package that the GOP argues must include restrictions on asylum.

Andd, while some Republicans such as Green have claimed Mayorkas is derelict in his duty to manage the border, it’s not clear that is an impeachable offense, or even a legal term outside its use in the military.

Republicans have also claimed Mayorkas has violated the law, failing to meet the standards of the Secure Fence Act, which defines operational control of the border as a status in which not a single person or piece of contraband improperly enters the country.

But no Homeland Security secretary has met that standard of perfection—something Mayorkas has pointed out as the GOP has grilled him on the law.

“I use a lens of reasonableness in defining operational control. Are we maximizing the resources we have to deliver the most effective results? And under that definition, we are doing so very much to gain operational control,” Mayorkas said, touting the resources sent to the border.

Research contact: @thehill

Police increase patrols around Colorado justices’ homes after Trump ruling

December 27, 2023

On Tuesday, December 26, the Denver Police Department said it is investigating reports of threats or harassment against the Colorado Supreme Court justices and has increased patrols around their residences, reports The Hill

AIn a statement, a spokesperson for the police department said it “is providing extra patrols around justice’s residences in Denver and will provide additional safety support if/as requested.”

The heightened security precautions come as the justices face mounting threats in the wake of their controversial ruling that rendered former President Donald Trump ineligible to appear on the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot.

In the 4-3 decision, which cited the “insurrection clause” of the 14th Amendment, the court ruled Trump engaged in an insurrection through his activities leading up to and on January 6, 2021, when thousands of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol.

The Denver Police Department said in its statement it was “currently investigating incidents directed at Colorado Supreme Court justices and will continue working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to thoroughly investigate any reports of threats or harassment.”

“Due to the open investigations and safety and privacy considerations, we will not be providing details of these investigations,” the statement continued.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Friday, December 22, that it also was investigating threats against the justices and was working with local law enforcement to pursue potential threats of violence.

“The FBI is aware of the situation and working with local law enforcement,” said Vikki Migoya, spokesperson for the FBI Denver Field Office, in a statement. “We will vigorously pursue investigations of any threat or use of violence committed by someone who uses extremist views to justify their actions regardless of motivation.”

Following the decision, social media platforms were flooded with “significant violent rhetoric” against the justices from Trump supporters, according to a report from nonpartisan research group Advance Democracy first obtained by NBC News. These online threats reportedly included multiple posts pledging to kill or maim the justices.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to review the ruling, which the Trump campaign vowed to appeal swiftly.

Research contact: @thehill

Congress approves bill barring any president from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO

Decembr 18, 2023

Congress has approved legislation that would prevent any president from withdrawing the United States from NATO without approval from the Senate or an Act of Congress, reports The Hill.

The measure, spearheaded by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which passed out of the House on Thursday, December 14, and is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden.

The provision underscores Congress’s commitment to the NATO alliance—which was a target of former President Donald Trump’s ire during his term in office. The alliance has taken on revitalized importance under Biden, especially since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“NATO has held strong in response to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war in Ukraine and rising challenges around the world,” Kaine said in a statement.

He added that the legislation “reaffirms U.S. support for this crucial alliance that is foundational for our national security. It also sends a strong message to authoritarians around the world that the free world remains united.”

Rubio said the measure served as a critical tool for congressional oversight. “We must ensure we are protecting our national interests and protecting the security of our democratic allies,” he said in a statement.

Biden has invested deeply in the NATO alliance during his term, committing more troops and military resources to Europe as a show of force against Putin’s war. He also has overseen the expansion of the alliance, with the inclusion of Finland and ongoing efforts to secure Sweden’s full accession.

Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has sent mixed messages on the alliance ahead of 2024. The former president’s advocates say his tough talk and criticisms of the alliance served to inspire member-states to fulfill their obligations to reach 2% of defense spending, easing the burden on the United States.

But Trump’s critics say the former president’s rhetoric weakens the unity and force of purpose of the alliance. And they expressed concerns that Trump would abandon the U.S. commitment to the mutual defense pact of the alliance—or withdraw America completely.

Research contact: @thehill

McCarthy says he will leave Congress at the end of the year

December 8, 2023

About two months after being ousted as Speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said he would exit the House a year early. The former Speaker—who made history as the first to be ousted from that post—announced on Wednesday, December 6, that he would leave the House at the end December, but said he planned to remain engaged in Republican politics, reports The Hill.

McCarthy’s resignation—which he announced in an opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal—will bring to a close a 16-year stint in Congress in which he rose from a member of the self-proclaimed “Young Guns”—Republicans driving to build their party’s majority in the House— to the position second in line to the presidency.

It caps his spectacular downfall after just under nine months as Speaker, when the right-wing forces that he and other establishment Republicans harnessed to power their political victories ultimately rose up and ran him out.

“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” McCarthy said in announcing his plans in the Journal. “The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

McCarthy’s early exit, while not unexpected, creates a headache for his successor, Speaker Mike Johnson, who is struggling to run the House with a slim and dwindling majority.

Many lawmakers already have announced that  they will depart the House, citing historic dysfunction. And while many of those departing members have said they plan to serve out their current terms, those plans can often change quickly when job offers begin to materialize and a nice life outside of Congress comes into focus.

McCarthy’s imminent departure, which he announced just days before California’s December 8 filing deadline to run for re-election, will shrink the already slim Republican majority. The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos (R-New York) last week.

That leaves almost no wiggle room for Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.

Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat of California, will have 14 days after McCarthy’s final day to call a special election to fill the seat; and by state law, the election has to take place about four months later.

For McCarthy, who has struggled to adjust to life as a rank-and-file lawmaker, the early departure holds nothing but upside. Former members are banned for one year after leaving Congress from lobbying their former colleagues. By resigning this month, McCarthy can start the clock on that delay from what promises to be lucrative work in the private sector a year earlier than he would have been able to if he served out his term.

Research contact: @thehill

Cheney warns that a vote for Trump ‘may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in’

December 5, 2023

 

Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) offered a stark warning on Monday, December 4, to those planning to vote for former President Donald Trump—suggesting it could be the last democratic election in the United States if the former president returns to the White House, reports The Hill.

“I hope that there are options and alternatives that reflect the important challenges that we’re facing, and that reflect leadership to meet those challenges; but that choice can never be Donald Trump, because a vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in,” she told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on “Today.”

“And again, I don’t say that lightly, and I think it’s heartbreaking that that’s where we are, but people have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution,” she continued.

Cheney, a longtime critic of Trump, has been on a media blitz to promote her forthcoming book, “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning,” which details the state of the Republican Party and its response to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. She reiterated Monday that she “will never vote for Donald Trump” and “will do whatever it takes to make sure that Donald Trump is defeated in 2024.”

She did not rule out a potential 2024 bid for the White House, saying she will make that decision over the next couple of months.

Cheney served as the vice chair of the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attacks. She later lost her August 2022 primary after becoming a frequent critic of her party and the former president.

She also said Monday that “there’s no question” that Trump would refuse to leave the White House at the end of his second four-year term if reelected.

“He’s already attempted to seize power, and he was stopped, thankfully, and for the good of the nation and the republic,” she said. “But he said he will do it again. He’s expressed no remorse for what he did.”

She added that it’s “a very, very real threat and concern” that Trump will make himself a dictator if he wins the White House.

“I don’t say any of that lightly,” she said. “And frankly, it’s painful for me as someone who, you know, has spent their whole life in Republican politics who grew up as Republican to watch what’s happening to my party, and to watch the extent to which Donald Trump himself has, you know, basically determined that that the only thing that matters is him his power, his success.”

Research contact: @thehill

Trump targets wife of New York judge overseeing civil fraud trial

December 1, 2023

The wife of the New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s ongoing civil fraud trial is the latest target of the former president’s rage online, reports The Hill.

Trump took aim at Judge Arthur Engoron’s spouse in a series of posts on Tuesday afternoon, November 28, purporting that an account on X— formerly Twitter—that made several anti-Trump posts belongs to her.

The posts by “Dawn Marie,” which were first unearthed by conservative activist Laura Loomer, say Trump is “headed to the big house,” referring to prison, and remark on his ongoing trial. Two posts show what appears to be AI illustrations of the former president in an orange jumpsuit, and another depicts him as the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Judge Engoron’s Trump Hating wife, together with his very disturbed and angry law clerk, have taken over control of the New York State Witch Hunt Trial aimed at me, my family, and the Republican Party,” Trump wrote Wednesday, November 29, in a Truth Social post.

The Hill could not independently verify that the X account making anti-Trump posts belonged to the judge’s wife. The account appeared to be deactivated at the time of publication.

On a school alumni page run by Engoron, the judge previously wrote that his wife is a psychoanalyst named Dawn. The Hill attempted to reach her via numerous platforms, but she did not immediately return requests for comment.

The judge’s wife previously told Newsweek that the X account does not belong to her.

“I do not have a Twitter account. This is not me. I have not posted any anti Trump messages,” Dawn Engoron said.

Engoron and his principal law clerk have been frequent targets of the former president throughout his fraud trial.

The judge found Trump, the Trump Organization and several executives—including the former president’s adult sons—liable for fraud before the trial even began, ruling that New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) had proved the crux of her case that claims the Trumps falsely inflated and deflated the value of their business’s assets to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.

That ruling, plus Engoron’s interactive role in the bench trial, has placed him directly in Trump’s line of fire both in court and on social media.

When Trump testified earlier this month, he took shots at Engoron numerous times, calling him “Trump hating” and questioning his impartiality.

“Can you control your client?” Engoron asked Trump’s counsel at the time. “This is not a political rally.”

Trump’s attacks against the judge’s clerk resulted in a limited gag order issued against the former president and his attorneys—barring them from speaking about the judge’s staff. Trump previously testified that he thinks the clerk is “very biased against us.” The order is temporarily paused while it is being considered by an appeals court.

The purported bias of the trial judge and his principal law clerk against Trump was the basis for a mistrial motion earlier this month, asserting the pair have “tainted” the case. Trump’s legal team argued that the appearance of bias “threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution.”

Engoron denied the motion earlier this month, describing it as “utterly without merit.”

Research contact: @thehill

Five takeaways from a winning election night for Democrats

November 9, 2023

Tuesday, November 7, was a good day for Democrats: In deep-red Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear sailed to reelection; while, in Virginia, Democrats flipped control of the House of Delegates and maintained control of the state Senate, reports The Hill.

In a win for women nationwide, abortion rights advocates also saw a number of wins, most notably in Ohio, where voters chose to enshrine abortion protections.

The following are five takeaways from the 2023 election results:

Abortion shows no signs of waning as top issue

Abortion proved to be a top issue for voters more than a year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Abortion access advocates saw a major victory in Ohio, where a majority of voters voted “yes” on Issue 1—a ballot measure that enshrines abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

Ohio was one of several states that rolled back abortion access following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The state made headlines after a ten-year-old girl was denied an abortion in Ohio and had to travel outside of the state to undergo the procedure.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Beshear won his reelection bid after campaigning on expanding abortion access. Beshear’s campaign released an ad showing a prosecutor criticizing the lack of exceptions for rape and incest under Kentucky’s ban on the procedure.

His GOP opponent, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, said during the campaign that he would approve legislation that would include rape and incest as exceptions to the ban, but later appeared to tack to the right on the issue.

And in Virginia, Democrats maintained their majority in the state Senate and flipped the House of Delegates by largely campaigning in competitive districts on the threat of an abortion ban.

The victories for abortion rights advocates, particularly in right-leaning Ohio and Kentucky, are a good sign for Democrats going into 2024. A number of Democratic incumbents and candidates, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, have signaled that they plan to campaign on the issue next year.

As for Republicans, Tuesday’s results show that they have yet to find a successful message on abortion in a post-Roe World. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) embraced a proposed 15-week ban on abortion with exceptions in the state, and a number of down-ballot Republicans followed his lead. But the strategy does not appear to have paid off.

In Virginia’s 16th State Senate District, incumbent Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R) was unseated by Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (D). VanValkenburg painted Dunnavant as extreme on the issue, while Dunnavant embraced Youngkin’s proposed ban and even ran an ad calling it “reasonable.”

Democrats are energized 

Democrats benefited from high turnout in Tuesday’s off-year elections. This was evident in the red states of Ohio and Kentucky, where Democrats turned out in high numbers. In Ohio, the Issue 1 ballot measure sparked an early voting surge that clearly benefited Democrats. In Kentucky, Democrats benefited from strong turnout, while Republicans struggled to bring out their base in what is typically a reliably red state.

Strong Democratic turnout was evident in Virginia as well; NBC News reported earlier Tuesday that Election Day turnout at one precinct in Henrico County, in the greater Richmond area, reached 1,200 people by the middle of the day. There are more than 3,200 people registered to vote at that precinct, and 800 people cast their ballots during the early voting period.

Democrats appear to have bet correctly on using the threat of Republican-led abortion bans in various states as a means to drive out the base and appeal to independent voters as well.

Beshear is a rising star for Democrats 

Beshear emerged as the biggest star of the night, proving that a Democrat could win in a deep-red state. He outperformed Biden, who lost Kentucky in 2020, and even improved his own margins from 2019.

At 45 years old, Beshear is one of the younger national faces of the Democratic Party and could be floated for other offices in the future. Beshear also provided a blueprint for Democrats to win in red states by running a localized campaign and focusing on kitchen table issues.

“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice, a choice not to move to the right or to the left but to move forward for every single family,” Beshear said in remarks from his campaign’s victory party.  He lauded “a choice to reject ‘team R’ or ‘team D’ and to state clearly that we are one ‘team Kentucky.’”

Beshear has also provided Democrats running in 2024 with a potential strategy on how to campaign in the shadow of an incumbent Democratic president with low approval ratings.

Youngkin’s brand dealt a blow

Youngkin threw himself on the line for Republican candidates in Virginia, but his efforts were not enough to stop Democrats from flipping the House of Delegates and maintaining their control of the state Senate.

The governor got involved in Republican legislative primaries earlier this year to ensure that electable candidates made it to the general election. Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC also played a major fundraising role for Republicans; he even appeared in several ads for Republican candidates and joined them on the campaign leading up to Election Day. Youngkin also pushed for Republicans to embrace early and mail-in voting in an effort to boost turnout.

Tuesday’s election results in Virginia are a sharp reversal from Youngkin’s own election to the governor’s mansion in 2021, which also saw Republicans win control of the House of Delegates. Those elections catapulted Youngkin to the national stage, with many Republicans looking to the governor as the future of their party.

However, The Hill says, not all hope is lost for Youngkin, by any means. The governor still enjoys high approval ratings in Virginia. A Roanoke College poll released in September showed Youngkin’s approval rating among Virginians at 51%.

Questions remain about Biden’s strength

President Biden and his allies were certainly feeling enthusiastic following Tuesday’s election night results. “Across the country tonight, democracy won and MAGA lost. Voters vote. Polls don’t. Now let’s go win next year,read one tweet from Biden’s campaign account on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

But Biden is still being dogged by questions about his electoral strength heading into a possible rematch with former President Trump. Just hours before the election results trickled in, a CNN poll was released showing Trump leading Biden 49% to 45% among registered voters.

A New York Times and Siena College poll released on Monday, November 6, showed Trump leading Biden in the critical swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Significantly, Biden wasn’t front-and-center in a lot of Tuesday’s races. The president rolled out endorsements in Virginia’s state legislature races, but didn’t campaign in any of the country’s off-year elections this this year. In Kentucky, Cameron and Republicans worked to tie Beshear to Biden—and while Beshear did not run away from Biden, he did not run toward him either.

Biden and his team will work to use Tuesday’s Democratic victories to their advantage—but it’s unclear whether voters will ultimately support his positions at the polls.

Research contact: @thehill

Rep. Eric Swalwell to testify in Trump 14th Amendment disqualification trial

October 31, 2023

U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) is expected to testify in a Colorado trial aiming to determine whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to be on the state’s 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban,” reports The Hill.

A lawyer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which brought the case, said Monday that Swalwell will explain “how the mob” that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, “disrupted the core constitutional process of a peaceful transfer of power.”

Swalwell has said he was among the last lawmakers to leave the House floor during the Capitol attack.

“I thought it was one of the safest places, one of the most heavily fortified places in the world,” Swalwell told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2021. “That’s one of the most unsettling things about the day. It is such a sacred, symbolic, and fortified space. I am still in disbelief.”

The lawsuit, filed in September by CREW and six Colorado voters, suggests Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from holding office again. The amendment says anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against it cannot hold office.

The plaintiffs assert that Trump’s role in the Capitol attack—inflaming his supporters with false claims of election fraud and directing their aim at the Capitol—meets that threshold.

Colorado Judge Sarah Wallace is overseeing the bench trial—meaning, there is no jury and she will be the sole decider of the case’s outcome.

Wallace said the trial will address nine topics, including the meaning of “engaged” and “insurrection” as used in the 14th Amendment and whether Trump’s conduct qualifies.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

Research contact: @thehill