Posts tagged with "The Hill"

NAACP issues travel warning for Florida: The state ‘has become hostile to Black Americans’

May 23, 2023

The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, May 20—saying the state has become “hostile to Black Americans” under Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R) leadership, reports The Hill.

“On a seeming quest to silence African-American voices, the Governor and the State of Florida have shown that African-Americans are not welcome in the State of Florida,” the travel advisory reads.

“Due to this sustained, blatant, relentless, and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP hereby issues a travel advisory to African-Americans, and other people of color regarding the hostility towards African-Americans in Florida,” the group added.

The advisory points to several of DeSantis’s controversial policies, including legislation he signed Monday, May 22, to prohibit colleges from spending public funds on diversity, equity. and inclusion efforts.

The Florida governor also previously signed the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts how workplaces and schools can discuss race during required training or instruction—and which blocked an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in the state’s public schools, claiming it lacked “educational value.”

“Let me be clear—failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in the statement. 

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the State of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” Johnson added.

Research contact: @thehill

Liz Cheney launches new ad attacking Trump, set to run in New Hampshire

May 10, 2023

Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) has launched a campaign ad in New Hampshire warning 2024 voters against backing former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

“Donald Trump has proven he is unfit for office. Donald Trump is a risk America can never take again,” Cheney says in a voiceover atop clips of Trump and the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Cheney, who was on the House select committee that probed January 6, knocked Trump for his actions around the 2020 election, which he lost to now-President Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump is the only president in American history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. He lost the election and he knew it. He betrayed millions of Americans by telling them the election was stolen. He ignored the rulings of dozens of courts,” she says in the video.

“Rather than accept his defeat, he mobilized a mob to come to Washington and march on the Capitol. Then, he watched on television while the mob attacked law enforcement, invaded the Capitol, and hunted the vice president,” Cheney says.

NBC News reports that the ad, titled “Risk” and released by her PAC, The Great Task, will air in New Hampshire around Trump’s planned on-air town hall on Wednesday, May 10.

Cheney also highlighted Trump’s delay in telling the rioters to leave—asserting that Trump “didn’t care” about warnings that his January 6 plans were illegal. “There has never been a greater dereliction of duty by any president,” she says.

After last year’s midterms, Trump announced that he’s running to reclaim the White House in 2024, and Cheney fueled speculation in late 2022 that she could get in the ring—but is yet to officially make an announcement.


McConnell insists he’s sitting out debt talks—to total disbelief

May 2, 2023

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) insists that he will not come up with a rescue plan this time as Republicans and a Democratic president battle over the debt limit, reports The Hill.

McConnell has a long history of negotiating with President Joe Biden on high-profile issues, such as extending the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010, avoiding a national default in 2011, and avoiding the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012.

The Senate GOP leader also supported the bipartisan infrastructure package and big new investments in the domestic semiconductor industry—two big Biden agenda items.

But McConnell says Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) need to work out a deal on the debt limit among themselves, arguing that any proposal that originates from the Senate can’t pass the House.

“The president knows how to do this .… Until he and the Speaker of the House reach an agreement, we’ll be at a standoff,” McConnell told reporters. “We have divided government. The president and the Speaker need to come together and solve the problem.”

Republican aides say McConnell’s strategy has the advantage of also keeping Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), whom Republicans see as a tougher negotiator than Biden, out of the talks.

A Senate Republican aide says Schumer also has more “leverage” than House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (New York), who is in the minority and was recently elected to the House Democrat’s top leadership job.

McConnell’s insistence that he won’t step in at the last moment to cut a deal with Democrats to extend the nation’s borrowing authority is being met with widespread skepticism, however, even from fellow Republican senators.

“McConnell is probably just sitting there waiting for it to all fail, so he can be asked to come in and be the savior,” said one Republican senator who requested anonymity to comment on what to expect from McConnell in the debt limit fight.  

Other GOP senators say they expect talks between Biden and McCarthy to stall and then for the ball to be in McConnell’s court.  

“I think [McConnell’s] position is, ‘Let’s see what the House can do that makes sense.’ But here’s the reality, the likelihood of the House being able to propose something seems to be questionable. Eventually, Schumer’s going to bring up a bill to increase the debt ceiling, a clean debt-ceiling increase, and we’re going to have to vote on it [in the Senate],” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told The Hill earlier this year.  

A Senate Republican aide disputed that speculation. “There is no secret McConnell plan out there. That’s key. Democrats are suggesting that,” the aide said. “That requires Biden and McCarthy to have conversations.”

Research contact: @thehill

Ah-choo! These cities are the allergy capitals of America

April 18, 2023

Wichita, Kansas, has topped the list of U.S. cities that—based on their high pollen counts, residents’ use of OTC medications, and lack of board-certified allergists—are the bane of allergy sufferers, reports The Hill.

The data have been gleaned from a report produced for the past 20 years by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) to help people recognize, prevent, and manage seasonal allergies.

Since the first report was produced by the AAFA in 2003, seasonal allergies have worsened, the group says. Climate change has caused the growing seasons to get longer and warmer—leading to higher tree, grass, and weed pollen counts. Some parts of the United States now have pollen year-round.

Florida had the most cities on the 2023 AAFA top-20 list—with seven ranked overly sneezy. Sixth-place Sarasota ranked highest in the state.

From 1990-2018, the plant growing season extended an average of 20 days—producing about 21% more pollen, according to the AAFA. Last month’s report on seasonal allergies from Climate Central found allergy seasons grew by as much as 50-99 days in some cities.

“We are experiencing longer and more intense allergy seasons because of climate change. For people with asthma, allergies can trigger an asthma attack,” said Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA. “If we don’t take immediate action on the climate crisis, pollen production will only intensify.”

Intense allergy seasons pose a risk to the nearly 26 million Americans with asthma, according to AAFA. The report said the condition is triggered by allergies in 60% to 80% of patients.

“As pollen counts spike, we often see spikes in emergency room visits for asthma,” Mendez said. “Around 3,600 people per year die from asthma, so it is important to address and manage asthma and allergy triggers where you live.”

The top 20 Allergy Capitals of America, according to the AAFA:

1. Wichita, KS 11. Virginia Beach, VA
2. Dallas, TX 12. Houston, TX
3. Scranton, PA 13. Little Rock, AR
4. Oklahoma City, OK 14. Miami, FL
5. Tulsa, OK 15. Lakeland, FL
6. Sarasota, FL 16. Raleigh, NC
7. Cape Coral, FL 17. Palm Bay, FL
8. Orlando, FL 18. Tampa, FL
9. Des Moines, IA 19. Greensboro, NC
10. Greenville, SC 20. Rochester, NY

To see where the other 80 metros rank, view the full allergy capitals report here.

Research contact: @thehill

Ted Cruz proposes constitutional amendment to stop Supreme Court-packing

March 24, 2023

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a constitutional amendment on Wednesday, March 22, which would cap the Supreme Court at nine justices, in a bid to quash the desire among some Democrats to expand the bench and dilute the current conservative majority, reports The Hill.

Expanding the Supreme Court became a popular policy idea for some liberals after former President Donald Trump was able to appoint three justices during his term and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority. Talk of expanding the court intensified after it overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

“The Democrats’ answer to a Supreme Court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want,” Cruz said in a statement announcing the move. “The Supreme Court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine.”

But even as Democrats reel from the court’s stripping of federal abortion protections, President Joe Biden and others in Democratic leadership have not joined in calls for expanding the high court. Biden came out firmly against the idea of court expansion last year.

Proponents of expansion argue that the status quo allows for effective minority rule, with an activist conservative court overruling policies and laws passed by elected Democratic lawmakers—and potentially even changing the electoral landscape to benefit Republicans for years to come.

Other critics of the conservative court have suggested limited terms for justices, who are currently appointed for life, as a way to make the court’s power less entrenched.

The Cruz bill picked up support from ten other Senate Republicans, including Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

“For years the left has been desperate to pack the court to promote their radical agenda,” Hawley said in a statement. “We must ensure that we stay true to the court’s founding principles, maintain the precedent of nine justices, and keep the Democrats from their brazen attempts to rig our democracy.”

Research contact: @thehill

McCarthy, GOP pump brakes on release of January 6 footage to Tucker Carlson

March 2, 2023

House Republicans are pumping the brakes on the release of January 6 surveillance footage they’ve offered to Fox News host Tucker Carlson and going on offense against Democrats who have spent the past week slamming the move, reports The Hill.

Republican leaders are emphasizing that no clips will be broadcast without prior security clearance while accusing Democrats of neglecting the same precautions during the investigation by the House select committee last year—a charge the Democrats quickly rejected.

Carlson, Fox’s wildly popular conservative pundit, said last week that he would begin airing footage from the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot this week, after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) offered him what Carlson described as “unfettered” exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of unreleased surveillance tape starting earlier in the month.

Yet McCarthy and other Republicans, following days of silence on the topic, made clear Tuesday that no information would be released to Carlson’s team—let alone broadcast publicly—before the footage is screened to ensure it doesn’t compromise the security of the Capitol complex.

The Speaker said Republicans are working with the U.S. Capitol Police to ensure that’s the case.

“It’s many more hours of tape than we were ever told. They said at the beginning it was like, 14,000 hours. There’s roughly almost 42,000 hours. We’re working through that. We work with the Capitol Police as well, so we’ll make sure security is taken care of,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol.

“There’s certain parts that he wanted to see,” McCarthy said of Carlson, but stressed that the Fox News host’s team specifically said they do not want to see “exit routes.”

“They’re not interested in it. They don’t want to show that,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy’s statement was a shot at the January. 6 select committee for airing footage showing then-Vice President Mike Pence leaving the Senate chamber after rioters stormed into the Capitol in a failed effort to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s election victory.

The footage did not show Pence’s full route out of the Capitol, and members of the investigative committee said they took pains to clear each video clip with leaders of the Capitol Police before broadcasting them.

“What we showed to the public was video that we vetted through general counsel, we vetted through the chief of the Capitol Police,” Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), chairman of the since-dissolved January 6 committee, told reporters on Tuesday. “And under no circumstances did we push out anything that we felt that would have violated any aspect of the security of this area.”

 However, McCarthy cast doubt on the Democrats’ narrative—saying members of the Capitol Police force have informed him directly that not all footage from the January 6 select committee was screened.

“There’s times when the Capitol Police told me that they didn’t consult with them either on some of these routes, so that’s a concern,” McCarthy said.

The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McCarthy said that he expects the security footage to be widely released “as soon as possible,” but would not “predetermine” the format of such a release.

But Democrats also are pointing fingers—voicing their own doubts that Republicans are adopting strong security protocols as they share the footage with Carlson, who has downplayed the violence on January 6 and promoted conspiracy theories about the riot being orchestrated by Trump’s political adversaries.

Thompson said his office has been asking for—but has not received—written procedures governing how the many hours of footage would released, and then used.

“If they don’t have anything in writing … then I say it’s a bad idea,” Thompson said.

The fierce debate over the release of the full January 6 footage—and the appropriateness of granting exclusive access to Carlson —comes as McCarthy fights to solidify support from some Republicans wary that the new Speaker lacks the conservative bona fides to take on Biden and the Washington “swamp.”

Some of those critics said McCarthy had promised them, during the hard-fought Speaker’s balloting, that he would release the full library of January 6 footage in return for their support. Carlson, himself, also suggested that McCarthy pledge to release the tapes to earn support for the Speakership.

McCarthy denied that claim on Tuesday. While he has said in other comments and in a fundraising email that he had “promised” to release the footage, he said that was a reference to a question in a press conference last month—not because of negotiations during the Speaker’s election.

“I’m just following through on that,” he said Tuesday.

It’s unclear if McCarthy’s most vocal Republican detractors—whose backing he needs to pass legislation in a narrowly divided House—will accept a more limited release of the footage.

“Have you ever had an exclusive? I see it on your networks all the time,” McCarthy said to a group of reporters that included correspondents from CNN and MSNBC.

Research contact: @thehill

Bennie Thompson rips Kevin McCarthy for giving Tucker Carlson January 6 footage

February 22, 2023

On Monday, February 20, House Homeland Security Committee ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) blasted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) for handing over tens of thousands of hours of riot footage from the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, reports The Hill.

“It’s hard to overstate the potential security risks if this material were to be used irresponsibly,” Thompson said in a statement.

McCarthy’s office granted about 41,000 hours of footage of the Capitol riots to Carlson, Axios first reported. A Fox News spokesperson confirmed the development to The Hill on Monday.

“If Speaker McCarthy has indeed granted Tucker Carlson—a Fox host who routinely spreads misinformation and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s poisonous propaganda—and his producers access to this sensitive footage, he owes the American people an explanation of why he has done so and what steps he has taken to address the significant security concerns at stake,” Thompson said.

Thompson chaired the select House committee that investigated the January 6 attacks for nearly a year and a half before releasing its final report in December. The committee had interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, read through documents, and reviewed troves of video footage of the riots during its investigation.

Carlson has accused the select committee of “lying” about what happened on January 6, and has boasted that Fox News did not cover the proceedings, or what he called “propaganda,” on live television.

In 2021 he produced “Patriot Purge”—documentary series that purports to tell an alternative story of the January 6 insurrection and features at least one subject who suggests that the event may have been a “false flag” operation. Fox News staffers were reportedly angered by the series, and at least two contributors to the network resigned in protest.

U.S. Capitol Police previously said that it had “cooperated extensively” with the select committee—noting that it provided 14,000 hours of footage to the panel.

During a press conference last month, McCarthy said he supported the idea of more footage from January 6 being made public. “I think the public should see what has happened on that,” he said.

Research contact: @thehill

McCarthy: Social Security, Medicare cuts are ‘off the table’

January 31, 2023

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, January 29, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden this week that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table in talks around raising the debt limit, reports The Hill.

McCarthy has said that Republicans want commitments to spending reductions in exchange for raising the debt limit—but has been unclear about what exactly the GOP would be willing to cut. While he said Medicare and Social Security slashes are off the table in his interview, he essentially said everything else, including defense spending, is under the microscope.

“I want to make sure we’re protected in our defense spending, but I want to make sure it’s effective and efficient,” McCarthy said. “I want to look at every single dollar we are spending, no matter where it is being spent.”

McCarthy came under fire from some in his party for possibly eyeing defense cuts. In order to become Speaker, he made a deal with some Republican holdouts that he would roll back defense spending to 2022 levels. The agreement drew the ire of some conservatives, who said any cut to defense spending would be irresponsible.

“You’re gonna tell me inside defense there’s no waste?” McCarthy asked on Sunday. “We shouldn’t just print more money. We should balance our budget.”

The White House has said that it will not negotiate with Republicans on spending cuts, but McCarthy sounded more optimistic about the possibility that Biden would make concessions on spending in a meeting with the Speaker this Wednesday.

“I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the President is gonna be willing to make an agreement together,” McCarthy said.

America reached its statutory debt limit of around $31.4 trillion earlier this month, but the Treasury Department is taking measures to be able to pay the government’s bills until sometime in June. Lawmakers must either raise the debt limit or come to an agreement on a short-term extension of the limit.

Research contact: @thehill

Hutchinson reveals that Meadows burned documents during transition

December 29, 2022

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, burned documents in his fireplace roughly a dozen times in the final weeks of the Administration, according to newly released transcripts of her House January 6 select committee depositions, reports The Hill.

FHutchinson, who became a star witness during the panel’s public hearings, told the committee on May 17 that she saw Meadows burn documents once they lit his office fireplace in December 2020.

“The Presidential Records Act only asks that you keep the original copy of a document. So, yes,” Hutchinson said when asked if she saw Meadows use the fireplace to burn documents, adding, “However, I don’t know if they were the first or original copies of anything,” she continued. “It’s entirely possible that he had put things in his fireplace that he also would have put into a burn bag that there were duplicates of or that there was an electronic copy of.”

Politico and The New York Times had previously reported on the testimony. “I want to say once a week or twice—it’s —I can recall specific times that I did,” Hutchinson said. “Maybe a dozen, maybe just over a dozen, but this is over a period December through mid-January too, which is when we started lighting the fireplace.”

Hutchinson suggested that at least two of the occasions took place after Meadows met with Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) about election issues.

The House committee has said Perry was “directly involved” in efforts to make Jeffrey Clark the attorney general in order to create a Justice Department aligned with former President Trump’s unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud.

“I know maybe three or four times—between two and four times, he had Mr. Perry in his office right before,” Hutchinson told the committee, although she cautioned that she did not know what documents were burned.

The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Meadows for comment.

Research contact: @thehill

Busloads of migrants dropped off at vice president’s D.C. home on Xmas Eve

December 27, 2022

Multiple busloads of migrants were dropped off at Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night, December 24—Christmas Eve—leaving migrants on the streets in below-freezing temperatures, reports the Hill.

ViceThe three busloads of migrants were driven to D.C., ABC 7 reported, and arrived outside the Naval Observatory, which is the vice president’s residence. The migrants were later taken to a church by the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, a local aid group.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) was responsible for Saturday’s incident, according to ABC 7 and Fox News—marking the latest episode in a months-long effort by the governor to send migrants to Democratic-run cities as a way to encourage the Biden administration to take steps to control immigration in the United States.

In September, Abbott sent two buses full of migrants to Harris’s residence in D.C., sparking criticism among Democrats. Other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, have transported migrants to Democratic-run cities across the country in recent months.

“Tonight, on Christmas Eve, Gov Abbott’s buses dropped off migrants at the VP’s house in the freezing cold,” the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network wrote on Twitter early Sunday. “This is not new, it has been happening for 8 months.”

The White House slammed the move on Sunday, calling it a “shameful stunt.”

“Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities. This was a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Abdullah Hasan said in a statement.

“As we have repeatedly said, we are willing to work with anyone—Republican or Democrat alike—on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but these political games accomplish nothing and only put lives in danger,” Hasan added.

Abbott penned a letter to President Biden last Tuesday demanding that the administration send federal assets to address the situation at the border, especially as temperatures drop and a winter storm approached Texas.

“You and your administration must stop the lie that the border is secure and, instead, immediately deploy federal assets to address the dire problems you have caused,” Abbott wrote. “You must execute the duties that the U.S. Constitution mandates you perform and secure the southern border before more innocent lives are lost.”

In a statement on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it “continues to fully enforce our immigration and public health laws at the border.”

DHS added, “Individuals and families attempting to enter without authorization are being expelled, as required by court order under the Title 42 public health authority, or placed into removal proceedings. As temperatures remain dangerously low all along the border, no one should put their lives in the hands of smugglers, or risk life and limb attempting to cross only to be returned.” D

The agency said 23,000 agents and officers are “working to secure the Southwest border and the United States Government continues to work closely with our partners in Mexico to reinforce coordinated enforcement operations to target human smuggling organizations and bring them to justice.”

The Supreme Court last Monday, December 19, temporarily stopped the expiration of Title 42, the Trump-era policy that allows border officials to turn away asylum seekers because of public health concerns. If it does eventually expire, Abbott said the number of individuals entering Texas illegally “will only increase.”

Research contact: @thehill