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House Dems pass ‘largely symbolic’ COVID-19 relief bill after talks with White House break down

The Democratic-held House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday, which has been described as “largely symbolic” considering not a single Republican voted for the bill following failed talks with the White House on a bipartisan plan.

What are the details?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin have restarted negotiations in recent days to reach a plan that the two sides have been battling over since early August, Bloomberg reported.

After failing to reach an agreement following talks this week, Democrats passed their own version of a stimulus plan that Roll Call referred to as “a largely symbolic expression of frustration.”

According to The Washington Examiner, the legislation was pushed through ahead of Democrats “hitting the campaign trail” before the November 3rd election.

The outlet noted:

The $2.2 trillion measure stands little chance of ever becoming law. Senate Republicans have already indicated they won’t consider the bill, and it is far more costly than a White House offer of roughly $1.6 trillion.

The House measure passed 214-207, with no Republicans voting for the package and 18 Democrats bucking their party and rejecting it.

But top Democrats promised that discussions for a bipartisan deal would continue regardless of the passage of their version of the relief package.

“I thought it was really important to formally put forth the work of our chairs, which is excellent and which meets the needs,” Pelosi reasoned, saying, “It sets an example.”

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) insisted, “Negotiations are ongoing right now, and I hope we will reach a bipartisan agreement. We also want to let the American people know where we stand. We believe this bill is a reasonable compromise.”

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the legislation a “liberal wish list.”

He also tweeted out a video of his speech on the floor of the lower chamber in opposition of bill, saying, “Pay attention to who votes for this bill tonight—It would hand out taxpayer-funded checks to illegal immigrants while removing $600 million in funding for law enforcement.”

McCarthy added, “Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats aren’t serious about helping Americans.”

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Lawmaker exposes what House Democrats are ‘suddenly’ stuffing in emergency USPS bill

The Democrat-controlled House will vote Saturday on new legislation related to the U.S. Postal Service amid controversy over operational changes.

But according to Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R) — the New Jersey congressman who famously left the Democratic Party last year — his former colleagues are stuffing something in the legislation that could change how the public interacts with the USPS.

What is the background?

According to CNN, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that allocates an additional $25 billion of taxpayer money to the USPS. The legislation also temporary bans further operational changes.

From CNN:

Democratic leaders introduced the measure, based on a bill sponsored by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, after the Trump administration made policy changes at the USPS. Those moves included cutting overtime for employees, limiting post office hours, and removing some high-volume mail sorting machines from USPS facilities. Democrats argue the policies were intended to impede mail-in voting ahead of the November election. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an ally and donor of President Donald Trump, has denied the claims, saying the changes were intended to increase efficiency and save money.

What did Van Drew say?

Speaking on Fox News, the New Jersey Republican explained that Democrats have stuffed a provision in their legislation that would allow the public to sue the USPS.

According to Van Drew, if the provision became law, it would further burden taxpayers.

“They suddenly put in there that now you can sue the post office,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot more liability issues, a lot more costs, certainly more money for, I guess, attorneys, but a whole lot less money for the taxpayers.”

“Who told them to do that? Who wants that? Why are we doing that?” Van Drew continued. “I don’t understand what we’re actually doing sometimes rather than getting good work … accomplished for the people of the United States of America. It’s just folks arguing with each other, and Democrats not wanting to cooperate, ever.”

Saturday’s vote is expected to fall down party lines, meaning it will be passed in the House. However, the bill is dead once it reaches the Republican-controlled Senate. The White House has also said that President Donald Trump would veto the bill.

Perhaps most shocking about the Democrat-sponsored legislation is that, according to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forcing a floor vote despite the bill not yet having gone through the full committee process.

Anything else?

Despite conspiratorial claims, the USPS said Friday that, if every American voted by mail, the volume of ballots would still be just a fraction of the mail they handle every single day.

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Democrats kill pro-police union bill as they pivot to totally different police reform effort

Democrats made a big show about introducing their new police reform bill Monday, complete with an 8 minute, 46 second kneeling demonstration while wearing West African kente cloth scarves. Behind the scenes, they were quietly killing a 2019 bill that would’ve strengthened police unions, Axios reported.

What was the bill? The now-dead bill, H.R. 1154, would’ve allowed state and local public safety workers to collectively bargain with the government over hours, wages, and terms and conditions of employment.

The bill had 225 co-sponsors, and 206 of those were Democrats.

Things have changed: That was all before the country saw a rash of large-scale protests and destructive riots in major cities over the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin. Now the power of police unions is under heavy scrutiny, and people on both sides of the political spectrum are calling for them to be weakened or dismantled.

The new legislation aims for more restrictions, regulation and accountability for police officers and departments. From CNN:

According to a summary document obtained by CNN, the legislation includes a ban on chokeholds, as well as the creation of a National Police Misconduct Registry “to prevent problem officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability.”

The bill also incentivizes states and localities to mandate racial bias training and teach officers about their “duty to intervene.” The bill sets certain restrictions on the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement and requires federal uniformed police offers to wear body cameras.

The obstacles to reform: The power of police unions could be one of the primary obstacles to reform efforts, including efforts to make it easier to fire officers who have committed misconduct.

Democrats, who are typically in favor of organized labor, will now have to walk the line of attempting to enact reforms without contradicting themselves too badly when it comes to unions. Axios reports:

Democrats may try to thread the needle by arguing that police unions should be treated differently than other public employee unions, because police misconduct can be the difference between life and death. Rarely is that the case in a classroom or a department of motor vehicles.

(H/T The Daily Wire)

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Democrats wear African kente cloths, take a knee for George Floyd before introducing police reform legislation

Congressional Democrats engaged in some performative demonstration Monday morning before introducing a police reform legislative package while wearing traditional west African accessories.

Democrats from the House and Senate knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in the Capitol Visitor Center while wearing kente cloths, with the time being a reference to how long George Floyd was pinned to the ground by the former Minneapolis police officer who killed him.

Once they got up, they held a joint news conference during which they unveiled a police reform legislative package that included a ban on chokeholds and some increased accountability measures for police departments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the details of the reforms are not the main story, however.

“The story that leaves here, as Mr. [James] Clyburn said, is liberty and justice for all,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi also dismissed safety concerns some have expressed amid all the talk of pulling funding from police departments.

“The martyrdom of George Floyd — and by Tuesday, by tomorrow, may he rest in peace — has made a change in the world,” Pelosi said. “So let’s not get into these questions that may be from the small minds of some, as far as safety is concerned, but look at it writ large.”

Safety is a concern as some pivot from calls for police reform to calls to defund the police, or in the case of Minneapolis, disbanding the police department altogether. These movements lead to obvious questions about public safety, and what potential replacements for police departments look like. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden does not support defunding police.

Some on the right are open to a decrease in the power of government law enforcement, believing in the value of exercising the right to bear arms for personal protection of property. However, in Democratic areas where gun rights are consistently under attack, it’s unclear what an alternative to police departments would look like for public safety.

Minnesota City Council President Lisa Bender said on CNN that questions about who one might call in the event of a home invasion if not the police come from a place of privilege.

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House Democrats just informed the Supreme Court that they may impeach President Trump again by the end of this year

House Democrats told the Supreme Court on Monday they need secret grand jury materials from the Mueller investigation to determine whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump again, CNN reported.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), has been seeking to obtain the witness materials held by the Justice Department for months. Now, as the case is set to go before the Supreme Court, the committee is not shying away from saying they want the documents to see if new articles of impeachment can be brought.

In a new court filing, general counsel Douglas Letter, who was handpicked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), wrote that “the Committee’s impeachment investigation related to obstruction of justice pertaining to the Russia investigation is ongoing.”

Here’s the upshot: “If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles adopted by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” Letter continued.

The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to block the release of the materials until it was able to review them, arguing that once Congress views the materials “their secrecy will irrevocably be lost.”

But House Democrats are fighting that notion, arguing that the Judiciary Committee must see the materials without delay in order to continue their never-ending impeachment quest. Should the Supreme Court grant the DOJ its request, a monthslong delay could ensue.

“This substantial delay,” Letter argued, “will seriously endanger the Committee’s ability to complete its impeachment investigation during the current Congress.”

This means that House Democrats want to consider more impeachment charges by the end of this year.

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House Dems: Impeachment probe must go on ‘pandemic notwithstanding.’ Also House Dems: It’s not safe to return to Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), is pushing for the release of grand jury details from the Mueller investigation so that it can continue its never-ending impeachment probe of President Donald Trump — even during the coronavirus shutdown.

What’s interesting is that the effort comes as House Democrats are delaying a return to Congress amid the pandemic, even while crucial legislation to bring relief to Americans negatively impacted by coronavirus-related shutdowns awaits negotiations.

What are the details?

Douglas Letter, the House attorney hand-picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), submitted a request to the U.S. Court of Appeals Wednesday on behalf of the Judiciary Committee asking that the court order the release of secret grand jury details by the Friday deadline, CNN reported.

Such details are crucial for the Judiciary Committee’s continued investigation into whether or not Trump obstructed the special counsel investigation, Letter argued in the court filing.

Forget the coronavirus: This investigation is “ongoing … the current pandemic notwithstanding,” Letter stated.

“As the Committee informed this Court in December, its investigation into President Trump’s misconduct is ongoing, and the grand-jury material will inform its determination whether President Trump committed additional impeachable offenses in obstructing Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” wrote Letter. “This remains true today. The current pandemic notwithstanding, the Committee’s investigation is not ‘dormant,.'”

The Department of Justice has been holding onto the details until it can take the document dispute before the Supreme Court. Should the appeals court deny the Judiciary Committee’s request and allow for the Supreme Court review, the court may not take up the case until August.

What else?

Though continued investigation into possible impeachment by Trump is deemed by House Democrats as too important to delay over the pandemic, negotiating relief for Americans hurt by the virus is evidently not.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox News on Wednesday that it’s time for Congress to get back to work, but that Speaker Pelosi “won’t call us back.”

“Farmers are planting crops, truckers are moving goods, grocers are stocking shelves, and front-line healthcare workers have never stopped working. They’ve been working every single day throughout this crisis but, somehow, the U.S. Congress can’t come back to work,” Jordan said.

Earlier this month, Congress extended its recess until May 4 due to safety concerns. But while the Republican-controlled Senate is scheduled to return, the Democrat-controlled House has reversed its plans.

“We have decided we will not come back next week, but we will come back very soon to pass the CARES 2 piece of legislation, and at that time we will be asking members to return to the Congress, to Washington,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on a call Tuesday, according to CNN.

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