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President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda has hit a major roadblock in the 50-50 Senate, as moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have emerged as unequivocal opponents of eliminating the legislative filibuster.
“The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting” the voice of small and rural states “and our democratic form of government,” Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, wrote in an April 7 Washington Post op-ed. “That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”
Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, has taken a similar approach to preserving the legislative-minority-friendly tool.
“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” Sinema told the Wall Street Journal. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”
A 60-vote threshold is needed to overcome a legislative filibuster. In the past, both Senate Democrats and Republicans have used the filibuster as the minority party to block legislation supported by the majority party.
Leaving the filibuster in place in a 50-50 Senate would make it virtually impossible for Biden to move key parts of his agenda through Congress. The filibuster, however, would likely not stop Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, given the Senate parliamentarian’s recent ruling that the massive infrastructure package may be considered under budget reconciliation rules, which permit the passage of legislation with a simple majority vote.
Biden has proposed a comprehensive immigration overhaul that would offer a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. He also supports the sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act, which the Democratic-led House passed recently.
Biden has called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban as part of his gun control agenda.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would like to see a government-run public option added to Obamacare, which is a proposal that Biden made part of his 2020 presidential campaign.
The House is voting on statehood for Washington D.C. during the week of April 19. It faces an uphill climb in the Democratic-led Senate due to the filibuster.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have said the use of budget reconciliation is on the table if Republicans in Congress do not join Democrats to pass Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which includes significant federal spending on improving the nation’s infrastructure. Democrats haven’t drafted the formal legislative language of Biden’s plan yet.
Biden has said he plans to release a separate proposal, the American Family Plan, to follow the American Jobs Plan. Details have not been disclosed publicly. Pelosi was asked Thursday if she thinks the family plan and jobs plan will be rolled into one bill. She said there would likely be two pieces of legislation and she hopes the legislative process on infrastructure in the House will be completed by July 4. She said Democrats want to finish the “whole package” by August.
“I think we will have two bills,” Pelosi said. “We have this bill that we hope we can do, especially, the infrastructure bill. It has always been bipartisan. We will do so in a bipartisan way. If we have to go to reconciliation, that is a lever, but I hope it is not something we need to do.”
Kamala Harris Attacks Truckers for Pollution as ‘People’s Convoy’ Protesters Hit D.C.
Vice President Kamala Harris criticized the levels of pollution caused by heavy trucks on the same day a group of patriotic truckers circled Washington, DC.
“Pollution from heavy-duty trucks and buses has made the air poisonous to breathe and this pollution is also, of course, accelerating the climate crises,” Harris said during a speech near the White House on Monday. “Threatening the future not just of our communities, but of the entire world.”
Harris did not mention the arrival of the “People’s Convoy” protest of American truckers over the weekend. The group of truckers planned to circle Washington, DC on the Capitol beltway on Monday to protest coronavirus restrictions.
During her speech, Harris told the story of a California community she visited when she was the attorney general, blaming heavy freight trucks and public buses for the majority of the pollution hurting the community.
She also shared her dream to get rid of all diesel powered trucks and buses and replace them with electric powered vehicles.
“Imagine a future: The freight trucks that deliver bread and milk to our grocery store shelves and the buses that take children to school and parents to work…. Imagine that they produced zero emissions,” she said.
Harris celebrated the news that the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule Monday to cut nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks by up to 90 percent by 2031.
EPA administrator Michael S. Regan defended the new rule as a matter of environmental justice, noting that “people of color and those with lower incomes” were “more likely” to live near trucking freight routes in the United States.
Harris also touted the $1.5 billion in grants to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses in Biden’s infrastructure bill as a step forward in the Biden administration’s dream.
[W]e have the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been, and then to make the possible actually happen,” she said.
Former Georgia congressman: Biden should ‘stand up’ on the world stage, do his job
Former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) blasted President Joe Biden this week for showing weakness on the world stage, warning that Americans won’t tolerate it.
Americans “should be horrified” by the White House response to Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine, Collins told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Tuesday’s episode.
“[Y]ou have Joe Biden’s press secretary standing in the White House press room, saying, ‘Well, yeah, they’re getting ready to invade.’ We should be horrified by that,” Collins said.
“I think last year when people and independents and others saw the embarrassment on the world stage of Afghanistan, I think that was the nail [in the coffin].”
The former Georgia congressman noted that “President Trump actually gave Ukraine stuff to shoot and kill Russia,” unlike the Obama administration, which didn’t provide Ukraine with military aid when Russia invaded Crimea.
“[W]here is the mainstream media stories about Biden being Putin’s puppet?” Collins asked, referring to the allegations often leveled at former President Trump during his tenure in office.
Collins also advised Biden to “stand up” on the world stage.
“Mr. President, you have the microphone, you control the narrative,” he said. “Your own party for years has been talking about, ‘Donald Trump was too weak on Russia.’ And yet you’re going, frankly, the opposite way. Trump was strong on Russia, you’re being weak.”
Collins believes that Biden’s advisers are too focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and other domestic issues and not enough on America’s presence on the world stage.
The “American people can tolerate a lot of internal” domestic policy failures,” Collins said. “What they cannot tolerate” is weakness on the international stage, he said, invoking the failure of former president Jimmy Carter to free U.S. hostages from captivity in Iran.
Despite “inflation, high mortgage rates, everything else — we were surviving” the Carter years, he recalls. “Jimmy Carter almost won 1980 — everybody forgets that — until the last couple of weeks. In the last couple of weeks, Ronald Reagan was able to remind them of the debacle in Iran, our men getting killed in that rescue mission, and us not having a front on the world stage.
“I believe that resonates with Americans, that when they are embarrassed on the world stage, then that is it.
“So I’m gonna say, ‘Hey, go do it, Mr. President. You got the ability. You wanted the job, now do it.'”
Aaron Rodgers blasts Biden for ‘pandemic of unvaccinated’ comment
Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers is blasting President Biden for suggesting the current COVID-19 crisis is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” even taking a shot at the president’s public speaking acumen.
Rodgers’ comments published Friday by ESPN are a bit of return fire after Biden made a comment last month during a tour of tornado-ravaged Kentucky that the QB needed to get vaccinated.
“When the president of the United States says, ‘This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ it’s because him and his constituents, which, I don’t know how there are any if you watch any of his attempts at public speaking, but I guess he got 81 million votes,” Rodgers said.
“But when you say stuff like that, and then you have the CDC, which, how do you even trust them, but then they come out and talk about 75% of the COVID deaths have at least four comorbidities.”
“And you still have this fake White House set saying that this is the pandemic of the unvaccinated, that’s not helping the conversation,” he said.
The CDC acknowledges that current vaccines don’t fully protect against the Omicron variant of COVID-19 that is racing across the United States. But it insist that vaccinated people are still better protected against more serious symptoms, hospitalizations and death than the unvaccinated.
The study that Rodgers referred to involved the CDC reviewing 1.2 million vaccinated Americans. It found 36 vaccinated Americans died of COVID-19, and that 28 of them had four or more comorbidities.
Rodgers drew some criticisms earlier this year after he contracted COVID-19 and had to admit he wasn’t vaccinated after previously telling reporters he had been immunized. Rogers said you should’ve use better words to explain he was referring to efforts to boost his system with natural remedies. Rogers said he’s allergic to some of the COVID vaccines.
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