Commentary: Replacing the Irreplaceable Nancy Pelosi

President Joe Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as he departs the U.S. Capitol after addressing the House Democratic Caucus, Thursday, October 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Last week there was quite a lot of news media chatter about swapping Hillary Clinton for Joe Biden on the 2024 Democrat presidential ticket, a fascinating concept that pundits couldn’t stop talking about. It didn’t receive nearly the headlines, but whispers involving the impending retirement of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and her eventual replacement — have also begun in earnest.

Of course, there’s been no formal announcement that she’s leaving — either from the Speaker herself or the poohbahs at Democrat National Committee headquarters. But like all worst kept secrets, everyone with a brain and some knowledge of American politics understands that Pelosi shares characteristics with a ticking time bomb set to go off later this year.

With the prospects for Democrats holding the majority after this year’s federal midterm elections growing dimmer by the day, folks have initiated a political death watch for the soon-to-be 82-year-old gavel bearer. A large number of veteran party incumbents have officially indicated they’re heading for the exits after this session concludes. Combined with redistricting changes (after the 2020 census) and a basketful of “moderate” (they’re really not balanced, but that’s how the media refers to them) Democrats facing fierce headwinds in their swing districts, and the numbers bloodbath could/should be scary.

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Report: More than 50,000 Illegal Immigrants Released into U.S. Don’t Show for Court Hearings

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the McAllen station encounter large group after large group of family units in Los Ebanos, Texas, on Friday June 15. This group well in excess of 100 family units turned themselves into the U.S. Border Patrol, after crossing the border illegally and walking through the town of Los Ebanos.

More than 50,000 illegal immigrants released into the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement failed to report to their deportation proceedings during a five-month period analyzed last year, according to a report provided by the Department of Homeland Security to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin. The report also states that ICE doesn’t have court information on more than 40,000 individuals it’s supposed to prosecute.

“Between March and August 2021, as a result of the Biden Administration’s failed border policies, over 270,000 illegal aliens have been dispersed into the United States with little chance for removal,” Johnson said in an announcement accompanying the report, which didn’t include data from the other seven months of the year.

Over the same time period, “over 50,000 illegal aliens – more than half of the aliens released into the interior of the United States under a Notice to Report (NTR) – failed to appear to begin deportation proceedings,” the DHS report states.

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to End U.S. Reliance on Chinese Minerals

Mark Kelly and Tom Cotton

A Republican and Democratic senator introduced legislation Friday that aims to end U.S. reliance on rare-earth metals sourced from and produced in China.

The Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act would prevent supply disruptions and bolster domestic production of the minerals, according to Sens. Tom Cotton and Mark Kelly, the bill’s sponsors. They said the legislation is important for American national security and development of advanced technologies.

“The Chinese Communist Party has a chokehold on global rare-earth element supplies, which are used in everything from batteries to fighter jets,” Cotton said in a statement. “Ending America’s dependence on the CCP for extraction and processing of these elements is critical to winning the strategic competition against China and protecting our national security.”

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Iowa Capitol Reporters Lose Access to Senate Press Bench

Iowa Senate leaders have decided press will no longer have seating at the press bench at the front of the Senate chamber floor.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most state legislatures allowed access to the chamber floors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures April 2019 state-by-state report on media access and credentialing.

“Media access to the people who make laws is a critical component of representative government,” the Iowa Capitol Press Association said in a statement Friday. “Primarily for this reason, the Iowa Capitol Press Association is extremely disappointed in the Iowa Senate’s decision to move reporters out of the press work stations on the chamber floor and into the upstairs gallery.”

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Pelosi Plans to Run Again, Stay on as Democratic Leader, Despite Earlier Promise, Report

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly will continue on in her capacity as the chamber’s top Democrat after she turns 82 this year.

Pelosi will file and run for reelection in her northern California district next year (her 18th term) and is considering whether to stay in leadership, despite an initial promise to give up her role as top House Democrat, CNN reported over the weekend.

Pelosi will primarily spend the next year raising money for Democrats as they attempt to hold onto their narrow majority in the lower chamber.

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Senate Clears Way for Democrats to Lift the Debt Ceiling After Agreement Between Schumer, McConnell

Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell

A bill that would enable Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without overcoming a Senate filibuster passed the chamber Thursday afternoon with bipartisan support.

The debt ceiling provisions were attached to a bill that prevents automatic cuts to Medicare. Ironically, the legislation, which passed the House on near party lines Tuesday, required 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and passed after 14 Republicans joined Democrats in advancing it.

The provision was the product of a deal struck Tuesday between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Under it, Congress would pass a law allowing the debt ceiling to be raised with a simple majority this one time, and the bill’s passage puts the limit on a glade path to be lifted by Democrats alone ahead of Dec. 15, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned a default could occur.

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Congress Wants to Make Big Tech Responsible for Online Speech

Person on space gray iPhone

While there is agreement between large factions of both Republicans and Democrats that social media companies should be liable for certain third-party content hosted on their platforms, the parties differ on what that content should be, and why platforms should be liable in the first place.

Congress appeared no closer to finding common ground following a House Energy and Commerce hearing Wednesday, in which lawmakers considered several bills seeking to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“Wednesday’s hearing made clear that Republicans and Democrats have drastically different solutions to hold Big Tech accountable,” Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Republicans are fighting for free speech, while Democrats continue to push for more censorship and control. Bipartisanship will not be possible until Democrats agree that we need less censorship, not more.”

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War Hero and Longtime Republican Leader Bob Dole Dead at Age of 98

Bobe Dole

Bob Dole, a son of the prairie from Russell, Kan., who survived grievous injuries during World War II to battle for decades as a Republican Senate leader and presidential candidate, died Sunday at the age of 98 after a battle with lung cancer.

His death was announced by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation founded by his wife and former North Carolina senator.

“Senator Robert J. Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years,” the statement said.

The family had announced in February he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was beginning treatments.

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Democratic Senate Bill Allocates $5 Million for ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ at National Science Foundation

Black scientist with safety goggles and mask on

A Senate bill that ostensibly focuses on strengthening American competition with China includes a provision between the lines that would designate $5 million for funding of a new “chief diversity officer” position at the National Science Foundation (NSF), according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The bill is the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which is supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. The bill aims to address the ongoing economic rivalry and supply chain crisis between the United States and China, by increasing domestic manufacturing and tightening supply lines in the United States.

According to the bill, the duties of the NSF’s new “chief diversity officer” would include “establishing a strategic plan for diverse participation” in the foundation’s various programs, as well as collecting information on the demographics of the NSF’s staff and patent applicants, in order to know which demographics to hire to offset alleged “inequity.” The bill would direct states to close such “equity gaps” by giving subgrants to students in computer science education classes who face “systemic barriers.”

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Biden’s FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Wants to ‘Silence Dissent,’ Top Senate Republicans Say

Gigi Sohn

Senate Commerce Republicans are whipping opposition to the nomination of Gigi Sohn, one of President Joe Biden’s picks for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Biden nominated Sohn, former FCC counsel under Tom Wheeler and Ford Foundation alum, to an empty spot on the commission in late October, along with current acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to the permanent position.

While Republicans have been quiet in their response to the nomination of Rosenworcel, many are pointing to Sohn’s public statements on conservatives as reasons to oppose her confirmation.

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Commentary: Very Fine People

Large group of people storming Washington D.C. in protest on January 6.

Jacob Anthony Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, was one of the people who made their way into the chamber of the U.S. Senate in the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to protest the Senate’s impending certification of state electors who would install Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. His name may not register, but his image will: he was the fellow bizarrely attired in a coyote-fur hat sprouting black buffalo horns; shirtless, showing his muscular but heavily tattooed torso; sporting black gloves and a red knapsack; face painted in vertical red, white, and blue stripes; and carrying an American flag on a spear.

The disorderly intrusion of several hundred protesters into the Capitol was quickly characterized by the media, and by many politicians, as an “insurrection.” Moreover, the accusation of insurrection was applied to the many thousands of Trump supporters in Washington that day who had nothing to do with the intrusion into the Capitol. And that characterization became the basis for the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump for supposedly inciting the “insurrection” and the impetus for Joe Biden to order 26,000 National Guard troops to defend Washington during his inauguration on January 20.

As it happened, there was no insurrection.

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Commentary: Taking the Infrastructure Bill Hostage Didn’t Work

Nancy Pelosi, AOC's mother and her all together

Back in August, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait blessed the strategy of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to withhold their votes for the Senate’s bipartisan physical infrastructure plan until that bill was effectively linked to a bigger, broader, and surely partisan, measure investing in a range of items from climate protection to universal preschool. He argued that “ransoming the infrastructure bill” would turn the tables on the party’s moderates:

Historically, most partisan bills are shaped by the preferences of the members of Congress closest to the middle, and their colleagues on the political extreme simply have to go along with it. … This time, the left has real power. Progressives can credibly threaten to sink a priority that moderates care about more than they do.

Twice in the past two months, most recently last Thursday, the House progressives successfully executed this strategy, blocking attempts by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the bipartisan infrastructure legislation before an agreement is reached on the larger “Build Back Better” bill.

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Ohioans a Step Away Again from Legal Fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky

The Ohio General Assembly lit the fuse for legal fireworks for a second time this year after Gov. Mike DeWine extinguished the first attempt with a veto.

The House and Senate passed House Bill 172, allowing for Ohioans to shoot consumer-grade fireworks at certain times of the year. DeWine vetoed a similar bill in July, saying it would make the state one of the least-restrictive fireworks states in the country.

The bill, which passed the Senate, 26-5, and the House, 72-23, on Wednesday, now heads to DeWine, who said in July it was in the public interest to veto legislation that would have legally allowed the discharge of fireworks on 25 holidays during the year.

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Attorney General Garland Grilled by GOP Senators over Department of Justice Memo Targeting Parents at School Meetings

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday faced a litany of hard-edged Senate questions about agreeing to allow federal law enforcement to investigate alleged incidents of outspoken parents at school board meetings.

Garland, in a memo, agreed to responded to a Sept. 29 letter from the National School Board Association to President Biden asking that the FBI, Justice Department and other federal agencies to investigate potential acts of domestic terrorism at the meetings. Parents across the nation have been voicing their concerns about the curricula being taught to their children, in addition to instances like the one currently playing out in northern Virginia, in which there was an apparent coverup of the sexual assault of a female student in a bathroom.

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Ohio Senate Secures Gun-Ownership Rights During Emergencies

Tom Schaffer

The Ohio Senate has solidified gun rights, limited government power in an emergency and clarified knives are included in the right to bear arms.

Senate Bill 185, which passed 23-7, stops the state or local governments from confiscating any lawfully owned gun during a declared emergency. Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said it protects Ohioans’ right to protect themselves and does not add any new gun rights.

“This legislation will protect the rights of Ohioans to their firearms recognizing their natural right to self-defense, as well as to feed their families during times of declared emergencies,” Schaffer said.

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General Assembly Keeps Foreign Languages, Home Economics in Ohio Schools

Cleveland Metropolitan School District 8th grade students read with their kindergarten buddies and help the young learners discover the joy of reading.

Foreign languages, business education and home economics still will be a required part of curriculum in Ohio schools after the Ohio Senate voted unanimously to stop a proposal from the Ohio Department of Education that would have allowed them to be eliminated.

The Senate concurred with House Concurrent Resolution 35 to stop a plan that would have changed the state’s administrative code to eliminate those required courses of study, a change put forth by the State Board of Education. The House passed the resolution, 95-0.

Wednesday’s vote marked the first time in 25 years the General Assembly stopped a rule from going into effect, according to Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, who serves on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

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New Capitol Video Contradicts Justice Department, Media Narrative on January 6

Over the objection of Joe Biden’s Justice Department, a lengthy video clip showing U.S. Capitol Police allowing hundreds of people into the building on the afternoon of January 6 has been released to the public.

In July, Ethan Nordean, an alleged Proud Boy member charged for various crimes now held in a Seattle jail awaiting trial, petitioned the court to remove the “highly sensitive” designation on surveillance video that recorded Nordean entering the building with permission by U.S. Capitol Police. A group called the Press Coalition, representing news organizations including CNN, the New York Times, and the three major broadcast news networks, filed a motion in September to intervene in Nordean’s case and make the video footage public.

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House Approves Debt Ceiling Increase, Temporarily Delaying Nationwide Default

The House on Tuesday voted to lift the debt ceiling by $480 billion, temporarily averting widespread economic calamity after weeks of partisan gridlock and sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The House briefly interrupted its weeklong recess to pass a rule governing debate for three separate bills to which the ceiling raise was attached. It passed on a party-line vote given Republicans continuing opposition to lifting the ceiling.

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Watchdog Demands Inspector General Investigation into Tracy Stone-Manning’s Allegedly False Statements About Eco-Terrorism Case

A government watchdog group demanded that the Department of the Interior Inspector General launch an investigation into whether President Joe Biden’s Senate-confirmed Bureau of Land Management director nominee violated the False Statement Act with statements she made to Congress about her involvement in a 1989 eco-terrorism case during her confirmation process.

Tracy Stone-Manning was confirmed to lead the agency along a party-line vote on Sept. 30 amid strong opposition from Republicans who accused her of lying to the Senate Energy Committee about her involvement in an eco-terrorism case. Stone-Manning testified in federal court in 1993 that she sent an anonymous, threatening letter to the Forest Service in 1989 on behalf of her former roommate and friend which warned that a local forest in Idaho had been sabotaged with tree spikes to make the trees unsafe to log.

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Commentary: The Left Destroys Everything It Touches

What was the purpose for the insane opposition of the Left between 2017 and 2021? To usher in a planned nihilism, an incompetent chaos, a honed anarchy to wreck the country in less than a year?

No sooner had Donald Trump entered office than scores of House Democrats filed motions for impeachment, apparently for thought crimes that he might, some day, in theory, could possibly commit.

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Conservative Tech Groups Slam Ex-Intelligence Officials for Defending Monopolies, Urge Passage of Antitrust Bills

Two conservative tech advocacy groups sent a letter to House lawmakers criticizing former national security officials for attempting to prevent the passage of antitrust bills targeting Big Tech.

The letter, sent by the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) and the American Principles Project (APP) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with lawmakers responsible for overseeing antitrust legislation, urged Congress to pass six bills targeting major tech companies advanced beyond the House Judiciary Committee in June. The letter also criticized twelve former intelligence officials who sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of antitrust bills in mid-September.

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Commentary: After Disastrous September and 2022 Midterms Looming, Biden May Have Lost His Mandate to Govern

Following a catastrophic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the highest inflation since 2008,pushing unpopular COVID vaccine mandates, rationing COVID treatments to red states and finally, watching his domestic legislative agenda falter in Congress, President Joe Biden is already upside down on his job approval ratings, according to the latest average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com.

Reuters/Ipsos on Sept. 29-30 had Biden’s approval at 46 percent and disapproval at 50 percent.

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Facebook Whistleblower Says Company ‘Paying for Its Profits with Our Safety’

Facebook knowingly chooses to prioritize its profits over the safety of its users, Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month which detail the inner workings of the company. The leaked documents showed that Facebook employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.

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Third Lawsuit Filed to Stop Ohio’s New Legislative District Map

Two more lawsuits have been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging Republican drawn legislative district maps, claiming they are unconstitutional and gerrymandered.

The most-recent challenge came Monday from the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and was filed by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law and the law firm Reed Smith.

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Commentary: Two Unique, Powerful Forces Will Influence the Midterms

If the 2022 midterm elections had an official soundtrack, it would be the ominous music from the 1975 movie “Jaws.”

Although the election is 13 months away, mounting intensity feels like great white sharks are circling our national boat with a convergence of two powerful, never-before-seen political forces. Both forces are hangovers from the 2020 election with the potential to make the 2022 midterms the most tumultuous in modern American history.

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Investigation: Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied to Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme to Co-Opt the CIA and FBI to Tar Trump

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case.

Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Commentary: Our Indispensable Man

Angelo Codevilla

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men,” goes the old saying, and who could argue? The sun rose this morning as it did yesterday and will again tomorrow. Life goes on, as always, for better and often for worse. But now it is a life bereft of the remarkable intellect and insight of Angelo Codevilla, a patriot who despised what he saw his country becoming and who sought to rouse and educate his fellow Americans to resist.

Truly, he was our indispensable man.

He was remarkable, too, for his energy. It isn’t quite correct to say he was indefatigable. At 78, he couldn’t help but slow down a bit. But this was a man who survived two heart transplants and a number of recent health challenges. Even when he was sick, he kept writing and working.

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Group of State Attorneys General Urge Passage of House Bills Targeting Big Tech

Smartphone with display of social media apps

A bipartisan group of 32 state attorneys general sent a letter to leading lawmakers in the House and Senate on Monday urging the passage of a series of antitrust bills targeting major technology companies.

The letter, led by attorneys general Phil Weiser of Colorado, Douglas Peterson of Nebraska, Letitia James of New York, and Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee, was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The attorneys general urged Congress to modernize federal antitrust laws and enhance consumer protections by passing a series of bills introduced in the House Judiciary Committee in June that target big tech companies.

“A comprehensive update of federal antitrust laws has not occurred in decades,” the attorneys general wrote. “The sponsors of these bills should be commended for working to ensure that federal antitrust laws remain robust and keep pace with that of modern markets.”

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Manchin Reportedly Calls on Democrats to Push Budget Back to 2022

Joe Manchin

Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin reportedly said in private that the “strategic pause” he has pushed for regarding his party’s budget should last through the end of the year.

Manchin’s remarks, first reported by Axios, would mean a sharp departure from Democrats’ long-stated goals, which include passing both the budget and the bipartisan infrastructure bills before the end of September.

His remarks align both with a Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote earlier this month and recent comments he made calling for a “pause” on the budget as Congress addressed other priorities ranging from a messy Afghanistan withdrawal to multiple natural disasters.

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Senate Parliamentarian Blocks Pathway to Citizenship from Democrats’ Budget

Capitol building

The Senate Parliamentarian blocked Democrats’ effort to include a pathway to citizenship in their $3.5 trillion spending package Sunday, a major setback in the party’s bid to reform the nation’s immigration system.

Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough wrote in her decision that Democrats’ proposed legislation is “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy,” adding that it “substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change.”

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Pennsylvania Senate Panel Wants Citizens to Testify If They Witnessed Election Malfeasance

The Pennsylvania Senate committee tasked with investigating instances of election malfeasance asked residents this week to submit their testimony for its review.

Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, said residents should only submit their stories if they are willing to sign an affidavit and potentially testify under oath, under penalty of perjury, before the panel during forthcoming hearings.

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North Carolina Senate Votes to Ban Critical Race Theory Concepts in Schools

The North Carolina Senate has approved legislation that prohibits K-12 schools from promoting more than a dozen concepts about racism and discrimination.

The legislation bans school districts from pushing critical race theory, which is centered around the idea that race is a social construct used to oppress people of color. The theory, developed by legal scholars in the late 1970s and 1980s, concludes racism in America is systemic.

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House Lawmakers Set to Square off with White House, Treasury Department over ‘Stifling’ Crypto Tax Plan

House lawmakers are set to return from recess Monday and will likely take up the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed last week — and with it, a controversial and last-minute cryptocurrency tax provision.

The bill contains a tax reporting mandate forcing cryptocurrency “brokers” to disclose gains and transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of a scheme designed to help cover part of the infrastructure bill’s cost. However, the bill’s definition of “broker” has been criticized by the cryptocurrency community and pro-crypto lawmakers as vague, expansive and potentially unworkable, with many fearing it could stifle the industry and force crypto companies to collect personal information on their customers.

The provision defines a broker as “any person who is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person,” and forces brokers to report transactions to the IRS in a form similar to a 1099. This means brokers have to collect and report customer information such as names, addresses, and taxpayer identification numbers.

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Biden’s Average Approval Falls Below 50 Percent for the First Time as President

Joe Biden with black mask on, looking at papers in hand

President Joe Biden’s average approval rating has dipped below 50% for the first time since taking office.

His approval stands at 49.8% in FiveThirtyEight’s tracker and 49.4% in RealClearPolitics’ average. While Biden’s approval rating still is higher than the 44% and 46.8% who disapprove in each average, it has steadily declined since May 25.

Biden has been plagued with multiple challenges since late May, including the resurgence of coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant and the sudden fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban. He has also been met with rising crime, growing concerns over inflation and a decades-high surge of migrants at the southern border.

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Senate Unanimously Votes Against Defunding the Police

The Senate early Wednesday unanimously approved an amendment to its proposed budget that opposed defunding the police.

The amendment, offered by Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, came during the Senate’s overnight vote-a-rama, a marathon session during consideration of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget where members can offer unlimited amendments. While the votes are non-binding, they can sometimes be politically tricky for senators as their colleagues force on-the-record positions on contentious issues.

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Senate Passes the Largest Infrastructure Package in Decades, over a Dozen Republicans Vote in Favor

The Senate on Tuesday passed its bipartisan infrastructure bill, moving what would be the largest public works package in decades one step closer to becoming law months after negotiations first began.

The bill, which advocates praised as the largest investment in America’s infrastructure since the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s, passed 69-30. Nineteen Republicans joined every Democrat in voting for the package.

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Senate Panel Warned That China Could Create Dossier on Every American Using Stolen Data

On Wednesday, a U.S. Senate panel was told by a former national security official that the Chinese government has amassed enough stolen data to be able to create a “dossier” on every American citizen, Fox News reports.

The startling report was made by Matther Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser from the Trump Administration, during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Assembling dossiers on people has always been a feature of Leninist regimes,” Pottinger explained. “But Beijing’s penetration of digital networks worldwide, including using 5G networks…has really taken this to a new level.”

“Beijing’s stolen sensitive data,” Pottinger continued, “is sufficient to build a dossier on every single American adult, and on many of our children too, who are fair game under Beijing’s rules of political warfare.” This information could subsequently be used by China to “influence, target, intimidate, reward, blackmail, flatter, humiliate, and ultimately divide and conquer” its enemies, including the United States itself.

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Senate Democrats Publicly Release $3.5 Trillion Filibuster-Proof Budget Reconciliation Resolution

Senate Democrats have publicly released their $3.5 trillion, filibuster-proof budget reconciliation resolution.

The draft of the legislation released on Monday includes new spending programs that the White House has labeled “human infrastructure,” such as universal pre-K, childcare support and tuition free community college.

The spending total is estimated over a 10-year period. Using budget reconciliation allows the Democrats to pass the measure without votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate. Democrats used the same process in March to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package called the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Senate Fails to Wrap Up Infrastructure Bill After Talks to Expedite Process Collapse

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set up a critical vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Saturday after talks to expedite the process fell apart late Thursday.

Both Republicans and Democrats engaged in marathon talks Thursday in a bid to vote on a package of amendments and to advance the sweeping public works package. Doing so, however, required approval from all 100 senators, and Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Haggerty refused to go along even as his Republican colleagues urged him to do so.

In a statement, Hagerty attributed his objection to  the Congressional Budget Office’s estimation that the bill would add $256 billion to the national debt over 10 years.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: The Higher Inflation and Bigger Debt Act

United States currency

The $3.5 trillion spending bill set up to follow the $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill (which has little to do with infrastructure) should be called what it really is: The Higher Inflation and Bigger Debt Act.

The Democrats would like you to believe it is only a reconciliation bill. This is vital to them because a reconciliation bill only takes 50 senators and the vice president to pass the U.S. Senate.

However, this additional $3.5 trillion comes after trillions of emergency spending prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider what the Congressional Budget Office has written about the fiscal situation before the $1.1 trillion and $3.5 trillion bills are passed:

Here is what the Congressional Budget Office forecasts (not counting Biden’s enormous spending plan): 

“By the end of 2021, federal debt held by the public is projected to equal 102 percent of GDP. Debt would reach 107 percent of GDP (surpassing its historical high) in 2031 and would almost double to 202 percent of GDP by 2051. Debt that is high and rising as a percentage of GDP boosts federal and private borrowing costs, slows the growth of economic output, and increases interest payments abroad. A growing debt burden could increase the risk of a fiscal crisis and higher inflation as well as undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar, making it more costly to finance public and private activity in international markets.”

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Bipartisan Trio Joins Forces in an Attempt to Claw Back War Powers from President

Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy and Mike Lee (U.S. Senators)

A bipartisan Senate trio is seeking to reassert Congress’ control over war authorizations and military power.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Chris Murphy of Connecticut introduced the National Security Powers Act Tuesday, hoping to clamp down on presidential war powers that have expanded in recent years under presidents of both parties.

The bill requires the president to end foreign hostilities if they are not approved by Congress 20 days after they begin and cuts off funding if a president continues to act without congressional authorization. It gives Congress authority over weapons sales and allows it to prohibit the sale of weapons at its discretion, after former President Donald Trump irked lawmakers with his repeated sales to Middle Eastern allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Ohio Communities Gain Control of Wind, Solar Projects

Three wind turbines

Local communities in Ohio got a little more power regarding renewable energy projects after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that addresses wind and solar projects.

DeWine made Senate Bill 52 law and gave power to county boards on whether to allow or prevent certification of wind and solar projects. The legislation also establishes decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities.

“One of the most important things we can do as state legislators is to listen to the input of our fellow constituents,” Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, said Monday after DeWine signed the bill. “I can confidently tell you that Ohioans within Seneca County vehemently spoke out against a wind project being built within their communities – Senate Bill 52 being signed into law solidifies their right to local control over these types of projects.”

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Tensions over Capitol Police Funding Bill Hit Boiling Point in the Senate

Senate tensions over a Capitol Police funding bill are nearing a boiling point, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on an amount with just weeks before its funding runs dry.

The department said last week that its funding could run out as soon as next month, risking furloughs and sparking bipartisan concern. But while the House passed a $1.9 billion funding bill in May, partisan divisions in the Senate have stalled it, with Democrats insisting for even more funding and Republicans calling the House bill a nonstarter.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s chair and ranking member, have both put forward plans only to see them shot down by one another.

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House Passes Resolution Creating Select Committee into Capitol Riot

The House approved a resolution Wednesday to create a select committee into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol weeks after Senate Republicans killed a bipartisan commission into it.

The bill authorizes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to select eight members and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to select five in consultation with her. It passed 222 to 190, with two Republicans joining all Democrats in voting in favor.

Though the bill passed with bipartisan support, it was significantly less than the 35 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan commission in May. House Republican leadership came out against the bill Tuesday, urging its caucus to vote no on the grounds that it would “pursue a partisan agenda and politicize the Jan. 6 attack.”

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Commentary: Big Tech Only Has Itself to Blame for Republican Rethinking of Antitrust

Smartphone with display of social media apps

There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.

Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.

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Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

Juneteenth Plaque

The Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth, already celebrated in the majority of states on June 19, commemorates the official end of slavery in Confederate states on that day in 1865. Though President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, hundreds of thousands of slaves did not learn of their freedom until after the end of the Civil War.

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Senate Poised to Approve Billions for Well-Heeled Computer Chipmakers

Computer mother board

The Democrat-led Senate is poised to approve as early as Tuesday a China security bill that will earmark billions in taxpayer subsidies to the well-heeled computer chip-making industry, which saw record profits last year and doled out millions in lobbying fees and political donations.

The $54 billion in subsidies for chipmakers inside the 1,445-page U.S. Innovation and Competition Act has some seeing an unnecessary corporate welfare program that could benefit such iconic brands as Intel, Qualcomm and AMD and increase the government’s reach over free market business.

“This bill will increase government’s influence over the private sector while weakening America by increasing our debt,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), one of the legislation’s fiercest critics. “Democrats love spending other people’s money and growing government. I have no idea why any Republican would want to help them do that.”

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Ohio Holidays Could Pack More Punch with Fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky

It may not come in time for the Fourth of July, but Ohioans could add some excitement to certain celebrations if a bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio Senate eventually clears the House and gets signed into law.

Senate Bill 113 would allow people to have consumer-grade fireworks in the state and set them off on certain days and holidays.

Ohioans would be allowed to set off fireworks on New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4 and 5, along with the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend; Diwali; and New Year’s eve. Local communities, however, can eliminate any of those days or ban the practice entirely.

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Business Fairness Act Would Allow Ohio Businesses to Stay Open During Emergencies

Mike DeWine

Ohio businesses would be able to continue to operate during a public health emergency if a bill passed by the Ohio House clears the Senate and is signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

House Bill 215 would require businesses to comply with safety standards from government orders or regulations to stay open, but it does provide an avenue to keep businesses up in running in times of emergency.

“Small business owners had their worlds turned upside down when they were forced to shut down last year,” Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said. “Getting this bill signed into law will send a strong message that Ohio will remain open for business and keep our economy moving forward.”

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