News Round-Up: June 22, 2021

Some news items you might have missed:

New York Times: Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked the most ambitious voting rights legislation to come before Congress in a generation, using the filibuster to deal a blow to a bid by President Biden and Democrats to counter a wave of state-level ballot restrictions. The vote to begin debate on the bill failed with 50 Democratic votes and 50 Republican votes.

Washington Post: The Vatican has taken a highly unusual step against its neighbor, sending a diplomatic note to the Italian government that protests a draft law aimed at preventing hate and violence against LGBT people.

Instagram: When Las Vegas Raiders DE Carl Nassib came out as gay yesterday, he announced he was making a $100K donation to The Trevor Project and challenged others to contribute as well. The NFL says it will match his donation with another $100K to The Trevor Project.

Justice Department: James Dale Reed, age 42, of Frederick, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to threatening then-former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris in October 2020. Reed left a letter on the doorstep of a Maryland resident which also stated, “…if you are a Biden/Harris supporter you will be targeted. We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns. We are the ones your children have nightmares about…”

The Advocate: The group behind Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ Pride celebration has disbanded and canceled this year’s festivities due to a controversy. Philly Pride Presents had been criticized for a transphobic Facebook post that cast police as victims in the Stonewall riots.

Out Music: Acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and DJ Planningtorock (aka Jam Rahouja Rostron) released their new single, “Gay Dreams Do Come True,” which is also the title track to their upcoming new EP of the same name.

About the euphoric new track, Planningtorock says, “This song is a dedication to my love, my wife Riinu and too the Black trans women who fought for the rights we have today as queer, gay, non binary lesbians.”

House Approves $2,000 COVID Relief Checks

The U.S. Capitol building

The House approved $2,000 COVID relief checks for Americans today

The House overwhelmingly approved $2,000 COVID relief checks for Americans today.

From TIME:

The House voted overwhelmingly Monday to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000, meeting President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger payments and sending the bill to the GOP-controlled Senate, where the outcome is highly uncertain.

Democrats led passage, 275-134, their majority favoring additional assistance, but dozens of Republicans suddenly joined in approval. While Democrats favored bigger checks, Congress had settled on smaller $600 payments in a compromise over the big year-end relief bill Trump reluctantly signed into law.

The president’s GOP allies opposed more spending and Trump’s push puts them in a difficult spot.

Over to you, Senate.

Murkowski Opposes Senate Vote On Supreme Court Nominee Before Election

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued a statement on Sunday announcing she publicly opposes voting to confirm a new Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election.

From NBC News:

“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.”

Murkowski joins Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, facing a tough re-election battle, in opposing taking up President Donald Trump’s forthcoming nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg died Friday at 87 from complications from pancreatic cancer.

“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia,” she continued. “We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.”

Donald Trump has already announced he will nominate a new justice in the next few days, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

McConnell can afford to lose three Republican votes and still confirm a Trump nominee, but four ‘no’ votes would force him to wait until a lame-duck session after the election.

In a statement dictated to her granddaughter days before her death, Ginsburg said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Sen. Susan Collins: Senate Should Not Vote On SCOTUS Nominee Prior To Election

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

In the aftermath of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has issued a statement saying the Senate should not vote on a new SCOTUS justice before the upcoming presidential election.

“In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently – no matter which political party is in power.

“President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.

“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.

“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3rd.”

News Round-Up: January 7, 2020

Pete Buttigieg (via Facebook)

Some news items you might have missed:

Deadline: Pete Buttigieg will appear at another Fox News town hall on January 26, a little more than a week before the Iowa caucuses, with Chris Wallace as moderator. This will be Buttigieg’s second Fox News town hall, having headlined a well-received event last May. He’s one of six Democratic candidates to appear at town halls on the network.

Instinct Magazine: A Canadian man has been busted for mailing an envelope filled with white powder – and a note with an indication that the powder was anthrax – to New York City East Village spot Nowhere Bar.

CBS News: A new CBS News poll ties Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg for the lead in Iowa. Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg are tied at 23%, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren comes fourth with 16% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar falls in fifth at 7%.

Washington Post: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter will resign from Congress effective January 13, more than one month after the California Republican pleaded guilty in federal court to misusing campaign funds. The six-term congressman is scheduled to be sentenced in March. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, although he is expected to serve less than one year.

Politico: Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will spend $10 million on 60 seconds of television ad time during the Super Bowl next month as the president ramps up his push for a second term.

New York Times: Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed Republicans on Tuesday that he planned to move forward with President Trump’s impeachment trial without committing to additional witnesses or admitting new evidence, over the objections of Democrats who are insisting on both.

Lindsey Graham Invites Giuliani To Testify Before Senate Committee

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted an invitation to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, an invitation to testify before his committee.

In his Twitter invitation, Graham references “corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.”

Giuliani alleges that when Joe Biden was vice president, he had a Shokin dismissed to stop an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company that Biden’s son Hunter was involved in between 2014 and 2018. Biden has dismissed the claims and no evidence to date has surfaced to support them.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) responded to Graham’s tweets with her own message, “Good. I have questions.”

Senate Republicans Are NOT Happy About Trump’s Mexican Tariffs

Donald Trump 

Senate Republicans appear to be on a collision course with their own president over Donald Trump’s announced plans to place big ticket tariffs on imports from Mexico.

Via The New York Times:

Republican senators sent the White House a sharp message on Tuesday, warning that they were almost uniformly opposed to President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on Mexican imports, just hours after the president said lawmakers would be “foolish” to try to stop him.

“I want you to take a message back” to the White House, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, told the lawyers, according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Cruz warned that “you didn’t hear a single yes” from the Republican conference. He called the proposed tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans.

Texas would be hit the hardest by the proposed tariffs on Mexican products, followed by Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A 25 percent tariff would threaten $26.75 billion of Texas imports. “We’re holding a gun to our own heads,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the tariffs “a distraction:”

12 GOP Senators Vote For Resolution To Rebuke Trump’s ‘National Emergency’ Declaration

Donald Trump went on a pre-emptive Twitter rant in advance of a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate today on a Democratic resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration in order to get funds for his beloved border wall.
Donald Trump

UPDATE: Twelve Republican senators joined with Democrats to approve a resolution denouncing Donald Trump’s declaration of a ‘national emergency’ to gain funding for his long-sought border wall by a vote of 59-41.

The Trumpster made his next step perfectly clear immediately after the vote, tweeting “VETO!”

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Donald Trump went on a pre-emptive Twitter rant in advance of a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate today on a Democratic resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration in order to get funds for his beloved border wall.

In his tweet, Trump threatens to veto the resolution which would be his first use of veto powers while in the White House.

So far, seven Republican senators have announced they will vote for the resolution – Sens. Mitt Romney, Mike Lee, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Thom Tillis, Rand Paul, and Lamar Alexander.

The Hill suggests Sens. Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Ron Johnson and Jerry Moran could join the list of Republicans voting against the president.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake Announces He Won’t Seek Re-Election Due To Trump’s “Reckless, Outrageous, Undignified Behavior”

Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican senator from Arizona, just gave a breathtaking speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate announcing he will not seek re-election in 2018.

In doing so, he pointed to the “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior” of Donald Trump as president.

Flake pretty much left it all out on the Senate floor as he called out the president as well as calling his fellow senators “complicit” in allowing Donald Trump to continue to debase the office of the presidency.

Read the full speech here, and watch excerpts below.