CNN’s Kaitlan Collins called out a group of Republican members of Congress who have claimed they cannot attend a vote on the Covid-19 relief bill due to the coronavirus pandemic, but their names are on the list of speakers for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) taking place in Orlando, Florida this week.
CBS News had the full list of Republican truants who filed a form with the House Clerk requesting that another member be permitted to cast a proxy vote for them, stating “I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
The thirteen Representatives are Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX).
“We’re now learning that several Republicans in the House, mainly ones that are allies of former President Donald Trump, aren’t going to be there to vote,” Collins told anchor Jake Tapper. “Because instead, they’re in Orlando at CPAC.”
“They are going to be missing these votes,” Collins continued. “So they’ll be voting by proxy, Jake. But in order to do that, you have to sign a letter with the House Clerk, allowing another lawmaker to vote in your direction at your behalf, but in order to sign that letter, you have to say ‘I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.’ But, Jake, they are at a very crowded conference in Orlando, Florida.”
“Yeah. So — they’re lying,” replied Tapper.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced the proxy voting procedure to allow members to avoid unnecessary travel and exposure during the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, two Florida Democrats were criticized by Republicans for filing the proxy vote form so they could attend a SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL).
James Hamblin writes about health for The Atlantic, hosts the podcast Social Distance, and lectures at the Yale School of Public Health.
His latest must-read piece for The Atlantic — “A Quite Possibly Wonderful Summer” — is a refreshingly optimistic look at what the season could be like if the United States manages to vaccinate its population.
While the piece paints a thrilling picture of potential normalcy in America, it comes with a rather large caveat: the pandemic is a global one, and it will take years, and a herculean effort, to conquer.
“What that will look like, and how long it will last, depends on how nations cooperate and coordinate—or fail to,” Hamblin writes. “Regardless of how quickly the immediate threat of viral illness subsides in the U.S., America’s choices in the coming weeks and months could mean the difference between a pandemic that ends this year and one that haunts everyone indefinitely.”
I called up James on Friday afternoon to discuss that piece, the specifics of what he thinks the summer will look like in America (clubs or no clubs?), whether he’s concerned about another wave between now and then, and what he makes of media coverage of the pandemic.
Univision anchor Ilia Calderon pressed President Joe Biden on the use of temporary facilities for unaccompanied minors, and Biden pushed back at the comparison of his administration’s actions to those of the Trump administration.
Calderon interviewed the President and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden Friday during their visit to Houston, and asked about the facilities, including a reported plan to open a tent facility in Del Rio.
Calderon: Mr. President, in the five weeks you’ve been in office you have been taking many actions to revert Trump administrations anti-immigration policy. But today the Washington Post reports that your administration has plans to open tentsat delao a town close to the border. Can you confirm that?
President Biden: What I can confirm is right now there’s thousand s of unaccompanied children coming across the border. We’ve been able to play significant number of them in licensed facilities throughout the country, shelters throughout the country.
But what happened is in Texas, they opened up one that was a former one used in the last administration. Our hope and expectation is that won’t stay open for long. And will be able to provide for every kid who comes across the border safely to be housed in a facility that’s licensed, and what we’re trying to do, and have literally hundreds of people doing now, connect them with families in this country. Get them to the families that they came to see or they are looking for. We’ve already connected thousands of them in that way. So that’s our hope is to unite these children with their families while they wait to have a hearing.
Dr. Jill Biden: And this administration is doing it in a humane way. And that’s really important, I mean we want to make sure that those children are safe, get mental health services, they get physical health services, they get education. So we are really concerned about these children.
Calderon: For how long is the administration planning to have the kids in these facilities, not only in tents like you mentioned, but also the other facilities that look like portable containers, or I don’t know how can you call them. But it brings back memories from the kids in cages, and how is it different from that?
President Biden: Well, it’s much different from that in terms of, we have people there helping them, we have people that are in those facilities taken care of them, but my hope is they all are able to get out. All are able to get into licensed facilities and/or be united with family members here in the United States.
The Biden administration has been fending off comparisons to the Trump policies all week, noting that the emergency facilities are necessary because of Covid distancing requirements.
The Biden administration announced sanctions connected to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but none directly against Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman — despite the fact the intel report released today said he approved the operation.
So CNN’s Jake Tapper confronted Senator Tim Kaine Friday on how the Biden administration isn’t making MBS face any direct consequences.
Tapper asked Kaine, “Nothing — nothing — for MBS. MBS is getting away scot-free. What do you make of that?”
Kaine said the crown prince should face consequences, adding words of praise for other steps the Biden administration has taken.
But Tapper continued pushing on the core issue, even comparing Biden’s approach to his predecessor’s:
“When it comes to accountability for the guy that was in charge, who ordered the brutal assassination, murder, of your constituent, a Washington Post columnist, for the crime of writing a column that said there should be more freedom and democracy in Saudi Arabia, MBS is getting away scot-free. How is that any different from Donald Trump? Joe Biden and Donald Trump have the same position — save MBS’ ass!”
Kaine defended Biden and said “the positions are not the same,” touting some differences between the two administrations with respect to Saudi Arabia.
The Virginia Democrat again said he wants more accountability and said, “We’re going to have to explore in Congress what more we can do.”
Politico reporter Marc Caputo apologized for and deleted his retweet of an offensive meme attacking Vice President Kamala Harris, but only after spending several hours defending himself from intense online criticism, and the meme as “funny.”
On Friday, Caputo retweeted a meme from a now-locked Twitter account that featured a photo of a scantily-clad model who had posted the picture with the caption “Sitting,” and which was re-captioned “Kamala Harris on the Senate’s $15/hour minimum wage legislation.”
Activist and guest Mediaite columnistReecie Colbert posted a screenshot of the offensive meme and criticizing it as racist and sexist.
Again…driving the anti-#MVPHarris Blame the Black woman for $15 minimum wage not going through narrative is not about passing a bill (Manchin/Sinema will block). It’s to erode her political capital & as shown misogynior
PS- Peep National Politico reporter RTng this trash. pic.twitter.com/taP7lDtu5k
The theme of the offending meme is progressive critics’ idea that VP Harris can unilaterally decide the fate of the $15 an hour minimum wage provision that will likely be stripped from the Senate version of the Covid relief package on procedural grounds.
After retweeting the meme, Caputo parried several criticisms from Twitter users making similar criticisms.
“I’m glad you think misogynoir is funny you lowlife,” wrote a user named Michelle B. Young.
In reply, Caputo wrote “1) that’s not this,” and cracked “2) who intentionally follows a “low life”?”
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who spoke at a white nationalist conference on Friday night, appeared on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday morning.
Gosar at “AFPAC”
The congressman, who was the keynote speaker at white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes’“America First Political Action Conference” (AFPAC), hours later spoke on a panel at the more mainstream CPAC alongside CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes Schlapp.
Fuentes’ conference, AFPAC, is a far-right gathering aimed at rivaling CPAC due to Feuntes’ “groyper army” believing CPAC isn’t right-wing enough.
The panel on which Gosar appeared Saturday morning also featured Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former United States Ambassador to MexicoChristopher Landau.
Gosar, in a muddled attempt to distance himself from the white nationalist event he spoke at on Friday night, said he denounces “white racism” on Saturday morning.
Rep. Gosar begins his CPAC talk by attempting to distance himself from white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ AFPAC conference, where he spoke last night. pic.twitter.com/1JNgIowY5A
“I denounce when we talk about white racism. That’s not appropriate,” the congressman stated on CPAC’s stage in response to a question asked by Schlapp.
After Gosar’s brief remarks, Landau offered a confused and awkward clap for Gosar.
CPAC communications director Ian Walters didn’t return Mediaite’s request for comment on the matter.
Yet, this isn’t the first time CPAC has allowed those who support white nationalist Nick Fuentes to be at their gathering. One of Fuentes’ followers, Jaden McNeil, who is best known for posting racist jokes online about George Floyd, was welcomed at CPAC before he was apparently kicked out on Friday. And one of CPAC’s “participating sponsors” was also sponsoring Fuentes’ event.
Cheers erupted on the floor of the House of Representatives as Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought the gavel down following the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package.
Members in the lower chamber worked late into Friday night and early Saturday morning, and at 2:04 a.m., voting concluded on the bill, with 219 members voting “yea,” and 216 voting “nay” — including Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon. Not a single Republican voted for the legislation.
Upon completion of the vote, Speaker Pelosi announced “On this vote, the yeas are 219, the nays are 212. The bill is passed without objection. The motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.”
As the gavel fell, members — presumably 219 of them, anyway — applauded, and Speaker Pelosi let out a small, jubilant laugh.
The measure will next go to the Senate, where a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will likely be stripped from the Senate version of the Covid relief package on procedural grounds. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that the provision does not meet the requirements for inclusion in a so-called reconciliation bill, which only requires a simple majority for passage.
Democrats hope to pass the bill into law with support from a few moderate Republicans, but if all 50 Democrats vote for it, Vice President Kamala Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote.
President Joe Biden spoke out about the release of a U.S. intel report concluding that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was approved by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Ilia Calderon of Univision interviewed the President and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden Friday during their visit to Houston, and asked about the just-released unclassified report.
Referencing the report, Calderon asked “How far are you willing to go to press Prince Ben Salmon in Saudi Arabia to comply with human rights?”
In his response, Biden described his conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, criticized former president Donald Trump, and denounced the killing:
I spoke yesterday with the king, not the prince, made it clear to him that the rules are changing. And we’re going to be announcing significant changes today, and then on Monday.
We are going to hold them accountable for human rights abuses, and we’re going to make sure that they in fact, if they want to deal with us, they have to deal with them in a way that the human rights abuses are dealt with. And we’re trying to do that across the world, but particularly here.
This report has been sitting there, the last administration wouldn’t even release it. We immediately, when I got in, found the report, read it, got it and released it, released today, and it is outrageous what happened.
The President is under fire from critics for failing to take direct action against MBS, or to respond more forcefully to the report.