Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan both addressed the press at the same press conference where House minority leader Kevin McCarthy discussed his decision to pull all Republicans from the House select committee investigating the 6 January attack of the US Capitol after House speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected his appointment of representatives Banks and Jim Jordan.
“This just goes to show how partisan of an exercise we said this was all along,” Banks said. “That Nancy Pelosi would take me and Jim Jordan first off of this committee and then the rest of us as well by rejecting the first two of us, she knows that we were prepared to fight to get to the truth, to find the facts about what happened on that day to make sure that January 6 would never happen again.”
Banks claimed that Pelosi knew they were already asking “questions that Democrats have never asked about why the Capitol was vulnerable that day”.
Jim Jordan used his time at the press conference to talk about crime, border crossings and inflation before circling back and saying that the committee isn’t going to address the question of why there wasn’t a proper security presence at the Capitol that day because Democrats “normalized anarchy” all last year and talked about defunding police.
Representative Troy Nehls also spoke, saying he was ready to take his 30 years of law enforcement experience onto the committee. “I was certainly prepared to help this committee get to the truth. I wanted to get to the truth. But unfortunately Speaker Pelosi has shown that she’s more interested in playing politics,” he said.
Again: Pelosi rejected ONLY the appointments of Banks and Jordan. She was fine with Nehls, Rodney Davis and Kelly Armstrong.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference in which he griped about how the House select committee would no longer be able to tap into the law enforcement expertise of Republican Texas representative Troy Nehls now that House speaker Nancy Pelosi is “playing politics”.
Again: Pelosi rejected McCarthy’s appointment of representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks. Not Nehls – even though all three voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election on 6 January.
“I think this is clear to the American public: this is a sham, but we are going to make sure we get to the real answers,” McCarthy said.
Jordan, who was a particularly fervent advocate of the anti-democratic propaganda campaign to undermine faith in the election results, tweeted: “Speaker Pelosi just admitted the obvious, that the January 6th Select Committee is nothing more than a partisan political charade.”
McCarthy pulls all Republicans from 6 January committee
House speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected earlier today two Republican representatives that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy appointed to the House select committee tasked with investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.
Representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks had voted on 6 January in support of the baseless objections to the certification of the presidential election, raising questions of a conflict of interest – many who stormed the Capitol that day said they did so because they falsely believed the election was stolen.
McCarthy has just put a statement saying Pelosi’s denial of his picks represent “an egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution”.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”
Pelosi, for her part, did not comment on why she did not object to the third representative that McCarthy appointed who also objected to the presidential certification on 6 January – Troy Nehls.
“We have a bipartisan quorum,” she said, when asked if she was concerned about House Republicans pulling out of the committee. “We can proceed.”
With infection rates of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus highest where vaccination rates are the lowest, Republicans are now pushing to get the message out to their constituents that vaccines are safe and could save their lives and they should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll found last month that while 86% of Democrats surveyed have received at least one shot of a vaccine, only 45% of Republicans have. Of those surveyed, 47% of Republicans said they weren’t likely to get vaccinated, compared to 6% of Democrats.
“It’s really not a partisan issue,” Republican Florida senator Marco Rubio said on CBS This Morning.
After delaying for months, Republican House minority whip Steve Scalise received his first jab on Sunday, telling nola.com that the vaccine was “safe and effective.” “Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” he said. “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with Delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”
He then went on to say he has yet to hear Vice President Kamala Harris or Joe Biden apologize for criticizing the vaccine when Donald Trump was president (which neither of them did, exactly – they both said something along the lines of they will take the vaccine when public health professionals advise them to, but not when Trump says so. They have both since been vaccinated).
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy sparked some tempers when he appointed three Republican representatives who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election to the House select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.
Many questioned if this was a conflict of interest, given that many who stormed the Capitol that day had cited this baseless objection to the certification of the presidential election as their reason for doing so.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi demurred yesterday, saying how people voted on 6 January was “not a criterion for service.” Today, however, it appears she has rejected two of McCarthy’s appointees: Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.
Axios is reporting that the Biden administration will not reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem until the after Israel’s new government passes a budget – likely in early November.
The House select committee is set to have its first hearing looking into the 6 January attack on the US Capitol next week, and chairman Bennie Thompson told the Guardian that “nothing is off limits”.
Thompson indicated that Donald Trump and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy are among his top witnesses.
Hugo Lowell has more here:
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is on the floor, throwing barbs at majority leader Chuck Schumer and the cloture vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
We have another infrastructure update, with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer saying the bipartisan group is “close to finishing their product”. Cloture vote at 2.30pm local time.
Meanwhile, finance committee chair Ron Wyden and senator Elizabeth Warren address the comments that minority leader Mitch McConnell made about the debt ceiling:
Schumer weighed in as well.
US looking to impose sanctions on Cuba for protest crackdown
Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the state department’s bureau of western hemisphere affairs, just posted a series of tweets about how the US will handle the situation in Cuba.
After years of simmering tensions, Cubans have taken to the streets in protest over food shortages, high prices and communist rule. At least 140 have been disappeared or detained, and one has been killed in the demonstrations.
“At President Biden’s direction, the United States is actively pursuing measures that will both support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime accountable,” Chung tweeted.
Chung echoed much what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at yesterday’s press briefing, including setting up a remittance working group to ensure that remittances – the practice of Americans transferring money to their Cuban relatives – end up in the hands of the Cuban people and not in the hands of the regime.
But in addition to augmenting staffing at the embassy in Cuba and expediting requests for humanitarian or medical supplies, Chung talked about holding Cuban officials accountable.
“We are going to focus on applying hard-hitting sanctions on regime officials responsible for the brutal crackdown,” Chung tweeted. “Cuban officials responsible for violence, repression, and human rights violations against peaceful protestors in Cuba must be held accountable.”
In more infrastructure news, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell talked to Punchbowl News about the debt ceiling, which he thinks Democrats should include in the reconciliation package.
A two-year suspension of the debt ceiling will expire at the end of July, but McConnell said he “can’t imagine” any Republican voting to raise it in the current “environment” of Capitol Hill.
“I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now – this free-for-all for taxes and spending – to vote to raise the debt limit,” McConnell told Punchbowl News. “I think the answer is they need to put it in the reconciliation bill.”
Axios is reporting that in an effort to counter Republican attacks, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer will release a report today by Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi that argues that the bipartisan infrastructure deal and social-spending package would help the economy.
Some key points from the report, according to Axios:
- Failing to pass the legislation “would certainly diminish the economy’s prospects,” Zandi wrote.
- Inflation concerns are “overdone.”
- “Greater investments in public infrastructure and social programs will lift productivity and labor force growth, and the attention on climate change will help forestall its increasingly corrosive economic effects,” Zandi wrote.
Today’s the day of the cloture vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Members of the bipartisan group that negotiated the deal – and are still smoothing out the last bits of pay-fors that have Republicans unhappy that they’re being rushed into a procedural vote – seem optimistic that they have the general idea, but not the text.
Reminder though that several Republicans balked on going forward with a vote to open debate on the floor on a bill without text, despite having done so before on the endless frontier bill in May and the AAPI hate crime bill earlier this year.
A quick recap because this is wonky and messy: there are two infrastructure bills that Democrats want to pass, the bipartisan infrastructure bill on roads, bridges, public transit and broadband that was negotiated with Republicans and Joe Biden and allegedly settled on last month – and an ambitious $3.5tn reconciliation bill that focuses on “human infrastructure” like social services and environmental measures and has drawn comparisons to the New Deal.
Most Republicans are against the reconciliation bill because of its sheer size and feel like after negotiating so long on the bipartisan framework, the Democrats tacked on the reconciliation bill as a package deal. The push by majority leader Chuck Schumer for a cloture vote today would move things along on the bipartisan bill so Democrats would be able to turn their focus on the reconciliation bill.
Either way, Republicans are very much against getting rushed by Schumer. Cloture requires 60 votes to pass, and while not getting the votes today doesn’t mean the end to the bipartisan deal as we know it, it would send a significant message pertaining to the Democrats’ ability to get it done.
Breakthrough Covid infections hit Washington amid reopening woes
What up, liveblog readers. Happy Wednesday. You’re halfway there.
We learned yesterday that a White House official tested positive for Covid-19 after coming in contact with a staffer for House speaker Nancy Pelosi who tested positive after escorting some Texas Democrats who tested positive this weekend.
All parties involved had been vaccinated. These are called breakthrough infections or breakthrough cases: when a person who has completed all recommended doses of a vaccine tests positive.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later disclosed that there have been other breakthrough cases among White House staff, but did not have the exact number. A memo from the attending physician at the US Capitol also disclosed that “several vaccinated Congressional staff” and “one member of Congress” have tested positive.
The news of these breakthrough cases in Washington comes as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus tears through the rest of the country. The Delta variant accounts for 83% of all sequenced cases in the US, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts and officials are saying these breakthrough cases are underscoring the importance of vaccinations: everyone who has tested positive in Washington are either displaying mild or no symptoms, meaning there will be less of run on hospitals beds and medical services if more people inoculate themselves against the virus.
Infection rates are currently highest where vaccination rates are the lowest. Maya Yang has more on the Delta variant here: