House OKs debt ceiling bill to avoid default, sends Biden-McCarthy deal to Senate

Veering away from a default crisis, the House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package on late May 31, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.

The hard-fought deal pleased few, but lawmakers assessed it was better than the alternative— a devastating economic upheaval if Congress failed to act. Tensions ran high throughout the day as hard-right Republicans refused the deal, while Democrats said “extremist” GOP views were risking a debt default as soon as next week.

With an overwhelming House vote, 314-117, the bill now heads to the Senate with passage expected by week’s end.

Mr. McCarthy insisted his party was working to “give America hope” as he launched into a late evening speech extolling the bill’s budget cuts, which he said were needed to curb Washington’s “runaway spending.”

Amid deep discontent from Republicans who said the spending restrictions did not go far enough, Mr. McCarthy said it is only a “first step.”

The package makes some inroads in curbing the nation’s debt as Republicans demanded, without rolling back Trump-era tax breaks as Mr. Biden wanted. To pass it, Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy counted on support from the political center, a rarity in divided Washington.

In a statement released after the vote, Mr. Biden said: “I have been clear that the only path forward is a bipartisan compromise that can earn the support of both parties. This agreement meets that test.”

He called the vote “good news for the American people and the American economy.”

Mr. Biden had sent top White House officials to the Capitol and called lawmakers directly to shore up backing. Mr. McCarthy worked to sell sceptical fellow Republicans, even fending off challenges to his leadership, in the rush to avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default.

Swift passage later in the week by the Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others and would prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad. Next Monday is when the Treasury has said the U.S. would run short of money to pay its debts.

Overall, the 99-page bill restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling into January 2025 and changes some policies, including imposing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid and greenlighting an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose.

It bolsters funds for defense and veterans, and guts new money for Internal Revenue Service agents.

Raising the nation’s debt limit, now $31 trillion, ensures Treasury can borrow to pay already incurred U.S. debts.

Top GOP deal negotiator Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana said Republicans were fighting for budget cuts after the past years of extra spending, first during the COVID-19 crisis and later with Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, with its historic investment to fight climate change paid for with revenues elsewhere.

But Republican Rep. Chip Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus helping to lead the opposition, said, “My beef is that you cut a deal that shouldn’t have been cut.”

For weeks negotiators laboured late into the night to strike the deal with the White House, and for days Mr. McCarthy has worked to build support among sceptics. At one point, aides wheeled in pizza at the Capitol the night before the vote as he walked Republicans through the details, fielded questions and encouraged them not to lose sight of the bill’s budget savings.

The Speaker faced a tough crowd. Cheered on by conservative senators and outside groups, the hard-right House Freedom Caucus lambasted the compromise as falling well short of the needed spending cuts, and they vowed to try to halt passage.

A much larger conservative faction, the Republican Study Committee, declined to take a position. Even rank-and-file centrist conservatives were unsure, leaving Mr. McCarthy searching for votes from his slim Republican majority.

Ominously, the conservatives warned of possibly trying to oust Mr. McCarthy over the compromise.

One influential Republican, former President Donald Trump, held his fire: “It is what it is,” he said of the deal in an interview with Iowa radio host Simon Conway.

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was up to Mr. McCarthy to turn out Republican votes in the 435-member House, where 218 votes are needed for approval.

As the tally faltered on an afternoon procedural vote, Mr. Jeffries stood silently and raised his green voting card, signalling that the Democrats would fill in the gap to ensure passage. They did, advancing the bill that hard-right Republicans, many from the Freedom Caucus, refused to back.

“Once again, House Democrats to the rescue to avoid a dangerous default,” said Mr. Jeffries, D-N.Y.

“What does that say about this extreme MAGA Republican majority?” he said about the party aligned with Mr. Trump’s ”Make America Great Again” political movement.

Then, on the final vote hours later, Democrats again ensured passage, leading the tally as 71 Republicans bucked their majority and voted against it.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the spending restrictions in the package would reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade, a top goal for the Republicans trying to curb the debt load.

In a surprise that complicated Republicans’ support, however, the CBO said their drive to impose work requirements on older Americans receiving food stamps would end up boosting spending by $2.1 billion over the time period. That’s because the final deal exempts veterans and homeless people, expanding the food stamp rolls by 78,000 people monthly, the CBO said.

Liberal discontent, though, ran strong as nearly four dozen Democrats also broke away, decrying the new work requirements for older Americans, those 50-54, in the food aid program.

Some Democrats were also incensed that the White House negotiated into the deal changes to the landmark National Environmental Policy Act and approval of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas project. Energy development is important to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., but many others oppose it as unhelpful in fighting climate change.

On Wall Street, stock prices were down.

In the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell are working for passage by week’s end.

Mr. Schumer warned there is ”no room for error.”

Senators, who have remained largely on the sidelines during much of the negotiations, are insisting on amendments to reshape the package. But making any changes at this stage seemed unlikely with so little time to spare before Monday’s deadline.

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#House #OKs #debt #ceiling #bill #avoid #default #sends #BidenMcCarthy #deal #Senate

Louisiana Wingnut Rep. Clay Higgins Bulldozes Protester. WHAR ASSAULT CHARGES?

Rightwing Republican congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana — known around these parts as the ‘WHAR BOXES?’ guy, or simply WHAR BOXES — took it upon himself to play bouncer Wednesday when a young protester got a little too mouthy during a press conference being held by prominent House Wingnut Caucus members including Higgins, Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), Paul Gosar DDS (R-Arizona) and others. (Higgins later tweeted that the presser was about the very real threat to US sovereignty posed by the World Health Organization, which is part of the UN One-World Communist Plot, which seems like indispensable context.)

The protester, law student and organizer/troublemaker Jake Burdett, 25, told the Daily Beast he’d actually been in DC for a Medicare for All rally led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), but when that was over, he saw the Freedom Caulkers setting up and decided to be a free speech pest, which is his right as an American citizen.

Spotting Gosar and Boebert, he decided to stick around. “I figured I’d ask them some tough questions,” he said. “Bird-dog them, whatever you want to call it.”

And indeed, as Burdett’s videos show, he was definitely heckling the rightwing dipshits, which may happen when politicians hold a “press conference” in public.


In the first video, Burdett shouts questions while Gosar is speaking, asking about his appearance at a confab held by neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes, and about that embarrassing campaign ad made by Gosar’s own siblings, urging people not to vote for him. As Freedom Cockups try to tell Burdett to leave, Higgins steps in to promise he’ll answer all Burdett’s questions later (about Gosar, sure!) if the young man will just stop recording and be quiet. Higgins does get right up in Burdett’s face to deliver that offer of help.

In the first video, Higgins fairly calmly introduces himself and says, “All I’m asking you to do is just peacefully stand by with your camera and I promise you — look at me — I’ll come talk to you straight up and answer all your questions. Fair enough?”

And yes, Burdett wanted to know how on earth Higgins would be in a position to know anything about Gosar’s very public embarrassment.

But Burdett hadda go and persist. While Boebert spoke, he asked her about her divorce, and asked her whether it was at all related to that time in 2017 when her restaurant customers got diarrhea from tainted pork sliders. Sure, it was a rude, nonsensical, pesky question. And goddamn it, it was also perfectly legal because this is America and we can ask rude stupid questions of our elected leaders in public, Crom bless our First Amendment!

And because we are indeed a nation of laws, our elected leaders are not allowed to assault us just for being annoying, although that’s what Higgins did. Here’s video from another angle, showing Higgins grabbing Burdett to eject him (nearly knocking over another person in the audience) and manhandling Burdett away from the speakers all the way to the sidewalk.

Burdett wasn’t harmed or arrested; he told the Daily Beast that he was questioned for about a half hour by Capitol Police and told he could go. But he was certainly none too happy that the Capitol Cops didn’t seem very interested in hearing him tell them he’d been assaulted by a member of Congress.

“It’s one thing for anybody to do that,” he said of Higgins’ behavior. “But for a sitting U.S. congressperson to think that that’s OK—it just shows an extra level of entitlement, that they feel they’re untouchable and the law doesn’t apply to them.”

For his part, Higgins, a former sheriff who loves to act the Tough Guy, later took to Twitter to lie about the encounter, claiming that Burdett was “a 103M” (police code for “disturbance by a mental person,” never mind the bad English usage) and insisting in an attached video that Burdett (an “agitator activist”) was “very disruptive and threatening, in violation of the law.”

Higgins gives himself credit in the video for having “successfully de-escalated the situation,” a phrase with which we’re certain the Inigo Montoya meme would take issue. He also claims that Burdett “aggressively disrupted” Boebert and “approached her in a threatening manner,” which just isn’t the case. He was rude and shouty, not threatening.

Say, is this a good place to mention that in 2007, Higgins, then in law enforcement, was accused of beating up an innocent bystander to an arrest, and then lying to Internal affairs to cover it up? The former cop also busted for helping with that alleged cover-up is now a congressional aide to Higgins. Higgins resigned before he could be punished for that incident.

Burdett told the Daily Beast that he’s now “evaluating my options” and that “if it looks like there is a strong case for assault and [there is] an attorney willing to take on the case, I am absolutely prepared to press charges.” On Twitter, when Burdett asked for any attorneys to tell him if they thought he had a case, civil rights attorney Andrew C. Laufer replied, “Yes, assault, battery, and a potential civil rights violation.”

Former US Attorney and current MSNBC legal commentator Joyce Vance was succinct: “Looks like an assault to me?”

[Daily Beast / Lafayette Daily Advertiser / Salon / Nola.com]

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#Louisiana #Wingnut #Rep #Clay #Higgins #Bulldozes #Protester #WHAR #ASSAULT #CHARGES

Self-anointed ‘Vaccine Scientist-Author-Combat Antiscience’ still fighting lab-leak ‘misinformation’

A whole lot of so-called “experts” still have a whole lot of egg on their faces today after the lab-leak conspiracy theory for the origins of the COVID pandemic turned out to not be a conspiracy theory after all. If only someone had tried to convince them that it was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad idea to dismiss the lab-leak hypothesis as unscientific, racist, conspiratorial garbage.

Someone did try to convince of that, in fact. Many people did. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton was one of them, and he was slimed and raked over the coals for it by the FoLLoW tHe SciEnCe™ community.

Sen. Cotton called for transparency. The “experts” fought tooth-and-nail against it. It didn’t work out well for the latter group. And now we’re seeing how they behave when confronted with extremely compelling evidence that they put all their eggs in the wrong basket.

Let’s take a look at “Vaccine Scientist-Author-Combat Antiscience” Peter Hotez MD PhD BBQ PDQ (OK, we added the last two), for example, who, like so many others, isn’t handling the news very well:

Here’s our post about the New York Times piece that Hotez is referring to. It really screwed with the narrative Hotez wanted to perpetuate.

It’s important to note, since Peter did not, that COVID having natural origins does not actually disprove the lab-leak hypothesis. Virology labs often conduct research on viruses that originated in nature. The problem is when one of those viruses that originated in nature somehow gets out of the lab and spreads to places where it wasn’t naturally found, like, say, outside of caves inhabited by infected bats.

Now, now, Peter … just because you got caught trying to whitewash your own COVID misdeeds doesn’t mean that’s what people giving credence to the lab-leak hypothesis are doing. But you already knew that, didn’t you? You just know where your bread was buttered and don’t want to go hungry.

We can actually picture Hotez sneering as he typed that.

Admitting they may have been wrong would be the first step toward redemption in the eyes of a willfully misled public. It would also just be the right thing to do.

And that is why — perhaps with a handful (see what we did there?) of exceptions — they’ll never, ever do it.

***

Related:

Your crow is served: The COVID lab leak theory was dismissed by many – Twitter reminded them today

Jill Filipovic knows who’s to blame for libs/media calling misinfo on any theory blaming China lab for Covid

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#Selfanointed #Vaccine #ScientistAuthorCombat #Antiscience #fighting #lableak #misinformation