The Death of a Legend
Conservative Radio giant Rush Limbaugh lost his battle with lung cancer this week at the age of 70.
While I was only able to meet and speak to El Rushbo a handful of times, I will forever be indebted to him. He is the reason why I am where I am.
Many, many moons ago, I was listening to Rush and overheard him tell the story of how he got to where he was — atop the political world.
While I am not there (yet), I have been fortunate to climb up the political ladder, make great friends, help influence politics, all while not shaking down anyone for money or using my “power of the pen” to threaten and extort anyone because they can’t or won’t advertise with my publications, as some individuals tend to do.
Rush once walked into a Palm Beach restaurant where then-candidate Marco Rubio had just concluded a fundraiser for his 2010 senatorial race. Upon arriving, a friend and I flagged him down as he walked by our table, where he asked us what we were doing.
Of course I proceeded to tell him about the event. He loved Rubio (don’t know why. Ha!) and asked me to call Marco and tell him to turn the car around and come back to the restaurant.
Ok, so I called Rubio and told him to turn around. What does Rubio tell me to do?
“Give him a copy of the National Review magazine,” said Rubio. I was like, ’Yeah, I carry that in my back pocket everywhere I go.”
Rush will be missed.
CFO Jimmy Patronis — With “talent on loan from God” as he would often say, Rush Limbaugh was an iconic conservative voice for so many Americans for decades. He cannot be replaced—but his life’s work and legacy will continue
Rep.Anthony Sabatini —Proud to make this request today for the lowering of Florida’s flags to half-staff in honor of the passing of a great Floridian—Rush Limbaugh. Rush was a relentless champion of America and of civic engagement. May his memory live on forever.
Gov. Ron DeSantis —.@FLCaseyDeSantis and I are saddened to learn of the passing of fellow Floridian and our friend, Rush Limbaugh. My statement
President Donald Trump — “He is a legend and to those people that listened to him every day like. It was like a religious experience for a lot of people who have been his fans, they just wouldn’t miss him. He was a very, very unique person.” READ MORE
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —I send my heartfelt condolences to the family of Rush Limbaugh. He was a great friend of Israel and he stood by us through thick and thin, always firm, never wavering. We shall miss him dearly.
Yeah, Sabatini formally requested the lowering of the flag.
2022 Legislative Session
The last legislative committee week is now wrapping up, and while Tallahassee doesn’t feel or look the same as a result of COVID, work is still getting done.
A bunch of bills have been filed, with several calling a lot of attention, including Sabatini’s ‘Not so fast Mr. Lobbyist’ bill that would prohibit lobbyists from receiving taxpayer funds. READ MORE
Another bill is from Democrat Senator Lauren Book, who may, I say may challenge CFO Patronis in the 2022 mid-term election.
Sen. Book wants maternity leave for all mothers, regardless of the kind of birth of their baby (s). READ MORE
Hey, has anyone seen AG Commissioner Nikki Fried since her much-anticipated video was released?
Word on the street is that after I criticized her wardrobe the other day, she quickly called Herbe Thiele and asked to borrow his metallic-purple/pink blazer for her next video shoot.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy @RepStephMurphy-Members of FL’s national guard are being asked to perform diverse missions like combat, homeland defense, COVID relief & hurricane response. Today I asked senior military leaders to ensure the force is properly sized, resourced & trained to continue to excel.
-Black & Hispanics don’t know how to use computers or wait in line at a pharmacy.
-Poor kids are just as bright as White kids.
-Biden feared a ‘racial jungle’ regarding integration in schools.
-Called Obama a mainstream, articulate, & clean guy.
Congressman Greg Steube @RepGregSteube–The Biden Administration is doing next to nothing to combat the threat of the Communist Chinese Government. Protecting American data and information from the CCP is a top priority for the GOP since Biden won’t take it seriously.
Rep. Carlos G Smith @CarlosGSmith-Welp. This prohibitionist just loaded up our House committee with bogus info suggesting increased youth use of cannabis in legal states. This December 2020 report in the Journal of Adolescent Health says otherwise.
Cruz Calls For Congressional Probe Of Cuomo ‘Possibly Criminal’ COVID Nursing Home Scandal by The Floridian’s Mona Salama
Sen. Book To Amend FL Maternity Leave for all births by The Floridian’s Jim McCool
Trump Reacts To Rush Limbaugh’s Death: ‘He Is A Legend’ by The Floridian’s Jim McCool
Conservative Media Icon Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70 After Battle With Lung Cancer by The Floridian’s Mona Salama
Sabatini Files Bill Banning Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina
Biden Claims ‘We Didn’t Have’ COVID Vaccine When He Entered Office by The Floridian’s Mona Salama
Biden Says His Administration Made A ‘Mistake In The Communication’ On School ‘One Day A Week’ Reopening by The Floridian’s Mona Salama
Republicans Who Voted To Convict Trump Face Swift Political Backlash by The Floridian’s Mona Salama
“FL Dems Continue Protecting Compromised Voting System” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – This month, Florida state legislators introduced Senate Bill 90 in the Florida Senate. The Senate bill gives the Florida GOP hope of battling the mail-in voting that infamously promotes the possibilities of election fraud and irregularities. State Senator Dennis Baxley (R-FL) hopes to limit the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections held within a calendar year. The measure will effect on July 1, 2021. The bill also reads that any supervisor “who releases the results of a canvassing or processing of vote-by-mail ballots prior to the closing of the polls in that county on election day commits a felony of the third degree” The bill was first introduced on February 3, 2021, but was passed by the Ethics and Elections Committee 5 to 4, today. Considering that 45% of Democrats voted by mail in 2020, it is safe to say this may be a move more political than righteous, as the 2022 election is just around the corner. Baxley insists that the bill is only a precaution to people moving addresses, “I know people who have moved three or four times in two years, and if they’re not updating [their addresses] they’re not getting the right ballot…” Baxley simply calls the current system an, “opportunity for something to go wrong.”
“Trump Rips McConnell In Explosive Statement, Promises MAGA Primary Challengers” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Former President Donald Trump unleashed on GOP Senate leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in vintage-style Trump, calling the most powerful Republican an “unsmiling political hack and pledged to “back primary rivals” who support his “Make America Great Again” agenda. “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in a lengthy statement released through his Save America super PAC. “The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.” “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership,” Trump added.
“DeSantis Beats Trump in GOP Favorability, Potential 2024 Presidential Run” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – While the tag “DeathSantis” trends on Twitter, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), has done nothing but boost his electability in 2022, and possibly boosting his shot at the White House in 2024. After months of clashing with the media, ripping on President Biden (D), and displaying pure efficiency with an open state policy, DeSantis is Public Enemy #1 for Democrats across the nation, just as the recent scandals sobering Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) stardom, and the mess that is Governor Newsom’s (D-CA) California continue to unfold. DeSantis has easily positioned himself among the top tier of US Governors as Florida has prospered. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took to Twitter today to point out a Republican-led Florida’s success over blue states such as New York and California. According to many Florida polls, DeSantis has a higher favorability among Republicans than former President Donald Trump (R) who won the state of Florida by the largest vote margin since 2004 in his re-election bid. These numbers also stagger over other Florida GOP members such as Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Rick Scott. Top advisor to Senator Mitch McConnell, Josh Holmes, described DeSantis as, “having a moment with Conservatives.” And with a 64% approval rating, this claim is hard to argue.
“Florida schools get more time for spring tests due to coronavirus concerns” by Tampa Bay Times’ Jeffrey S. Solochek – Facing mounting concerns about the safety of in-person testing, the Florida Department of Education on Monday announced it would give schools two extra weeks this spring to conduct the Florida Standards Assessments. “This emergency order simply delays statutory deadlines for the reporting of assessment results, so districts and schools can implement lengthened testing schedules,” K-12 chancellor Jacob Oliva told superintendents in a memo accompanying the emergency order. “This allows for more continued social distancing during test administration.” Many parents — especially those whose children have been taking courses remotely from home — have said they do not want to risk getting their youngsters exposed to the coronavirus by returning to campuses to sit for the tests. The state tests will be available in-person only. Several have shown interest in opting out of the assessments, some of which are used to determine course grades and grade-level promotion. The state’s announcement met some school district officials’ request to be allowed to space out the testing, and offer an added level of safety. Tampa Bay area superintendents have said they are exploring the idea of bringing in smaller groups of students at night and on weekends. But this latest step did not appeal to everyone.
“Florida man arrested during Capitol riot says he was following President Trump’s directions”–By Click Orlando’s Adrienne Cutway – A Florida man who was arrested during the riot at the Capitol earlier this year is asking to be released on bond, claiming that he never engaged in any violence and he was just following former President Donald Trump’s directions. In a newly filed motion, attorneys for 35-year-old Michael Curzio, of Summerfield, claim that the Capitol had already been breached and by the time he made his way inside, “the doors were already open and police officers were letting the crowd in.” Curzio is not accused of any violence or destructive acts on the grounds. His attorneys claim he “milled about” once inside and that his only crime was refusing to leave when Capitol officers told him to do so. He’s facing charges of unlawful entry, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and violent entry, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Records show he was originally arrested during the riot on Jan. 6 then taken back into custody on Jan. 14. A federal statement of facts produced by the United States Capitol Police shows Curzio managed to make his way to the upper level of the United States Capitol Visitor Center near the door to the House Atrium. Curzio’s attorneys state that because he was not violent toward officers and was not among the first rioters to push past police, he should be granted bond.
“Florida Vaccine Rollout” by WFLA’s Gayle Guyardo – Florida Vaccine Rollout Dr. Prabhjot Singh, the Chief Medical Officer and Scientific Advisor of CV-19 Check Up joins Gayle Guyardo on BLOOM to talk about the vaccine roll-out in Florida. (VIDEO)
“Florida: Standardized testing must be done on campus” By AP — Florida will extend the standardized testing period in the spring to allow for in-person testing for students who have not yet returned to campus due to COVID-19 concerns, the state’s education commissioner said in a new order. The testing, which usually takes place over a two-week period, was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be expanded this year by at least two weeks. Some parents who have not yet sent their children back to campus are asking the state to cancel the tests again. One online petition has more than 12,600 signatures, the Orlando Sentinel reported. But Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and many local school leaders say the tests in language arts, science, math and social studies would provide valuable information on what students have learned in a year interrupted by the pandemic. The order issued Monday said that testing, which is required by federal and state laws, “is now more critical than ever.” Testing results will give parents and educators a gauge of student progress and of what additional help might be needed to “ensure that each student is given the services and supports they need to succeed in life,” the order said. State officials said more than 840,000 standardized tests have been administered safely since the summer, in part because more time was given, including weekend and evening sessions. The same methods could be used for the spring testing, officials said.
“Florida deputy busted in child predator sting” by New York Posts’ Jackie Salo – A Florida deputy was busted after allegedly trying to get nude photos from an undercover officer who he thought was a 15-year-old girl, authorities said. Charlotte County Deputy Marty Allen, 41, was arrested Sunday on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct, news station WBBH reported. The undercover agent spoke to Allen online for 10 months — with some of the conversations occurring while the deputy was on duty, authorities said. During those conversations, the subject matter would turn sexual, authorities said. Allen asked for nude pictures from the “teen” and for her to move in with him, authorities said. Investigators set up a location for Allen to meet the teen — and arrested him. He was placed on administrative leave without pay after the sting. “Deputy Allen has broken his oath and that sacred trust that is expected as a law enforcement officer, instead, choosing to prey upon those he swore to serve and protect. This cannot and will not be tolerated,” Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummel said.
“Florida teacher denies slave abuse, defends use of N-word in viral video” by Yahoo News’ DeMicia Inman – A series of TikTok videos filmed by a student features an educator reframing history in real-time. A Florida school district has opened an investigation after a series of viral videos allegedly showed a history teacher denying facts involving slavery and using the N-word during class. According to News Channel 8, an unidentified Island Coast High School student recorded the lesson and uploaded the footage to TikTok. In the short videos, the teacher informed students that slave masters did not abuse enslaved people. They also claimed the N-word was a term meaning stupid or ignorant, not a racial slur. “We’re going to have a conversation with you where I hold all the power and you hold none. That’s not fair,” said Community Advocate Earl Sparrow of the teacher’s behavior. Members of the school board have also spoken out about the event. “We are very short of teachers,” said Gwyn Gittens, member of the Lee County School Board told News-Press. “I understand that, but we need to vet the few that we have to make sure that they’re doing what it is that needs to be done.” She continued, “I’m not there to teach you how I personally, Gwyn Gittens, feel and what I believe. I’m there to give you facts and teach you how to dissect and pick it apart and look at it and define it and use it going forward in your future to make our world better.”
“Hundreds of Florida Duke Energy crew members head to the Carolinas to restore power during winter storms” by 10 Tampa Bay Times – Hundreds of Florida crew members and contractors have been deployed to the Carolinas to help restore power after deadly winter weather has left millions across the country in the dark. Duke Energy says 275 employees will be sent as a winter storm is expected to blow through the region later this week. Approximately 175 crews left Florida Tuesday, while another 100 contractors are being deployed Sunday and Monday. The record-breaking cold weather has claimed several lives nationwide, including three people in a seaside town in North Carolina. The state’s Brunswick County was struck by a tornado Tuesday. The National Weather Service said it was “very surprised” at how quickly the storm “intensified.”
“South Florida Doctor Speaks Out About COVID-19 Racial Disparities” by NBC Miami’s Derrick Lewis – A South Florida doctor said the country needs to do more to vaccinate people of color. Dr. Bernard Ashby, a vascular cardiologist, said Black people are not getting their fair share of the COVID-19 vaccine. “What we’re running into now is a lack of access to the vaccine,” he said. NBC News reports Black Americans have received the vaccine at dramatically lower rates than white Americans. “The disparities in the outcomes were predictable, that’s because we are under-resourced and underappreciated as a population,” said Dr. Ashby. He will be part of a virtual panel discussion Tuesday evening called “The Impact of Systemic Racism on Health and Access to the COVID Vaccine.” He explained why he’s decided to speak out. “Frankly, because I’m tired of it and this is an ongoing issue that pre-existed the pandemic and will exist after the pandemic,” he said. One solution he feels addresses the problem is providing health care for everyone. “If we structured a system that actually was more integrated and actually increased access, meaning provide care for everyone in the U.S., that would actually lead to decreased deaths first of all, and also improve quality life for our entire country,” Dr. Ashby said.
“Vacation Rental Proposal On The Move In Florida Senate” by News Serice of Florida’s Dara Kam – A controversial effort to further limit local governments’ ability to regulate and inspect vacation rental properties is advancing in the Florida Senate, as the proposal’s sponsor on Tuesday assured critics that the legislation is “a starting point.” As online platforms such as Airbnb have grown in popularity, regulation of short-term rental properties has become a perennial fight in the Legislature. State law already bans local governments from passing ordinances to outlaw vacation rentals, which have raised the ire of residents who complain of investor-owned, noisy “party houses” in neighborhoods. Other critics maintain that owners of some rental properties are failing to properly submit state and local taxes. But proponents contend that the short-term rental properties are used to supplement the incomes of retirees and families. They argue that vacation-rental owners are entitled to the same rights as their neighbors and shouldn’t be regulated differently. The measure approved Tuesday by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee would, for the first time, require online platforms to collect and remit taxes on vacation rental properties, ensure that only properly licensed rentals are advertised and provide the state with specific information about the rentals.
“Some Florida lawmakers consider capping amount of THC in medical marijuana” by NBC 2’s Dave Elias – Some lawmakers are worried Florida medical marijuana patients are getting too high or even addicted to weed. Now, they are considering capping the amount of THC a patient can legally have access to. As it stands, THC ranges 15% to 25% in medical marijuana. But some Florida lawmakers want to reduce the amount of THC to just 10%. Steven Shea is a medical marijuana patient who carries his state medical card that he and others like him must renew annually. He said he has personally seen the results medical pot can have. “My mom spent roughly 5 years fighting against lung and brain cancer,” Shea he said. He opposes any cap on the amount of THC in pot. “I don’t know any medical professional who would come in and say ‘hey we’re going to cap the amount you can get in order to help with what you’re going through,”’ Shea said. Dr. Bertha Madras is a professor of psychobiology from Harvard Medical School and told lawmakers in Tallahassee Tuesday that marijuana has not gone through a rigorous FDA process compared to other drugs. Dr. Madras also warned lawmakers of her concern with the high THC levels patients have access to. “The consequences are a greater high. There’s more tolerance that can develop. There is a more addictive potential,” Dr. Madras said. However not everyone agrees. “Marijuana is medicine — it helps relieve symptoms of debilitating conditions and improves patients’ quality of life. Installing an arbitrary THC cap will limit the impact of the flower and increase costs, which could force patients to seek alternatives on the black market,” said Nikki Fried, Florida commissioner of agriculture. “Decisions about treatment should be left between doctors and patients, not politicians.”
“Gov. Abbott orders investigation into Texas energy company amid blackouts, freezing temperatures” by Fox News’ Morgan Phillips – Calling it “anything but reliable,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered an investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) amid statewide blackouts in freezing temperatures. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable,” Abbott wrote in a statement. “I have issued an executive order to review the preparations and decisions by ERCOT so we can determine what caused this problem and find long-term solutions.” ERCOT is facing fire for its management of the state’s power grid after 4.1 million people were left without power amid record snow and subzero temperatures. Some had been without power for more than 24 hours after generating stations went offline Monday. The outages also shut down water treatment plants, and hundreds of thousands were instructed to boil water before using it. The rare arctic air that blasted into Texas resulted in record-breaking demand for power, causing the state’s electric system to fail. Energy suppliers planned to use rolling blackouts to deal with the demand, but the system was overwhelmed. Expectations that the outages would be shared evenly for 10-15 minutes at a time by the state’s 30 million residents quickly gave way to a cold reality, as pockets in some of America’s largest cities, including San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin were left to shoulder the lasting brunt of a catastrophic power failure and in subfreezing conditions that Texas’ grid operators had known was coming.
“COVID relief spending has saved US economy from ‘great recession’, Steven Mnuchin says” by Fox News’ Brittany De Lea – Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin credited the COVID-19 relief bills passed by President Donald Trump’s administration with saving the U.S. economy from a “great recession” as he advocated for more on Tuesday. In his first television interview since leaving the White House with FOX Business’ Larry Kudlow – who headed up the National Economic Council under Trump – Mnuchin said that traditional ways of thinking about spending and the economy are irrelevant since the ongoing recession isn’t “economically driven.” “I think traditional economic models don’t really work here and that’s why we’ve done this [relief] in stages,” Mnuchin explained. “So I’ve felt all along we need to spend what we need to spend.” Mnuchin did caution, however, that at “some point” ballooning government debt does become problematic, so his preference would be to see a fifth bill and a sixth bill, if necessary, in addition to the four passed during his tenure. The former treasury secretary noted that two of the bills passed under his watch sailed through the Senate with nearly unanimous support, whereas Democrats and the Biden administration are considering bypassing Republican resistance by using the reconciliation process. “My preference would be that the president continues to do something on a bipartisan basis as opposed to using reconciliation,” Mnuchin said on Tuesday. He also warned against using reconciliation, which is intended to address certain budgetary measures, as a general spending tool.
“White House says Biden backs citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, ahead of bill unveiling” by Fox News’ Adam Shaw – The White House on Tuesday reaffirmed that President Biden backs a controversial plan to create a pathway to citizenship to at least 11 million illegal immigrants — as the White House and congressional Democrats are expected to formally unveil a sweeping immigration bill as soon as this week. “There certainly is part of the proposal that the president outlined and proposed on Day One that is an earned pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. A pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants in the country has long been a top item on liberal wishlists, and Biden promised such a plan if elected. Estimates generally put the illegal immigrant population at about 11 million, although others suggest that could be higher. The proposal, sketched out by the administration on Inauguration Day, would include an 8-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — a path that includes a five year path to a green card and a three-year path to citizenship after background checks and other steps. It would also give farmworkers, along with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immediate green card eligibility. They would then be eligible for citizenship three years later. The proposal, sketched out by the administration on Inauguration Day, would include an 8-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — a path that includes a five year path to a green card and a three-year path to citizenship after background checks and other steps. It would also give farmworkers, along with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immediate green card eligibility. They would then be eligible for citizenship three years later.
“Biden administration extends ban on foreclosures and mortgage relief” by CNN Business’ Anna Bahney – On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced it is extending the federal ban on foreclosures and mortgage forbearance programs through June, offering relief to millions of homeowners who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. The action extends the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners with federally-backed loans until the end of June. It also extends the window for struggling homeowners with federally-backed loans to request mortgage forbearance — which allows homeowners to defer or reduce their mortgage payments — until the end of June. The maximum forbearance period has also been expanded. The action provides an additional six months for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last March, homeowners could initially request up to one year of forbearance relief. The relief for struggling homeowners is part of a coordinated effort among The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture. Many of the protections put in place last spring were due to expire next month, leaving many at risk of falling further into debt and losing their homes. Separately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the independent agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, extended forbearance by three months for borrowers coming to the end of their forbearance period for a total of up to 15 months. The agency extended its foreclosure ban until the end of March, as it continues to monitor the data and the impact of the pandemic. Its allowable forbearance length and the foreclosure moratorium could be extended.
“Pelosi announces plans for ‘9/11-type commission’ to investigate Capitol attack” by CNN’s Clare Foran, Ryan Nobles and Annie Grayer – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to House Democrats on Monday plans for the creation of a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. “To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex,'” Pelosi wrote. Pelosi has previously called for the formation of such a commission and said she believes there is a need for it. A commission of this nature would be established by a statute, passed by both chambers and signed into law by the President. The commission members would not be elected leaders and would be outside the government. Efforts to shore up security at the Capitol and shed light on what led to its breach by a violent, pro-Trump mob on January 6 are still ongoing, however.
In mid-January, Pelosi announced that retired Lt. General Russel Honoré will lead a review of the “security infrastructure” of Capitol Hill in the wake of the attack. “For the past few weeks, General Honoré has been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again,” Pelosi wrote in her letter on Monday.
“Democrats and Biden prepare to unveil bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants” by CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Lauren Fox – The Biden administration, in concert with Hill Democrats, is preparing to unveil legislation this week that seeks to provide a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. For decades, lawmakers have tried to reform the US immigration system and fallen short. The latest effort will similarly be a big lift, as Democrats only narrowly hold the House and Senate and face a Republican Party that’s moved further to right on the issue since the 2013 bipartisan bill. Biden’s bill will also likely join a series of other immigration measures that are narrowly focused on undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, are in the US under a form of humanitarian relief, and are working in agriculture — setting up a dizzying number of attempts to provide legalization to the undocumented population. Biden reiterated Tuesday that he wants a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants residing in the US but signaled willingness to pass other immigration measures in the interim. “Yeah, there’s a whole range of things that relate to immigration,” the President said during a CNN town hall when asked whether he’d sign a bill that did not include a pathway to citizenship. The House previously passed a bipartisan bill that would grant legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers and a separate bill that addresses beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and two other programs, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, that offer temporary relief.
“Biden to Meet With Unions Pushing for Infrastructure Spending” by WSJ’s Timothy Puko and Andrew Restuccia – President Biden is scheduled to meet in the White House on Wednesday with senior labor union leaders, and people familiar with the matter say they are hoping to win commitments for a massive federal investment in infrastructure as well as efforts to create jobs in clean tech and alternative energy. Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, will be meeting with the president and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office, and may be joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other labor leaders, according to some of the people. White House officials have been holding regular meetings with lawmakers and outside groups as the president prepares to unveil an economic recovery package that will focus on improving U.S. infrastructure and creating jobs. Last week, Mr. Biden met with a bipartisan group of senators, as well as mayors and governors. When asked about Wednesday’s meeting, White House spokesman Vedant Patel said via email that the administration “will evaluate infrastructure proposals based on our energy needs, their ability to achieve economy wide net zero emissions by 2050, and their ability to create good paying union jobs.” Late Tuesday night, the White House confirmed the president’s Wednesday meeting with union leaders to discuss infrastructure and the administration’s economic relief efforts, but didn’t provide any other details. Unions are especially important for Mr. Biden. They give heavily to Democratic candidates and mobilize voters in key states. Mr. Biden has tried to stop a drift of union voters going to Republican candidates by promising repeatedly that his agenda to address climate change wouldn’t threaten their job security and would instead offer new alternatives to laborers long dependent on oil, gas and coal companies.
“School Reopening Pits Parents Against Teachers: “Is There a Word Beyond ‘Frustrating’?”” by WSJ’s Kris Maher and Jennifer Calfas – Patrick Cozzens had never spoken up at a school board meeting until he stood in front of a crowd of angry parents earlier this month to read a statement his 16-year-old daughter helped him to write. “I’ve watched her go from a child that has loved school, thrived at school her entire life, to one now, using her own words, who just doesn’t care anymore,” he said, his voice breaking. “What are you focused on? Get our children back!” Dozens of parents who live in the affluent community outside Pittsburgh erupted in applause, and the president of the school board rapped his gavel for order. Other parents, some via Zoom, and at least one teacher opposed a plan introduced by the superintendent to return the town’s 5,300 students to classrooms full-time in March, up from two days a week at most currently. “The thought of returning to a full in-person day amid a global pandemic is so overwhelming that it could honestly bring me to tears,” said Emily Rindels, a fifth grade teacher in Mt. Lebanon, who teaches about half of her students at a time in the classroom, under the district’s hybrid model. Nearly a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic shut down school districts and sent more than 50 million school children home to learn remotely, setting many students back and straining families. Now, the reopening debate has reached a fever pitch, polarizing communities across the country.
“Trump’s Statement Criticizes McConnell, Calling Him a ‘Political Hack’” by WSJ’s Alex Leary Lindsay Wise – Former President Donald Trump criticized Sen. Mitch McConnell in a lengthy statement following the Senate minority leader’s blistering condemnation of Mr. Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by his supporters. “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement released by his political action committee. He later added: “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm.” Mr. McConnell joined all but seven Republicans in voting Saturday to acquit Mr. Trump in his impeachment trial, but followed that with a speech that laid blame on the former president for stirring up a crowd, as the two Republicans and their respective allies engage in a broader fight over Mr. Trump’s future role in the party. “They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth—because he was angry he’d lost an election,” Mr. McConnell said. “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.” While Mr. McConnell took the position that it was unconstitutional to put a former president on trial, he added: “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”
“Judge refuses to ban Capitol riot suspect from Twitter and Facebook” by Politico’s Josh Gerstein – A federal magistrate judge has turned down prosecutors’ effort to block a man accused of participating in the Capitol riot from using Twitter and Facebook, but ordered him to end his involvement with a business he founded that the Justice Department says promotes and glorifies violent protests. The defendant, John Sullivan of Utah, has maintained that he attends raucous demonstrations as a journalist, sharing videos through his Insurgence USA website and social media platforms. Sullivan’s defense attorney even filed invoices with the court showing that CNN and NBC each paid Sullivan’s firm $35,000 last month for rights to video he filmed of chaotic scenes outside and inside the Capitol, including the deadly shooting of protester Ashli Babbitt by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. However, prosecutors contend that Sullivan is not a mere bystander or chronicler of protests. Instead, they say, he actively encourages violence, telling viewers how to make Molotov cocktails and evade identification by police. He was arrested last month on charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot, including interfering with police during a civil disorder. Sullivan was later hit with an additional charge: obstruction of Congress. At a hearing on Tuesday afternoon on Sullivan’s release conditions, Washington-based Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather split the difference between prosecutors seeking to eliminate Sullivan’s presence on the United States’ most popular social media platforms and a defense lawyer who decried what he said was an assault on his client’s constitutional rights.