This Ain’t Your Grandparents Democratic Party
Unfortunately, extremism appears to have gripped both political parties, but now that Democrats control (barely) the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden is running the White House (barely), Democrats are pushing Left-Wing extremism or Progressive Socialism, as the new normal in politics today.
Just look at the legislation that is coming out of Congress.
When Democrats proposed a somewhat-moderate-looking firearm background check bill, Republicans like Rep. Brian Mast received unprecedented backlash from conservatives for voting in support of the measure.d
This week, Rep. Mast voted against the very same repackaged bill because of how the bill was reframed, now infringed upon the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans. READ MORE
And then there is the $1.9 Trillion COVID “Stimulus” bill proposed by House Democrats, which is filled with nothing but non-COVID-related garbage. Yet, Democrats call funding pensions, bailing out failed blue states, and:
—$40 million will be allocated “for the necessary expenses for the operation, maintenance and security” of The Kennedy Center
— $86 million for assistance to Cambodia; $130 million to Nepal, $135 million to Burma, $453 million to Ukraine, $700 million to Sudan.
— creates a Women’s History Museum and an American Latino Museum as part of the Smithsonian. Overall, the Smithsonian gets $1 billion.
This is the new normal?
Playing politics with pressing issues has always been the norm with politicians, so AG Commissioner Nikki Fried’s hypocritical jab at Gov. Ron DeSantis over his COVID response, is not all that newsy, but it is.
Commissioner Fried is now using her official office to go after Gov. DeSantis. READ MORE
Here Comes The Sun…
Two not-so-bipartisan bills in the Florida legislature that support solar energy being delivered to schools are up for discussion, could eventually receive bipartisan support from apparent like-minded Republicans. READ MORE
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell @DebbieforFL–FLORIDA: Your $1400 checks will come as early as this weekend. Democrats delivered #ForThePeople of Florida. Thank Democratic President Joe Biden and your Democratic Congressmember today. The others ………….
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani D @AnnaForFlorida–I voted against an abortion ban that attempted to pit disability rights against reproductive rights while shaming people who choose to end a pregnancy — despite our opposition the bill still passed, but we remain committed to protecting safe & legal access to an abortion.
Jared MASKowitz @JaredEMoskowitz-Yes
Matt Gaetz @mattgaetz-I don’t care that this is being done by a GOP Sheriff. Its awful to harass citizens because you think they may commit crimes, hoping to “make their lives miserable.” @GovRonDeSantis has the authority to remove @ChrisNocco & should consider doing so.
“Roach Filed HB 267 To Save Key West Economy” by the Floridian’s Jim McCool – Last year the city government of Key West inexplicably voted to ban large cruise ships from porting within their coastal area. This arose from wealthy residents not wanting to be burdened by ‘cruise ship rift raft.’ This decision proved to be faulty as this brought tourist ship traffic down by 95%, plenty of money to be missed on the local and state economy. The Key West Chamber of Commerce has since estimated a $90 million loss while simultaneously killing 800 jobs. Since the seaports are controlled by the state and not a municipality, the Key West law clearly violates the federal commerce clause, found in Article 1 of the US Constitution. However, due to the No Sail order established by the CDC, a lawsuit is not possible at this time. Fortunately, State Representative Spencer Roach (R-79) does not intend to wait for the courts to be ready and has filed legislation to reverse Key Wests’ vote. With HB 267, Roach intends to set the Florida economy back on track, as Florida’s seaports make up 13% of the Sunshine State’s GDP. The Floridian reached out to Roach for his thoughts where he informed us that, “We cannot allow wealthy enclaves to exclude certain economic classes from participating in Florida’s tourist economy.”
“Berman and Hardy Advocate for Solar Bill HB 551” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – Earlier today, State Senator Lori Berman (D-31) and freshman Rep. Omari Hardy (D-88) announced their joint plan to implement solar energy in a more equitable fashion in the Sunshine State. In the Florida House, Hardy is sponsoring HB 551, also called, “Solar Energy Systems Located on the Property of an Educational Facility.” The bill is designed to “prohibit costs associated with [solar energy] from being included in calculations of total cost per student.” Sen. Berman is the sponsor of SB 188, which aims to see the same result. Both of the pieces of legislation are primarily focused on delivering solar energy specifically to public schools in Florida however, can affect energy supply companies of all forms. Upon finishing their virtual press conference the Floridian asked Senator Berman how much money this solar bill would actually save public schools in Florida, “The number we were given was $16,000, that’s with a 100-kilowatt system.” Another big theme of today’s press conference was equity. Representative Hardy expressed concerns earlier with solar energy and the utility industry in general.
“Nikki Fried hypocritically plays politics, attacks DeSantis from her official office” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – In her endeavor to position herself as the most viable 2022 Democrat gubernatorial challenger to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who recently called for the FBI to investigate Gov. DeSantis’ actions, has beefed up her attacks against the sitting governor by blurring the lines between what’s political and what’s strictly official. Remember, Fried is expected to announce a gubernatorial run in 2022 after the 2021 legislative session concludes, and could face strong primary challenge from Rep. Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Rep.Gwen Graham and possibly Sen. Lauren Book. All of Commissioner Fried’s attacks or criticisms against Gov. DeSantis have come via her personal Twitter handle and from her Florida Consumers First political action committee. Now Fried has decided to take a different, more hypocritical, and “official” approach to campaigning against DeSantis. Fried is now using her official Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (FDAC) email to launch an attack against DeSantis over the result of the recent Clemency Board hearing. The apparent hypocrisy comes as Fried accuses DeSantis of playing politics with his executive position and the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, as she is using her position as AG Commissioner to try to score political points against her probable 2022 gubernatorial opponent.
“Latest Grouping Allegation Against Cuomo Referred To Police, May Rise ‘To The Level Of A Crime’” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – The Albany Police Department has been formally notified by the New York State Police and the New York State Executive Chamber about a recent alleged incident involving New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) with an unidentified aide that could rise “to the level of a crime or assault.” The Times Union Wednesday night detailed allegations of the sixth accuser has lodged against the governor earlier this week. A person familiar with the unidentified aide claims revealed to the Times Union disturbing new details of egregious behavior attributed to the governor to date, alleging Cuomo aggressively grouped the aide when she was alone in his private residence at Executive Mansion late last year. Under false pretense, the governor closed the door and “allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her.” The unidentified aide whose account was first reported by the Times Union Tuesday came forward after watching Cuomo addressing the first three accusations in a March 3 news conference. She apparently became emotional during the presser and told a female supervisor about her past encounters with the governor. One supervisor reported the allegation to an attorney in the governor’s office Monday.
“Mast Reverses Position On Firearm Background Checks, Denounces H.B. 8” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Today, the House voted on H.R.8, a bill that Florida Rep. Brian Mast (R) calls “a political game” that both Republicans and Democrats like to play on Washington. The new bill is alleged to “force private businesses to facilitate expanded gun control restrictions” and “jeopardize the privacy of gun owners” and infringement on the 2nd amendment rights that Americans have. In turn, expressing his disapproval of the bill, he admitted that the bill passed. In a statement, Mast expressed that “since Congress last voted on background check legislation, the far-left has attempted to undermine the 2nd Amendment and intimidate law abiding gun owners out of exercising their Constitutional right.” Though Mast supported expanded background checks in 2018 after the inclusion of safeguards were included that would prohibit the Attorney General from allegedly abusing the legislation to “implement sweeping new gun control regulations,” the Florida lawmaker is denouncing this bill. “Caving to this pressure from the far-left, the bill that House Democrats passed today is very different from background checks legislation I have supported in the past,” said Rep. Mast.
“VP Harris Ignores Question On Scandal-Plagued Cuomo’s Multiple Sexual Harassment Allegations” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – ice President Kamala Harris refused to respond to a question about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mounting sexual misconduct scandal when briefly speaking to reporters on Wednesday, despite being such an outspoken critic in slamming both Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Democratic Sen. Al Franken when they faced similar allegations in the past. During a virtual swear-in ceremony for Rep. Marcia Fudge who earlier was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 66-34 to be the next head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Harris after spoke briefly to reporters about President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. The House on Wednesday passed the Senate amended version of the package with no GOP support from either chamber. The bill heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature which is expected Friday. “Madame Vice President, do you have any comment on Gov. Cuomo?” the reporter asked. Harris walked out of the briefing room without responding to the question.
“COVID Doctor Pressures DeSantis Over Vaccine Distribution” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – In response to the 1 year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, COVID-19 expert, Dr. Anthony Harris. hosted a press conference yesterday to discuss what has and will happen as COVID ensues. Dr. Harris has been a reputable name during the pandemic and is the Chief Innovation Officer & Medical Director of WorkCare, a physician-directed occupational health company. WorkCare has previous experience with global outbreaks, as they advised on the SARS outbreak and H1N1. Dr. Harris kicked off the press conference, mainly focusing on equity, claiming that the spikes we see in COVID cases are, “socio-economically based.” According to Dr. Harris, this is due to exposure levels being higher among lower-class groups. Harris simply puts it, “risk is going to be higher than somebody who is working either from their cubical or from home.” The Floridian asked Dr. Harris about his thoughts on Florida’s relatively loose opening plan compared to other states like New York. Harris stated the following: “In states like Florida, you have the variants there, you got to look at the numbers. Reopening in a state like that [Florida], I believe will lead to potential increases in transmission.”
“Rubio Says H.R. 1 Will ‘Eliminate’ Florida’s Election System’s Safeguards, Backs SB 90” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The controversial SB 90 measure introduced by State Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) that would ban election ballot drop boxes in Florida, has now caught the eye of members of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Marco Rubio (R), a long-time friend of Sen. Baxley, responded to The Floridian’s request for comment on the recently-passed House H.R. 1 election bill. While Rubio did not specifically mention Baxley’s legislation, the senior senator from Florida’s statement covered all of the Republican’s arguments against Democrat efforts to fundamentally change national election laws and practices, including the dropbox issue. “Florida has one of the best voting systems in the world,” stated Rubio. “What Democrats are proposing is to tell Florida that we can no longer run our own elections.” Rubio added that HB 1 would “eliminate” existing safeguards in the state’s election system, and “force” Florida to “make the type of changes that increase uncertainty, decrease transparency, and further erode faith in our elections.” “Their bill would eliminate our safeguards and force our state to make the type of changes that increase uncertainty, decrease transparency, and further erode faith in our elections,” he concluded. “I will never support handing control of Florida’s elections over to Washington, D.C.”
“Psaki Laughs Off Question Over Migrant Detention Centers At Full Capacity While Schools Remain Closed” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was called out Wednesday by a reporter when she thought one of his question was funny when asked whether the White House thinks its a problem the migrant detention centers are open at full capacity but many schools are still closed despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) giving the approval. During the daily White House Press Briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pointed out CDC recommendations regarding reopening schools and managing migrant detention facilities to note that while the detention facilities are at full capacity while many schools won’t reopen. “Does the White House think it’s a problem that when the CDC tells these migrant shelter facilities that they can be at full capacity if they are careful about COVID — many of them do, but when the CDC tells schools that they can open in person at full capacity many of them don’t?” Doocy asked. Psaki appearing confused at Doocy’s question and asked him if had “an example” of a “school in particular” that isn’t opened.
“Florida HB1 infringes on free speech and right to assembly, local State Attorney Andrew Warren says” by ABC Tampa Bay’s Jasmine Styles – After a few tweaks, a bill aimed at punishing rioters makes it one step closer to becoming law. State Attorney Andrew Warren says this doesn’t help his office at all and a local pastor believes it could classify his church members as felons. “I drove the 300 miles to plead with you to vote no on HB1,” Rev. Andy Oliver with Allendale United Methodist Church said. Despite Rev. Oliver’s pleas, almost 40 other concerned citizens’ opposition and about two hours of debate among lawmakers, a 14-7 vote in the judiciary committee will move HB1 to the House floor. A committee substitute that changes much of the original language of the bill has since been filed. Rev. Oliver says had HB1 been in place last summer when he and his congregation marched for racial equality, they could’ve been arrested. “It would have made felons of my 85-year-old church ladies and my 11-year-old and 8-year-old,” Rev. Oliver said. But the sponsor of the bill says it explicitly targets bad apples in the group. “The keyword in all of this is ‘violence,'” Sen. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin (R – Miami-Dade) said. “I am absolutely in favor of peaceful protests.”
“How much will Florida receive from the American Rescue Plan?” by WPTV’s Scott Sutton and Miranda Christian – Many cities and municipalities in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are set to receive millions of dollars in aid under the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress this week. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law Thursday, which will provide $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief to families, states and cities across the U.S. The bill includes another round of stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and couples earning less than $150,000 will be sent $1,400 checks from the U.S. Under the state and local assistance provisions of the American Rescue Plan, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch said Florida will receive $10.232 billion, metro cities in Florida will receive $1.465 billion and other non-county jurisdictions will receive $1.397 billion. Counties in Florida will receive about $4.165 billion. In total, Florida will receive around $17.623 billion from the recovery plan.
“Florida COVID whistle-blower Rebekah Jones says she received death and rape threats and feared for her life after being fired ‘for refusing to alter the state’s data’” by Daily Mail’s Jennifer Smith – Florida COVID whistle blower Rebekah Jones has claimed she received death and rape threats after being fired, allegedly for refusing to alter the state’s damning pandemic numbers. Jones was a data analyst for Florida’s Department of Health but was fired in May 2020. The state said she was fired for insubordination for accessing the data system and changing numbers without permission. She maintains that it is because they had been trying to convince her to play down the numbers for months. Now, she is suing the state for raiding her home as part of a cyber crimes ‘investigation’, claiming it infringed on her first amendment rights. In an interview with Cosmopolitan that was published on Thursday, she said that after the raid, she was left ‘terrified’ in her home. ‘The police released my home address and my cell phone number and the school my son went to. I got death threats to my home mailing address. ‘I had a couple a**hole reporters who would not leave my house no matter how much I politely asked them to,’ she said, telling the magazine she had to hire a bodyguard.
“Florida member of the Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy in connection to Capitol riot” by CBS News’ CLARE HYMES, CASSIDY MCDONALD – Federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against a Florida man linked to the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers, who was seen with the tactical-style “stack” of rioters that marched up the steps of the U.S. Capitol January 6. Kenneth Harrelson, 41, is charged with crimes that include conspiring with nine other Oath Keepers members, who were indicted separately, after prosecutors say they coordinated before and during the attack. Harrelson could face a maximum of 36 years in prison and up to $850,000 in fines if convicted. He will stay in jail until at least Monday, when the court will hold a hearing to decide whether he should be detained before trial. Federal prosecutors said they intend to seek his detention. Federal authorities said Harrelson previously served in the U.S. Army, and that the Oath Keepers — a loose collection of individuals who believe the government is attempting to strip Americans of their rights — are focused on recruiting current and former military members, law enforcement and first-responders. Among the nine Oath Keepers who were previously indicted, at least five had previously served in the military or worked in law enforcement.
“Rick Scott Begs States To Reject That Sweet Stimulus Cash, But Florida Wants More” by TPM’s Josh Kovensky – Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has what he calls a “simple and common sense” demand for the 50 states: reject the federal stimulus money signed into law by President Biden on Thursday. But in sending a letter to the country’s governors and mayors, Scott created an enemy that he didn’t expect: Gov. Ron Desantis (R) of his own state, who on Monday lashed out at Congress for failing to give Florida enough. “The Senate didn’t correct the fact that Florida is getting a lot less than what we would be entitled to on a per capita basis,” DeSantis said. Scott, as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is charged with ensuring his party’s fortunes at the Senate level in the 2022 elections. But the American Rescue Plan, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID package, has broad public support. Instead, Scott appears to be trying to convince states and cities to undermine the plan itself by rejecting $350 billion marked for them. He demanded that the money only be used to reimburse specific pandemic-fighting measures, and not for any deeper investments in infrastructure or economic development. Scott pivoted to an austerity-based argument that has been widely debunked but which Republicans have wielded in the past as a cudgel against Democratic priorities.
“Florida lawmakers target local emergency orders with new bill” by 10 Tampa Bay – It’s been a little more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic hit Florida and now, as the fight against it continues, the state House is considering a proposal restricting local government orders involving public health emergencies. “It’s making sure that during a state of emergency or whatever is declared that the duration is limited and that they have to be very specific in what they accomplish,” Rep. Bob Rommel (R-Naples) who sponsored the bill said. House Bill 945 passed the House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee this week. “I’m a big believer in the constitution and protecting liberties. There are some places where things are still locked down and people can’t make a living and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen in Florida,” Rommel said. Some Republican committee members say this helps create a safeguard against restraints on civil liberties and that it’s not about masks. “This has nothing to do with masks at all, it’s just to make sure when local government decides to put the order in for whatever reason it has to be limited in duration and clearly and narrowly defined,” Rommel said.
“Big changes could be coming to Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship” by NBC’s Amelia Fabiano – A controversial bill introduced in the Florida Senate that would have added restrictions to which students qualify for financial aid through a state scholarship program has been put on hold. Senator Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, introduced Senate Bill 86 last month. It takes aim at Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships, which financially help more than 119,000 students attend state colleges and universities based on their GPAs, community service contributions, etc. The bill aims to tailor who could qualify for the scholarships based on several changes, including picking students from degree programs that the state can “determine lead directly to employment.” “One of the things the bill wanted to do was to create a list of what they would deem non-employable majors, such as sociology, and humanities, anthropology, some of those liberal arts degrees, specifically,” said Florida Southwestern State College Dual Enrollment Director Dr. Amanda Sterk. “They were saying, hey, we’ll pay for the first 60 credits, but after that if you’re on this list, we’re not gonna pay for you.” Other major changes include how the scholarship program is paid for, which is currently through the Florida Lottery. “They want to put it through general appropriation, which, basically, will cap a certain level of spending,” said Sterk. “If we go over that spending, it’s going to be a first come, first serve. So, if your student is a rising freshman, you’re going to be at a disadvantage comparatively to a junior or senior that’s already in college.”
“Father-son developers charged with extortion — more than a decade after bribery scandal” By Sun Sentinel’s RAFAEL OLMEDA – Bruce and Shawn Chait, a father-son development team at the center of one of Broward County’s biggest corruption scandals, have been charged with harassing and extorting the owner of the property that landed them in trouble more than a decade ago. The Chaits are in the Broward Main Jail, each charged with six counts of extortion, two counts of racketeering and one count of organized fraud. Prosecutors say they carried out a plan to ruin the current owner unless they were paid more than $3 million. The owner called authorities, who secretly recorded the Chaits implicating themselves as recently as last week. Also charged were Harris Neil Shapiro, 38, of Margate, and John James Colonel, 33, of Fort Lauderdale. The Chaits’ earlier history of bribes led to a corruption scandal that saw a county commissioner imprisoned and political careers from School Board to City Hall maimed or destroyed. Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion was convicted in 2009 after confessing to taking $28,200 worth of bribes from the Chaits. Others charged in connection with the Chaits’ corruption included then-Tamarac Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco, Commissioner Patte Atkins-Grad and former Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft.
“Florida Vacation Rental Plan ‘Clearly A Work In Progress’” by WLRN/News Service of Florida Dara Kam – A controversial proposal dealing with vacation rentals underwent a major overhaul on Thursday, after the bill sponsor stripped out a provision that would have blocked local governments’ ability to license and inspect the properties. The fight about oversight of short-term rentals has escalated in the Legislature as the popularity of vacation properties advertised on platforms such as Airbnb has mushroomed. At the heart of the legislative wrangling is an effort to “preempt” regulation of short-term rental properties to the state, a move that draws vehement opposition from city and county officials because it would take away local authority. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, filed a proposal (SB 522) in January that included requiring online platforms to collect and remit taxes on vacation rental properties, something the platforms have not been required to do in the past. The measure also included requiring platforms to ensure that only properly licensed rentals are advertised and provide the state with specific information about the rentals. In exchange, regulation would have been preempted to the state, largely preventing local governments from licensing or inspecting the rentals. Local governments could have only regulated the rentals in the same way as other properties in neighborhoods, a restriction that cities and counties strenuously opposed. But an amendment offered by Diaz and accepted by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday deleted the regulatory preemption parts of the bill, while leaving in requirements making platforms responsible for such duties as collecting and remitting taxes to the state and ensuring rental properties are licensed.
“Direct deposits from U.S. COVID bill to come as early as this weekend, White House says” by Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose – Direct deposits from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday will come as early as this weekend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. With the signing of the stimulus bill, Biden commemorated the one-year anniversary of a U.S. lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic with a measure designed to bring relief to Americans and boost the economy. “People can expect to start seeing direct deposits hit their bank accounts as early as this weekend. This is, of course, just the first wave,” Psaki said. Payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks, she added. Nearly 160 million households are expected to get payments, according to White House estimates. The bill includes an expanded child tax credit of up to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for each child under age 6. The Internal Revenue Service will pay part of that in monthly installments of $250 or $300 from July through December, adding a benefits distributor role to the revenue collection agency’s responsibilities.
“U.S. House passes two Democratic-backed gun control bills” by Reuters’ Richard Cowan – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a pair of gun control bills as Democrats seized upon a shifting political landscape that they said improved chances for enacting new laws after years of failed attempts. The first measure, which passed the Democratic-led House 227-203, would close a long-standing loophole in gun laws by expanding background checks to those purchasing weapons over the internet, at gun shows and through certain private transactions. Only eight Republicans joined the Democrats in backing the bill. The second bill, passed 219-210 with only two Republicans supporting it, would give authorities 10 business days for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale can be licensed. Currently, such sales can proceed if the government cannot complete complicated background checks of prospective buyers within three days. President Joe Biden is a supporter of expanded gun control measures. The legislation may face a tougher battle in the U.S. Senate, where Biden’s fellow Democrats hold an even slimmer majority than in the House. The bills follow a series of deadly U.S. mass shootings over the past decade. Gun control is a divisive issue in the United States, which enshrines gun rights in its Constitution. Most Republicans strongly oppose gun restrictions, while most Democrats argue that new laws are needed to curb gun violence.
“Fears of a border crisis fuel tension in Congress” by Politico’s Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and Laura Barron-Lopez – Congress is once again bracing for knock-down political combat over a burgeoning crisis at the southern border. As a wave of unaccompanied migrant children arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border — a potentially perilous scenario for those trying to enter the country — Republicans are using the moment to rally their base around the same anti-immigration message trumpeted by former President Donald Trump. And Democrats are racing to help President Joe Biden control the influx of migrants without breaking their promise to make the U.S. immigration system more humane. For the GOP, the border problems tee up a blame game with an eye toward the 2022 midterms. Republicans are stoking fear among their base of “super-spreader caravans” of migrants — a playbook similar to the one they tried and failed with in 2018, when Trump’s political team sought to paint asylum seekers as violent criminals and Democrats seized the House majority. But immigration is a much thornier challenge for Democrats now that Biden is in the White House. This time Republicans can aim barbs at a president whose embrace of comprehensive immigration reform legislation appears to be at least partly the cause of the migration surge, as asylum seekers look for refuge from a friendlier U.S. government.
“De Blasio: Cuomo ‘can no longer serve as governor’” by Politico’s David Giambusso – Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday joined the call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down in light of the most recent allegations against the embattled governor. A sixth woman emerged this week accusing Cuomo of sexual misconduct. According to a report in the Times Union, the woman, a staffer whose identity has not been made public, said Cuomo last year called her to the Executive Mansion, and once she was there he reached under her blouse and fondled her. “The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called her to a private place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable. It is disgusting to me,” de Blasio told reporters Thursday during a press conference at City Hall. “He can no longer serve as governor. It’s as simple as that.” It marks the first time that de Blasio has called for Cuomo to resign over the multiple scandals that have emerged in recent weeks. The governor is also facing accusations of covering up the amount of nursing home deaths in New York. Cuomo has denied the latest allegations. “I have never done anything like this,” he said in a statement Wednesday night. “The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the attorney general’s report.”
“Congress Eyes Antitrust Changes to Counter Big Tech, Consolidation” by WSJ’s Brent Kendall and Ryan Tracy – Both Democrats and Republicans have talked about a need to strengthen U.S. antitrust law. This year could test whether they are serious about hammering out legislation to make it happen. Congress is considering the most significant changes to antitrust law in decades, including some proposals with bipartisan support. Lawmakers are looking at setting a higher bar for acquisitions by companies that dominate their markets; making it easier for the government to challenge anti-competitive conduct; and potentially forcing some giant technology companies to separate different lines of their businesses. For these measures to become law, lawmakers will have to move beyond their general unease with dominant companies—particularly in the tech sector—and navigate constituencies that don’t agree on whether antitrust law needs a major overhaul or targeted changes. “There’s bipartisan interest in reforms or tweaks to the antitrust laws, and I think we will see some sort of legislation passed,” said former Justice Department antitrust lawyer Allen Grunes, now with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP. “The challenge will be finding political consensus.” On Thursday, a Senate subcommittee led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) launched its first in a series of hearings on antitrust changes. She opened the session by urging the panel’s members to respond to tech giants not by “throwing popcorn at a screen at whatever CEO…but by actually responding with action, by responding with legislation.”
“Pentagon Brass Blast Fox Host for Disparaging Women in the Military” by WSJ’s Michael R. Gordon – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin voiced “revulsion” and other top defense officials condemned a Fox News host over his comments this week deriding the Pentagon’s efforts to retain and accommodate women in the armed forces. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, who described Mr. Austin’s reaction to comments earlier in the week by Tucker Carlson, told reporters that the U.S. military was working to make the military more inclusive and improve opportunities for women. “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk-show host or the Chinese military,” Mr. Kirby said Thursday. Mr. Carlson’s comments were made earlier this week, after President Biden on Monday announced the nominations of two senior women to lead commands in the military. “We all need to see and to recognize the barrier-breaking accomplishments of these women,” Mr. Biden said at the White House Monday, introducing Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost as his choice to lead U.S. Transportation Command, and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to become a four-star general to lead U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Southern Hemisphere. “We need the young women just beginning their careers in the military service to see it and know that no door will be closed to them,” Mr. Biden added. The event was part of a commemoration of International Women’s Day.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo Aides Called Former Staffers to Discredit Accuser” by WSJ’s Khadeeja Safdar, Deanna Paul and Jimmy Vielkind – In the days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was first accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, the governor’s office called at least six former employees either to find out if they had heard from the accuser or to glean information about her in conversations that some said they saw as attempts to intimidate them. Some of the people who received the calls said they hadn’t heard from the administration in months before getting the call about the accuser. One said a caller encouraged them to give reporters any information discrediting the accuser, Lindsey Boylan, who worked as an economic adviser for the Cuomo administration between 2015 and 2018. The calls were made by current administration officials and former aides who are still close to the governor’s office, according to several recipients. The outreach came at the behest of Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, according to people familiar with the effort. “I felt intimidated, and I felt bewildered,” said Ana Liss, a former aide to the governor who received one of the calls. Ms. Liss, who earlier this month accused Mr. Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, said that Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, phoned her on Dec. 21. The call came eight days after Ms. Boylan said in a post on Twitter that the governor sexually harassed her.
“Defense Secretary Austin overruled National Guard chief on keeping troops at Capitol: memo” by Fox News’ Gillian Turner and Evie Fordham – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin overruled the chief of the National Guard Bureau with the decision to keep 2,280 National Guard troops at the U.S. Capitol, according to a memo obtained by the Fox News Channel. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, laid out in the memo his assessment that the National Guard cannot and should not fulfill the Capitol Police’s troop request at this time, making the case that the National Guard is already over-stretched due to coronavirus constraints, civil disturbances and wildfires. “Efforts to date have not secured enough volunteers among supporting states to meet the USCP request of 2,280 soldiers, nor Option B of 1000 soldiers,” the memo stated. “I am concerned that the continued indefinite nature of this requirement may also impede our ability to man future missions as both adjutants general and guardsmen alike may be skeptical about committing to future endeavors,” the memo stated. “I am concerned that the continued indefinite nature of this requirement may also impede our ability to man future missions as both adjutants general and guardsmen alike may be skeptical about committing to future endeavors,” the memo stated.
“Matthew McConaughey is considering Texas governor run” by CNN’s Marianne Garvey – Matthew McConaughey says he is seriously considering a run for Texas governor. The “True Detective” star, whose home state is Texas, says he is thinking it over and it may be what he wants to do with the next chapter of his life. On a recent episode of Crime Stoppers of Houston’s “The Balanced Voice” podcast, McConaughey told host Rania Mankarious that running for governor is “a true consideration.” “I’m looking into now again, what is my leadership role?” he said. “Because I do think I have some things to teach and share, and what is my role? What’s my category in my next chapter of life that I’m going into?” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is up for reelection next year. Back in November, McConaughey was asked the same thing on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” and said, “I don’t know. I mean, that wouldn’t be up to me. It would be up to the people more than it would me.” “Look, politics seems to be a broken business to me right now. And when politics redefines its purpose, I could be a hell of a lot more interested,” he added.
“Biden directs states to open vaccinations to all adults by May 1” by CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny – Addressing a pandemic-worn nation a year after coronavirus brought life to a halt, President Joe Biden on Thursday offered a plan to lift the country from crisis using a pair of upcoming dates: May 1, by which he will order states to allow all adults to receive vaccines; and July 4, when he said Americans can again celebrate Independence Day in person. The deadlines offered distinct time frames for frazzled citizens looking for a sign that the worst year in recent memory is receding; they also carry inherent risk if they are not met. In a speech — his first in prime time — that actively sought to rebut the denials and divisions cultivated by his predecessor, Biden said the efforts he’s undertaken after 50 days in office could allow for a semblance of normality within months. “After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said. He cast the effort to beat back the virus as a collective and patriotic initiative, even as he lamented the untold losses suffered by Americans over the past year. “Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do,” he said.