User archive 2019 Roger Bennet . Chicago , United States of Ame

https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_for_2nd_day_in_a_row_us_military_jets_intercept_russian_bombers_off_alaska489_23_05_2019
For a second day in a row, U.S. Air Force F-22 fighters intercepted Russian aircraft that entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and never entered U.S. airspace Tuesday, but this time, the Russian planes flew in and out of the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone that stretches 200 miles from the Alaska coastline. "Two pairs of F-22 fighter jets, each with an E-3 intercepted Tu-95 bombers Su-35 fighter jets entering the Alaskan ADIZ May 21. The bombers entered the ADIZ and were intercepted by two F-22s, exited and then re-entered the Alaskan ADIZ accompanied by two Su-35 fighter jets," according to a NORAD statement. E-3 AWAC aircraft provide airborne radar coordination and surveillance. "NORAD committed an additional two F-22s and E-3 to relieve the initial intercept aircraft," the statement continued. "A KC-135 refueling aircraft supported both of NORAD’s intercept teams. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace." NORAD said this week's intercepts mark the fourth and fifth intercepts of Russian aircraft this year. Two Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters were involved in Tuesday's incident. On Monday, a mix of four Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters were intercepted by four American F-22s. The Alaskan ADIZ is airspace that stretches 200 miles from the coastline and is monitored in the interest of national security. U.S. territorial airspace begins 12 miles from the coastline. NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian military command, sends military aircraft to identify any unidentified aircraft transiting through the American or Canadian ADIZ's. The Russian flights this week are the first to occur close to Alaska since January, when Russian bombers entered Canada's ADIZ and were intercepted by both Canadian and U.S. aircraft. The Russian Defense Ministry said in its own statement on Tuesday that "Four Tu-95ms strategic missile carriers of the Russian Aerospace Forces made scheduled sorties over the neutral waters of the Chukotka, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands." "At certain stages of the route, Russian aircraft were escorted by F-22 fighter jets of the USAF," according to the statement. "The total flight time exceeded 12 hours." "All flights of the Russian Air and Space Force are carried out in strict accordance with the International Airspace Management System without violating the borders of other states," it added. It takes a bit of effort for the Russian military to undertake long-range bomber missions to far eastern Russia and the waters off of Alaska. Russia's long-range bomber fleet is positioned in central and western Russia, meaning the bombers and their maintenance teams are flown to eastern Russian airbases so they can undertake these types of missions. Over the last two years, Russian missions close to Alaska have occurred two to three times a year. Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/for-2nd-day-in-a-row-us-military-jets-intercept-russian-bombers-off-alaska/ar-AABHdjP?li=BBnbfcL
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_conway_clashes_with_pelosi_after_trump_infrastructure_blowup488_23_05_2019
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway engaged in a tense exchange with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday after President Trump suddenly cut short a meeting on infrastructure. Trump left the meeting after berating Democrats for roughly three minutes about their investigations and Pelosi's claim that he had "engaged in a cover-up." Pelosi then told others who remained that past Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt worked with their opponents to solve infrastructure problems, but added she was not surprised Trump walked away, according to a source familiar with the exchange. Conway then turned to Pelosi and asked if she had "a direct response to the president." When Pelosi replied that she was responding to the president, and not to his staff, Conway replied: "Really great, that's really pro-woman of you." The back-and-forth underscored the animosity between Trump and Democrats following the president's decision to pull the plug on infrastructure talks. After leaving the meeting, Trump aired his grievances with Pelosi over her "cover-up" allegation and threatened to halt all work with Democrats if they do not stop investigating him. SOurce: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/conway-clashes-with-pelosi-after-trump-infrastructure-blow-up/ar-AABKYL2?li=BBnb7Kz
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_trump_accuses_pelosi_of_lying_not_true_i_had_a_temper_tantrum_at_meeting_i_was_very_polite_and_calm487_23_05_2019
President Donald Trump insisted that what happened in his meeting with Democrats earlier today was definitely not a temper tantrum despite what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested. In fact, according to his version of the events, he was “purposely very polite and calm.” “In a letter to her House colleagues, Nancy Pelosi said: ‘President Trump had a temper tantrum for us all to see.’ This is not true. I was purposely very polite and calm, much as I was minutes later with the press in the Rose Garden. Can be easily proven. It is all such a lie!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. Earlier Wednesday, Trump walked out of a meeting with Democratic leaders after Pelosi suggested that Trump holding back documents from Congress may amount to a crime and a “cover up.” In a letter to the Democratic Caucus after the walkout, she described Trump’s actions as a “temper tantrum.” “Sadly, the only job the President seems to be concerned with is his own,” she wrote. “He threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his Administration and he had a temper tantrum for us all to see.” Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-accuses-pelosi-of-lying-not-true-i-had-a-temper-tantrum-at-meeting-i-was-very-polite-and-calm/ar-AABLvfP?li=BBnb7Kz
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_trump_blow_up_leaves_lawmakers_worried_about_disaster_aid_budget_talks486_23_05_2019
President Donald Trump's angry threats Wednesday to not work with congressional Democrats until they stopped investigating him came at a sensitive time for talks over several important issues that bipartisan negotiators on Capitol Hill and the White House had hoped to wrap up before Congress leaves as early as Thursday for the Memorial Day recess. The sudden "flare up," in the words of one GOP leader, left an air of uncertainly over the talks that all sides had reported upbeat progress on in recent days. It also wasn't clear to lawmakers whether Trump's threat related only to the infrastructure spending proposal -- that was the subject of the meeting with Democrats that Trump stormed out of -- or if meant all legislation. "Seems like we have a little bit of an issue right now," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking GOP leader. "It's hard to figure how much gets done around here unless the atmospherics change." White House and congressional negotiators have been working for weeks to resolve differences over an overdue multi-billion-dollar disaster aid package that they appeared to be on the cusp of completing before the dispute. That measure is likely to include billions for the migrant crisis on the southern border, a thorny issue for the parties. Negotiators are also making steady progress on a broad budget package that could put off the threat of a government shutdown or debt default until after the next election. The top four congressional leaders huddled for hours Tuesday with top White House officials but came up short on a deal. Lawmakers said they didn't know when those talks might restart -- perhaps this week or maybe after next week's recess once tempers cool. "Sometimes tempers around here flare and emotions get pretty high but, in the end, we've got work to do. The best thing we can do would be to try to make progress where we can," said Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican when asked if the spat should disrupt bipartisan work on the Hill. "But that was fairly dramatic this morning." Thune said it was critical that "no matter how bad it is around here" lawmakers find a way to reach a budget and debt ceiling deal and pass disaster aid. "These are the things that need to get done," he said. "I think it makes all those things a heavier lift when you have this kind of operating environment." Senate Republican leaders said despite the brouhaha, they were hopeful Democrats who control the House would soon vote on a disaster bill -- even though negotiators were still putting the final touches on it -- so the Senate could take it up possibly Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started his day by announcing the chamber would not recess before "taking further action" on the bill, a gentle threat aimed at prodding negotiations that didn't even include a demand the bill become law before they recessed. McConnell didn't know that an hour later Trump would be in the Rose Garden blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for charging he was involved in a cover up and threatening to stop working with Democrats. "I taught preschool. I know a temper tantrum when I see it," quipped Sen. Patty Murray, the number three Democratic leader, who was in the meeting with Trump. "The people of this country expect us to respect and work with each other no matter their differences," she added, noting she had cut deals with Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama when they were under investigation by congressional Republicans and George Bush when he was facing heavy scrutiny over the Iraq war. Other Republicans were hopeful Trump's threat to hold up legislation would not extend beyond his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, which many Republicans oppose anyhow because it's expensive and they don't want to raise the gas tax on consumers to pay for it. Departing a weekly meeting of Senate GOP committee chairs in the Capitol, which took place right after Trump's appearance in the Rose Garden, two senior senators said they didn't expect Trump's threat to have a practical impact on their work. "I just came from a meeting where there are five bills that we can get up between now and August," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who heads the powerful Finance Committee. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she interpreted his threat to only apply to the infrastructure bill. "We were just discussing in the chairmen's meeting the number of bipartisan initiatives that could come to the floor and I think the President's comments really are referring to infrastructure," she said. Collins, who is up for reelection, pointed to a series of issues the health and finance committees are dealing with to reduce health care costs -- prescription drugs costs, in particular. She said she looks forward to the Senate returning to a "fuller legislative agenda" after clearing out a "backlog of nominations," which she said she expects to happen. Also, in that meeting was McConnell who declined to comment on the latest spat between Trump and the Democrats, something that has become his norm. Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-blow-up-leaves-lawmakers-worried-about-disaster-aid-budget-talks/ar-AABL2fo?li=BBnb7Kz
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_violent_tornado_takes_aim_at_jefferson_city_shortly_after_3_killed_in_southwest_missouri485_23_05_2019
A deadly storm system swept across Missouri on Wednesday, killing at least three people in the southwestern part of the state and causing what is expected to be extensive damage in the capital city. A tornado struck Jefferson City in the center of the state just before midnight, officials said. The national service warned residents of a "violent tornado" and urged them to shelter immediately. The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for the Jefferson City area at 11:43 p.m., and the tornado hit shortly after that, said Jim Sieveking, science and operations officer for the weather service’s St. Louis office. "It was a tornado, we saw the debris on the radar," he said. "From all accounts, it went right through the middle of Jefferson City," he said. The weather service had received reports of injuries and people trapped but no reports of deaths, he said. Mayor Carrie Tergin said that some areas in and around the city suffered severe damage and that officials were assessing the situation. The Missouri Department of Public Safety tweeted that in Jefferson City, the state capital, "there is extensive damage along Ellis Boulevard near Highway 54," including downed power lines. It said that first-responders were going door-to-door. "The best word to describe the damage is 'devastating,'" she said in a phone interview. All firefighters were called in to assist, the Jefferson City Fire Department said on Facebook. "Please Pray for our Citizens," the department wrote. City officials requested the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NBC affiliate KOMU of Columbia reported. It reported that Missouri Task Force 1 had joined search-and-rescue efforts. Earlier Wednesday night, the three deaths were confirmed after a suspected tornado in Golden City in Barton County, Department of Public Safety spokesperson Mike O'Connell said. Golden City is of the state around 40 miles northeast of Joplin. Several injuries were also reported in Carl Junction, about 10 miles north of Joplin, he said. The damage there came after a large and destructive tornado was spotted north of Joplin, which eight years ago on Wednesday was devastated by a tornado that killed 158 people. Doug Cramer, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Springfield, said that while that tornado was close to the city, "we do not believe there is any tornado damage in Joplin." Cramer said that it was unclear if the suspected tornado in Barton County was the same one spotted north of Joplin, but "we do know it was associated with same storm." "Whether or not the tornado was on the ground the whole time we won’t know until we do a damage survey tomorrow," Cramer said. The Plains and Midwest have been battered by severe weather this week, and flooding in Oklahoma has been a major concern. The town of Webbers Falls, population around 600, was asked to evacuate the entire community Tuesday over fears that the Arkansas River could flood, and on Wednesday the town sent an urgent message for residents to leave after barges broke loose and threatened to hit a dam. "Historic and life-threatening flooding is now occurring on the Arkansas River,” an alert on behalf of Muskogee County emergency management Wednesday night read. "Significant flooding in the town of Webbers Falls is imminent." Muskogee County EMS spokeswoman Trishia German said that two barges broke loose on the Arkansas River from Muskogee, which is north of Webbers Falls, around 10:20 p.m. They were said to be 30 feet long and 15 feet wide and roped together. German said that officials were trying to assess the situation from the air to determine whether the vessels floated into a field and got stuck, or where they were at before they reach a dam. If the barges reach the dam they could increase the water flow or block gates or potentially break the dam, she said. The tornadoes in Missouri occurred after parts of the Plains were battered by severe weather that included tornadoes and flooding. The storms this week and their aftermath in had previously been blamed in at least two deaths. A woman in Payne County, Oklahoma, died on Tuesday after she apparently drove around a high-water sign and through water, and her vehicle was swept off the road and became submerged in around 10 feet of water, the state highway patrol said in an incident report. In Iowa early Wednesday, one person was killed and another was injured after a tornado touched down in the Adair area, which is west of Des Moines, NBC affiliate WHO-TV of Des Moines reported. The National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted Wednesday that a preliminary survey indicated an EF-2 tornado with winds of around 120 to 130 mph occurred in the Adair area around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. In addition to the possibility of tornadoes in Missouri, Cramer said that there is also a risk of flash flooding in some parts of the state, especially east of Springfield where the ground is already saturated. "We do expect flash flooding to intensify into the overnight hours," he said. The weather service says that severe thunderstorms, with the possibility of strong tornadoes and very large hail, was expected to continue across central parts of the U.S. through early Thursday. It said strong thunderstorms and flash flooding were likely in the Central Plains and middle Mississippi Valley on Wednesday night. ИщгксуЖ https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/violent-tornado-takes-aim-at-jefferson-city-shortly-after-3-killed-in-southwest-missouri/ar-AABLQXI?li=BBnb7Kz
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_this_week_house_to_vote_on_bill_to_ban_lgbtq_discrimination378_13_05_2019
House Democrats are set to move forward with legislation to expand the Civil Rights Act—a top legislative priority that faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The bill, which would expand the 1964 law to ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender, is set to get a vote in the House as soon as Thursday. House Democrats pledged shortly before last year’s midterm election that they would bring up the legislation if they won back the majority. They also gave the legislation a low bill number, H.R. 5, underscoring its importance to the House Democratic agenda. ADVERTISEMENT “LGBT Americans and their families deserve to be protected against all forms of discrimination no matter where they live,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said on the floor. “This legislation would ban discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, education, jury service, credit and financing, and public accommodations.” The bill is expected to receive broad support from Democrats and centrists. Two Republicans have signed on as cosponsors — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) — and with 240 cosponsors it’s all but guaranteed to pass the House this week. But it’s been met with sharp pushback from conservatives including groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, which have slammed the bill. The Heritage Foundation alleged the measure could “force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms,” “would force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for these therapies against any moral or medical objections” and would “erase women.” The Business Coalition for the Equality Act — which is comprised of roughly 200 companies including Facebook, Google, Hilton, JP Morgan Chase amongst others — have come out in support of the measure. If the bill, which was first introduced in 2015, was signed into law it would be the first national nondiscrimination law for LGBTQ Americans. But it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where supporters would face long odds of convincing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring it up for a vote. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) told NBC News earlier this year that "if you just had an up or down vote, we would have sufficient votes in both houses." In 2013 the chamber, then controlled by Democrats, passed a narrower bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Four Republicans still in the Senate voted for the bill at the time: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.). Only one, Collins, has backed the Senate’s version of the Equality Act. The bill has 46 cosponsors, in addition to Merkley, leaving it short of the 60 votes it would need to defeat a filibuster. Nominations The Senate is expected to vote on Trump’s nominee to succeed former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who stepped down from his post on Friday. McConnell is expected to move on Monday to set up a vote on Jeffrey Rosen’s nomination for the No. 2 DOJ spot, paving the way for the Senate to confirm him by the end of the week. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Rosen’s nomination late last week on a 12-10 party line vote. Rosen, who was formally nominated in March, currently serves as deputy secretary of Transportation. He also previously worked in the George W. Bush administration and practiced law at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm. Democrats have raised concerns over Rosen's ascension to the deputy attorney general spot during his confirmation hearing, with questions about his qualifications and his potential role in overseeing probes spawning out of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, said shortly before the committee’s that she couldn't support Rosen because he would be "learning on the job" and has a "history of partisanship that risks undermining the independence that we have so badly needed." "We also need someone who's willing to act as an independent voice for the Department of Justice, unfortunately I am not convinced that Jeffrey Rosen is that person," Feinstein said. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said she has "serious concerns" about sending Rosen's nomination to the full Senate, noting his lack of experience in the Justice Department. "Jeffrey Rosen with his lack of experience with the DOJ, but with his experience in Republican politics, is good for Donald Trump but not good for the country," Hirono added. But Rosen is expected to be confirmed by the Senate later this week. Rosen needs only a simple majority and Republicans hold 53 seats. In addition to Rosen, the Senate will vote on Michael Truncale and Wendy Vitter’s nominations to be district judges, Brian Bulatao to be an under secretary of State and Kenneth Lee’s nomination to be a Ninth Circuit judge. Prescription drugs The lower chamber is slated to take up the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act this week, Hoyer confirmed on Friday. The legislation is comprised of seven bills aimed at lowering drug costs and unwinding the Trump Administration’s moves to unwind Obamacare. “The legislation consists of separate bills from the Energy and Commerce committee to ban junk health plans, bring generic prescription drugs to market more quickly, provide funding for states to establish state-based marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, require and provide funding for outreach and enrollment, and fund the navigator program that assists Americans during the open enrollment period,” Hoyer said on the floor. “All of these bills obviously will be directed at trying to reverse some of the steps that have been taken to undermine Americans' access to affordable, quality health care.” While a number of the bills that are comprised in the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act passed out of committee with bipartisan support, it’s unlikely it will see much bipartisan support on the floor or action in the Republican-controlled Senate due to certain provisions taking aim at the administration's actions toward the Affordable Care Act. Tribal bills House Democrats are slated to place two bills related to Native American land rights on the floor this week after pulling them at the eleventh hour after President Trump tweeted encouraging Republicans to vote against one of the measures. H.R. 312 would end a legal challenge to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s reservation in Massachusetts brought by opponents of its proposed casino. “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren,” Trump tweeted shortly before the vote was expected to take place, using his derisive nickname for Warren. “It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” A second bill — spearheaded by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) — would have affirmed the federal government’s right to place land into a trust for a tribe’s benefit. The bills are being rescheduled for a vote with a rule, requiring less than a two-thirds majority to send them to the Senate. Mueller report House Democrats are continuing negotiations to have special counsel Robert Mueller testify, after they had hoped to have him before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters late last week that they were still negotiating Mueller's appearance, saying "we’re talking with him and the Justice Department.” “He will come at some point. If it’s necessary, we will subpoena him and he will come,” Nadler said later. Democrats have been eager to hear from Mueller since he turned over his report on his two-year investigation into Russian meddling and Trump campaign in late March. They argue that Attorney General William Barr has misled them about the findings of Mueller's investigation, increasing the need for the special counsel to testify himself. Barr has said he wouldn't object to Mueller testifying, but he could face new pressure as Trump has argued the special counsel shouldn’t appear before Congress. Mueller is still an employee of the Justice Department, meaning that Barr could instruct him not to testify or otherwise delay his testimony. The House Judiciary Committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on executive privilege and congressional oversight. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has also asked Mueller if he wants to testify about any "misrepresentations" Barr might have made about a phone call they had after the attorney general released a four-page memo detailing the top-line conclusions of the Russia investigation. Graham and a spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said late last week that they hadn't yet heard back from Mueller. The ongoing talks with Mueller comes as Democrats have dug in on their fight with Barr over their demand for the entire Mueller report and the underlying documents. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for documents and materials related to Mueller’s investigation into Russia's election interference. The House Judiciary Committee also voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for not complying with subpoenas for documents related to Mueller's probe. Source: https://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/scheduling/443332-this-week-house-to-vote-on-bill-to-ban-lgbtq-discrimination
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_judd_gregg_a_real_green_energy_plan377_13_05_2019
The Green New Deal as proposed and authored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the 29-year-old former bartender from the Bronx — and now sponsored by numerous other Democratic members of Congress — reminds one of the lists of goals set forth as “five year plans” in the old Soviet Union. It is all about the few telling the many how they should lead their lives. It aims for universal employment, universal free higher education, nationalized medicine, 100 percent electric cars and trucks, and breaking up large corporations, among other things. ADVERTISEMENT It also demands a carbon-free country in the arena of electricity production, with the ultimate goal of having wind and solar energy replace coal and gas-fired generation. This proposal is as trite and improbable as most of the other ideas propounded in the Deal. Wind and solar are positive alternatives. But today they make up less then six percent of our energy supply. Even if one assumes their most aggressive expansion, their use cannot pick up anything more than a minority of the production necessary to keep America’s businesses and households running, and lights on across the country. There is a real green option, however. It is nuclear energy. Today, nuclear power supplies approximately 20 percent of the nation’s energy and almost 60 percent of its non-carbon-producing energy. Nuclear power’s non-carbon footprint dwarfs that of solar and wind. Ironically, many of those who claim to be concerned about the effects of carbon on global warming oppose the expansion of nuclear power. Not only that, many of them are against keeping existing nuclear plants that have many useful years of production ahead of them. ADVERTISEMENT If one is truly concerned about carbon emissions and the resultant global warming, it is hard to argue against the idea that nuclear is a big part of the solution. The good news is that there are some real ideas and proposals coming forth. They involve taking seriously the contribution that nuclear power makes to our existing power supply and can continue to make as we seek ways to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has called for a “New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy”. This plan, rather then being a picked-over collection of collectivist failures like the Green New Deal, is actually a serious and realistic initiative that would move the country down the road towards a cleaner, less carbon-reliant electricity supply. One of its primary components is the promotion and maintenance of nuclear power plants. This commitment makes sense not only because these plants are carbon-free and are already producing such a large percentage of the nation’s electricity. It would also help to meet our goal of having diverse sources of energy. We cannot afford to put all our energy production in one basket. We must have a variety of sources carrying our base load. In 2014, during the polar vortex, the northeast and Midwest came close to suffering massive brown outs and even a black out because all the energy sources other then nuclear essentially froze up. Having numerous types of energy is critical to ensuring an uninterrupted electricity supply, which is critical to the nation’s wellbeing. We should also be investing in advanced nuclear technologies in order to maintain a competitive position with other nations such as China that are building new plants around the globe. The United States developed this source of energy, and we should not surrender our leadership to other countries. The New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy would promote our leadership. Alexander’s proposal represents a rational, constructive path for the country to follow if we want to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining a growing economy. It is not a mish-mash of unattainable socialist aspirations parading itself under the feel-good name of the Green New Deal. Alexander has put forth a Real Green Clean Energy Plan, based on the honest recognition of the important role nuclear power can play in our country’s future success. Source: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/443299-judd-gregg-a-real-green-energy-plan
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https://avalanches.com/us/chicago_dems_eye_big_infrastructure_package_with_or_without_trump376_13_05_2019
If Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump can’t strike an infrastructure deal, key Democrats say they should push their own partisan bill through the House ahead of the 2020 elections. That strategy, backers argue, would demonstrate to voters that they’re making good on the campaign promises that won them the lower chamber last year — and remain focused on those bread-and-butter issues looking ahead. It would also allow Democrats to shift the conversation away from the intense focus on the many investigations into President Trump, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which they fear could alienate voters in crucial swing districts. “Why doesn't the House just pass a $2 trillion infrastructure bill with our pay-fors and then put the ball in the Senate and Trump's court?” asked Rep. Ro Khanna, a San Francisco Bay-area Democrat and a leading progressive in Congress. “I think we have to pass something that's really going to convince people the problem isn't politicians. The problem isn't broken Washington. The problem is this president and the Senate…,” Khanna added. “If we don't do that, if it's just rhetorical, then I feel that [voters] are just going to increase the cynicism and most people will blame the entire Congress.” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, said he still intends to move a sweeping infrastructure package through his committee this year — even if talks with the White House break down. Whether it gets a floor vote, he emphasized, is up to leadership. But he was quick to note that Democrats ran their successful 2018 campaign on a bare-bones message that featured just three line items: clean government, health care and infrastructure. “One of the three key issues in us winning back the House was infrastructure,” said DeFazio, who attended the first new White House meeting on the issue on April 30. “I would certainly write a transportation bill.” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), another member of the Transportation panel, is endorsing that idea enthusiastically. “I have always thought we should simply be full speed ahead. Waiting for the goalposts to stop moving with this administration, I think, is a recipe for paralysis and inaction,” Huffman said. The price tag — and the difficult task of finding money to offset those costs — should not discourage Democratic leaders from forging ahead, Huffman said. DeFazio backs a gas tax hike, while progressives are pushing for corporations that now pay zero taxes to fork over money for infrastructure. “Having promised to do infrastructure, we can't be afraid of the pay-for and let that be an excuse for inaction,” Huffman said, advocating a plan of “at least” $2 trillion. “We’ve got a lot of need out there.” DeFazio, however, questioned why Democrats would stick their necks out to come up with offsets for a package that was sure to go nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. Some of those pay-fors would likely be unpopular, and could prove politically perilous to centrists who face tough elections next year. “Probably the Republicans wouldn’t be very supportive,” he said, “If it's just going to be a one-house bill, I don't think there's a great desire to walk the plank on funding.” The debate comes as many Republicans, particularly those in control of the Senate, are balking at the enormous $2 trillion price tag for infrastructure that Trump agreed to in talks with Democratic leaders earlier in the month. The GOP grumbling has led to widespread doubts about the fate of the negotiations. Still, many Democrats are still holding out hope that Trump, Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) can reach a bipartisan agreement to address the nation’s aging roads, bridges, waterways and other projects. The two sides shook hands on that $2 trillion figure a couple weeks ago at the White House, and are aiming to meet again during the week of May 20 to negotiate the hard part: how exactly to pay for it all. That’s why Pelosi isn’t tipping her hand about her next move if negotiations with Trump collapse. Other Democrats want to give Pelosi and Schumer space to get a deal rather than turn quickly to what Republicans would surely deride as a 2020 Democratic messaging bill. “I think we should wait and see if a deal is made, and see what the executive branch proposes and have a thoughtful negotiation,” said freshman Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who’s planning to hold an infrastructure hearing in his swing district in the Minneapolis suburbs. “I don’t think disrupting the process right now would be beneficial.” Democratic negotiators are also urging patience. “I want to not just pass a bill out of the House, but I think it’s important to get it through the Senate and to the president for his signature,” Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), who attended the infrastructure meeting with Trump, told The Hill. “But if our Republican colleagues don’t want to find a way to work together, we should show the American people the package that we would offer as Democrats.” If Democrats do decide to go it alone, progressive leaders say this should be the approach: Go big and go bold. “I think we should take a vote on an infrastructure package that the whole caucus can support, and we should make that as broad as possible and as generous as possible, because I don’t think we should wait for the administration if it looks like they’re not going to support it,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, told The Hill while walking into the Speaker’s office. “Is that $2 trillion? Is it $1.5 trillion? I don’t know, but my intent would be to make it as big as possible because that’s what we need to get the caucus to support it, something that shows we are united as a caucus and that infrastructure investment into jobs is absolutely critical.” Khanna, the other progressive leader, actually wants leadership to be even more aggressive and bring an infrastructure bill to the floor “as soon as possible” to stake out a negotiating position with Trump and also show voters that Democrats are not obsessed with probing the president and his administration. “It shows we’re not just focused on investigations,” Khanna said. “Let’s put forward something we can pass. … I’m for $2 trillion. If it’s a trillion, it’s a trillion.” Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/443189-dems-eye-big-infrastructure-package-with-or-without-trump
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President Trump is in a trade mess. His new trade deal to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is bogged down in Congress with little chance of passing, while the China deal he promised more than a year ago is quickly unraveling. The administration on Friday increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, raising the prospect of retaliatory measures from China, and Trump is due to make a decision Saturday on whether to place tariffs on automobile imports. ADVERTISEMENT Congressional Republicans are frustrated that the new NAFTA deal, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is stalled with little prospect of winning ratification in the Democratic-controlled House. That impasse is coming at a time when negotiations with China are sliding backward, leading to prolonged pain in farm states whose exports have been caught up in the trade war. “From the agriculture states, states where agriculture is key, the impact is being felt,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “People at home are still absolutely with the president, but they’d like to see this come to a conclusion.” GOP senators this past week pressed Vice President Pence at a private meeting to speed up talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to get a deal to implement USMCA, which needs congressional approval, and to reach an agreement with China. “We need to see it done soon. The confidence back home is shaky. Folks are hurting,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who represents a farm state and is up for reelection in 2020, told The Hill after Tuesday’s meeting. But Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are insisting that the deal’s labor and environmental protections need to be strengthened, which would mean reopening the talks with Canada and Mexico and stretching the process out for several more months. On the China front, progress is slow going. ADVERTISEMENT Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer for weeks had told lawmakers they were making good progress in talks with the Chinese. As a result, members of the Senate Finance Committee thought a deal would be concluded as soon as this month. Instead, what was expected to be a pivotal round of talks in Washington this past week ended in disappointment. China’s top trade negotiator, Liu He, left the talks Friday morning without a deal, and Mnuchin announced later in the day that no further negotiations are scheduled. Trump signaled Friday that he’s ready to let tariffs remain in effect for months to put pressure on the Chinese. “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch! In the meantime, China should not renegotiate deals with the U.S. at the last minute,” Trump tweeted on Friday morning. Riley Walters, a policy analyst for Asia economy and technology at the conservative Heritage Foundation, warned Friday that Trump’s tariffs will “have negative effects” on the economy. “There are a number of studies out there talking about the effect these could have on the general economy, on [gross domestic product (GDP)] growth for the future, ranging anywhere from a GDP loss of 10 percent up to a whole percentage point,” he said. GDP in the first quarter expanded at a 3.2 percent rate. He said the likelihood of resolving trade talks with China is “certainly not as positive” as it was before Trump announced last week that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. Uncertainty over Trump’s trade agenda has led to volatility in the stock market, further reflecting concern about the impact of tariffs on the economy for the rest of this year and next. “Americans are much less free to trade today than we were on Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump took office. He withdrew us from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was a huge agreement,” said Dan Ikenson, director of the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, a think tank that favors free trade. “He has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and another $70 billion with the aluminum tariffs and other tariffs,” Ikenson added. “I think there were some serious miscalculations done by President Trump and USTR Lighthizer, and we’re going to be in far worse shape when they’re gone than when they came.” Lighthizer’s announcement Monday night of tariff increases on China led to a market sell-off the next day. Markets plummeted again on Friday before rebounding when Mnuchin described the negotiations with Liu as “constructive.” Trump argues that trading partners such as Mexico, Canada, members of the European Union and China have taken advantage of the United States for decades. And while free trade proponents acknowledge that foreign trading partners benefit from relationships wherein U.S. goods often face bigger barriers than foreign imports, they say the net result is positive for the economy because it lowers prices for U.S. consumers and opens new markets for American exporters. So far Trump has yet to deliver on new trade deals that would be more advantageous to domestic industries, ranchers and farmers, while his tariffs have prompted retaliatory measures that are hurting U.S. exporters. While Trump is under pressure from Republican allies in Washington to get moving on USMCA and come to a quick deal with China, he’s also under pressure from Democrats not to agree to weak deals. “The Democrats want to outflank Trump on the China issue, so he has to be tough. If he relents, the Democrats are contesting him for the Rust Belt voters,” Ikenson said. “So Trump realizes he has to be tough, and that’s not good for the rest of us that politics are leading us in that direction.” He said the desire to win races in Rust Belt states in 2020 also creates an incentive for Democrats to drive a hard bargain on implementing USMCA. “Democrats for 25 years have been railing against NAFTA, and they’ve been using it as a lightning rod to get voters to the polls. All of a sudden they’re going to agree with Trump and be on the record supporting a trade agreement they were opposed to, even though it’s been reformed?” he added. “I think it’s easier for them politically to point to it and say, ‘This is more of the same.’” Source: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/trade/443213-trump-boxed-in-on-trade
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to make bankruptcy relief available for student loan borrowers. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), along with Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) introduced the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act of 2019, which would treat student loan debt like other types of consumer debt, according to a Friday statement. “Long before I came to the Senate, I fought my heart out to keep student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. But over and over again, Congress chipped away at this critical protection for student loan borrowers,” Warren said. "The Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act fully restores this protection." “Americans across the nation are facing crushing student loan debt that is preventing them from purchasing homes and living the true American dream," Nadler said in the statement. "We must ensure that Americans are able to invest in their education and then go on to live quality lives without the cloud of rising debt hanging over their heads." Warren is among more than 20 people vying for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination. Fellow candidates Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have co-sponsored the bill. Source: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/443266-warren-nadler-introduce-bill-to-allow-student-loan-borrowers-bankruptcy-relief
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