Medical credit cards may lead patients to overpay for their health care, Democrats warn
A group of Democratic senators is asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against medical credit cards such as CareCredit, saying the cards’ deferred interest features are confusing and often lead to consumers paying high interest rates after a promotional period has ended.
Treasury probing Florida Gov. DeSantis' migrant flights
The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog is investigating whether Florida Gov_ Ron DeSantis improperly used federal pandemic aid to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard as part of his effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”.
Manchin rails against 'revenge politics' on permit plan
Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday railed against what he called “revenge politics″ being used against him, as liberals in the House and Senate team up with Republicans to oppose his plan to speed permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects.
Democrats widen scrutiny of tech over abortion data privacy
Democratic lawmakers are widening their scrutiny into the role of tech companies in collecting the personal data of people who may be seeking an abortion, as lawmakers, regulators and the Biden administration grapple with the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling ending the constitutional protections for abortion.
Environmental justice advocates slam Supreme Court ruling
The Supreme Court decision Thursday to limit how the Environmental Protection Agency may regulate carbon dioxide emissions could make an already grave situation worse for those most affected by air pollution and climate change, community residents and advocates fear.
Senate confirms big slate of Biden ambassadors to end 2021
The Senate has confirmed more than 30 ambassadors and other Biden administration nominees after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to schedule a vote on sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany.
Many environmentalists back Biden's move to tap oil reserve
Democrats and climate activists generally supported President Joe Biden’s decision to release a record-setting 50 million barrels of oil from America’s strategic reserve, even as the action appeared to contradict Biden’s long-term goal to fight climate change.
Senators to Biden: Waive vaccine intellectual property rules
Ten liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to back India and South Africa’s appeal to the World Trade Organization to temporarily relax intellectual property rules so coronavirus vaccines can be manufactured by nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations.
Damage from virus: Utility bills overwhelm some households
A study done by Arcadia, which runs a service that helps households lower utility bills, found that the average past-due amount by those in its network was roughly $850. And many people have lost income even while remaining employed, leaving them unable to buy food, pay rent or afford utility bills. Combined with other government financing allotted for energy aid since the pandemic began, the total available to help struggling households pay utility bills is about $9.1 billion. With their sharply reduced income, Desper and her husband fell nearly $700 behind on energy bills and more than $1,100 behind on mortgage payments. Even bigger past-due bills have been emerging in New Jersey, said Kathy Kerr, director of utility assistance for the Affordable Housing Alliance.
Biden hopes to boost offshore wind as Mass. project advances
If approved, the $2 billion project would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. Vineyard Wind is significantly farther offshore than Cape Wind, a previous Massachusetts offshore wind project that famously failed amid opposition from the Kennedy family and businessman William Koch, among others, who considered it a bird-killing eyesore in their ocean views. AdAs president Donald Trump frequently derided wind power as an expensive, bird-slaughtering way to make electricity, and his administration resisted or opposed wind projects nationwide, including Vineyard Wind. Despite the enthusiasm, offshore wind development is still in its infancy in the U.S., far behind progress made by countries in Europe. The group expects 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy to be built over the next decade.
Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez seek 'climate emergency' declaration
A week after President Joe Biden signed executive orders intended to combat the worst effects of global warming, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers urged him to go even further and declare a national emergency on climate change. “If there ever was an emergency, climate is one,'' the New York Democrat told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last week, adding that an emergency declaration would give Biden “more flexibility.'' The sweeping plan is aimed at staving off the worst of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Sanders said the climate emergency has long been clear. But Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, said declaring a climate emergency would effectively “muzzle Congress.''
VIRUS TODAY: Lawmakers call for race data on vaccine access
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2020, file photo, people line up for the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site outside St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx borough of New York. Data from some states has shown hard-hit nonwhite Americans who are eligible to get the vaccine are not receiving it in proportion to their share of the population. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, all of Massachusetts, say the agency must work with states, municipalities and private labs to collect and publish demographic data about vaccine recipients. Without that information, policymakers and health workers cannot efficiently identify vaccine disparities in the hardest-hit communities, the lawmakers say. Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a vaccine adviser to the U.S. government, on the slow and steady process of scaling up vaccine production.
Democratic lawmakers push for race data in vaccinations
Along with Hispanic and Native American people, Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans. AdPressley, who made early calls for racial case data last year, said communities of color cannot afford to wait longer for vaccine demographic data to become available. During a White House briefing on Wednesday, Nunez-Smith said federal officials were calling for states to “get better, more consistent data” on the already administered vaccinations. Nationwide, health officials in 18 states included ways to measure equity in their vaccine distribution plans last fall. But as issues in the vaccine supply chain emerged, some states have had to slow or rework distribution plans.
Retiring Rep. Joe Kennedy III says greed hinders aid to poor
In this image from video, retiring Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., speaks on the floor of the U.S. House Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (House Television via AP)WASHINGTON – Retiring Rep. Joe Kennedy III used his farewell speech from Congress on Wednesday to deride the “great lie of our times” that the government lacks the resources and will to help people in need. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said he is pursuing the post of director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy under President-elect Joe Biden. Patrick Kennedy, cousin of the retiring congressman, battled drug addiction and has worked privately to bolster mental health substance abuse programs. ___Associated Press writer Michelle R. Smith contributed to this report from Providence, R.I.___This story has been corrected to show that Patrick Kennedy is Joe Kennedy's cousin, not his great-uncle.
US lawmakers unveil anti-slavery constitutional amendment
FILE - This Nov. 29, 2011, file photo shows the signature of president Abraham Lincoln on a rare, restored copy of the 13th Amendment that ended slavery, in Chicago. As ratified, the original amendment has permitted exploitation of labor by convicted felons for over 155 years since the abolition of slavery. Constitutional amendments are rare and require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate, as well as ratification by three-quarters of state legislatures. In Merkley’s Oregon, voters in 2002 approved the elimination of constitutional language that prohibited Black Americans from living in the state unless they were enslaved. The prevalence of prison labor has been largely accepted as a means for promoting rehabilitation, teaching trade skills and reducing idleness among prisoners.
Senate Latest: Kelly win gives Arizona 2 Democratic senators
The former astronaut defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat after McCain’s death in 2018. Daines’ first election in 2014 broke a Democratic lock on the Senate seat that had lasted more than 100 years. The six-term congressman from northern New Mexico defeated Republican Mark Ronchetti, a former television meteorologist, and Libertarian Bob Walsh. Reed cruised to victory over Waters, an investment consultant who mounted earlier unsuccessful campaigns for state Senate and U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Warner defeated Republican challenger Daniel Gade in a low-key race in which the incumbent had a massive cash advantage.
Some Dems, not yet Biden, talk of expanding Supreme Court
For now at least, Biden is spurning talk of court expansion, dubbed “court packing” by its opponents, although the Democratic platform does include support for amorphous “structural court reforms to increase transparency and accountability." In the Democratic primaries, Biden prevailed over candidates who supported big changes for the court, including former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Roosevelt lost the fight in Congress over court expansion, though retirements soon eliminated FDR's need for legislation. One of the attractions of court expansion is that it does not require amending the Constitution, as imposing term limits on justices might. “The conversation about court expansion is not so much about the court but restoring democracy.
2020 serves another blow as Ginsburg's death ignites fight
The political battle is being quickly joined over replacing Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)WASHINGTON – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death drew mourners to the steps of the Supreme Court, where they sang “Amazing Grace” in the dark. Inevitably, and against her last wishes, Ginsburg became a political football mere minutes after her death was disclosed Friday night. “BREAKING: The future of the Supreme Court is on the line,” said a fundraising email from Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s Iowa campaign shortly after the justice's death was announced. But not Christopher Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative foil to the liberal Ginsburg who also happened to be a dear friend.
Ex-Marine wins Democratic primary for Joe Kennedy IIIs seat
Jake Auchincloss has won a packed primary to become the Democratic nominee in the race to fill the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts. Nearly 1 million voters, skittish over the coronavirus pandemic, used the mail option for Tuesdays primary. He was elected to the Newton City Council in 2015. Kennedy opted not to seek reelection so he could challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the Senate Democratic primary, but lost that bid Tuesday, becoming the first member of the Kennedy political dynasty to lose a congressional race in Massachusetts. The few other members of Massachusetts all-Democratic congressional delegation who had faced primary opponents Reps. Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch and Seth Moulton all breezed through Tuesdays runoff.
Progressive challengers' year: 3 wins and some close calls
But some challengers lost, and their overall wins were a modest number compared with the 535 House and Senate members. Kessler wasn't impressed with the three progressive challengers who defeated Democratic incumbents, either. Other high-profile progressive hopefuls lost Senate Democratic primaries in Colorado, Maine and Texas, and House contests in states including Georgia, New York and Ohio. Jamaal Bowman, a Black educator raised by a single mom, defeated House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of the Bronx and Westchester, New York. They're an effective and well-funded operation now," said Sean McElwee, who does polling and research for progressive Democrats.
5 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:1. MIGRANT ROUTE TAKES DEADLY TURN They are increasingly crossing a treacherous part of the Atlantic to reach the Canary Islands in what has become one of the most dangerous migration routes to European territory. STORIED POLITICAL NAME FALLS Sen. Edward Markey defeats Rep. Joe Kennedy III in a hard-fought Democratic primary for Senate the first time a Kennedy has lost a race for Congress in Massachusetts. NOTORIOUS KHMER ROUGE COMMANDER DIES Kaing Guek Eav, who admitted overseeing the torture and killings of as many as 16,000 Cambodians while running the regimes most notorious prison, was 77. FIRST LADYS EX-ADVISER SAYS SHE TAPED CALLS FOR PROTECTION Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of a new book about Melania Trump, says she needed evidence to protect herself amid questions about costs of the inauguration.
Kennedy loss in Massachusetts may mark end of 'Camelot' era
The loss marks the first time a member of the political dynasty has come up short in a race for Congress in Massachusetts. The Kennedy legacy hung over the race, especially in the closing weeks, when Kennedy more explicitly invoked his pedigree including JFK; former U.S. Kennedy helped raise millions of dollars for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats campaign arm, during the 2018 midterm elections. Massachusetts voters may have rejected him, but few remaining House Democrats carry the same national fundraising appeal as Kennedy. In 1986, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost a U.S. House race in Maryland, and in 2002, Mark Kennedy Shriver also lost a congressional primary in Maryland.
Heal the country? Disease specialists running for Congress
BOSTON A background in science specifically, infectious disease and epidemiology may not spring to mind as a key selling point for candidates hoping to land a seat in Congress. Kennedy is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the states Democratic primary, creating an open race to fill his seat. I cant go anywhere in this district and not talk about anything but my experiences as an infectious disease doctor, he said. Goldstein said he also sees himself as part of a wave of younger Democratic candidates trying to push the party toward a more progressive agenda. Brookline resident Barbara Kamholz, a 48-year-old associate professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, said she's pleased with the variety of Democratic candidates running to fill Kennedys seat.
A troubling pandemic thought: Are THESE the good old days?
A man wearing a mask leaves a gift shop on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Hope Valley, R.I. Could these be the good old days? But consider this: What if THESE are the good old days? The pandemic continues to buffet the planet economically, dashing hopes that the worst of the joblessness might be behind us. The pandemic is "going to get worse and worse and worse, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last week. These times were in right now perilous as they are will soon be looked back on fondly as the good old days. Prepare accordingly, tweeted Columbia University philosopher Rory Varrato.
White House turns on Fauci as Trump minimizes virus spike
At the same time, the president and top White House aides are ramping up attacks against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert. Fauci has been increasingly sidelined by the White House as he sounds alarms about the virus, a most unwelcome message at a time when Trump is focused on pushing an economic rebound. Last week, Fauci contradicted Trump about the severity of the virus during a FiveThirtyEight podcast. Asked whether the president still had confidence in Fauci, a White House official on Monday insisted Trump did. The effort is part of a White House effort to counterpunch on behalf of Trump, who believes all slights must have a forceful response, said one official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House thinking.
White House turns on Fauci as Trump minimizes virus spike
Asked whether the president still had confidence in Fauci, a White House official on Monday insisted Trump did. But that supportive message was not echoed by Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser who has been working on the coronavirus effort. However, one senior White House aide insisted frustration with him was directed more at outsiders, including some in the media who elevate Fauci" and fault the White House for not showing more deference. The effort is part of a White House effort to counterpunch on behalf of Trump, who believes all slights must have a forceful response, said one official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House thinking. America should be applauding Dr. Fauci for his service and following his advice, not undermining his credibility at this critical time," they wrote.
Where's Markey? Senator misses dozens of votes in pandemic
Only Markey and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state missed the vote. Of 42 Senate votes in May and the first half of June, Markey missed 34 or about 80%, according to information from GovTrack, an independent clearinghouse for congressional data. Of those missed votes, one of the more notable for Markey was last weeks vote on the Great American Outdoors Act. The bill, which passed on a bipartisan 73-25 vote vote, would spend $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. In all of 2019, Markey missed just 19 of 428 votes or less than 5%.
US senators seek probe of veterans homes after coronavirus deaths
A group of U.S. senators is seeking an investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs' oversight of homes for aging veterans amid a spate of coronavirus deaths at the state-run centers. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; and Jon Tester of Montana, the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In New York, the Long Island State Veterans Home has reported 53 deaths, including 48 confirmed and five presumed COVID-19 deaths. The New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans in New York City has reported 33 deaths. Noel said the agency has since established a quarterly monitoring of the contractor that reviews state veterans homes.