Lawmakers fear turning 144 cities into "micropolitan" areas
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and congressmen is urging the federal government not to approve recommendations to remove 144 cities from the designation of metropolitan statistical areas. Reclassifying them as “micropolitan” would put key federal funding at risk, they said. Doing so would reclassify more than a third of the current 392 metro areas as micropolitan statistical areas. In a separate letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Hoeven said the proposal also would hurt micropolitan areas that were on the cusp of becoming metro areas. “If a metropolitan statistical area is redefined as a micropolitan area, it may fall out of the conversation.
Trial highlights: Trump grievances, angry outbursts and more
In a letter signed last week they wrote that “the First Amendment does not apply in impeachment proceedings, so it cannot provide a defense for President Trump." Another showed Biden talking about taking Trump “behind the gym” to “beat the hell out of him,” like in high school. Trump used the word "fight" while trying to undermine the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost. Dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed. AdStill, Trump's lawyers said they were making a valid point by highlighting Democrats' use of the word "fight."
GOP signals unwillingness to part with Trump after riot
But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said.
COVID-19 relief: What's on the table as Congress seeks deal
The duo were the architects of the $1.8 trillion CARES Act, the landmark relief bill passed in March. Here are the top issues for the end-stage COVID-19 relief talks. ___JOBLESS BENEFITSThe CARES Act created a $600 per-week bonus COVID-19 unemployment benefit that sustained household incomes and consumer demand during the springtime shutdowns. House Democrats support the idea, but it is unpopular with many Senate Republicans and was left out of a scaled-back Senate GOP plan. ___LIABILITY SHIELDBusinesses reopening during the pandemic have for months been seeking a shield against lawsuits claiming negligence for COVID-19 outbreaks.
Biden signals sharp shift from Trump with Cabinet picks
The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. At 43, he will be one of the youngest national security advisers in history. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and weighed in publicly just last week on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.
Biden’s 1st Cabinet picks expected Tuesday amid road blocks
– President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team's planning. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser. Biden's secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department.
Senate Republicans try to ignore Trump's attacks on Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not necessarily stand up for Fauci after Trump derided the National Institute for Health official as one of the “idiots” leading the country's coronavirus response. “The one thing we all need to do is wear a mask, practice social distancing, try to prevent the spread,” McConnell told reporters. Trump's own COVID-19 diagnosis following a Rose Garden event at the White House sent ripples to Capitol Hill. He noted that “the scientists have a great deal of influence over a lot of things, but they don’t have total influence over the entire economy and how to run it.”Fauci has served since 1984 as the director of the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases.
Feds want deal with North Dakota over pipeline protest costs
BISMARCK, N.D. The Army Corps of Engineers is recommending that the federal government negotiate a settlement with North Dakota for more than $38 million that the state spent policing protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. North Dakota Republican U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer called the recommendation very significant and the right thing to do for the federal government. North Dakota assumed all costs including the cleanup of actions facilitated by the Corps of Engineers, Cramer said Tuesday. Thousands of opponents gathered in southern North Dakota in 2016 and early 2017, camping on federal land and often clashing with police. If not, we will prepare for trial.Stenehjem said North Dakota has a strong case and holds the upper hand in negotiations now with the federal judges ruling last month.
Congress defies Trump veto threat on Confederate base names
WASHINGTON The Senate on Thursday joined the House in defying a veto threat from President Donald Trump to approve defense legislation that would remove the names of Confederate officers from American military bases such as Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. The Senate approved the annual policy measure, 86-14, a margin that suggests more than enough support to override a potential Trump veto. The White House said in a statement this week that it supports the overall spending figure but expressed serious concerns about the House bill, including the mandate on base renaming. President Trump is deploying dangerous authoritarian tactics on our streets as a twisted campaign strategy,'' Merkley said in a statement explaining his vote against the defense bill. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., called Merkley's proposal nothing more than "political messaging ... designed to exploit violence in the streets for political gain and defeat President Trump.''
GOP worries Trump's divisive June imperils Senate control
Still another said Republicans worry the GOP brand of cutting taxes could be overshadowed by Trump's drive to defend Confederate monuments. 2 Senate Republican leader John Thune of South Dakota said last week. He said GOP candidates need to do what they need to do to win. Republican Senate candidates will have to defend things President Trump says and does between now and Election Day, said Rory Cooper, a Republican strategist and longtime Trump foe. He said he believes independent swing voters abandoning Trump will be willing to back GOP Senate candidates and expressed cautious optimism.
Largest yet: $1.3 billion contract for border wall awarded
PHOENIX A North Dakota construction company favored by President Donald Trump has received the largest contract to date to build a section of Trumps signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Republican U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota confirmed the $1.3 billion contract for building the 42-mile section of wall through really tough terrain in the mountains in Arizona. Trump has promised to build 450 miles of wall along the border with Mexico by the end of the year. Democratic members of Congress raised concerns in December after Fisher was awarded a $400 million contract for border wall construction. Environmentalists have also long criticized the border wall, saying it cuts off protected wildlife and destroys important ecosystems.