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The Black Caucus stands up after a GOP colleague gets physical with its leader
He later apologized but his behavior follows a gross pattern in the House Republican Conference. Plus: Details on the bomb scare that caused the second gentleman to be evacuated from an event.
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Late Tuesday afternoon several members of the Congressional Black Caucus took to the steps of the US Capitol in solidarity with CBC Chair Joyce Beatty who accused a Republican representative of poking and insulting her.
“Today, while heading to the House floor for votes, I respectfully asked my colleague [Rep. Hal Rogers] to put on a mask while boarding the train,” Rep. Beatty, who represents most of the city of Columbus, Ohio, tweeted in a thread. “He then poked my back, demanding I get on the train. When I asked him not to touch me, he responded, ‘kiss my ass.’”
Face coverings are required on the US Capitol subway system.
A spokesperson for Rogers did not respond to a request from Supercreator for comment. Rogers declined a request for comment from CBS News’s Scott MacFarlane too. And Arthur Delaney at HuffPost reported that two aides boxed him out when he attempted to ask Rogers for comment. “He could hear me but didn’t say anything,” Delaney tweeted.
House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn said he hoped Rogers would issue a public apology.
Rogers finally apologized Tuesday evening: “My words were not acceptable.”
He said he met with Beatty to personally apologize.
“Who does Hal Rogers think he is?” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who also serves as the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said during the Black Caucus’s impromptu press conference. “Who do you think you are? These people are out of control right now.” (During his weekly press conference Tuesday morning, Jeffries said the C in the Republican National Committee stands for a cult because of how party members follow Donald Trump’s actions instead of policy agenda.)
Rogers’s behavior follows a pattern in the House Republican Conference.
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee assignments last February after a Facebook post calling for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be executed and a video showing her harassing gun-control activist David Hogg shortly after he survived the 2018 Parkland mass shooting resurfaced.
Paul Gosar, a Republican representative from Arizona, was formally condemned by the House last November for an anime video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and using a sword against President Joe Biden.
“It’s pretty cut and dry: Does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable?” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time in a floor speech before the vote to censure Gosar. “Would you allow that in your home? And if it’s not accepted there, why is it accepted here?”
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado refused to apologize a few weeks later to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota today after a video surfaced of Boebert sharing a far-fetched story about getting into an elevator with Omar.
“I look to my left and there she is: Ilhan Omar,” Boebert said. “And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.”
Omar, one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018, said the incident never occurred. Boebert refused to apologize.
“Wonder what would have happened if that would have been reversed?” Beatty told Nicholas Wu of Politico. “If a Black man would have touched a white woman and used the profanity with her, it’s hard to think of what could have happened.”
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Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff was ushered out of a room due to a bomb threat on Tuesday afternoon during a Black History Month event at Dunbar High School in northwest DC.
The second gentleman’s office informed reporters that the security threat was reported by the school to the United States Secret Service.
The DC Police Department said the bomb threat was unrelated to recent HBCU threats. There is no suspect and police are still investigating. The United States Secret Service did not respond to a request for further comment.
Austin Landis, a colleague at Spectrum News DC, heard a secret service agent say what sounded like “We have to go” before the school’s principal followed a few minutes later. A school announcement came over the intercom calling on teachers to evacuate the school.
“We had a threat today to the facility so we did — basically we took the precaution of evacuating everybody, as you saw. I think everyone is safe,” Enrique Gutierrez, spokesperson for DC Public Schools, said. “The building is clear. But I don’t have any specific details at this moment.”
Dunbar Principal Nadine Smith said DCPS gave the school the go-ahead to send students home after the scare.
Emhoff was at Dunbar to meet with students who are participating in the Historical Scholar and Docent program, which helps them relate to history on a personal level.
The program is comprised of students grades 8-12 from the Carter G. Woodson Academy of Black Studies at Dunbar and the Kiamsha Youth Empowerment Organization.
Students from the program are finalizing an oral history project designed to help them connect their family histories to overall African American history. The students are producing videos about the importance of National Park Service sites to African American history. They’re also provided opportunities to serve as docents and historical scholars on the life of Carter Woodson and local Black history.
The program is supported through a partnership with the National Park Service and a $150,000 National Park Foundation Grant.
“Our young people have been able to see themselves,” Renada Johnson, who leads the Kiumsha group mentoring organization, said. “We realized there was a need for our students not only for academics, but to also understand who they are.”
The event is one of several the White House said administration officials would participate in for its programming during Black History Month.
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I reported in Monday’s newsletter that the Department of Justice received a letter from Delta Air Lines CEO Edward Bastian asking it to respond to the surge in “air rage” incidents with a national “no-fly” list. It would ban unruly passengers from boarding any commercial carrier.
The Justice Department previously declined a request for comment. But Spokesperson Joshua Stueve said in a statement to Supercreator on Tuesday that it would be referring Delta’s letter to the appropriate departments.
“The Department of Justice is continuing to prioritize the investigations and prosecutions of those who engage in criminal behavior that threatens the safety of passengers, flight crews, and flight attendants,” Stueve said. “We are fully committed to holding accountable those who violate federal law.”
Air rage, like its motor vehicle counterpart, is defined as violent anger directed mainly at inflight airline personnel and arising from the frustrations and stresses of air travel.
Shawn Baldwin at CNBC reported there were more than 5,700 reports of air rage on US airlines in 2021 compared with a typical year of about 100 to 150 cases.
One major reason for the uptick: mask noncompliance.
The Transportation Security Administration early last year required travelers using public transportation — including planes, trains and buses — to wear a mask. By December, the Federal Aviation Administration had logged more than 4,100 mask-related incidents.
Flight attendants unions said alcohol is another factor, which led to Southwest Airline suspending alcohol sales on its flights through last month after one of its flight attendants was assaulted. (American Airlines has taken similar steps.)
The FAA launched a zero-tolerance policy last year in an attempt to deter passenger violence, which enabled the agency to fine passengers in violation up to $37,000 for unruly behavior.
Delta and the FAA did not respond to requests for comment on the Justice Department’s statement.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
→ President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing this morning before hosting a roundtable with CEOs of electric utilities to discuss his Build Back Better agenda.
→ First Lady Jill Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will travel to Minneapolis and visit the University of Minnesota to highlight the American Rescue Plan’s investments in child care. They will be joined by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Rep. Ilhan Omar, Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter.
→ The House is in and will consider legislation to block US access to foreign persons responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights against LGBTQ individuals.
→ The Senate is in and will continue debate on the president’s executive and judicial nominations.
IN THE KNOW
→ Oh, deer: White-tailed deer on Staten Island, New York have been found carrying the Omicron variant, Emily Anthes and Sabrina Imbler at The New York Times report.
It’s the first time the variant has been reported and wild animals and is likely to intensify concerns that deer could spread the virus due to their proximity to humans and host new variants.
→ Biden to VA tomorrow: The president will travel to Virginia on Thursday to speak about how his agenda will lower prescription prices and health-care costs for Americans. White House officials said Biden wanted to be on the road more in ‘22 and this trip — along with recent visits to New York City and Pittsburgh — is proof he’s getting his wish so far.
→ SCOTUS update: We’re less than three weeks away from President Biden announcing the Black woman he plans to nominate for the Supreme Court. The White House says the president is reviewing previous cases of nominees and has consulted with outside legal experts, in addition to senators, on the decision.
→ Biden supports a congressional staff union: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday the president supports the right of any individual to seek union representation and collective bargain. “And of course, Capitol Hill staffers are currently individuals who are pursuing that.” Read the backstory.
→ Biden honors educators with the highest award: The president named 117 teachers, mentors and mentoring organizations as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.
“The dedication these individuals and organizations have demonstrated to prepare students for careers in STEM fields, during what has been a difficult time for teachers, students, and families, plays a huge role in American innovation and competitiveness,” Biden said. “The work that teachers and mentors do ensures that our Nation’s children are able to unlock — for themselves and all of us — a world of possibilities.” Read the list of recipients.
→ HHS invests in vaccine outreach: The Department of Health and Human Services provided eight grants worth $66.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expand outreach efforts in 38 states and DC to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and vaccinations. The awards were administered through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration.
“Through this initiative, HRSA is able to support trusted community messengers in their work to help individuals and families get the answers they need to make informed decisions about vaccination,” HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said. “These awards will expand the reach of our community-based programs to support vaccination information and outreach.” Get more details.
→ Related: HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will host a conversation on Thursday with Black faith leaders on improving health care access and affordability. Watch the livestream.
→ Biden’s small business chief to visit Dallas: Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman will visit my home city on Friday to meet with small business owners who utilized various SBA programs to help with their economic recovery. Guzman will also discuss their continuing needs during the pandemic recovery.
→ Super Bowl trivia: This Sunday’s big game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals will feature players from 28 different states and two countries, according to the Census Bureau. See the visualization.
→ The CPC welcomed two of Biden’s fiercest antitrust leaders: The Congressional Progressive Caucus hosted Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter at its most recent member meeting.
“There was widespread and enthusiatic agreement for Congress asserting its role and governing power [on antitrust and consumer protection] — something the CPC membership is deeply committed to and actively engaged on,” CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal said in a statement.
→ The House voted to keep government open until March 11: The stopgap funding bill gives lawmakers another month to negotiate a longer-term deal.
House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement that he will bring a bill for government funding through September to the floor a month from now so President Biden can sign it before the new deadline. Read the full statement.
→ On the policy front: Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina introduced legislation to help ensure that equipment needed to help support breastfeeding is specifically highlighted and covered for assistance through FEMA so parents can continue to breastfeed during natural disasters.
“I know how difficult being a new mom is, so I can’t imagine also having to worry about where my baby’s next bottle is coming from in a time of crisis,” Duckworth said. “In the aftermath of a tornado, flooding, or any other kind of natural disaster, it’s critical that survivors have access to what they need for their families — and for nursing moms, that means access to lactation support.”
Tillis added: “Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation will make that nursing equipment eligible under the Individual Assistance program to help new mothers take care of their babies in a time of need.”
The legislation was also introduced in the House by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois and Republican Rep. John Katko of New York.
→ TikTok doubles down on minor and LGBTQ safety: The company said it’s developing a content maturity system to identify and restrict certain types of content from being accessed by teens, Sarah Perez at TechCrunch reports.
TikTok also announced it’s revising its content policies in three key areas: hateful ideologies, dangerous acts and challenges, and eating disorder content. For example, the policy will now specify that practices like deadnaming and misgendering, misogyny or content supporting or promoting conversion therapy programs will not be permitted.
→ Poor Peloton: The exercise equipment company cut 2,800 jobs and named names former Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy as its new CEO, Cara Lombardo at the WSJ reports. The moves are the result of a slowdown in demand that caused the company’s value to plummet.
→ Tinder no longer charges older users more for premium features: Did you know Tinder users between the ages of 30 and 49 were charged an average of 65.3 percent more than their younger counterparts in every country except Brazil? Yeah, me neither.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Jasely Molina on Black women and ADHD:
TikToks with hashtags varying from #ADHD to #ADHDProblems garner billions of combined views across the platform — the majority of the most-viewed videos posted by white creators. Over the last year, however, Black women have begun creating safe spaces to discuss their own experiences with ADHD on TikTok, where#ADHDinBlackWomen has 1 million views and counting, alongside relatable videos on being neurodivergent in academic spaces, racial bias in the medical field, and what it’s like to complete seemingly “easy” tasks, like cleaning, with ADHD.
Jemele Hill on why Black NFL coaches should stop playing along:
Had significantly more players been willing to support [Colin] Kaepernick, the league and its owners would have had a harder time ostracizing him and [former teammate Eric] Reid, who both left the 49ers and eventually filed grievances accusing the NFL and its owners of colluding to freeze them out because of their protests.
The NFL settled the complaint. But no other team has signed Kaepernick. Reid was signed by the Carolina Panthers but cut after the 2019 season, despite being the team’s second-leading tackler. He, too, remains unsigned. The implicit lesson is that people who speak up may never work in professional football again.
That’s why it’s incumbent on Black coaches besides Flores to help end the NFL’s charade of inclusion.
Jonathan Chait on the racial politics of affirmative action:
Liberal rhetoric has focused relentlessly on the motives of conservatives in exploiting the treatment of Asian Americans as a wedge against affirmative action, which is a fair enough point: Conservatives are highlighting discrimination against Asian Americans when they just as strongly oppose policies that disadvantage white people.
But the obsession with political motives also doubles as a window into the left’s own motives. Liberal activist groups have a well-articulated fear that the disproportionate burden affirmative action places on Asian Americans will drive them away from the Democratic Party and undermine the policy politically and legally.
Aja Romano on comedy’s existential crisis:
Whether comedy is good at being a source of moral authority depends on your position — which comedy denomination you ascribe to, perhaps. There’s clearly an audience demand for the kind of comedy that injects moral and social concerns into the performance. Perhaps that’s because for many modern secular audiences, standup comedy is the closest thing many of us have to the experience of going to church and being lectured for a while on the state of the modern world.
Rebecca Jennings on how the internet turned money into a hobby:
Because of the ways in which this type of information disseminates — in subreddits, in breathless Twitter threads, on niche Discord servers — the world of betting and investing is dominated heavily by people who are already well-represented in tech, finance, and internet culture, which is to say that it is overwhelmingly young and male. Proponents of crypto love to talk about the benefits of decentralizing the financial system, how it can allow for historically underrepresented groups to build wealth, and how NFTs can be used to fund projects supporting charitable causes. Celebrities, from A-listers like Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon, and Gwyneth Paltrow to Z-list Bachelor influencers, evangelize cryptocurrency as an almost philanthropic cause; what goes unspoken is that they stand to profit from more people investing after them.
Michelle Santiago Cortés on algorithms:
So much of our lives — from online dating, to search engines, to social-media feeds — is mediated by algorithms. And we talk about them like we actually know much about them. We complain about the Facebook algorithm and we gush (Betancourt isn’t alone) over TikTok’s. As I write this, some YouTube alpha male is out there uploading videos promising straight men advice on how to “hack” the Tinder algorithm to date like kings, and if you watch any of these videos, the site’s algorithm will use that query to offer you more unsolicited dating advice the next time you log in.
Arthur C. Brooks on how to want less:
The secret to satisfaction is not to increase our haves—that will never work (or at least, it will never last). That is the treadmill formula, not the satisfaction formula. The secret is to manage our wants. By managing what we want instead of what we have, we give ourselves a chance to lead more satisfied lives.
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