Congressional Dems to President Biden: Let’s work together on immigration reform ASAP
The lawmakers held a press conference to ask the White House to develop a solution that enforces the law and upholds the right to asylum under domestic and international law.
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A group of House and Senate Democrats on Thursday morning held a press conference at the US Capitol to pressure President Biden to reverse his administration’s recent expansion of Title 42, the Trump-era emergency public health order that prohibits asylum seekers from lawfully petitioning for asylum in the US, and to abandon a proposed rule that would also limit asylum claims.
The event — led by Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey and Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Greg Casar of Texas — follows a letter the lawmakers sent to the president that requested the White House work with Congress to develop a comprehensive immigration solution that enforces the law and upholds the right to asylum under domestic and international law. Read the full letter
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Reps. Judy Chu of California, Yvette Clarke of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri also participated in the press conference.
ICYMI: The Title 42 expansion now stretches to three nationalities — Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua — and extends it to Venezuela while empowering immigration officials to use the parole authority to admit immigrants who otherwise don't have legal permission, such as a visa, to enter the US, if their entry is deemed to be justified on humanitarian or public interest grounds.
The view from the White House: Administration officials said the additional border enforcement measures, modeled after a Venezuela parole program the administration launched last October to help ease pressures on border communities like El Paso, also expanded legal pathways for migration.
President Biden earlier this month visited the southern border for the first time on his way to Mexico for the North American Leaders Summit. He also called on lawmakers to fully fund his request for record border security and management resources and partner with the administration to pass comprehensive immigration reforms measures like the ones Biden proposed on his first day in office. At the time, I reported that some immigration rights advocates felt the politics of immigration led the administration to look tough and not offer any carrots without pairing them with sticks too.
The view from the Senate: A day later, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the independent senator from Arizona, led a bipartisan delegation of colleagues to the region to see what her constituents see every day in hopes that the crisis will inspire a sense of urgency to act.
After the visit, Sinema said that she would bring the insights she gained back to DC to keep working on bipartisan solutions to secure the border, keep communities safe and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely. But there haven’t been any meaningful updates on their progress. And the
The view from the House: Republicans have made securing the southern border one of their key priorities now that they control the House. In fact, House Republican Leader Steve Scalise listed a border security bill introduced by Republican Rep. Chip Roy, an immigration hardliner from Texas, as one of the first 11 bills the House would vote on in the new Congress. (Roy’s bill would DHS to suspend the entry of any non-US nationals without valid entry documents during any period when DHS cannot detain such an individual or return the individual to a neighboring country.)
It’s not unusual for leaders from both parties to pull bills if they don’t have the votes to pass them. But given that the House hasn’t set up a floor vote yet is another indication of how contentious the issue is.
“Team Extreme needs to get it together on their own side before we can even have a discussion with the extreme MAGA Republicans about how to deal with an important issue the American people,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on Thursday, stamping his Republican colleagues with his latest term of disparagement.
What House Democratic Leadership is saying: I asked House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar this week if his members have discussed what they would like to see in an immigration package and he pointed to two that House Democrats passed last Congress — the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 and Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 — as examples that capture the caucus’s vision and values.
“Our goals, our aspirations are always going to be comprehensive immigration reform and I stand ready and willing to work with the administration and with some our colleagues on the other side of the aisle if that’s their true intention,” Aguilar said.
As for red lines, he added that House Democrats wouldn’t support funding for a border wall or any provisions that would dramatically cut the nation’s asylum program that has been in place for decades.
“But if people want to have a real solution on the table, we’re willing to engage in that conversation.”
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House Dems reintroduce the EACH Act in the latest stand against the anti-abortion movement
The bill, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment, has a next-to-no chance of making it to the Republican-controlled House floor.
A group of House Democrats on Thursday morning — led by Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado, the two chairs of the Pro-Choice Caucus — reintroduced the EACH Act for Reproductive Justice in the latest effort to stand up against the anti-abortion movement in the days following the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The bill would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which blocks people with Medicaid from receiving abortion care with their insurance coverage. Active-duty military, veterans, indigenous people and government employees are also impacted by similar restrictions in other government-funded programs. The EACH Act would also top Congress from interfering with private insurance companies that cover abortion.
As Abortion rights advocates put it, the legislation would guarantee health coverage for abortion no matter how much money a person makes, the type of insurance they have or where they live.
“Access to abortion shouldn’t depend on how you get your health care,” DeGette said.
What abortion rights groups are saying: “We continue to be grateful to the champions of sexual and reproductive health care in Congress for continuing to take action to support abortion access,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Our partners in reproductive justice are leading this fight, and we are proud to join them in this vital work. The time to act is now, and Congress must do so.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju said that the Hyde Amendment makes abortion care inaccessible to the communities who need it the most.
“Everybody deserves to be free to make their own decisions about their lives, bodies and futures — no matter what kind of insurance they have,” Timmaraju added. “It’s past time for these discriminatory restrictions on abortion coverage to end.
Before the event, I spoke to an organizer for All Above All, a women-of-color-led effort to restore and sustain public insurance coverage of abortion, who said the reintroduction of the EACH Act was the first major demonstration in the new Congress that House Democrats are listening to voters who were energized during the midterm elections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
What House Democrats are saying: Three first-term House Democrats on Tuesday spoke about the human ways that abortion touches the lives of so many people who can get pregnant across our country.
Before Rep. Yadira Caraveo of Colorado was elected to Congress, she served her community as a doctor and said she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with young women as they faced the solemn decision of whether to have an abortion.
“Having stood in that room, I can tell you that this is a decision that is never made lightly. It is one of the biggest and most difficult life-changing decisions a woman can make,” Caraveo said. “That is why I believe firmly that it is a decision that must remain in the exam room between a woman and her doctor and the people closest to her — not on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove of California and a member of the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, warned that House Republicans were attempting to take the country back to the days of back-alley abortions: “To them, The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t a horror — it’s fantasy,” she said. “But this movement is the Woman King and we are not going without a fight.”
As a pro-choice Christian, Rep. Hillary Scholten said that her position on abortion is rooted in reproductive freedom — the same freedom she and her husband had when they decided to give birth to their daughter who was diagnosed with terminal Turner Syndrome.
“For us, that choice was life. This week we're marking 50 years since Roe vs. Wade gave women the critical reproductive right to seek an abortion,” Scholten added. “But today we live in a country where women have less freedom and fewer rights than half a century.”
What’s next: Honestly, more of what we’re already seeing at the federal level. House Republicans, with their slim majority, will be pushed by anti-abortion groups to take more messaging votes like the two they passed last week continue and 2024 GOP presidential candidates will be expected to endorse a national abortion ban
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats and the White House will block any anti-abortion bills from being signed into law so that’s that on that.
And at the state level, abortion rights groups will work to protect and expand access to close the gaps that were widened when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
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Unsurprisingly, Jeffries is unimpressed with Trump’s presidential campaign: “Very low energy”
The top House Democrat also called out anti-woke Republicans.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries gave a sharp assessment of former President Donald Trump’s 2024 White House bid on Thursday morning.
What he said: “I think the issue in terms of the concerns, the danger, the threats to democracy related to Donald Trump speak for themselves,” Jeffries told Supercreator in response to a question about the decision Meta announced on Wednesday to reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram pages. “And I think many of us will probably have more to say about that to the extent that he moves forward with his so-called presidential campaign, which happens to be a very low-energy campaign.”
The backstory: “Low energy” was a go-to insult during his first presidential campaign against former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and brother to former president George W. Bush.
In the Know: Meta announced it would reinstate Trump in the coming weeks after the tech company booted the former president for inciting an insurrection in an attempt to stay in power.
A top Meta executive claims it has established new guardrails against the former president, who is under multiple federal investigations, but said the company believes “Americans should be able to hear from the people who want to lead the country.” Sara Fischer and Mike Allen at Axios have the full story
ABOUT THE HOUSE GOP’S “ANTI-WOKE CAUCUS”: Speaking of threats to democracy, Jeffries was also asked about the Republican Party’s culture war against “wokeism” — a phantom crisis that Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana claimed in an op-ed earlier this month is the “greatest domestic threat to America today” while promising that the “new House Republican majority can and will fight institutionalized wokeness.” (“Woke,” as Steve Rose wrote in 2020 for The Guardian, is a term is meant to denote an attentiveness to important issues
“I think it’s ridiculous”: Jeffries told Supercreator that anti-woke sentiments are an attempt to divide America by people who have leaned into extreme narratives that don’t have anything to do with historical reality to advance their own personal aspirations.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Jeffries added. “You have an Education and Labor Committee, which should be a forum to meaningfully address providing the highest quality education to the American people all across the country — small-town America, urban America, rural America, suburban America, exurban America and Appalachia — that’s what Democrats support, Team Normal,” a moniker Jeffries used to compare his caucus to Republicans, whom he called “Team Extreme.”
Jeffries said House Democrats are focused on supporting policies that equip young Americans with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century before ending with a dig at Republicans, including a Tennessee state lawmaker who suggested last April that he would burn books that are deemed inappropriate for school libraries.
“The Burning Book Crowd is just going have to speak for themselves.”
Supercreator has reached out to a Rep. Banks spokesperson for comment.
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The House brings back open amendments, the Senate votes on a stalking awareness resolution and Biden travels to Virginia
Here’s a quick look-ahead at what’s happening on Capitol Hill and at the White House today.
The House: Members will meet at noon to debate a bill to regulate the executive branch’s use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with votes scheduled at 5 p.m. The bill will be considered under a modified open rule that allows votes for pre-submitted amendments as well.
Additionally, at 9:30 a.m. Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado, the two chairs of the Pro-Choice Caucus, will reintroduce the EACH Act for Reproductive Justice, which would reverse the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage restrictions. (The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.)
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries will hold his weekly press conference at 10 a.m.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California will launch the Congressional Dads’ Caucus at 11 a.m.
The Senate: Senators will meet and vote at 1:45 p.m. on a resolution to designate January 2023 as National Stalking Awareness Month.
Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez of New Jersey will be joined at 10 a.m. by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Greg Casar of Texas to urge the Biden administration to reverse its expansion of Title 42 and proposed transit asylum ban.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Alex Padilla of California will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. to call for the feds to investigate the “JR-15,” a scaled-down version of the AR-15 assault rifle that gun manufacturers market to kids.
Biden’s Thursday: President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9 a.m. He’ll travel to Springfield, Virginia at 1:40 p.m. to speak about the economy at 2:45 p.m. He’s expected back at the White House at 3:50 p.m. The president and first lady will host a Lunar New Year reception in the East Room at 5:30 p.m.
Harris’s Thursday: Vice President Harris will depart Los Angeles at 3 p.m. and arrive back in Washington, DC at 7:25 p.m.
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