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Senate Parliamentarian Deals Blow to Dems’ Immigration Push

Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion package bolstering social and climate programs to give millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens, the Senate’s parliamentarian said late Sunday, a crushing blow to what was the party’s clearest pathway in years to attaining that long-sought goal. 

The decision by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its rules, is a setback for President Joe Biden, congressional Democrats and their allies in the pro-immigration and progressive communities. It badly damages Democrats’ hopes of enacting — over Republican opposition — changes letting several categories of immigrants gain permanent residence and possibly citizenship.  

MacDonough’s decision was described by a person informed about the ruling who would describe it only on condition of anonymity. 

The parliamentarian decided that the immigration language could not be included in an immense bill that’s been shielded from GOP filibusters. Left vulnerable to filibusters, which require 60 Senate votes to defuse, the immigration provisions have virtually no chance in the 50-50 Senate. 

MacDonough rejected Democratic language that would have opened a doorway to citizenship for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, often called “Dreamers”; immigrants with Temporary Protected Status who’ve fled countries stricken by natural disasters or extreme violence; essential workers; and farm workers. 

Estimates vary because many people can be in more than one category, but the liberal Center for American Progress has estimated that 6 million people could be helped by the Democratic effort. Biden had proposed a broader drive that would have affected 11 million immigrants. 

Democrats and their pro-immigration allies have said they will offer alternative approaches to MacDonough that would open a doorway to permanent status to at least some immigrants.  

The overall legislation would boost spending for social safety net, environment and other programs and largely finance the initiatives with tax increases on the rich and corporations. Moderate Democrats want to water down some of the provisions, including shrinking its price tag, but progressives oppose trimming it. 

Party leaders are still working on finding a compromise on the sweeping legislation that would satisfy virtually every Democrat in Congress. They can’t lose any Democratic votes in the 50-50 Senate and can lose no more than three in the House. 

Under the special process Democrats are using to shield the overall bill from a filibuster, language in such legislation is considered “extraneous” and is supposed to be removed if its budget impact is “merely incidental” to the provision’s overall policies.  

MacDonough said the budget impact of Democrats’ immigration proposal was outweighed by the policy impact it would have. Democrats have said that according to an unreleased estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the immigration provisions would have increased federal deficits by more than $130 billion over the coming decade, largely because of federal benefits the immigrants would qualify for.  

Democrats and a handful of GOP allies have made halting progress during the past two decades toward legislation that would help millions of immigrants gain permanent legal status in the U.S. Ultimately, they’ve been thwarted each time by broad Republican opposition. 

The House has approved separate bills this year achieving much of that, but the measures have gone nowhere in the Senate because of Republican filibusters. Bipartisan talks have yielded no middle ground. 

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By Polityk | 20/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Debt Limit Struggle Raises Specter of Catastrophic Default

Unless Congress votes to increase the amount of money the U.S. Treasury is allowed to borrow above its current debt of $28.5 trillion, the United States will default on its financial obligations sometime in the next several weeks, experts warn.

Few experts consider that likely to happen, but if it did, it could trigger an economic catastrophe with effects far beyond America’s shores.

In a letter to members of Congress last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned of the damage that would result if the U.S. is unable, even for a short time, to pay its bills.

“A delay that calls into question the federal government’s ability to meet all its obligations would likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets,” wrote Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve Board. “At a time when American families, communities, and businesses are still suffering from the effects of the ongoing global pandemic, it would be particularly irresponsible to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.”

With that crisis looming, Democrats and Republicans in Washington are battling over who should take responsibility for the politically unpopular task of raising the cap on borrowing, commonly known as the debt limit. Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have vowed that not a single one of them will vote to raise the limit.

For their part, Democrats say that much of the spending the increased debt would finance is the result of policies passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed by a Republican president, Donald Trump. Therefore, they argue, the GOP should participate in raising the limit.

‘America must never default’

The strange thing about the current debate is that there is absolutely no disagreement between the parties about what should happen. In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal in his home state of Kentucky last week, McConnell was explicit, saying that “America must never default” and “the debt ceiling needs to be raised.”

However, McConnell said, Republicans will not provide any votes to make that happen. What he is demanding the Democrats do is raise the debt limit unilaterally, using a process called “budget reconciliation,” which would make it impossible for Senate Republicans to block a vote on the measure.

McConnell’s stance has angered Democrats, who point out that enforcement of the debt ceiling was suspended three times during the four years of the Trump presidency, each time with Democratic support for allowing the debt to rise.

Possible House vote next week 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has ruled out the possibility of including a debt ceiling increase in a reconciliation package, creating what appears to be an impasse on Capitol Hill.

On Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said the House would vote on a measure to raise the debt ceiling next week. House Democrats could opt to tie the debt limit measure to a must-pass spending bill that would avert a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends on September 30, upping the significance of Republican opposition.

If the House bill passes, it would move to the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats have a bare majority because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tiebreaking vote. Such a measure, however, would be susceptible to a Republican filibuster if GOP lawmakers choose to block it.

‘Who blinks first?’ 

Many in Washington believe the debt ceiling will be raised before the U.S. defaults, but they aren’t sure of the mechanism. Yet lawmakers have come dangerously close to defaulting in the past. In 2011, when House Republicans battled with Democratic President Barack Obama over the federal debt, the bond rating firm Standard & Poor’s issued the first-ever downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt, sparking a major stock market sell-off.

“We know what’s going to happen, but we don’t know how it’s going to happen,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a government spending watchdog. “At the end of the day, one way or another, politicians will raise or suspend the debt limit. The United States cannot and will not default on its obligations. And so somebody is going to budge. But the question is, who blinks first?”

There are multiple ways this could play out, said Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Congress could enact a debt limit increase or a new suspension, and the amount of that increase or the duration of the suspension could be debatable,” he said. “Congress could choose to add other conditions, but doing so has not been the standard in recent years, for good reason. And it is possible that for political reasons Republicans in Congress will allow this to be done, but only with Democratic votes.”

New borrowing necessary

Until August 2, the country had been operating under the latest of a series of suspensions of the debt ceiling that allowed the Treasury to issue new debt without restrictions. When the suspension was lifted, the government’s debt stood at an estimated $28.5 trillion.

That represented an increase of about $6.5 trillion since 2019, the last time the limit was suspended, and about $8.6 trillion since a suspension that took effect in the first months of the Trump administration.

Most of the increase in federal debt since 2017 happened under the Trump administration, but a significant part of it, mainly in pandemic relief legislation, was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Since August, the Treasury Department has engaged in a series of “extraordinary measures” to avoid defaulting on obligations without additional borrowing. However, Treasury officials have said those measures will become unsustainable sometime next month.

Pressure campaign 

The Biden administration has been trying to increase the political pressure on McConnell and congressional Republicans to force them to participate in a debt limit increase.

On Wednesday, Yellen spoke with McConnell on the phone. The White House said the purpose of the call was to “convey what the enormous dangers of default would be.” But a spokesperson for McConnell made it clear that the conversation had not moved the Republican.

“The leader repeated to Secretary Yellen what he has said publicly since July,” the spokesperson said. “They will have to raise the debt ceiling on their own, and they have the tools to do it.”

On Friday, The Associated Press reported that the administration had been reaching out to state and local government leaders to warn them about interruptions in federal funding that could result if the limit wasn’t raised.

Debt limit history 

The debt limit was not designed to be used as a political cudgel. Its origins go back to World War I, when Congress pre-authorized a certain level of debt so the Treasury would not have to seek congressional authorization every time it needed to issue new bonds.

Since 1917, when it was created, the debt limit has been raised many times. According to the Treasury Department, since 1960, Congress has acted to “raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit” 78 times.

It is only in recent decades, as federal borrowing has accelerated, that raising the debt limit has become a political weapon.


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By Polityk | 18/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Pelosi, in London, Cautions Britain on Ending Ireland Peace Agreement

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned Britain on Friday that nullifying the Northern Ireland peace agreement — known as the Good Friday accords — would likely undermine negotiations for a post-Brexit bilateral trade agreement with the United States.  


Pelosi, who was in London, told Chatham House she was not making a threat, but a prediction.


“If there is destruction of the Good Friday accords, they [are] very unlikely to have a UK-U.S. bilateral. We have to have a path that includes it,” Pelosi told the London-based think-tank.


Signed in 1998 by the Irish and British governments, the Good Friday peace accords helped end 30 years of sectarian violence. Part of that agreement allowed for a “soft border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, allowing for goods and services to pass easily between the two countries.


When Britain left the European Union earlier this year, the sides agreed to keep an open land border between the North and Ireland, which remains an EU member. That, however, required customs checks to be introduced on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.  


Facing internal opposition to those checks, Britain wants to renegotiate the agreement but the EU has so far refused.


The United States, which played a key role in securing the landmark 1998 accord, has cautioned Britain against doing anything to undermine the peace settlement.


Pelosi added that nobody was “declaring one thing or another,” and the government in Ireland has expressed a desire to work out the differences. But she said any significant changes to the accords would make a bilateral trade agreement with Britain “problematic.”


Pelosi was also asked about U.S. politics and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.


The House speaker said the insurrection, which she said was “incited” by Trump, was rooted in “some kind of white supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia.” She alluded to FBI statements that identify domestic extremists as the most urgent terror threat on U.S. soil.


Pelosi also urged members of the U.S. Republican party to “take back your party.”


“The Republican party, the Grand Old Party, has made tremendous contributions to our country,” Pelosi said, telling party leaders, “Don’t let your party be hijacked by a cult.”


Some information in this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters news organizations.

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By Polityk | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Чемпіонка світу з шахів позивається до Netflix через неправду в серіалі «Хід королеви»

Нона Гапріндашвілі вимагає від Netflix п’ять мільйонів доларів компенсації і вилучення епізодів, в яких подана неправдива інформація про її досягнення

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By Gromada | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Суспільство

Поліція заявила про готовність забезпечити порядок на Марші рівності у Києві

Традиційна правозахисна хода за права людини для ЛГБТ+ спільноти Марш рівності проходитиме у Києві в неділю під гаслом «Пліч-о-пліч на захист рівноправ’я»

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By Gromada | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Суспільство

У Києві через футбол 18 вересня можливі обмеження в роботі трьох станцій метро

У Києві ввечері 18 вересня можливе обмеження роботи трьох станцій метро «Олімпійська», «Палац спорту» і «Площа Льва Толстого» через футбольний матч, повідомила пресслужба підземки.

«Можливе обмеження (закриття) станції «Олімпійська» на вхід. А після завершення можливе обмеження (закриття) на вхід станцій «Палац спорту», «Олімпійська» та «Площа Льва Толстого».

Механізм застосовується з міркувань безпеки для уникнення масового скупчення пасажирів на платформах станцій», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Завтра на НСК «Олімпійський» відбудеться футбольний матч між командами «Динамо» (Київ) та «Олександрія» (Олександрія). Початок гри о 19:30.

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By Gromada | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Суспільство

Biden Slams Opponents of Vaccine Mandate

A growing number of Republicans, including state governors, have vowed to mount legal challenges against President Joe Biden’s sweeping measures to compel workers and federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has the story.

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By Polityk | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Republican Who Voted to Impeach Trump Exits 2022 Race

Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 US House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, said Thursday he would not seek reelection, citing the “toxic” atmosphere in a party that remains enthralled by the former president.

The two-term back-bencher from Ohio stressed that family considerations played a substantial role in his decision, but he acknowledged the difficult political scenario, one in which he would have had to face a Trump-endorsed primary challenger next year.

“While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decision,” he said in a statement.

Gonzalez was more blunt in an interview in Thursday’s New York Times, assailing Trump as “a cancer for the country” for inspiring his supporters to launch the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” he told the daily.

Gonzalez, a 36-year-old conservative, is the first among the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to retire rather than endure what is undoubtedly a brutal season of primaries ahead.

Trump, who remains hugely influential in the party, has made clear he will work tirelessly to help defeat those Republicans who sought to oust him.

They include Liz Cheney, who lost her House Republican leadership position when she refused to tone down her criticism of the former president.

Trump has already announced his support for a former Trump aide, Max Miller, running for Gonzalez’s seat.

Several House Democrats tweeted out their appreciation of Gonzalez after his announcement.

He and the other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump “are paying a price for doing the right thing,” congressman Brendan Boyle said. “But they will be vindicated by history.” 

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By Polityk | 17/09/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика