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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she wants answers from President Trump about the deployment of troops and unidentified law enforcement officers in Washington DC patrolling peaceful protesters.

Pelosi raised the alarm on the presence of soldiers, national guard troops, FBI, National Park Service and other unidentified federal officers making a show of force around the nation’s capital amidst the demonstrations for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“What is the mission,” Pelosi said at a press conference at the Capitol Thursday. “Who’s in charge? What is the chain of command? We expect an answer.”

Pelosi sent a letter to Trump Thursday asking for a full list of agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement resources operating in the city.

“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos,” the letter said.

The letter comes after largely peaceful protesters were forcefully dispersed from a park near the White House this week so Trump could walk to a nearby historic church that was damaged by fire to pose for a photo holding a Bible. Attorney General William Barr ordered law enforcement to clear Lafayette Square before Trump’s visit to St. John’s church.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 02: Members of the D.C. National Guard stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as demonstrators participate in a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue to be held in cities throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“We have seen soldiers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,” Pelosi’s letter said. “We have witnessed Bureau of Prisons officers in Lafayette Square. We have seen National Park Service officers hassling peaceful protestors. Several states have deployed members of their National Guard to D.C. This is in addition to the FBI and other security forces operating in our nation’s capital.”

Trump said he respects peaceful protests but looting, rioting and violence must end. He’s called for governors to get tougher on agitators nationwide and promised to “clamp down” on protests in DC.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Pelosi demands answers from Trump on troops patrolling protesters in DC

The U.S. House of Representatives made history Wednesday by conducting its first proxy vote since Congress first met in 1789 — as Republicans raised alarms over the temporary voting system implemented because of coronavirus.

It came as the House voted Wednesday afternoon 413-1 on imposing sanctions against Chinese officials for the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China.

More than 70 House Democrats — about a third of the Democratic caucus — alerted the House clerk they would be absent from Washington for the roll call votes but designated another member to vote on their behalf. No Republicans voted by proxy.

The unprecedented vote occurred in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic after House Democrats passed May 15 a temporary resolution to allow absent members to still cast votes in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and protect public health.

New for the proxy vote arrangement was a steady stream of lawmakers standing up on the House floor and verbally announcing the names of their colleagues they are voting proxy for and how each person votes on the legislation. For example, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., was the designated proxy voter for Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.

“I inform the House that Ms. Bass will vote ‘yea,'” Cicilline announced on the House floor and her vote was recorded into the roll call tally.

Currently, there are 431 members in House and 74 Democrats were to vote by proxy. That means 17 percent of all members were voting remotely Wednesday in the history-making tally.

Meantime, House Republicans marked the occasion by filing a lawsuit against Democrats, claiming the proxy voting plan is unconstitutional and argued any vote cast by proxy should never become law.

“Today is a sad day that we have got to be in the position where we’re bringing suit against the speaker,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said earlier Wednesday before the planned vote. “We’re bringing suit against the Democrats in order to prevent them from pushing this proxy vote through.”

But House Democrats said a remote voting plan was necessary to keep Congress moving during the pandemic when members could be unable to travel to Washington due to sickness, quarantine and stay-home orders. Health experts across the country have advised against large gatherings to stop the spread of the contagious virus that’s already killed about 100,000 Americans.

“The House made its will clear two weeks ago when it voted to implement remote voting by proxy and other necessary measures to ensure that Congress can continue to protect lives and livelihoods,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday night ripping the lawsuit as a “sad stunt.” “The House’s position that remote voting by proxy during a pandemic is fully consistent with the Constitution is supported by expert legal analyses.”

As Washington, D.C. is still considered a hot spot and under stay-home orders, the House resumed for a brief two-day session this week to consider FISA reforms, condemn human rights violations against ethnic Turkic Muslims in China known as Uyghurs, and vote on small business coronavirus legislation and other bills.

Meanwhile, lawmakers were scrambling on a new FISA plan as Republicans suddenly withdrew their support.

Republicans have rejected the proxy vote option and showed up to Washington arguing that members of Congress are essential workers.

“For 231 years, never have we seen a proxy vote on the floor of the House,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, said Wednesday morning. “…We look at the history of America through the Yellow Fever of 1793, the Civil War, the burning of this Capitol during the War of 1812, the Spanish Flu of 1918, and even 9/11. Congress has never flinched from its constitutional duty to uphold and assemble inside this body.”

Other countries have adopted rule changes during the coronavirus pandemic to allow for some remote and virtual proceedings, such as Canada, Brazil and the European Union. The British House of Commons broke 700 years of history last month by convening parliament with Zoom.

Other aspects of the U.S. government have already changed.

The Supreme Court is now holding oral arguments via telephone conference. And the U.S. Senate May 12 held a hybrid video conference hearing where the chairman and witnesses were zoomed into the room from their homes, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The House’s remote voting plan allows for absent members to cast votes by proxy for 45 days. One member can vote proxy on behalf of up to 10 colleagues. The special provisions can be renewed for the remainder of the congressional term that ends in January.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: House of Representatives conducts first proxy vote in its 231-year history

President Trump warned Monday that planners would be “reluctantly forced” to find a new site for the Republican National Convention if North Carolina’s governor can’t guarantee the party will be allowed “full attendance” at the event currently planned in the state’s largest city.

The convention has been planned for the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte.

In a rapid-fire series of tweets, Trump complained that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is in “Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed … full attendance in the Arena.”

He continued: “[Planners] must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced … to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site. This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!”

Trump complained that the party could be faced with the prospect of spending millions without knowing if they’d be allowed to host a full-scale event.

Cooper’s office soon responded, saying state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and “will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte.” The statement continued: “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.”

The office elaborated in a statement to Fox News, saying top state officials have all had ongoing conversations with RNC and White House staff about the convention.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte. The Democratic National Convention is scheduled to take place a week earlier in Milwaukee after being rescheduled from July due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both parties have weighed how to proceed with their conventions amid health concerns, but the Republicans generally have been more insistent than their counterparts that an in-person party affair go on as planned.

It was not immediately clear what action by Cooper prompted the Memorial Day Twitter threat. But Cooper recently announced that Friday marks the prolonged Phase 2 reopening of North Carolina that’s slated to run through at least June 26.

This phase allows restaurants, salons and barbers to open at 50 percent capacity. But bars, clubs, gyms and movie theaters are still closed, and large gatherings are prohibited.

Earlier this month, Trump accused Cooper of “playing politics” with the phased reopening of North Carolina amid the coronavirus pandemic and said that would be “bad for them” if the convention had to be delayed.

A spokesperson for the governor said North Carolina was just following the White House guidance on safely reopening.

“As the Governor said, pandemics cannot be political,” spokeswoman Sadie Weiner told the Charlotte Observer earlier this month. “North Carolina is using the data and the science based on White House guidance to inform our three-phased approach to lifting restrictions. The health and safety of North Carolinians is the top priority as we battle COVID-19.”

Vice President Mike Pence, asked about Trump’s Twitter warning Monday on “Fox & Friends,” reiterated that the conventions take “many months” of planning, and said it’s “absolutely essential” that those organizers have a sense of what’s allowed.

He said the team looks forward to a “swift response” from the governor, and stressed that they could, if necessary, move the convention to a state that’s “further along on reopening and [that] can say with confidence that we can gather there.”

“The RNC wants to hold a full in-person convention in Charlotte, but we need the governor to provide assurances that it can occur,” Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told Fox News. “We will need some answers sooner rather than later, or we will be forced to consider other options.”

Meanwhile, the DNC wrestles with the decision of whether to settle for a virtual convention in three months or pack thousands in an indoor stadium in Milwaukee to formally nominate former Vice President Joe Biden. But the RNC has been committed to maintaining an in-person convention.

“We are fully committed to an in-person event in August,” a GOP convention official recently told Fox News. “We’re forging ahead as originally planned.”

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told reporters last week that she’s not heard any safety concern from GOP delegates about attending the August convention in Charlotte.

McDaniel said the RNC was moving ahead but did note that the convention “is quite a ways away and there is ample to time for us to adjust if necessary.”

“We’re going to see how factors are on the ground and also get guidance from the mayor and the governor a little bit closer to the convention,” McDaniel said.

Fox News’ Judson Berger and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Trump threatens to find new GOP convention site if North Carolina governor won’t allow full attendance

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted Monday that coronavirus projections from experts were all wrong — and he’s getting out of the business of speculating because of it.

Cuomo said he can’t predict when the hospitalization and death rate numbers will drop to the necessary threshold required for reopening certain regions because as he put it, “we all failed” at predicting.

“Now, people can speculate. People can guess. I think next week, I think two weeks, I think a month,” Cuomo told reporters on Memorial Day. “I’m out of that business because we all failed at that business. Right? All the early national experts. Here’s my projection model. Here’s my projection model. They were all wrong. They were all wrong.”

Cuomo’s rare admission came during an event at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City when a reporter asked the governor when hard-hit New York City might reopen.

Cuomo mentioned the statewide criteria that regions needed to hit to phase out of quarantine, which included a 14-day decline in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. But, he admitted he didn’t “want to guess” when the Big Apple could meet the benchmark because past projections have been wrong.

“There are a lot of variables. I understand that. We didn’t know what the social distancing would actually amount to. I get it, but we were all wrong,” Cuomo said. “So, I’m sort of out of the guessing business, right? We watched the numbers. We prepare as the numbers drop, so when the number actually hits the threshold, we’re ready to go. We just finished that. We’re in the midst of that with Long Island, Mid-Hudson region, etc. But… I don’t want to guess.”

Cuomo revealed Saturday that for the first time since March 24, daily deaths in New York dropped below 100 and Long Island was set to meet the criteria he set out for a phase-one reopening this week.

Under the metrics, regions must have a decline in hospitalizations and deaths and meet testing and contact-tracing benchmarks.

Cuomo’s comments on Monday spoke to long-running concerns about the reliability of models that have informed governors and mayors and federal officials imposing historic lockdown measures that crushed the U.S. economy.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), for instance, has faced criticism for fluctuations in its predictions for total U.S. deaths. Amid these varying predictions, the U.S. nevertheless is poised to surpass 100,000 total deaths from coronavirus in a matter of days.

Cuomo, who has faced criticism in recent weeks for the soaring number of deaths at nursing homes in his state and for a policy that until recently sent coronavirus-positive patients back into those facilities, also was asked Monday about testing policies.

Cuomo said patients were being tested, though the requirements really applied more to staff than to patients.

New York has seen over 362,000 COVID-19 cases and over 23,000 deaths, according to the latest estimates.

During the Monday news conference, Cuomo also announced that state and local governments will provide death benefits for frontline workers who died from COVID-19 during the pandemic, including transit workers, public-health employees and first responders. Their local or state pension funds would pay out the benefit, Cuomo said.

Fox News’ Tara Prindiville contributed to this report.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Cuomo admits ‘we all failed’ at making coronavirus projections

Two new GOP congressmen were sworn into office Tuesday after winning two special elections last week that Republican leaders tout as a sign of GOP momentum heading into the fall general election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Mike Garcia, R-Calif., and Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., to the Capitol Tuesday morning to swear them into office. The newest members of Congress then joined House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for a press conference where McCarthy said these two wins will have a ripple effect for Republicans retaking the House.

“This is an early indication of what November looks like,” McCarthy said.

However, Pelosi expressed confidence that Democrats will retake the California seat in November and chalked up the special election loss to the unusual circumstance of the pandemic.

“We intend to win that seat in November,” Pelosi said last week. “We don’t see it as any referendum on anything other than it’s the first time we had vote-by-mail in the district … overwhelmingly.”

Republicans need 17 seats to win back control of the House, down from 19 last year, McCarthy noted.

Republicans picked up another lawmaker late last year when Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey switched from the Democratic to Republican Party because he didn’t want to impeach President Trump. Trump thanked him by holding a big campaign rally in his district in January.

Garcia, a former Navy combat pilot, flipped California’s 25th congressional district from blue to red. Freshman Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., resigned the seat in October 2019 amid a “throuple” ethics scandal and Republicans mounted an aggressive effort to retake the northeast Los Angeles County seat.

“I can think of no better place right now to serve my country than in the House of Representatives,” Garcia, joined by his wife and two sons, said.

Tiffany, a former state senator, won the seat in Wisconsin that was vacated by GOP Rep. Sean Duffy.

“People want reform. They want our country to get back up on its feet again,” said Tiffany, who drove from Wisconsin with his wife and three daughters. “And that means government needs to be responsive to the citizens of this country. That’s what I will fight for every day.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., second from left, wears a face mask to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as she conducts a ceremonial swearing-in for Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., third from right, joined by his wife Chris, center, and daughters Lexie, from left, Karlyn and Katherine on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Both Garcia and Tiffany won their special elections on May 12.

“We look forward to serving with honor, serving with courage and bringing together not only this party, but also Americans across the nation,” Garcia said.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Pelosi swears in two new GOP members of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has temporarily sidelined a push to allow proxy voting in the House after Republicans slammed the Democrat-crafted plan — which was designed to mitigate health risks during the coronavirus pandemic but would mark a significant change in how Congress does business.

The plan had been slated for a vote Thursday.

But Pelosi announced she pulled the plug on a leadership call Wednesday, saying that she and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., would instead set up a group of bipartisan lawmakers to study remote voting and proxy voting as part of a way to reopen the House.

The change of plans happened after House Minority Whip Steve Scalise advised GOP members to vote “no” on the proposal they’ve dubbed the “Pelosi Proxy Voting Scheme” in the previously scheduled Thursday vote.

The House will now consider a resolution to create a previously proposed select committee to probe the coronavirus response, instead of the proxy voting plan.

The new bipartisan group tasked with reopening the House and reviewing remote voting will include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; McCarthy; House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; the top Republican on the Rules Committee Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.; House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and the top Republican on that panel, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.

The House will still move forward with a bipartisan vote Thursday on reviving the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money to help small businesses hard hit by coronavirus shutdowns. Republicans support this $484 billion plan to replenish the small business forgivable loan program and provide money for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

But a sticking point emerged on the proxy voting plan to allow members who can’t travel to Washington to vote for pandemic-related reasons to direct another member to vote on their behalf.

Republicans have accused Pelosi of trying to undo 200 years of precedent without thoughtful input from the GOP.

“Any changes of this magnitude must be done in a thoughtful, bipartisan manner through regular order and with input from all members of the House,” Scalise’s office sent out in whip notice to member offices.

“Instead, the Speaker is choosing to capitalize on the crisis and jam through a rules change that could have serious constitutional and institutional repercussions.”

McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, released the text of a resolution Wednesday morning that would allow the House of Representatives to conduct proxy voting as a way to continue its business during the coronavirus pandemic while minimizing the number of members who need to physically be in Washington, D.C.

The resolution, the newest step in a controversial fight over whether and how Congress should allow its members to vote on legislation while not present in the nation’s capital, would indeed represent a break in the longstanding practice requiring that members of Congress cast their votes in person.

“The report I released last month examined our voting options, and while every option presented unique advantages and disadvantages – including technological and security concerns – the report concluded that ‘[t]here is currently no perfect solution to allow absent Members to vote on the floor. However, proxy voting is likely the best of the options available under the circumstances,'” McGovern said in a letter to Democratic colleagues Wednesday morning.

Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, blasted the “secret” effort earlier Wednesday for leaving the GOP out of the discussion.

“There are other measures already in place to ensure Congress can carry on without enabling Members of Congress to email-away their right to vote,” Davis said. “Following the terrible events of September 11th, there was an exhaustive effort to ensure House Rules would allow the House to continue to function during catastrophic times, an effort that took three years to achieve.

“Many options were considered, including proxy and remote voting, but the option that was determined best for the institution is to reduce the number of in-person Members required to satisfy a quorum – something we could be using now,” Davis continued. “This proposal that we received today is not a serious bipartisan effort to keep Members of Congress safe during this pandemic, but instead an attempt to take advantage of the House when it is vulnerable.”

It’s unclear when a new remote voting plan might come to a vote, but the effort underway is designed to be bipartisan.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

Author: Marisa Schultz, Chad Pergram

Source: Fox News: Pelosi sidelines plan for proxy voting amid coronavirus, after GOP backlash

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to release a plan to safely reopen Congress, arguing lawmakers are “essential” workers who need to be on the job during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I fully appreciate the unprecedented nature of this challenge before us. But now, more than ever, our constituents expect us to rise to the occasion and overcome these trying circumstances,” McCarthy said in a letter to Pelosi Tuesday.

The House has been under a prolonged recess as Americans are under stay-home and social-distancing orders to stop the spread of COVID-19. The last time a majority of members have been to Washington was to conduct a voice vote on the massive CARES Act aid package March 27.

“It is imperative we outline a pathway forward that ensures transparency and regular order for all members—not centralized decision-making by a select group of leadership and staff that reduces the role of representative to merely voting ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on pre-drafted proposals,” McCarthy said.

He added, “I appreciate your attention to this critical matter and offer my full assistance as we look to get back to work in the People’s House.”

Tensions are brewing on both sides of the aisle and some members have expressed frustration they feel sidelined during the crisis. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., blasted Congress for taking one voice vote last month and then choosing to “peace out” for a monthlong recess. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., showed up at Capitol this week saying he’s prepared to work even if Pelosi is not.

While members have been conducting work at home and staying in touch through video and phone meetings, McCarthy said the House’s “current posture cannot and should not become the norm.”

House members are expected to return Thursday for an anticipated vote on an interim $470 billion relief bill to shore up funding for small businesses, hospitals and testing. And then Congress is expected to consider a much larger stimulus plan as soon as May that is commonly referred to as “Phase 4” relief.

But McCarthy expressed frustration that talks on this massive legislation are conducted between Pelosi and the White House and Senate leaders, while members are called back to D.C. only when it’s time to vote on finished legislation.

Several members of Congress have become infected with the coronavirus in the meantime. And Congress doesn’t have formal rules — yet — to conduct committee meetings and take votes on the floor remotely.

As soon as Thursday, the House could vote on a plan to allow proxy voting during the pandemic, which could be a first step to remote voting and committee work. But McCarthy said in the letter that members need details and opportunity to scrutinize the proxy voting proposal before “changing 200 years of House precedent.”

McCarthy called on Pelosi to deliver to a clear path forward on how Congress will fulfill its core duties as the pandemic continues. Specifically, how will committees conduct business; when will members get an updated schedule and how will Congress be voting.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday urged his relevant committee chairpersons to develop guidelines for remote committee work and remote voting with technology.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: McCarthy calls on Pelosi to reopen Congress: It’s time to ‘get back to work’

President Trump is beating all Democratic presidential hopefuls in head-to-head matchups in the critical state of Wisconsin, but he’s lagging his rivals in Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to a new poll released Thursday.

Trump leads all Democratic candidates by between 7 and 11 percentage points among registered voters in Wisconsin, with the tightest matchups between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the biggest victory over Sen. Amy Klobuchar (50-39 percent) who hails from neighboring Minnesota, according to the new Quinnipiac University Poll.

But in Pennsylvania, Trump trails Biden, Klobuchar and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by 6 to 8 percentage points. The president also lags behind Sanders, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, by 3 to 4 points.

The race is the tightest in Michigan. Sanders and Bloomberg have a slight edge over Trump by 5 percentage points, followed by a narrower lead for Biden (4 points), Warren (2 points) and Buttigieg and Klobuchar (both 1 point ahead).

“Three different states, three different scenarios, one constant — the economy,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement. “It’s a top issue for voters, and it’s giving President Trump a strong tailwind.”

Snow added: “Wisconsin voters give him a job approval rating above 50 percent, higher than what he receives nationally and in Pennsylvania and Michigan. These Wisconsin numbers are a red warning sign for Democrats that rebuilding the ‘blue wall’ in 2020 may not be so easy. But it’s a long way to November.”

Trump scored high marks in all three states for his handling of the economy and the majority of voters say their finances are better off now than they were in 2016.

Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan delivered critical — but narrow — victories to Trump in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, which propelled him to the presidency. Wisconsin residents were the most optimistic about their state’s economy, with 76 percent ranking it excellent or good, while Michigan voters were less cheery with 63 percent giving their state’s economy high marks.

“The issues voters choose as their most important show a big divide. Voters citing the economy as the number one issue are voting overwhelmingly for President Trump. But the exact opposite is true for voters who say health care or climate change are their top issues, who are voting overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates,” Snow said.

The poll was conducted from February 12-18, prior to Nevada’s dramatic Democratic debate, where the field bruised up Bloomberg in his debut performance. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Author: Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Trump leads in Wisconsin, trails Dem rivals in other swing states: poll

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