House votes to approve bill to avert government shutdown

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(WASHINGTON) — The House voted along party lines to pass a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown next week.

The final vote was 220-211.

The bill would fund the government through Dec. 3 and it also includes billions in emergency disaster relief and aid for Afghan evacuees. It also suspends the debt limit through December 2022.

Senate Republicans are expected to block the measure later this week because they do not want to vote on raising the debt limit — which means a shutdown could still happen if funding runs out after midnight on Sept. 30.

Democrats need 10 Republican senators to vote with them, and as of right now, the votes are not there. The path forward to avert a shutdown is unclear as of right now.

Senate Republicans have said they oppose suspending the debt limit because of additional spending measures Democrats are crafting — even though doing so would pay for previous expenditures. But Senate Democrats worked with Republicans under the Trump administration to raise the debt limit on multiple occasions and said it’s a bipartisan responsibility.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said if Congress does not act to raise the debt limit, the U.S. could default on its debt sometime in October, potentially triggering an “economic catastrophe.”

Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said for weeks they will oppose any measure that raises the debt ceiling, insisting that Democrats can do it alone given their control over all three branches of government.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for over two months,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

But Democrats are pressing ahead and remain optimistic about the bill’s prospects, knowing full well the challenge they face in getting Republicans on board.

“It is our hope that Senate Republicans will also do the right thing and stop playing politics around the debt limit,” House Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries said at a press conference Tuesday.

Jeffries indicated that at least a handful of Republicans have publicly expressed they will end up voting for the bill. Democrats need at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to back the bill.

“Three times — during the administration of the former president — three times House Democrats cooperated in raising the debt ceiling,” Jeffries said.

“Now all of a sudden, they want to jam up the American people and the American economy and our full faith and credit, because they’re playing politics?” Jeffries said of Republicans in the Senate.

“Senate Republicans should be hearing from their friends in the big banks and big business, as to how catastrophic a default on our debt would be for industry, for commerce, for the economy and most importantly for the American people,” Jeffries added.

Without GOP support, it’s unclear how Democrats will plan to tackle the issue of raising or suspending the debt limit alone.

“The debt limit is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, in that spirit, on a bipartisan basis as it has in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to members over the weekend.

The short-term funding bill unveiled on Tuesday extends funding through Dec. 3 for all vital federal agencies, including health, housing, education and public safety programs.

“It is critical that Congress swiftly pass this legislation to support critical education, health, housing and public safety programs and provide emergency help for disaster survivors and Afghan evacuees,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro said in a statement Tuesday.

The bill also includes $28.6 billion in emergency disaster relief to address recent natural disasters, including multiple hurricanes and wildfires, severe droughts and winter storms in 2021 and prior years.

Another $6.3 billion would support Afghan evacuees, including funding to temporarily house evacuees at American facilities and in foreign countries, provide necessary security screenings and ultimately resettle eligible evacuees in the United States. The legislation also includes funding to provide humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries.

The legislation suspends the debt limit through December 2022.

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House Democrats remove money for Israel’s Iron Dome system in funding bill

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(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats on Tuesday removed $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system from their stopgap government funding bill, after progressives threatened to tank the measure over the military support for Israel.

While Democratic leaders committed to approving the funding by year’s end in another must-pass bill, the holdup was the latest episode in an ongoing intraparty debate over support for Israel.

Republicans quickly took to social media to accuse Democrats of undermining Israel’s security, and planned a procedural vote to highlight Democrats’ divisions — even as they had planned to vote against the initial measure when it included Iron Dome funding.

Moderate Democrats also criticized their colleagues for opposing the funds for the defensive missile system, which President Joe Biden promised to replenish after Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in May.

While lawmakers from both parties have supported Israel’s right to defend itself unconditionally for decades, a growing group of Democratic lawmakers have called on party leaders to revisit its relationship with Israel, and have accused its military of human rights abuses and blasted the treatment of Palestinians.

That tension has been exacerbated in recent years by the efforts of conservative Israeli leaders — most notably former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to align closely with Republicans and former President Donald Trump, after tensions with the Obama administration over the U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Still, Democratic Party leaders and Biden have been quick to demonstrate their support for Israel. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid about the Iron Dome funding debate and reiterated Democrats’ commitment to passing the measure.

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Two disbarred attorneys outside Texas sue abortion doctor under SB8

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(WASHINGTON) — The first tests of Texas’ unprecedented and highly controversial scheme for enforcing a ban on nearly all abortions have come from two non-Texans — both former lawyers disbarred for alleged misconduct who are effectively inviting courts to invalidate the law on constitutional grounds.

Oscar Stilley, a former Arkansas attorney, brought one of the two civil suits filed Monday in Bexar County District Court against a San Antonio abortion doctor who publicly admitted to performing an unlawful procedure. Stilley is in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a 15-year sentence for tax evasion and conspiracy, according to the complaint posted on his personal website.

Felipe N. Gomez, an Illinois attorney, brought the other suit; he is currently suspended from the state’s bar over accusations of sending harassing and threatening emails, records show.

“In some ways the identity of these first plaintiffs highlights the absurdity of the law,” said Kate Shaw, Cardozo School of Law professor and ABC News legal contributor.

“No connection to the issue, no connection to the parties, no connection — as far as we can tell from the complaints — to Texas, at all. And yet, they may well have the ability, the way the law is drafted, to go to court and to have the courts actually hear their case,” she continued.

Gomez is a self-described “pro choice plaintiff,” according to the two-page complaint obtained by ABC affiliate KSAT, and explicitly asked the court to strike the law, SB8, down.

SB8 prohibits abortions after about 6 weeks of pregnancy in Texas and allows “any person, other than an officer or employee of state or local government,” to bring a civil suit against someone believed to have “aided or abetted” an unlawful abortion.

“The statute says that anybody can file a suit. That doesn’t mean that there’s not some state constitutional limitation on who could file a suit,” said Irving Gornstein, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law Center, “but this person seems to be somebody who has no objection to abortions, he just wants to earn a bounty.”

Stilley, who is seeking to claim a minimum $10,000 reward, and Gomez, who says he is not seeking any financial damages, both sued Dr. Alan Braid, an OB-GYN based in San Antonio, who publicly acknowledged in an op-ed on Sept. 6 that he had performed a first-trimester abortion in express violation of state law.

“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” Braid wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Sept. 1 to allow SB8 to take effect on procedural grounds, despite what the majority acknowledged as “serious questions” about constitutionality. The justices did not address those questions.

Legal experts said the new civil cases are now “vehicles” for state and federal courts to examine the substance of SB8 itself — the near total ban on abortions across the state — and ultimately suspend enforcement of the measure as in violation of longstanding Supreme Court precedent.

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Democrats introduce post-Trump ethics bill to enforce subpoenas, limit conflicts

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“Donald Trump made this legislation a necessity, but this is bigger than any one president,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a news conference. “It’s about our values, our ideals and our future.”

The Protecting Our Democracy Act would speed up the enforcement of congressional subpoenas — which were routinely ignored by the Trump administration — and require administration officials to pay any court fines and legal fees.

After Trump refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s election victory and disrupted the transition, the bill proposes starting the transition process within five days of the election and would allow both campaigns to receive government briefings and make other preparations.

It would also require presidents and candidates to submit years of income tax returns to the Federal Election Commission for public release — after Trump refused to release his returns as a candidate and as commander-in-chief, arguing that an ongoing Internal Revenue Service audit prevented him from doing so.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the proposal would prevent presidents from using their office as a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” by suspending the statute of limitations for crimes committed by a president or vice president while they are in office.

Schiff said the House could vote on the package later this fall. But it’s unclear if it has the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to clear the filibuster and 60-vote threshold for legislation.

“I realize many of the Republican members live in fear of angry statements from the former president,” Schiff said.

Many of the underlying bills in the package, including proposals to beef up protections for whistleblowers and independent inspectors general at government agencies, have bipartisan support — suggesting that Democrats could have more success in the Senate if they take it up piecemeal.

The Biden administration has worked “very constructively” with Democrats for months on the package, Schiff said.

The White House asked lawmakers to exempt administration officials from court fines if they are instructed to ignore subpoenas by the president. The version of the bill unveiled Tuesday also did not include earlier language requiring the White House to turn over presidential communications to Congress.

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Democrats dare GOP to vote against government funding bill

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(NEW YORK) — House Democrats are plowing ahead to vote on a bill Tuesday that will fund the government through Dec. 3, provide billions in emergency disaster relief and billions more to support Afghan evacuees — but it is expected to be blocked by Senate Republicans.

The federal government faces a looming shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, leaving lawmakers with little time to finagle a compromise over a suspension of the debt limit, which Democrats have attached to the must-pass spending bill.

Senate Republicans say they oppose suspending the debt limit because of additional spending measures Democrats are crafting — even though doing so would pay for previous expenditures. But Senate Democrats worked with Republicans under the Trump administration to raise the debt limit on multiple occasions and say it’s a bipartisan responsibility.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said if Congress does not act to raise the debt limit, the U.S. could default on its debt sometime in October, potentially triggering an “economic catastrophe.”

Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said for weeks they will oppose any measure that raises the debt ceiling, insisting that Democrats can do it alone given their control over all three branches of government.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for over two months,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

But Democrats are pressing ahead and remain optimistic about the bill’s prospects, knowing full well the challenge they face in getting Republicans on board.

“It is our hope that Senate Republicans will also do the right thing and stop playing politics around the debt limit,” House Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries said at a press conference Tuesday.

Jeffries indicated that at least a handful of Republicans have publicly expressed they will end up voting for the bill. Democrats need at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to back the bill.

“Three times – during the administration of the former president – three times House Democrats cooperated in raising the debt ceiling,” Jeffries said.

“Now all of a sudden, they want to jam up the American people and the American economy and our full faith and credit, because they’re playing politics?” Jeffries said of Republicans in the Senate.

“Senate Republicans should be hearing from their friends in the big banks and big business, as to how catastrophic a default on our debt would be for industry, for commerce, for the economy and most importantly for the American people,” Jeffries added.

Without GOP support, it’s unclear how Democrats will plan to tackle the issue of raising or suspending the debt limit alone.

“The debt limit is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, in that spirit, on a bipartisan basis as it has in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to members over the weekend.

The short-term funding bill unveiled on Tuesday extends funding through Dec. 3 for all vital federal agencies, including health, housing, education and public safety programs.

“It is critical that Congress swiftly pass this legislation to support critical education, health, housing and public safety programs and provide emergency help for disaster survivors and Afghan evacuees,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro said in a statement Tuesday.

The bill also includes $28.6 billion in emergency disaster relief to address recent natural disasters, including multiple hurricanes and wildfires, severe droughts and winter storms in 2021 and prior years.

The legislation suspends the debt limit through December 2022.

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Biden to focus on ‘intensive diplomacy’ at UN amid tensions with allies

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(WASHINGTON) — As President Joe Biden kicked off a week of global engagements amid tensions with some key allies, the White House previewed his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday as one that will focus on turning the page from conflict to global cooperation and competition.

According to a White House senior adviser, the president’s remarks — one of his biggest opportunities to date to deliver his message on U.S. foreign policy — will “center on the proposition that we are closing the chapter on 20 years of war and opening a chapter of intensive diplomacy by rallying allies and partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time,” including COVID-19, climate change, emerging technologies, rules of the road on trade and economics, investments in clean infrastructure, and a modern approach to counterterrorism.

Speaking to reporters Monday, the adviser stressed that Biden would also advocate for “vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, during a press briefing on Monday, also said that the president will “reaffirm that the United States is not turning inward,” especially as the assembly follows closely on the heels of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan..

“The president will essentially drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on personal, purposeful, effective intensive American diplomacy, defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force. And that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as non-state actors from the private sector and non-governmental organizations and international institutions,” the adviser said.

“This will be the central theme of his speech, which will really lift up some of these big hard challenges that will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead. And he will reinforce the notion that our futures in our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another. And so we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us,” the adviser added.

Given Biden’s key campaign pledge of restoring the standing of the U.S. on the world stage, the remarks could be a critical test. The speech is one part of a week that will see Biden focusing on global partnerships, amid tensions on the global stage in the wake of the AUKUS deal announced last week with Australia and the United Kingdom, aimed at curbing China’s influence on in the Indo-Pacific region. The deal angered the French by undercutting a sizable deal they had with Australia for nuclear-powered submarine technology.

“But what you’ll hear him talk about tomorrow is the president’s going to lay out the case for why the next decade will determine our future. Not just for the United States, but for the global community. And he will talk, and this will be a central part of his remarks, about the importance of re-establishing our alliances after the last several years,” Psaki said Monday. “I also think it’s important to note that establishing alliances doesn’t mean that you won’t have disagreements or you won’t have disagreements about how to approach any particular issue in the world.”

Administration officials also confirmed that Biden is currently working to find time to speak with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, clearly hoping to try and smooth things over with an important U.S. ally, after a diplomatic dustup over the submarine deal with Australia.

“The president wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together. We understand the French position, we don’t share their view in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position. And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this,” the adviser said. “And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books, we think that will be an important moment an opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”

The White House also outlined the rest of the president’s week, including several engagements with world leaders both in New York and back in Washington following his remarks at UNGA.

In addition to his remarks, Biden will meet on Tuesday with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, before returning to Washington to host a bilateral meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On Wednesday, as has been previously announced, Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 to “rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic,” the White House said.

“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together and not just national leaders. But he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19. And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focus sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official previewed of the summit.

The United States will also have a series of announcements about our own further contributions beyond what we’ve already contributed to ending the pandemic globally, according to the senior administration official.

On Friday, in addition to the first in-person meeting of the Quad countries (India, Japan, Australia and the U.S.) in Washington, Biden will hold individual meetings with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.

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Biden challenges UN to act together on pandemic, climate change

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(NEW YORK) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered his first speech as president to the United Nations General Assembly, telling diplomats that they were meeting at a moment “intermingled with great pain and extraordinary possibility.”

“We’ve lost so much to this devastating pandemic that continues to claim lives around the world, and impacts so much on our existence,” Biden said. “We’re mourning more than 4.5 million people, people of every nation, from every background. Each death is individual heartbreak.”

“But our shared grief is a poignant reminder that our collective future will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity, and to act together,” he added.

His speech Tuesday morning kicked off a week of global engagements amid tensions with key allies. The White House said Biden hoped to turn the page from conflict to global cooperation and competition.

The large, international gathering amid a global pandemic has led to special precautions to keep world leaders safe.

The UN has agreed to “enhanced cleaning” of the main podium between leaders’ speeches, “changing out microphone heads, re-routing delegations to different ‘green rooms,’ and the use of air purifiers,” a senior Biden administration official said.

Biden’s speech will follow remarks from Brazilian Prime Minister Jair Bolsonaro, who has refused to get vaccinated, has consistently downplayed the virus’s seriousness and was even fined for not wearing a mask in Brazil.

After his remarks, Biden plans to meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at noon before departing for Washington, where he’ll host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House late in the afternoon, according to the White House.

The meetings come amid a diplomatic spat with France, which has expressed displeasure with Biden for a just announced defense partnership with Australia and United Kingdom — which led to Australia nixing a major defense deal with France.

A senior adviser to the president said Biden’s remarks — one of his biggest opportunities to date to deliver his message on U.S. foreign policy — will “center on the proposition that we are closing the chapter on 20 years of war and opening a chapter of intensive diplomacy by rallying allies and partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time,” including COVID-19, climate change, emerging technologies, rules of the road on trade and economics, investments in clean infrastructure, and a modern approach to counterterrorism.

Speaking to reporters Monday, the adviser stressed that Biden would also advocate for “vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, during a press briefing on Monday, also said that the president will “reaffirm that the United States is not turning inward,” especially as the assembly follows closely on the heels of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan.

“The president will essentially drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on personal, purposeful, effective intensive American diplomacy, defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force. And that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as non-state actors from the private sector and non-governmental organizations and international institutions,” the adviser said.

“This will be the central theme of his speech, which will really lift up some of these big hard challenges that will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead. And he will reinforce the notion that our futures in our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another. And so we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us,” the adviser added.

Given Biden’s key campaign pledge of restoring the standing of the U.S. on the world stage, the remarks could be a critical test. The speech is one part of a week that will see Biden focusing on global partnerships, amid tensions on the global stage in the wake of the AUKUS deal announced last week with Australia and the United Kingdom, aimed at curbing China’s influence on in the Indo-Pacific region. The deal angered the French by undercutting a sizable deal they had with Australia for nuclear-powered submarine technology.

“But what you’ll hear him talk about tomorrow is the president’s going to lay out the case for why the next decade will determine our future. Not just for the United States, but for the global community. And he will talk, and this will be a central part of his remarks, about the importance of re-establishing our alliances after the last several years,” Psaki said Monday. “I also think it’s important to note that establishing alliances doesn’t mean that you won’t have disagreements or you won’t have disagreements about how to approach any particular issue in the world.”

Administration officials also confirmed that Biden is currently working to find time to speak with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, clearly hoping to try and smooth things over with an important U.S. ally, after a diplomatic dustup over the submarine deal with Australia.

“The president wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together. We understand the French position, we don’t share their view in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position. And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this,” the adviser said. “And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books, we think that will be an important moment an opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”

The White House also outlined the rest of the president’s week, including several engagements with world leaders both in New York and back in Washington following his remarks at UNGA.

In addition to his remarks, Biden will meet on Tuesday with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, before returning to Washington to host a bilateral meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On Wednesday, as has been previously announced, Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 to “rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic,” the White House said.

“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together and not just national leaders. But he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19. And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focus sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official previewed of the summit.

The United States will also have a series of announcements about our own further contributions beyond what we’ve already contributed to ending the pandemic globally, according to the senior administration official.

On Friday, in addition to the first in-person meeting of the Quad countries (India, Japan, Australia and the U.S.) in Washington, Biden will hold individual meetings with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.

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Republicans dig in on debt-limit standoff despite Democratic effort to mount pressure

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(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans are holding firm against a hike to the federal debt limit, even as Democratic leaders announced Monday that they would link the raise in the borrowing limit to a must-pass government funding measure.

Government funding is set to expire at the end of September and administration officials are projecting that the United States could default on its credit in the coming weeks. The White House has warned an unprecedented default could send shockwaves through the economy and trigger a recession.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for weeks has dug in against support of a hike to the debt limit, arguing that Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress, should be held responsible for the move. But Senate Democrats worked with Republicans under the Trump administration to raise the debt limit on multiple occasions, and they said it’s a bipartisan responsibility.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Monday looked to ratchet up the pressure on Republicans by linking the increase in the federal spending limit to a resolution aimed at keeping the government open past a fast-approaching end of the fiscal year. That resolution includes aid for Afghan refugees and emergency funding for natural disaster relief.

“The American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur,” the leaders wrote in a statement, pointing to $908 billion COVID relief legislation passed under former President Donald Trump.

Within moments of the Democratic announcement that the two measures would be tied, McConnell threw cold water on the plan. In floor remarks Monday afternoon, he doubled down on his long-held opposition to raising the debt limit.

Republicans would support an extension to government funding, McConnell said, but not if it includes a lift to the debt ceiling.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone they will not get Senate Republican’s help with raising the debt limit,” McConnell said Monday.

Almost all Senate Republicans are in line behind McConnell, vowing to vote against a raise to the limit because they oppose additional massive spending measures that Democrats are currently working to craft.

Their biggest opposition is to a $3.5 trillion spending measure that encompasses many of President Joe Biden’s agenda items and which is exempt from the normal 60-vote threshold in the Senate. Democrats can pass it without any GOP support, and a raise in the limit should be tied to that bill, Republicans argue.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday his vote on raising the debt limit would be “absolutely no.”

“The Democrats say they don’t need our votes to spend money they want to spend, but they do need our votes to pay for it,” Romney said. “That dog won’t hunt.”

“I will not be consenting to anything that makes it easier for Chuck Schumer and the Democrats to bankrupt our kids,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said, joining a chorus of other Republicans who also said Monday they won’t support a government funding stop-gap that includes a raise to the debt limit.

Democratic Whip Dick Durbin accused Republicans of being politically motivated in their opposition and said they are failing to take responsibility for their actions.

“I certainly hope Sen. McConnell is not going to do damage to America and its economy out of an act of political spite,” Durbin said. “If he won’t stand up and take responsibility for things which he and his members supported in the Trump administration it shows this is a totally political effort.”

But pressed on what Democrats would do if Republican opposition held, Durbin was frank: “I don’t know.”

The House is expected to vote to raise the debt limit and fund government on Tuesday, after the Rules Committee takes up the matter. Schumer said Democrats in the Senate will hold a vote to raise the limit in the coming weeks, but without at least 10 Republicans to support the measure, there’s little that can be done aside from inclusion in the $3.5 trillion package. If the United States defaults on its debt in the coming weeks, it will be the first time in history this occurs. U.S. creditworthiness would take a hit, and markets could be severely impacted.

At least one Republican, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, said he would vote with Democrats on the measure because it would include hurricane relief for his home state. However he predicted that the bill would still fall short of 60 votes.

As they grapple with a looming government funding deadline and potential credit default, Democratic lawmakers are also at odds over how to advance their $3.5 trillion social policy package and the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Progressives have vowed to withhold votes in the House for the Senate infrastructure agreement until their policy demands are met for the larger package. But moderates in the House and Senate have threatened to sink Biden’s major policy package over its scale and individual provisions.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said of the to-do list before Congress. “I don’t know how’s it going to end.”

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500 US women athletes ask Supreme Court to uphold abortion rights

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(WASHINGTON) — A decorated group of more than 500 current and former American women Olympians and professional and collegiate athletes is warning the U.S. Supreme Court in a new legal filing that eroding access to abortion care in America will be “devastating” to women’s athletics at all levels.

“If the state compelled women athletes to carry pregnancies to term and give birth, it could derail women’s athletic careers, academic futures, and economic livelihoods at a large scale,” the women write. “Such a fundamental restriction on bodily integrity and human autonomy would never be imposed on a male athlete, though he would be equally responsible for a pregnancy.”

Among the named signatories are U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe; Olympic water polo player Ashleigh Johnson; WNBA star Diana Taurasi; U.S. women’s soccer national team captain Becky Sauerbrunn; and, Layshia Clarendon, a former WNBA all-star and current vice president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association.

The filing — known as an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief — was made in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a blockbuster abortion rights showdown scheduled or oral argument at the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.

The state of Mississippi has explicitly asked the court to overturn nearly 50 years of abortion rights precedent since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, allowing states to set stringent new restrictions on early-term abortions, if not outlaw them entirely.

“As women athletes and people in sports, we must have the power to make important decisions about our own bodies and exert control over our reproductive lives,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “I am honored to stand with the hundreds of athletes who have signed onto this Supreme Court brief to help champion not only our constitutional rights, but also those of future generations of athletes.”

The signatories are all women who “have exercised, relied on the availability of, or support the constitutional right to abortion care in order to meet the demands of their sports,” according to the brief.

Women’s rights advocates said it was the first time a large group of female American athletes publicly took a stand in support of abortion access.

Crissy Perham, a double gold medalist and captain of the 1992 U.S. Olympic swim team, offered one of several personal testimonies in the brief attesting to her experience obtaining an abortion.

“When I was in college, I was on birth control, but I accidentally became pregnant,” she wrote. “I decided to have an abortion. I wasn’t ready to be a mom, and having an abortion felt like I was given a second chance at life.”

“That choice ultimately led me to being an Olympian, a college graduate and a proud mother today,” Perham wrote.

Several athletes described the importance of the Supreme Court precedent in laying the groundwork for more women to participate in athletics and as a “safeguard” in case birth control failed.

“As a victim of rape during my junior year of college, I was comforted in the fact that if I were to fall pregnant and need an abortion, I would have access to that service,” a Division I field hockey player, who was not identified by name, wrote in the brief.

Ashleigh Johnson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Olympic water polo team and member of the gold-medal 2016 and 2021 Olympic teams, said she wants the justices to see abortion access a matter of racial justice.

The case will be argued in December and is expected to be decided by the end of June 2022.

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Army Gen. Mark Milley was ‘not going rogue’ in secret calls to China, authors of new book claim

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(NEW YORK) — Former President Trump’s top military adviser was “not going rogue” when he held secret phone calls with his Chinese counterpart before and after the 2020 election, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa said on “Good Morning America” Monday.

“He was not going rogue,” Costa told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. “He was reading people in throughout the national security community, trying to contain a situation and a president he believed was in serious mental decline.”

According to their new book “Peril,” which chronicles the end of the Trump administration, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng in October 2020 and January 2021 to dispel Chinese fears that Trump was planning a secret attack and to assure him the U.S. was not on the verge of collapse after the Capitol riot.

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley said on the October call, according to the book.

While Trump and Republicans accused Milley of treason and called on President Joe Biden to fire him amid reports of his phone calls, Costa told Stephanopoulos that Milley was “reading people in” on his conversations, suggesting that their reporting in the book was being misconstrued.

Even though the calls “were held on a top secret back channel, they were not secret,” Costa said. “This was not someone who was working in isolation.”

Added Woodward: “Two days after the insurrection at the Capitol was a moment of maximum tension.”

Speaking to The Associated Press last week in Greece, Milley said the calls were “routine” and done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”

He said he was prepared to defend his actions in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee next week.

The new book, which goes on sale Sep. 21, also details how former Vice President Mike Pence grappled with his duties to certify the election results on Jan. 6, as Trump repeatedly pressured him to overturn Biden’s victory.

Pence consulted the Senate parliamentarian and former Vice President Dan Quayle on how to approach his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral vote count.

“You don’t know the position I’m in,” Pence told Quayle.

“I do know the position you’re in,” Quayle replied, according to the book. “I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That’s all you do. You have no power.”

Pence, who is eyeing a 2024 White House bid, was “trying to ride both horses,” Woodward said. He was trying to “do his constitutional duty but also keep the avenues to Trump open,” Woodward added.

Woodward and Costa conducted more than 200 deep background interviews with witnesses or firsthand participants in events described in the book.

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