The Media Hides a Secret in the $3.5 Trillion Bill

There’s one piece of the $3.5 trillion spending bill that the media is unlikely to tell you about—their bailout.

The massive, bloated $3.5 billion spending bill has so much pork that fiscal hawks could eat it for weeks. One piece that hasn’t received much attention yet is a special journalism “tax credit” equal to 50% of the salary of each journalist—up to $50,000 per journalist annually.

Yes, that’s correct, your tax dollars would be paying 50% of the salary of many journalists, whether you like their reporting or not. 

Think of it as a way to turn every news outlet in America into a version of NPR.

Let’s be clear: “Saving” the media would destroy the media. How could we ever trust journalists to accurately cover the elected officials who voted against their funding? How can you “speak truth to power” when you’re also pleading with that power for cash? Which news outlets would get the funding, and which would be snubbed?

Any pretense of objectivity would be destroyed once the media is on the federal payroll.

And if you think the media is already hostile to conservatives, libertarians, Christians, business leaders, southerners, and basically anyone who didn’t love Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., dress from the Met Gala, just imagine the disdain they’ll show us once they’re funded by tax dollars. Also imagine the press coverage of any politician that dares to oppose renewing —or increasing—their funding.

The idea that Americans should be forced to financially support news outlets they don’t like is immoral, obnoxious, and a threat to both free markets and free speech. It’s also outrageous when one considers the proliferation of new media outlets that have already replaced these dinosaurs.

In 2021, most Americans are getting their news from independent podcasts, blogs, social media sites, and more. They compensate these journalists using new payment services like Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee, and Go Fund Me. Last year Patreon alone paid out roughly $1 billion to creators.

Rather than using politicians to shake down taxpayers, why don’t these desperate journalists try to collect money voluntarily on Patreon?

This isn’t the first-time progressives have tried to redistribute your tax dollars to their allies in the media.

A dedicated media bailout was initially proposed at the onset of the pandemic. First, news outlets lobbied Congress for a dedicated bailout. This was in addition to Payroll Protection Program cash that many local newspapers took advantage of.

The Seattle Times happily grabbed $9.9 million. The Tampa Bay Times, a hard-left newspaper, bagged $8.5 million. Many other newspapers did the same. 

When this dedicated bailout failed to catch steam, their next proposal was to modify Payroll Protection Program rules so that large conglomerates like McClatchy would be allowed to qualify. Gannett deserves credit for opposing both efforts, and they weren’t alone.

Our organization, Accuracy in Media, led the fight against both versions of the media bailout. Accuracy in Media activists sent emails, made phone calls, and even delivered 50,787 anti-bailout petitions to the office of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican. Bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress supported this bailout, but fortunately, McConnell responded to the petitions and blocked the proposal.

Bad businesses should be allowed to fail. Doing so creates space in the market for better companies to take their place.

It is for this reason that Accuracy in Media is renewing our efforts to defeat this, and all, media bailouts. Every American should tell their member of Congress to oppose this idea. And even more importantly, they should tell their local news outlets the same thing. No journalist subsidized with tax dollars should ever be taken seriously in this country.

Most Americans distrust the media. They were rightfully outraged when journalists entirely ignored the Hunter Biden scandals in the final weeks of the 2020 election.

But now it looks like their allies in Washington, D.C., are going to reward them for their loyalty. It will be a dark day in our nation when “journalists” become beneficiaries from the federal spoils system.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email [email protected] and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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Bill Gates questioned on ties to Jeffrey Epstein: ‘I regret having those dinners’

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was questioned during an interview on PBS News about his former ties to convicted sex offender and disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who reportedly committed suicide while awaiting trial in prison.

PBS News host Judy Woodruff pressed Gates on his dalliance with Epstein after Epstein had already pled guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution — a high-profile case that made headlines in the media. In response, Gates said that he regretted the dinners he had with the disgraced billionaire, meaning that he met with Epstein more than once.

Epstein reportedly told Gates that he had contacts with numerous luminaries who could help Gates advance his global health projects. 

“It was reported that you continued to meet with him over several years, and that — in other words, a number of meetings,” Woodruff said. “What did you do when you found out about his background?”

“Well, I have said I regretted having those dinners. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing new on that,” Gates replied.

“Is there a lesson for you, for anyone else looking at this?” Woodruff continued. 

“Well, he’s dead,” Gates responded. “So, in general, you always have to be careful. And the — I’m very proud of what we have done in philanthropy, be very proud of the work of the foundation. That’s what I get up every day and focus on.”

The conversation between the PBS News host and Gates was posted on social media. 

A transcript, compiled by the Daily Wire, went as follows:

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: I also want to ask you about something else in the public arena. It was reported at that time that you had a number of meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, who, when you met him 10 years ago, he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from minors. What did you know about him when you were meeting with him, as you have said yourself, in the hopes of raising money?

BILL GATES: You know, I had dinners with him. I regret doing that. He had relationships with people he said would give to global health, which is an interest I have. Not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction. Those meetings were a mistake. They didn’t result in what he purported. And I cut them off. That goes back a long time ago now. There’s — so there’s nothing new on that.

WOODRUFF: It was reported that you continued to meet with him over several years, and that — in other words, a number of meetings. What did you do when you found out about his background?

GATES: Well, I have said I regretted having those dinners. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing new on that.

WOODRUFF: Is there a lesson for you, for anyone else looking at this?

GATES: Well, he’s dead. So, in general, you always have to be careful. And the — I’m very proud of what we have done in philanthropy, be very proud of the work of the foundation. That’s what I get up every day and focus on.

WOODRUFF: And so for people watching who wonder about the future of the Gates Foundation, what’s your message?

GATES: Well, I’m extremely lucky that, with the help of Melinda and the incredible generosity of Warren Buffett, we’re able to take these important causes and bring innovation to bear. We were funding mRNA vaccines when it was still viewed as something that would never work. And now that’s turned into a source of some of the very best vaccines. We have great hopes to use that technology for an HIV vaccine. Our work has reduced childhood death rates quite dramatically over the last 20 years. So, this is my second career. We have hired great people. We have made some progress. The visibility of the inequity here isn’t as high as it should be. And maybe one small benefit of the pandemic is, people will realize how weak these health systems are and how diseases like malaria and polio are still out there, and incredible tragedies. So, I’m very lucky to be involved in this work. It’s gone way better than I expected. This will be the focus for the rest of my life.

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NYC Theaters Sue Bill de Blasio, Claiming Vaccine Mandate Obstructs Free Speech –

A group of small theater and comedy club operators filed a lawsuit against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on September 16, claiming disparate enforcement of vaccine mandates unfairly discriminates against their venues and violates constitutional protections provided by the First and 14th Amendments.

Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation and Mermigis Law Group, the Theater Center, the Players Theater, the Actors Temple Theatre, the Soho Playhouse, and Broadway Comedy Club are challenging de Blasio’s “Key to NYC” proof of vaccination order in federal court.

In effect since September 13, the mandate requires many indoor businesses to allow entry only to employees and customers able to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The order applies to indoor dining, recreation, fitness, and entertainment establishments. Failure to comply can result in fines to the businesses of up to $5,000 and possible criminal charges.

The lawsuit claims that unequal enforcement of the “Key to NYC” mandate amounts to discrimination based on content of speech and type of speaker, citing exemptions provided for religious services and performances at community centers and schools.

“A theatrical production put on by a community center or high school drama department is treated more favorably than a production put on by one of our clients,” the theaters’ lawyer Daniel Ortner said in a September 17 statement. “This violates the First Amendment.”

Religious services are regularly held without restriction in the very same theaters within mere hours of other performances subject to the mandate. In fact, the Actors Temple doubles as a nondenominational Jewish synagogue and the Orbach Theater rents its facilities to a religious group for Sunday morning services.

While theatrical and comedy performances are subject to enforcing proof of vaccination under the “Key to NYC” mandate, attendees of religious services are not required to be vaccinated, and mask mandates are reportedly only loosely enforced despite congregational singing.

Citing our nation’s “long history of protecting parody and satire” that stretches back to an early cartoon of George Washington depicted as an ass, the suit seeks to defend continued freedom for comedians and performers. “Plaintiffs seek only to be allowed to operate on equal terms as other similar venues, without regard to the content of the speech or to the identity of the speakers that they host,” it reads. “The same rules should apply to all speakers, regardless of their message.”

They also challenge the restrictions from a logistical basis. The long shutdown has stretched their budgets thin, and the theaters have been struggling to issue refunds to those who bought tickets before the mandate went into effect.

The suit also claims that the mandate unfairly “stigmatizes businesses that are already struggling to bounce back.” Very few cases of COVID-19 have been traced to theaters. Meanwhile, other countries, like South Korea, opened theaters before other businesses because they were deemed safer than most forms of gathering.

All of the plaintiffs’ theaters have a capacity of less than 199 seats and already enforce onerous precautions, including blocking out the front row, requiring performers to be vaccinated, mandating audience masks during performances, hiring additional staff to enforce mask compliance, and encouraging vaccination for audiences.

The theaters report that their staff have also encountered significant abuse from patrons frustrated by vaccine enforcement, claiming, “several staff members have quit after being screamed at, physically threatened, or even spat on by customers upset about [the mandate].”

The theaters are requesting injunctive relief of $1 plus attorney’s fees, seeking merely to end what they consider arbitrary restrictions on their freedom to practice comedy and the arts. Al Martin, owner of the Broadway Comedy Club, put it simply: “We’re not the TSA of vaccine cards, we’re a comedy club.”

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Texas Governor Abbott Signs Massive Border-security Bill

AP Images
Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill tripling the state’s border security spending for 2021 and 2022 and bringing it to a record high.

On Friday, Abbott signed House Bill 9, which will spend $1.88 billion on border security over the next two years. This comes on top of another $1.05 billion signed earlier this year — itself over $200 million more than the previous budget — bringing Texas’s total border-security spending to nearly $3 billion.

This represents a significant increase from previous years. In Texas’s 2008-09 budget, only $110 million was allocated to border security, and funding never surpassed $800 million.

Among H.B. 9’s other allocations, it devotes $750 million to construct additional border barrier — in addition to $250 million that Abbott allocated in June and the $54 million that the governor raised through crowdfunding. The bill also allocates over $450 million to increase the deployment numbers of Texas National Guard and other law-enforcement personal at the border. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will also receive funds to help detain illegal migrants.

Speaking at the bill’s signing ceremony, Governor Abbott stated, “This funding will provide our agency partners with even more support to address the influx of unlawful migrants and prevent dangerous people and contraband from entering our state.”

Abbott went on to note, “It is the federal government’s job to secure our border, but the Biden administration has failed to do its job, so Texas is stepping up to do what the federal government is supposed to do.” He blamed “the Biden administration’s open border policies” for the need for such legislation, as they “opened the floodgates to illegal immigration, to crime, to human trafficking, to drug smuggling.”

Texas Taking on Federal Government’s Role

Since the Biden administration began in January, Texas has been slowly, but steadily, taking over the federal government’s abdicated duty of securing the southern border. According to the left-wing Migration Policy Institute, the state is currently “challenging federal immigration policy on more fronts at one time than ever before.”

Among other recent policy shifts, Abbott authorized Texas National Guard troops to enforce Texas law, something that includes arresting illegal migrants who break state law. Additionally, under a new state law that went into effect on September 1, it is easier for state officials to prosecute human smugglers.

Nonetheless, there is much more that Texas can do to secure the southern border. Abbott would be wise to nullify the various unconstitutional court-imposed restrictions on states’ ability to enforce immigration law. Article VI of the Constitution, which states that only laws “made in pursuance” of the Constitution are valid, provides a solid legal basis for such actions.

Border Surge Continues

Abbott’s signing of H.B. 9 couldn’t come at a more relevant time. The United States is currently grappling with the influx of 15,000 Haitian migrants at Del Rio, Texas, a crisis caused by the Biden administration’s extreme open-borders policies. Not only will the Department of Homeland Security release many of these migrants into the United States, but the federal government’s weak response is likely to encourage another 20,000 Haitians to enter illegally.

Meanwhile, border apprehensions remain at record levels, with over 200,000 migrant apprehensions in August. Many of these migrants are also being released into the country, a practice that Biden revived shortly after taking office.

On the refugee front, the Biden administration has already admitted more than 48,000 Afghans into the United States, with plans to admit tens of thousands more. Many of these migrants are unvetted and pose health and national-security risks. None of this has deterred Biden, who plans to admit 10 times as many refugees in Fiscal Year 2022 as have been admitted this year.

Not only do many of Biden’s actions violate federal law, but Article IV, Section 4, of the Constitution requires the federal government to “protect each [state] against Invasion.” As both The John Birch Society and other organizations have pointed out, the current and planned illegal migration surge clearly meets the definition of an invasion.

It is encouraging to see Texas and other states begin to stand up to the Biden administration’s subversive mass-migration agenda. However, they would be wise to take even stronger actions to secure the border and enforce the Constitution.

To urge your state legislators to enforce the Constitution by nullifying unconstitutional federal laws and edicts, visit The John Birch Society’s legislative alert here. Additionally, to urge your U.S. representative and senators to oppose radical mass migration legislation, visit the JBS’s alert here.

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Wednesday Patriots Dispatch: Infrastructure Bill Sparks Dem-On-Dem Violence

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North Carolina Senate advances sandbox regulatory bill

A North Carolina Senate committee has advanced a bill supporters said would protect consumers from harmful products and services and offer them more choices.

House Bill 624 , dubbed the North Carolina Regulatory Sandbox Act, allows companies to temporarily offer trials of financial or insurance products or services to consumers without being subjected to certain licensing or other regulatory requirements.

“This will give that oversight that will serve as not to hold up through an overburdensome regulatory process that doesn’t understand new products,” said Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, one of the bill’s sponsors.

HB 624 creates a North Carolina Innovation Council to select insurance or financial companies or entrepreneurs for a two-year sandbox program. Those selected would be authorized to offer an “innovative” product or service. An “innovative product or service” is defined in the legislation as a product or service that uses technology to address a problem, provide a benefit or create something novel in the state. Products could include cryptocurrency or blockchain technology.

Under the legislation, the program will be overseen by either the Office of the Commissioner of Banks or the Department of Insurance, depending on the product or service being offered.

The 11-member North Carolina Innovation Council would include the commissioner of banks, commissioner of insurance, secretary of state and the attorney general, or their designees. The governor and legislative leaders each would appoint two members from the public, and the lieutenant governor would assign one member from the public to the council.

The bill cleared the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance on Tuesday. It received unanimous support in the House. Backers of the bill hope it would propel North Carolina to the top of the technology industry and a leader in innovation.

Those who apply for the program would pay a $50 application fee and a $450 participation fee to the state. The council will determine whether to charge more fees for the program.

Raleigh-based free-market think-tank John Locke Foundation said a regulatory sandbox will keep North Carolina competitive and encourage more businesses to come to the state.

“One of the most significant obstacles for new and growing businesses involves regulatory restrictions,” John Locke Senior Political Analyst Mitch Kokai said. “The idea behind the regulatory sandbox is to give entrepreneurs a limited amount of time to experiment with innovative new products, services, and business models without the typical regulatory burden. That change will draw new businesses to the state. That means new jobs and more tax revenue flowing into the state’s tax coffers.”

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There’s No Constitutional Right to Interracial (or Same-Sex) Marriage, Says the Architect of the Texas “Heartbeat Bill” –

In an earlier post, I noted that the vast majority of the 81 briefs in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health supporting Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban were mum about Obergefell v. Hodges, which held same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. My review also indicates that most of them have relatively little to say explicitly about any of the other substantive due process precedents–preferring to treat Roe and Casey like tumors that can be excised without affecting the rest of the body. This silence may be strategic, but it’s nonetheless notable.

The main exception is the amicus brief filed on behalf of Texas Right to Life (TRL), written by Jonathan Mitchell and Adam Mortara. Mitchell was “the conceptual force behind” SB8, the Texas “Heartbeat Bill,” which effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizes “any person” to seek an injunction and award of at least $10,000 against those who assist women obtaining such abortions. Mitchell was a clerk for the late Justice Scalia and is a former Solicitor General of Texas.  Mortara was a clerk for Justice Thomas and is a lead lawyer in the challenge against Harvard’s affirmative action program, seeking to have the Court overrule its landmark 2003 decision upholding race-conscious admissions policies. Both have sterling credentials within the conservative legal movement. Their brief will be closely read in the Justices’ chambers.

The TRL brief maintains that the constitutional right to abortion declared in Roe and reaffirmed in Casey has no basis in constitutional text or history and that stare decisis should not prevent them from being overruled. So far, so expected.

But there are many other decisions that similarly lack any constitutional grounding, the brief says. Among these is Loving v. Virginia, which struck down a state anti-miscegenation law in part on substantive due process grounds.

Supporters of Roe have correctly observed that this Court has recognized and enforced other supposed constitutional “rights” that have no basis in constitutional text or historical practice. The Casey plurality opinion, for example, noted that right [sic] to interracial marriage from Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967), has no textual or historical pedigree, much like the right to abortion that this Court invented in Roe v. Wade. . .  To be sure, the rationale of Loving purported to invoke the doctrine of substantive due process and a supposed constitutional “freedom to marry,” which is nowhere to be found in the language of the Constitution.  (pp. 22-23)

The conclusion that the constitutional right to marry is baseless follows from a larger critique of substantive due process common within conservative legal circles, including among some Justices. But few publicly acknowledge the full implications of the argument for the unenumerated substantive-due-process right to marry, much less specifically for the right to marry a person of a different race. Give Mitchell and Mortara credit for candor.

Still, a Supreme Court advocate cannot be heard to question the outcome in Loving. So while rejecting the substantive due process holding, the TRL brief attempts to reach the same result by asserting that “the Civil Rights Act of 1866 provides all the authority needed to set aside a state’s anti-miscegenation law.” That’s because the 1866 Act prohibits racial discrimination under state law in making and enforcing contracts and, the authors assert, marriage is a contract subject to this statute. “So Loving remains good law regardless of whether the Constitution’s text or historical practice can support a right to interracial marriage,” the brief concludes.

This analysis is curious in several ways. First, the TRL brief is essentially saying that marriage rights for interracial couples are secure only by congressional grace, not by fundamental constitutional law. Congress would be free to revoke that protection (though it assuredly would not do so these days). Second, the argument suggests that in 1967 bans on interracial marriage had already been illegal under federal law for more than a century. That certainly would have been news to the 16 states that still had such laws. Indeed, historically, all but nine states enacted anti-miscegenation laws at some point. Third, the TRL brief ignores the independent holding of Loving that bans on interracial marriages are unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. Is there no textual or historical basis for that holding? Fourth, the TRL brief characterizes the issue as involving “a right to interracial marriage” rather than as involving “a right to marriage” that interracial couples must be allowed to exercise.

In places, the brief reads like a progressive parody of the conservative critique of unenumerated constitutional rights–conceiving rights in the narrowest way and then, so conceived, finding no constitutional support for them. But at least TRL finds a way to conclude that states must allow interracial marriages.

According to TRL, however, “the news is not as good for those who hope to preserve the court-invented rights to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.” The rights announced in Lawrence and Obergefell “are judicial concoctions, and there is no other source of law that can be invoked to salvage their existence.” While “far less hazardous to human life,” they are just “as lawless as Roe.”

Here the brief specifically rejects Mississippi’s view that Obergefell might survive in a post-Roe world.

Mississippi suggests that Obergefell could be defended by invoking the “fundamental right to marry” which is “‘fundamental as a matter of history and tradition.'” Pet. Br. at 13 (quoting Obergefell, 576 U.S. at 671). But a “fundamental right” must be defined with specificity before assessing whether that right is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”See Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997) (requiring federal courts to employ a “careful description” of conduct or behavior that a litigant alleges to be protected by the Constitution, and forbidding resort to generalizations and abstractions). Otherwise long-prohibited conduct can be made into a “fundamental right” that is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” so long as a litigant is creative enough to define the “right” at a high enough level of abstraction. The right to marry an opposite-sex spouse spouse is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition”; the right to marry a same-sex spouse obviously is not.

Like the “right to interracial marriage,” according to TRL, the “right to same-sex marriage” is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. There is no right to marriage in the text, so there is of course no right to marriage that same-sex couples must be allowed to exercise. Further, TRL says, states must even be allowed to criminalize sexual intimacy in the privacy of gay couples’ homes.

What’s notable about this line of argument is how unremarkable it is in mainstream conservative legal critiques of substantive due process, Obergefell, and Lawrence. It’s a critique some of the Justices endorse. No doubt many of Mississippi’s amici also share it, although they are not as forthcoming.

In the end, Mitchell and Mortara say they are not necessarily asking the Court to overrule Obergefell and Lawrence right now, but they believe it would be nice if the Court wrote “an opinion that leaves those decisions hanging by a thread.”

There are many ways to distinguish abortion from gay marriage, some of which are relevant to constitutional law. Among other things, both equal protection and stare decisis will figure differently in these contexts. But if the influential architect of SB8 and his widely respected co-author somehow persuade a majority of the Justices to write an opinion eviscerating substantive due process, one thread supporting Obergefell will be a lot easier to cut.



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If you think we won’t tank this bipartisan infrastructure bill, try us – HotAir

A morning update for you on the state of the Democratic civil war: Not only is it still raging, it might be getting hotter.

Pramila Jayapal is the leader of the House progressive caucus, the group that’s threatening to vote no if Pelosi keeps her promise to put the bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate on the House floor next Monday. For lefties, that bill and the reconciliation mega-spending bill are a package deal. Either the House votes on both together or progressives will vote no and tank the bipartisan bill.

Which is a sticky situation for the Speaker, since Kyrsten Sinema has reportedly already told Biden that if the bipartisan bill doesn’t pass the House on Monday, she’ll tank the reconciliation bill.

Last night, after Jayapal’s “try us” comment, reporters scrambled to find members of the centrist House Dem group that convinced Pelosi to hold a vote on the bipartisan bill next Monday. How would they feel if the Speaker bowed to progressive pressure and canceled that vote because the Senate hasn’t passed a reconciliation bill yet?

Turns out they wouldn’t feel good. At all.

Someone has to cave here. Either progressives have to look like chumps by passing the bipartisan bill next week, surrendering their leverage over Sinema and Joe Manchin to pass a robust reconciliation bill, or centrists have to look like chumps by passing reconciliation later after Pelosi brazenly breaks her promise to them to hold a floor vote on Monday on the bipartisan bill.

How much of a crisis is this? Enough of one that the Speaker, famously so skilled at herding cats within her caucus, is enlisting the president to twist arms today. Joe Biden is going to make a simple appeal to both sides: My entire agenda is going down if we don’t figure this out right now.

Whether a guy with a 43 percent job approval rating can prevail upon either of them is the mystery du jour in American politics.

“I hope he is the secret sauce,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Biden. “The president of the United States is always a very influential figure, and I know he wants both bills passed.”…

“I don’t think the speaker is going to bring a bill up that is going to fail,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said after leaving a lengthy meeting in Pelosi’s office Tuesday. “Our position has not changed.”

But other Democrats, including some of Jayapal’s fellow progressives, are more skeptical that they’ll make good on the threat when the infrastructure bill finally hits the House floor — particularly after a personal plea from Biden. In addition, the reconciliation bill is far from finished, much less ready for a House vote next week…

Many in the caucus welcome Biden’s House huddles Wednesday after private complaints he’s been hands-off with the lower chamber. The former long-time senator held high-profile meetings with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) last week but several sources said he has had little role in pushing vocal House Democrats to fall in line behind the party’s strategy, particularly when it comes to the infrastructure bill.

Even though Biden has less credibility with the left than with the center, my guess is that he’ll try to pressure Jayapal and progressives into caving and passing the bipartisan bill next week instead of pressuring the centrists to give up on their hope of a floor vote on September 27. Biden wants to get at least part of his agenda passed and the heavy lifting on the bipartisan bill has already been done by the Senate. Rather than risk having both bills tank because lefties and moderates can’t together, he’ll want to get some points on the board ASAP.

And some (most?) progressives may agree. The only thing worse than a disgruntled lefty base for the Dems’ chances of holding the House next fall would be the perception that Dems can’t pass anything even when they control all of government. Biden will probably pitch them on those grounds — “let’s get the bipartisan bill done and then I’ll try to move heaven and earth to make sure that Manchin and Sinema do something on reconciliation this year.” In fact, a personal pledge from Manchin that he and other Senate centrist Dems will pass some kind of bill before New Year’s could go a long way to easing this crisis.

But Manchin has sounded iffy on doing reconciliation in 2021 lately. And even if he agreed to a deadline, he’ll still be dictating the scope of the bill. What if he agrees to do reconciliation this fall and then tells the left that he won’t agree to more than $500 billion in spending, say?

Either way, some progs are dead set on voting no next week on the bipartisan bill unless a reconciliation bill is attached:

Jim Newell of Slate had a smart take yesterday on how Dems arrived at this impasse. They’ve been so invested in getting something, anything, done in the context of infrastructure that they’ve kept pushing the legislative process forward without ever, uh, actually trying to resolve the substantive differences between progressives and centrists. What’s in the bill has always been secondary to simply advancing the legislation and bringing it closer to the finish line before the political will to pass a major package ebbs. Now they’re finally having to confront those substantive differences at an inopportune moment:

One reason Democrats have arrived at this point, sitting atop a mountain of threats with no clear way forward, is that the threats have filled a void of difficult decision-making. At so many steps along the way, the call has been made to keep the process moving while punting on the substance. The $3.5 trillion compromise on overall spending—it used to be higher—was not a compromise made between 218 House Democrats and 50 Senate Democrats. It was made between Senate Democrats on the Budget Committee, to find a way to get a budget blueprint out of committee. They never got sign-off from Manchin and Sinema, but they kept it moving anyway. Last week, one House committee hit a wall trying to advance a drug-pricing component of the big bill, so another committee approved it, just to, again, keep things moving forward even though there’s no indication the provision has the support to make it into law. This entire “two-track process,” of dividing the agenda into a bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill, was not created because it’s what the best-practices literature suggests is the ideal way to pass legislation. It was the only way to keep things moving when two factions didn’t trust each other.

How many lefty unmoveables are there like AOC? The number is important because if Biden can convince all but a dozen or so progressives to vote for the bipartisan bill on Monday, it’s possible that Pelosi will be able to get it through with the help of Republicans. Even most centrist Republicans are prepared to vote no in the interest of handing Biden a stinging loss, it seems, but not quite all. As few as a half dozen or as many as two or three dozen, per Politico, could vote yes.

Would Pelosi dare put a bill as important as this one on the floor for a showdown vote knowing that she’ll need Republican votes to prevail but not knowing how many of those votes are coming? Having the bill go down would humiliate her and Biden, especially now that he’s getting personally involved in the negotiations.

Here’s Jayapal yesterday with Jake Tapper reminding Biden that massive social-welfare spending, which is what the reconciliation bill provides, was part of his own agenda. It wasn’t foisted on him by the left. She also claims that the gigantic price tag is fine since we’re going to pay for every last nickel by taxing the rich. Ahem.

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House Passes Bill to Send Payments to Victims of Likely Directed Energy Attacks

The House on Sept. 21 unanimously passed a bipartisan measure that would authorize payments to victims of likely directed energy attacks, also known as the Havana syndrome.

The legislation, titled Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, and led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), was approved by a 427–0 vote. It was first passed by the Senate on June 7, and measure now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

It specifically authorizes the CIA director, the secretary of state, and other agency heads to provide medical and financial help to the victims who have suffered brain injuries as a result of the attacks.

It also requires that the CIA and State Department report to Congress on how the funds are being used and if additional “legislative or administrative action is required.”

U.S. authorities have struggled to understand the mysterious attacks since they were first noted in 2016, when diplomatic and intelligence personnel in communist Cuba first began reporting disturbing symptoms, including head pressure or vibration, and dizziness, sometimes followed by visual problems and cognitive difficulties.

The update comes shortly after The New York Times reported that a CIA officer who was travelling to India this month with the agency’s director reported symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome.

The Epoch Times has contacted the CIA for comment on the reported incident.

Roughly 200 U.S. officials and family members have so far been sickened by the attacks, according to Reuters.

“There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government determine who is behind these attacks and that we respond,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement earlier this year.

A State Department-sponsored study into the phenomenon by the National Academy of Sciences investigated whether chemical exposure, infectious diseases, and psychological issues could have been behind the symptoms, but concluded that the most likely cause was directed microwave energy.

“Overall, directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered,” the report on the study stated.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen



Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.

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Sens McConnell, Shelby Offer Short-Term Govt. Funding Bill Without Debt Ceiling

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Sept. 21 offered a competing short-term government funding bill, just as House Democrats passed a stopgap measure that also suspends the debt limit until after the 2022 election.

The bill from McConnell and Shelby does not include a debt ceiling suspension, as Republicans have urged Democrats—the majority party—to raise the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling themselves through reconciliation, a special parliamentary procedure that would expedite the passage of a budgetary measure through the Senate.

Through reconciliation, Democrats would be able to bypass the need for 60 votes to approve legislation, and instead rely on a simple majority in the Senate. But Democrats have resisted doing that so far, saying the vote to raise the debt limit should be a bipartisan one.

“I am pleased to introduce a package with Leader McConnell that would extend government funding, provide much-needed disaster relief, and deliver targeted Afghan assistance. Republicans and Democrats have undergone bipartisan, bicameral negotiations for weeks to keep the government open and provide emergency aid. This bill reflects those urgent priorities,” Shelby said in a statement.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) walks through the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, on Aug. 10, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“Importantly, our legislation includes funding for the Iron Dome, making good on our commitment to a historic and significant ally, and removes the Democrats’ ill-conceived language on the debt limit. Members on both sides of the aisle can support this measure, and I urge them to do so with haste,” he added.

Similar to the Democrats’ bill, the legislation from McConnell and Shelby would also keep the government funded through Dec. 3.

It also includes resources for disaster aid and assistance for Afghan allies, as well as funding for the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense system. The Republicans senators said the funding for the Iron Dome would “bolster Israel’s defense capacity and protect against Hamas attacks.”

On Tuesday, House Democrats removed $1 billion in funding for the Dome from their bill, amid accusations of human rights abuses within the Israel’s military and its treatment towards Palestinians.

Epoch Times Photo
An Israeli soldier lies on the ground as missiles are fired from an Iron Dome anti-missile station near the city of Beer Sheva, Israel on Nov. 15, 2012. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

The latest GOP legislation comes after The House of Representatives voted late Tuesday to pass a bill that would avert a government shutdown or U.S. default, fund it through Dec. 3 and suspend the debt limit through Dec. 16, 2022.

The 220–211 vote in the Democrat-majority chamber was on party lines. However, the bill now faces a tough hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans have said they would mount a filibuster.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, McConnell reiterated that Republicans were willing to support a short-term government funding bill if it included funding support for the Iron Dome, as well as assistance for Louisiana, which has been left debilitated by hurricane Ida in recent weeks.

“We’re prepared to support a continuing resolution with assistance for Louisiana, with additional funds to replenish Iron Dome,” McConnell said, reported The Hill.

“What we’re not prepared to do is to relieve the Democratic president, Democratic House, Democratic Senate from their governing obligation to address the debt ceiling,” he added.

Congress must pass a funding plan by Sept. 30 to avert a government shutdown or U.S. default. The extra time will allow lawmakers to negotiate on the budget for the coming year.

The current debt ceiling has already been breached, with debt at $28.78 trillion. It is being temporarily financed through the Treasury Department’s “extraordinary measures,” which it expects will be exhausted by October.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

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