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Biden nominates Samantha Power to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAID)

US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated the former UN ambassador Samantha Power as his choice to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAID), citing her deep experience addressing crises around the world.

"Power will rally the international community and work with our partners to confront the biggest challenges of our time - including Covid-19, climate change, global poverty, and democratic backsliding," his transition team said.

"A crisis-tested public servant and diplomat, Ambassador Power has been a leader in marshaling the world to resolve long-running conflicts, respond to humanitarian emergencies, defend human dignity, and strengthen the rule of law and democracy," it added.

An immigrant to the US from Ireland, she served as US ambassador to the UN under former Democratic President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden from 2013 to 2017. Ms Power, 50, also served as a White House national security staffer under Obama from 2009 to 2013. A former journalist, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her book "A Problem from Hell", a study of US failure to prevent genocide.

John Lewis Voting Rights act of 2020 - what it will mean

Another that WILL be passed this year !

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act responds to current conditions in voting today by restoring the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was last reauthorized by Congress in 2006, but gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

• Following the Shelby County decision seven years ago, several states passed sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately prevent minorities, the elderly, and the youth from voting.

• The bill provides the tools to address these discriminatory practices and seeks to protect all Americans’ right to vote.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act creates a new coverage formula that applies to all states and hinges on a finding of repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years.

• Significantly, the 25-year period “rolls,” or continuously moves, to keep up with “current conditions,” so that only states that have a recent record of racial discrimination in voting are covered.

• States that have repeated and persistent violations will be covered for a period of 10 years, but if they establish a clean record moving forward, they can come out of coverage.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act establishes a targeted process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions nationwide, focused on measures that have historically been used to discriminate against voters.

• The process for reviewing changes in voting is limited to a set of measures, such as the institution of a voter ID law or the reduction of multilingual voting materials – practices that have historically been found to have the greatest discriminatory impact.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also –

• Allows a federal court to order states or jurisdictions to be covered for results-based violations, where the effect of a particular voting measure (including voter ID laws) is to lead to racial discrimination in voting and to deny citizens their right to vote;

• Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes;

• Allows the Attorney General authority to request federal observers be present anywhere in the country where there is a serious threat of racial discrimination in voting;

• Revises and tailors the preliminary injunction standard for voting rights actions to recognize that there will be cases where there is a need for immediate preliminary relief.

• Increases accessibility and protections for Native American and Alaska Native voters.


For the People Act of 2019 - HR 1


The For The People Act of 2019 (H.R. 1, 2019)[1][2] is a bill introduced and passed in the United States House of Representatives to expand voting rights, limit partisan gerrymandering, strengthen ethics rules, and limit the influence of private donor money in politics.[3] It was introduced by John Sarbanes (D-MD) on January 3, 2019, on behalf of the newly elected Democratic majority as the first official legislation of the 116th United States Congress.[3][4] The House passed the bill on March 8, 2019 by a vote of 234–193 along strict party lines.[5][6] As of January 2021, which also marks the end of the 116th United States Congress, it has not been passed by the Senate.[7] House Democrats are expected to reintroduce the Act in the 117th United States Congress.[8]

The bill's provisions fall into three major categories:[3][9]

Campaign finance reform. The bill would introduce voluntary public financing for campaigns, matching small donations at a 6:1 ratio.[10] It also incorporates campaign finance reform provisions from the DISCLOSE Act,[10][11] which would impose stricter limitations on foreign lobbying, require Super PACs and other "dark money" organizations to disclose their donors, and restructure the Federal Election Commission to reduce partisan gridlock. The bill also expresses support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, where the Supreme Court held that virtually unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations, labor unions, and other associations was a constitutional right.

Government ethics. The bill would require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose their previous 10 years of income tax returns, eliminate the use of taxpayer money by politicians to settle sexual harassment claims, and create a new ethics code for the U.S. Supreme Court, which is not subject to existing judicial codes of conduct.

Voting rights. The bill would create a national voter registration program, make Election Day a federal holiday, replace partisan gerrymandering with nonpartisan commissions to draw electoral districts, and limit efforts to purge voting rolls.
The bill was viewed as a comprehensive statement of the priorities of the Democratic House majority elected in 2018. The New York Times called the bill "the Democrats' signature piece of legislation".[10] Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, pledged that the bill was "not going to go anywhere in the Senate". In March 2019, McConnell said he would not put the bill to a vote on the Senate floor.[12] Sarbanes, the legislation's drafter, argued that the bill's public popularity would ultimately lead to its passage


Voting rights for felons

The authority of the United States Congress over elections is extensive.[14][15] One feature of the proposed legislation is that convicted felons could not be denied the right to vote unless currently in prison.[16] Whether congressional authority extends this far is subject to disagreement,[17] with arguments being made for[18] and against.[19] Fourteen states have laws that indefinitely deny voting rights for some convicted felons, twenty-two do not restore voting rights until after parole and/or probation, and some states require payment of fines or restitution.[a][20]

Supreme Court ethics

Another part of the proposed legislation instructs the Judicial Conference to establish rules of ethics binding on the Supreme Court. It is unclear whether Congress has the constitutional authority to impose ethics requirements on Supreme Court Justices, a question the Court may have to decide.[21] In 2011, Chief Justice John Roberts made clear in his end-of-year report that he believed Congress does not have the power to impose conduct rules on the Supreme Court, because the Supreme Court was established by the Constitution, according to which the justices serve as long as they exhibit "good behavior", or face possible impeachment and removal for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors".[22] Lower federal courts, by contrast, were created by Congress and are subject to rules Congress establishes. Because of this, some suggest that the purpose of the proposed ethics rules would not be punishment or even enforcement, but only a promulgation of rules so that Supreme Court justices can be held accountable for their conduct in the court of public opinion. In addition, a documented ethics violation could be relevant to a potential impeachment proceeding.[23] Others argue that Congress has the authority to require the Supreme Court to write its own code of ethics.[24] In 1991, the Supreme Court adopted a resolution[25] that its officers and employees will comply with the substance of the Judicial Conference Regulations,[26] subject to stated clarifications.

Statehood for the District of Columbia

Further information: Statehood movement in the District of Columbia
The proposed legislation also calls for statehood for the District of Columbia, arguing that the District has a larger population than two states, Wyoming and Vermont, and is close to the population of the seven states that have a population of under one million fully represented residents, and claiming that Congress has the authority to admit new States to the union through legislation. Others argue that a constitutional amendment would be required.[27] The question of admission of the District of Columbia as a state has a long history. Statehood for D.C. is expected to be opposed by Republicans, since it would almost certainly put more Democrats in Congress.[28] The House approved H.R. 51, which would make the populated portion of the District a state, in June 2020, on a near-uniform party line vote; the measure was not taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.[29]

Congressional redistricting occurs every 10 years as congressional boundaries are redrawn after the Census. Article One of the Constitution states that "the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations." Currently, the process of drawing congressional districts is for the most part under state control, although the Voting Rights Act places some restrictions.[30]

The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission affirmed that even though the Constitution calls for the legislature to draw the district lines, an independent commission could constitutionally be appointed (by the state) to perform this function. In the 2019 decisions Rucho v. Common Cause and Benisek v. Lamone the Supreme Court found that gerrymandering was a nonjusticiable political question, leaving any solution to the other branches of government. In order to prevent gerrymandering, H.R. 1 would require states to use independent commissions to design their congressional districts. If they declined to do so, the federal government would set one up for them.[31]

Number of Federal Election Commissioners
Under current law, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is made up of six members, no more than three of whom can be members of the same political party, with at least four votes being required for any official FEC action. The complaint is that this has resulted in an impotent and gridlocked FEC, with important reforms being left unaddressed, such as the updating of campaign finance law for the digital age[32] and the effective regulation of political donations.[33] Some advocates for reform have blamed the Republican members of the FEC for being unwilling either to investigate any potential violations or to impose tougher restrictions,[34] and for loosening restrictions simply by signaling what standards they are willing to enforce.[35]

The proposed bill would give the FEC five commissioners instead of six, reducing the likelihood of tie votes, and would require that no more than two can be members of the same political party. It would set up a "Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel" consisting of an odd number of individuals selected by the president from retired Federal judges, former law enforcement officials, or individuals with experience in election law, except that the president could not select any individual to serve on the panel who holds any public office at the time of selection, but the president would not be required to choose from among those recommended by the panel. Some observers claim that there would be no built-in benefit for either party.[36]

Reactions and statements

On January 29, 2019, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement criticizing the Act as a "one-sided power grab" by the Democratic Party and assuring that "It may pass the House, but not the Senate".[37] He called the bill the "Democrat Politician Protection Act" in the statement.[37] He further criticized the bill for giving the federal government more power over elections, saying it would "[give] Washington D.C. politicians even more control over who gets to come here [Congress] in the first place."[37] On March 6, McConnell indicated to journalists that he would not allow the bill a vote on the Senate floor, even as he would allow a vote on the Green New Deal resolution.[12] Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2) tweeted a false claim about the Act in March.[38]

List of Bills Passed in the House but blocked by McConnell in the Senate

There are of course hundreds of Bills blocked by McConnell from getting even a vote on the floor but here are the big ones (apart from the Covid Relief Bill)

Passed by the House, waiting in the Senate

For the People Act of 2019, H.R. 1

Moving Forward Act H.R. 2

Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act H.R. 3

Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 H.R. 4

Equality Act, H.R. 5

American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6

H.R.7: Paycheck Fairness Act

H.R. 8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019

H.R. 9: Climate Action Now Act

H.J.Res. 79: "Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment"

H.R. 51: Washington, D.C. Admission Act

SAFE Banking Act of 2019, H.R. 1595

H.R. 7120: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020[1]

H.R. 1585: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019

H.R. 987: Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act

H.R. 1644: Save the Internet Act of 2019

Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, H.R. 3884

H.R. 4617: Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act

Other legislation

Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal, H.Res. 109

H.R. 133: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (includes COVID-19 relief)[2]

H.R. 150: Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act of 2019 (GREAT Act).[3] Pertains to open data.

H.Res.411: No More Presidential Wars Act[4][5]

H.R. 662: REACH Act[6]

H.R. 899: To terminate the Department of Education.[6]

Taxpayer First Act of 2019, H.R. 1957

H.R. 2107: Affordable College Textbook Act [6]

Well-Informed, Scientific, & Efficient Government Act (WISE Government Act) [7]

H.R.7085: Ending Qualified Immunity Act

H.R. 7650: Local Journalism Sustainability Act[8]

Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act

H.R. 4901: Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act[9]

There's a consequence to Trump being disbarred from holding office again, it gets the GOP off the

hook, as they don't have the courage to do what Democrats would do for them, and allows them to airbrush history (they're doing it already with this healing shit).

Rep Tom Malinowski states what I have been saying for the last few days, if he were biased, letting Trump be free to stand again in 2024, would be a big bonus to fighting Republicans, in that it would gen up the Democratic base.

Getting Trump barred from standing again is nice, but it would play into Republican hands who can then blame Democrats, vow to overturn it (as if they would !), and fire up their own base. Be careful what you wish for.

See here from 27:30

Rather than taking revenge on Pence, Trump needs him more than ever.

I have been saying for months that I believed the most logical outcome would be for Trump to resign and President Pence to pardon him "so the country can heal".

He has 3 options

1. Let the clock run out, with no pardon and take his chances.

2. Self Pardon before 11.59 on Jan 20

3. Do a deal with Pence, so that he resigns and President Pence pardons him. Pence becomes 46, even for an hour or a day, but Trump is protected from Federal charges. Yes he can still face State charges, but he would only be fighting on one front.

By far, considering the shit he's in,

Option 3 is the most logical.

Option 3 is also the option Biden hopes Trump will choose, because Biden can say that he can't go after him federally and there is much work to be done fighting Covid, and passing many of the 300+ House bills that McConnell blocked.

But really a interesting point by Michael Schmidt in conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg is that if Trump went with Option 2, it would absolutely force the Democrats to go after Trump, completely investigate all his criminality, because they would have to challenge a President being able to self pardon as it has long been held as unconstitutional for any man to be his own judge. It would effectively make a President, a King. It would have to be challenged by Merrick Garland and to build their case, Trump's criminality would have to be completely investigated, something Trump will obviously try to avoid.

Pence, I believe, is in an incredibly powerful position right now. Who knows, Trump could go a lot sooner that Jan 19/20.

Schmidt mentions this on Lawrence O'Donnell last night.

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