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OPINION

Speaker Johnson’s Latest Move Adds to His Conflicting Quagmire of Divergent Border Positions

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson currently holds several conflicting positions on addressing the U.S. southern border, not to mention sending funds to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan – which he has insisted be linked together. He’s now created an even more confusing quagmire exacerbated by a joint statement released Monday afternoon by his House Republican leadership team.

In their latest shot across the bow to the U.S. Senate, Speaker Johnson and his leadership team declared the just-released Senate immigration and border security funding bill, which includes critical aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, “DEAD on arrival.”

“House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” reads the statement from House GOP Speaker Mike Johnson, Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer. “Because President Biden has refused to utilize his broad executive authority to end the border catastrophe that he has created, the House led nine months ago with the passage of the Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2). That bill contains the necessary components to actually stem the flow of illegals and end the present crisis. The Senate must take it up immediately.”

READ MORE: DeSantis and Florida GOP Targeting Kids With Cuts to Food, Healthcare, Work Protections

“America’s sovereignty is at stake,” the House leadership statement adds. “Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it.”

After spending months promoting HR2, the House bill immigration experts and House Judiciary Committee Democrats have called “draconian,” Speaker Johnson recently declared President Joe Biden had to “close” the border and needed absolutely no help from Congress to do so, just merely sign executive orders. President Biden says that’s false.

Over the past few days it has been the stated position of Speaker Johnson that no legislation is needed to secure the border, the House’s HR2 is needed to secure the border, and the Senate bill is “DOA.” Additionally, on critical funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, Johnson says he will bring to the House floor a stand-alone bill solely for funding for Israel, after insisting a U.S. border bill be tied to funding for those three countries. Over the weekend CNN called that an “about face.”

Meanwhile, there’s little to no chance the Senate will even consider HR2.

The right-leaning news outlet The Hill has said HR2 is “a sweeping bill that would drastically restrict the asylum process while establishing a vast new surveillance system to forcibly freeze regional migration and crack down on the existing undocumented population.”

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Calling for a “balanced, bipartisan approach,” House Judiciary Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) last month said, “House Republicans insist they will only consider H.R. 2, their draconian enforcement-only bill that would destroy the asylum system, gut protections for unaccompanied kids, and end all parole programs. Policies that stand no chance of passage in the Senate, which shows that they’re not interested in real solutions.”

On Monday, Greg Sargent at The New Republic wrote, “Why Mike Johnson Is Having a MAGA Meltdown Over the Border Deal.”

“The House speaker,” Sargent explains, “is afraid that if the Senate bill passes, the GOP will partially own the border crisis. He—and Trump—also fear the bill will work.”

On Sunday, confronted by NBC News’ Kristen Welker, Speaker Johnson was asked if Donald Trump was “calling the shots.” He said, “of course not. I am calling the shots.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Mutiny’: Far Right GOP Senators Start to Give McConnell the McCarthy Treatment

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OPINION

‘Abomination’: Fox Hosts Issue Stunning Trump Legal Judgment Critiques

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Hosts on Fox News on Monday made several misleading claims about the American elections system, COVID, the rule of law, and Friday’s $450 million total civil judgment against Donald Trump and his executives.

“I think that these people clearly hate Trump more than they love America,” declared Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe on Monday. “You know, and by the time they finally get him if they ever do, what’s going to be left of the country? I mean, think about all the damage these threats to democracy people have done as they burn the country down to try to get him.”

“No one trusts elections anymore after they upended the system during a COVID virus almost as deadly as the flu as they append to the process that with mail-in balloting and trying to take Trump off the ballot. No one trusts the rule of law anymore. It doesn’t exist, as they’ve used it weaponized it against Donald Trump. The media’s debased itself lying about Donald Trump.”

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It is untrue that “No one trusts elections anymore.” It is false that COVID is deadly than the flu. Mail-in balloting is a safe alternative to in-person voting.

Boothe’s remarks, while inaccurate, expose the effects the Trump campaign has had on confidence in U.S. elections.

“Few Republicans have high confidence that votes will be tallied accurately in next year’s presidential contest, suggesting years of sustained attacks against elections by former President Donald Trump and his allies have taken a toll, according to a new poll,” the Associated Press reported last summer. “The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that only 22% of Republicans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming presidential election will be counted accurately compared to 71% of Democrats, underscoring a partisan divide fueled by a relentless campaign of lies related to the 2020 presidential election. Even as he runs for the White House a third time, Trump continues to promote the false claim that the election was stolen.”

As for COVID, as recently as today The Mercury News reported, “COVID deaths in California dropped dramatically in 2023 but still 17 times higher than flu deaths.”

Boothe wasn’t the only Fox News host who spread questionable claims on Monday’s show.

READ MORE: ‘Borders on Pathological’: Judge Decimates Trump in Fraud Ruling

Emily Compagno pointed to the recent threatened Truckers for Trump boycott of New York, without mentioning the truck driver who sparked it retracted his video.

“Chicago Ray deleted his original post and shared a new one on Monday in which he distanced himself from the boycott calls and stressed that he was not encouraging anyone to do anything,” Newsweek reports. NewsNation also reports “Chicago Ray backs down on calls for truck boycott.”

Quoting a comment, Compagno read: ” ‘If all of us patriots stand up we will make a difference. We have to push back against the ones trying to purposely destroy our country.’ And I can’t help but underline that is how everyone is perceiving this abomination of a ruling that had no victims.”

“Everyone” does not perceive the civil business fraud ruling against Trump as an “abomination,” nor as adjudicated to “purposely destroy our country.” Some legal experts have supported and praised the judgment. One called it “a powerful predictor of what’s to come in his criminal trials.”

Last year Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for a reported $787.5 million, called “one of the largest ever in a defamation case.”

“The case held the potential to make public a stream of damaging information about how the network told its audience a story of fraud and interference in the 2020 presidential election that many of its own executives and on-screen personalities did not believe,” The New York Times reported last April. The paper noted the lawsuit was “over the network’s promotion of misinformation about the 2020 election.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Chiefs Fan Falsely ID’d by GOP Congressman as Parade Shooter Getting Death Threats: Report

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OPINION

House Republicans Flee DC for Early Vacation Amid National Security ‘Crisis’

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Facing multiple national security threats and another two possible federal government shutdowns of their own creation, House Republicans, who still control the majority, announced on Wednesday they are leaving Washington, D.C. early for their winter vacation.

On Tuesday Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters, “national security begins with border security.” House Republicans have been calling the border a “crisis,” but have killed bipartisan legislation to fix it.

The House won’t be back in session until February 28, barely days before a partial government shutdown that is slated for March 1, with the rest of the government shutdown slated for one week later – unless the House and Senate pass legislation keeping the government funded.

The House was scheduled to be in session through the end of the week, but Republican Majority Whip Tom Emmer announced Wednesday the final vote will be Thursday at 2:30 PM, as Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman reported.

Just two weeks ago Emmer called the situation at the border “the worst crisis we’ve ever seen.”

Meanwhile, just hours ago, Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner stunned the nation by sounding the alarm about what he called “a serious national security threat.” Later reports state it appears to involve Russia, possibly Russian capabilities to use nuclear weapons in space to shoot down satellites.

READ MORE: ‘Own It’: Kellyanne Conway Urges Republicans to Run on Their Anti-Abortion Positions

Earlier Wednesday, a reporter asked House Speaker Mike Johnson about the bipartisan Senate border bill he and Donald Trump killed.

“You yourself were part of killing the Senate compromise bill,” the reporter said. “You called it ‘dead on arrival.’”

“So my question to you is, while you say there need to be solutions, what are House Republicans doing to get to a solution on the border, and on Ukraine. Or are you going to actually do nothing? What is your proposal, what are you doing?”

Johnson  insisted, “We’re addressing each of those issues,” before adding, “We are not going to be forced into action by the Senate.”

The House has yet to address what for months it has called the “crisis” at the southern border, Ukraine’s desperate need for military funding, funding for Israel, funding for Taiwan, and humanitarian aid for Gaza. By killing the Senate border bill ICE is now being forced to plan to release thousands of immigrants into the U.S. due to a $700 million budget deficit that bill would have solved.

Meanwhile, critics are expressing frustration with the House GOP.

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“The government shuts down on March 1st and Speaker Johnson is cancelling session for Friday. That gives us tomorrow and three days at the end of the month in DC to keep the government open,” lamented U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-FL).

“Are you kidding me!?” wrote Democratic activist Aaron Parnas. “House Republicans are leaving D.C. for two weeks after scaring the country over a national security threat, refusing to pass aid to Ukraine, and while a shooting is impacting Kansas City.”

Wednesday’s shooting at the Super Bowl parade left one person dead and up to 15 others injured.

The official House calendar shows Congress is scheduled to be in session just 114 days this year. Amid last year’s three weeks of not having a Speaker, and thus not performing its legislative responsibilities, no effort was made to “make up” any of those days in 2024. Last year the House was scheduled for 127 days.

Even those schedules are light. For example, according to the research website ThoughtCo, the House in 2018 was scheduled to be in session for 174 days, and in 2017, 192 days.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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OPINION

DeSantis and Florida GOP Targeting Kids With Cuts to Food, Healthcare, Work Protections

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A central theme of Ron DeSantis’ reign as Florida’s culture war GOP governor and in his now-defunct presidential campaign has been “parental rights,” a far-right movement that began by empowering right-wing parents’ political and social grievances at the expense of children’s rights to a complete and well-rounded education, while ignoring the rights and needs of children.

Governor DeSantis’ infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, first launched to include just children up to third grade, then expanded to all public school grades, was just the beginning.

Now, Florida Republicans including Governor DeSantis are moving to take healthcare, food, and workplace protections away from children.

“DeSantis and conservative/Trumpian/MAGA public officials” are “disassembling Florida’s social service safety net,” according to an op-ed by Barrington Salmon at the Florida Phoenix.

They are “refusing to allocate money or enough of it for school lunch programs to feed hungry children; rejecting no-strings-attached federal government dollars to expand Medicaid that would allow the state to enroll 1.4 million people; not prioritizing access to quality healthcare; continuing to siphon off money from traditional public schools to give to church-affiliated and private schools, and passing punishing draconian laws to further alienate and marginalize gay, transgender and LGBTQ children and teens,” Salmon writes.

Indeed, last week, after having already kicked 420,000 children off Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Governor DeSantis sued the Biden administration over a new federal law that requires children be allowed to stay on Medicaid for at least 12 months, regardless of challenges to their eligibility or their ability to pay, Axios reported. The governor wants the ability to remove even more children from the life-saving healthcare program.

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At issue is the federal government’s policy that even if a child’s parents cannot or do not pay, the child cannot be kicked off or denied benefits for at least 12 months.

DeSantis, in his federal lawsuit, says that amounts to a “free-for-all,” but Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, is warning what DeSantis is doing is “harmful.”

“If he is successful, the Governor will ensure that more children in Florida will spend more time being uninsured. He’s not stopping there – he’s seeking to remove the protection for all children in separate CHIP programs that charge premiums. This is harmful and puts children’s health and educational outcomes at risk in both the short and the long term,” Alker said in a statement.

“This comes on top of Medicaid unwinding where Florida has the second worst performance in the country having terminated Medicaid coverage for over 400,000 children. (Only Texas has a worse record.)  The new federal protection for children was designed in part to mitigate against inappropriate losses of Medicaid and CHIP for eligible children resulting from red tape and shoddy customer support for families renewing coverage – problems which have been on stark display recently in Florida,” she adds.

The attacks on children and their safety net in Florida continues to expand under DeSantis’ leadership.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis and state administrators have rejected at least $11 billion in federal funds in the past few years, saying there were strings attached, they ‘politicized’ roads or fought climate change,” the Orlando Sentinel reported last month. “The programs affected include an expansion of Medicaid, rebates for energy-saving appliances and upgrades, a program to cut motor vehicle emissions, and summer lunches for children from low-income families. Millions of mostly low-income Floridians could have benefited from the funding, the governor’s critics say.”

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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) last month in a statement blasted DeSantis for rejecting nearly $250 million in federal funds for summer school lunches for Florida’s children, calling it “cruel and unnecessary,” and “mean and irresponsible.”

“Just last year, 47 percent of Florida parents reported difficulties keeping food on the table for their families — a startling reality that has pushed too many families to skip meals or go an entire day without eating. However, instead of confronting this growing crisis, Governor DeSantis will deprive Florida children of nutritious meals,” Rep. Castor wrote.

Meanwhile, also last week, Florida Republican lawmakers passed legislation greatly reducing workplace protections for Florida’s children.

The Florida House “passed a measure allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work more than 30 hours a week and as late as 11 p.m. on a school night,” Florida Politics reports.

The bill’s sponsor, state GOP Rep. Linda Chaney, “said the bill merely offered opportunities for teens to work more flexible hours.”

“This bill is about choice and opportunity for families. I trust that our families and our teens will make the right choice for them,” Chaney said, while House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell denounced the legislation..

“This is 2024 this is not the 1900s, this is not the 1800s,” Driskell said. “Just because our kids like to play Minecraft doesn’t mean we should send them back into the mines.”

The Florida Senate has a “more expansive,” bill, “allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work starting at 5:30 a.m. and until midnight on a school night.” There is also an alternative version “that would bar 16- and 17-year-olds from commercial construction sites while allowing them on jobs with scaffolding, roofs and ladders under six feet.”

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