Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Holding the majority is the priority:
A resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from Congress was referred to the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday as Republicans successfully sidestepped an effort to force them into a vote that could have narrowed their already slim four-seat majority.
The House voted along party lines, 221-204, to refer the matter to the ethics panel, with Santos himself joining his GOP colleagues in voting to do so.
The freshman congressman has been charged with embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds and lying to Congress about his finances. He has denied the charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., introduced a resolution in February to expel Santos, something the House has only done twice in recent decades. He sought to force a vote on that resolution under a process that left three options for Republicans: a vote on the resolution, a move to table, or a referral to committee.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy chose the third option, much to the chagrin of Democrats who described it as a “complete copout.” They noted that the ethics panel is already investigating Santos and that it was time for Republican House members who have called for Santos to resign to back their words with action.
Second news item
When Sen. Dianne Feinstein walked into the Capitol last week, ending a monthslong medical absence, she was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a small entourage of aides — and a close personal confidant with a storied political pedigree.
Nancy Carinne Prowda blended into the swarm around the legendary California Democrat. The San Francisco Chronicle made note of her presence but left unreported amid the spectacle was the larger role that Prowda, the eldest child of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has come to play in Feinstein’s life as the 89-year-old has dealt with the absence of her deceased husband, the departure of trusted staffers, a nasty case of shingles and spiraling concerns about her fitness for office.
The intrigue surrounds the future of Feinstein’s seat. Pelosi has endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff, her longtime protégé and former hand-picked House Intelligence Committee chair, to succeed Feinstein after her sixth and final term ends next year…But if Feinstein were to bow to pressure and retire early, Schiff’s advantage could disappear. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has pledged to appoint a Black woman to serve out her term, and one of Schiff’s declared opponents, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would fit the bill.
“If DiFi resigns right now, there is an enormous probability that Barbara Lee gets appointed — thus, it makes it harder for Schiff,” one Pelosi family confidant told Playbook, adding that the relationship between Pelosi, her daughter and the senator is “being kept under wraps and very, very closely held.”
Third news item
Sanctions against Russian defense companies have not interfered with Western supplies – equipment is still being imported by military contractors who have escaped sanctions lists. European businessmen have continued to sell goods to Russian firms that supply the country’s army with microchips for missiles, shells, fuses, tactical boots, body armor, engines for warships, and many other goods. The Insider confirmed supplies coming in from Germany, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, and Poland.
Engaging with Russia is being an accessory to crime. It used to be mostly fraud and theft, now it’s murder and terror…Countries and companies still doing business with Russia are exploiting the murder of Ukrainians for profit. They barely hide avoiding sanctions to help Putin and his war machine. This isn’t geopolitics or politics at all. It’s funding and empowering a war criminal regime attempting genocide on an industrial scale. These companies and governments are doing it knowingly, and in many cases openly.
Related: The Biden administration has reportedly signaled to allies that the U.S. would not block their export of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Filed under: I’ll believe it when I see it.
Fourth news item
Gov. DeSantis doesn’t seem very business friendly. More fallout from DeSantis’s nonsense feud with Disney:
The Walt Disney Co. said it is pulling out of a roughly $1 billion investment in Florida, citing “changing business conditions.” The media and entertainment giant announced the move amid a year-long feud with the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, after Disney publicly opposed his bill to limit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
In a memo sent to Disney employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said that the company isn’t moving forward with its plans to build a new Disney campus in Lake Nona.
The Lake Nona complex would have included several buildings employing 2,000 Disney workers that would have been relocated from California to Florida.
Fifth news item
San Francisco’s problems go far beyond drugs. The Bay Area is home to four of the 10 most valuable companies in the world — Apple, Alphabet, Nvidia and Meta — titanic producers of wealth, but a staggering one per cent of the city’s population is homeless, compared to less than 0.2 per cent across the US. The gulf between rich and poor — and white and black — is among the largest in America. House prices and rents soared to among the highest in the US during the last tech boom. Since the pandemic, tech companies have embraced remote working, laid off staff and slashed office space, leaving almost a third of the city’s commercial real estate vacant. In other words, houses are more expensive and scarcer, and offices are cheap and empty. Teachers and nurses can’t afford to live in San Francisco, and tech workers see fewer reasons to.
There is a growing sense, too, that the city’s progressive political class has failed its citizens. Violent attacks in wealthy neighbourhoods, including the fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee and a burglary at the home of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which left her husband in hospital with a fractured skull, were interpreted as symbols of pervasive lawlessness.
The area has lost a net of 2,500 businesses since March 2020. Now residents are doubtful about the long-delayed opening of San Francisco’s first Ikea just three blocks away from Whole Foods — although Ikea said its plans had not changed.
Earlier this month, high-end Saks and Nordstrom vacated San Francisco, leaving over 500,000 square feet of retail space expected to be completely vacated by the early fall.
Sixth news item
Former U.S. ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley Wednesday called Jan. 6, 2021 “a terrible day” and said any person who broke the law at the U.S. Capitol that day “should pay the price.”
“It was not a beautiful day, it was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again,” Haley said at a town hall-style event in Ankeny, Iowa, when asked by a voter how she could ensure a “fair and speedy” trial for those charged over their alleged actions on Jan. 6. “I don’t know enough about each individual [rioter] but that’s my rule: If you break the law, you pay the price. And so I think that’s the way we need to look at it.”
I feel like Haley is always trying to gingerly walk the tightrope by not mentioning you know who. But, after all, it was you know who that fomented the insurrection of Jan. 6, and it was the same you know who that referred to Jan. 6 as a “beautiful day” during the CNN townhall. This is Haley back in February 2021:
She confidently predicted Trump would not run for federal office again.
“I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” Haley said. “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”
When asked how Trump could be held accountable, she said: “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated. I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him. I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving.”
Underestimating Trump is the biggest mistake a Republican candidate can make.
Seventh news item
Ramping up: Gov. DeSantis is said to be officially announcing his run for the presidency next week. Sen. Tim Scott is launching a $6 million ad buy and is expected to officially announce his entry into the presidential race on Monday.
Eighth news item
High-stakes negotiations over raising the debit limit abruptly came to a halt Friday on Capitol Hill, after Republican negotiators walked out of the room and blamed the White House for holding up the talks.
“Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, then we’re not gonna sit here and talk to ourselves,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., told reporters.
“We decided to press pause because it’s just not productive,” he added. Graves said he did not know if talks would resume this weekend.
As Republicans demand spending cuts and policy changes, Biden is facing increased pushback from Democrats, particularly progressives, not to give in to demands they argue will be harmful to Americans.
Democrats particularly refuse the Republican proposal to protect defense and veterans accounts from spending caps, arguing that the cuts will fall too heavily on other domestic programs.
Republicans also want to impose stricter work requirements on government aid recipients. Biden has suggested he might be open to considering it, but Democrats in Congress have said is a nonstarter.
Have a great weekend.