The Trump administration will not reappoint half the expert members of a board that advises the Environmental Protection Agency on the integrity of its science, the latest in a series of moves that could benefit industries whose pollution the government regulates.
Deborah L. Swackhamer, chairwoman of the Board of Scientific Counselors, confirmed Monday that nine of the 18 outside experts on her panel will not serve a second three-year term. The affected board members' terms expired April 30.
Experts are limited to serving two terms on the board, and Swackhamer said that in the past those completing their first term would typically have been reappointed. Four other board members just completed their second terms, meaning 13 of the 18 seats on the panel are now vacant.
EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said the agency's new leadership wants to consider a wider array of applicants, potentially including those who may work for chemical and fossil fuel companies. He said former board members may also be considered.
(Newser) – The EPA has faced no shortage of criticism over the past several months, but reproaches appear to be growing louder based on a slew of revelations this week. The AP reports on a previously undisclosed meeting EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had with Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, three weeks before the EPA chose not to ban the Dow pesticide chlorpyrifos from use on food crops. An EPA rep has downplayed the meeting, saying the two were only "briefly introduced" at an energy conference they were both speaking at.
Further details: In an open letter to Pruitt, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Environmental Working Group say they're "deeply alarmed" by the EPA decision, given the "unambiguous" finding that the chemical poses a risk to fetuses and infants, per the Hill. Pruitt has said the decision was based on "meaningful science."
Meanwhile, the top scientist on the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors says the EPA's chief of staff asked her to alter her testimony to the House Science Committee regarding the firing of several board members. Deborah Swackhamer tells the New York Times she felt "bullied." The Guardian reports on the EPA's plan to erase a federal rule protecting drinking water for a third of Americans. With such a move, critics say President Trump has "agreed to do the bidding of the worst polluters in our country."
Adding more fuel to the fire: In a list of new hires at the EPA, seven people stand out as coming from the coal, oil, and chemical industries. Business Insider has a blurb on each of them.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt attends a Cabinet meeting at the White House this month. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Another trip to Capitol Hill for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, another reminder that lawmakers from both parties have no intention of approving the deep cuts President Trump is seeking at the agency.
Pruitt heard a familiar sentiment Tuesday from both Republican and Democratic members of a Senate Appropriations Committee — that a proposed 31 percent cut to EPA isn’t going to happen, and that shuttering key programs and laying off thousands of employees conflicts with the Trump administration’s stated goals about safeguarding the nation’s air and water.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) noted that while she supports Pruitt’s approach of focusing on the EPA’s central responsibilities while steering away from the climate policies of the Obama administration, the current budget proposal is “in direct contrast” to such an approach. She singled out aid to Alaska Native villages and a radon detection program as areas that have proven to save and improve lives.
“We have rejected changes like these in past, and I will certainly push my colleagues to do so again this year,” Murkowski said.
Democrats were even more blunt.
“The budget request before us today is downright offensive,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said as he cited a litany of programs slated for elimination or massive cuts. “I can’t square this with your rhetoric about returning EPA to its core responsibilities. Nothing was spared. EPA’s core is hollowed out. … These cuts aren’t an intent to rein in spending, they are an intentional step to undermine science and ignore environmental and public health realities.”
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) called the Trump administration’s proposal “really the worst I’ve seen.”
“This budget that you’ve proposed doesn’t uphold your agency’s mission,” Leahy said. “We ought to be doubling down on our investment to protect our environment for the sake of our children and grandchildren. We ought to curb the effects of climate change. Instead, the administration is tearing down the legacy of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.”
Tuesday’s hearing came after another on in the House earlier this month, in which Pruitt encountered similar resistance from both sides of the aisle. At each hearing, he defended the White House proposal, saying the agency could still live up to its mission with proper management, better leadership and less waste.
The Trump administration would reduce EPA’s funding by $2.4 billion annually — a larger percentage cut than at any other federal agency. The White House wants to shrink the agency’s workforce by thousands of people and sharply reduce or end a variety of national and regional programs.
The Trump administration has proposed nearly halving grants that support state and local efforts to address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water quality. It would slash nearly one-third of funding for Superfund cleanups — though Pruitt has insisted that he will prioritize the program, which help restore some of the nation’s most polluted sites.
OCTOBER 14, 2021 – United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 and the Arizona State AFL-CIO have forced Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich to concede that they will not enforce a blatantly unconstitutional law seeking to regulate Arizona’s labor unions and interfere with unionized workers’ health benefits and pensions.
On October 12, 2021, federal court judge Diane J. Humetawa entered an order prohibiting Governor Ducey, Attorney General Brnovich, and Arizona’s Industrial Commission from enforcing SB 1268. The Legislature adopted SB 1268—and Governor Ducey signed it—in the last legislative session, despite unions’ pointing out that the law is impermissible under federal law.
SB 1268 would impose new regulations on labor-management benefit plans that would threaten the viability of union members’ health insurance and pensions. Among other things, the law purports to require employers to cease making contributions to employees’ collectively bargained pension and health-care plans, even when the employer is bound by contract to do so. SB 1268’s irrational rules for these benefit plans led major Arizona grocery employers to weigh in against SB 1268’s enforcement.
The law also regulates labor unions’ access ability to collect dues from members who have voluntarily chosen to join the union. SB 1268 conflicts with the exclusive federal laws regulating workplace benefits and unions’ relations with their members—the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Labor Management Relations Act—and violates the Constitution.
Faced with UFCW Local 99’s and the Arizona State AFL-CIO’s motion for an injunction, Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich conceded that they would not seek to enforce SB 1268 while the federal court decides whether to permanently prohibit SB 1268’s enforcement. The law is certain to be held unconstitutional, as was the Legislature’s attempt to create onerous special regulations for labor unions in 2011 (SB 1363 and SB 1365). In the meantime, Arizona taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for defending SB 1268, and may be required to pay the unions’ attorneys’ fees when the unions ultimately prevail.
“The federal court’s injunction order leaves no doubt that this misguided law will be struck down as unconstitutional,” stated UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin. “We warned the Governor and the Legislature last Spring that this law was both illegal and unnecessary. But they plowed ahead, and that decision will ultimately cost Arizona taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.”
A political ad from Eric Greitens, the disgraced former Missouri governor, now a Republican Senate candidate in that state, was yanked Monday from the social media site by its parent company Meta for “violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.”
Social media companies act on video from Missouri GOP candidate Eric Greitens in which he says he’s ‘RINO hunting’
More than the usual arsenal of GOP lies and nonsense, there’s an actual arsenal in the campaign spot. Heavily armed men in full military gear use a battering ram and toss flash grenades into an empty house. Holding a shotgun, Greitens says, “Today, we’re going RINO hunting.” Then he encourages viewers to “Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting license.”
RINO stands for “Republicans in Name Only.” That term was once applied to Republicans who didn’t always toe the party line. Now any GOP member who engages even the slightest brush with reality is met with derision, primary challenges, and warnings of violence from hard-core Trumpublicans.
Greitens’s incendiary ad dropped days after Texas Republican convention delegates turned on two of its own conservative stalwarts. Senator John Cornyn was loudly booed because he’s leading 10 Republicans negotiating with Democrats on a very modest gun reform bill after massacres last month at a Buffalo supermarket and a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
‘Eyepatch McCain’: Dan Crenshaw accosted by far-right protestors at Texas GOP convention
Then Representative Dan Crenshaw and some staff members were jostled and heckled by the Proud Boys and other right-wing extremists. They called Crenshaw, a Navy Seal who lost an eye during an explosion while serving in Afghanistan, “eyepatch McCain,” an insult Tucker Carlson debuted on his nightly Fox News hate hour last month. In a video, a man in a “45″ hat shouts that Crenshaw is a “traitor” who “needs to be hung for treason.”
Once considered a GOP rising star, Crenshaw has been roasted by some in his party for debunking Donald Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in an election he soundly lost.
Texas Republicans ended their convention with an aggressively far-right party platform that “rejects the certified results of the 2020 presidential election,” condemns “homosexuality” as an “abnormal lifestyle choice,” wants schoolchildren to “learn about the humanity of the pre-born child,” and wants the already gutted 1965 Voting Rights Act to be “repealed” and “not reauthorized.”
The Lone Star state should change its unofficial motto “Don’t Mess with Texas” to “Texas Is a Mess.” But such off-the-rails extremism isn’t confined to one state. We’re deep into the part of “Psycho” where “Mother” has completely overtaken Norman Bates.
“Mother,” of course, is Trump — twice impeached, booted from the White House by more than 81 million voters, and (if Attorney General Merrick Garland can be roused to act) perhaps some day facing indictment for his multiple schemes to subvert democracy and overturn the 2020 election. Instead of rejecting Trump in 2015, Republicans saw an opportunity to regain executive power by coddling white supremacy and this nation’s most base instincts. Now the monster they unleashed is turning its fangs on the party that created it.
We saw this during the 2020 election aftermath when state officials, many of them Republicans who voted for Trump, were inundated with death threats for refusing to cheat for him. What’s happening now has upped the ante, and it’s a direct result of Trump whipping up a violent mob to go after his vice president for disobeying his unconstitutional demands. If a president in a tweet can willfully endanger the well-being of his No. 2 during an insurrection, any guardrails have been dismantled and discarded. There’s not a big leap from insurrectionists yelling “Hang Mike Pence” to someone bellowing that Crenshaw should be hanged for treason for recognizing Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president.
Republicans brandishing guns as conservative signifiers is nothing new. Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado has posted so many photos of herself with firearms, her critics on social media call her “Klannie Oakley.” Greitens, however, has been accused of violence. His former wife alleges he had physically abused her and one of their children. Now he is encouraging harm against Republicans who aren’t sufficiently obedient to Trump. He’s echoing not only the insurrectionists, but Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee chair, who called Jan. 6 violence “legitimate political discourse.”
There’s little daylight between rank-and-file Republicans and the party’s most outrageous elements. To cover their political hides, some Republicans try to cling to Trump with one hand and gather what’s left of their shredded credibility with the other. Or they just stay silent. But their far-right counterparts feel no need for such cosplay since the GOP belongs fully to the vengeful former president. None of these people are unwilling hostages. They’re co-conspirators.
Deriding Republicans for choosing party over country now seems quaint compared with the doctrinaire depths to which this nation has plunged. Trumpublicans don’t want to revert back to the 1950s. They’re aiming to revive antebellum America. And in openly embracing violence as their running mate they’re demanding cultish devotion to the Big Lie, Trumpism, and Trump — or else.
Republicans say they’re gutting Social Security & Medicare to pay for tax cuts.
Republican leaders in Washington, D.C. are finally starting to admit that they are going to gut social safety net programs
in order to pay for their massive tax cuts for the top 1%. During recent interviews, several GOP congressman have said that
“entitlement reform” is on the agenda in order to stop the deficit from growing too large – a deficit that they ballooned
by more than 20% with their tax cuts for the rich.
Published Aug 22, 2018
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Thursday that would protect the rights of women to travel to other states to access abortion care legally.
The author of the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, requested consent to quickly pass the legislation but met resistance from Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who objected on behalf of Republicans.
“There’s a child in this conversation, as well,” Lankford said on the Senate floor, accusing Democrats of seeking “to inflame — to raise the what-ifs.” He said proponents of the bill should ask themselves: “Does the child in the womb have the right to travel in their future?”
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called the legislation “radical” and warned against promoting "abortion tourism" by businesses.
Cortez Masto responded: “The issue here before us is exactly a states’ rights issue. ... All my legislation says is respect my state."
The eight-page bill would make it unlawful for a person or a government official to prevent or punish traveling across state lines "to receive or provide reproductive health care that is legal in that State." It also would bar states from imposing laws that prohibit women from traveling to other states to get abortions.
Cortez Masto said in a statement, “Anti-choice state legislators in Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas have said they want to pass bills to fine or prosecute women who travel for health care."
The House is poised to vote Friday on a similar bill, sponsored by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, that would protect interstate travel for women seeking abortions where they are legal. The measure is expected to pass, but its prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where at least 10 Republican votes would be needed to defeat a filibuster.
Cortez Masto, who is one of the most politically vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election this fall, accused Republicans who oppose her bill of "allowing state legislators to reach across state lines to control not just what happens in their states, but what happens in every state across this country, and to punish women for exercising their fundamental rights."
"It’s absolutely outrageous," she said.
Despite the GOP objection to passing Cortez Masto's bill, Senate Republicans appear divided over whether women should retain the right to travel to get abortions. Some in the party argue that travel can’t or shouldn’t be restricted, although there was limited GOP interest in backing the Democratic bill.
"No state has the right to prohibit travel," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in an interview, adding that the right stems from the Constitution and has been recognized by the Supreme Court.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the chair of the Senate GOP campaign arm, said Wednesday he hadn't read the Democrats' bill but broadly believes Americans should be allowed to travel, including in circumstances like accessing legal abortion.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., whose state has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, said he is "pro-life" and doesn't expect the Senate to pass legislation on interstate travel.
"In this particular case, I think once the states have made their decisions, I think you’ll find that most of them will recognize that they can’t stop an individual from freely traveling from one state to another," he said.
Asked whether women should have the option to travel for abortions, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told NBC News to contact his office, which didn't respond to a request for comment.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he would reserve judgment until he studies Supreme Court precedent on interstate travel.
The issue has become a rallying cry for numerous Democrats after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, paving the way for states to outlaw abortion.
Republicans considering interstate travel restrictions "want to hold women captive in their own states," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a co-sponsor of Cortez Masto's bill. "They want to punish women and anyone who might help them for exercising their constitutional right to travel within our country, to get the services that they need in another state. I hope everyone really observes how extreme and how radical and how un-American that is.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Cortez Masto is surveying Republicans to see whether her bill can win the 60 Senate votes needed to defeat a filibuster. He said Democrats might bring it up for a roll call vote to put all Republicans on the record.
“There might be some Republican votes on that," he said.
The issue has gotten elevated attention after a man was arrested on charges of raping a 10-year-old girl, who became pregnant and was reported to have traveled from Ohio to Indiana to get an abortion.
Kaine said there could be more instances like that.
"With the news about the sad reality of this 10-year-old having to be hustled across state lines so that she could get an abortion for being raped, I mean, they're going to go after the people who are helping kids like her?" he said.
Democrats hope the issue galvanizes voters ahead of what is shaping up to be a tough midterm election this fall for the party in power. While Republicans have sought to paint Democrats who oppose any limits on abortion as outside the mainstream, objections to interstate travel could backfire politically on the GOP.
"We're seeing this has dramatically affected the polls in a number of our races," Kaine said. "My gut would tell me this is a little bit more potent in a midterm than in a presidential" election.
In a press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the 168 congressional Republicans who voted against a bill that would create a system to alert a community of an active shooter. In scathing remarks, Pelosi said, “These people think their political survival is more important than the survival of our children.”
NANCY PELOSI: At the same time as we are protecting freedom, we want to make our country safe. And House Democrats have continued work to defend freedom and save lives. Yesterday, we passed the Active Shooter Alert Bill.
The Active Shooter Alert Bill is an AMBER Alert. It can tell you when there's in your community nearby an active shooting going on. It has broad support from the law enforcement community.
Mr. Cicilline has worked for a long time with the law enforcement community on legislation of this kind. If there's an active shooter threat in a school or any public place, a similar system to AMBER Alert will go off. 168 Republicans voted no.
If your child were in a school where there was an assault, wouldn't you want to know? How can these Republicans vote no to people knowing that there's an assault in their school, or their community centers, or wherever? 168 Republicans voted no.
I don't know. These people think their political survival is more important than the survival of our children. We have to do much more and more action is needed to save lives. The judiciary committee is moving forward with a markup on the assault weapons ban. They'll have their own announcement on that.
But there is great support in our caucus for an assault weapon ban. It's about our children. More children die from gun violence in each year than cancer, car accidents, or anything. How could that be? 168 Republicans voted no, we don't want an AMBER Alert if somebody is shooting up a school nearby.