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House Impeaches Trump for Second Time

With a week to go until Donald Trump is scheduled to leave office, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for a second time.

 

The 232-197 vote was historic for being the first time that the House has ever voted two times to impeach a president. Impeachment has only been used against three presidents -- Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and twice against Donald Trump. No president has been removed from office by the Senate.

 

The House approved a single article of impeachment, House Resolution 24, which stated, in part:

 

On January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College. In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials. Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There, he reiterated false claims that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide”. He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore”. Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.

 

The resolution concluded that Donald Trump "has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law."

 

In a break with the previous impeachment of President Trump, this vote gained 10 Republicans to join the Democrats. These supporters of impeachment said that it was vital to remove President Trump from office immediately before he causes more harm. They also argued that impeachment and removal from office would deprive him of the ability to run for office in 2024. The majority of Republicans opposed impeachment. They said that although the president bears blame for the events of January 6, it was not an impeachable offense. They noted that he was leaving office in a week, so this vote was more about political theater than concern about the nation.

 

The Senate is not schedule to meet until next week. The trial that takes place will occur largely after Joe Biden is inaugurated as president. If the Senate votes to convict Trump, it will not have the effect of removing him from office, but it would bar another presidential run.

 

Do you support the impeachment of President Trump?

House GOP Blocks 25th Amendment Resolution

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants Congress to call on Vice President Mike Pence to help remove Donald Trump from the presidency. A congressional Republican objected to the effort, however, and Speaker Pelosi vows that the House will vote on impeachment on Wednesday.

 

On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) moved that the House adopt a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to exercise his authority under the 25th Amendment to convene the cabinet in an attempt to declare President Trump unfit and temporarily remove him from office. Since this resolution would be considered under a suspension of the House rules, any member could object to stop it. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) did so.

 

The House will vote on this resolution on Tuesday.

 

Speaker Pelosi has said that she would prefer Vice President Pence act instead of the House impeaching Trump for a second time. However, if he does not do so by Wednesday, the speaker would lead the House in an impeachment vote. Democratic House members have already drawn up an article of impeachment, saying that the president should be removed from office for inciting the Capitol riot.

 

Under the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and a majority of cabinet officers declares that the president is unable to discharge the duties of his office, the vice president assumes the presidency. The president can dispute this and it would ultimately be up to Congress to determine if the president should be removed from office. Some scholars contend that this option can only be involved if the president is incapacitated in some way. Others say that President Trump's actions indicate that he is in no state to be making decisions, so his removal would be justified. Vice President Pence has said that he will not invoke this power under the current circumstances.

 

Do you think that Vice President Pence and the cabinet should temporarily remove President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment?

Congressional Democrats Considering Impeachment

In the wake of a riot in the Capitol, Congressional Democrats are considering a second impeachment against President Trump.

 

Accusing President Trump of inciting an insurrection, these members of Congress say it is appropriate to impeach and remove President Trump from office as soon as possible. Although he will leave the White House when Joe Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, some Democrats and Republicans fear that he will do damage to the nation in his remaining two weeks in office.

 

Impeachment is usually a slow process, but it can also proceed quickly. Speaker Pelosi can call the House of Representatives into session next week and pass articles of impeachment within days. There are already multiple members of the House who say they will support impeaching the president a second time. If this occurs, then the Senate would take up the matter. While it is likely that most, if not all, Democrats would vote in favor of impeachment and removal, it is unclear how many Republicans would support it. A handful have said they are open to the idea.

 

Even if Congress works quickly on impeachment and removal, Donald Trump would only be taken out of office with a few days left in his term. Supporters of this action say that the main benefit of this process would be to prohibit him from ever running for president or any federal office again.

 

Do you think that Donald Trump should be impeached a second time?

House Votes to Override Trump Defense Veto

In the waning days of his term, President Trump suffered a rare veto override in the House of Representatives. On Monday the House voted to reject the president's veto of legislation that reauthorizes the Defense Authorization Act.

 

Here is how VoteSpotter describes the vote:

 

To override President Trump's veto of a National Defense Authorization Act. The bill authorizes military programs for the year. Trump vetoed the bill because, among other things, it does not remove a provision of federal law that shields social media companies from certain lawsuits, and it limits the president's ability to remove U.S. troops from some foreign countries.

 

The Defense Authorization Act is legislation that must be passed every year to authorize military activities and set defense policies. Prior to passage, the president said he would veto this legislation unless it contained a repeal of a federal law that provides some liability protection for social media platforms, known as Section 230. Last week, he followed through on this veto threat. 

 

In his veto message, President Trump criticized Congress's failure to repeal Section 230. He also said that the bill "fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia."

 

A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives disagreed, voting 322-87 to override his veto. In past veto overrides, most Republicans have stuck with President Trump. This time, however, only 66 voted to sustain his veto. For a veto override to be successful, it must obtain a two-thirds majority in each house of Congress. The Senate is expected to vote this week.

 

What do you think about the House of Representatives voting to override President Trump's veto of the Defense Authorization Act?

Trump Signs Coronavirus Aid and Federal Spending Bill

After blasting Congress for its spending priorities, President Trump signed into law legislation that keeps the federal government from partially shutting down as well as provides a new round of coronavirus aid relief.

 

Last week Congress passed legislation that funded the federal government through the end of the fiscal year (October 2021) and contained a new package of aid related to coronavirus. The coronavirus aid included these provisions, among other things:

  • A $600 check for most Americans
  • Continuing to allow self-employed workers and gig workers access to unemployment benefits
  • An extension of time limit for receiving unemployment benefits
  • An additional $300 boost in unemployment benefits
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to businesses affected by the pandemic, was extended and provided with more funding
  • An extension of the eviction moratorium that was set to expire within weeks

 

 

Trump Administration officials had worked with Congress to craft this legislation. These officials came to an agreement over this spending and aid package, which passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. After passage, however, President Trump began tweeting that he did not like the package. He said that it should include a $2,000 check for most Americans and a cut in foreign aid. The $2,000 aid check was a priority for House Democrats, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to suspend House rules to pass legislation to amend the legislation. Republicans, citing concerns over spending, blocked that move. 

 

On Sunday, the president signed the legislation into law. Doing so prevents the federal government from partially shutting down this week. However, he used a provision in federal law to set aside some spending for 45 days. During this time, Congress can consider cutting that spending. If Congress does not act, however, the spending goes into effect.

 

Do you support President Trump signing the federal spending and coronavirus aid bill?

 

Trump Vetoes Defense Bill

Following through with this threat, President Trump today vetoed the Defense Authorization Act, setting up a veto showdown with Congress.

 

The Defense Authorization Act is legislation that must be passed every year to authorize military activities and set defense policies. Earlier this month the president said he would veto this legislation unless it contained a repeal of a federal law that provides some liability protection for social media platforms, known as Section 230. President Trump and some Republicans have accused social media platforms and Google of liberal bias in moderating content. Democrats, on the other hand, say that these companies have not gone far enough to remove false or hateful speech. Congress has held hearings with officials from these companies where both Democratic and Republican members have criticized them for how they operate their businesses.

 

Repealing Section 230 would make it easier to sue social media companies for their moderating activities. President Trump has grown increasingly angry over what he perceives as unfair treatment from the platforms, and has made repeal a high priority. While there is bipartisan support for some sort of Section 230 reform in Congress, there is no agreement on what form that should take. Critics of repeal argue that easing civil suits would have a negative effect on free speech. 

 

In his veto message, President Trump also said that the bill "fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia."

 

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) was quick to retort: "President Trump clearly hasn’t read the bill, nor does he understand what’s in it. There are several bipartisan provisions in here that get tougher on China than the Trump Administration has ever been."

 

Congress has recessed for Christmas, but has yet to adjourn for the year. Members can return next week in an attempt to override the president's veto. This takes a vote of 2/3 in both chambers. The Defense Authorization Act passed with larger margins than this, but some Republicans may be reluctant to directly confront the president on this. 

 

Do you think that Congress should override the president's veto of defense legislation?

 

Congress, Trump Agree on New Coronavirus Aid Bill

After weeks of negotiations, House leaders and Trump Administration officials have agreed to a coronavirus aid package.

 

The price tag for this new aid legislation is $900 billion. Among other things, it contains these provisions:

  • A $600 check for most Americans
  • Continuing to allow self-employed workers and gig workers access to unemployment benefits
  • An extension of time limit for receiving unemployment benefits
  • An additional $300 boost in unemployment benefits
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to businesses affected by the pandemic, was extended and provided with more funding
  • An extension of the eviction moratorium that was set to expire within weeks
  • Funding for schools to reopen
  • An expansion in the eligibility of Pell Grants
  • Funding to purchase vaccines
  • $16 billion for airlines
  • A prohibition on surprise medical billing

 

While Congress had passed three bipartisan coronavirus relief bills in the spring, there had not been an agreement on further legislation since that time. Republicans and Democrats disagreed on a variety of issues. One of the Democrats’ largest priorities was aid for state and local governments. Republicans wanted liability protection for businesses. Neither of those things were included in this legislation, with members of the two parties jettisoning demands for them to focus on issues where there was widespread agreement.

 

The legislation is packaged with an omnibus appropriations bill that finalizes federal spending through the rest of the fiscal year. This keeps the federal government open through October 1 of 2021. 

 

Most members of Congress support this legislation. Some, however, oppose it citing concerns about deficit spending. This legislation will bring the amount of total federal coronavirus aid to $4 trillion.

 

Do you support the new $900 billion coronavirus aid bill?

Trump Issues Defense Bill Veto Threat over Social Media Protections

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is set to veto defense authorization legislation. The subject of his ire is not anything in the bill or anything related to the military. Instead, he said that the legislation should include a repeal of a federal law that provides some liability protection for social media platforms.

 

On Tuesday night, President Trump tweeted:

 

Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it - corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand....Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!

 

Many congressional Republicans and Democrats also have issues with Section 230. This provision dates to a 1996 law concerning federal regulation of online services. The section states, in part, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." in essence, this means that services like Facebook and Twitter cannot be sued for moderating content in good faith. 

 

President Trump and some Republicans have accused social media platforms and Google of liberal bias in moderating content. Democrats, on the other hand, say that these companies have not gone far enough to remove false or hateful speech. Congress has held hearings with officials from these companies where both Democratic and Republican members have criticized them for how they operate their businesses.

 

Repealing Section 230 would make it easier to sue social media companies for their moderating activities. President Trump has grown increasingly angry over what he perceives as unfair treatment from the platforms, and has made repeal a high priority. While there is bipartisan support for some sort of Section 230 reform in Congress, there is no agreement on what form that should take. Critics of repeal argue that easing civil suits would have a negative effect on free speech. 

 

Currently Congress is meeting in a lame duck session to finish work on a variety of legislation. One of the bills under consideration would authorize U.S. defense operations. While there are disagreements on the details of this bill, there is bipartisan agreement that it needs to pass this year. Congressional leadership reacted to the president's tweet by pointing out that technology policy is not relevant to the defense bill. They contend that this matter should be dealt with in separate legislation.

 

If the president vetoes the defense authorization legislation, a supermajority of Congress could override that veto.


Do you think that Congress should include repeal of Section 230 in the defense authorization legislation?

Trump Pushes for Tax Cuts

A tax cut was one of the major pieces of legislation during Donald Trump's first term as president. He's promising another round of cuts if he's re-elected.

 

In an interview with the Fox Business Network, President Trump said that he wants to lower corporate taxes to a 20% rate and pursue additional individual income tax cuts. This would build on the tax cuts from earlier in his term. That tax package reduced the corporate tax rate to 35% and also cut individual tax rates.

 

Trump's opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden, opposes the Trump tax cuts. He is campaigning on a platform that calls for raising the corporate tax rate to 28%.

 

Supporters of these tax cuts argue that the U.S. corporate income tax rate was among the highest in the world prior to it being reduced. They say that higher corporate income tax rates hurt U.S. businesses compete worldwide. President Trump has also said that his tax cuts have helped spur economic growth.

 

Those who want to raise tax rates argue that the Trump tax cuts have only deepened the deficit. They say that higher taxes are needed to pay not only for current deficit spending, but also for new programs like Medicare for All. The president's critics also contend that his tax cuts were mainly skewed towards the wealthy.

 

Future tax cuts in a Trump second term, should the president be re-elected, would be unlikely if Democrats retain the House of Representatives or take control of the Senate.

 

Do you support cutting the corporate income tax rate to 20%? Do you think that individual tax rates should be reduced?

Companies File Suits to End Trump's China Tariffs

President Trump's trade war with China has been controversial since he first announced tariffs on goods made in those countries. Now over 3,500 companies have filed suit to end some of these tariffs, which they say were imposed illegally.

 

The suits concern the imposition of a 10% tariff on some Chinese goods in 2019. The Trump Administration initially put in place tariffs against Chinese goods in 2018, but expanded them the next year. The suits contend that the law does not allow this later expansion, and asks the U.S. Court of International Trade to invalidate them.

 

President Trump has long supported tariffs, even going so far as to call himself "Tariff Man." He argues that other nations are competing unfairly with the U.S., and that tariffs help American companies. The companies opposing these tariffs say that they are counterproductive to helping the U.S. economy. They point out that many U.S. businesses rely on Chinese imports to make products in the U.S. Economists also note that ultimately consumers pay higher costs because of tariffs, not the companies manufacturing the products overseas.

 

The Trump administration put in place Chinese tariffs under a 1974 law that allows the president to counteract what he contends is unfair foreign competition. The companies suing allege that the federal law does not allow him to expand tariffs to other products once those tariffs are put in place. If successful, the suits would leave the initial tariffs in place, but would remove the second round. The 2018 announcement affected around $50 billion in Chinese trade, but the 2019 tariffs affected $200 billion.

 

Do you think that President Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods should be removed?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Death Sets Up Contentious Confirmation Process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week, setting off a wave of mourning across the nation. The new vacancy on the Supreme Court is also setting up a bitter fight over whether President Trump will be ale to fill her seat before Election Day.

 

When there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president nominates a new justice and the Senate votes on that nomination. There is no constitutional restriction on the timing of the process. However, Democrats are arguing that Republicans set a precedent of not giving nominees a vote in an election year, so that precedent should be followed now.

 

Democrats point to the situation in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in the final year of Barack Obama's term in office. Republicans refused to hold a vote on his nominee, Merrick Garland, prior to the presidential election. That November, Donald Trump won the presidency and then nominated Neil Gorsuch for the seat. The Senate then confirmed Gorsuch.

 

Democrats are saying that what happened in 2016 should be repeated this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has said that he will schedule a Senate vote quickly on President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Republicans argue that the situation is different than in 2016, which had a different party controlling the presidency and the Senate. They also note that Democrats then were arguing that the president's nominee deserved a vote.

 

It remains to be seen if all Senate Republicans will back a vote prior to Election Day. Some, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), have already expressed reservations.

 

President Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee this week.

 

Do you think that the Senate should vote on President Trump's Supreme Court nominee before Election Day?

Trump Announces Offshore Drilling Moratorium

This week, President Trump announced that the federal government was imposing a 10-year moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas exploration off of the Southeastern U.S. coast.

 

The areas covered by the president’s order include the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico around Florida, as well as the Atlantic coastal areas of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Gulf of Mexico already had an oil and gas drilling moratorium in place, but that was set to expire in 2022. This order extends that moratorium for 10 years and expands it to cover the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.

 

This move is a reversal from previous Trump Administration policy. The president had supported opening more offshore areas to oil and gas production. Such production is currently allowed in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico as well as parts of Alaska. In 2017, the administration announced it wanted expanded drilling, including around Florida. 

 

Supporters of this moratorium argue that it is necessary to protect the tourist industries of these areas as well as the environment. They also contend that the U.S. should be transitioning to the use of renewable energy, not fossil fuels. Opponents of placing these areas off-limits to oil and gas production contend that such energy exploration is already being done safely elsewhere, so it can be done safely here. They also note that this type of energy production would create jobs for coastal communities as well as generate significant government revenue.

 

Do you support a moratorium on oil and gas production off of the Atlantic Coast?

Rule Change Would Allow More Water from Showerheads

President Trump has been a vocal critic of federal regulations restricting how much water can flow from showerheads. Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a new rule that would effectively remove restrictions on showerhead flow.

 

During the Obama Administration, the EPA implemented regulations that limit the showerhead flow to 2.5 gallons per minute. Some critics of this rule, including President Trump, say that this is not enough water for people who are taking showers. While intended to reduce water usage, these critics argue that it actually leads to more water being wasted as people take longer showers.

 

This new proposal from the EPA reclassifies some shower parts, which would allow manufacturers to bypass the 2.5-gallon limit. This will result in more water flowing through showerheads, something that President Trump has long supported.

 

Others, however, say that this move by the EPA is unnecessary and counterproductive. They argue that there is no evidence that lower water flows from showerheads affects people negatively. They also note that in many areas these low-flow showerheads are a vital part of water conservation efforts. They have vowed to fight the EPA in court to reverse this action.

 

Do you support changing federal regulations to allow more water to flow from showerheads?

Trump Issues Coronavirus Executive Orders

With Congress and White House negotiators unable to agree on a new coronavirus relief bill, President Trump issued four executive orders late last week aimed at achieving some of his key goals.

 

These executive orders would, among other things,

  • Delay the collection of the payroll tax for workers who make less than $104,000 a year
  • Extend the extra unemployment benefit of $400 per week (this will last until December 6 or until funding is gone)
  • Require states to pay up to 25% of extra unemployment benefits
  • Allow student loan recipients to defer payment through the end of the year, and waive all interest on federal loans through December 31

 

In addition, one of the president's orders requires the federal government to consider whether more actions should be taken to stop evictions as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

 

The president said these orders were necessary to protect Americans who were suffering because Congress would not act. However, he quickly faced criticism that he was acting in ways that were not authorized by the Constitution. Many pointed out that prior to taking office, he had criticized then-President Barack Obama for acting in the same way. Some legal experts contend that the president does not have the authority to take these measures, since only Congress can authorize federal spending.

 

In March, Congress had passed legislation that provided additional unemployment payments, but these payments ran out in late July. Members of Congress and the Trump Administration had been meeting to craft a new legislative package in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, neither side could agree on a suitable compromise. It is unclear how the president's actions will affect attempts to come to an agreement. The fate of these executive orders will likely be decided by federal courts.

 

Do you support Presidents Trump's executive orders that, among other things, provided an additional unemployment payment?

Trump Floats Idea of Delaying Election

President Trump has consistently been expressing his view that lack of in-person voting will reduce the integrity of this year's election. This morning, he suggested a way to deal with these fears: delaying the election.

 

In a tweet, he wrote: 

 

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

 

For presidential electors, the Constitution states: "The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." The Constitution also gives Congress the power to set election procedures for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. During the early history of the republic, there was no uniform Election Day. But by 1854, Congress stepped in and fixed the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the day when voters choose presidential electors and members of the House and Senate.

 

While the Constitution does not mandate any specific day for Election Day, it does mandate that presidents must be inaugurated on January 20. Any election would have to be conducted prior to then, giving enough time for presidential electors to meet, cast their votes, then have those votes counted by Congress. Current law requires that electoral votes be counted during a joint session of Congress during the first week of January.

 

While President Trump may be open to the idea of delaying the election, he has no power to do this unilaterally. Only Congress can pass a law to set Election Day, and obtaining enough votes to do so is unlikely. In the event Congress did, any delay could not be for a significant period of time, since the new president must take office on January 20.

 

Do you think that this year's elections should be delayed?

Trump Pushing for Coronavirus-Related Payroll Tax Cut

With another coronavirus relief bill likely to move through the House and Senate in August, members of Congress are considering what should be in such legislation. President Trump wants it to have a payroll tax cut.

 

The desire for a payroll tax cut has been a consistent theme with President Trump. When the initial economic effects of the coronavirus began to become apparent in March, he suggested the same thing. Congress has not included it, however.

 

In a statement this week, a White House spokesman said:

 

As he has done since the beginning of this pandemic, President Trump wants to provide relief to hardworking Americans who have been impacted by this virus and one way of doing that is with a payroll tax holiday. He’s called on Congress to pass this before and he believes it must be part of any phase four package.

 

Payroll taxes are levied on income to pay for Medicare and Social Security. Cutting these taxes would affect every worker, especially those with lower incomes. An income tax cut mainly benefits higher-income workers, since lower incomes are not subject to the tax. Payroll taxes, on the other hand, are levied on the first dollar of income, and are capped for higher-income workers.

 

Since 2009, there have been other payroll tax cuts that have been aimed at stimulating the economy. Some economists argue that since they affect lower-income workers, they provide money to go back into the economy more quickly. Others argue that there are more effective ways to stimulate the economy, such as direct payments to individuals. Some critics are also concerned about the long-term effect of cutting payroll taxes on Medicare and Social Security.

 

Do you think the new coronavirus relief bill should include a payroll tax cut?

Trump Revises Federal Environmental Reviews

President Trump has long complained that federal regulations make it difficult to build big infrastructure projects in a timely manner. This week, his administration is taking steps to revise federal environmental rules to speed up infrastructure construction.

 

The changes concern the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which mandates an environmental review for large infrastructure projects. Critics say this process is often too complex and costly, and that it takes far too long. They have urged the federal government to streamline environmental reviews and assessments in order to make it easier to construct infrastructure.

 

The Trump Administration has finalized revisions to NEPA that will exclude some projects from mandatory reviews, narrow the scope of the reviews in ways that will likely end consideration of climate change, and place a time limit on these reviews.

 

Environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers blasted the rule change as a giveaway to industry at the expense of the environment. They also claimed that this will hurt minorities, since they are disproportionately affected by construction of large infrastructure projects.

 

Do you support streamlining the environmental reviews required for major construction projects?

Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Claim of Immunity on Tax Records

President Trump has claimed that he has absolute immunity from criminal investigation while in office. Today, the Supreme Court said that was not the case.

 

In a 7-2 decision, the high court ruled that the president could not block subpoenas for his financial information. New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance is seeking his tax records to look into whether Trump violated New York law when paying money to two women who claim he had sex with them. Vance wants to present this evidence to a grand jury to consider criminal charges against Trump.

 

The president and his lawyers argued that these records should not turned over to the district attorney while Trump is in office. Their claim was that the president has a broad grant of immunity to criminal investigations, and violating this would open him up to politically-motivated prosecution.

 

Seven Supreme Court justices disagreed, however. They pointed out that no one is above the law, including the president, and shielding him from investigation would go against centuries of precedent. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

 

President Trump said that this decision was political and that he was being unfairly targeted. District Attorney Vance called it a victory for justice.

 

Do you think the president should be immune from criminal investigations?

Trump Restricts Immigrant Work Visas

Earlier this year, President Trump said that the coronavirus made it necessary to halt much of the immigration coming into the United States. This week, he extended and expanded that immigration ban.

 

This move affects a variety of visas that foreign workers use to come into the U.S. and fill jobs. In March, the President issued a temporary suspension of some of these work visas as a part of his coronavirus response policy. He said it was necessary to protect the U.S. from the coronavirus and to help American workers.

 

This week’s action extends this suspension until the end of the year. It also adds more worker categories to the suspension, including high-tech workers.

 

Even before being elected president, Trump was a critic of immigration. Since he has taken office, Trump has pursued policies to limit legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration. The current restrictions fit within his broader framework of reducing the number of people coming into the U.S.

 

Critics of this action say it has nothing to do with helping American workers. They note that this are jobs that are filled by workers with specific skills, and that they require companies to attempt to hire U.S. workers prior to hiring any foreign employees. These critics allege that President Trump is using the coronavirus crisis to advance his anti-immigration agenda.

 

Do you support suspending some immigrant work visas for the rest of the year?

Trump, Pentagon Clash on Insurrection Act

President Trump is frustrated that rioting and looting continue across the U.S. To stop it, he has threatened to use the U.S. military to restore order. This has prompted his Defense Secretary to issue a public disagreement with his boss.

 

This week, President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden and said, ““If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

 

Federal law prohibits the use of active duty military personnel within the United States except in rare instances. One of the exceptions comes from the Insurrection Act, which permits troops to be used in the case of insurrections or rebellions. Presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower and George W. Bush have used this law to deal with riots.

 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper disagrees that the current situation warrants the use of the act, however. He said that invoking the Insurrection Act should be done as a “last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.” He then said that the situation right now does not meet those criteria.

 

The governors and mayors targeted by Trump’s words also reject the need to call in the military. They say that armed troops will only make the situation worse. They prefer to be left alone to handle any rioting and looting their own way, without having the president override their decisions.

 

Do you think that President Trump should activate the military to deal with rioting?

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