Transportation Secretary Buttigieg argues for Biden relief plan
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made the case for President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package during an interview Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“Each passing day the need for relief becomes more urgent, ensuring that we have the resources to defeat this virus, but also to support American working families,” he said, arguing that the sentiment also had broad appeal among Republicans outside of Washington. He added his hope that such support “will also show up among Republican legislators here in Washington, but of course, that’s what the next few days will show.”
While Buttigieg acknowledged that the administration might have to negotiate within the Democratic caucus over the threshold of eligibility for direct stimulus checks to Americans, the “bottom line is we’ve got to support as many Americans as we can as robustly as we can, and as quickly as we can. Time is of the essence,” he said.
“And part of what was a real struggle the last time we faced a major economic challenge in 2009, was a sense that there needed to – if there had been more political will in Washington to do more, the economy might have recovered more quickly,” Buttigieg said.
The secretary also discussed the need to build American infrastructure during the interview, contending that “we also have a historic moment on our hands where we’ve realized just how critical these needs are. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.” He noted the favorable environment governments have right now to finance large works like infrastructure projects.
On whether Congress, especially congressional Republicans would cooperate on such a package, Buttigieg said, “the Congress has many constitutional duties. Those duties all run at the same time as each other but delivering on infrastructure for the American people is certainly part of that responsibility.”
– Matthew Brown
Yellen: Full employment expected by 2022 if Biden relief plan passed
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicts that President Joe Biden’s proposed COVID-19 relief package will put the American economy back at full employment by 2022.
“I would expect that if this package is passed, we would get back to full employment next year,” Yellen told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The prediction comes as congressional Democrats and the White House prepare to pass much of Biden’s proposed plan through budget reconciliation, a process that allows Democrats to bypass the Senate’s filibuster rule and enact policies that only affect budgetary issues, like taxes and spending.
Yellen, like most Democrats in Washington, is arguing for a larger stimulus package to address the myriad economic and public health issues that she contends can only be addressed by federal intervention. “Our country is hurting right now, but we know what we need to do to help,” Yellen tweeted Thursday.
Citing analyses from the Congressional Budget Office, a non-nonpartisan government think tank, Yellen told CNN that “if we don’t provide additional support the unemployment rate is going to stay elevated for years to come.”
Most economists expect that, if current trends hold, the U.S. economy will return to full employment in 2024 or 2025. Yellen’s economic outlook is more optimistic based on the prediction that Biden’s relief package will buoy hurting sectors of the economy and speed vaccine rollout, which will allow the country to reopen.
Yellen, the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, is a well-respected economist among liberals and conservatives in the field. Recently, Yellen joined Biden and Democratic senators to discuss the best economic policies to address the ongoing economic crisis. She also attended a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss relief for Black businesses with the Black Chambers of Commerce.
– Matthew Brown
Arizona Senate threatens contempt charge for Maricopa County officials over election audit
PHOENIX – A feud between the Arizona Senate and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors over lawmakers’ insistence that the county perform another hand count of 2020 general election results has escalated in the past few weeks.
Now, the state Senate might take it even further.
The Arizona Senate, controlled by Republicans, has threatened to hold the supervisors, nearly all Republicans, in contempt for not responding to subpoenas asking for copies of all the county’s mail-in ballots and access to voting machines. The Senate wants to perform its own audit.
Some senators have even threatened to arrest the supervisors over the matter, and the body could vote on the contempt resolution as early as Monday.
If the lawmakers go ahead with this, it could be a first in Arizona history. No legislator interviewed could remember the Senate ever passing such a resolution.
State law requires counties to do two types of audits after an election: a hand count of ballots and a logic and accuracy test of voting machines.
For the hand count, the county examined ballots from 2% of vote centers, as well as 5,000 early ballots, and found that the county’s voting machines counted the ballots with 100% accuracy. Political parties appointed representatives to select which vote centers to audit, and they helped perform the hand count.
The logic and accuracy test also found that machines operated without error.
The Senate wants a more thorough hand count of ballots. And they want to do it themselves – or to choose who will.
In December, Senate Republicans issued two subpoenas to the supervisors that demanded images of every mail-in ballot, access to voting machines and software, and voter information, such as voter addresses, birth dates and party affiliation.
Instead of responding to the subpoenas, the supervisors filed a lawsuit Dec. 18 in Maricopa County Superior Court asking a judge to decide whether they should provide the information.
The county argued, in part, that the subpoenas violate Arizona laws regarding ballot secrecy and access to ballots.
– Jen Fifield and Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic
Rep. Liz Cheney censured by Wyoming GOP
The Wyoming Republican Party voted to censure Rep. Liz Cheney Saturday for her vote last month to impeach then-President Donald Trump.
The vote to censure Cheney – first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune – comes days after House Republicans voted down an effort to remove Cheney from her leadership post over her impeachment vote.
In a statement Saturday responding to her censure, Cheney said that her vote to impeach trump “was compelled by the oath I swore to the Constitution.”
“I will always fight for Wyoming values and stand up for our Western way of life,” she continued. “We have great challenges ahead of us as we move forward and combat the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration.”
Cheney is one of several congressional Republicans who have been censured by their state GOP committee. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., was censured by the Nebraska Republican Party State Central Committee Thursday due to his severe criticism of Trump.
The state GOP called on Cheney to “immediately” resign in their motion of censure. They also said that they intend to “withhold any future political funding” and asked that she repay her 2020 campaign donations.
The Arizona Republican Party censured Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain in January.
Ducey was censured because he imposed emergency COVID rules that the party said restricted personal freedoms and forced people to comply with unconstitutional orders.
The GOP censured Flake because it said he condemned the Republican party and “rejected populism.”
McCain, who along with Flake endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 election, was accused of supporting “globalist policies and candidates.”
– Sarah Elbeshbishi