It’s about time for Congress to pay its interns a fair wage – it could help introduce some much-needed diversity on the Hill

congressional interns
Congressional interns wait in line before a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

  • In March, Sens. Cory Booker and Tim Scott introduced a bipartisan bill that would create a paid internship program at the US Department of State.
  • Unpaid internships limit the pool of applicants who can afford to gain this valuable experience.
  • Creating paid government internship programs will increase socioeconomic diversity in American leadership.
  • Amanda Silberling is a writer and activist based in Philadelphia.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Currently, there is no legislation mandating that government interns receive pay. But there should be. Paying federal interns a fair wage is not only the right thing to do, but it could also diversify the halls of government.

While Congress recently started paying interns, the caps on pay are still low compared to the cost of living in the nation’s capital, preventing many students from applying.Last summer, Rep. Tony Cárdenas pointed out that there are 1,110 senior staff positions on Capitol Hill, but only 152 people in those positions are Black, indigineous, people of color (BIPOC). This is a systemic problem that starts when our government limits who can afford to intern on the Hill.

And the issue isn’t just limited to Congress, many other parts of the government are lacking when it comes to intern pay. In March, Sens. Cory Booker and Tim Scott introduced the Department of State Student Internship Program Act, a bipartisan bill that would pay State Department interns a minimum wage. Students would also be provided housing and money for travel if they don’t live within 50 miles of their workplace. This is incredibly promising, yet long overdue.

In a press release to introduce the legislation, Sen. Booker’s office wrote that “for years, the State Department has struggled to recruit people of color.” A primary goal for this paid internship program is to make government hiring more equitable, and that starts from the most junior positions.

Barrier of entry

“At intern mixers, it was overwhelmingly white, and overwhelmingly people who went to DC schools,” remembers Chris Bohórquez, who was an unpaid intern for Rep. Bill Pascrell in 2015. “It was the same kind of experience that I had [as a student at George Washington University], that it was traditionally white, traditionally affluent, and I was very much in the minority of every environment I was in.”

An internship in government is the first step toward a career in public service. While congressional internships offer stipends capped at $1,800 a month, other internships in the federal government only offer college credit. Still, a recent report by Pay Our Interns found that the average total stipend per intern was $1,986.75 in the Senate and $1,612.53 in the House, which isn’t a living wage for multiple months of work. Plus, even though more congressional interns are receiving pay, over 76% of those interns are white, revealing that congressional internship classes are still lacking in diversity. Offering hourly wages, housing, and targeted outreach to underrepresented students could help change that.

Paid or unpaid, the low amounts of support make internships impossible for many students – especially those without familial wealth, who need to earn a reliable paycheck to afford rent, food, and tuition.

A 2018 study from Georgetown University found that eight out of 10 students now work a job while they’re in college. But low-income students are more likely to work paid jobs in retail or customer service, rather than unpaid internships like those offered in DC. By graduation, students who lack industry-specific skills they would’ve gained in an unpaid internship are less competitive applicants for entry-level government jobs.

After paying for housing, food, and transportation, internships can cost interns about $6,000. When employers offer college credit in exchange for their unpaid interns’ service, it can actually worsen the financial strain of working for free. After all, tuition is expensive, and those extra credits cost money. But as the job market becomes more and more competitive, internships are essential to getting a foot in the door, especially in politics.

To afford his unpaid internship, Bohórquez saved money from his work-study job. Then, he arranged all of his classes to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that he could intern from 9 to 5 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

“That was the culture and expectation, that in order to get a good job out of college, you had to bust your butt working unpaid internships,” said Bohórquez. “As a first-generation student, I assumed this was normal.”

Now, Bohórquez runs the paid internship program at Invariant, a public affairs firm in DC.

All students deserve compensation for their labor, yet in government, the lack of legislation to guarantee interns’ pay is particularly disturbing. In order for our government to adequately serve the needs of the American people, we need diverse representation in positions of power. The Department of State Student Internship Program Act would be an invaluable start toward leveling the economic playing field, but we need to extend the precedent for paying interns to all government offices.

In 2018, the nonprofit Pay Our Interns worked with bipartisan legislators to secure $13.8 million in funding for interns in the Senate and the House. Despite these massive steps forward, many internships remain unpaid. Pay Our Interns advised Sens. Booker and Scott on their bill, which is a companion to legislation that Representative Joaquin Castro introduced in the House.

Carlos Mark Vera, the Executive Director of Pay Our Interns, says that per the State Department bill, agencies will be required to do intentional outreach to minority-serving institutions and report who their internship programs served.

“Because of COVID-19, this is more timely and necessary than ever,” Vera says. “Last year, summer jobs and internships were wiped away. We’re losing a whole generation.”

One of the most common arguments against creating paid internship programs is that government budgets are already stretched too thin. When hundreds of qualified applicants apply for existing unpaid roles, there’s little incentive to change anything. But promoting equity and diversity in all levels of government should be incentive enough.

“I think it’s a priority and values issue more than [a] money [issue]. The Department of Education spent over $8 million just on a security detail for former Secretary Betsy DeVos,” says Vera. “So don’t tell me, you know, there isn’t $3 or $4 million there to pay interns. It simply is not the case.”

If only the most wealthy, privileged students can intern on the Hill without significant stain, then our government will continue to fail to reflect the diversity of our country.

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AT&T and Cigna are funding Republican groups led by election objectors they had promised to stop supporting

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • AT&T and Cigna gave money to groups run by the GOP election objectors they pledged to stop supporting, Popular Information reported.
  • Some companies paused certain PAC contributions after GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence.
  • Here’s how much each S&P 500 corporate PAC had given – and if they’ve paused or resumed contributions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

AT&T and Cigna both gave money last month to groups overseen by Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US presidential election results in January, despite earlier promises to pause support for those lawmakers, Popular Information’s Jedd Legum reported Friday.

After violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the GOP’s last-ditch effort to invalidate states’ Electoral College results, companies faced intense public criticism over their financial support of the 147 Republican members of Congress who backed the effort.

Amid the backlash, dozens of major corporations said they would pause contributions and reevaluate how they determine which lawmakers to support.

Yet barely a month later, AT&T and Cigna gave contributions to Republican groups led by – and benefitting – those same lawmakers.

AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contributions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the House Conservative Fund in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the fund’s executive committee – while other objectors are among its membership.

“Our employee PACs continue to adhere to their policy adopted on January 11 of suspending contributions to campaign committees of members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes. Our employee PACs did not adopt a policy to halt contributions to Democratic and Republican multi-candidate PACs, however,” an AT&T spokesperson told Insider in a statement.

They added that while the contribution “was not intended to circumvent the current suspension policy regarding individual campaigns,” the PAC “is requesting that none of its contribution to the House Conservative Fund or to any other multi-candidate PAC go to any member of congress who objected to the Electoral College votes.”

“Going forward, our employee PACs will begin reviewing all multi-candidate PAC contributions for consistency with the policy on individual campaign contributions,” the spokesperson said.

Insider could not immediately confirm whether AT&T’s PAC was aware of Rep. Johnson’s connection to the House Conservative Fund when it made the contribution or when the PAC requested that the funds not benefit him or other objectors.

Cigna, which had said it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” continued that support just 22 days later by giving $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Legum reported. The NRSC is chaired by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, another election objector.

Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Political Action Committees backed by S&P 500 companies gave more than $23 million to the 147 GOP election objectors during the most recent campaign cycles (2020 for House members; 2016 and 2018 for senators), according to an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Critics, from activists to shareholders to other executives, have argued the contributions helped those lawmakers get elected and stay in power, giving them the platform they used to undermine voters’ faith in the election (which Trump’s former top cybersecurity official called “the most secure in American history“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

Following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.

Companies’ commitments varied widely, however.

Few have permanently blacklisted election objectors, and as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the largest contributions typically happen right before, not after elections, leaving the door open for companies to resume their support once the public’s attention has turned elsewhere – an argument bolstered by AT&T and Cigna’s recent contributions.

Other companies paused all PAC contributions, potentially allowing them to benefit from the positive PR without having to explicitly condemn – or risk alienating – more than half of the Republicans in Congress.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

Here’s a list of the S&P 500 companies – some of the largest and most influential businesses in the US – how much they gave to the 147 election objectors in the latest election cycles through their corporate PACs, and whether they’ve pulled (or resumed) their support.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that AT&T’s employee PAC had violated its policy, announced January 11, that it would “suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes,” by giving to a multi-candidate fund that includes such members. AT&T’s PAC did not adopt a policy to suspend contributions to multi-candidate groups, a spokesperson said.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

AT&T, Cigna abandon promises to stop financing Republicans who voted to overturn the election

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • AT&T and Cigna have resumed funding GOP election objectors, Popular Information reported Friday.
  • Some companies paused PAC contributions after GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence.
  • Here’s how much each S&P 500 corporate PAC had given – and if they’ve paused or resumed contributions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

AT&T and Cigna both gave money last month to groups overseen by Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US presidential election results in January, contradicting the companies’ earlier promises, Popular Information’s Jedd Legum reported Friday.

After violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the GOP’s last-ditch effort to invalidate states’ Electoral College results, companies faced intense public criticism over their financial support of the 147 Republican members of Congress who backed the effort.

Amid the backlash, dozens of major corporations said they would pause contributions and reevaluate how they determine which lawmakers to support.

Yet barely a month later, AT&T and Cigna have apparently determined that some of those lawmakers are once again deserving of support.

AT&T and Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contibutions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the Republican Study Committee in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the RSC’s executive committee.

Cigna, which had said it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” continued that support just 22 days later by giving $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Legum reported. The NRSC is chaired by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, another election objector.

Political Action Committees backed by S&P 500 companies gave more than $23 million to the 147 GOP election objectors during the most recent campaign cycles (2020 for House members; 2016 and 2018 for senators), according to an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Critics, from activists to shareholders to other executives, have argued the contributions helped those lawmakers get elected and stay in power, giving them the platform they used to undermine voters’ faith in the election (which Trump’s former top cybersecurity official called “the most secure in American history“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

Following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.

Companies’ commitments varied widely, however.

Few have permanently blacklisted election objectors, and as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the largest contributions typically happen right before, not after elections, leaving the door open for companies to resume their support once the public’s attention has turned elsewhere – an argument bolstered by AT&T and Cigna’s recent contributions.

Other companies paused all PAC contributions, potentially allowing them to benefit from the positive PR without having to explicitly condemn – or risk alienating – more than half of the Republicans in Congress.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

Here’s a list of the S&P 500 companies – some of the largest and most influential businesses in the US – how much they gave to the 147 election objectors in the latest election cycles through their corporate PACs, and whether they’ve pulled (or resumed) their support.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Italian-Jewish US lawmaker said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene could ‘get lost’ after she referred to him as ‘Rep. Mussolini’

David Cicilline
US Rep. David Cicilline, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, speaks during the big tech antitrust hearing on in Washington, DC on July 29, 2020.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called a Rhode Island lawmaker who is Italian and Jewish, “Rep. Mussolini.”
  • Greene directed the comment toward Rep. David Cicilline after he said he wanted Greene to stop delaying House votes.
  • Cicilline responded by denouncing Mussolini and saying Greene “can get lost.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island hit back at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after she referred to him as “Rep. Mussolini,” a reference to the Italian fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

Cicilline, a Democrat, tweeted a response Wednesday, denouncing Mussolini as well as Greene.

“Mussolini was a fascist dictator in league with Adolf Hitler, who murdered six million Jews,” Cicilline said. “Marjorie Taylor Greene can get lost.”

Greene’s reference to Mussolini came in response to Cicilline telling reporters he would propose a rule change to stop the Georgia Republican from delaying votes in the House simply because she didn’t like a bill. The chamber passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package on Wednesday, with every Republican opposing the bill.

Greene tried to delay the bill’s passage by making a motion to adjourn, which would have required every lawmaker to come to the floor and vote on whether to remain in session. All Democrats and 40 Republicans voted against her motion, so the adjournment did not take place, but her attempt delayed the House proceedings for about an hour.

It is not the first time Greene has used such tactics to put off voting on legislation she does not support.

Cicilline said after the Wednesday incident he wanted to stop Greene from doing so by proposing a rule change that would only allow members on a committee to motion to adjourn, Newsweek reported.

When asked about Cicilline’s plan, Greene referred to the congressman as the Italian dictator.

“Do you mean Rep. Mussolini? Not only did Democrats unilaterally strip away my committees, now they want to remove any powers I have to represent my district,” Greene told Newsweek. “The Democrats run the House of Hypocrites with tyrannical control.”

Greene was stripped of her committee assignments last month after reports revealed she had expressed public support online for violence against Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Not a single Republican in either chamber of Congress voted for Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package

GettyImages mitch mcconnell
  • No Congressional Republican voted in favor of the Biden rescue plan.
  • The vote reflects the widening gulf between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
  • It may signal early difficulties for Biden if he moves to attract GOP support for legislative proposals in 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Not a single Republican lawmaker in either chamber voted in favor of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic aid package, reflecting their fierce opposition to an early Democratic legislative priority.

The House voted 220-211 to approve the relief package in mostly party-line vote. The legislation encountered a brick wall of GOP opposition as every House Republican opposed it. Only one Democrat voted against it.

The bill’s path through the House and Senate starkly illustrates the widening gulf between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Nearly a decade ago, President Barack Obama pushed through an $800 billion stimulus package aimed at preventing the freefall of the American economy after the financial crisis.

That measure drew some GOP support. Every House Republican voted against the bill in February 2009. However, it garnered the support of three Republican senators in the upper chamber as Democrats at the time pressed to keep the bill’s price tag in check.

Still, right-leaning experts argue now that Republicans were cut out of the negotiating process by Biden along with Congressional Democrats. Biden rejected a $618 billion stimulus counteroffer put forward by a group of 10 Senate Republicans in February.

“They were completely ignored,” Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute, said in an interview. “Democrats put out a $1.9 trillion bill barely moved an inch and there was no attempt at compromise.”

He added: “Republicans are more concerned about drawing a line in the sand, and spending money more smartly in the recession.”

Others say that Republicans are less willing to negotiate a middle ground with Democrats.

“It’s the latest indication of how polarized the Republican Party has become, despite the fact it’s overwhelmingly popular with the American people,” Jim Manley, a former senior Democratic aide, told Insider. “They were prepared to vote no.”

Democrats pushed through the legislation using a maneuver known as budget reconciliation. It allows bills to be approved in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of crossing a 60-vote threshold.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The White House says a ‘large number’ of Americans will receive $1,400 stimulus checks by the end of March

white house press secretary jen psaki
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.

  • The White House says many Americans can expect to get a $1,400 stimulus check this month.
  • Individuals earning below $75,000 annually can receive the full amount.
  • Under the last stimulus bill, the IRS distributed 147 million checks in two months.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The White House said on Monday that many Americans could expect to get a $1,400 stimulus check within a few weeks.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the Biden administration was aiming to distribute a significant number of checks this month.

“We expect a large number of Americans to receive relief by the end of the month,” she said, later adding that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was “focused like a laser” on getting checks out the door this month.

House Democrats are on course to approve a $1.9 trillion relief bill as soon as Tuesday. It contains direct payments in addition to other provisions such as $350 billion in aid to states, $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits, and a large expansion of the child tax credit.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 can receive the $1,400 check. Couples making up to $150,000 also qualify for the full amount.

Households above both those income thresholds could get a smaller amount, but eligibility is capped at individuals earning above $80,000 and couples making more than $160,000. Biden authorized lowering the eligibility thresholds last week after a push from moderate Senate Democrats.

Still, the vast majority of Americans would be eligible to get a direct payment. The left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that the legislation would benefit 86% of adults and 85% of children.

It would be the third wave of one-time checks that the federal government has authorized during the pandemic. Congress early last year approved $1,200 stimulus checks, most of which the IRS sent within a month.

Lawmakers approved sending $600 relief checks as part of a pandemic aid package in December. The IRS sent 147 million payments to eligible taxpayers it had on file in less than two months.

People who did not receive a check in either round can file to get one in their 2020 tax return.

Read the original article on Business Insider

AOC, Ilhan Omar, and other progressives continue criticism of Senate’s modified $1.9 trillion stimulus package

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar this weekend pointed out what they saw as shortcomings in the Senate’s revised COVID-19 relief bill, including the removal of a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. 

The $1.9 trillion package approved by the Senate on Saturday would provide essential aid, but didn’t go far enough, they said. 

“We remain extremely disappointed that the minimum wage bill was not included. The minimum wage remains essential policy and we must deliver on this issue,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement.

Omar said the bill as modified by the Senate offered aid to fewer Americans than the package signed by President Donald Trump in December. 

“This is not the promise that we made. This is not why we are given the opportunity to be in the majority in the Senate and have the White House,” Omar said on CNN

Ilhan Omar
Representative Ilhan Omar.

She added: “And so ultimately it is a failure when we compromise ourselves out of delivering on behalf of the American people and keeping our promises.”

Omar and Ocasio-Cortez also retweeted a thread from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, in which the lawmaker questioned whether she could still support the bill when it returned to the House for a vote. 

“It seems there’s never a ceiling for the rich when they want a tax cut. And never a floor for the poor when they need help,” Watson Coleman wrote on Twitter

House leadership scheduled a vote on the Senate bill for Tuesday, with a plan to send it to President Joe Biden before unemployment benefits for millions expire on March 14

 “The House now hopes to have a bipartisan vote on this life-saving legislation and urges Republicans to join us in recognition of the devastating reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis and of the need for decisive action,” Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, said in a statement

In the days before Saturday’s Senate vote, progressives in both chambers had decried the removal of minimum wage increases in the bill. 

Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday made a last-ditch effort to include a $15 minimum wage amendment, which was rejected by his Senate colleagues. Sanders still called the bill “the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country.” 

Eight Democratic senators voted against Sanders’ amendment. 

On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez asked her followers to imagine “having the ganas to go home and ask minimum wage workers to support you after going back on your own documented stance to help crush their biggest chance at a wage hike during their longest drought of wage increases since the law’s very inception.”

She added: “Sin vergüenza,” which translates as “without shame.”

 

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The House passed a police reform bill named for George Floyd that would ban choke holds and ‘qualified immunity’ for officers

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators march from the U.S. Capitol Building during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo
Protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington DC.

  • The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act late Wednesday.
  • The bill would be the most ambitious police reform passed in the US in decades.
  • The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it needs at least 10 GOP votes to become law.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The US House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act late Wednesday, in a party-line vote on the most ambitious policing reform bill in decades.

The bill is named for George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed in May of last year when a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, prompting a summer of racial justice protests nationwide.

The legislation would ban the use of neck restraints at the federal level, get rid of “qualified immunity” for police officers, and prohibit no-knock warrants in federal drug cases.

Under current law, qualified immunity prevents public officials from being held personally liable for wrongdoing that occurs while on the job, making it difficult to sue police officers. Democrats tried to get rid of it last year, saying doing so would make it easier for police officers to be held accountable for misconduct.

The latest reform bill was passed after President Joe Biden indicated support for it on Twitter and in a statement on Monday. 

“To make our communities safer, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments,” the statement said.

House Democrats tried to pass a version of the bill last year but were blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes in order for it to become law.

Some Republicans have said the bill would make it harder for police to do their jobs. On the House floor Wednesday, GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said the bill would “weaken and possibly destroy our community’s police forces,” NPR reported.

But Rep. Karen Bass, who introduced the latest legislation, said she believes lawmakers will work together to pass the bill in the Senate, NBC reported. “Many of our Republican colleagues said they thought they could get to yes on this, but they had some difficulties,” Bass said of last year’s bill.

The bill also outlaws racial profiling, establishes a national registry of police misconduct, and requires state and local agencies to report use of force data by categories that includes race, sex, and religion.

Read the original article on Business Insider

House Democrats pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, sending it to the Senate as minimum wage fight looms

nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen during a press conference on January 21, 2021.

House Democrats approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion emergency spending package in a 219-212 vote early on Saturday morning, sending the legislation to the Senate as lawmakers rushed to head off the expiration of enhanced unemployment insurance in mid-March.

The stimulus plan cleared the chamber with Republicans unified in their resistance. Two Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against the legislation.

The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for taxpayers, $400 in federal unemployment benefits, aid to state and local governments, and vaccine funds. Democrats say it will form a critical pillar in the nation’s fight against the pandemic and the economic malaise it has caused.

“The sooner we pass the bill and it is signed, the sooner we can make the progress that this legislation is all about – saving the lives and the livelihood of the American people,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Friday.

But Republicans lambasted the proposal, arguing many of its provisions are unrelated to the pandemic. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy of Texas said at a news conference the legislation 

“We already know what is the best stimulus plan out there: It is to fully reopen our economy,” he said. “To do that, we need our economy to go back to work, back to school and back to health.”

Senate Democrats will take up the legislation next week, and they’re rushing to enact it before the expiration of enhanced unemployment insurance in mid-March. But they face difficult decisions that could spark some clashes.

The House bill includes a $15 minimum wage, but the Senate parliamentarian ordered it struck from the plan on Thursday evening. The recommendation meant the provision, a key progressive priority, violates the strict reconciliation guidelines under which Democrats are seeking to pass the bill with 51 votes in the Senate.

Senior Democrats, including Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are coalescing behind a backup plan along with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Their proposal would levy a tax penalty on large businesses who don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour.

Small businesses would be provided tax credits equivalent of up to 25% of their payrolls if they lifted workers’ wages. Some business groups like the Chamber of Commerce say they oppose the measure.

“Enough political games,” Neal Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber of Commerce, tweeted on Friday. “The business community believes a deal can be reached on a fair min wage increase. R and D members saying the same. It is time for Sen. Sanders & others to focus on a reasonable compromise.”

Some progressives in the House urged Democrats to deliver on campaign promises of a wage hike.

“I don’t think we can go back to voters and say, ‘Look, I know Republicans, Democrats, independents support this, we promised it, but because of an unelected parliamentarian who gave us a ruling, we couldn’t do it,'” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters. “Nobody is going to buy that.”

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What happened last week? The Senate held Trump’s second impeachment trial, acquitting the former president.

Capitol Building Sun Monday February 8 2021.JPG
The sun rises on Monday over the US Capitol ahead of Trump’s second impeachment trial.

What happened last week?

House impeachment managers last week brought their case against former President Donald Trump to the Senate for a five-day trial. Trump was charged with incitement of insurrection related to the deadly event at the Capitol on January 6. Trump was acquitted on Saturday. 

Monday

former President Donal Trump on the Golf Course.JPG
Trump at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on Monday.

Trump was photographed playing golf in Florida on Monday, as House impeachment managers prepared their case against him in Washington. 

Over the weekend, a top conservative lawyer had dismissed Republican arguments against Trump’s impeachment. Republican senator Ron Johnson, speaking on Fox News on Sunday, suggested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bore responsibility for the Capitol riot.  

In a pretrial brief submitted Monday, lawyers representing Trump argued that his January 6 rally speech “was not and could not be construed to encourage acts of violence.” 

Read more: Inside Democrats’ plans to make sure there’s no Trump 2.0

Tuesday

House impeachement manager David Cicilline of Rhode Island.JPG
House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline on Tuesday talks to reporters after the Senate voted to proceed with the trial.

As the impeachment trial began on Tuesday, 56 senators – including six Republicans – voted that the trial was constitutional. The House impeachment managers set the tone for the trial with a graphic video syncing up Trump’s January 6 rally speech with the march on the Capitol. 

After Trump’s defense lawyers made their opening statements, CNN reported that Trump was “borderline screaming” and “deeply unhappy.” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, said the defense needed changes, The Associated Press reported.  

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he wasn’t watching the trial. “I have a job,” he told reporters. 

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday reportedly said he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of voting to convict Trump. 

Wednesday

Delagate Stacy Plaskett of the Virgin Island House impeachment manager.JPG
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, a House impeachment manager, on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.

On the second day of Trump’s second impeachment trial, House impeachment managers began their oral arguments and shared chilling videos of violence and close calls during the Capitol siege. Some of the footage suggested the rioters were looking for Pelosi and vice president, Mike Pence. 

“The mob was looking for Vice President Pence because of his patriotism because the vice president had refused to do what the president demand, and overturn the election results,” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett. 

Read more: Meet the little-known power player with the ‘hardest job’ on Capitol Hill. She’s shaping Trump’s impeachment trial and Biden’s agenda.

Trump’s tweets, speeches, and statements were focal points, but the former president didn’t testify. Trump reportedly was unmoved and mocked Democrats as they laid out their case against him on Wednesday. 

House impeachment managers also showed footage of Officer Eugene Goodman urging Senator Mitt Romney to turn around and get to safety. 

Thursday

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David Schoen and Bruce Castor, lawyers for Trump, walk in the Senate Reception Room of the Capitol during third day of Trump’s trial.

On Thursday, three Republican senators met with Trump’s lawyers. CNN reported that Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Lee met with the defense team at the US Capitol. 

“We were discussing their strategy for tomorrow, and we were sharing our thoughts, in terms of where the argument was and where to go,” Cruz said on Thursday.

Read more: Trump’s impeachment defense is basically ‘Don’t hold me accountable for violence or there might be more violence.’

Friday

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Michael van der Veen, attorney for former President Donald Trump, answers a question submitted on Friday.

Trump’s lawyers on Friday laid out their defense, saying in part that the House impeachment managers may have manipulated parts of their presentation. The lawyers wrapped up their oral arguments in less than three hours. Here are the key takeaways from their defense.

In a Q&A, Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins asked whether Trump knew that Pence was in danger during the riot. 

“The answer is no,” attorney Michael van der Veen said.

Meanwhile, some Democrats laughed and rolled their eyes as the defense team played videos featuring them.

The Daily Mail published photos of Trump playing golf on Friday. Trump reportedly “loved” it when his lawyers called the trial “constitutional cancel culture.”

Saturday

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McConnell arrives at his office after speaking on the Senate floor on the final day of the impeachment trial.

Trump was acquitted on Saturday. Fifty-seven senators voted to convict. Cruz said he had previously advised Trump’s lawyers that they’d “already won” the case. McConnell voted to acquit Trump, but tore into the former president in a speech. 

“There is no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said. “The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

Read more: 7 yuuge reasons Donald Trump isn’t going away

In a statement, Trump thanked his supporters. “This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country,”  he said.

He added: “No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Biden said the trial was a “sad chapter” that demonstrated how “fragile” US democracy was.  

“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute,” he said in a statement.

After the acquittal, one of Trump’s lawyers was heard telling colleagues: “We’re going to Disney World!”

Here’s what happened the week before last. See you next week. 

Read the original article on Business Insider