Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal until after the Senate passes a larger package

nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate passes a separate $3.5 trillion package.
  • “We all know that more needs to be done,” she offered in an appearance on ABC on Sunday.
  • GOP Senator Rob Portman says Pelosi’s stance contradicts President Biden’s efforts to pass the bipartisan deal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Sunday in separate appearances on ABC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ohio Senator Rob Portman offered up opposing viewpoints on the timeline of passing a bipartisan infrastructure package.

Pelosi reinforced her stance to hold up the $1 trillion agreement as Democrats work to finalize a separate $3.5 trillion spending package, in hopes that they both get passed together.

“We are rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass, but we all know that more needs to be done,” she said.

During his own interview on ABC, Portman, a Republican and one of the leading negotiators on the bipartisan package, called Pelosi’s stance”entirely counter” to President Joe Biden’s commitment to bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate, adding that $1 trillion infrastructure bill “has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza (Pelosi’s) talking about.”

The $1 trillion infrastructure package contains a total of $579 billion in new spending dedicated to increasing broadband connections nationwide as well as updating bridges and roads.

Earlier in the week, however, Republican Senators voted against that same infrastructure bill they’d previously come to an agreement on with the White House, citing concerns over an extra $40 billion in IRS funding.

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Senator Lindsay Graham went further by encouraging Republican members to leave DC in efforts to prevent Senate Democrats from having the 51 senators required to operate, which is called a quorum.

If the Democrats are successful, the agreement would total $4.1 trillion in new spending, making it one of the largest spending bills ever advanced by Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package would pay for social program expansions including Medicare coverage for dental and vision care.

Leading senate negotiators Portman and Mitt Romney said they may be ready to vote on the $1 trillion package on Monday, after disagreements including the $40 billion in IRS spending are ironed out.

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These 5 key numbers are currently defining the Biden presidency from unemployment to vaccinations

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on voting rights at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on July 13, 2021.

  • President Joe Biden will mark six months in office on July 20.
  • Biden enjoys unified control of government, but the Senate still has its complications.
  • The administration has focused on battling COVID-19 and is strategizing how to continue the fight.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

On July 20, President Joe Biden will have been in office for six months.

Since their January inauguration, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been met with a host of challenges, most notably the coronavirus pandemic, which, since last year, has upended life as we know it.

However, on a range of issues, from steering a largely-reopened economy and facing immigration challenges at the US-Mexico border to reshaping the country’s standing on the world stage and putting an imprint on the federal judiciary, Biden has made a clear pivot from the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Biden, who represented Delaware in the US Senate for 36 years before serving as vice president for eight years, is certainly not new to Washington, DC. But that familiarity has so far helped Biden navigate a city that he’s intimately familiar with, despite being a place that has also become much more partisan in recent decades.

Here are five key figures that currently defining the trajectory of Biden’s young presidency:

5.9%

In April 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the US unemployment rate sat at 14.8%, a dizzying number that reflected the economic pain caused by businesses forced to shut down because of the deadly virus.

The June unemployment rate was 5.9%, with the economy adding 850,000 jobs last month, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy added 583,000 jobs in May and 269,000 jobs in April, respectively, so June’s numbers are a welcome sign in the long recovery in a post-COVID world.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.1% from May to June, but it was a reflection of an expanding job workforce.

Earlier in the spring, there were some concerns about job growth and the effectiveness of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package championed by Biden and congressional Democrats.

However, as COVID-related restrictions eased and vaccination rates increased since the beginning of the year, the economy has clearly benefited.

60.3%

After nearly six months in office, FiveThirtyEight’s polling average has Biden’s overall approval rating at 52.4%, with 42.5% disapproving of his performance, reflective of his relatively stable numbers over the past few months.

However, when it comes to Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, the FiveThirtyEight polling average has Biden at 60.3% approval, with 31.6% disapproving. Trump after his first six months in office held an 39% approval rating, with 55% disapproving, making him the most unpopular president at the 6-month mark, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Biden has consistently had higher numbers for his handling of COVID-19 relative to his overall approval rating, even among Independents and Republicans.

161.2 million

As of July 18, 161,232,483 Americans have been fully vaccinated, representing 48.6% of the total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Fully-vaccinated individuals have received two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

However, 186,038,501 Americans have received at least one dose, which equates to 56% of the total population.

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Byron Saunders holds his wife Joyce’s hand as she gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination site in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2021.

Read more: Joe Biden just fired a top Trump holdover at the Social Security Administration, but these 7 other Trump-era officials are still holding high-level government positions

While many people were fighting to find appointments earlier this year, many sites offer now walk-in appointments as vaccination rates lag in many parts of the country.

Vaccine hesitancy is a real thing, and Biden, who pledged to prioritize fighting the virus during his presidential campaign last year, is trying to find new ways to encourage people to get their shots, especially as the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the country.

The administration missed its goal of 70% of the population having received at least one vaccine shot by July 4, but Biden recently outlined a strategy of a door-to-door effort to help protect the unvaccinated against the virus, along with getting vaccines to primary-care physicians and physicians.

50

Earlier this year, Democrats were thrilled to win back control of the Senate after sweeping the dual Georgia runoff elections, which gave them 50 Senate seats. However, with Republicans also possessing 50 seats, Democratic control is only a reality due to Harris’s ability to break ties in the evenly-divided chamber.

While Democrats have been able to get virtually all of their major Cabinet and administration nominees through the Senate, along with their ability to push through judicial nominees, they still have to contend with the legislative filibuster, which can be used when major legislation fails to meet the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate.

Joe Biden with bipartisan group of senators.
President Joe Biden with a bipartisan group of senators.

Party leaders desperately want to pass their marquee For the People Act, or S.1, the sweeping voting-rights bill that would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, and establish national standards for voter registration, among other measures.

However, moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of Arizona and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have not relented from their longstanding pledges to keep the filibuster intact, which will continue to limit how much the administration can actually sign into law.

$3.5 trillion

Senate Democrats last Wednesday reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would feature infrastructure priorities focused on childcare, clean energy, and education. This legislation would be separate from the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure framework crafted by a small group of senators and the White House.

However, the bill will have to be passed through reconciliation, which Republicans have already rejected on the grounds of its cost and its reach into areas that they deem as unrelated to infrastructure.

By using the budget reconciliation process, Democrats can pass the bill with a simple majority and avoid a filibuster.

Democrats are determined to pass a larger party-line package, though, and with the filibuster still intact, now will likely be the party’s best chance to enact such a massive piece of legislation before the 2022 midterm elections.

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Trump administration lawyers connected to his most controversial policies are struggling to find new jobs, report says

Trump lawyers
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, bottom left in a red tie, and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow listen as President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in February 2020.

  • Some of the Trump administration’s top lawyers are struggling to find jobs, Bloomberg reported.
  • More than 80% of the lawyers got some kind of work in recent months, even if it’s just part-time.
  • However, some of the top lawyers are finding that the process of landing a job much more difficult.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Top lawyers who worked for the Trump administration are having a hard time finding new positions compared to those who served in previous administrations, Bloomberg reported this week.

According to a list compiled by Bloomberg Law, more than 80% of the lawyers who worked under the former president have managed to nab a job somewhere, even if their roles are only part-time or not their first choice.

However, some of them – including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – still appear to be without a job months after Trump has left office.

Read more: Tension is building between Biden’s White House and the Justice Department. They have Trump to thank for that.

Lauren Drake, a partner at search firm Macrae, told Bloomberg that the lawyers who seem to be finding it more difficult to find jobs are those who are either connected to Trump’s most controversial policies or are lacking experience.

Ken Cuccinelli, who served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, agreed that those coming out of the Trump administration are facing more “discrimination.”

“I don’t think anyone coming out of the George W. Bush administration was told, ‘We can’t hire this person,'” Cuccinelli said, according to Bloomberg. “I’m sure Jan. 6 made it that much worse than it ever would have been.”

Cuccinelli also said he had a recent job opportunity slip through his fingers because they “just decided they didn’t want Trump people,” according to Bloomberg.

“It was just flat out – you can call it Trump discrimination,” he said.

Cuccinelli did not name the company in question. He is currently acting as the National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative,

Former Attorney General William Barr is also among those who still haven’t found full-time jobs. A person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg Law last month that the former attorney is finishing writing a book before he even considers the next steps in his career.

The lawyers are not the only ones struggling with finding work post-Trump presidency.

According to a Washington Post report published two months ago, former Trump aides are unable to score the lucrative and prestigious Washington jobs they’d hoped for.

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union who’s raked in millions lobbying the Trump White House, told The Post at the time: “If I had a dollar for every time someone in Washington said to me, hey, I’m really looking to hire someone for X job, but they can’t have worked for the Trump administration, I’d have a great sum of money.”

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Law enforcement did not clear protesters from Lafayette Park for a Trump photo op, Interior Department watchdog concludes

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Former President Donald Trump walks back to the White House escorted by the Secret Service after appearing outside of St John’s Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020.

  • Washington, DC’s Lafayette Park was not cleared in June 2020 for a Trump photo op, the Interior Department watchdog says.
  • The US Park Police and Secret Service already planned on clearing the area to install new fencing.
  • Trump walked through the park after the plans to clear protesters were already in motion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Law enforcement officials cleared Washington, DC’s Lafayette Park to put up fencing – not to enable former President Donald Trump’s now-infamous photo op at St. John’s Church in June 2020, an internal watchdog for the Interior Department concluded in a report released Wednesday.

On June 1, the Secret Service and US Park Police, with assistance from other agencies, used tear gas and other forceful methods, including pushing demonstrators and striking them with batons, to clear a group of largely peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which is right next to the White House.

The demonstrations took place just days after George Floyd was murdered by a former Minneapolis police officer and as Trump vowed that rioters and looters would be met with force.

Read more: These 7 federal judges have had past brushes with Trump and are now helping to decide the Capitol rioters’ fate

Shortly after the park was cleared, Trump and other officials arrived on scene to walk through the park. He was then photographed holding up a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church. The controversial photo op drew sharp criticism from Episcopal leaders, and created the perception that Trump had the park cleared for his benefit.

The report from Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt, however, said that the area was cleared to allow contractors to install special anti-scale fencing to further secure the perimeter around the park. The new fencing had arrived that same morning, it said.

“The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church,” the report said. “Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31.”

The report further concluded that the US Park Police didn’t know about Trump’s plans to walk through the park and take a photo until the afternoon of June 1, “hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park.”

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Trump Organization making a second attempt to sell its Washington, DC hotel lease, The Washington Post reports

trump international hotel dc
The north entrance of the Trump International in Washington, DC.

  • The Trump Org. is trying to sell its DC hotel lease for a second time, according to The Washington Post.
  • The company first tried to unload the property in fall 2019 but took it off the market when COVID-19 hit.
  • The move comes as a New York investigation into Trump and his business heats up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As investigations against the former president heat up, former President Donald Trump is taking another stab at selling the lease to his company’s Washington, DC hotel, The Washington Post reported.

For a second time, the Trump Organization has hired a broker to sell the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, after the pandemic hindered the first effort in fall 2019. The company took the property off the market after COVID-19 hit.

The Trump Organization has hired real estate advisory firm Newmark Group to market the property, which the company leases from the General Services Administration, according to The Post.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Newmark Group declined to comment.

When the company first tried to unload the lease, rooms were running almost half empty, The Post reported, and the property’s revenue last year fell by more than 60%. The hotel continued to face financial setbacks, including the pandemic’s impact on the luxury hospitality industry and ongoing damage to the former president’s brand following the 2020 election and January 6 insurrection.

The move comes one week after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced he was convening a grand jury as his office investigates whether the Trump Organization violated state law. The inquiry into Trump and his company’s finances is wide-ranging and has been underway for more than two years.

It’s not clear whether the DC hotel will play a role in Vance’s investigation or a related investigation being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. According to The Post, the property has not been named in any public flings related to either case.

But The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Vance’s office is investigating a slew of properties, including the DC hotel named for the former president.

Trump acquired the property, which is located in the Old Post Office, before he was elected in 2016, but the hotel became a hotbed for controversy during his presidency as Trump continued to own his businesses, spurring allegations of conflicts of interest.

The Trump International Hotel was at the center of several lawsuits accusing Trump of violating the foreign-emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

According to financial disclosures, Trump made at least $40.8 million from the hotel in 2018.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene said that she’s the victim of Democrat bullying when questioned about her hounding of AOC

Marjorie Taylor Green at a new member orientation
Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives at the Hyatt Regency for new member orientation in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene said she is the one who is a victim of bullying, not Democrats.
  • She listed a handful of grievances on Newsmax, re-casting her taunting of AOC as “citizen lobbying.”
  • “They’re the ones that are completely out of line,” she told the rightwing network.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attempted to flip the script about her behavior towards political rivals on Friday when questioned about a recent video of her taunting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Speaking to Greg Kelly on right-wing network Newsmax, Greene described several encounters with Democrats that she said make her the victim of aggression, contrary to what she sees as a skewed media narrative.

“They’re accusing me of being aggressive and saying that my mannerisms are wrong,” she said. “It’s definitely the other way round.”

A screenshot of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene talking to Newsmax's Greg Kelly.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene talking to Newsmax’s Greg Kelly.

Greene had come under intense criticism on several occasions for confrontational behavior and support of far-right causes, most recently on Wednesday when pursuing Ocasio Cortez on Capitol Hill “screaming,” as witnesses said. On that occasion, she inaccurately said that Ocasio-Cortez supported terrorists.

Soon after that, a 2019 video emerged from before Greene was a member of Congress, showing her and far-right companions taunting Ocasio-Cortez through the New Yorker’s office letterbox, calling her a “baby” who needed to “get rid of your diaper.”

Speaking to Kelly, Greene described the act as “citizen lobbying.”

A composite of close-up cellphone screenshots showing Marjorie Taylor Greene laughing into the camera, speaking through Alexandria OCasio-Cortez' letterbox, and walking away.
Marjorie Taylor Greene in a 2019 video outside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ office.

Earlier this year, a video from 2018 emerged, showing her harassing and mocking Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg over his anti-gun stance.

Greene was stripped of her committee assignments in February after multiple incidences emerged of her endorsing political violence.

Recalling that, Greene told Kelly Friday that “there was no ethics violation against me, I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Kelly was keen to build the same narrative in his interview, saying that Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez and Eric Swalwell – who has also been critical of Greene – are “picking on you.”

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MTG has challenged AOC to a debate on pay-per-view TV over the Green New Deal.

Greene agreed, saying, “They don’t know what to do with me because I’m not going to back down and be intimidated by their bully tactics.”

She cited several instances that she said constituted bullying from Democrats:

An altercation in January with Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, where Bush was “verbally assaulting me in the tunnels, screaming at me,” according to Greene. But when the incident was first reported, Bush said that it was Greene who berated her in the hallway after she had asked Greene to wear her mask properly.

In a live-streamed video from the tail end of the encounter, a voice can be heard shouting for Greene to put her mask on.

A standoff with Rep. Marie Newman, who in February planted the trans flag in what Greene described as “an aggressive manner” outside her own office. She also accused Newman of having “aggressively” bumped her shoulder while walking by her one time.

Newman did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A video of Newman planting the flag can be seen here:

A visit from Guam’s congressional delegate Michael San Nicolas in March, during which National Guardsmen offered cookies and books to Greene’s aides outside her office. Greene was not in the office at the time.

The gesture came after a gaffe from Greene, who had mistakenly said at CPAC that Guam was a foreign country that is undeserving of American aid.

In their interview, Kelly and Greene cast this as a threatening act.

“I saw an orchestrated political event using our troops, marching them into your office, which I found to be potentially intimidating,” said Kelly.

“Thank God I wasn’t in there,” agreed Greene.

Greene did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Republicans blew up after a Democratic congressman accused them of spreading ‘racist trash’ in a debate over giving Washington, DC, statehood

mondaire jones
Rep. Mondaire Jones.

  • GOP lawmakers erupted after Rep. Mondaire Jones accused them of spreading “racist trash.”
  • The argument came as the House was debating a bill to grant Washington, DC, statehood.
  • Jones withdrew his comments but went on to say the GOP was scared its “white supremacist politics” wouldn’t work in DC.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican lawmakers blew up on Thursday after Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones accused the GOP of spreading “racist trash” during a heated debate over a bill to grant Washington, DC, statehood.

“I’ve had enough of my colleagues’ racist insinuations that somehow, the people of Washington, DC, are incapable or even unworthy of our democracy,” Jones said on the House floor.

He then called out Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton for saying DC wouldn’t be a “well-rounded, working class state.”

“I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word ‘white,'” Jones said.

He also pointed out Republican Rep. Jody Hice’s claim that Washington, DC, does not deserve statehood because it doesn’t have a landfill.

“My goodness, with all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate, I can see why they’re worried about having a place to put it,” Jones continued, as Republicans could be heard objecting to his comments. “The truth is, there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising over 700,000 people, Mr. Speaker, most of whom are people of color.”

As Jones spoke, several Republican lawmakers interrupted to call for a point of order, and Maryland Rep. Andy Harris asked for Jones to withdraw his comments, to which Jones agreed.

But he went on to say the GOP’s “desperate objections” to HR 51, the DC statehood bill, “are about fear that in DC, their white supremacist politics will no longer play, fear that soon enough, white supremacist politics won’t work anywhere in America, fear that if they don’t rig our democracy, they will not win.”

The House eventually voted along party lines to pass HR 51, in a vote of 216 in favor to 208 opposed. The White House also signaled its support for the measure on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress.”

It continued: “This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.”

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Kamala Harris is reportedly ‘bothered’ that she hasn’t been able to move into her official Washington DC residence nearly two months after inauguration

Naval Observatory
Number One Observatory Circle is the official residence of the US vice president.

  • Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff have not yet moved into their official Washington DC residence.
  • According to CNN, Harris is “getting frustrated” at the pace of renovations at the home.
  • According to two administration staffers, Harris asked for work to be completed in the kitchen.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After Vice President Kamala Harris took her oath of office in January, she became the first female, first Black, and first Asian American vice president in US history.

While President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were quickly able to settle in at the White House on Inauguration Day, Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, would have to stay in temporary housing at the historic Blair House while the vice president’s residence was undergoing renovations.

Harris and Emhoff are still residing at Blair House, the official residence of White House guests located across from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, according to CNN.

An administration official told CNN that it is “unclear” why the renovations are taking longer than expected, but Harris is reportedly becoming uneasy with the situation, according to several individuals who spoke to the network.

“She is getting frustrated,” another official said of Harris’s current situation of seemingly living out of suitcases more than two months after Inauguration Day.

The official also said that Harris’s desire to move into the residence has become more pronounced as each day goes by.

Number One Observatory Circle, where Harris and Emhoff will eventually live, is a stately Queen Anne-style mansion that dates to 1893 and is located on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington.

The Biden administration has not indicated the reasoning for any delays, and Harris did not respond to the CNN report regarding the matter.

According to CNN, the 128-year-old residence has required foundational work over the past few years, along with a myriad of other repairs and updates, including a $3.8 million contract for “plumbing, heating and air-conditioning contractors” that’s still in progress, according to an official US government spending report.

The CNN report indicated that the existing contracts don’t indicate why Harris and Emhoff have been unable to move into the residence.

The network reported that Harris has been seen at the residence, most recently for an hour-long visit several weeks ago.

Read more: Meet the presidential confidants, Delaware’s closely-knit and well-positioned congressional delegation, Joe Biden’s entrusted with cementing his legacy

According to two administration staffers, Harris, who enjoys cooking, asked for the kitchen to be updated.

kamala harris doug emhoff
Vice President Kamala Harris visits Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff in his office on January 28, 2021.

Elizabeth Haenle, the vice president residence manager and social secretary for former Vice President Dick Cheney, said that it wasn’t uncommon for there to be a few weeks in between residents living at the home.

“From time to time, the Navy will ask the vice president and their respective families to delay moving in so that they have time for maintenance and upgrades that are not easy to perform once the vice president takes up residence,” she told CNN.

After the inauguration, an aide to Harris told the network that the vice president and second gentleman would not move into the Naval Observatory residence that day, saying that repairs needed to conducted “that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied.”

An administration official told CNN that the residence’s chimneys were being renovated, along with other unspecified updates.

There was no official move-in date announced in January.

While Blair House doesn’t hurt in the luxury department, with its ornate accommodations and a private hair salon, Harris and Emhoff prefer a more relaxed, California-esque vibe.

The residence at the Naval Observatory is much different than the White House, with fewer residence staff and a location further from the city center.

“The White House is office and home to the President so there is that feeling of living above the ‘shop’ at the White House,” Haenle told CNN. “For the vice president and his or her family, the Vice President’s Residence is calm in the midst of a stormy Washington, both politically and logistically. At the end of the day, the vice president can travel a short distance northwest and find respite in a country-like setting.”

Biden, who lived in the home as vice president from 2009 to 2017, praised its amenities on CNN last month.

“You’re … overlooking the rest of the city,” he said of the property. “You can walk out, and there’s a swimming pool. You can ride a bicycle around and never leave the property, and work out.”

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Calls for DC statehood reignited following Capitol insurrection: The fight for the 51st state explained

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A view of a security fence at the base of Capitol Hill during heightened security concerns over possible protests or violence tomorrow March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC.

  • The 700,000 residents of DC have long been denied the representation granted to their fellow Americans.
  • But the chaos of the January 6 siege has led to reinvigorated calls for granting DC statehood.
  • Activists are pushing Democrats to use their advantage to do so, but the Senate poses a challenge.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

On January 6, as pro-Trump rioters broke through police barriers and breached the nation’s Capitol building in Washington DC, the city’s mayor could do little to stop the attack.

Unlike each state’s governor, who serve as de facto commanders of National Guard forces in their domain, DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser had no power to send in military forces as the siege turned deadly that day.

Instead, Washington, DC’s National Guard unit is commanded by the President of the United States – then Donald Trump, the man who hours earlier, had told the very crowd now storming the Capitol that “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

As the violence escalated, Bowser had to ask the Department of Defense, an executive branch of the federal government acting on behalf of the president, for permission to send in troops, and has since blamed the district’s limitations and her inability to directly deploy the National Guard for the slow and muddled response on January 6.

The riots’ aftermath has served as a stark reminder to the nation of just how little power the 700,000 residents of Washington, DC, actually have, despite living in the nation’s capital.

DC residents themselves, though, hardly need to be reminded of their paradoxical political disadvantages. From the district’s non-voting congressional representative to its shadow senators, Washingtonians have long been denied the full rights of citizenship guaranteed to hundreds of millions of their fellow Americans.

The majority of DC residents have long yearned to join the union – in a 2016 referendum a staggering 86% of DC voters voted in favor of joining the union as the 51st state – but the rest of the country has historically been lukewarm, or even downright averse to the idea.

But the pandemonium of January 6 has led to reinvigorated calls for DC statehood, and a high-profile committee hearing on the matter this week has pushed the issue back into the spotlight. The albeit, narrow Democratic control of both Congress and the Presidency may present the best chance activists have had – or will have again – to add a 51st star to the flag.

From its inception, the city has been embroiled in politics

Washington, DC, was founded in 1790 as the distinguished capital for a new nation. Its location on the Potomac River bordered by Maryland and Virginia was chosen as a compromise, famously made between founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

At only 68 square miles, the district is geographically small. But its 700,000 residents make it more populous than both Vermont and Wyoming and comparable in population to states like Delaware and Alaska.

Whereas both Vermonters and Wyomingites have two senators and one representative advocating for their interests in Congress, Washingtonians are stuck with one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives and two “shadow senators,” lawmakers not officially sworn in or seated in the US Senate.

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Supporters for DC Statehood cheer as drivers honk their horns during the morning commute outside the Rayburn Building in Washington, DC on February, 11, 2020.

Their lack of true Senatorial representation means DC residents have no voice in determinations of Supreme Court justices, US Ambassadors, heads of federal agencies, or even leadership for federal courts within the district’s own boundaries.

Washingtonians pay federal taxes, register for the nation’s selective services, and contribute to the country’s economy. Still, they lack the full voting rights, budget control, and representation America grants their fellow citizens.

And it’s only within the last 60 years that the district has obtained some authoritative freedom in governing itself. DC residents have been able to vote for the President of their own country since only 1964, and they elected their mayor for the first time in 1973.

For many, the issue of DC statehood is simple; one that boils down to a catchy, historical slogan: no taxation without representation.

Race plays an equally crucial role in the fight for statehood

The district’s daytime population surges to more than a million due to the barrage of political junkies and academics who commute into DC each day for work. But when evening strikes and the professionals board the metro back to Virginia and Maryland, approximately 700,000 residents remain.

Nearly half of those residents are Black, according to 2019 US Census data.

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Demonstrators protest against racial injustice to mark Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, near the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, June 19, 2020.

Activists have long argued that the district’s lack of representation contributes to the ongoing disenfranchisement of Black voters in the US.

In 2018, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt calculated that the Senate “gives the average Black American only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American.”

The average Hispanic American, by his accounts, has only 55% the representation as the average white American, fuel for the similar fight for statehood that Puerto Rico is waging.

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter told the Guardian’s David Smith that DC and Puerto Rico’s outcast status is a “fundamental democratic flaw” that “reeks of hypocrisy”

“At the end of the day, you have states from Utah to Montana to others that have gained statehood early on with less question, with less critique than DC and Puerto Rico,” she told the outlet. “The only reason why it is a debate or even a question is because of who makes up the majority of both of those places.”

If the district was granted statehood, it would be the only plurality-Black state in the union, according to the New Columbia Statehood Commission.

Republican lawmakers oppose the movement, fearful a 51st state would hand Democrats a political advantage

The GOP has long been opposed to the prospect of adding new states to the union and for the most part, have been forthcoming with their reasons why.

In 2020, former President Donald Trump said in an interview that “DC will never be a state.”

“Why? So we can have two more Democratic – Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen,” he said. “Why would the Republicans ever do that?”

The former president was almost certainly right in his assessment – Washington’s diverse and liberal population would likely vote Democrats into office, providing two additional votes for the party in the Senate.

Later that year at a press conference, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, said granting DC statehood would be “unconstitutional.”

“This is about expanding the Senate map to accommodate the most radical agenda that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been up here,” Graham told reporters, saying the move would be a “bad deal” for his home state.

But statehood activists and residents argue the district’s political preferences shouldn’t act as a deterrent to fulfilling the people’s rights.

The legislation to grant statehood already exists but passing it will prove difficult

Washington’s non-voting delegate, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, first introduced the Washington, DC, Admission Act in 2019.

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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., speaks at a rally sponsored by Veterans for D.C. Statehood on Veterans Day at Freedom Plaza on Monday Nov. 11, 2019.

In addition to granting the capital city statehood, the bill would shrink the federal district to a smaller area that encompassed the most important federal buildings, including the White House, Capitol building, and Supreme Court, in a move that supporters of the bill argue would sidestep the issue of constitutionality, leaving a piece of the federal district intact.

Republicans counter that statehood can’t be granted except through a constitutional amendment, an arduous process that requires significant levels of bipartisan and state support.

Norton’s bill would also rename the new state Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The historic legislation was passed last summer, by the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, though the bill was dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Now, the act has been reintroduced in both chambers of the new Congress, but like many of the Democrats’ progressive initiatives, it faces an uphill climb in the 50-50 Senate.

In order to pass, all 50 Democrats would need to vote in favor of the bill and convince 10 Republicans to join them, a feat that is seemingly improbable, if not impossible.

Many statehood activists are hoping Democrats will instead focus their attention first on gutting the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation. Doing so could open the door not only to DC statehood, but a berth of other progressive priorities from student debt forgiveness to an increased minimum wage.

But overturning the filibuster could prove an insurmountable obstacle, as at least two moderate Democratic senators have made clear their opposition to doing so, with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declaring he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster.

Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the other moderate Democrat opposed to ousting the filibuster, are also two of the six Senate Democrats who did not cosponsor the statehood bill that passed in the last Congress.

Still, Washingtonians aren’t giving up hope. If there’s ever a time to do it, it’s now, they argue.

In a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting earlier this week, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser was direct and firm in making the case for DC statehood. She highlighted the racial elements at play and rejected Republicans’ claims that the fight is a power grab by Democrats.

“The truth is, over 220 years we’ve had various experiences – of suffrage for Black men, to all of it being stripped away, to having appointed officials, to the situation where we are now, which is limited home rule,” Bowser said according to The Washington Post. “What we know is that we don’t have representation here in this House. . . . This is anti-democratic, and it’s un-American, and it has to be fixed now.”

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GOP Rep. Jody Hice argued against DC statehood by incorrectly citing a lack of car dealerships

Jody Hice
Rep. Jody Hice (R-Georgia) speaks on the House floor.

  • In citing his opposition to DC statehood, Hice incorrectly said that the city lacks car dealerships.
  • The conservative congressman had long argued that statehood went against the intent of the Framers.
  • The proposed bill, H.R. 51, is likely to pass the House but faces major roadblocks in the Senate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia is staunchly opposed to statehood for Washington DC, an opinion shared by most congressional Republicans.

During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Monday to discuss H.R. 51, a Democratic-backed bill that would grant statehood to the District, he incorrectly cited the District’s lack of car dealerships as a rationale against the proposal.

In the past, Hice has largely opposed statehood under his view that it goes against the intention of the Framers, but he expanded on his viewpoint during the hearing.

“DC would be the only state – the only state – without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city and without a landfill,” he argued.

Hice was incorrect in his assessment, as the city boasts numerous car dealerships, including a Tesla showroom not far from the Capitol.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who represents a congressional district anchored in suburban Washington DC, slammed Hice’s rationale for opposing statehood.

“It was cited that there’s no car dealership in the District of Columbia,” he said. “That’s not a constitutional restriction. It turns out, there is a car dealership in the District of Columbia. At this point, [do] we agree that people in DC should enjoy equal political rights? Of course not, because they’re simply trying to gin up whatever arguments they can think of. These are frivolous arguments.”

After Hice was informed that he was wrong, he walked back his statement, claiming he didn’t know where a dealership in the city was located.

“If there’s a car dealership in DC, I apologize for being wrong,” he said. “I have no idea where it is.”

Read more: Meet the presidential confidants, Delaware’s closely-knit and well-positioned congressional delegation, Joe Biden’s entrusted with cementing his legacy

The House bill is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled House, but it will face major roadblocks in the Senate. While Democrats narrowly control the upper chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the bill and prevent it from reaching the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate.

There are 215 cosponsors of H.R. 51 in the House and 41 cosponsors of the Senate bill, and all are Democrats.

Earlier in the day, Hice announced that he would challenge Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican who former President Donald Trump repeatedly excoriated for validating the integrity of President Joe Biden’s Georgia victory in the 2020 presidential election.

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