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Obama scales back 60th birthday bash amid COVID questions

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- After plans to host hundreds of guests at his Martha’s Vineyard estate for a 60th birthday bash drew news media scrutiny, former President Barack Obama has decided to "significantly scale back" the affair, a spokesperson said Wednesday.

"This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with COVID safeguards in place. Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends," Hannah Hankins said. "President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon."

She declined to give a new estimate of how many guests will attend the gathering.

A COVID coordinator had been slated to work the party, ensuring that all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local guidelines were followed, and collect proof of negative test results from guests, who would also attest their vaccination status.

Despite those measures, a source familiar with the decision-making process said the fast-moving COVID developments over the past week, such as rising cases fueled by the delta variant, and new CDC masking guidance for even vaccinated individuals, led to the downsizing in party plans.

"Even last Monday, things looked different than they do today," the source said.

Obama is turning 60 on Wednesday.

Overall, the Obamas did not want to become a distraction from the Biden administration's efforts to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, the source said.

According to the New York Times, some party guests had already arrived on Martha's Vineyard when word of the scaled-down plans was shared.

President Joe Biden was not planning to attend the party.

"While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over 60 club," a Biden administration official said Monday.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the change of party plans.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Republicans face incomplete debate lineup, donor apathy in California recall race

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Ahead of a debate that's missing a few key candidates, Republicans hoping to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September's recall election have attracted relatively few sizable donations, according to data from the California secretary of state reviewed by ABC News.

The Richard Nixon Foundation, which is hosting the debate on Wednesday night, said in a news release that four candidates are participating: John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley and Doug Ose.

But Newsom did not reply to the foundation's invitation, the group said, while deep-pocketed reality show star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and talk-show host Larry Elder have scheduling conflicts. The foundation said in a news release it would hold spots for Newsom, Jenner and Elder in case any decided to participate.

The foundation is also planning a debate for Aug. 23.

The debates are not the only challenges facing the candidates. Dan Schnur, a professor at the University of Southern California and a former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, told ABC News that "the traditional Republican donor base doesn't appear to be convinced yet that the recall is a viable exercise."

But that could change due to recent polling showing "considerable grassroots support for recall," he said.

Here's what the Republican candidates invited to the debate have raised in large-dollar donations, according to data available on Tuesday:

  • John Cox: About $8.7 million across his 2021 and 2022 campaign committees -- including roughly $7.6 million in monetary and non-monetary contributions and loans from himself -- from at least 1,667 contributions
  • Kevin Faulconer: Approximately $3 million from at least 1,422 contributions
  • Larry Elder: About $990,000 from at least 574 contributions
  • Caitlyn Jenner: Approximately $747,000, from at least 1,581 contributions
  • Doug Ose: About $400,000 from at least 230 contributions
  • Kevin Kiley: Approximately $214,000 from at least 100 contributions

Only donations from an individual that add up to $100 or more are itemized in the data from the secretary of state, thus excluding those "small-dollar donations" in the donation counts.

Individuals donating to a gubernatorial candidate can give up to $32,400, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. According to the Federal Elections Commission, candidates have no limit when donating to themselves, but must still report those contributions.

Even if those numbers present an incomplete picture, as they only range from the start of 2021 to Tuesday and exclude the small-dollar donations, they still appear to be a relatively small number of donors for such a large state.

"The candidates … haven't set the world on fire," Joshua Spivak, a senior fellow at the Carey Institute for Governmental Reform at Wagner College, told ABC News.

Regarding the candidates, Spivak noted that "there seems to be a wide disconnect between interest in Caitlyn Jenner from media and online sources and social media and voters."

The California Republican Party is currently gearing up to vote on whether it can endorse a candidate at all, though it is expected to be approved. An endorsement from the state party may spur fundraising.

Newsom has criticized the recall as a partisan effort and waste of taxpayer money, but he "has his work cut out to raise Democratic interest in the recall vote. And if he fails on that front, an unusual off-year electorate might be just Republican-leaning enough to boot him out of office," according to FiveThirtyEight.

Voters in the election will respond to two questions: do they want to recall Newsom; and if most voters elect to do so, who should be his replacement?

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Republicans face incomplete debate lineup, donor apathy in California recall race

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Ahead of a debate that's missing a few key candidates, Republicans hoping to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September's recall election have attracted relatively few sizable donations, according to data from the California secretary of state reviewed by ABC News.

The Richard Nixon Foundation, which is hosting the debate on Wednesday night, said in a news release that four candidates are participating: John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley and Doug Ose.

But Newsom did not reply to the foundation's invitation, the group said, while deep-pocketed reality show star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and talk-show host Larry Elder have scheduling conflicts. The foundation said in a news release it would hold spots for Newsom, Jenner and Elder in case any decided to participate.

The foundation is also planning a debate for Aug. 23.

The debates are not the only challenges facing the candidates. Dan Schnur, a professor at the University of Southern California and a former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, told ABC News that "the traditional Republican donor base doesn't appear to be convinced yet that the recall is a viable exercise."

But that could change due to recent polling showing "considerable grassroots support for recall," he said.

Here's what the Republican candidates invited to the debate have raised in large-dollar donations, according to data available on Tuesday:

  • John Cox: About $8.7 million across his 2021 and 2022 campaign committees -- including roughly $7.6 million in monetary and non-monetary contributions and loans from himself -- from at least 1,667 contributions
  • Kevin Faulconer: Approximately $3 million from at least 1,422 contributions
  • Larry Elder: About $990,000 from at least 574 contributions
  • Caitlyn Jenner: Approximately $747,000, from at least 1,581 contributions
  • Doug Ose: About $400,000 from at least 230 contributions
  • Kevin Kiley: Approximately $214,000 from at least 100 contributions

Only donations from an individual that add up to $100 or more are itemized in the data from the secretary of state, thus excluding those "small-dollar donations" in the donation counts.

Individuals donating to a gubernatorial candidate can give up to $32,400, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. According to the Federal Elections Commission, candidates have no limit when donating to themselves, but must still report those contributions.

Even if those numbers present an incomplete picture, as they only range from the start of 2021 to Tuesday and exclude the small-dollar donations, they still appear to be a relatively small number of donors for such a large state.

"The candidates … haven't set the world on fire," Joshua Spivak, a senior fellow at the Carey Institute for Governmental Reform at Wagner College, told ABC News.

Regarding the candidates, Spivak noted that "there seems to be a wide disconnect between interest in Caitlyn Jenner from media and online sources and social media and voters."

The California Republican Party is currently gearing up to vote on whether it can endorse a candidate at all, though it is expected to be approved. An endorsement from the state party may spur fundraising.

Newsom has criticized the recall as a partisan effort and waste of taxpayer money, but he "has his work cut out to raise Democratic interest in the recall vote. And if he fails on that front, an unusual off-year electorate might be just Republican-leaning enough to boot him out of office," according to FiveThirtyEight.

Voters in the election will respond to two questions: do they want to recall Newsom; and if most voters elect to do so, who should be his replacement?

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Republicans face incomplete debate lineup, donor apathy in California recall race

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Ahead of a debate that's missing a few key candidates, Republicans hoping to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September's recall election have attracted relatively few sizable donations, according to data from the California secretary of state reviewed by ABC News.

The Richard Nixon Foundation, which is hosting the debate on Wednesday night, said in a news release that four candidates are participating: John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley and Doug Ose.

But Newsom did not reply to the foundation's invitation, the group said, while deep-pocketed reality show star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and talk-show host Larry Elder have scheduling conflicts. The foundation said in a news release it would hold spots for Newsom, Jenner and Elder in case any decided to participate.

The foundation is also planning a debate for Aug. 23.

The debates are not the only challenges facing the candidates. Dan Schnur, a professor at the University of Southern California and a former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, told ABC News that "the traditional Republican donor base doesn't appear to be convinced yet that the recall is a viable exercise."

But that could change due to recent polling showing "considerable grassroots support for recall," he said.

Here's what the Republican candidates invited to the debate have raised in large-dollar donations, according to data available on Tuesday:

  • John Cox: About $8.7 million across his 2021 and 2022 campaign committees -- including roughly $7.6 million in monetary and non-monetary contributions and loans from himself -- from at least 1,667 contributions
  • Kevin Faulconer: Approximately $3 million from at least 1,422 contributions
  • Larry Elder: About $990,000 from at least 574 contributions
  • Caitlyn Jenner: Approximately $747,000, from at least 1,581 contributions
  • Doug Ose: About $400,000 from at least 230 contributions
  • Kevin Kiley: Approximately $214,000 from at least 100 contributions

Only donations from an individual that add up to $100 or more are itemized in the data from the secretary of state, thus excluding those "small-dollar donations" in the donation counts.

Individuals donating to a gubernatorial candidate can give up to $32,400, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. According to the Federal Elections Commission, candidates have no limit when donating to themselves, but must still report those contributions.

Even if those numbers present an incomplete picture, as they only range from the start of 2021 to Tuesday and exclude the small-dollar donations, they still appear to be a relatively small number of donors for such a large state.

"The candidates … haven't set the world on fire," Joshua Spivak, a senior fellow at the Carey Institute for Governmental Reform at Wagner College, told ABC News.

Regarding the candidates, Spivak noted that "there seems to be a wide disconnect between interest in Caitlyn Jenner from media and online sources and social media and voters."

The California Republican Party is currently gearing up to vote on whether it can endorse a candidate at all, though it is expected to be approved. An endorsement from the state party may spur fundraising.

Newsom has criticized the recall as a partisan effort and waste of taxpayer money, but he "has his work cut out to raise Democratic interest in the recall vote. And if he fails on that front, an unusual off-year electorate might be just Republican-leaning enough to boot him out of office," according to FiveThirtyEight.

Voters in the election will respond to two questions: do they want to recall Newsom; and if most voters elect to do so, who should be his replacement?

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Help or 'get out of the way,' Biden says to governors on combatting pandemic

Win McNamee/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The president took aim Tuesday at local officials, including the governors of Florida and Texas, over laws that prevented public health measures in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases.

"I say to these governors: please help, but you aren't going to help at least get out of the way," President Joe Biden said. "The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives."

Biden called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, states which Biden said account for one-third of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

"And worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only banned mask mandates, but also banned them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated," Biden said.


Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday that banned mask mandates and other operating mandates in Texas.

"They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities," Abbott said in a statement about the order Thursday. "Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary -- never forced -- in the State of Texas."

DeSantis has stuck to a long-time promise not to impose a mask mandate in Florida. Both states have also moved to ban institutions from requiring vaccinations.

In response to a question from a reporter, Biden criticized the measures as "bad" policy. This comes as the two states see surges in cases and hospitalizations.

"I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents," Biden said. "And it's clear to me, and to most medical experts, that the decisions being made, like not allowing mask mandates in school and the like, are bad health policy."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had a similar sentiment during a press briefing earlier Tuesday, calling out "extreme" measures.

"In fact, the most extreme of these measures is in Texas where ... a professor or teacher can be fined if they ask a student if they are vaccinated or if they ask unvaccinated students to wear masks. And I think the fundamental question we have is: What are we doing here?"

Psaki noted the need for unity in the fight against the virus, and even praised most Republican governments who she said are "doing exactly the right thing ... and taking steps to advocate for more people to get vaccinated."

"But if you aren't going to help, if you aren't going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing to lead in their communities, whether they are teachers, university leaders, private sector leaders or others who are trying to save lives," Psaki said.

Psaki also highlighted that the White House has extended offers of federal support to the two hard-hit states.

"Teams from (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (Health and Human Services) are in contact with Florida officials to offer technical assistance and support," Psaki said. "We're also engaged with the governor's office in Texas and the state health department to discuss the state of the pandemic there and how we can offer specific assistance, as well as Louisiana."

Asked by a reporter whether the states had accepted the federal support, Psaki said that it is a "discussion," and said that they are talking to the states about how the government "can provide additional assistance."

ABC News' Molly Nagle and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden, under pressure, says CDC to announce new action to limit evictions

OlegAlbinksy/iStock

(WASHINGTON) -- Amid pressure from progressive Democrats who have called on the White House to extend the eviction moratorium, and as millions of Americans are at risk this week of being forces to leave their homes, President Joe Biden on Tuesday said his administration would announce a possible new "safety valve" action to limit evictions later in the day.

He told reporters the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide details of what he he hoped would be a "new moratorium" that would cover about 90% of renters, although he quickly added, "I didn't tell them what they had to do."

The proposed CDC plan would remain in place for 60 days, congressional sources told ABC News.

At the same time, Biden said that he isn’t sure if the new moratorium effort would pass constitutional muster and expects legal challenges, but he said that some scholars he consulted think "it’s worth the effort."

"I've sought out constitutional scholars to determine what is the best possibility that would come from executive action of the CDC's judgment. What could they do that was most likely to pass muster, constitutionally? The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to pass constitutional muster, number one. But there are several key scholars who think that it may and it's worth the effort," he said.

Biden said “at a minimum” that by the time this works its way through the courts, some of the funds will be able to reach renters who are struggling.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement after Biden spoke saying a new CDC eviction moratorium would be "tied to Covid infection levels."

"Today is a day of extraordinary relief. Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, the imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been lifted for countless families across America. Help is Here!" her statement read.

The move comes after Pelosi told the Democratic caucus on a call Tuesday morning that the chamber is not returning to Washington to deal with the lapsed eviction moratorium legislatively and as lawmakers have amped up pressure on the Biden administration to expedite distributing congressionally-allocated funds to help with rental assistance amid the public health emergency.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined the Democratic caucus call Tuesday morning to talk about the distribution of nearly $46.5 billion in congressionally approved rental assistance through states and local governments, of which only $3 billion has been distributed. Yellen fielded questions from the caucus about the delays as Democrats continued to push for getting the funds out more quickly.

It is not entirely clear what more the Treasury Department can do to accelerate distributing the money, but it is clear progressive Democrats are livid that action wasn't taken sooner -- with Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., leading the charge and continuing to rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday for a fifth day.

Bush has been camping out on the Capitol steps

Before Biden spoke, Bush spoke to reporters on the Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon, again calling on Congress and the White House to extend the eviction moratorium.

"We want the White House to end this eviction moratorium," Bush told reporters.

When word of a new plan surfaced, she tweeted, "On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains."

Fellow progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Bush in immediately reacting to the news the administration was expected to take more steps with Ocasio-Cortez saying the news on evictions shows that "it is okay for us to say: 'We can do better.'"

Bush said, “This is why this happened," referring to her sit-in. "Being unapologetic. Being unafraid to stand up." Schumer also praised the progressive Democrats for putting in the hard work.

At the same time, neither the Senate's Democratic leader nor the Republican leader suggested that the upper chamber will or should take any immediate action to address the problem after the House failed to extend the moratorium before adjourning for its recess.

GOP Leader Mitch McConnell argued in his weekly press conference that the funds to help struggling renters have already been sent to states and that it's now their responsibility to disburse those funds to struggling renters.

"It looks like the money is there," McConnell said, referring to state governments. "It doesn't seem to meet or require any additional legislative action they need to get the money out there that has already been made available so it can solve the problem."

Schumer said the Senate is focused on urging the administration and states and localities to extend moratoriums and urging states to disburse rent relief funds.

The Biden administration had announced Monday a series of new measures to prevent evictions -- but they fell short of the full extension Democrats pushed for, with White House officials continuing to argue they're constrained from doing more by a Supreme Court ruling that said Congress must act to extend a moratorium.

Pelosi and House Democrats were caught flat-footed and left frustrated at the lack of involvement from the White House on the issue just days before the moratorium expired.

Bush said that her experience with homelessness gives her an incredibly unique insight into this devastating situation -- when families are booted from their homes and potentially forced to live on the streets.

She was joined by other Democratic lawmakers, including Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, who said even though Congress is not in town, they will continue to work on drafting legislation.

Bush said that Pelosi has been "supportive" and "communicative" with her as she continues to protest on the Capitol steps.

She also told reporters about her conversation with Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday.

"I wanted her to look me in my eyes and I wanted to look in hers, but I wanted her to see down to my soul what pain looks like," Bush said. "That is not far from me at all, the days that I've been out in the car on the street moving the vehicle around the city of St Louis hoping that the police didn't come because we were sitting in the car."

"I remember those moments with my babies crying in the car. And I remember what that was like and not having a place to go," Bush recalled.

Bush did not indicate how many more days she will spend sleeping on the Capitol steps. Green vowed to join her on the steps later Tuesday.

"I don't know what the end date is," Bush said. "Change has to happen for us to leave."

ABC News' MaryAlice Parks, Katherine Faulders, Molly Nagle, Allison Pecorin and Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden, lawmakers join growing chorus demanding Gov. Cuomo's resignation

Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden and a growing number of New York lawmakers are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign after the state's attorney general said he was found to have sexually harassed multiple women.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday announced the results of her office's four-month probe into the allegations, saying current and former state employees were among the women Cuomo sexually harassed. In at least one instance, the governor is accused of seeking to retaliate against a woman who leveled accusations against him.

Cuomo has previously denied the sexual misconduct allegations, saying in March that he would not resign despite mounting calls and new accusations. He bashed politicians who were already calling for him to leave office at the time, accusing them of bowing to "cancel culture."

In the wake of James' investigation, a slew of state and local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in New York are renewing their calls for the governor to step down.

Biden on Tuesday afternoon called on Cuomo to resign, but stopped short of calling for impeachment.

"I think he should resign," the president said during unrelated remarks about COVID-19. "I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don't know that for fact, I've not read all that data."

The president said he had not spoken to the governor Tuesday, but he had previously told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Cuomo should resign if the allegations were confirmed.

When asked if Cuomo should be impeached or removed from office if he does not resign, Biden said, "Let’s take one thing at a time."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reiterated their past calls for Cuomo to resign in a new statement Tuesday.

"The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment," the senators said.

"No elected official is above the law," Schumer and Gillibrand added. "The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it is "beyond clear" that Cuomo can no longer serve as governor in a statement Tuesday.

"It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor," de Blasio said. "He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately."

The mayor also commended the women who came forward and lauded the attorney general’s report that he said substantiates these "disturbing instances of severe misconduct."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who won the Democratic primary for New York City mayor, also called for resignation or impeachment.

"Attorney General James conducted a thorough and revealing investigation that yielded disturbing conclusions about the conduct of Governor Cuomo," Adams said. "It is now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign."

In a joint statement Tuesday, Reps. Tom Suozzi, Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks -- three Democratic New York lawmakers who had previously not called on Cuomo to resign -- reversed course.

"The office of Attorney General Tish James conducted a complete, thorough and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law," the congressmen stated. "We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., commended the women who came forward "to speak their truth" in a statement Tuesday.

"Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign," Pelosi added.

New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, similarly for Cuomo to be out in a statement Tuesday.

"This report highlights​ unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration. As I said, when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state," Stewart-Cousins said. "Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor."

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, also a Democrat, said in a separate statement that the governor "must step aside or be removed."

"These damning findings from Attorney General James, who has done a great job, show quite clearly that the governor must resign -- and if he will not, that he should be impeached," Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, added. "Not only has Gov. Cuomo broken the law by committing disturbing and dehumanizing acts against women, he has engaged in retaliation against his accusers, and also abused his power as an employer, boss, and the leader of New York and most powerful person in this state."

Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican representing New York’s 21st district, called on Cuomo to "resign and be arrested immediately" and urged President Joe Biden to "immediately call for Cuomo’s resignation."

On the other side of the aisle, the progressive New York Working Families Party also called for Cuomo's resignation, tweeting, "The facts are clear. Andrew Cuomo is unfit to lead and must resign or be removed from office."

New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, a vocal critic of Cuomo's pandemic nursing homes scandal, said the governor "must be removed from office immediately."

"There are no platinum band-aids left to cover up the fact that this governor continues to abuse his office to benefit himself and those around him," Kim stated. "New Yorkers have had enough. We must return to session immediately and begin the impeachment proceedings."

Brad Lander, the Democratic nominee for New York City comptroller and a city council member, said in a tweet that Cuomo "should have resigned in March."

"He should resign now. If he does not, he should be impeached," Lander added. "If he is not, he should be defeated at the polls."

Finally, in a statement via Twitter, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said simply: "The Attorney General’s findings are clear. The Governor must resign immediately."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CBP encounters highest monthly number of migrants attempting to cross border since 2000

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(WASHINGTON) -- Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 200,000 individuals at the southern border in July, reaching a number not seen in two decades, according to preliminary figures reference by a senior Department of Homeland Security official in a court filing Monday.

In the first 29 days of July, CBP encountered an average of 6,779 individuals per day, including 616 unaccompanied children and 2,583 individuals in family units. Overall, the agency encountered a "record" 19,000 unaccompanied minors during that period and the second-highest number of family unit encounters, at around 80,000, Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy at the DHS David Shahoulian said in the filing.

The number of individuals encountered at the border is the highest since fiscal year 2000, according to CBP records. Unauthorized migrants encountered by CBP in the border region are arrested and detained for processing. So far this year, the majority have been expelled under Title 42, a decades-old section of the public health code implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, but more than 300,000 have been remanded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody or released with future court dates.

Border crossings have been increasing, rising every month since October 2020. Last month, 188,829 migrants attempted to cross the border, according to CBP, reaching 210,000 encounters with individuals at the southern border in July. By comparison, in July 2019, CBP encountered 81,000 individuals attempting to cross the border, and in July 2020, the number was 40,000.

The filing came in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups seeking to overturn the Title 42 restrictions along the southern border. The Trump-era measure currently restricts anyone coming into the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition of advocacy groups fighting Title 42 expulsions argue the measure illegally restricts access to asylum opportunities for those fleeing violence and persecution. Immigration officials have acknowledged the rapid nature of the expulsions -- with some carried out in less than 24 hours.

While Shahoulian suggested the number of border crossers were unique individuals, typically when CBP reports encounters it includes those who have made multiple crossing attempts. In June, for example, about a third of migrants arrested at the border had attempted to cross at least once before in 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday -- the same day the ACLU renewed its lawsuit -- that it would extend Title 42, continuing to cite concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC order, which does exempt unaccompanied minors, "temporarily suspends the introduction of certain noncitizens based on the Director’s determination that introduction of such noncitizens" through the Mexico or Canada border "creates a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States," the agency said in a press release Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Aljeandro Mayorkas told reporters at a news conference in Mexico City in June that Title 42 is "not a tool of immigration policy."

But Shahoulian, in the court filing, said that CBP has "limited capacity to hold and process families, and the current migrant surge and ongoing pandemic have only compounded these issues."

He said the delta variant of COVID-19 has made the situation at the border more complicated because of the speed in which it spreads.

"The rates at which encountered noncitizens are testing positive for COVID-19 have increased significantly in recent weeks," he said.

He added that lifting the Title 42 restrictions now would be a danger to not only migrants, but also to DHS employees.

"And although the rate of infection among CBP officers had been declining, this rate recently began increasing again, even though the percentage of officers and agents who have been fully vaccinated has grown significantly since January. This has led to increasing numbers of CBP personnel being isolated and hospitalized," he said.

The extension of Title 42 was cheered by Republicans who have maintained there is a crisis along the southern border due to the influx of migrants coming into the country.

"Good news: Title 42 authority has been extended," former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted on Tuesday. "Absolutely needed to address COVID and the border crisis that is growing worse every month."

The Biden administration has made other efforts to reduce the number of migrants under Homeland Security custody. Since the beginning of this year, it has worked to set up emergency shelters for unaccompanied minors, and employees from across the federal government have been sent on temporary assignments to staff immigration facilities.

Authorities at the border even started releasing a growing number of migrants into the interior of the U.S. without court dates, ABC News reported earlier this year.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DOJ officials rejected colleague's request to intervene in Georgia's election certification: Emails

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(WASHINGTON) — Top members of the Department of Justice last year rebuffed another DOJ official who asked them to urge officials in Georgia to investigate and perhaps overturn President Joe Biden's victory in the state -- long a bitter point of contention for former President Donald Trump and his team -- before the results were certified by Congress, emails reviewed by ABC News show.

The emails, dated Dec. 28, 2020, show the former acting head of DOJ's civil division, Jeffrey Clark, circulating a draft letter -- which he wanted then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue to sign off on -- urging Georgia's governor and other top officials to convene the state legislature into a special session so lawmakers could investigate claims of voter fraud.

"The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States," the draft letter said. "The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia."

The draft letter states: "While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors."

The vote count in Georgia became a flashpoint for Trump and his allies and Trump at one point falsely claimed that it was "not possible" for him to have lost the state.

But to date, the Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would tip the results of the presidential election. Attorney General William Barr also announced in December that the department had "not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome of the election." A statewide audit in Georgia last year also affirmed that Biden was the winner.

The emails were provided by the DOJ to the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating efforts to overturn the election results. And they come as the DOJ investigator general looks at whether any officials in the department sought to overturn the outcome of the election.

Last week the Department of Justice sent letters to six former Trump DOJ officials telling them that they can participate in Congress' investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. One of those letters was to former Associate Deputy AG Patrick Hovakimian, who sources said sat for a transcribed interview Tuesday morning with the House Oversight Committee. Hovakimian is copied on the emails referenced above.

Notes from Donoghue released last week appeared to show that Trump tried to pressure the DOJ to assert that there was significant fraud in the election.

ABC News has requested comment from Clark but has not yet received a response. A spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee did not immediately respond to request for comment, nor did an attorney for Donoghue.

Clark attached the draft letter in an email to Rosen and Donoghue telling them "I think we should get it out as soon as possible."

"Personally, I see no valid downsides to sending out the letter," Clark wrote. "I put it together quickly and would want to do a formal cite check before sending but I don't think we should let unnecessary moss grow on this."

Clark separately asked for Rosen and Donoghue to authorize them to receive a classified briefing led by then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe the next day related to "foreign election interference issues," while referencing an unspecified theory about hackers having evidence that a Dominion voting machine "accessed the Internet through a smart thermostat with a net connection trail leading back to China."

Donoghue responded a little more than an hour later shooting down Clark's request to sign on to the draft letter.

"There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this," Donoghue said. "While it maybe true that the Department 'is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President' (something we typically would not state publicly) the investigations that I am aware of relate to suspicions of misconduct that are of such a small scale that they simply would not impact the outcome of the Presidential Election."

Donoghue closed his email response by stating that, while he was available to speak to Clark directly about his request, "from where I stand, this is not even within the realm of possibility."

Donoghue cited former Attorney General William Barr's previous statements that the department had no indication fraud had impacted the election to a significant degree, and that no information had surfaced since Barr's departure that changed that assessment.

"Given that," he said, "I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Department would recommend that a State assemble its legislature to determine whether already-certified election results should somehow be overriden by legislative action."

He added that the draft letter's statement that DOJ would update lawmakers on the investigatory progress was "dubious as we do not typically update non-law enforcement personnel on the progress of any investigations."

Later that evening, Rosen responded as well, telling both Clark and Donoghue, "I confirmed again today that I am not prepared to sign such a letter."

The New York Times reported in January about Clark appealing to Donoghue and Rosen to co-sign the draft letter.

In the days after the exchange, as ABC News has previously confirmed, both Rosen and Donoghue thwarted an attempt by Clark to have Trump appoint him acting attorney general.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


2 more officers who responded to Jan. 6 riot have died by suicide

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(WASHINGTON) — Two Washington, D.C.. Metropolitan Police Department officers who responded to the Jan. 6 riot died by suicide in July, the department announced on Monday, nearly seven months after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters.

Officer Kyle DeFreytag, who was on the force since November 2016, and Officer Gunther Hashida, an 18-year-veteran of the force, are among the three MPD officers who have so far died by suicide in 2021, the department said.

President Joe Biden expressed his gratitude toward the officers in a tweet on Tuesday morning, hailing them as "American heroes."

"When the United States Capitol and our very democracy were under attack on January 6th, Officers Hashida and DeFreytag courageously risked their lives to defend them. They were American heroes. Jill and I are keeping their loved ones in our prayers during this difficult time," he said.

It is not clear if the events of Jan. 6 contributed to the officers' suicides, and research shows that law enforcement officers experience stressors as a regular part of the job and can struggle with mental health issues.

"On a daily basis, officers experience job-related stressors that can range from interpersonal conflicts to extremely traumatic events, such as vehicle crashes, homicide, and suicide. This cumulative exposure can affect officers' mental and physical health, contributing to problems such as post-traumatic stress symptoms, substance misuse, depression, and suicidal ideation," a research paper released by the Justice Department and Police groups said.

Jeffrey Smith, another MPD officer, and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood also died by suicide after responding to the Jan. 6 attack.

"After assisting riot control at the Capitol on January 6th, USCP scheduled Howie to work lengthy shifts in the immediate days following. He was home for very few hours over the course of four days," Serena Liebengood, his wife, wrote to Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., in March.

In the nearly seven months since the attack, law enforcement suicide experts say the families of those who responded to the incident say they've behaved differently.

A Jan. 6 rally in support of then-President Donald Trump turned deadly after Trump encouraged his supporters to march to Capitol Hill, where Congress was meeting to certify Biden's election win.

Rioters breached barricades and security checkpoints, forcing Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers to evacuate or shelter in place and temporarily disrupting the certification. At least 140 police officers were injured and the Capitol building suffered approximately $1.5 million in damage.

According to B.L.U.E. Help, a nonprofit that works to reduce stigmas tied to mental health issues for those in law enforcement., 87 police officers from across the country have died by suicide so far in 2021.

Karen Solomon, who runs Blue H.E.L.P, said officers are afraid to speak to the media about the Jan. 6 events because for fear of losing their jobs.

"It's compounded by the public scrutiny and lack of support for the officers, not only by the public but from other officers who are still standing by the 'it was one day' suck it up mentality. We are now seven months out, what has been done? How are these officers being assisted?" she said. "This is one of the most talked about events in the country, yet we are still ignoring the needs of some of the victims of this event -- the police officers."

"There is still too much talk around first responder mental health, too much money being wasted discussing what needs to be done, and not enough action," she added. "How many more families are going to watch their loved ones suffer, watch it sensationalized and then see it disappear again into yesterday's headlines?"

Last week, the House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol held its first hearing in which lawmakers heard dramatic, emotional accounts from officers who defended the building.

Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn told lawmakers he is receiving private therapy for the "persistent emotional trauma" he faces from that day.

"I know so many other officers continue to hurt, both physically and emotionally. I want to take this moment to speak to my fellow officers about the emotions they are continuing to experience from the events of Jan. 6. There's absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling," Dunn said. "What we went through that day was traumatic, and if you are hurting, please take advantage of the counseling services that are available to us."

He also pleaded with the panel, which hasn't announced its next public hearing, to look into mental health resources available for officers to decide if they are "sufficient enough to meet our needs."

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Democrats face off in heated battle over Ohio’s 11th District primary

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(WASHINGTON) -- Despite taking place during a politically off-cycle campaign year, a major intraparty battle heavy with national implications is brewing in Tuesday's Democratic primary special election for Ohio's 11th Congressional District.

The contest presents an early test case of whether progressives can gain traction ahead of a pivotal midterm election cycle by going up against establishment-backed candidates. A slew of high-profile figures even descended on the Cleveland area in the lead-up to election day -- including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

With Republicans simultaneously vying in another heated primary in the suburbs of Columbus in the state's 15th Congressional District, Tuesday's race in the 11th district takes place in one of Ohio's few reliably blue areas and features more than a dozen Democratic candidates. Whoever comes out on top is all but guaranteed to go on to fill the seat left vacant by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge when she joined the Biden administration.

Over the last several months, the field narrowed down to two candidates -- Nina Turner, former state senator and top Sanders campaign aide, and Shontel Brown, who currently serves as chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

Regardless of who advances from the primary, either of the two candidates would continue the more than two-decade long tradition of Black women representing the 11th district in Congress. Although the pair of front-runners share the common cultural baseline in their goal of speaking on behalf of the majority-Black district in Washington, Turner and Brown approached the campaign trail from different ends of the Democratic political spectrum.

"I've talked to people, my team has talked to people, and although people ... believe that things can change, they also say that they want a fighter, somebody that's gonna push back," Turner told ABC News in an interview.

As a former co-chairwoman of Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, Turner cultivated a firebrand, national image and went into the race as the early front-runner. Turner's political ties helped her campaign rake in more than $4 million overall throughout her primary run and earned her the endorsements from well-known progressive figures on Capitol Hill including all of the "Squad" members, as well as Sen. Ed Markey and Sanders.

Beyond the high-profile figures in Washington, the former state senator also earned dozens of local endorsements that Ohio political experts said bolster her campaign's vitality on a local level.

"Turner is not just a progressive candidate. She's someone that's been around and known and been in Cleveland for a long, long time as a city council member, as a state senator, as someone who's got a lot of ties and connections. You can see that in some of the endorsements that she's getting like the Cleveland mayor (Frank Jackson)," said former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

In broader statewide terms, progressive Democrats also see Turner's candidacy as a potential spark that could reignite the party's voter base in a state that has largely shifted to the right following the 2016 election.

"You've got a Democratic Party that's been largely gutted in Ohio. It was part of the blue wall that's been crumbling. Nina and her campaign could point a way for Democrats to rebuild the blue wall in the industrial heartland," said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of the progressive political action organization, Our Revolution.

Despite the sweeping endorsements and high hopes for the future, Turner appears to be aware of potential minefields her past comments about her own party members opened up on the campaign trail. Following Sanders' 2016 presidential primary loss, Turner heavily criticized the Democratic Party and in a January 2020 op-ed, she accused President Joe Biden of betraying Black voters by working with Republicans throughout his career. After Biden won the nomination, Turner made a now-infamous comparison during an interview with The Atlantic, in which she compared voting for Biden over former President Donald Trump to eating half a bowl of excrement rather than eating the entire bowl.

Going into the primary, Turner told ABC News that she is looking "forward to working with Democrats across the spectrum" if she wins and hopes that people will see her as a "coalition builder" even though "people might not always agree with (her)."

"What we can see is that the Biden administration is moving in a more progressive direction and I believe that is because of the progressive movement, and progressives have been principal partners with this administration, so this is about the future and not relitigating old primaries, and the only people who benefit from relitigation of this, are the very people who don't want to see the change happen," Turner said.

Although Turner may want to leave the past behind, many Democrats are indicating that they would have a hard time letting bygones be bygones and are instead choosing to funnel their support toward Brown after a hard-fought general election year in which Black voters mobilized in favor of Biden. Brown also received the endorsement of Sanders' 2016 primary competitor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who praised her for breaking barriers as the first Black woman to chair her county's Democratic Party.

Among the nation's heavyweight Black lawmakers who are rallying for Brown in the primary are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who played a key role in landing Biden the presidency.

Two of the nation's top Black lawmakers, Clyburn and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty, rallied across the district in the last weekend before the election, painting Brown as an inherent ally of the White House. During a campaign event on Sunday, Clyburn appeared to issue a veiled jab at Turner by saying Brown is the kind of candidate who is "interested in making headway than making the headlines" and "much more interested in getting results than spewing insults."

"We need somebody from the 11th district here in Ohio who will work with Joe Biden, somebody who believes in his agenda that he's put forth, not somebody who is going to insult the president," Clyburn added to cheers and applause from supporters, while adding that he would not have to be concerned about counting on Brown's positions as the majority whip if she were elected to Congress.

Biden has not issued an endorsement in the primary, but a recent ad from the Brown campaign that features Fudge's mother, Marian Saffold, indicates the candidate's intended ties to the administration.

"Marcia now serves in President Biden's cabinet, so she can't endorse in the race for Congress, but I can," Saffold says in the ad.

"Shontel Brown is Marcia's protege. She shares Marcia's values and will continue her legacy in Congress. On August 3rd, we're voting for Shontel Brown," Saffold adds.

While the dueling endorsement camps set up high stakes for election day for both candidates, Tuesday's outcome is likely to further direct the path Democrats forge beyond Ohio in 2022 and beyond.

"It's a question of, do progressive politics only work in coastal cities, be they the East Coast, West Coast or the North Coast? And here we have a state that is certainly purple, and we have a city that is ripe territory for some of these progressive politics, but it also does have those suburbs and some of those more conservative regions," Ben Bates, a professor at Ohio State University told ABC News.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Some Democrats call on McCarthy to resign after comment 'hard not to hit' Pelosi with speaker's gavel

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(WASHINGTON) — Some Democratic lawmakers are calling on House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to resign after he said over the weekend it would be "hard not to hit" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel he hopes to win if Republicans take back the House chamber in next year's midterm elections.

"I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it," McCarthy said at a GOP fundraiser in Nashville Saturday, after Tennessee’s Republican members of Congress gifted him with an oversized gavel.

McCarthy's comment was met by laughter among the audience of 1,400, according to audio posted to Twitter by a Main Street Nashville reporter and not disputed by McCarthy's office.

It comes nearly seven months after the attack on Jan 6. when a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol with some rioters taunting, "Where's Nancy?" while they scouted her out, and one man, armed with a taser, kicked up his feet on a desk in her office.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill responded on Twitter Saturday, saying "a threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting.”

While McCarthy's office hasn't commented publicly on the growing backlash to his comments, an aide to McCarthy said "he was obviously joking" without commenting further.

The speaker herself has not weighed in.

But some of her Democratic colleagues have rushed to her defense with California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Ted Lieu calling on McCarthy to resign.

"America has suffered enough violence around politics. @GOPLeader McCarthy is now a would-be assailant of @SpeakerPelosi," Swalwell wrote on Twitter.

Lieu posed a question to McCarthy: "Don’t you think America has had enough political violence?"

"You should never be encouraging or threatening or joking about causing violence to anyone, including the Speaker of the House. You need to apologize for your statement, or resign," he said.

Other Democrats have put pressure on McCarthy to apologize. Republicans have largely stayed silent.

"Violence against women is no laughing matter," New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the No. 5 House Democrat, said on Twitter.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a former police chief who is challenging GOP Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for his Senate seat, also weighed in.

"Speaker Pelosi used her courage and moral compass to lead us to pass the Violence Against Woman Act. Kevin McCarthy thinks joking about hitting a woman is funny. When someone shows you who they are, believe them," she said.

Some activists on Twitter -- amplifying the hashtag "#ResignMcCarthy" over the weekend -- raised how the GOP leader voted against the reapproval of the Violence Against Women Act in April 2019.

His comment and its backlash come after weeks of growing bitterness between lawmakers in Washington on issues such as mask mandates order by the Capitol physician and how to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the building they work inside.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

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Biden White House, under pressure from Democrats, responds on evictions

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(WASHINGTON) — Responding to political pressure from Democratic leaders and progressives in Congress to extend the federal ban on evictions that expired Saturday, the Biden administration announced Monday new measures to prevent evictions -- but they fell short of the full extension Democrats pushed for, with White House officials continuing to argue they're constrained from doing more by a Supreme Court ruling.

"This is a president who really understands the heartbreak of eviction," Gene Sperling, a senior advisor to Biden and American Rescue Plan coordinator, said at an afternoon White House press briefing. "The reason why he is pressing and pressing, even when legal authority looks slim, is because he wants to make sure we have explored every potential authority.”

The White House said President Joe Biden on Sunday raised with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control the prospect of executive action though a new, 30-day eviction moratorium -- focused on counties with high or substantial case rates -- to protect renters.

"This temporary measure would spur States and localities to ramp up Emergency Rental Assistance programs to full speed this month, giving every landlord the opportunity to collect the rent they are owed and ensuring no eligible family gets evicted," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"To date, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team have been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium. Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections," she said. "In the meantime, the President will continue to do everything in his power to help renters from eviction."

As part of that effort, the White House is directly calling on states and localities to extend or put in place eviction bans for at least the next two months, highlighting data that one in three renters already live in states that have extended protections against evictions due to state eviction moratoria.

The administration also is calling on state and local courts to heed the call of the Justice Department to pause eviction proceedings until tenants and landlords can first seek to access congressionally allocated emergency rental assistance funds.

And it has challenged landlords personally to hold off on evictions for the next month and asked utility providers to work with state and local governments to also access those funds to avoid cutting off services for those behind on payments due to the pandemic.

Responding directly to Democratic critics, Biden is instructing the Treasury Department to look into why it's taken so long for states to distribute the nearly $47 billion in congressionally-allocated funds for rental assistance -- of which only $3 billion has been used.

The White House also said it will give incentives to landlords who cooperate in their efforts -- though it's not clear yet what those incentives will be.

Sperling outlined the list of measures in the White House briefing Monday -- but punted to the Supreme Court and Congress when pressed why more hasn't been done by the administration, which called on Congress to act at the last minute, critics say.

"Now, we have stressed and the president has continued to stress the state and local governments must do more. All of them to accelerate funding to these renters and landlords, particularly as we face the end of the eviction moratorium, and the rise of Delta variants, and we recognize this is not an easy task," he said. "We as a country have never had a national infrastructure or national policy for preventing avoidable evictions.”

With 3.6 million Americans at risk of being evicted as soon as Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeated her call to the Biden administration to immediately renew the now-lapsed eviction moratorium after House Democrats over the weekend failed to pass legislation via unanimous consent to extend it to Oct. 18.

"As they have called upon the American people to mask up, to be vaccinated and to take other public health precautions, it is critical, in recognition of this urgency, that they extend the eviction moratorium," Pelosi said of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a new letter to Democratic colleagues Monday morning. "Putting people on the streets contributes to the spread of the virus."

It comes after freshman Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who highlights how she was once homeless herself, spent her third night sleeping on the Capitol steps to protest the end of the moratorium even as most House lawmakers had already headed home for the August recess.

The White House said last week that it can't unilaterally extend the moratorium because of a Supreme Court ruling in late June when Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the 5-4 majority, said he would block additional extensions unless there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."

But Democratic leaders have put the responsibility to extend the measure -- which they've called a "moral imperative" -- back on Biden and the CDC, which first implemented the moratorium last September, after the Biden administration on Thursday, one day before the House adjourned for August recess, called on Congress to pass legislation.

Despite the 11th-hour scramble by lawmakers, the moratorium expired on Saturday.

With the Senate back in session to focus on unprecedented infrastructure legislation, the chances senators would pivot to a moratorium extension are slim.

"Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration," Pelosi said in a joint statement with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass, on Sunday evening. "As the CDC doubles down on mask-wearing and vaccination efforts, science and reason demand that they must also extend the moratorium in light of the delta variant.”

The Democratic leaders also called on the Treasury Department to indicate how state and local governments can more efficiently deliver the billions in rental assistance Congress has authorized since last December. Of the $47 billion available, only $3 billion has been sent out so far.

Pelosi on Monday also announced House Democrats will have a presentation Tuesday from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, whose department transferred the funds earlier this year, which were intended to help renters and landlords with payments during the moratorium catch up -- but dispersing those out has been a slow process.

While the House adjourned for its August recess, Pelosi has teased that she could call members back to bring legislation. However, without a desire in the Senate to pass an extension, she's putting the onus back on Biden.

The president, who returned to the White House from Camp David Monday, has not yet directly responded to Pelosi's latest letters, but he has also called for the acceleration of congressionally-approved rental assistance funds.

“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement Friday.

Progressive lawmakers including Bush, who has been homeless, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have called on their colleagues to do more.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union" Sunday. "Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this Court order came down on the White House, a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking on Congress to extend the moratorium."

She and other progressive Democrats, who also penned a letter to urge the Biden administration to take action, joined Bush and activists outside the Capitol over the weekend to draw awareness to what they call a public health emergency.

"Extending the eviction moratorium is a matter of life and death for the communities we represent," they said in the letter.

Bush, who was still on the Capitol steps Monday, told ABC News over the weekend that she was "frustrated" and "disgusted" that the moratorium was not extended and didn't have plans to leave.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau survey from late June and early July, about 7.4 million adult tenants reported they were behind on rent.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Bipartisan negotiators unveil 2,702-page infrastructure bill

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(WASHINGTON) -- After days of deliberation, senators who negotiated a bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled the legislative text of the massive proposal Sunday night.

The 2,702-page bill was released after weeks of deliberation among a bipartisan group of 10 senators and members of the administration.

The bill, worth $550 billion in new spending, will address core infrastructure needs. It includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more.

The Senate will begin deliberation on amendments as it heads into the work week. Members of both parties have said they support a robust amendment process that will give lawmakers the chance to try to modify the bill.

There’s not yet an agreement on how many amendments will be considered, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made clear late Sunday night that he wants to see the Senate act swiftly to pass the legislation.

"Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments to pass this bill in a matter of days," Schumer said.

Members of the bipartisan group heralded the agreement as a triumph of bipartisanship.

In a politically contentious environment with an evenly divided Senate, the bipartisan group said they felt it was important to demonstrate that across-the-aisle work can yield results.

“This process of starting from the center out has worked," Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and the chief Republican negotiator in the bipartisan group, said on the Senate floor Sunday evening.

“I am delighted to demonstrate to the American people that we can work across the aisle in a bipartisan way to achieve real results that matter to the people of this country,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, added.

It is not yet clear how many Republicans will ultimately vote to pass the legislation after amendments are considered, but the bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support in a key procedural test vote last week. Seventeen Republicans -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- voted with all of the Democrats to advance the legislation.

The bipartisan agreement is just one part of the two-pronged approach Democrats are taking to try to pass President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan into law.

Schumer has long stated that after the bipartisan bill is passed Democrats will work on moving a separate $3.5 trillion budget bill using a process called reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold necessary to pass legislation in the Senate.

That second, larger package is expected to include funding for things like pre-K, housing, health care and other items that Republicans struck from the bipartisan plan in order to achieve a more narrowly tailored infrastructure proposal.

To pass the budget bill, Schumer will need the support of every Democrat serving in the Senate. It’s not yet clear he’ll have it.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the chief Democratic negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, released a statement last week which said she does not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.

Several members of the Senate Budget Committee, which will handle that larger bill, say that for now, they’re focused on passing the bipartisan bill and on opening discussions about their package.

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Kinzinger open to issuing subpoenas for members of Congress, including McCarthy

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(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Sunday he supports issuing subpoenas to anyone who has information about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and what action former President Donald Trump took -- even members of his own party, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"I would support subpoenas to anybody that can shed light on that, if that's the leader that's the leader," Kinzinger told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl. "Anybody with parts of that information, with inside knowledge, can probably expect to be talking to the committee.”

"I would expect to see a significant number of subpoenas for a lot of people," Kinzinger added.

Kinzinger, R-Ill., said that while some members of Congress attempt to brush off the events of Jan. 6 because it's "politically inconvenient," the committee is determined to get a full account of the truth.

"If anybody's scared of this investigation I ask you one question, what are you afraid of? I mean, either you're afraid of being discovered, of having some culpability in it or, you know what? If you -- if you think it wasn't a big deal, then you should allow this to go forward," he said.

Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., are the only two Republicans appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the House select committee spearheading the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. The panel held its first hearing Tuesday, with emotional witness testimony from four police officers who responded to the attack.

The committee plans to meet on Zoom during the August recess to plan next steps, including issuing "quite a few" subpoenas, Chairman Bennie Thompson, R-Miss., said on Friday. He added that staffers will meet with Justice Department officials next week and members have requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

"This cannot continue to be a partisan fight," Kinzinger said during Tuesday's hearing. "I'm a conservative, but in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It is time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country and -- most importantly -- we need to reject those that promote it.”

Karl pressed Kinzinger on how the committee intends to enforce subpoenas on fellow members of Congress if they refuse to comply.

"I intend, at least, on the committee, to get to a full accounting of the truth," Kinzinger responded. "And if somebody thinks that they can stand up and use -- maneuvers to try to string this investigation out and hope that people lose interest -- at least me, and I know the other members of the committee, are determined that we are going to get to that answer."

"So it may cost you a lot in legal fees to try to resist, but we're going to get to that answer," Kinzinger continued.

Karl also asked Kinzinger whether the committee would subpoena the former president.

"It seems clear that you would want to talk to Donald Trump himself, am I right?" Karl asked.

"We may not even have to talk to Donald Trump to get the information," Kinzinger responded. "There were tons of people around him.”

The Republican House Leadership held a press conference an hour ahead of the hearing on Tuesday where members tried to blame Pelosi for the attack on the Capitol.

"The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said.

Karl asked Kinzinger about it Sunday.

"They protected Donald Trump from blame here and they're blaming Nancy Pelosi for the fact that Trump supporters invaded the Capitol, and -- including her office. Can you explain to me what they're talking about?" Karl asked.

Kinzinger called Stefanik's comments "insane."

"To me it's mind blowing and it basically shows the desperation to try to derail this," Kinzinger said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Will the St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs this year?