House Democrats seek to block funds for ‘defeat despair’ Covid ads

House Democrats overseeing the Trump administration’s coronavirus response will introduce a largely symbolic bill intended to limit the administration’s ability to spend federal funds on certain coronavirus-related advertisements before the election, according to a draft shared first with POLITICO.

The Defeat Pandemic Propaganda Act of 2020 is authored by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), joined by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The Democrats’ bill would bar HHS from using taxpayer funds on an ad campaign to “positively influence public perception regarding the Covid–19 pandemic,” specifically distort any facts or encourage risky behaviors amid the outbreak.

“[F]ederally-funded advertisements meant to cast the situation in a positive light or suggest there is no longer a need to take public health precautions would be wholly unethical, especially in the weeks before a presidential election,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. A spokesperson for Krishnamoorthi acknowledged the difficulty of moving such legislation forward in a split Congress weeks before the election.

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Tennessee House leadership calls for review of Nashville’s use of COVID-19 relief funds

Republican leadership in the Tennessee House has asked the state comptroller to conduct a “thorough review” of Nashville’s management of $131 million in state and federal COVID-19 relief funding.



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In response to Nashville’s lagging economic recovery and anticipating additional requests for state aid from the state’s budget next year, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, and 10 other House Republicans sent Comptroller Justin Wilson a letter Friday, asking him to review the city’s use of federal relief funds.

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“In Tennessee, we do let locals do what they need to do, but we’re not here to write a blank check and go into a partnership blind,” Sexton said in an interview with The Center Square. “So we are asking the comptroller to give us some thorough review of where their spending has been.”

Sexton called out Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s restrictive economic policies that have prevented many businesses from fully reopening after mandatory pandemic-related shutdowns.

“When he’s saying that business is what keeps this economy thriving and growing, and they need businesses to be open, it calls into question why he shut down Nashville for as long as he has, and why it’s the worst performing city in America right now, and why it’s the worst performing county in our state right now,” Sexton said.

The letter noted that of the more than 19,000 local governments in the country, only 36 municipalities were provided direct federal COVID-19 relief. Sexton said Cooper’s request for additional funding from the state earlier this month raised questions about how the city used the significant funding it already received.

“They had $121 million coming from the federal government, we gave them 10 additional million – so that’s $130 million. They said they needed another $82 million from the state. And then on top of that, they’re raising taxes about 34%, potentially,” Sexton said.

Gov. Bill Lee denied the city’s request for an additional $82 million in state funding last week.

In response to House leadership’s request, Cooper’s office said Nashville is ready for the comptroller’s review.

“We welcome the comptroller’s audit,” Chris Song, a spokesperson from Cooper’s office told The Center Square, praising the work of Metro’s COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee.

“Nashville’s direct CARES Act allocation has been spent directly on our COVID-19 emergency response and responsibly allocated to address the greatest need in our community, helping struggling Nashvillians keep food on their tables and roofs over their families’ heads, providing our residents with job placement assistance, and supporting our small businesses during the sharpest and most sudden recession in our lifetimes,” Song said.

Cooper outlined how the city has spent the federal funds in his letter requesting additional funds from the state earlier this month. According to Cooper, the city has spent $51.3 million on mass COVID-19 testing operations in the city, labor costs and hazard pay for more than 3,000 critical infrastructure employees and personal protective equipment.

Additionally, the city spent $24

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40 groups call on House panel to investigate Pentagon’s use of coronavirus funds

A coalition of 40 organizations from across the political spectrum is calling for a congressional investigation into how the Pentagon used $1 billion in coronavirus relief funds.

In a letter to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the groups also urged lawmakers to consider passing a new bill to suspend the Department of Defense’s (DOD) authority to use the funding.

“We believe the Pentagon’s decision-making with these funds, as recently reported, violates congressional intent at minimum, and represents a significant breach of trust with the taxpayers who fund the military’s budget and its emergency spending,” the organizations wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill ahead of its public release.

The letter was organized by progressive group Win Without War, the right-leaning National Taxpayers Union and the Project on Government Oversight.

“We believe that the select subcommittee should investigate when, how, and why the Pentagon decided that it could use these specific CARES Act funds in contravention of Congressional intent,” the letter said. “Any findings should be shared with the public to the maximum extent practicable. We would also ask that the select subcommittee consider recommending a rescission of DoD’s budget authority for this $1 billion fund in order to ensure Congress’s constitutional spending authority is not being violated.”

A subcommittee spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter, which comes after a Washington Post report Tuesday detailed how the Pentagon has used most of a $1 billion fund allocated by the CARES Act on defense contractors rather than medical supplies.

The DOD awarded contracts for jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms, among other military equipment, which critics argue is in contravention of the CARES Act stipulation that the funds be used to “prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.”

The Pentagon has defended itself, arguing the money was never intended to be restricted to medical supplies, that it kept Congress fully informed of its plans and that helping the defense industrial bases through the pandemic is an appropriate response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“As indicated by recent reporting, there appears to be a misunderstanding by some about what the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act) did and did not do with respect to the Department of Defense,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a seven-paragraph statement Wednesday.

“The CARES Act did not limit — nor did it intend to limit in its language — the use of Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III to only medical resources,” he added. “As part of the efforts to mitigate economic damage, the act allowed monies to be spent to support individuals and industries that had been impacted by COVID. This is exactly what DOD has done.”

While the Post report provided new details on the exact contracts the Pentagon has awarded, the department notified Congress in late May it planned to use $688 million of the funding to shore up the defense industrial base. Several news outlets, including the

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New York among three ‘anarchist’ cities named by White House to lose funds

Protests have been continuing in Portland, entering their third consecutive month in SeptemberImage copyright
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Protests have been continuing in Portland, entering their third consecutive month in September

The Trump administration has named three cities that are slated to lose federal funding after the White House accused them of tolerating crime.

New York City, Portland and Seattle are on the list of “anarchist cities” that Trump officials say have failed to stem crime linked to a summer of protests.

It follows a memo from Mr Trump earlier this month, threatening the move.

The mayors of the cities have promised to sue, calling Mr Trump’s move a political stunt.

A statement from the Justice Department on Monday laid out recent crime rates in the cities and how their police responded.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attorney General William Barr said in the statement.

He also called on Portland, Seattle and New York City to “reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens”.

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Police cars in New York City were torched in May following the death of George Floyd

All three cities have seen major protests since the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in May.

It remains unclear what federal funding may be cut from the cities.

In a joint statement, the mayors of Portland, Seattle, New York and Washington DC – which was on a shortlist of “anarchist cities” but was not included in Monday’s decision – accused Mr Trump of “playing cheap political games with congressionally directed funds”.

The mayors called the decision “thoroughly political and unconstitutional” and accused the Trump White House of “shirking responsibility and placing blame elsewhere to cover its failure”.

Violent crimes have generally declined in US cities since the 1990s, but have risen steeply in the past year in several cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.

  • Fact-checking Trump on crime in ‘Democratic cities’
  • Are US cities seeing a surge in violent crime?

What is happening in those cities?

The move comes amid a summer of unrest sparked by protests against the police killing of black Americans. Some of the protests have led to major police reforms around the country.

In New York City, the rate of shootings and murders have skyrocketed as youth programmes and other social organisations have been placed on hold due to the pandemic. Cases of looting and vandalism have also made national news as protests for racial justice have sometimes turned violent.

Reacting to the Justice department announcement on Monday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio called the decision “another one of President Trump’s games,” adding: “It’s insulting to the people of New York City and his [Mr Trump’s] effort to withhold our funding is unconstitutional.”

Seattle permitted the establishment of a so-called “autonomous zone,” where protesters forbade police from entering six square blocks of the downtown part of the city for nearly a month. The

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Socially-distanced ‘Sip ‘n Stroll’ raises critical funds for the Ballard House

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The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the Ballard House from offering free housing to patients seeking medical treatment in the area. It did, however, leave the nonprofit critically low on funding.

The Ballard House, a 501(c)(3) charity, has 40 living suites. Each suite is fully-furnished and features a private bath and kitchenette.

In an effort to raise funding for their mission of providing temporary housing free of charge for the individuals or caregivers seeking medical treatment in Katy, the Ballard House resumed its most popular fundraising event, the Katy Sip n’ Stroll at The ARK event center on Sept. 12.


Safety precautions abounded at the event as visitors sampled wines and bites from top wineries and local restaurants. The crowd was limited to 200 people. Each vendor wore masks and gloves. Visitors were asked to remain with their group and practice social distancing. Masks were required and could only be removed to eat or drink.



“Our biggest goal was to keep everyone safe,” said Kathy Alt, executive director of the Ballard House. “So we’ve taken every precaution, but it’s still a fun event.”


While funding fell short of the event’s typical $20,000 income, founding board member Chris Hiller was quick to note that any income from the event is beneficial to the charity. In addition to ticket sales, the Ballard House generated income from vendors, and the event featured a “wine pull” whereby guests could purchase a mystery bottle of wine for $10.


“This event is so important to us, because the Ballard House never shut down,” explained Alt. “We continued our mission throughout COVID. We have people there that are still pursuing their life-saving treatments, and without fundraising events, our funding is depleted.”

For the extra-cautious wine lover, the Ballard House also offered a “Virtual Sip n’ Stroll” on Sept. 11. Sommeliers live-streamed tastings for patrons who sipped along from the comfort of their homes.

While Alt hopes that fundraising events for the Ballard House will start to gain momentum as the community reopens, she emphasized that the organization is struggling to maintain operations as a result of financial setbacks from the pandemic.


“Donations are so important for us so we can continue to offer a

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WATCH: House GOP unveils tax cuts, police funds in election agenda

WASHINGTON — House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy rolled out Republicans’ priorities of tax breaks and police funding Tuesday, the GOP’s calling card to voters as they try to wrest back seats from Democrats in a long-shot November election bid for majority control.

Republicans campaigning alongside President Donald Trump are promising to restore the country to the way it was before the COVID-19 crisis hit, tapping into the same themes of health care and infrastructure investment that have been mainstays of the Democratic platform. They’re also taking a page from Trump’s playbook by portraying Democrats as aligned with the racial injustice protests in American cities, vowing a tougher approach.

“Republicans helped build the greatest economy in a generation and the American way of life was thriving,” said McCarthy, flanked by lawmakers on the steps of the Capitol, to present the “Commitment to America.” He said, “We will do it again.”

Republicans are bracing for a tough campaign for control of Congress in the fall, needing to flip some 19 seats to take over control of the House from Democrats. The Senate has a slim GOP majority that’s at risk.

The GOP rollout comes as House Democrats are vowing to try again to pass a new round of coronavirus relief after a Senate bill collapsed last week. Democrats said late Monday at the Capitol that leadership would consider extending the legislative session into October if a new aid bill could be approved.

READ MORE: States plan for cuts as Congress deadlocks on more virus aid

House Republicans typically present their own priorities for the campaigns, dating back 30 years to then-leader Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” But it’s especially important this year after the broader Republican Party under Trump declined to present a GOP platform at the Republican National Convention.

“We need to double down on a commitment to God and the Constitution,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif.

The House Republicans’ economic priorities include new tax breaks for businesses, forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans for companies struggling during the coronavirus shutdown, and making the 2017 GOP tax cuts for families permanent.

To fight the virus outbreak, Republicans call for tripling COVID-19 testing and investing in therapeutics for treatments. Taking a page from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, they vow to preserve insurance coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions — even though Republicans are suing to end health care coverage under the 2010 law.

They promise more money for police departments and commitments to social issues, including abortion rights and access to firearms.

As lawmakers gathered Tuesday outside the Capitol, the No. 2 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Sclaise, R-La., the GOP Whip, said, the party will “renew and restore” the nation.

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House GOP Unveils Tax Cuts, Police Funds in Election Agenda | Political News

By LISA MASCARO, AP Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy rolled out Republicans’ priorities of tax breaks and police funding Tuesday, the GOP’s calling card to voters as they try to wrest back seats from Democrats in a long-shot November election bid for majority control.

Republicans campaigning alongside President Donald Trump are promising to restore the country to the way it was before the COVID-19 crisis hit, tapping into the same themes of health care and infrastructure investment that have been mainstays of the Democratic platform. They’re also taking a page from Trump’s playbook by portraying Democrats as aligned with the racial injustice protests in American cities, vowing a tougher approach.

“Republicans helped build the greatest economy in a generation and the American way of life was thriving,” said McCarthy, flanked by lawmakers on the steps of the Capitol, to present the “Commitment to America.” He said, “We will do it again.”

Republicans are bracing for a tough campaign for control of Congress in the fall, needing to flip some 19 seats to take over control of the House from Democrats. The Senate has a slim GOP majority that’s at risk.

The GOP rollout comes as House Democrats are vowing to try again to pass a new round of coronavirus relief after a Senate bill collapsed last week. Democrats said late Monday at the Capitol that leadership would consider extending the legislative session into October if a new aid bill could be approved.

House Republicans typically present their own priorities for the campaigns, dating back 30 years to then-leader Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” But it’s especially important this year after the broader Republican Party under Trump declined to present a GOP platform at the Republican National Convention.

“We need to double down on a commitment to God and the Constitution,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif.

The House Republicans’ economic priorities include new tax breaks for businesses, forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans for companies struggling during the coronavirus shutdown, and making the 2017 GOP tax cuts for families permanent.

To fight the virus outbreak, Republicans call for tripling COVID-19 testing and investing in therapeutics for treatments. Taking a page from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, they vow to preserve insurance coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions — even though Republicans are suing to end health care coverage under the 2010 law.

They promise more money for police departments and commitments to social issues, including abortion rights and access to firearms.

As lawmakers gathered Tuesday outside the Capitol, the No. 2 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Sclaise, R-La., the GOP Whip, said, the party will “renew and restore” the nation.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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